A group of travellers is planning to take legal action against the infamous imam Fasiegh Adams after he allegedly defrauded them of at least R240 000 by unexpectedly cancelling their umrah trip. Adams has been at the centre of several umrah scandals over the past few years but has never been prosecuted.
Speaking to VOC News at one of their homes in Tafelsig, at least six of 10 infuriated travellers said that they were supposed to leave on the 25th of December and return on the 14th of this month, once they’ve completed their tour of holy sites in Turkey, Jerusalem and Medina. The cost included flights, accommodation and the tour. The group is between 50 and 80 years of age (with exception to someone’s 9-year-old son) and reside in areas including Wynberg, Kensigton, Manenberg, Belthorn and Tafelsig.
Adams approached the group under the banner of non-profit organisation Madrassa Tul Uloom. Individuals were requested to pay the money via a bank account in his name, thereafter he would make the necessary arrangements. According to the group, not everyone signed a contract and those that did were not given a copy. One client had however insisted on a copy, which she has since given to an attorney to scrutinize.
One of those affected, Yahya Abrahams, explained the situation and said that apart from the R24 000 they had each paid Adams for the trip, there was more money requested.
“Initially when we started having the meetings, we were introduced to the Three Harams Tour which will be on 25 December. I think it was about two weeks prior to the 25th, when imam Fasiegh informed us that the block booking for 40 people, (that) unfortunately about 30 people not cancelled but postponed to March because they wouldn’t go in December, (sic),” he explained.
“That left us with 10 people. He (Adams) also informed us that because of the ‘block booking’ , the agent needs to increase the airfares and some other increase that took place. Most of us couldn’t afford the increases that were stipulated. I think it worked out to about R7000 at the time, per person. However, he also indicated that in the package his fares are also included. Therefore, because we are now 10, he sits with a personal problem where he won’t be able to go with the crew as the imam because he doesn’t have the money to pay for himself,” elaborated the elderly man.
“He came back to us afterwards and we had a meeting where he presented three options. Nobody cancelled actually but because we couldnt afford the added costs, we said we rather want our money back.”
Adams is believed to have promised the latest group a refund by the “end of January”.
“This was my first time I was supposed to go on Umrah… I’m very upset. Due to unforeseen circumstances our tickets weren’t booked and our visas wasn’t paid. We were told we were going to get our monies the end of January but I want to know why the end of January? Why can’t he give us the money now?” questioned a teary-eyed mutamireen, Naseera.
Local attorney at TnK Attorneys and Conveyancers, Fazloodien Abrahams, said clients often become despondent due to the high cost involved in legal battles but, given that these are elderly folk, he is willing to assist them.
“I’ve seen some correspondence from Fasiegh Adams’ organisation and they confirmed in that correspondence that they (the aforementioned group) will still be going next year (2021). But, from previous experiences and what has been in the media in the past; we know this might not even happen. I’ve put myself forward to help them try to recover some damages that they incurred.”
The attorney explained that without decisive action, these cases often end up getting swept under the rug. He suggested that a formal complaint is laid with the police.
“The people who have spokenare willing to use my services. My advice is definitely to be strong and stand firm, gather all the evidence that is required so we can proceed on a civil basis. I’ve also given them the advice to proceed with a compliant with SAPS so they can do and investigation and if there is any criminal element then the National Prosecuting Authority has to proceed with that matter as well.”
Abrahams went on to explain that cases like these are often hard to crack without the necessary proof.
“The burden of proof is high. If one can do a full forensic investigation on the business, where the money went to, who was involved (etc) then perhaps there’s a possibility of proceeding on a criminal basis,” he said.
Meanwhile, Jamiatul Ulama Western Cape’s Moulana Ihsaan Abrahams said that they have been following the case for quite a while and that Adams has not opted to reform, as they had hoped.
“You don’t necessarily have to be an alim, you can be a non-alim also, but you have the responsibility to advocate and spread the haq (truth). That is why our Prophet (Muhammad PBUH) said “speak the truth even though it is bitter”. This has been a recurring issue with Fasiegh Adams, we’ve known him for about two years, and we’ve seen things unfolding, we’ve seen a pattern,” said Abrahams.
“Initially we were like those people (who are giving him an opportunity to return the money) with the hopes that he would revive and resuscitate himself to the extent that he reforms and shrugs off whatever bad habits he had in the past. One is never too good to be bad or too bad to be good,” added Abrahams.
