OVER 40 organisations and leaders made a public call for support of the Cape Accord on June 3, at Masjidul Quds, in Cape Town.
The initiative follows a series of lectures at the same mosque in Ramadaan, on June 11, 2017, on the theme ‘An ummah in disarray’. The idea of an accord of this nature was conceived soon thereafter.
While the Cape Accord was already conceived prior to the tragedy in Verulam, its announcement in public coincided with the aftermath of the killing.
The Cape Accord speaks on behalf of faith communities and aims to foster unity and resist hate speech and discord by upholding the dignity of human beings and promoting a positive image of Islam.
It recognises the threat of Islamophobia, the need for Muslims to uphold the spirit of the 2004 Amman Message and the need to appreciate religious diversity and the right to follow one’s faith and conscience.
The accord affirms that this right ‘resonates with the maqasid (objectives) of the shariah’.
A significant clause in the accord is the resolve to take legal action against persons or groups who undermine the dignity of others ‘with malicious intent, publicity and incitement to harm’.
A panel of three speakers and four respondents addressed an audience of approximately 500 people at Masjidul Quds on June 3. Each speaker addressed the scourge of sectarianism from diverse positions, presenting arguments founded on Quranic text, the Prophetic Traditions and narratives from local and international developments.
Hafidh Abu Bakr Mahomed and former ambassador of South Africa to the United States, Ebrahim Rasool, were the only two speakers who returned to the Masjidul Quds platform a year after they addressed the audience on the ‘Ummah in disarray’ theme.
Using pertinent admonishments from the Quran and Hadith, they warned against Satanic, arrogant, intolerant and irrational misappropriation of the tenets of Islam.
Rasool questioned how we can express outrage against the prejudice of Islamophobia when we cannot co-exist with those who worship.
He added that we should jealously guard the definition of who is Muslim.
Hafidh Mahomed said it is time to confront the scourge of extremist rhetoric with every legal means at our disposal. ‘If we shirk this responsibility we will pay for it,’ he said.
Thandile Kona concurred that the manufactured imperial wars and the narratives of the empire should have alerted us to the possibility of the incident in Verulam. He warned that if the problem of sectarianism in South Africa is not addressed, the vacuum will be filled by Isis.
He added that this is the Ramadaan we say, ‘Not in our name.’
Shaikh Ighsaan Taliep agreed that there were signs of the attack in Verulam well before it occurred. However, he argued that our differences are part of the Divine decree but that hatred due to these differences are inspired by Satan.
Shaikh Mogamat Moerat said the Sunni-Shia conflict was created internationally and brought to South Africa.
Dr Fatima Hendricks of the Center for Non-violence and Peace Studies at Madina Institute called on Muslims to heed the Divine command to do what they say, as in projecting that Islam is a religion of peace when we say it is a religion of peace. ‘Hate speech is not innocuous,’ she asserted.
Imam Dr Abdul Rashied Omar made direct reference to various incidents of hate speech and prejudice directed at the local Shia community, especially in the wake of the opening of the Ahlul Bait Mosque and Islamic Centre, in Ottery, last December.
Imam Omar also singled out the Ahlus-Sunnah Da’wah League (formerly the Ahlus-Sunnah Defence League) and Mufti Abdul Kader Hoosen as key sources of extremist rhetoric that are given legitimacy by the ‘silence and non-condemnation by our religious leadership’.
The Cape Accord comprises eighteen founder members, eight co-opted members and 20 organisations that endorse it thus far. All of these consist of mosques, individuals, community leaders, organisations, businesses, politicians and media professionals.
At the time of going to press, Mufti Abdul Kader Hoosen and Mufti AS Desai condemned the accord, saying those who endorse it are kaafir (unbelievers). At the time, the MJC also indicated that they are studying the accord and will announce their response in due course.