Another community doctor within the Muslim community has succumbed to the dreaded coronavirus. On Monday, well known Salt River doctor Ebrahim Kahn, 70, passed away of COVID-19, following weeks of hospitalisation. Dr Kahn had been placed on a ventilator but his health deteriorated about a week after he was admitted to ICU.
His death comes on the heels of another prominent Cape doctor, Fuad Jakoet, who also died of Covid-19 a month ago. Both doctors had worked in the Salt River community for over 40 years and had patients from various areas.
Dr Kahn was born in District Six and grew up in Walmer Estate. He graduated in medicine from the University of Cape Town, against all odds and despite the barriers of apartheid. Dr Kahn had served his community with passion and excellence and was a dedicated family man and loving grandfather.
Speaking to VOC, his daughter Riefqah said the family were overcome with grief but took comfort in knowing their father had made a significant impact on the lives of others.
“We are infinitely grateful for the love, duas and support from all over the world. I am in awe of how people have been touched by him,” said a tearful Riefqah.
“For all that my dad was, I would hope that his intention was to always do better and be better. He was after all, a fallible human being. I ask that Allah SWT forgive him for the smallest of his sins and expand and place light in his qubur, Ameen,” she said.
His brother Rashaad Kahn described him as “a community father, son and frontline worker”. He dedicated his life to the caring of others, which is a testament to his character.
“He was a true doctor for the people who went above and above the call of duty. He did house calls and would treat people free of charge. He would get to know each person and took his time with his patient. He was a doctor who would call his patients to see how they are doing,” he said.
He continued: “He had a great sense of humour. Younger patients loved him and so did the older ones. He insisted that older patients call him Ebrahim or ‘Hiempie’ and he treated them with great respect. In fact, many of them saw him as son.”
Relative Zulfah Brown Jabaar said it was difficult to encapsulate his personality.
“He was a humble, unassuming man who loved to laugh. He lived life to the fullest. He exemplified the hadith that the ‘best of you are those who brings benefit to your community’.”
“He was a doctor for young and old and for people of all walks of life. He was not just Dr Kahn, but wanted to be known as ‘Hiempie’. He was a doctor for many members of the ulema such as Shaykh Shakier Gamieldien and Shaykh Abduraghiem Salie.”
Having grown up in the Kahn household, Brown-Jabaar said she would cling on to the many happy memories she had of the dear doctor.
“I am very honoured and blessed to have been close to him. I spent holidays with the family and never felt like I was a niece by marriage,” she recalled.
As a young woman, Brown-Jabaar said he had inspired her with his love for travel and Islam.
“He was the one who instilled in me the love for the masjid. I remember him reciting and bellowing the poedjies during the month of Ramadan at Aspeling street masjid. Then after Taraweeh, he would take us for ice-cream.”
VOC presenter Mogammad Zain Majiet said his relationship with Dr Kahn dates back 20 years.
“I was a youngster when I went to him and then I got married and our relationship grew further. When my kids got sick, they wouldn’t say we want to go to a doctor, they would ask for Dr Kahn. Besides the professional service he offered, we also became friends. Dr Kahn was always just a phone call away. He had a humble personality and could relate to anyone. There is a huge gap he will leave in our family and the entire community,” said Majiet.
“When we head the news of his passing, it was sombre in our home last night. My kids were devastated that our doctor had passed on. We all recited together and made dua to bring solace for ourselves and his family. He was such an amazing, caring human being.”
Former patient Faeeza Bassardien said Dr Kahn had “a heart of gold”.
“There was so many things he did for our families. When my uncle passed way, I could call him up for assistance so easily. He is a great man, Alhamdullilah.”
Ninety-three-year-old Hajji Fatima said she knew Dr Kahn since he was a teenager and had a formed close relationship when he became her husband’s doctor.
“He treated many elderly people for free. I know an old lady who had been on medical aid and when her husband retired, he would treat her for free. What he gave to the community of Salt River is amazing. May Allah SWT grant him Jannahtul Firdaus Ameen.”
Riefqah expressed sadness at the immense devastation caused by the coronavirus pandemic, particularly on frontline workers.
“Yes, he was a doctor but he was also a human being. We need to acknowledge the pain and loss that everyone is experiencing with this virus and let us have compassion and understanding. We pray this brings us closer together as a community, inshaAllah Ameen.”
Dr Ebrahim Kahn leaves behind his wife, his three children from a previous marriage and two grandchildren.