|Biographical detail : ||Ismail Vanya was an important leader of the Burmese Muslim community. His long-standing friend U Raschid (died 1978) described him as "remarkable both for his dedication and for the totally selfless and self-effacing manner in which he worked, without the slightest trace of personal egotism or attempts to seek personal publicity".
Ismail Vanya was born in Rangoon on 1st January 1910, the eldest of 11 children of Sulaiman Ismail Vanya and Zulaikha (Daw Ma Ma Galay), and died on 22nd March 2007 in San Jose, USA.
Ismail Vanya attended the Randeria High School where he ranked not only at the top of the class, but also stood first (in the whole of Burma) in the Matriculation (University Entrance) Examination. However studies at Judson College (forerunner of Rangoon University ) at the age 18 were interrupted by his father’s death.
He then worked as a school teacher at Islamia High School in Burma - at the same time as another unassuming and tireless Muslim activist, the late Dr. Inamullah Khan, former Secretary General of the World Muslim Congress, Motamar Al-Alam Al-Islami.
During the Second World War Ismail Vanya served as a welfare relief officer in Calcutta, appointed by the British and Allied forces. He continued his studies and obtained a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Calcutta.
He was a founding member in 1952 of the Muslim Central Fund Trust. This organization provides financial assistance to underprivileged Muslim students (to pursue higher education locally in Burma). In the mid 1980s, he founded a scholarship programme in collaboration with the Islamic Development Bank which supports Burmese Muslim students at universities and colleges in Muslim countries. His other public service contributions were as the managing director of the Muslim Foundation, Honorary Treasurer of the Zinat Boys’ Home(Muslim Orphanage for Boys), Honorary General Secretary – Muslim Students Society, and Chairman – Hajj Committee, Burma. He was the Honorary Secretary of the Muslim Free Hospital and Medical Relief Society. The mission of this hospital is to look after the poor, the sick and the needy, regardless of race, creed or religion. It treats all Muslim and non-Muslim patients who are sick and needy.
In 1957 he was awarded the Wunna Kyaw Htin - Burma's highest award for social services.
Between 1964-1978 he served as country manager for the Pakistan International Airlines. It is reported that he sold the tickets ‘on loan’ to people fleeing Burma after the military coup of March 1962.