SA Muslim ‘unity’ treaty against hate speech and discord gaining support

Plans are afoot to officially launch the recently signed Cape Accord – as it is known – in an effort to foster cooperation in the promotion of goodness among local Muslims, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.

The idea of a united Ummah speaking with one voice is gaining traction after 10 Muslim organizations recently endorsed an intra-faith declaration known as the Cape Accord at the newly opened campus of the Jam`eyyatul Qurra Hifz School in Schaapkraal.

The Muslim organizations who are spearheading the “United Against Hate Speech and Discord” campaign, include (and signed by) the Jam`eyyatul Qurra, Islamic Peace College of South Africa (IPSA), Islamia College, Madina Institute, Masjidul Quds Institute, the Islamic Council of South Africa (ICSA), Al-Ghazali Mosque and College, Al-Ansaar Foundation, and the Abubakr Siddique Mosque.

The aim of the Cape Accord is to foster a local environment of adab al-ikhtilaf and ta`wun – an ethics of disagreement and cooperation in the promotion of goodness among local Muslims.
It is expected that many more South African Muslim organizations and leaders will endorse the Cape Accord in 2018, and that it will spawn a robust national movement calling for intra-Muslim tolerance. An international conference at which the Cape Accord will be formally launched is planned for the second half of 2018.

Speaking to Al Qalam, Na’eem Jeenah, Executive Director of the Afro-Middle East Centre in Johannesburg, said: “The Cape Accord marks a milestone in the efforts of Muslims to work for a community that is tolerant within itself and committed to dealing with differences in the manner taught to us by the Nabi Muhammad (s).

“The initiative to establish the accord is a noble one. Without the framework that the Accord (and the Amman Accord to which it refers) provides, the long term dangers for the Muslim community are profound. Violence within our community is not unknown; we know of Muslims who have been attacked in masajid, and of Muslims who have been killed in South Africa for sectarian reasons – and all these among Sunni Muslims.

“It is not a past that we would want to relive. That differences of opinion within the ummah are a blessing is axiomatic; the Cape Accord encourages us to manage those differences in a way that helps our community grow, develop and thrive; rather than in a way that threatens individual Muslims and threatens our existence as a community. This document and the spirit behind it, needs to be publicised throughout the country, not only among organisations that endorse it, but among the more than a million Muslims who make up our community so that its sentiment and spirit might be actualised by ordinary Muslims as we go about our day-to-day activities”.

Imam Rashied Omar, Professor of Conflict and Peace Building at the University of Notre Dame in the US, and Imam of the Claremont Road Mosque in Cape Town, said: “This represents a strategic alliance of Muslim organizations to combat the growing threat of sectarianism and intra-faith intolerance in South Africa.

“The Cape Accord is a joint commitment to the principles articulated in the Prophetic traditions… A Muslim is one from whose words and actions other Muslims are safe. [Sahih Bukhari]. A Mu’min is one in whom humanity finds security regarding their lives, dignity and belongings [Tirmidhi].

“The Cape Accord binds the signatories to be civil and cordial respectful to each other; avoiding public/media hostility towards each other as Muslims and abstaining from making takfir of each other (i.e. declaring each other outside the fold of Islam). Legitimate differences should be handled with wisdom and respectful engagement”.
Here is the full text of the Cape Accord Document entitled: Communities United Against Hate Speech and Discord.

* WHEREAS the current geo-political climate of Islamophobia, both internationally and locally, which promotes intra-faith hostility and unwarranted attacks on foremost figures, by individuals and groups within our broader faith community, compels leading organizations in our societies to connect, collaborate and understand each other to proactively engage in promoting concord, fraternal union and the eradication of extremism;

*AND WHEREAS, such an alliance fosters greater connectivity, increases collaboration, promotes comprehension and enhances contribution to the attainment of the higher objectives of the Shariah;

* AND WHEREAS, in the spirit of the Amman Accord, declared in Jordan in November 2006, endorsed by more than 500 leading Muslim Scholars from 84 countries, Eminent Citizens, Ministers and Heads of State of all 56 countries of the Islamic World; Scholars, Muftis and Alims of Six International bodies and the Jeddah Academy of Fiqh;

* AND WHEREAS, such Amman Accord, constitutes a global and universal principle of persuasive and binding effect upon all Muslim Societies,

* AND WHEREAS, we, the representatives of Communities United Against Hate Speech, Division and Discord, in the Republic of South Africa;

* RECOGNISING the Prophetic Command: “The Believer is never one who taunts, curses; nor is indecent nor abusive.” [Tirmidhi, Bayhaqi];

* ACKNOWLEDGING that we live in a world of religious pluralism;

* APPRECIATING that South Africa is a state model of multi-culturalism and diversity of faiths;

* NOTING that the right to follow one’s faith or conscience is among the basic human rights that underpins our South African Constitution;

* AFFIRMING that such right resonates with the Maqasid of the Shariah in promoting the welfare and goodness of the human being;

* ASSESSING the critical importance of social stability and peace for the promotion and material welfare of South African Civic Society;

* DECLARING our firm resolve to dissuade and/or engage and/ or take appropriate legal action within the framework of the South African Constitution and the Chapter 9 Provisions against any individual or group who abuses the higher ethical principles of Islam as the basis for a deliberate and unwarranted attack on the dignity of a fellow South African citizen or group or entity with malicious intent, publicity and incitement to harm;

DO HEREBY, by our signatures here under, SOLEMNLY AFFIRM the spirit of the Amman Accord and strive to uphold the dignity of Muslims and the positive image of Islam and call upon all South African Muslims to protect, promote and advance this image as commanded by our Prophet MUHAMMAD (Upon Whom Be Peace).

The document was signed by the heads of the following organisations: Jam`eyyatul Qurra, Islamic Peace College of South Africa (IPSA), Islamia College, Madina Institute, Masjidul Quds Institute, the Islamic Council of South Africa (ICSA), Al-Ghazali Mosque and College, Al-Ansaar Foundation, and the Abubakr Siddique Mosque.

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