South Africa has a lost a luminary of the Islamic world. Shaykh Seraj Hendricks of the Azzawia Institute passed away on Thursday following his recent battle with COVID-19. Shaykh Siraj had spent the past few weeks in critical condition in hospital. Shaykh Seraj is an internationally recognized leading scholar of traditional Islam, steeped in the rich legacy of the classical heritage. He is a leading spiritual figure within the Muslim community of Cape Town, having made a remarkable contribution to the study of Tasawwuf. He served as the first dean of Madina Institute in Cape Town and was the hakim of the Crescent Observers’ Society.
In a statement, the Azzawia Institute said his death leave a huge void within the Muslim community of the Cape.
“To the entirety of Azzawia’s community; young and old; near and far:
It is with great sadness, an abundance of love, and contentment with our Lord, that Azzawia Institute announces the passing of our ustadh, the ‘allama, the imam, the murrabi, Resident Shaykh of Azzawia Institute: Shaykh Seraj Hassan Hendricks, rahimahuAllah.
The funeral will be a small family affair owing to the COVID19 restrictions in operation. For those that wish to offer the janaza prayer, but are unable owing to the restrictions, it is recommended to perform salat al-gha’ib instead. The method is included below this message. Salat al-gha’ib may be performed after the departed have been made ready for janaza; this will be sometime in the next 24 hours.
Shaykh Seraj’s passing is to his gain. May Allah grant him the most noble of dwellings in the highest paradise. May Allah, The Glorified and the Exalted, make us benefit from all the spiritual masters of this beautiful line of scholars, particularly Shaykh Seraj, and may He raise his rank and their high ranks amongst His chosen ones. Shaykh Seraj with his brother Shaykh Ahmad took up the mantle that their grandfather, Shaykh Muhammad Salih Hendricks, first instituted, 100 years ago, with the foundation of Azzawia. They continued in the tradition of tariqa ulama makka, returning after more than a decade with their own shaykh and murabbi, the Makkan scholar of scholars, Sayyid Muhammad b. Alawi al-Maliki, rahmatullah ‘alayhi, becoming his khalīfas. May Allah shower Shaykh Seraj with mercy, and raise him to the highest of ranks, ya Rabb.
Our condolences to all of Azzawia’s community, particularly his wife, Aunty Rhoda, his three children, Rashid, Nuha and Alia; Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks, and all of his siblings, cousins, students, and friends. Shaykh Seraj’s impact, rahimahuAllah, has been felt far and wide; far beyond Cape Town, South Africa, or the African continent. Rather, his impact – and thus his legacy – spans the world.
May Allah bless all of you and all of us during this difficult time.”
The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has expressed sadness at the passing of Shaykh Seraj as Shaykh also held the position of Mufti and Hakim of the MJC for a period of time.
“South Africa has indeed lost one of its most prominent scholars, and a luminary who contributed largely to the religious, spiritual, and intellectual development of our community, and the many students who benefitted from his knowledge,” said the MJC in a statement.
Shaykh Seraj previously served as Mufti of the MJC and served as the Hakim of the MJC.
“He leaves behind a wonderful legacy of the pursuit of knowledge, teaching, spirituality, and dedication to his Masjid and his community, We express our sincere condolences to his family, students, as well as the Mureeds of the Azzawia Masjid. We thank Almighty Who has indeed blessed our community with an A’alim the calibre of Sh Seraj Hendricks. May Almighty Allah grant him a high place in Jannah Ameen”.
The Madina Institute fondly recalls Shaykh as one of the senior instructors of Madina and has expressed condolences from Shaykh Muhammad bin Yahya An Ninowy. Colleagues and students of Shaykh Seraj have explained a deep sadness and beautiful patience upon the passing of the stalwart.
“Shaykh Seraj Hendricks has been a giant among the scholars in Cape Town and globally recognised contributor to Islamic education. Having graduated in Makkah under the tutorship of many renowned Scholars and extending that beneficial knowledge to so many of our learned Mashaaikh we are sadly sharing his passing after a long battle over the past few weeks with the pandemic.”
Madina Institute said Shaykh Seraj has left behind a huge legacy of beneficial knowledge, impeccable community leadership, courage and love.
“He is greatly missed. His participation, guidance and presence at Madina Institute is part of our legacy.”
Shaykh Seraj was a high school English teacher between 1980 and 1982 in Cape Town before leaving for Saudi Arabia in 1983 to study at the Umm al-Qura University in Makkah. He spent three years at the Arabic Language Institute studying Arabic and related subjects before being accepted for the BA (Hons) Islamic Law degree. He specialised in Fiqh and Usul al-Fiqh in the Faculty of Shariah and graduated in 1992.
Previous to this he spent a number of years studying at the feet of his illustrious uncle, the late Shaykh Mahdi Hendricks (d.1981) – erstwhile life president of the Muslim Judicial Council and widely regarded as one of the foremost scholars of Islam in South Africa.
During his studies at Umm al-Qura University he was also a student of the late Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki in Makkah for a period of eight years and from whom he obtained –along with his brother Shaykh Ahmad Hendricks – a full ijazah (licence) in the religious sciences and a number of tariqas – particularly the Ba Alawi tariqa. He also obtained ijazahs from both the late Sayyid Ahmad Mashur al-Haddad and Sayyid Abd al-Qadir b. Ahmad al-Saqqaf.
Shaykj Seraj graduated MA (cum laude) in Arabic from UNISA. He was the former head of the Department of the Fatwa Committee of the Muslim Judicial Council.
Shaykh Seraj has also made a number of appearances on various local and international television and radio stations and has presented papers and talks at numerous conferences and public events. He has also written numerous articles for a number of magazines, newspapers, and journals.
His published works include a highly successful book on the hajj entitled “A Concise Companion to the Hajj” which is currently being rewritten and revised. His MA dissertation entitled “Tasawwuf (Sufism): Its Role and Impact on the Culture of Cape Islam” is due for publication shortly. He has also completed an annotated translation of Imam al-Ghazali’s Ayyuh al-Walad which is still to be launched. Along with his brother, Shaykh Ahmad, he is also the designated khalifa of the late Sayyid Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki in South Africa.