13 July 2024

The closed door conference was intended to be a beacon of hope “to restore confidence and motivation for the scholars of this Ummah”, writes an Al Qalam Reporter.

Islamic scholars from South Africa, Sri-Lanka and 10 SADC countries brainstormed ideas to find solutions to burning and complex challenges facing the Ummah during the 9th Annual Southern African Ulama Forum (SAUF) held at Crescent Hall in Parlock, Durban, recently.

Participating Ulama tackled issues head-on and sought to find solutions that would spiritually guide the Ummah now and in the future. This forum was of paramount importance, said spokesman Moulana Mohammed Ameer of the Darul Ihsan which hosted the conference.

Speaking on behalf of the SAUF Secretariat, Moulana Ameer said the conference was a closed door event exclusively for invited Islamic scholars and Ulama. “Being a conference of Islamic scholars, participation was strictly by invitation only and confined to individuals belonging to the fraternity. Delegates were required to register electronically. Only registered persons were allowed entry into the conference,”

Some of the burning issues discussed were: Identity Crises Amongst Muslims by Mufti Minty; “Role of Ulama in Fostering Social Cohesion by Moulana Sulaiman Ravat; “Role of Ulama in Changing Global Dynamics by Moulana Ebrahim Bham”; Fostering Cohesion by the chairperson of the session, Moulana Haroon Zulu of Zambia; Lessons from Muslims of Sri Lanka by special guest Mufti Rizwi, the ameer of the All Ceylon Jamiatul Ulama in Sri Lanka; Intellectual Apostasy by Moulana Faheem Hoosein; Islam and Politics by Moulana Yunoos Osman and the role of Leadership chaired by Moulana Riyaz Bhana of Malawi.

There was also discussion on the “Principles of Islamic Economics” by Mufti Mohammed Haffejee and the subject of “Islamic Banking” by Mufti Shafique Jakhura among an array of other important topics by a number of noted scholars.

A robust panel discussion also took place on the “Marginalization of Ulama – Fact or Myth”

The Southern African Ulama Forum (SAUF) holds its biannual conference of Islamic scholars (Ulama) within the Southern African Region as a professional development programme (PDP) for scholars. SAUF was initiated 18-years-ago with nine conferences held thus far.

Moulana Ameer pointed out that SAUF serves as a platform for collaboration and discussion for Ulama of Southern Africa and has evolved into a platform where many discussions of importance are brought to the fore. Participating countries are also given an opportunity to host the event.

He told Al Qalam that Ulama institutions and organisations are broadly represented at these forums. “The event has surely grown from its humble beginnings and has become a beacon of hope to restore confidence and motivation for the scholars of this Ummah. In previous conference up 600 Ulama had attended the programmes.


Speaking about the three day event, he said “a series of insightful presentations were delivered by a host of expert Ulama from different countries on major challenges facing the Ummah.

“The quality of discussion and presentation is current and solution-orientated. Discussions are balanced, moderate and held with respect shown for the differing views and opinions. Ulama from various fields of expertise were invited to present papers and research on topics of interest affecting the Ummah.”

Moulana Ameer pointed out that the aim of the conference was to “stimulate the youthful energy of the younger Ulama and wisdom of the elders and seniors – a blend that is most essential for the success of our communities.”

Past conferences were held in South Africa: Magaliesberg (2001); Zimbabwe – Harare (2004); Mozambique – Maputo (2006); Zambia – Lusaka (2008); Malawi – Lilongwe (2010); Botswana – Gaborone (2012); South Africa – Durban (2014); South Africa – Johannesburg (2016); South Africa – Durban (2019). The next event is set to be held in Swaziland in 2021.

Asked why the general public was barred from attending, Moulana Ameer explained that “being a conference of Islamic scholars,” participation was strictly by invitation only and confined to individuals belonging to the fraternity” adding that delegates were required to register electronically. Only registered persons were allowed entry into the conference.

Dr Faisal Suleman, Head of the South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) was one of few non-ulama invited, but strictly as observers.

Durban community leader, Ebrahim Jadwat (who was not an attendee) praised the organisers of the 9th Annual Southern African Ulama Forum (SAUF) for hosting the forum that discussed a wide range of topics affecting the Ummah, locally, nationally and internationally.

He, however advised the leadership to raise their voices in future on other global issues such as subjugation of Palestinians by Zionist Israel, the constant threat to Masjid-al-Aqsa and the Haram-al-Sharif, the decision by the Indian Supreme to award Hindus control of the historical site of the early 16th century Babri Mosque that was destroyed by Hindu nationalists and the issue of intolerance that has led to the killing of thousands of innocent people in Syria and Yemen.

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