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Tears as ‘Imam’ honored with doctorate

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On Wednesday evening the University of the Western Cape (UWC) paid honour to the late Imam Abdullah Haron, by posthumously awarding the former struggle veteran with a honorary doctorate. The recognition came just two weeks shy of the 45th anniversary of his tragic passing.

Born in Claremont on 8 February 1924, Haron was considered one of the most prominent scholars of the day, and was most noted for his strong activism against the Apartheid government. He was the Imam of the Stegman Road Masjid in Claremont, where he notably brought about the formation of a Women’s Community Forum, encouraging their participation in matters relating to the mosque.

Haron was famously arrested and subsequently held in solitary confinement for 123 days. During this time, he was aggressively tortured by Apartheid police, before succumbing to his injuries in September 1969.

The doctorate was accepted on behalf of the family by the late Imam’s son, Prof. Mohammad Haron. Addressing the gathering, he expressed his family’s deepest gratitude and honour for the recognition paid to their father.

Photo courtesy ITV News

Paying homage to the late anti-apartheid activist, Dr Mohammad said it was on such occasions that the family was reminded of the type of life he had led. He described the late Imam as a man who subscribed to the concept of ‘Ubuntu’, and who sacrificed his life to achieve the ideals of social justice.

“He lived in such a way that when he interacted and socialized with whomsoever he could, he reflected that notion of Ubuntu. Showing that you need to respect others and you have to tolerate others,” he said.

He noted that Imam Haron was “quite at home” with interacting and socializing with people of different religious backgrounds, be it atheism or any other ideological groups, because the higher ideal of social justice was being pursued.

‘He was someone who was fairly a flamboyant character, who basically socialized with everybody. In a sense we can learn from the way he carried himself, the way he lived his life, and the way he sacrificed his life,” he said.

Dr Muhammad thanked UWC for recognizing the efforts of the late Imam, calling him a father to the community in the Western Cape.

The awarding of the doctorate comes a few months after Imam Haron was also posthumously awarded the order of Luthuli in gold, one of the country’s highest honors. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)

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