Imams in mosques across the country will deliver a ‘national unified’ khutbah focused on ISIS on Friday, that will encourage Muslims to be wary of recruitment activities of the group in South Africa. This development comes after various Muslim organisations and scholars from across South Africa met recently to discuss the problem posed by the attraction of the Islamic State group among some South African Muslims.
The representatives expressed concern about information gleaned from within the Muslim community about growing sympathy for ISIS among some South African Muslims, and reports that more South Africans have left for Syria since news of the 16-old Cape Town girl broke early April.
The meeting decided on a number of steps that Muslim community leadership are taking and will take in order to address this attraction and engage with the spurious discourse of ISIS which it claims is based on Islam.
Recounting the history of Islam in South Africa, the sacrifices that Muslims made to ensure that Islam and Muslims become part of the South African social fabric, the role of Muslims in the anti-apartheid struggle, and ‘the South African culture of peaceful coexistence’, the khutbah says South African Muslims ‘have much to be grateful for and for which to celebrate the praises of God’. However, it warns, this gratitude is meaningless if ‘some individuals within our community affiliate themselves with such groups or persons that would jeopardise the freedoms that South Africans enjoy’.
While the khutbah acknowledges that ‘millions of Muslims across the globe are experiencing occupation and other kinds of oppression’, and expresses support for the ‘continuous struggle and jihad against unjust occupation’ by the Palestinian and other people, it calls for a response that is consistent with the spirit and values of Islam. The sermon calls for ‘aggression [against Muslims] to cease’, and suggests that ‘the chances for justice are better when there is peace, not war’.
The khutbah informs the Muslim community that there have recently been ‘individuals from our community who have joined or attempted to join ISIS’. However, it asserts, ‘The vast majority of Muslim scholars around the world have clearly condemned ISIS and have categorically stated that it does not represent Islam or the Shariah.’
From an Islamic perspective, the khutbah argues, ‘it is unlawful for anyone to join [ISIS]’, saying the group engages in ‘criminal activities’ and ‘sheds people’s blood’ unlawfully, ‘labels Muslims as disbelievers, violates people’s honour and usurps their properties… and creates corruption on earth’. Islam, it says, ‘calls for mercy, love, and rejection of terrorism and extremism, which represent envy, rancour, and hatred.’ On behalf of the organisations that issued the khutbah, it ‘advise[s] people not to be deceived by false slogans and calls of such groups’.
A spokesperson for the group of organisations and scholars said that there was serious concern within the community, and that there are families ‘whose lives have been made miserable, whose elders have become haggard and distressed’ because of the intention of family members to join ISIS. Some South African Muslims that have gone to Iraq and Syria went to fight with ISIS, while others emigrated to live in territory controlled by the group, he said.
“As South Africans, we will work with other institutions within South African society – such as government, the media and community organisations – to stem any attraction of South Africans for this group, or any similar group such as Boko Haram or Al-Shabab. We must be uncompromising in our rejection of their ideologies and their actions,” he concluded.
The statement is signed by the Call of Islam, Darul Ihsan, Jamiatul Ulama Kwazulu Natal, Jamiatul Ulama South Africa, Muslim Judicial Council, Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa, South African Muslim Network, Sunni Jamiyat-e-Ulama, Sunni Ulama Council, the Union of Muslim Students Associations and United Ulama Council of South Africa.
Attached is the unified Jumuah Khutbah for Friday the 29th May: