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The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa (JUSA) commemorates its centenary

Annisa Essack | kzn@radioislam.org.za
7 September 2023 } 18:30 CAT

5 min read

PHOTO CREDIT: JUSA

The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa marks a century of service and leadership this year.

Ml Ebrahim Bham from the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa joined Radio Islam International on the Social Media Show with Ml Ibrahim Daya to discuss JUSA achievements, milestones, memories, goals, and vision. He began by requesting the for the dua of the Ummah of South Africa for continued support for the work and those who work to ensure the organisation’s success.

Having started work at the organisation in 1986, Ml Bham has extensive insight into the workings of the organisation and its history. JUSA, he said, has maintained its dignity and respect, even with blatant criticism and untruths against it.

Explaining the reason behind the commemoration of the milestone of a century, he said that Allah using the Qur’an teaches us to balance in relating the favours of Allah to show gratitude. The commemoration also pays tribute to the many Ulama who have served through the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa.

Going back in time, he remembered some Ulama at the forefront of creating the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa, beginning in 1923, with the establishment of the Jamiatul Ulama in Transvaal.

In 1918, Ml Walliullah established a foundation at the New Clare Masjid and was one of the founding members of the Jamiat. Mufti Ismail Bismillah arrived in South Africa simultaneously and returned to Burma, where he established a Jamiatul Ulama. Moving to the 1930s, a host of Ulama returned from India, having completed their studies. Among them were Mufti Ebrahim Sanjalwi, Ml Ismail Yusuf Gardee, Ml Muhamed Mia, Ml MI Nana, and Saleh Mangera, the father of Marhoom Salim Mangera. After these distinguished Ulama, another group, including the father of Ml Ayud Kachwi, Ml Muhamed Ahmed Hathurani, served in the 1930s.

Looking further to the 1950s, Ml Sayed Ooni is mentioned in the 1953 Constitution. Among the office bearers are Ml Ahmed Mia, Mufti Ebrahim Sanjalwi and Ml Nana, who was appointed as the Secretary-General. Mufti Sanjalwi served as the Head Mufti, with Ml Ooni as his Deputy.

Following these luminaries were Ml Ahmed Muhamed Hathurani, Ml Abdul Kader Malikpuri, Ml Essackji, Ml Bhoola from Roshnee and Ml Akhalwaya, who led the Jamiat.

The list is long, and Ml Bham requested listeners to add any names he may have missed.

To ensure that the history of the Jamiatul Ulama is maintained, Ml Bham said that a book was being planned and any information regarding the people and memories, etc., would be appreciated.

He remembered Mufti Ismail Bismillah, who he stated became the Mufti of Gujarat, and his fatawa was published under Fatawa Bismillah. Mufti Khanpuri narrates a story in the introduction of the fatawa about the Mufti being called”coolie’, which he saw as an affront to his dignity and why he left South Africa for Burma. He returned to Dabhel in South Africa later, and today, his grandson is the Mufti at Dabhel.

After 1923, there was a lull, but the return of Ulama from India, which included Ml Ebrahim Sanjalwi, Ml Ismail Gardee and a Ml Patel, who was the grandfather or great-grandfather of Qari Basheer Patel, were students in the class completing Bukhari at Dabhel, saw the revival of the Jamiat.

They started several projects, including sending a telegram to the League of Nations in 1938, which warned of the rising numbers of Zionists arriving in Palestine and how this could impact the rights of the indigenous Palestinians. The warning went unheeded, and today, we witness the oppression of the Palestinians.

Ml Bham said, “The Jamiat has always been in the forefront with regard to educating our children in the makhatib. We believe that in this makhatib, there is the preservation of the Muslim Ummah, of our children, without which it becomes very, very difficult to preserve the eemaan of our children.”

On record from 1946, a letter by Ml Muhamed Hathurani addressed to the Executive of the Jamiat bringing to their attention the informal, individual madrassahs that had developed in the Transvaal. He proposed the idea of a unified syllabus that used the same kitaabs and teachings in the madrassahs. In the early sixties, Qari Tayyib RA, Rector Darul Uloom Deoband, motivated the initiative, which became a reality.

He added that the makhtab system is uniquely South African and has been exported to many parts of the world. The Jamiat’s syllabus has been translated into different languages, including Urdu, Spanish, and sign language. It is being used in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom, the Caribbean and other parts of the world.

The Makhatib system used Urdu as a medium of instruction; however, it was changed to English, known today as the Taseel Series, which caters for students from Grade 0 to 12. The change was suggested after mashura with Mufti Mehmood, R.A., who highlighted the importance of instruction in the mother tongue.

Another stalwart of the Jamiat Ulama South Africa and mentor to Ml Ebrahim Bham was Ml Muhamed Bhamjee, R.A.

Regarding the matters of and protection of the deen, the Jamiat has been at the forefront. Ml Bham referred to the controversial film The Message, which depicted the Sahabah Ikram, and after taking the matter to Court, the film was banned.

On 7 September 1974, the Pakistani Parliament and Ulema of Pakistan, led by the principal of the Jamia Uloom Islamia, Yusuf Binnori R.A, declared the Qadianis non-Muslim in the Pakistani Parliament. After that, the Rabbitah also declared the Qadianis as non-Muslims.

In South Africa, when the Qadianis wanted to enter the masajid, the Ulama took the matter to Court, and the Supreme Court in Bloemfontein ruled that theologians could declare a person out of the fold of Islam.

Regarding the Jum’uah prayer, the Lenasia branch of the House of Delegates, with a stalwart of the Jamiat, Ml Muhamed Kaka, led the triumphant call to ensure Muslim students have time off to pray their salah.

Ml Bham said that after this momentous struggle, many Muslims are shirking the obligation of praying salah, which needs to change.

The Jamiatul Ulama South Africa has been pivotal in preserving the religious rights of Muslims in South Africa. He referred to the Mail and Guardian printing of the caricature of the Prophet (PBUH); the Jamiatul Ulama helped prevent the publishing after Marhoom Judge Muhamed Jajbhai ruled it was against the dignity of the Muslims.

JUSA also saw Salman Rushdie being prevented from visiting South Africa when his controversial book The Satanic Verses was published.

The Jamiatul Ulama was apolitical until 1994 when all citizens chose their religion equally. It was a time when the Jamiatul Ulama provided CODESA with a memorandum regarding religious rights in South Africa. Ml Abbas Jinnah became the President and Ameer of the Jamia in 1994, only after he ensured that Ml Ebrahim Mia was completely satisfied in giving up his position.

Since then, the Jamiat has grown regarding the services provided, including counselling.

The Jamiat has a Jamia, an institute of higher learning where people become Ulama, and those who choose to further their studies in secular fields and have the aptitude and ability are encouraged to do so. Many who have graduated are now playing significant roles in various areas, adding an Islamic perspective to their teaching.

The Jamia is also ensuring that the Muftis graduating are experts in their fields and are using their knowledge to further the Islamic and secular dimensions.

Ml Bham spoke on the Jamiat’s efforts on halaal certification and mentioned that Ml Muhamed Durwesh used to visit the City Deep Abattoir. Haji Mehmood, who has been with the Jamiat for nearly 50 years, was also a regular visitor to the abattoir, which was approved and certified together with Early Bird by Mufti Basheer Sanjalwi.

This saw the creation of the South African National Halaal Authority, SANHA, which is internationally recognised, in which the Jamiat is an active member.

The weekend will see several events to commemorate the 100 years of existence, including illustrious guests like Ml Arshad Madani, the Ameer of Jamiatul Ulama-i-Hind, the son of Shaykhul Islam Ml Hussain Ahmed Madani R.A.

Over the weekend, various events will occur during Jumu’ah and at numerous masajid across Gauteng.

On Sunday, the Annual General Meeting will be held at Nurul Islam Masjid, Lenasia, and after that, Ulama from across the world will be allowed to address the gathering.

Guest speakers at the AGM:

  • Ml Arshad Madani, the Ameer of Jamiatul Ulama-i-Hind
  • Mufti M.I. Rizwe – All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama
  • Brother Ismail Adam Patel – Friends of Al Aqsa UK
  • Other prominent local and international Ulama

Listen to the full interview with host Ibrahim Daya and guest Ml. Ebrahim Bham here.

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