With the majority of mainstream ulema unequivocally denouncing Thursday’s attack at the Imam Hussain Mosque in Verulam outside Durban, there should now be vociferous calls for Muslims to reject any form of sectarianism. This was the view of the Claremont Main Road Masjid (CMRM), in the wake of a gruesome attack which has claimed the life of one person and left others seriously injured. The library and kitchen of the masjid was also set alight. Police are on the hunt for three suspects, while the Hawks probe the crime scenes for clues. The brutality of the violence in the small suburb has left the community reeling in shock and fear.
While some Islamic scholars were careful not to label the violence as sectarian in nature until there is strong evidence to support this, the CMRM believes it may be an anti-Shi’a attack. The mosque, which has led many discussions on extremism in the Muslim world, has for the past five years been sounding the alarm about the growing threat of anti-Shi’a sectarianism creeping into the local community. CMRM imam Dr Rashied Omar believes it’s now urgent for Muslims in South Africa to take a stand and speak out loudly against sectarianism, specifically anti-Shi’a sectarianism.
With this in mind, some scholars are pushing for the endorsement of the Cape Accord, a document that was collectively drawn up and signed by prominent Muslim organizations, including CMRM, in December 2017. The Cape Accord embraces the spirit of the Amman Message signed in 2005 by more than 500 leading Muslim scholars worldwide, which aimed to capture Islam’s core values of compassion, mutual respect, tolerance, acceptance and freedom of religion. The Cape Accord calls on Communities to Unite Against Hate Speech and Discord, and to promote intra-Muslim tolerance and cooperation.
“This document needs to be circulated and popularised in our communities. Ordinary Muslims need to familiarise themselves with the content of the Cape Accord and the direction it offers towards greater tolerance and good-neighbourliness amongst and between differing Muslim groups,” explained Dr Omar.
He added that other prominent Muslim institutions and leaders must be encouraged to also sign and endorse the Cape Accord.
“South African Muslims can in no way allow themselves to go down the path of hatred, intolerance, violence, and brutal attacks on Shi’a Muslims as has been the case in several other parts of the world. We must recognize that the fomenting of anti-Shi’a sectarianism has fuelled the many geo-political conflicts we see in the Middle East today. Let us stop this now, and never allow such sectarianism to blight our local community.”
“We call on the South African Police Services (SAPS) to apprehend the perpetrators and bring them to justice. We call on local communities to assist SAPS in doing so speedily. We pray for the victims and their families and for the protection of the voices that challenge the hateful rhetoric of anti-Shi`a sectarianism.”
For more on the Cape Accord, tune into VOC Drivetime at 4pm today.