The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) has described a courtesy call made to the Tuynhuis home of President Kgalema Motlanthe on Wednesday as very fruitful, characterised by “cordial but tough talks with hard questions asked” on key issues. Speaking to VOC on Thursday morning, MJC deputy president, Sheik Achmat Sedick, said that the meeting was a follow up on a letter of congratulation sent to Motlanthe upon his appointment as new president.

“This type of meeting is not unusual for the MJC. We have a legacy of meeting the reigning presidents since 1994. We did so with Nelson Mandela and with Thabo Mbeki. Yesterday’s courtesy meeting stems from when a letter of congratulation we set to the president on his election, followed by a dinner invitation upon the occasion of Eidul Fitr. He was unable to accept the invitation – which we have now reissued for Eidul Adha – but notified us that he would still like to meet with us which set up Wednesday’s meeting,” Sedick explained.

 

The ulema body was represented by Sedick, 2nd deputy president Sh Igsaan Taliep, Sheikh Amien Fakier, head of the MJC's senior council and Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, secretary-general of the MJC. During their talks, the parties agreed to strengthen their relationship. “The president even suggested that such meetings take place on a more regular basis, perhaps even once a month. We felt that this was very significant and good for Muslims.”

Sedick said many hard questions were asked on various issues during the meeting. “Our main focus was on Muslim interests such as the Muslim Personal Law issue which has been on the back burner for years. The president has indicated that he would pay attention to this matter in the next two weeks. We also raised the issue of education with specific reference to the fact that the only Islamic university in SA, IPSA, was still battling to be registered.”

Another issue that was raised was the role played by Muslim organisations like Sanzaf and Mustadafin to deal with poverty alleviation. The aim was to impress upon the issue the concern of Muslims on global issues and their willingness to help develop the country. “His response was generally very favourable and he indicated that he would like to co-operate with us,” Sedick said.

The report back comes as 68% of onliners polled by VOC on Wednesday felt that the ulema had done a good or fair job in taking the lead on political engagement on behalf of Muslims. 53.7% thought they had done an unqualified good job, but 25.4% did not believe that to be the case and 6% did not know.

According to VOC freelance reporter Yazeed Kamaldien who covered the event at Tuynhuis, the meeting spoke volumes. “We know that the MJC hosted ANC president Jacob Zuma earlier this year and everyone seemed positive about that. However, less than a month later, the ANC sacked former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool who then became Motlanthe’s advisor. But one remembers at the press conference where Rasool’s dismissal was made public that the question was asked if this move would not break the trust of the Muslim community. At that point the ANC made it clear that the Muslim community was not the only community that the ANC was engaging in dialogue.” VOC

MRN

Author: MRN Network

The aspiration of the Media Review Network is to dispel the myths and stereotypes about Islam and Muslims and to foster bridges of understanding among the diverse people of our country. The Media Review Network believes that Muslim perspectives on issues impacting on South Africans are a prerequisite to a better appreciation of Islam.