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Imam Ali Gierdien: a leading community figure

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By Yaseen Kippie

The passing away of Imam Muhammad Ali Gierdien, former Chairperson of the Imarah (Senior Leadership) of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) and Imam of the Harvey Road Masjid in Claremont, garnered many lessons from those close to him from the Ulama fraternity.

The late Imam passed away on Wednesday, the 24th January 2018. His janaza salah, led by Shaykh Seraj Hendricks, took place at the Azzawia Masjid in Walmer Estate, where he studied under the late shaykhs Mahdi and Ebrahim Hendricks and was instrumental in the Azzawia Students Association. Imam Muhammad Ali Gierdien was buried at the Mowbray maqbara.

Imam Abdul Moutie Saban, a member of the Imarah of MJC, says the late Imam Ali Gierdien played a major role in the MJC over the years.

“He was chairperson of the Imarah for a number of years, where he worked diligently, and was a great leader and thinker.”

Gierdien was a close associate with the late Shaykh Moosa Goder and former MJC President, the late Shaykh Nazeem Mohamed.

Shaykh Nazeem Mohamed and Imam Ali Gierdien

Shaykh Amin Fakier recalls Imam Ali being his neighbour in Newlands before the Group Areas Act. It was Shaykh Amin Fakier who Imam Ali requested make the first dua after his Janaza Salah.

Shaykh Nazeem Mohamed requested Imam Ali to stand in for him in many areas, including Gugulethu, Nyanga and Langa, according to Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels. Shaykh Gabriels was a young graduate of Madina University when he joined the MJC and was taken under the wing of senior Ulama such as Imam Muhammad Ali Gierdien.

Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels recalls learning many lessons from Imam Ali Gierdien, one of which was his incredible articulation.

Someone who was regularly in contact with Imam Muhammad Ali Gierdien was Boeta Kamal Karriem, secretary of the Imarah of the MJC.

Karriem says Imam Ali had his roots at the Zawiya, “and was well-versed in Shariah and Arabic.”

“Imam Ali was a good example and someone who conducted meetings very professionally,” remarked Karriem.

Imam Ali Gierdien was also politically and socially active, in his opposition to Apartheid, and became a close colleague of Ebrahim Rasool, and supporter of Nelson Mandela. Take a listen to him speaking about his experience with Mandela upon his release from prison:

We ask Allah to grant Imam Muhammad Ali Gierdien Jannatul Firdous and place Sabr in the hearts of all his loved ones. VOC


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