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Sheikh Mahmoud bin Saleh bin Deen Fatani, the eleventh grandson of our Sheikh Muhammad bin Ismail Fatani, from his mother's side. His father is Sheikh Saleh ibn Din Fatani Talib Alam, emigrated to Makkah al-Mukarramah to escape religious persecution from the Buddhist rulers of Siam (Thailand) who occupied the Muslim district called Patani in the south of Siam.
Growing up years: He grew up In his grandfather's house, known as the big house of Qashshiyya, the al-Khandafushi alley (stone) located nearby to the Great Mosque of Mecca in the vicinity of Al-Marwa. This is the neighborhood that shaped his early years. When he was only 6 years old his father died and left him an orphan with 3 sisters.
Sheikh Mahmoud Saleh Fatani received his early elementary education from home schooling by his own mother where he learned how to read and write.
He then proceeded to learn from his uncle the scholar Sheikh Muhammad Nur Fatani, how to read the Qur’an and the grammar principles of the Arabic language.
He also received further education from other teachers of the katatibs at that time.
Then he entered a formal school called Al Falah Primary School. However, his education was disrupted due to the political turmoil that was building up at the time which was the conflict between Sharif Ali Ibn Al-Hussein and King Abdulaziz Al Saud over the rule of Hijaz which concluded in the occupation of King Abdulaziz of Makkah.
His uncle, Sheikh Muhammed Nur Fatani, decided to take his family, his brothers, his sisters, and their children, to a safer place away from Makkah to remove them from the scourge of the War between Al saud and al-Sharif Ali Ibn Alhussain.
He had cleverly arranged for them to travel in the steamships that were taking the pilgrims back to Malaya (Malaysia) after performing the hajj.
This was possible because the roots of Sheikh Muhammad Ismail Fatani can be found in Keresik (Patani) and Terengganu(Malaya).
All of them including the child Mahmoud Saleh Fatani with his mother and sisters were shipped to Malaya (Malaysia).
At the age of twelve he and his mother and his nephew moved to Keresik a village in the state of Patani, South Thailand. There he was able to complete high school and joined the Boy Scouts.
It is there he picked up many skills including calligraphy. After obtaining the secondary school certificate, he became a teacher in the local primary school teaching Arabic language and Islam.
Among his peers he was known as Nik Mahmoud.
“Nik” was a respectable family title in the social rank of Patani society. His mother’s lineage was from a prominent family in Keresik.
He was also well-liked due to his good manners and his never-ending search for knowledge.He was very helpful to the people of Keresik whom were constantly harassed by the district ruler of Buddhist Thai origin.
Returning to Mecca: After the matter was settled in the Hijaz by King Abdulaziz Al Saud and Makkah was again safe and peaceful, Sheikh Muhammed Nur Fatani asked his sons, brothers, and sisters to return to Makkah Al-Mukarramah, including the young Mahmoud Saleh Fatani. He was 17 years old, in the early 1353 AH, he returned with his mother and nephew Saleh Abdul Rahman Fatani.
After he arranged the marriages of his 3 sisters, Mahmoud Saleh Fatani settled in a place called the Little House in the Al-Khardfushi Alley in Makkah Al-Mukarramah, which is adjacent to the Big House and the House of Alley Stone (Al-Sogha Alley).
His schooling days: After the young Mahmoud Saleh Fatani returned to the homeland, his longing for knowledge did not stop, he wanted more. While waiting for the right opportunity he joined the secondary school so as not to miss the Saudi secondary education syllabus at that time and graduated from it.
He also enrolled in an institute to study the English language.
He also attended the public classes conducted in the Masjidil Haram by respectable religious teachers such as Syed Alwi Maliki, Syed Amin Qutbi and Sheikh Hassan Mashat.
He also attended the classes of his uncle Sheikh Muhammed Nur Fatani, who taught Islam in the Malay language.
He was keen to learn Arabic calligraphy. This he learned from the master of Arabic calligraphy, Sheikh Al-Ghazzawi. It is his passion to master the arts of Arabic calligraphic styles called Kufi and Diwani from Sheikh Adib Al-Turki, who was one of the most famous calligraphers in the government press in Makkah Al-Mukarramah. He became very close to the Sheikh and later established himself a reputation of being one of the famous calligrapher in Mecca, in which there were only a handful at the time.