“However, we’ve experienced that Adams is not prepared to do that. When we learnt about the most recent activities of (this) umrah saga here, we were very disappointed.”
According to Abrahams, Jamiatul Ulama Western Cape decided to take a stand against alleged scams like these as they are recurring and harm the image of Islam.
“We decided that this is a person’s Ibaada (worship), their halal earning that they made sacrifices for and these are not (his) first victims. When we heard about this, we took the time out to investigate it because of the Quranic injunction: “When a sinner comes to you with information you need to clarify this information first” and this is what we did.”
“We sat on the info for some time and after gathering all this information and giving time to imam Fasiegh to remedy his situation, we decided that now will be the ideal time to let the masses know that they (should) abstain from this particular character, and other characters within the industry,” said the maulana.
“Our job here would be (for) these people to recover their monies and (that) we at least lessen or dampen the spirit of those who are prepared to initiate these avenues of haram (prohibited) earnings, In Shaa Allah.”
Attorney Fazloodien described how “back in the day” Magistrates who were struggling to get witnesses to tell the truth, would say “go find me a man with a red kufiyah on – because I know he will tell me the truth”. He noted that, over time, the credibility of the muslim ummah (community) has deteriorated.
“We are already being labelled as terrorists out there in the world and what makes it worse now is that, with individuals conducting themselves in such a manner, no longer will we only be known as terrorist- we will also be known as fraudsters!” exclaimed the attorney.
“Muslims used to be known for their high levels of integrity. We need to stand fast and ensure that that level of integrity is maintained.“
Moulana echoed the sentiment and emphasised that Muslims should strive to represent Islam in its most beautiful form.
“Do we and are we maintaining our credibility as representatives as Muslims? What we really need to do is bolster our image and maintain that the representatives (us) should be held at (a) high standard at all times- if it means we must incur those difficulties as an individual or as a Muslim community.”
The moulana is hopeful that the investigation of this umrah saga will encourage aspiring travellers to do proper research before committing to anything and inspire travel agents to avoid exploitation amid a tough economic climate.
“We need to be very, very careful with regard to how we spend our money. Let us rather err on the side of caution, let us rather delay and do a proper case study- of who exactly we are going with. Investigate. Because at the end of the day, the monies that we have is an a’maana (promise) that Allah swt has entrusted us with. It is our responsibility as to how we spend it.”
“If we don’t climb on the band wagon right here, right now… we are actually aiding and abetting those found guilty (of scams),” added Abrahams, as he appealed to the masses to educate and assist each other.
When VOC attempted to get hold of the organisation we found that it does not have a formal website, only a Facebook page which is named “Musallah Tul Uloom Masjied / Madrassah Tul Uloom”. On the page, it is labelled it as an NGO that is based in Mitchells Plain and “assist(s) the orphans, destitute, poor and needy by uplifting them morally, spiritually & socially.”
The page also indicated that it assists with “talaqs, fasakh’s, counseling, affidavits, court interdicts, harassment/peace orders. court divorces, court marriages through the Darul Ulama Ass/ House of Muslim Theologians (D.U.A.).”
“The Centre was established in Mitchells Heights servicing Freedom Park, Hyde Park, Silver City & suroundings, at a time when Crime, Drugs & Gang-war was at its peak. The area is known for the highest HIV, Aids and TB rate in Mitchells Plain. The majority of the residence are unemployed hence a lot of crime and theft in the area. The musallah having given its first Athaan more than 3 years ago brought about a tremendous change. We would like to have a daily feeding scheme in our community especially for the children who cannot be tought on an empty stomach. Attending to the needs of the destitute is our passion we thrive on progress of children as they are our future. However this is only possible through the good hearts of donors which is something this centre desperately need. We trust that people will open their hearts, visit our centre and contribute generously to the upliftment of this community!!!” reads it’s ‘About’ page.
The bank details of the NGO are also first to appear, while there are options to : donate R100 toward sponsoring “monthly pensioner’s lunches and outings for 150 pensioners, sponsor an orphan for R2 500, a student of Deen for R1 800 per year, a teacher for R2 500 per month, vegetables, groceries or a sheep for slaughtering monthly R1 200”. A hearse can be also sponsored toward the burials services for destitute families who lost their loved ones at a cost of R40 000, kaffang for R450, burial planks for R450 or a hole R800.
The contact number provided rings once before the call cuts. Its latest post was in 2016.
Adams was not available for comment at the time of publishing.