Led by the ‘elders’, some of the country’s leading ulema came together for a special commemorative event on Tuesday, to mark the Muslim Judicial Council’s (MJC) 70th anniversary at Masjid-u-Salaam in Athlone. Many of the senior ulema, most of them physically frail but still mentally sharp, were perched in chairs, while younger shuyookh sat on the floor, listening intently to their stories. The elders reflected on the MJC’s humble beginnings, imparting wise words on the role of ulema in the past and present.
Nearing the end of his current term as president, Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks gave special recognition to the MJC’s senior ulema who have dedicated their lives towards serving the Muslim community on religious practices.
“I have no other responsibility except to express our gratitude and appreciation to men who have dedicated the last of the 70 years in building and shaping the MJC. Many people have good memories of the MJC and in some cases, many people remain critical of the MJC. I encourage those to remain critical as this is the only way we can excel in our performance in serving the Muslim community,” Hendricks said.
The central religious authority was established in 1945, to represent the Muslim community and to address religious requirements for the growing community. While there has been much criticism levelled at the MJC in the way it handled some issues, the body has played a vital role in nurturing Muslim identity and navigating the community through the challenges faced over seven decades.
During the proceedings, Hendricks paid tribute to the many individuals who have laid the foundations of teachings and wisdom onto the next generation.
Renowned local senior ulema from the honourable Maulana Yusuf Karaan to Sheikh Abdul Gamiet Gabier, all addressed the congregation on Islam in the Cape and how it has grown through the generations. They evoked laughter from the young ulema in attendance with their humourous stories of how the elders had overcome certain obstacles in the past.
“We had no Islamic institution here until we began the MJC. We worried about what would become of the youth,” former MJC chairperson Sheikh Abdul Gamiet Gabier recalled.
Capturing those in attendance, MJC second deputy president Sheikh Igsaan Taliep, touched on the future of the MJC and encouraged the young ulema of the next generation to open their minds in their approach to the Muslim society in Cape.
The MJC will be holding a Thikr on the 19th of February at Masjidus Salaam as part of their birthday celebration. The thikr will be broadcast live on VOC.
In addition to this, Hendricks said the organisation will be hosting more of these events, in order to do justice to the many ulema who have contributed their efforts in order to build the MJC to what it is today. VOC