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Ali Banat – The Man Who Called His Experience With Cancer a ‘Gift’

Ali Banat – The Man Who Called His Experience With Cancer a ‘Gift’

Saniya Rashid
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It’s thought-provoking how the extraordinary can be found in the ordinary and how so much good can come out of pain and suffering. Billions of people all over the world, so many suffering from the terrible disease of cancer. Yet, one person out of those billions is being talked about all over. Ali Banat, from Sydney Australia, was diagnosed with cancer in 2015. Doctors believed Banat would survive for just a couple of months. Yet, he lived for three years. He passed away yesterday. And within those three years, he undertook a journey of a lifetime, leaving an inspiring legacy that will hopefully live on.

Prior to his diagnosis, Banat was a millionaire, sporting a luxurious lifestyle. His diagnosis, however, took him down a path of reflection that changed his remaining days and left an impact on thousands.

The most striking part of his journey is that Banat deemed cancer a ‘gift’ from God because it allowed him the chance to change his lavish ways. A businessman earlier, Banat revealed in a documentary by One Path Network the extent of his wealth by showing glimpses of his remaining material possessions. He chose to donate his money not by simply writing a cheque but by physically undertaking the efforts to serve humanity.

Upon learning that the angel of death was quite possibly coming for him soon, Banat sold his business and traveled to Togo, Africa. A considerable population of Togo are Muslims living below the poverty line. He got a mosque constructed and also opened a local school for children there.

Ali Banat’s efforts didn’t stop there.

Before his death, he set up the Muslims Around The World (MATW) project, which aims to help the poor in Africa. Currently, MATW has three projects underway in Togo. These include the MATW Village, the Chive Project and the Cemetry Project. The official GoFundMe.com page is continuing to collect donations for the projects to build on Banat’s legacy of compassion and responsibility towards those around us. The donations go towards materials for all three sites, workers pay, food for those on sight, and aid for those in need as well.

Before his death, Banat recorded this hair-raising message.

It is eye opening to hear someone say they are probably dead by the time their message reaches their audience. The level of connectivity with life’s ultimate realities doesn’t get any more profound than this. The lesson here to be learned is that all of life’s material possessions are nothing in the face of the ultimate reality. For everyone, whether religious or not religious, the reality of death is an undeniable inevitability. Banat was and continues to be an inspiration as to how we can make the most of our lives. We weren’t born in isolation, we live amongst a plethora of other people across the globe. And, the privileged ones certainly have a responsibility towards those who aren’t. Even if we make our living from the ground up, it still speaks to our privilege because opportunities to better our lives are the greatest privilege perhaps.

And, the greatest takeaway from Banat’s story is that his philanthropy wasn’t a result of guilt, which he got rid of by writing a few cheques. He undertook the arduous journey of actually feeling the pain and suffering of others, despite his own. Ali Banat was and hopefully will continue to be the symbol of empathy amongst today’s Muslims. He will hopefully be a source of inspiration to many who want to rectify the ‘Muslim image’ by doing something tangible and concrete in its impact on those around.

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