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South Africa: Murder of Shi’a Muslim in mosque condemned by all Muslims

12th May 2018
South Africa: Murder of Shi’a Muslim in mosque condemned by all Muslims

By Ahmed J Versi

London, (The Muslim News): One person was murdered and two seriously injured in an apparent sectarian attack in a mosque in South Africa on Thursday afternoon.

The attack on the Shi’a Muslims was condemned by the Sunni organisations. “We vehemently condemn the heinous attack on the Imam Hussain Mosque as well as the senseless crime committed against three innocent individuals,” said Shaykh Isgaak Taliep, Secretary General of Muslim Judicial Council.

Deceased Abbas Mohammedali Essop’s wife, Sakina after the funeral said, “I can’t explain the peace I am currently feeling.. his sacrifice is not in vain.. each and every Muslim group in South Africa has united for him.”

Three attackers entered Imam Hussain Masjid after midday prayers in Ottawa, Verulam, north of Durban, in KwaZulu-Natal, stabbed the resident alim (scholar), Sheikh Ali Nchinyani and caretaker, Mohammad Ali. The Sheikh jumped out of a second-floor window of the mosque to escape.

Abbas Mohammedali Essop was at work when he heard noises from the mosque. His wife, Sakina, said “Abbas saw caretaker of the mosque stabbed in the stomach shouting for help. Abbas went to help; two of the attackers held him, the third one slit his throat.”

Paramedics stabilised the injured men on scene before transporting them to hospital. One of the injured men, Abbas, succumbed to his injuries and died shortly after arriving at hospital.

Abbas was buried on Friday. Sakina, after the burial, said she felt at peace as Abbas’s “sacrifice was not in vain.”

This is her statement: “Slms all.. just came back from my husband’s janaza and I can’t explain the peace I am currently feeling.. his sacrifice is not in vain.. each and every Muslim group in South Africa has united for him.. the Sunnis had their khutbah [Friday sermons] dedicated to Imam Hussain mosque.. Abbas’ funeral was attended by people from all over the world.. he has news coverage in all papers and channels in South Africa and internationally and because of him.. Muslims are actually beginning to unite.. he lived up to his name and defended his mosque just like his namesake and he had such a beautiful smile on his face.. and so much noor [spiritual light].. he looked like he was having the sweetest dream.. Inshallah his Imams and Bibi Fatima and Hz Abbas will be waiting for him with open arms.. please remember us all in your duas.”

Sakina added on her face book that the murder was not about “RELIGION, COLOUR, OR CREED…no living being should be treated in such a manner…It is about HUMANITY…. Would Rasulullah Salallahu Alaihi Wasalam be pleased with us today? When Rasulullah Salallahu Alaihi Wasalam was sent to us HE was sent for MANKIND not just Muslims! Today we have lost a loved one, though what is consolation for us is that he is SHAHEED (A Martyr) he has given his life in the path of ALLAH Ta’Aalah and most definitely lived up to his name Muhammad ABBAS.

“To the merciless, my Brother Abbas leaves behind an 80yr old father, 70yr old mother, a young wife and 2 beautiful daughters (2yrs and 5yrs). Have a heart and think of what these individuals are going through instead of spreading rumours and hatred make Dua that these perpetrators are caught and taken to task! In’Shaa’ALLAHU Ta’Aalah Ameen.”

Abbas’s brother, Zainulaberdeen Essop, said his brother “is not dead to us, he is a martyr. Alhamdulillah. Our family are the pioneers of the mosque going back almost 21 years.”

Sheikh Ali said at the press conference that the attack “was a terrorist attack, there is no doubt about it. It definitely had a religious motive. They were no robbers. They strictly wanted to kill us. One of the suspect said, ‘I will kill you.’ If I hadn’t fought back I would have been killed… A person who dies protecting others the same way as this brother Abbas did, who ran from across the street towards the mosque to help the brother who was being attacked” is a martyr.

One of Sheikh Ali’s teachers who used to be the resident alim of the mosque, Sheikh Nuru Mohammad, told The Muslim News that it was a “terrible news, it is very bad. I am shocked that this has happened in South Africa.”

[Photo of Sheikh Ali Nchinyani after the stabbing at Imam Hussain Masjid. Photo by IPPS Medical Rescue]

 

Muslim organisations condemned the attacks and the killing.

The Claremont Main Road Masjid (CMRM), based in Cape Town, condemned the attack as “barbaric”. Imam Dr Rashied Omar, of CMRM said, “We offer our deep condolences to the family of those killed, and the congregants of this mosque who no doubt are now reeling in shock and fear. The mosque was known to be a Shi’a mosque, and at this stage the incident appears to be an anti-Shi’a attack.”

“CMRM has for the past five years been sounding the alarm about the growing threat of anti-Shi’a sectarianism creeping into our local community. We are appalled at the prospect of this now being a reality.

“It is now most important and urgent for Muslims in South Africa to take a stand and speak out loudly against sectarianism, specifically anti-Shi’a sectarianism.”

“South African Muslims can in no way allow themselves to go down the path of hatred, intolerance, violence, and brutal attacks on Shi’a Muslims as has been the case in several other parts of the world.”

Security firm, Reaction Unit South Africa, said the attackers threw a petrol bomb inside the mosque before fleeing the scene in a vehicle with no registration plates.

The suspects fled in a white Hyundai Getz in the direction of Phoenix.

Police are now looking for a group of three men wearing half balaclavas.

The motive for the attack is not yet known.

Abbas is survived by his wife, Sakina, and two children, 5-year-old Aliya and 20 month old Abida. Zainulaberdeen said Abbas “was their everything. Abbas used to wake up at 6:00 am with his daughter, and walked in the garden every morning for 5 years. When he returned from his workshop in the evenings, he would bring her to listen to the birds at sunset.”

[Photo: IPPS Medical Rescue at the mosque in Verulam, treating the injured on 11 May. Photo by IPPS Medical Rescue]

 

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