Majlis, South Africa - What’s Wrong With This Picture? *

Majlis, South Africa - What’s Wrong With This Picture?

By Sheila Musaji

The Majlis, Voice of Islam is a newspaper that is produced in South Africa, and sent out all over the world.  In 1992 someone “gifted” me with a subscription, and it was a source of acid indigestion each time it was delivered in the mail.

During the anti-apartheid struggles the Majlis took the stand that political co-operation between non-Muslims and Muslims is un-Islamic, and that both left wing and right wing Muslim groups may be “sincere” in their efforts, but are “misguided”  (The Majlis, vol. 8. no. 9, p 7)  Ebrahim Moosa wrote an article “Muslim Conservatism in South Africa” about this in Journal of Theology for Southern Africa 69 (December 1989) 73-81, in which he points out many of the inconsistencies of the Majlis’ positions.  The Majlisul Ulama of South Africa, for instance, clearly advised Muslims against voting in the elections or participating in structures of the current regime.

Here are some quotes from one of the earlier print issues: 

“It is not permissible. It is haraam for females to journey without a male mahram.”

“All insurance is haram. It is not permissible to take out an insurance policy for debts or for any other purpose.”

“1) The punishment in the grave. 2) Shaqqul Qamr—the miraculous splitting of the moon by Rasulullah (saw). 3) The Mi’raaj. 4) The return of Nabi Isa (as). 5) The creation of Hawwa (as) from the rib of Aadam (as). The above mentioned beliefs are integral parts of belief. Whoever refutes these beliefs becomes a murtadd if he previously was a Muslim. Such people are kaafir.”

“Dealing in shares on the stock exchange is not permissible. Such transactions are riba dealings.”

“Yes, customs duty may be paid with interest money.”

“Soft drinks are not permissible for the same reason that whisky, gin and beer are haraam.”

“It is neither permissible to play dominoes, draught boards, carum boards or to sell them.”

“Television is haram.  Whether news, sports or anything else, television viewing is not permissible.”

All of these are from the question and answer section of THE MAJLIS’ VOICE OF ISLAM published in Port Elizabeth, South Africa Vol. l0, No.4.  Where does this sort of absolutism come from?  Why don’t the majority of Muslims speak up against this misrepresentation of Islam? 

In looking over some of these old issues, I thought I would check and see if the newspaper still existed, and was surprised to discover that The Majlis is now online also which I find a little odd since they are so opposed to any bidah or innovation.

The first article I clicked on “‘Umrah’ also a deception” which appears to object to the ‘criminalization’ of the Umra because Muslim men will be exposed to women also participating in Umrah, and “Women freely trot to the Harams, mixing with the thousands of males in the streets and in the Musjids.”  In scanning through the issues online, I found that they have accused Muhammad Asad of Kufr for his Qur’an translation.  They say that organs from non-Muslims cannot be used for transplants to Muslims, etc.

They take the position that Shi’ism is not part of Islam [1], and the Sufi’s make them apoplectic.

I searched in vain for anything positive, or for any statements that were reasoned and gave a sharia opinion with sources and clear reasoning.  They seem to specialize in making absolute statements:  this is forbidden, that is innovation, it’s not permissable.  They denounce and object to anything that doesn’t fit their interpretation of Islam.  They concern themselves with minute details of practice, but I could not find discussions of justice, mercy, or tolerance.

It is very sad that such a publication is being sent out all over the world, and can sometimes be found in the reading section of mosques even in America.  These folks are definitely in need of Islam 101.

Originally published in the Winter 1993 print edition of The American Muslim.  Updated for republication.

The Amman Statement is a truly historic document that was produced and signed by 200 leading scholars and ulama from 50 countries.  The document dealt with three primary issues:  (1) Who is a Muslim?; (2) Is it permissible to declare someone an apostate (takfir)?; and (3) Who has the right to undertake issuing fatwas (legal rulings)?  1. They specifically recognized the validity of all 8 Mathhabs (legal schools) of Sunni, Shi’a and Ibadhi Islam; of traditional Islamic Theology (Ash’arism); of Islamic Mysticism (Sufism), and of true Salafi thought, and came to a precise definition of who is a Muslim.  2. Based upon this definition they forbade takfir (declarations of apostasy) between Muslims.  3. Based upon the Mathahib they set forth the subjective and objective preconditions for the issuing of fatwas, thereby exposing ignorant and illegitimate edicts in the name of Islam.