Having had a stable government job, he started thinking about setting up a family of his own.
He married Amnah, a cousin, who grew up in a house of knowledge, devotion, love and care, a family of respectable father and brothers and sisters, the house of Sheikh Muhammad Nur Fatani.
She was home-schooled by her own father. a prominent educator at the time, Sheikh Muhammed Nur Fatani, where she learned first hand from the master himself the knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence and the Hadith.
She also worked hard in memorizing the Quran.
She also learned the intricate grammar of the Arabic language, mathematics and history apart from acquiring special skills in batik printing and designs.
Sharing similar interests in the artistic talents with her husband made them both very compatible with each other.
Professor Mahmoud Saleh Fatani by that time found that working in a normal job at Al Falah school was inadequate to satisfy his multiple talents more so the salary at that time was not attractive.
In the meantime, the Kingdom under the rule of King Abdulaziz Al Saud had become safe and peaceful and offered more opportunities in life.
The young Mahmoud was very good at finding ways to earn more to cover his expenses and the expenses of his beloved mother. His nephew Saleh who stayed with him was still young and still studying.
The young Mahmoud and his wife founded a new business - making musaffah (head covering for women) and the turtleneck blouse printed with artistic designs suitable to be worn for special occassions like marriage ceremonies and celebrations.
They hand-made unique craftworks engraved on wood with beautiful floral patterns for decorations. They produced many artistic design templates for printing and sewing for sale. These activities generated enough income to cover his expenses as well as satisfying his hobby in the arts.
His career: After obtaining the high school diploma from Al Falah Schools in Makkah, he worked as a teacher of Arabic calligraphy in Al Falah School in Makkah.
He worked there for several years and left his mark in the school as a legacy to be remembered long after his death.
His talent in calligraphy brought him to the Ministry of Finance Press in Makkah Al-Mukarramah. Sheikh Mahmoud Saleh Fatani was the official artist responsible for the design and preparation of government financial stamps for legal transactions, official ceremonial and memorial events such as visits by heads of state as well as designs for postal stamps and official paper printed forms of the state. He designed the out line of Umm Al-Qura calendar, the Kingdom’s banknotes and coins, the four piasters and two piasters monetary units he was famous for, which was signed and commissioned by the Minister of Finance.
He was also responsible for designing the monuments installed at the borders of the Great Mosque of Mecca.
When the Ministry of Finance was transferred to the capital (Riyadh) after the Ministry of Finance (the government printing press in the ministry in the capital) updated the systems of governmental and security print media, he was assigned to be the Senior Manager of the Technical Department in the Ministry. Sheikh Mahmoud Saleh Fatani remained head of the printing press department and Senior Manager of the Technical Department at the Ministry of Finance in Riyadh for more than two years, after which he requested to retire from work (in 1395 AH) and returned to Mecca.
During Hajj season he also worked with his uncle, Sheikh Muhammad Nur Fatani, at the beginning of his adult life for the welfare and the reception of pilgrims in Jeddah.
He was appointed as a Council Member to the Council for the Distribution of Pilgrims to the Mutawef.
His investments and diligence:
Sheikh Mahmoud Saleh Fatani was known to many people as an excellent planner and organiser and he was involved in the celebrations of the people of Makkah Al-Mukarramah in their national celebrations, such as the occasions of pledging allegiance and welcoming of government guests, by preparing welcoming decorations. He was also known as the calligrapher Mahmoud Saleh Fatani, who designed many local and international logos. He also made signage and slogans for the pilgrims to decorate their headquarters or flags and slogans for the pilgrims’ camps in Arafa and Mina.
One of his commercial investments was that he opened a restaurant in Makkah, King Faisal Street, in Al Qashshashiyya catering for Malaysian and Indonesian cuisines. It was a source of livelihood for him in his retirement, financing his needs in life.
His hobbies: Mahmoud Saleh Fatani had many hobbies and his first passion was Arabic calligraphy.
He loved drawing and painting.
He had a big collection of international postage stamps with accompanying information of the artwork, the significance of visits by heads of state, festive events and celebrations.
This assists him in his work for postage stamps.
