Cape Town - Former Western Cape premier Ebrahim Rasool has hit back at “skinnerbekke” (gossipmongers) who have criticised him for allowing Hindu rituals at his daughter’s wedding.
The Muslim politician, whose daughter Tahrir married a converted Hindu man, Sanjay Naran, last month, issued a statement accusing “fietna-mongers” (gossipmongers) of slandering him and his family and spreading rumours instead of finding out the truth.
This after photos of the wedding emerged on Facebook on Friday, and Muslims accusing him of allowing “un-Islamic” practices at the wedding which included Indian dancing and the Hindu “Seven Steps” ritual or Saptha Padhi, which requires the couple to walk around a holy fire seven times, honouring the fire god Agni.
Rasool, who performed the nikah (wedding ceremony) himself, told guests Sanjay had converted to Islam but said they wanted to honour his family by incorporating his Vedic heritage.
The wedding, on December 28, was attended by several clerics from the Muslim Judicial Council, including former MJC president Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels and Sheikh Ighsaan Taliep.
Also invited was Minister Naledi Pandor, who oversaw the signing of the marriage contract.
According to a printed wedding programme, the reception started at 5 pm, the nikah took place at 6 pm, and the Vedic traditions commenced at 7.20pm.
In between, guests were fed and there was also a break for Muslim prayers.
Rasool has been accused of Shirk (idolatry or polytheism) by having Hindu rituals at the wedding.
A Facebook user wrote: “... if the guy embraced Islam, why was there Hindu rituals? What message are we giving to the younger Muslims out there? It’s OK to have interfaith marriages and the MJC should have left the event when they saw Hindu rituals at the wedding.”
Rasool said he decided to speak out because he wanted to clarify matters to people who did not attend.
He said besides the Islamic requirements, guests also witnessed the incorporation of urf (customs) of Western culture, like the exchange of rings, and Malay, like the singing of Rosa, and Vedic rituals.
“More importantly, they would have known that the groom embraced the shahada (belief in one god), an act that does not demand denouncing or rejecting his family, community or other essentials of his being and identity,” he says.
“The crucial question was always whether custom could be complementary or contradictory to the fundamentals. Applying this methodology to the marriage ceremony meant that a few of the Vedic traditions were incorporated, while others were not because either the groom’s family were sensitive to our customs or we found them not to be complementary.
“Urf is an act of inclusion and a mark of respect, trademarks of our South African experience, whether in the interfaith services against apartheid or the ethics of our Bill of Rights and Constitution.
“Sadly, the debate has not been about the merits of the urf. We have rather seen edicts of kufr denial of truth), vilification of honourable scholars, displays of ignorance even of the faith of those involved directly, assertions that there was no nikah, and suspicion of my family and I.
“There is no excuse for preachers of hate to run to the mimbar (pulpit) with fietna (gossip), for hysteria to be broadcast on social media and for those confused to transform their confusion into fietna.
“The Qur’an is so clear: when dubious sources bring news, fatabayyanu! Clarify and verify! The onus is not on those about whom the fietna is. The onus is on those who make the allegation to present the proof. Indeed, this is when suspicion so easily becomes a sin.”