Iftar with the president

2018-06-05 06:00
President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, with Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams, president of the Muslim Judicial Council, at the iftar event on Wednesday.PHOTO: supplied by mjc

President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, with Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams, president of the Muslim Judicial Council, at the iftar event on Wednesday.PHOTO: supplied by mjc

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The president of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa, made his way to Tuscany Gardens in Rylands on Wednesday night to attend a special iftar dinner with the Muslim community of Cape Town. The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), which hosted the event, took the opportunity to raise major issues affecting Muslims across the country.

Mishka Darries, spokesperson for the MJC, says the event was an opportunity for the state president to engage with prominent Muslim scholars, politicians, community leaders and civil society movements on the day.

The dinner also aimed to build a stronger relationship between civil society that works in partnership with government, thus ensuring the social development and economic growth of all South African citizens.

Topics addressed to the president included the country’s land issues, safety and security, gangsterism and drugs, unemployment, stability, infiltration by extremists, and the building of sustainable partnerships to address common challenges, among others.

During his address to the president, MJC head, Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams, said the Muslim community is prepared to work with government to provide the necessary interventions and services to needy communities.

“During this holy month of heightened spiritual awareness, we commit our collective consciousness to eradicating the daily struggles of our peoples, by fostering and translating this spirit, to the extent that Ramadan crystallises the epitome of our self-sacrificing nature and benevolence to bringing about social justice,” said Abrahams.

Burning issues raised included the Muslim Personal Law and Muslim Marriage Bill – a major issue facing the community.

“This has been a major concern for the Muslim community since we achieved our freedom and democracy in 1994. Our marriages are not recognised, thus our children are regarded as illegitimate. Even when we die, our death certificates reflect ‘not married’. This points to the moral indignity of our marriages, that they are not being recognised as legal.

“The Customary Marriage Act had differences of opinion, but it was political will that saw the enactment of this Bill. The overwhelming majority of the Muslim theological and judiciary bodies agree with the most recent draft of the Bill, and therefore we now ask the honourable office to apply the same political will for the Muslim Marriage Bill to become the Muslim Marriage Act.”

Abrahams urged the president to continue his interaction and relationship with the Muslim community by working with them to build a strong civil society that works in partnership with government to address common challenges.

“We are a peace-loving and benevolent community, as well as an integral part of the landscape of this country. Allow us to assist in fulfilling Tata Mandela’s dream of creating a prosperous and peaceful Africa. May Allah Almighty guide our president’s decisions in order to create a bountiful and peaceful country for all its citizens, Ameen,” he concluded.

In his speech, Ramaphosa promised to have the government prioritise the drawn-out Muslim Marriage Bill, aimed at giving legal recognition to Muslim marriages.

He lauded the community for espousing the values of social justice needed to build SA, and appealed to them to work together to create a better country for all.

He also promised to take on some of the other issues raised on the night, which affect both Muslim countries and communities in Cape Town, including the protection of communities such as Bo-Kaap from gentrification.

Ramaphosa respectfully joined the Muslim community for his first Mahrib prayer after the programme, taking the procedure in the prayer room one step at a time. He also enjoyed the breaking of the fast together with several activists and community leaders, including Ebrahim Rasool, Mandla Mandela, Faiz Jacobs and Ebrahim Patel.

The event was broadcast live on several community radio stations, including Voice of the Cape and Radio 786, as well as Islamic television stations ITV and Deen Channel. Recordings can be obtained from their offices if you missed the broadcast.

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