Born in one of South Africa's worst ghettoes, Kensington, Cape Town, and baptised Adolph Johannes Brand, he went into exile in 1962 with a style of jazz that made him famous internationally and an icon at home.
He returned to Cape Town in 1968 and converted to Islam. It added Arab elements to his music, which over the years has 'become more a quest of the inner self.' He 'realised there was so much inner joy and peace in prayer,' and 'the most beautiful, potent aspect of Islam is the unity of things; you can't throw anything out of the universe.' Islam has saved his life and deepened his music.
He aligned himself with the liberation movement in South Africa. Abdullah's albums of increasingly spiritual and meditative jazz, since 1960s to date, have won followers across the world.
Compiled by:M. Nauman Khan