Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) president, Maulana Igsaan Hendricks, has accused those behind the alleged ‘hijacking’ of the United Ulema Council of South Africa’s (UUCSA) name of showing a lack of integrity. Speaking on Wednesday during a live panel discussion on the issue, he defended the decision to bring the matter into the public space, saying it was an issue that had caused great confusion in the Muslim community of South Africa.
“I think over the last few months, with great pain we all had to read the distorted emails, Whatsapp messages, and confusing social media messages. It leaves everybody in total confusion, and it does absolutely have an effect on our community,” he said.
He rejected the notion that the issue was merely a ‘petty squabble over a name’, stressing that UUCSA had been formed through the noble efforts of “ulema visionaries”, who had a goal of forming a united body of scholars in the country. Thus, it was the responsibility of the contemporary leadership of UUCSA, to defend and restore the establishment of those founding leaders.
“If we reduce it to a petty squabble over a name, and we move according to the suggestion that we just change it in order to keep the peace, that would be very irresponsible on us as the leadership of UUCSA,” he said.
He believes this case could set a bad precedent for other Muslim organizations, who could become susceptible to similar situations in the future. With UUCSA now involved in a bitter legal wrangle to challenge the usurping of its name, Hendricks said the issue had reached such a “cancerous point” that it was now the religious body’s obligation to explain the situation to the community.
Maulana Ebrahim Bham of the Jamiatul Ulema South Africa said he was astounded by the lengths taken by those attempting to fraudulently use the UUCSA name. He said all members of the ulema were more than welcome to express a difference in opinion from UCCSA, but that it should be done “using their own identity, and standing on their own two feet”.
He described the individual claimed to be behind the campaign against mainstream ulema, Port Elizabeth based Maulana A.S Desai, as someone who had been critical of UUCSA since its inception 20 years ago.
“I just cannot understand the background of why you are calling people false, and then assuming their names,” he said.
Maulana Desai was invited to respond to the issue, but refused. VOC (Mubeen Banderker)