A host of programmes are lined up as the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) celebrates its 75th anniversary this week. The council was established to unify Muslim scholars and religious leaders in Cape Town and South Africa, and cater to the religious guidance, education and social development sectors.
The MJC was founded by 62 members at the iconic St Georges Cathedral hall in Victoria Road, Cape Town on the 10th February of 1945. A week later, 19 Executive Committee members were elected and a draft constitution was adopted.
Speaking to VOC on Tuesday, Second Deputy President Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, said that the MJC’s history is rich and diverse.
“The Muslim Judicial Council’s history is one developing all the time and over the years, Alghamdulilah, from a single office at the Amelia house to where the current MJC offices are situated; from where we had one office bearer and where the official documents of the MjC was kept in a certain place, to an established office…this the evolving history of the organization,” said Allie.
Allie paid tribute to founding members, some of whom are deceased, including Mohammad Shakier Gamieldien, Shaykh Mogamad Salih (Abadie) Solomons, Abdullah Behardien and Abduragman Salie. Other founding members include: Achmat Behardien, Igsaan Gamieldien, Abdullah Gamieldien, Ismail Edwards, I. Moos, M. Tape Jassiem, M. Moos, M. Abbas Jassiem, I. Taliep, Abdullatief Parker (Imam Babu), Muawiyyah Sedick, Abdul Bassier, Sulayman Harris, Armien Mustafa, Ariefdien Manuel and Hashiem Edross.
The alim explained that the council was built on strong principles that it hopes to maintain.
“When our leaders were brought together, there was certain individuals from the community and from the Muslim progressive society where they played a pivotal role in identifying the need for the ulama to be brought together.”
“Those 10 points still holds today: the aspect relating to unity, the preservation of Islamic values and Islamic identity, the MJC being a judicial role. Until today, in terms of marital related issues, halal, fatwa, arbitration… these are judiciary issues that we can be very proud about, alghamdulilah,” said Allie.
Collaboration has also played a fundamental part of the council’s success.
“We work with our partners with stakeholders with the institutions. The likes of the relief institutions with other professional people, “our” people wherever they are finding themselves in. We take the counselling and advisory position that people share with us and we appreciate it.”
“Something very unique about the Constitution of the MJC speaks about associate – membership where a professional person may not be an alim. It is an ulama body but it is open for people to apply for membership,” said Allie.
He further noted the fruitful impact of the Darul Arqam educational program that has ‘produced wonderful scholars”, adding that this led up to the establishment of the International Peace College South Africa (IPSA) in partnership with the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (ICOSA).
“The leadership work(s) tirelessly for the unity of the national Ulama structures and formations in our work in our country and it is almost an unwritten policy that the MJC owns the chairmanship of UCSA since its establishment. These are just some of the things that we could probably speak about and now we are thankful to all media outlets were behind that for the visionary leadership of our pious predecessors,” he elaborated.
Through dozens of initiatives and events dedicated to spreading knowledge the deputy how unique the council’s growth was, repeatedly emphasising that its successes is only through the mercy of Allah. Allie noted that the council plays a leading role in the education of the ummah.”
“Through our madrassa education system, our Muslim schools, the educational program that the MJC runs currently, the building of relationship with the interfaith community and with other communities toward building a social cohesion and social justice for all South Africans. That is something that we can continue to work with,” said Allie.
“When we travel internationally, people ask this name ‘Muslim Judicial Council’ and it holds such a strong understanding- the name itself it is part of that visionary leadership. It’s one of the one of the 10 points that we identified was that of education and a holistic approach to education and unifying approach to education and making literature available for the broader community. From that we learn and we continue in our civic responsibility that we have towards our country that we live in and to its fellows of Africans,” he added.
The council’s establishment of a ‘Womans’ Network’ was widely welcomed and the department has put in all the necessary elbow grease to bring issues of Muslim women to the forefront.
“Significantly, we look at the women the contribution of women. Today the MJC has a well-established, well-structured MJC women forum that played a very pivotal role in terms of dealing with issues specific to women and the sisters out there. Our lady counsellors in the social development department has a phenomenon role, I mean biologically they understand the sisters that comes to sit in front of them because they can be able to deal with those particular issues they can and we are grateful, we can feel extremely grateful,” he said.
Coinciding with the 30-year commemoration of former president Nelson Mandela’s release from prison this year, Allie recalled heart-wrenching memories of a ‘brutal, oppressive system’ that instilled fear in the hearts of South Africans.
Although criticized for its silence during the height of apartheid, Moulana Allie said that the MJC had played a crucial role at the time. He noted that the MJC supported the United Democratic Front’s fight against the Group Areas Act and stood for the protection and the preservation of masjids.
