A Communiqué: The 8th Southern Africa Ulama Conference

During the weekend of 28th to 30th October 2016, well over 800 members of the Ulama fraternity converged at the 8th Southern Africa Ulama Forum (SAUF) hosted by the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa (JUSA) at Nurul Islam Centre in Lenasia.

This biennial forum returned to Johannesburg after sixteen years since the inaugural one which took place at Crescent of Hope of South Africa’s facility in Magaliesburg in 2001. In the intervening years, SAUF has been to Harare, Gaberone, Lusaka, Maputo, Lilongwe as well as Durban.

The forum, this year, had a series of lectures by ulama and other speakers focussing of the social, political and ideological challenges facing the Ummah and the opportunities that exist in order to advance the cause of Islam.

A panel discussion session presented to the Ulama the findings of a series of interviews that were conducted before the forum. The respondents in the interviews were mainly non-Ulama who shared their perceptions and views about the Ulama fraternity.

The panel tackled broad themes of gender, diversity management as well as leadership and change. The input made provided food for thought and offered points worthy of introspection and ways in which Ulama can improve upon their interaction with, and service towards non-Ulama.

The panel, without claiming to be a fatwa board, gave answers to a series of questions that highlighted challenges in practical and pertinent issues that  ulama have to grapple with, in order to reduce the perceived social distance that exists with non-Ulama, within the framework of Islam.

Senior scholars imparted their knowledge on the importance of sincerity and the cultivation of spirituality. They shared pieces of advice and encouraged the Ulama to continue to engage in the various community initiatives while keeping the spirit of the traditions of the scholars of the past.

The majority of the forum attendees were ulama from South Africa’s Muslim theologian formations, institutes of Islamic higher learning and other Islamic bodies involved in education, social welfare and relief.

From farther afield, were delegates from Zambia, Botswana, Lesotho, Swaziland, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. There was also a delegate who came all the way from Abuja, in Nigeria.

JUSA’s Dawah wal Irshaad Department under the leadership of Moulana Yusuf Wadee, coordinated the event’s organisation with support of a team of volunteers, Radio Islam International and Nurul Islam Centre, the co-hosts of the event.

Towards the end of the conference, Moulana Abbas Ali Jeena, the Amir of the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa was appointed SAUF president. He will serve in this position until the next SAUF which, as was announced, will in-sha-Allah, be held in Zimbabwe in 2018 under the auspices of Majlisul Ulama Zimbabwe.

May the Almighty accept the efforts of all those who generously contributed towards the event and tirelessly worked to make the programme a success. Aameen.

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