The tenure of the President of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), Moulana Ihsaan Hendricks, in 2016 comes to an end. Hendricks announced that he is not stepping down, but instead respecting the constitutional ruling of the MJC that only allows individuals to serve as president for no longer than two consecutive terms.
“In 2006 when I was elected as the President of the MJC, after my predecessor Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels, the constitution of the MJC was very clear that no president of the MJC will enjoy more than two consecutive terms,” Hendricks explained.
Hendricks further noted that he completed his first term five years after his inauguration as President of the MJC, and was subsequently re-elected in 2011 to serve a second term.
He, therefore, affirmed that in 2016 his second term has come to an end.
“The matter must be very clear that it is a constitutional matter of the MJC.”
Hendricks explained that historically he was part of the constitutional decision-making process that advised that no individual should stand as president for two consecutive terms in order that the MJC continuously produce new leadership.
Looking back: challenges and successors
The MJC, which was established 10 February 1945, in 2015 celebrated its 70th anniversary.
Hendricks explained that challenges faced during his tenure were not peculiar to him, since the MJC, during its 70-year existence, is accustomed to dealing with challenges – “the challenges were never personal.”
During his ten year term, Hendricks lead courageously through the Orion saga and raised the bar on Palestinian solidarity within the local Muslim community.
Hendricks affirmed his gratitude to the founding fathers of the MJC and his predecessors who he notes “created a basis for the MJC.”
“I would like to pay tribute to Shaykh Nazim (may peace be upon him), since as a young man, I and my colleagues, enjoyed working under the leadership of the late Shaykh – one cannot talk about challenges nor successors without acknowledging your predecessors,” Hendricks asserted.
He further makes references to the works of the social scientist, Ibn Khaldun who, when analysing the khilafat of Sayidinah Abubakr and Sayidinah Umar (may peace be upon them), talks about the expansionist programme of Umar. Ibn Khaldun explained that “if there was a not an Abubakr then there would not be an Umar.”
“Therefore, the expansionist programme that we embarked on as a team, inclusive of; administrators, workers, and executive members, worked to expand the administration of the MJC.”
This work, he notes, resulted in transforming the work of the MJC from a part-time endeavour, which after Salat al-Thuhr would close, to a full-time fully functioning organisation.
Hendricks notes that within the last 25 years, with the expansion of the administrative sector, the MJC expanded its secretariat, which compelled constitutional changes and resulted in the appointment of a full-time administrator.
“The transitional phase of the MJC, to bring it from a very part-time to a full day programme, was a wonderful exercise that came with challenges,” Hendricks confirmed.
Hendricks further explained that during his tenure as president he continued with the projects that were initiated under the auspices of his predecessor, Shaykh Gabriels, which he explained greatly added to the value of the MJC.
One of the projects that were initiated during the tenure of Gabriel’s is the Poverty Eradication Project, which assisted in the training of emerging farmers.
The MJC has successfully developed numerous projects, including; the Department of Qur’anic Affairs and the Al-Quds Foundation, which in 2006 was brought to South Africa under the leadership of Shaykh Yusuf Qaradawi.
“I was given the honour of heading the al-Quds foundation, which prioritised the Palestinian issue in the MJC – part of the vision of the late Shaykh Nazim (RA),” Hendricks noted.
The Al-Quds Foundation, Hendricks explained, facilitated for numerous Palestinians access to education, and who subsequently obtained Honours, Masters, and Doctorate degrees.
He asserted that one of the MJC’s successful initiatives includes the convoy that set off to the Gaza Strip.
Hendricks further explained that the establishment of the Media Desk, headed by Nabawiya Malik, is vital for an ulama body such as the MJC and provides “well researched and analysed” feedback to the community.
“The MJC prides itself for having assisted in establishing the VOC, which today is a great service the Muslim community,” Hendricks affirmed.
“These successors did not come without challengers.”
MJC policy on appointing a new president
The Constitution of the MJC provides that an individual after having served two terms may reapply for the position after someone else has served as president.
During the tenure of Hendricks, it was the first time that a president of the MJC enjoyed the extended term of five years.
In 2006, the MJC developed the succession policy, which speaks to the position of a former president. The policy stipulates that a president, within the first year after his tenure is complete, is not obligated to take any position within the MJC. After this year has lapsed, the MJC, under a new contract, may request the expertise of the former president.
Hendricks explained that the Executive of the MJC has requested that once his tenure as president is complete that he continues to fulfil his obligations to the International Portfolio of the MJC.
Importantly, he notes, the succession policy of the MJC is also a pronouncement of the conclusion of the term of the Executive.
In a general council meeting that took place two weeks ago, the MJC concluded the Electoral College document, which is officially adopted as a policy of the MJC.
The Electoral College of the MJC speaks to the job definitions and accompanied requirements of individuals who are appointed to the various positions.
“The council will elect; the president, first deputy president, the second deputy president, secretary general, and the treasurer – the ‘big five’.”
Since the former president of the MJC is not eligible for elections, Hendricks will serve on the Electoral College.
The nomination process opens on 1 April 2016 and will conclude on 8 April 2016.
The MJC will be hosting its AGM on the 23rd of April, after which elections will begin for new leadership
Vision of the future
Hendricks affirmed that though the MJC has achieved great successors, it remains tasked with improving both administratively and on the level of the community.
He further noted that going forward it is important that the MJC embrace expertise within the community – “in the interest of Islam and the Muslims.”
He, therefore, asserts that the “very serious phenomenon of ISIS” has created great concern for the MJC in preserving the essence of Islam within South Africa.
“The possible recruitment of our youth [by ISIS] is a great concern for the MJC.”
Hendricks does, however, note that the Muslim community in South Africa currently enjoys great freedom to practice their religion as compared to other parts of the world and should work toward preserving this liberty.
He, therefore, explains that an important aspect of the MJC within the community relates to Fiqu al-Muwatana (the Jurisprudence of Citizenship), which Hendricks notes, speaks to building good citizenship of the Muslim Community within the greater South Africa.
Of the issues which the MJC faces, Hendricks notes that the existence of social media platforms creates a new challenge for the organization since news may reach the public prior to the MJC officially concluding on the matter.
This reality, he asserts, has resulted in the dispersion of incorrect information, which often creates a negative impression of the organization. The MJC is, therefore, continuously tasked with taking corrective measures.
The MJC, therefore, endeavours to improve its social media platforms in order to stay abreast in announcing new developments that occur within the organization.
After his tenure, Hendricks explained that he will dedicate his time to the Al-Quds foundation and research within the Abul Hasan Ali Nadwi Academy.
“I will remain loyal to the MJC forever since I am very proud to be a member of the MJC. I, therefore, express my gratitude to the Almighty, to my colleagues, and to the seniors of the MJC – I have gained much experience and organizational discipline within the MJC.”