Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai and His Majlis: An Ultra-Conservative Voice in the Eastern Cape Wilderness

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Maulana Ahmad Sadeq Desai and His Majlis: An Ultra-Conservative Voice in the Eastern Cape Wilderness by Muhammed Haron
Introduction
Over the past few years South African Islam has exploded into a variety of identities
that reflect similarities, and demonstrate distinct differences. Scholars, researchers,
and journalists have generally referred to either Western Cape Islam or Kwa-Zulu
Natal Islam as representations of Islam in South Africa, overlooking the fact that
Islam is expressed somewhat differently by other Muslim communities such as the
Eastern Cape. Not much has been written about the Muslims residing in this part of
the country except for the contributions of Rochlin 1956, Anon 1979, Abrahams
1988, and Davids 1997. Some of these texts offer a background sketch of early
Eastern Cape Muslim history whilst Abraham’s compilation of snapshots and a
sprinkling of notes gives one a glimpse into aspects of Muslim social life.
The intention of this short article is to give particular attention to Maulana Ahmad
Sadeq Desai and his monthly paper, The Majlis: Voice of Islam. Maulana Desai was
and remains one of the prominent players within Port Elizabeth’s Muslim community
for more than three decades. He commented and responded to a variety of issues over
many years, and it will be impossible to present all of these in this article. Attention
will therefore be given to two issues only. The first covers his ideas regarding politics
with particular reference to recent developments, while the second deals with his
responses to the introduction and implementation of Muslim Personal Law.

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