LONDON: It was back in 2015 that Muslim millionaire Ali Banat was diagnosed with cancer, a diagnosis which he used as a catalyst to use his wealth to enact positive change.
He was initially told he had only seven months to live, but Banat – from Sydney, Australia – eventually survived for more than two years longer than doctors predicted. He passed away earlier this week, but the philanthropist and former businessman has spent the last few years raising money for underprivileged Muslims around the world, while also battling his terminal illness.
In the years prior to his diagnosis, Banat lived a luxurious life filled with fast cars, expensive clothing and countless other material possessions, but once he realised he was sick, he said he realised he had been chasing the wrong goals.
In a short documentary uploaded to YouTube channel OnePath Network, Ali describes his illness as a “gift”.
When questioned on his choice of language, he responds:
It’s a gift because Allah has given me a chance to change.
Upon receiving his diagnosis, Banat immediately sold his business and travelled to Togo, Africa, a country in which approximately 55 per cent of the population lives below the poverty line. Things have, however, improved since 2008, when UNICEF reported 80 per cent living in poverty.
The country also has a large Muslim population – statistics vary, but it’s estimated that between 12 and 20 per cent of the population identify as Muslim. Moved by his journey, Benat quickly decided to use his money to build a Masjid (a place of religious worship) as well as a school for local children; he then expanded his scope and established a project, Muslims Around The World (MATW).
The project has numerous other aims, all of which are outlined on its official GoFundMe page; not only is a new village being proposed to house 200 widows, a mini medical centre and a series of businesses intended to support the local community will also be created.
All funds will be spread amongst three projects, all of which are intended to create sustainable solutions to impoverishment.
Over the last three years alone almost £600,000 has been raised, and more donations are now being made to honour Banat’s memory.