Goolam Muhammad Ismail Padia, known as Haji Bhai Padia rahimahullah was born in Umzinto, South Africa in 1935. His father was Hafiz Ismail and his mother Zuleikha Salejee. He married his cousin, Zuleikha Salejee and they had one son and six daughters.
Around 1961 Haji Sahib left with his wife and other family members for Hajj where he first came into contact with the work of Tabligh. He left for Nizamudeen, India, the headquarters of Tabligh, where he met Moulana Yusuf rahimahullah. He is credited with starting Tabligh in South Africa and his efforts had an impact on the lives of senior Ulama like Moulana Yunus Patel, Moulana Mahmood Madni and Mufti Ebrahim Desai as well as countless other Ulama in South Africa.
The first Jamaat to sail from South Africa went to Mauritius and Reunion in 1966. A chartered flight took a Jamaat for the first Ijtima in Africa to Zambia in the same year. Haaji Sahib was instrumental in obtaining land for a Darul Uloom in Isipingo Beach, and in establishing a graveyard in Clairwood. He used to write letters of support to, among others, the anti-Apartheid activist Professor Fathima Meer.
He passed away in 1998 in Isipingo Beach and 3,000 people attended the funeral. His contribution to Islam in South Africa as well as the West Indies, Fiji, Zambia Zimbabwe, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Britain, France, Paraguay, Panama, Brazil and Russia is phenomenal. He walked to the shanties of Chatsworth and Phoenix, the mansions of Laudium and Westville, through the streets of District Six and Soweto, Harlem and Kingston, through the slums of Rio and the affluence of New York and Paris, through the dust of Mewat and the swamps of Indonesia and Malaysia, reforming and uniting.