The son of Hafejee Ismail and Aman Hafejee Patel was educated at The Pioneer High School, Bharuch, in the Indian district Gujarat, and the Maharaja Sayajirao University of Baroda, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Commerce.
The retired managing director of a clothing manufacturing company, he was director of the East Lancashire Training Enterprise Council, and Enterprise plc. He is a former President of Lancashire Council of Mosques, Vice-President of the Blackburn Community Relations Council, counsellor to the Muslim Council of Britain and chairman of the British Hajj Commission.
On 14 February 2000, he was created a life peer as Baron Patel of Blackburn, of Langho in the County of Lancashire. Patel is an Honorary Fellow of the Bolton Institute as well as of the University of Central Lancashire.
Patel has been married since 1964. He has four sons and four daughters.