Tear-jerking tributes have continued to flood in from all corners of the globe, following the demise of the esteemed Moulana Muhammad Taha Karaan. In the early hours of Friday morning, The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) announced that the 51-year-old, mufti of the council, had succumbed to Covid-19 at Gatesville Medical Centre in Athlone, Cape Town.
Moulana Karaan was a Shafi’i scholar born in Cape Town, South Africa to a family renowned in both its maternal and paternal lineage for Islamic scholarship. His father, Shaykh Yusuf Karaan (RA) was one of the oldest and most distinguished Islamic scholars in the Cape. Shaykh Yusuf was the former chief Magistrate for Islamic Civil Matters and Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC).
Moulana Taha Karaan completed his Qur’anic memorization in one year at the Waterfall Islamic Institute, the oldest Islamic seminary in South Africa. He was the recipient of numerous chains of transmission (ijazaat) – from well-respected scholars in India, Pakistan, South Africa, Egypt and Saudi Arabia, among others – in numerous fields of Islamic study. He was not only the mufti of the MJC but an executive member of the Muslim Personal Law Board and on the Islamic Advisory Board of ABSA, one of South Africa’s national banks.
“We express our sincerest condolences to his immediate family, his relatives, his beloved students at the Dar al-‘Ulum Al-‘Arabiyyah Al-Islamiyyah Institute and each and every member of the MJC who loved and respected him,” the MJC said in a statement.
The Presidency of Religious Affairs Turkey and the Royal Embassy of Saudi Arabia in Pretoria expressed their sadness and shared condolences upon the passing of Moulana Karaan.
“Mufti of the MJC of South Africa, Ml Taha Karan has passed away. A very great loss for the Ummah. He was THE leader in promoting responsible behaviour during Covid-19. May Allah Almighty forgive his shortcomings, grant him Paradise and make it easy for his loved ones. Aameen,” tweeted world-renowned scholar, Mufti Ismail Menk.
In another tweet, Founder and President of the Yaqeen Institute in USA, Dr Omar Suleiman, said “Also expressing deep sadness at the loss of the great scholar of South Africa, Mufti Taha Karaan. May Allah accept his years of scholarship and service and have mercy on him. Ameen.”
Pakistani-Canadian Islamic scholar, Faraz Rabbani, also took to social media to share his condolences at the loss of Moulana Karaan.
“One of the giants of Islamic scholarship, the noble Mufti Taha Karaan of Cape Town, South Africa, has died. He was a brilliant scholar, a capable Mufti, an uplifting teacher of teachers, and known for his humility, good character, and tireless, selfless service,” stated Rabbani.
“It is a testament to his character that scholars from all stripes and backgrounds and theological schools are paying tribute to him, and this is the hallmark of a true ālim. Real knowledge is not based on the quantity of Facebook likes or YouTube videos. It’s based on a combination of mastering the traditional sciences, along with a character reminiscent of the Prophetic way, a care and concern for the Ummah that transcends one narrow slither of a school, and the willingness to explore contemporary challenges in unprecedented manners based on the foundations of our tradition. From amongst those born and raised in the English speaking world, I can’t think of anyone whom I personally would view as having combined all of those aspects to the level Mufti Karaan had,” said internationally acclaimed, Pakistani-American preacher and imam Yasir Qadhi.
“One of the greatest scholars of our era, Shaik Taha Karaan of South Africa has departed from this world. This is truly a great loss. I last met Shaikh Taha 3 years ago in Makkah & had the good fortune of spending some time with him. Please remember the Shaikh in your prayers,” said Imam Abdullah Nana on Twitter.
Moulana Karaan founded the Mahajjah Research Institute and the Dar al-Uloom al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah in Strand where he was born and bred. He taught many who revered his knowledge, kindness and humility.
“The space of the Umah today is not the same as yesterday, today we come to an end of an era, an era of a giant whose works within Fiqh will be mentioned 100 years from now. The messenger of Allah said, Allah does not take away knowledge of deen by taking it from the hearts of men, he takes it away by the passing of Ulema. The death of a 1000 men who prays at night and fasts the day is better than the passing of one man of knowledge, We, the people of Cape Town and South Africa will surely miss our mufti,” wrote local student and shaykh, Riyaal Rinquest.
His janaazah [funeral] took place in Strand on Friday morning in an intimate setting, according to his wishes, as not to allow his burial to be a super spreader of the on-going Covid-19 pandemic.
Last month, six mosques in Strand were closed with immediate effect to prevent the spread of Covid-19, following the ominous third wave of infections in the Western Cape.
The Strand Muslim Council secretary, Sadick Fanie said the decision was taken after Moulana Ghosain Rhoda, the imam of Strand for the last four decades succumbed for Covid-19-related complications.
The Strand Moslem Council executive announced that all six mosques (the Ummah, Nurul Anwar, Broadlands Park, Badr, Zaavia and Jamia mosques) would enter a “complete lockdown” until further notice “due to positive Covid-19 cases”.