“But suffice to say that when we see that the MJC did not speak out, does it mean that the mjc condoned or collaborated with the apartheid government and its policies? Did it stand against the post-apartheid system or not? Did it align itself with the government at the time? At the time the brutal apartheid system (saw) atrocities acted upon people (and) placed the broader Muslim community in a very challenging situation,” he said.
According to Allie, more research needs to be conducted to determine whether or not the MJC played their role during apartheid.
“But when you look comprehensively during those very difficult times the MJC took certain very key positions. I mean if you think in terms of the role of Sheikh Nathier Mohammed RA, Imam Gasant Solomon’s being a member of the Muslim Judicial Council and had to flee the country, Sheik Abdul Hamid Gabier that is still alive today, that can speak volumes in terms of the type of position that they had to take. So yes, there is perhaps the reason for people to open up the subject of criticism but I believe that the thorough research needs to be undertaken in this particular regard and be able to identify those particular areas where the Muslim Judicial Council has performed, where it underperform in the various spheres of the political challenge at the time.
He cited revered icon Imam Abdullah Haron who was killed after being interrogated and tortured by the Apartheid Security Branch in 1969. The stalwart was instrumental in the fight against the apartheid regime and became known as a cultural icon.
The Imam’s gravesite and the Al Jamia Masjid in Stegman Road Claremont where he taught was declared as a heritage site in September last year, as part of the 50th year commemoration of his death.
“The South African Muslim community is a vibrant Muslim minority and in the global village that we live in, the MJC is recognized internationally. And so the challenges is, all the time, to remain relevant and to be able to understand the global climate, to understand the national and the local climate, to be in touch with the local communities, to be in touch with what happens on the ground.”
The cleric complimented the leadership who work with communities at a grassroots level to tackle pertinent issues facing society. Allie noted that the MJC has taken on an amanah (commitment) to assist in resolving not only issues pertaining to the Capetonian Muslims, but Muslims around the world. These include: gangsterism and drugs, issues pertaining to modern technology, Islamophobia and terrorism.
In a culmination of 10 months’ worth of discussions, the MJC and the interfaith community met with the City of Cape Town Disaster Risk Management on Monday, to discuss issues relating to safety and security. It comes on the heels of violent attacks on places of worship across the globe. The meeting unpacked stakeholders readiness to respond to disaster and terror activities at their places of worship.
“In a global perspective we have amama responsibility of showcasing the Islam that Prophet Mohammed SAW has brought, the Islam that justice and peace and mercy for all human beings. Likewise you know, in a democratic society that we live in we find ourselves in a secular state, a secular state that gives freedom to people in the challenge to us is how do we hold on and preserve our Islamic identity these values.
He also paid tribute to Shaykh Nazeem Mohamed, as he reiterated their dedication to keep a sharp focus on growing Islam and the ulema in African townships.
The MJC will also be participating in a picket in front of parliament on Wednesday, in conjunction with Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement in South Africa (BDS SA) which seeks to strengthen governments stance against Israel’s implementation of apartheid against the Palestinians. It also hopes to add fire to the rejection of US President Donald Trump’s so-called Middle East “Peace Plan”.
South African civil society groups are expected to host a Palestine solidarity protest ahead of the upcoming State of…
“The Palestinian matter remains a fundamental issue on our agenda to say, as Madiba has said, how can we celebrate our own freedom and our democracy when we look at the Palestinian people and they find themselves under the most brutal occupation in recent times.
Allie hoped to reassure the public that ‘open discussions’ are held regularly at their head offices in Athlone, where issues are looked at ‘critically’.
“Our members constitute of members that are qualified from various institutions across the globe, from various backgrounds and we are able to put our minds and our hearts and together. So, leadership is really critical to us and it must remain very central that we must be sincere in our leadership. We must be focused as a leadership. We must be open and frank about the issues that is plaguing our community,” said Allie.
“The issue to make sure that we remain relevant to addressing our government around issues that we have. We see ourselves as a leadership in joining other faith communities, we need not be in isolation to raise the issue of morality and immorality shown,” he added.
To commemorate the inception, an event will be held at the iconic Saint George Cathedral between 10am-12pm on Wednesday.
“Let us show things that will make the law but also work to a societal renewal and social cohesion towards a peaceful harmonious coexistence,” he said, encouraging all to attend in their numbers.
The public is also invited to join the MJC at Masjidul Gheir in Athlone on Saturday, 15th of February, to bless the tribute.
“The Quran is central to our lives and it will be always be central in the Muslim Judicial Council’s endeavours and our projects and our plan for the future In sha Allah.”