A man whose iconic voice echoed the call to prayer at every moonsighting in Cape Town has fallen silent. Hadji Omar Gabier, the revered, dedicated and passionate ‘maankyker’, has passed on at the age of 85. He served as the president of the Crescent Observer’s Society (COS), a dedicated group who on a monthly basis would meet to confirm the sighting of the moon to mark the beginning of the Islamic month – a tradition they entrenched within Cape Muslim culture. Hadji Omar died on Monday morning after a sudden illness over the weekend – sadly on the 29th Shawaal, when the observers would gather for the sighting of the new moon. Hajji Omar had attended every moon-sighting broadcast covered by VOC over the past decade – his famous face captured by photographers searching the horizon at Three Anchor Bay.
In an emotional tribute on-air, COS chairperson Imam Yusuf Pandy said Hadji Omar had joined the observers in 1965 and they were the last remaining members from that era. He dedicated more than 60 years of service to the community.
“We were together all the time and he used to make the athaan. He was the only man who wanted to make athaan for Maghrib. If there’s a gadat, thikr or a nikah, he was there,” remembered Imam Pandy fondly.
Saait Manuel, also a member of the maankykers, travelled with Hadji Omar to Jordan in 1999 and formed a close bond over the past few years. Hadji Omar had been the “most reliable” maankyker, a man who deeply preserved and respected the tradition of moonsighting, he said.
“When I called his eldest son Sulaiman this morning, he apologised for not informing me of Hajji Omar’s ill health. Haji Omar had said ‘phone my best friend and tell him I am not well’,” he related.
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) acknowledged Hadji Omar’s immense contribution to the Muslim community and for constantly seeking knowledge.
“Hadji Omar was a wonderful example of a person who dedicated his life to the Deen of Islam. Haji Omar spent a vast majority of his time with the scholars of Islam, he was a student and mentor of the Azzawia. Hadji Omar dedicated his life to the Crescent Observer’s Society. We take this opportunity to express our sincere condolences to his family and loved ones, and his family at the Crescent Observer’s Society,” said the MJC.
The Cape Town Islamic Educational Centre, a friend of the Crescent Observer’s Society, described Gabier as “a true leader in the Muslim community.”
“We knew Hajji Omar to be a humble man, for the people. He believed in seeing to the interest of someone else at heart. He was consistent and passionate about sighting the moon to mark the start of the new Islamic month. His integrity was unquestionable. He was an upholder of many Sunnahs…always known for being in the gatherings of Ulama for many years,” said CTIEC.
“Hajji Omar was one whose knowledge, sincerity and honesty gave us some comfort in this place; someone whom we could depend on for guiding us in Moon sighting reports; verily, he has departed from the company of the men of this earth to the company of the men of the Hereafter.”
“Haji Omar Gabier had a deep love for Rasulullaah, a deep love for sacred Knowledge and those who possess it. He Was always in the service of our beautiful deen and its leaders. May Allah accept all his efforts and raise him with whom he loved,” added Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels.
Hadji Omar had a soft spot for VOC and attended many of the station’s events since its inception. He had delivered the athaan the first time the station went live on the 91.3fm frequency in 2013.
On social media, a number of Islamic institutions and individuals shared their memories of the legendary ‘maankyker’.
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May Allah SWT grant Hadji Omar Gabier the highest rank in Jannah and put nur in his qabr. He will be sorely missed.
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