In what is a first for South Africa, the Al-Jeem Foundation has launched its own full Hajj documentary. “The People of the South” was aired on ITV on Wednesday night and has elicited a phenomenal response from within the Muslim community. The one-hour and 15-minute film follows the hujjaj from the start of their journey in Cape Town to the holy lands and back home during last year’s hajj period. The film depicts the transformation process of Hajj as a holistic one, combining servitude to the Almighty through spiritual, psychological, emotional, physical and financial acts of devotion.
Al Jeem managing director Maulana Irshaad Sedick, who beautifully narrated and directed the documentary, described it as “a very organic process”.
“No one thought that we would be making a documentary. Three years ago we started filming as much as we could with regards to this journey, purely born from a sense of pride, heritage, our people, our country and the journey of hajj that Allah has given us as a gift. When we look at this how we, the people of the south undertake this journey, it’s very unique in a sense that we don’t only fulfil the rituals and acts of worship as prescribed in the Quraan and Sunnah but with a 300-year cultural heritage that we take pride in,” said Sedick.
The documentary showcased hajj from the first-person point of view and this is the first documentary where people can see the entire journey of hajj from the departure to the arrival home.
Sedick emphasized that ‘The People of the South’ really captures the South African journey.
“We have a unique way of conducting ourselves, for example, we have a certain ritual where we greet at the home. When we arrive at the airport the athaan is made, the type of clothing that we wear and the type of Athkaar that is made. There is an atmosphere of love that follows all the way through this journey. We can teach the world that this small community managed to be preserved by Allah through this beautiful system of culture and heritage,” said Sedick.
The documentary features prominent ulema who served as ‘hajj coaches’ during the pilgrimage, such as Shaykh Riyaadh Walls, Shaykh Ebrahim Alexander, Imam Yusuf Pandy and Imam Gasant Pandy.
From a technical and logistical perspective, Al Jeem had a team in Saudi Arabia that takes footage along with their own team from South Africa. The creative team managed to obtain the footage that was never seen before, for example the women in Rowdhatul Jannah ( it is a portion which lies between the Holy Tomb of Nabi Muhammad SAW and the Mimbar) in Masjidu Nabiwi where it is said to be extremely difficult to get into.
“It has been an extremely emotional rollercoaster. The night it screened the first time I got emotional seeing the end product. It is a first in South Africa but also a one-of-a-kind documentary that is educational and an inspiration to encourage others to prepare for this journey and fifth pillar of Islam. You can be proud of who you are and where you come from,” said Sedick.
Sedick said they were overwhelmed by the positive response from the public. He said that the most important feedback was from those who haven’t been on hajj before saying that it felt like they were on the journey just by watching the documentary.
“We as the people have learned from people who have gone on hajj what the experience is like and what it entails. Social media, the media and television are only secondary information sources. As kids, we would visit those who were going on hajj or who came from hajj, we would learn the different stories of hajj and that is what stole our hearts. In your mind and heart you build up your own images, although when you get there then it is beyond your expectations,” said Sedick.
Due to the overwhelming demand for a repeat airing of the documentary, ITV will be broadcasting The People of the South on Sunday 9th February 2020 at 3.30pm. The doccie is available online at AlJeemFoundation.com.
For those who want their own personal copies of the documentary they can visit:
Al Jeem Offices
167 Kromboom Road
0860 255 336