“And hold fast to the rope of Allah, all of you together, and do not be divided; and remember Allah’s favour on you, that when there was enmity between you, He created affection between your hearts, so due to His grace you became like brothers to each other; and you were on the edge of a pit of fire (hell), so He saved you from it; this is how Allah explains His verses to you, so that you may be guided.” (Quran 3:103)
It is imperative for Muslim scholars to focus on strengthening and growing relationships to be able to provide direction to communities. Muslims scholars have the responsibility to foster unity and harmony in order to realize the ‘one body’ concept of the ummah. “The similitude of believers in regard to mutual love, affection, and fellow-feeling is that of one body; when any limb of it aches, the whole body aches, because of sleeplessness and fever.” (Sahih Muslim) A strong and united leadership is a prerequisite for broader unity within the ummah.
In the eyes of Allah, all Muslims are equal and no superiority is given to anyone on the bases of colour, cast and creed. We, as equal brethren united by a common creed, can only foster mutual love and affection if we abide by the Divine imperative that says: "And hold fast to the rope of Allah all of you together, and do not be divided…." (3:103) The basis on which we stand together on righteousness is derived from the following prophetic tradition: "I leave two things among you: the Book of Allah and my Sunnah. You will not be misled as long as you hold tightly onto them." (Muwatta) Unity does however not mean that we all think alike; rather it means that we differ with respect, tolerance and avoid dogmatism.
The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) was founded in 1994 with the object of forming an inclusive forum for mainstream Ulama formations in South Africa. The advent of a new democratic dispensation in 1994 provided an opportunity for engaging across the racial divide and brought in its wake new challenges and opportunities for Muslim scholars in South Africa. Prior to 1994 Muslims were part of the disfranchised population who had no political voice. The new dispensation meant that Muslims needed to reposition themselves politically, socially and economically.
The aim of establishing an umbrella body comprising of Ulama formations which subscribe to varying interpretations of religious ideology was to unitedly work towards the preservation, promotion and protection of the distinct Muslim identity in the new South Africa.
The mission of the United Ulama Council of South Africa is: “To unify and represent affiliate members on issues pertaining to the Muslim community of South Africa in particular and society in general.”
The Vision of the United Ulama Council of South Africa is: “To establish unified and relevant South African Muslim leadership”
FIVE KEY PERFORMANCE AREAS (KPA’s)
- Social Empowerment
- To preserve the Aqeedah of the Muslims of South Africa in accordance with the Ahlus Sunnah wal jama’ah, which believes in the finality of the Prophet (saw) and the tarteeb of the khulafah al Rashideen and the recognised four mathaahib namely Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi-ee and Hanbali.
- To strengthen fraternal bonds and brotherly relations among Muslims.
- To present Islam to people of other faiths.
- To further co-operation among Muslim organisations and communities.
- To assist in and promote religious, social, cultural, spiritual and educational advancement of Islam.
- To procure, defend and promote the religious interests of Muslims.
- To procure and safeguard freedom of religion for Muslims.
- To provide unified and competent leadership.
- To speak with a cohesive voice on behalf of the Muslims of South Africa.
- To unify, co-ordinate and represent Muslim interest on a national and international level.
The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) is an umbrella body comprising of the following eight major Muslim theological formations in South Africa:
- Jamiatul Ulama South Africa – Established in 1923
- Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa – Established in 1945
- Jamiatul Ulama KZN – Established in 1955
- Sunni Jamiatul Ulama of South Africa – Established in 1978
- Sunni Ulama Council of South Africa – Established in 1992
- Council of Ulama Eastern Cape - Established in 1999
- Northern Cape Ulama Council – Established in 2003
- Darul Ihsan International Humanitarian Centre - Established in 2000
UUCSA is representative of and enjoys the confidence and support of the vast majority of the Muslim populace in South Africa. UUCSA represents approximately 1350 members made up mostly of Muslim scholars. Geographically, UUCSA represents all nine provinces of South Africa. More specifically UUCSA through its affiliates represents approximately 400 Mosques and 200 educational institutes and religious seminaries in South Africa.
The overarching functions of the affiliate bodies include:
- Establishment and management of Islamic seminaries
- Issuance of religious edicts
- Welfare Services
- Social Services
- Marriage Counselling
- Mediation and Arbitration Services
- Liaison with national and provincial governmental structures
- Regulation of Muslim dietary needs