The Muslim Judicial Council (SA) presented their recommendations to the National Muslim Prison Board of South Africa (NMPB)’s annual general meeting over the weekend that saw all role-players including the Department of Correctional Services plan the way ahead.

The meeting was conducted under the leadership of the Ameer (chairperson) of the NMPB, Mufti Siraaj Desai, its executive members and regional representatives, the Department of Correctional Services, and the MJC (SA).

The NMPB is the official organisation recognised by the Department of Correctional Services and provides an effective and comprehensive Muslim Spiritual Care program that aims to influence a Muslim inmate’s life in prison.

In his opening address, MJC President, Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams, announced the establishment of a joint planning task team that would assist with monitoring and amicably resolve all NMPB related matters.

“During the historic visit of the Secretary of Defence, Dr Sam Gulube to the offices of the Muslim Judicial Council (SA) on Friday, 26 May 2017, a joint planning task team was formed under the leadership of the Secretary of Defence and the President of the MJC (SA),” said Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams, MJC President.

“The sole purpose of the formation of the Joint Planning Task Team is to consult and engage on matters such as conditions of employment, dress code, canonical prayer times, creation of additional Muslim Chaplaincy posts, and other matters affecting Muslim males and females employed in South African National Defence Force, Department of Correctional Services and South African Police Service,” he continued.

Spiritual caregivers are at the forefront of rehabilitating Muslim inmates. The MJC (SA) first deputy president, Moulana Abdul Khaliq Allie, reminded them that their duties went beyond assisting offenders.

“Spiritual caregivers at the various institutions are not only serving the offenders but rather the families of these offenders. The families want them to be rehabilitated and the community and broader society also want a crime-free society,” he said.

“We must compliment our spiritual caregivers for the significant services they render to our country. If crime decreases our tourism increases and this is a leading contributor to our economy,” Moulana Abdul Khaliq continued.

At the head of the NMPB is Mufti Siraaj Desai who plays an important role in facilitating discussions between the various regions of the organisation and the Department of Correctional Services to uplift and educate Muslim inmates on the fundamentals of Islam.

“We, therefore, request Mufti to take up the challenge of developing a specific fiqh that is applicable to Muslim inmates. It would be beneficial and assist us in inviting to Allah with great hikmah and wisdom,” Moulana Abdul Khaliq pointed out.

Furthermore, in the narrative of Prophet Yusuf (Alayhi Wa Salaam) is a beautiful example of how family and society should engage with the victim and the perpetrator. Moulana Abdul Khaliq emphasized that this engagement should be led by the imams in our community.

“In this surah (Surah Yusuf) there is reconciliation and grace. The surah also encapsulates forgiveness and speaks about how a society (and even the family) can help the offender gain back the trust of society and his position within the community,” he said.

“Our imams must take the lead in this regard and facilitate this engagement between society and the perpetrator using the example that Allah (SWT) mentions so beautifully in the Quraan,” he concluded.

The MJC (SA) urges the NMPB to take up the above matters with vigour for the sake of calling Muslim inmates to Allah.

The Department of Correctional Services must be complimented for acknowledging the NMPB as an important stakeholder. The MJC (SA) also compliments the Ameer, Mufti Siraaj Desai and the spiritual caregivers for their loyalty and commitment to bringing about change and improvement in the lives of inmates.