By Tasneem Adams
One of Cape Town’s most revered shuyookh, Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels, has been formally inaugurated as the national director of the Al Quds Foundation. The announcement was made in a moving ceremony in Athlone on Wednesday, following a decision by the international Al Quds office in Lebanon. Gabriels is the successor to the late Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks, who passed away last year following a long-term illness. He has served as a trustee of the Al Quds Foundation since its inception.
Shaykh Gabriels is well known as one of the most passionate and committed pro-Palestinian activists in South Africa. At a time when the Palestinian cause was not a mainstream issue, Shaykh Gabriels and Maulana Ihsaan started educating the Muslim community on the Palestinian struggle in the late 90’s. The shaykh was instrumental in establishing the weekly Thursday night Palestinian programme at Masjidul Rawbie in Portlands and encouraging Muslims to fast every Thursday in solidarity with Palestinians. He has led numerous mass rallies in Cape Town and has been part of a number of Palestinian solidarity campaigns.
Listen to the interview here:
Shaykh Gabriels and Maulana Ihsaan had often travelled to Palestine and the Middle East to understand the Zionist Israeli occupation and developed long-standing relationships with many Palestinian politicians, religious leaders and activists. Significantly, both Shaykh Ebrahim and Maulana Ihsaan was a guest speaker at Sh Raed Salah’s Al Aqsa Mahrajan (festival) in umm ul-Fahm’s football stadium, which was packed with about 25,000 people. Besides his work at the Al Quds Foundation, Shaykh Gabriels is also an executive member of the Muslim Judicial Council, a community worker and has a weekly marriage show on VOC.
“I feel honoured to be the new director of Al Quds Foundation as the position will connect me further to the Palestinian struggle for peace and justice. We cannot do justice to this topic without speaking about the role of former director Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks, who dedicated his life to the plight of the Palestinians. Maulana Ihsaan was well known and loved by many Palestinians. So I have big shoes to fill, but I ask Allah SWT to guide me in this path and take on this position with total sincerity and commitment, InshaAllah.”
The Al Quds Foundation is an independent civil organisation with a global reach and is guided by its vision “together we safeguard Al Quds”. Part of that vision is to protect and preserve Masjidul Aqsa, Islam’s third holiest site. Palestinian and most regional observers see the escalation in violence around the sacred mosque as a Zionist Israeli government plan to take complete control of the holy site as well as an excuse for ‘Judaizing’ the city of Jerusalem.
“I was present at the inception of the international Al Quds Foundation in Beirut in Lebanon and here I saw that people from all walks of life and religions were called together to work for this cause. Jerusalem is the heart of the world. Like the Nabi Muhammad (saw) says, if the heart is in a good condition, then the whole body will be in a good condition. So I believe that if Al Quds is in a good condition, there will be peace and stability in the world,” said Gabriels.
Gabriels hopes he will be able to carry out a number of new projects to keep the Palestinian issue at the forefront of the public agenda.
“Maulana Ihsaan took Al Quds to another level, one of them the first Africa 1 Aid convoy to Gaza. One of the projects we hope to work on is to invite a Gaza soccer team to Cape Town. We also want to again encourage young children to save money for Palestine and hand that over to Palestinian NGOs. We are also thinking of a big walk or a cycling tournament to raise money for Palestine,” said Gabriels.
The alim thanked Capetonians for constantly supporting local solidarity events.
“It is recorded in the history of Cape Town, that we had one of the biggest marches for Palestine in 2014. Cape Town has always been behind the Palestinian cause.”
Gabriels believes the tide is turning and international support for Palestine is growing,
“Even in the British parliament and the Irish government, there are politicians speaking out against the atrocities in Palestine. So it’s not a Muslim issue, it is a human rights issue.”
MJC spokesperson Shaykh Isgaak Taliep congratulated the alim on this new chapter.
“Shaykh Ebrahim and Maulana Ihsaan took up the challenge of creating awareness of the Palestinian struggle in Cape Town, so it’s only fitting that he takes the reigns. We trust that he will continue in the vision that Maulana Ihsaan had for the foundation. Shaykh Ebrahim’s dedication and commitment to the liberation of Masjid Al-Aqsa and the Palestinian struggle spans many decades and is well documented. We wish Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels all the success in this new and very important position. We pray that through his leadership the Al-Quds Foundation will grow and prosper, Allāhumma Āmīn,” said Taliep.
“We commend Sheikh Ebrahim’s appointment and pledge our support for his leadership,” added the Youth for al-Quds South Africa. VOC