By Tauhierah Salie
Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks was more than just a scholar of deen or a supporter of Palestine, but a life-long activist against injustice and oppression. These were some of the sentiments of political activists and members of the African National Congress (ANC), in paying tribute to a giant of the Muslim community of South Africa. After months of frail health and recent hospitalisation, Maulana Ihsaan passed away on Friday night at the age of 54 years.
As the president of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), it was under Maulana Ihsaan’s leadership that the ulema body forged a significant relationship with the African National Congress (ANC) and paved the way for Muslim issues and Palestinian solidarity to be placed firmly on the government’s agenda.
Speaking to VOC on Saturday morning, ANC deputy secretary general Jessie Duarte said Maulana Ihsaan’s death was a great loss to political activists from South Africa.
“Maulana, from a very young age, showed solidarity with the liberation movement and made sure people understood him. Despite his ability to maintain his independence when it came to the institutions that he represented, we know where his heart was and we are greatly appreciative of the fact that he supported the struggle of the people of South Africans for freedom and liberation,” she said.
Over the past few months, Maulana Ihsaan had vocalised his concern around gentrification and the erosion of Cape Malay history in Cape Town.
“He spoke strongly against the gentrification of Bo Kaap and he assured people in Makassar that their land will not be taken away and that the kramats will not be taken away, (or have) big private building be put around it,” she said.
But Maulana Ihsaan made an indelible mark on the Palestinian solidarity movement and in his advocacy, laboured the fact that that the Palestinian occupation was not a Muslim issue, but one which transcended race and religion.
“For him it was about human rights and the atrocities that were occurring there, less about any political or religious dynamic…just simply looking at the plight of people and how they are being treated,” Duarte related.
Duarte reminded listeners that Maulana Ihsaan had fought tirelessly against racism, classism and injustice.
“The very last conversation we had was about giving service to the people, what that means and how it should manifest itself….the unity of the people of South Africa, the undermining of racism that is creeping back into our lives. We all understand it might take a long time to undo racism from within our souls, but he was convinced that we can do that and I believe that too. So, May Allah grant him Jannah. He was an extremely important person in our lives, and for our generation of ANC members and the young people of the 1990’s and 1980’s in the ANC. We will miss him.”
The ANC in the Western Cape and the MJC have a long and rich history of working together on issues which not only affected our country but also global issues and challenges. In particular the ANC worked closely and always consulted Maulana Ihsaan on issues around the Middle East.
“As the standard bearer of Muslim community in South Africa , the MJC has kept the ANC abreast of all the interests and concerns of the Muslim community and ANC has become a great part of the community and its programmes that enriches the mosaic of our country,” said ANC provincial secretary, Faiez Jacobs.
It was under the leadership of Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks that the Fiqh (laws) of Citizenship gained momentum, added Jacobs.
“Muslims in South Africa are South African citizens first, that Muslims must celebrate, acknowledge and appreciate the freedoms they have to practise their religion enshrined in our Constitution and as such participate in the progressive body politik of South Africa. Both the ANC and MJC have fought hard for political freedom and religious freedom and since ANC came into power, such freedoms have been indivisible and President Ihsaan Hendricks played a significant role in forging that convergence.”
Jacobs said the relationship between the ANC and MJC, under their respective presidents has been greatly strengthened by the mutual desire to see the freedom of the people of Palestine fully realised.
In a statement, Al Jama-ah party expressed its sadness, with leader Ganief Hendricks describing the scholar as a “revolutionary leader”.
“Maulana Ihsaan was one of the greatest supporters of revolution and one who always thrived to foster justice. We send our deepest condolences to the bereaved family. Our duas (prayers) are what we have at heart to remember our departed senior. May Allah comfort the family in this moment of grief, May Allah fill his grave with nur.”