Judge Siraj Desai from University Estate received the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) Life Achievement Award at their 75th anniversary celebration in the St George’s Cathedral hall in Cape Town on Wednesday 12 February.
Chief Mandla Mandela, a member of the national assembly, was also in attendance.
“Desai has a longstanding relationship with the MJC which extends to the days of apartheid. He is often consulted by the MJC members on legal matters for his brilliant legal mind. He remains an important friend of the MJC and a well respected servant of the South African people. He is a worthy recipient of the MJC Life Achievement Award,” says Zaid Dante, executive member of the MJC.
Desai had been instrumental in a number of landmark rulings and has been a judge for more than 25 years.After receiving his award Desai said the MJC needs to continue its work towards achieving social justice.
“What’s important is not the number but it’s important to celebrate the achievements of the MJC’s leadership over the past four or five decades.
“They were outstanding figures in the struggle for change in this country, they made an important contribution. But, more than anything else, they paced Islam in the mainstream in the struggle of the country,” he says.
Desai mentioned that the MJC became more progressive between 1980-1990, under the leadership of Shaykh Abubakr Najjaar (1978–1982), Shaykh Nazim Mohamed (1982–1998) and Shaykh Ebrahim Gabriels (1998–2006). “I worked not simply as a Muslim but outside of the political movement. We had a working relationship and if the MJC continue on this trajectory, then the Islam will make a greater contribution to effect social change,” he added.
Desai also reflected on the people who had made an impact on him.
“Two personalities that had an impact on my life were Imam Abdulla Haron, a former chair of the MJC and martyr who was murdered by the apartheid police in 1969. The other personality whom I identified with, was Sheikh Nazeem Mohamed, former president of the MJC, whom I regarded as person who I had enormous respect for,” Desai says.
Mandela’s message was one of congratulations, but more importantly a call for more intense social activism and a call for faith based organisations to unite to ease the plight of the poor, and ease the plight of those living in conditions where gangsterism and drugs hamper social development of communities. He also highlighted the plight of the Palestinian people and the oppressed people of the world.
Source : News 24
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