His travels: Sheikh Mahmoud was fond of traveling. He liked London and Paris among other European cities. He also visited the Netherlands, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and the United States of America. In his travels he would be looking for historical or archaeological sites and popular art markets such as Khan Al Khalili Market and Al Hamidiya Market. He was keen to meet calligraphers in other parts of the world. He was very happy to have met the Egyptian calligrapher Hosni of Egypt, to exchange views and shared technical experiences with him.
Sheikh Mahmoud Saleh Fatani also loved to travel to Malaysia where he visited his family and relatives residing in Kuala Lumpur, Kelantan and Terengganu where he enjoyed eating local food and fruits and visited places that brought back memories of his childhood.
He enjoyed meeting his Malaysian relatives to talk about old times. His last trip to Malaysia was a year before his death, with his wife and his son Ibrahim. They stayed more than two months there.
His daughter's death:
His youngest daughter was diagnosed with leukemia in her first year of study at Umm Al-Qura University.
He brought her for treatment to a hospital in Houston U.S.A. Both the loving mother and father stayed with the daughter throughout the treatment for three years.
Unfortunately she finally died there in 1404 AH. The shattering loss had very much affected his health after that.
He successfully created a way to refrigerate the fresh raw meat in his restaurant kitchen in 1368 AH.
He did this effectively by placing ice blocks on top of the meat cabin and incorporating with metal coil with holes that preserved the meat used for the kitchen keeping it cool for several days.
He modified the refrigerator by adding insulating materials that increased ice conservation for several days.
The refrigerator was modified by him to provide the restaurant with cold water by using metal tubes through which the water passes through. Cold water was produced without directly using additional ice thereby saving costs.
His invention was more than fifteen years before the emergence of commercial heavy duty freezers.
When electrical fans were first commercially made available he created a humidifier by using a light red brick device to absorb water at a height of 12 cm. Water was continuously supplied from a container. The fan would evaporate the water off the brick and blast the cooled humid air to fill the room in the hot summer of Mecca.
A number of these products were made by him and presented as gifts to his relatives. This was done by him more than 10 years before the appearance of the desert air-conditioner in the market.
His charitable work:
One charity that was very close to his heart was the act of providing cold drinking water for pilgrims in Mina during the hajj season where Muslims needed cold water to quench their thirsts when they stayed for 3 days in the hot desert of Mina as part of the compulsory programme of hajj.
Every year since 1372 AH he would set up the watering center as a monopoly on the public street leading to Jamarat.
He would install water tanks several weeks before the Hajj and rent a special tanker to transport water and he personally supervised to ensure there was adequate supply of ice from the ice factory on the day of al-Hijjah 10, and he continued to do so for more than 10 years, and his sons and relatives help him in the service of giving drinks to pilgrims in Mina, especially his son Kamel, who always accompanied him in carrying out this honorable charity.
He was also planning to built a masjid as amal jariah but during the long process of getting the approval from the authorities he died. However as a tribute to him the children continued the noble process and successfully built a masjid for him in Ashara’ia district with a capacity for 200 congregators. May Allah be pleased with him.
His parting: Sheikh Mahmoud Saleh Deen Fatani, may Allah have mercy on him, died on 28/8/1409 AH at the age of seventy-four years after a bout of high blood pressure and entered a coma for several weeks, and Sheikh Mahmoud Saleh Fatani was buried in the cemetery of Ma’alla in Makkah Al-Mukarramah.
He left behind a wife, 3 sons and 1 daughter.
His children: Fadel was born in Makkah he was educated in Makkah and worked in the Ministry of Finance, then attended Umm Al-Qura University.
He died in 1438 AH.
Kamel was born in Mecca - graduated from the University of Riyadh 1384 AH worked as director of the Saudi Scouts.
Adel was born in Mecca, he died as a child in Mecca in 1364 AH.
Nile was born in Makkah, he died as a child and was buried in Medina in 1371 AH.
Fatima was born in Makkah she married Munir Abdullah Bantan.
Faiza was born in Makkah, she died as a child in 1373 AH.
Ibrahim was born in Mecca, he was educated in Mecca and completed his studies in Britain and then America and works in the Metrological Department in Jeddah.
Nadia was born in Makkah. She studied at Umm Al-Qura University in Mecca and died in 1404 AH.
author : Kamil M Fatani
Translated by: Wan.M.Yusoof Wan Othman
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