One of South Africa’s most powerful and fearless voices of human rights activism has fallen silent. The unique and inimitable Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks, a bright light of Islam, died on Friday night at the age of 54 years, after struggling with ill health for some time. An icon of the South African Muslim community – Maulana Igsaan has been described as a pioneer in Islamic scholarship, breaking new ground in contemporary Islamic discourse and social justice activism. He is considered one of the most prominent Palestinian activists in the world.
During his thirty year career, Maulana Ihsaan has worn many hats and handled every challenge with gusto. He was the former president of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), a position he held for two-terms (ten years), an MJC Imaarah (senior council) member, Director of the Al-Quds Foundation of South Africa, an executive member of the International Union of Muslim Scholars (IUMS) and a member of the World Assembly of Muslim Youth.
“Moulana was known as a visionary with outstanding leadership abilities, oratory skills and a passion and willingness to serve the community,” said close friend and colleague, Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) president Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams.
“May Allah Almighty grant the community of Cape Town and South Africa, leaders who will follow in his footsteps and continue his vision of serving humanity for the sake of Allah Almighty Ameen,” concluded Shaykh Abrahams.
The early years
Maulana Ihsaan’s life story is one filled with a beautiful and rich history – which laid the foundation for his lifelong pursuit of knowledge of deen and social justice. Born on the 16 September 1964 in Worcester, 110 kilometres outside Cape Town, he spent his formative years in the rustic town where family relations and the principles upon which he was reared had a strong influence on his later life as an adult and his life within the MJC.
His Christian grandmother and his mother were well versed in staunch traditional Christian theology where honesty and integrity were very important considerations. But it was more specifically the teachings and preaching of Maulana Ihsaan’s father, Hadjie Salie Hendricks, that helped to shape his character and personality at an impressionable and tender age.
Hadjie Salie was a revert to Islam, whose honesty and integrity were unquestionable. Hadjie Salie was well-steeped in the basic principles of Emaan (faith) of Allah and firmly believed that the MJC would, in time, become the teaching ground for his eldest son.
In an interview with Boorhanoel Magazine, Maulana Ihsaan said, “My father introduced me to the late Shaykh Nazeem Mohammad (R.A), then President of the MJC, in the following way: ‘This is my boy, he now belongs to you, if you need him to start by sweeping your offices, then that is what he must do.’”
Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks attended the Bree River High School until 1980. He then enrolled at the Darul Uloom Newcastle in South Africa and after completing a 3-year course in 1983, continued his studies at the world renowned Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama in Lucknow, India. He graduated in 1987 from the faculty of Shariah.
Moulana became assistant Imam at the Worcestor Masjid in 1988 and for a period of two years was at the Mahadul Islamic Arabic College in Paarl and a student (and later teacher) at the Iekraamia Islamic Centre. Thereafter, Moulana became Imaam at the Wellington Mosque as well as the principal and President of the Islamic Education Council of the Boland.
After a two-year stint as lecturer in Quranic Studies at the Islamic College of South Africa (ICOSA), Moulana spent another two years at the International Islamic University in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Moulana was fluent in Afrikaans, English, Arabic, Urdu and Malayu.
On his return to South Africa, he became Imam at the Nurul Hudaa Masjied in Belhar until 1996, then a lecturer at the Darul Arqam Islamic Institute (DAII) run by the MJC. He soon advanced to the position of Assistant Principal at DAII.
Maulana’s ability as a task leader helped greatly in the advancement of projects and the establishment of departments like the Department of Quranic Affairs (DQA) and the Al-Quds Foundation. He served as first deputy president of the MJC from 2001 to 2006 under the leadership of Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels as president.
He was elected as President of the MJC from 2006 until 2016. He accepted responsibilities placed upon him as leader and was able to interact with anyone on any hierarchical level, be it with royalty, politicians or International Ulama. He was a dedicated Islamic worker and expected the same from Ulema and staff.
In 2002, Moulana Ihsaan was appointed as the head of the expanded MJC Halaal Trust Board – a position he occupied until his demise.
Maulana Ihsaan’s love for improving the Muslim community at the Cape can be seen in various projects/developments. He was the founding trustee of the Muslim Broadcasting Cooperation which trades as the Voice of the Cape – the first Muslim radio station in South Africa. He was also the founder of the Nurul Hudaa Early Learning Centre, the Belhar Islamic Primary School, the Sharkireen Educare Centre in Wellington and the founder of the Al-Quds Foundation office in South Africa.
Palestinian activist for life
Maulana Ihsaan was most vociferous on the issue of Palestine. He believed that the welfare of Palestine is integral to the Aqeedah (belief) of Muslims and therefore cannot be compromised.
In 2011, Maulana Ihsaan founded the Al Quds Foundation office in South Africa. It was a culmination of the vision of the late Shaykh Nazeem Mohammed (R.A). Moulana Ihsaan and Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels and others Maulana Ihsaan was red flagged in Zionist Occupied Israel as persona non-grata and banned from the country.
The Zionist Israeli Regime viewed him as a threat to the Zionist state of Israel. It was during this time that he met with the leaders of the Al-Quds International Institution in Jordan. At this historic andstrategic meeting, a branch of the Al-Quds Foundation in South Africa was discussed.
Six months after this commitment, Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks, Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels and others opened the office in Athlone, Cape Town. This office remains as a bastion of resistance against the Zionist Israeli state and keeps the flame alive for a free and liberated Palestine.
Maulana Ihsaan was instrumental in taking the South African contribution to the Palestinians who have expressed their gratitude for the undying and unwavering support to the cause.
Positions held at the time of Moulana’s passing:
MJC Imaarah (senior council) – member
MJC Halaal Trust Board of Trust – Chairperson
Al-Quds Foundation of South Africa – National Director
International Union of Muslim Scholars – Executive member
International Union for the Memorization of the Holy Quran – Trustee
World Assembly of Muslim Youth – Head of the Southern and Central African Region
Shaykh Abu Al-Hasain Ali Al-Nadwi Leadership Academy – Director
Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi rajioun
May Allah Almighty grant the illustrious Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks the highest stage of Jannah Ameen.
The mayat (deceased) will leave from his home at 11 Oasis Road, Hazendal at 16h15. They will proceed to Masjidus Salaam in St Athens Road, Athlone and thereafter to the Johnson Road Cemetery.
VOC will broadcast the janaaza live on air from 4pm Inshallah