While the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) celebrates it’s hosting of the African National Congress (ANC) and President Jacob Zuma last week, community members have criticized what many describe as the MJC’s endorsement of the political party. The event, which was hosted at the Darul Islam High School, witnessed the warm embrace of members of the MJC, president Zuma, and his entourage of ministers.
Given the manner in which the MJC has interacted with the ANC over the years, a relationship which was seemingly cemented in this engagement, community members have overwhelming criticized the MJC, with only a few showing support for the organizations decision to host the President.
Consumer activist, Imraahn Mukaddam questioned the ulama body’s decision to publically “endorse” the ANC as a representative of the Muslim community:
“So who gave the MJC the mandate to endorse the ANC on behalf of the Muslim Community? How can Fanie (shaykh Abrahams) allow Zuma to appear before the children of Darul Islam? Similarly the Committee of Quds gave Helen Zille the freedom of Gatesville mosque. This Abuse of our sacred spaces for electioneering and the abuse of positions to endorse political parties are unacceptable.”
While Facebook commentator, Moain Achmad questioned the MJC’s political assertions in light of what he deems to be the body’s historical stance on politics.
“[This is] the same MJC who said politics is haraam in the 1970’s and 1980’s and the sold out Imam Haron.”
Others lamented the proud history of the ANC, which they say is overshadowed by political scandals:
“The ANC is not the liberators of the past not even a shadow of what the great party represented. Instead they are embroiled in controversy and employ tactics of an oppression and dictatorship to stay and maintain power. MJC, make no mistake thinking that you are representing the view of all Muslims and to have a cleric of the ummah supporting such a corrupt personality. This says a lot about that particular persons values too and he cannot lead our people. Time for, how we say, ‘Anne Manne…Niewe Manne’ for both camps in leadership,” Facebook commentator, Nazeem Sauls said.
Meanwhile, others commended the members of the MJC for their non-apologetic support of the ANC and Zuma:
“What is worse, a Zionist sympathizer invited to a mosque or a Palestine supporting president at a high school? Maulana Ihsan Hendricks I salute you for declaring your allegiance to the ANC openly without fear of critics. After all, we fought for this very freedom of association,” Facebook commentator, Zaib Jacobs asserted.
Guess what you all, we are not living in a Muslim country, yet we have the freedom to practice our religion to the fullest. Yet, in so-called Muslim countries, Muslims have no freedom! Amazing how quick you all are turning on the MJC, yet you have no idea what the MJC has done over the years for us in the Western Cape so that we are able to have freedom of religion. Think people, think! I take my hat off to the MJC!” Moeneeb Cummings said.
Speaking to VOC, MJC deputy president Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie explains that the MJC, in a multiparty democracy, meets with “whoever makes the call to the MJC.”
He says that since the inauguration of the MJC’s newly elected president, Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams, the ANC has congratulated the MJC and reaffirmed its support of the Muslim community with the start of Ramadan.
“In response to that, the MJC called upon the state president to join the Muslim community for an iftaar. This led to this particular meeting with the ANC and the state president,” he added.
Given the MJC’s overwhelming show of support for the ANC, Allie affirmed that the MJC has a policy that governs its engagement with political parties.
In response to criticism from community members, Allie says that MJC policy allows for the MJC to encourage citizens to vote in both local and national elections, further asserting that the choice of political party rests with the individual.
“As the MJC, we live in South Africa and have to participate in the democratic processors, and voting is part of that process.”
He further noted that the criticism may be in response to comments made by the ex-president of the MJC, moulana Ihsan Hendricks, in which he affirmed his support for the ANC and president Zuma.
“It was precisely in accordance with the policy of the MJC, that after his presidency he was able to make that particular announcement,” Allie continued.
In a previous interview, Shaykh Abrahams explained that while the MJC has over the years developed strong relations with the African National Congress (ANC), with the exception of the president of the MJC, individuals affiliated with the organization are free to join any political party.
“Sheikh Nazeem Mohamed had a very special bond with the head of the ANC, President Nelson Mandela. The MJC [therefore] developed relations with the ANC. [But] where they do wrong, we have to keep informing them of their wrongdoings,” he said.