MJC mourns longest serving member

2018-11-20 06:00

The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) is mourning the passing of a dedicated individual in Imam Yaseen Harris.

Harris was the youngest person elected as a member of the MJC and the first imam to be elected to its Imaarah (Senior Council), the council says in a statement.

At the time of his passing, Harris was 84 years old and held the position of chairperson of the Imaarah and board member of the MJC Halaal Trust.

He was born on 11 October 1934 in Woodstock, two years after his father – Imam Sulaiman – established the Sulaimaniya Preschool which served as the first madrassa in the area.

His father, in conjunction with the Woodstock congregation, bought a four-bedroom house at 19 William Street and renovated it into a masjid.

At only 15 years old, Harris was appointed as khalifa (teacher) of the madrassa and became the imam of the masjid upon his father’s death in 1963.

Harris matriculated from Livingstone High School and then pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree with an LLB specialisation but did not complete it.

“As with many ulema at the time, Imam did not go overseas to obtain a degree in Islam but rather studied under the tutelage of local scholars. Imam Yusuf Salie and Shaykh Abduragmaan Dollie taught Imam the recitation of the Holy Quran whilst his father, Imam Sulaiman, and Shaykh Moghammad Abbas Jassiem taught him Islamic studies,” the statement reads.

Writer Jasmine Khan describes Harris in the 2016 Kayfee edition: “I found it refreshing to hear from a man who is over 80 that one never stops learning. Unlike many who feel that they know it all, Imam Yaseen contends that his life is a constant search for knowledge that will benefit him as well as those he engages with.”

When his father became ill in 1958, he took over his duties as imam at the Sulaimaniya Masjid in William Street, Woodstock.

He worked at the Pepsi Cola Company as an accountant and later at Monviso Knitwear after the former disinvested in South Africa in protest of apartheid. He worked at Monviso Knitwear from 1974 to 1984.

He was persuaded to leave Monviso to take up full-time employment at the MJC on the behest of the then MJC president, Shaykh Nazeem Mohamed.

Harris had a long and loyal history with the MJC which started with his father, who was one of the founder members of the organisation in 1945. He assisted his father in administrative duties at the organisation and subsequently became the MJC’s youngest member at the age of 26.

He was the MJC’s first secretary-general and supervised halaal meat at Maitland Abattoir. When the MJC Halaal Trust was formalised in 1986, he was one of the founding trustees as well as the director of the Halaal Trust until 2010, when he resigned due to ill health.

Harris leaves behind his wife, Kamillah, and four children – three sons and one daughter.

The mayyit (body) will leave from the house at 10 Minor Street, Vanguard Estate.

They will proceed to the Sulaimaniya Masjid in William Street, Woodstock for janazah solaah and thereafter to the Mowbray cemetery for burial.

“May Allah Almighty grant Imam Yaseen Harris Jannah-tul Firdous (Paradise) and sabr (patience) in the hearts of his family, colleagues and friends, Ameen.”


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