Cii Radio | 23 Rajab 1436/13 May 2015

South Africa is still reeling from the loss of senior Aalim and member of the MJC, Moulana Yusuf Karaan RA, who passed away in Cape Town this weekend. Tributes have poured in from across the world for a man who selflessly dedicated himself to serving the Deen for decades.

The following are 8 radiant contributions Moulana Karaan RA has made to Islamic scholarship in South Africa, based on information gleaned from interviews with those who knew him best

1. Translation of a wealth of Islamic literature

Decades ago, Moulana Karaan RA translated key Islamic works by giants of Islamic scholarship such as Sheikhul Hadeeth Hadhrat Moulana Mohammed Zakariyya RA. The accurate and reliable translations of books such as Fadhail e Hajj(Virtues of Hajj) and Salaat and Salaam have won wide acclaim and are still considered key reference points for English speaking Muslims worldwide.

Among the other books Moulana RA had translated were:

Qassasul Ambiyaa – Stories of the Prophets by Maulana Hifzur Rahman Seoharwy

The Ramadan of the Pious Elders

Kitaabul Fiqh (Diin kii Baaté) by Maulana Ashraf ‘Alii Thaanwii


Khutbaatul Ahkam by Maulana Ashraf ‘Alii Thaanwii

A Gift for Muslim Couple by Maulana Ashraf ‘Alii Thaanwii

Tuhfatul Ikhwan By Molana M. Ibrahim Ba’kathah

2. Years of Service to the Ummah through the MJC

Moulana Karaan RA was the head of the Ifta Department and official Mufti of the Muslim Judicial Council(MJC), the Cape’s foremost Islamic body. The innumerable plaudits he has received from current and former colleagues from the organisation in recent days is testimony to his weighty contributions.

3. Revival of the Tamat

The Tamat is a Cape term for the practice of young Muslim children learning to recite the Qur’aan with correct Tajweed and completing an entire Khatam of the Qur’aan in this manner. Moulana found this practice to have waned over the years in the areas he was working in and prioritised its revival.

4. Asserting the Importance of the Journey of a Lifetime

The Cape is renowned for its colourful Hajj traditions. However, Hajj was not always a firmly established practice among Cape Muslims. According to historian Ebrahim Rhoda, in former years, only a handful of Capetonians from each community would depart on the Hajj. Moulana Karaan observed this state of affairs and utilised the means of the Mimbar, publications and Hajj classes to alter perceptions on the urgency of performing the Hajj. The result of his and other similar efforts is a vibrancy on the Cape Hajj scene, ongoing Hajj classes and the prioritization of the Hajj, even from those who are not too well off financially.

5. Establishment of a Baitul Maal

When he began Islamic work in his community decades ago, Zakaat and Lillah distribution was an individual affair. Moulana established a ‘Baitul Maal’ which until the current moment has provided for a more professional and centralised distribution of Islamic charitable funds. From the miniscule amounts that were handled previously, the entity has now grown beyond expectations to distribute in excess of R100 000 annually

6. Founder member of United Ulama Council of South Africa(UUCSA)

Moulana Karaan was also one of the founding members of the United Ulema Council of South Africa (UUCSA) in 1994.This formation plays an important role in co-ordinating between leading provincial Ulama bodies on matters of national interest and provides a united platform for engaging with government and civil society.

7. Fountainhead of scholarship

Moulana was father to community icons, Munadia Karaan and Moulana Taha Karaan. Munadia RA, who passed on in 2014, was an award-winning and groundbreaking Muslim journalist. Moulana Taha is a global authority on Shafi’ Fiqh, and founder of the Dar al-Ulum al-Arabiyyah al-Islamiyyah seminary in the Strand. Moulana Taha is a member of the Ifta Department of the MJC, and sits as an executive member of the Muslim Personal Law Board and on the Islamic Advisory Board of ABSA, one of South Africa’s national banks. He is a sought-after speaker at Islamic symposia and conferences.

“His students describe him as divinely-gifted with encyclopedic knowledge; possessed of a near photographic memory; an insatiable bibliophile within the Islamic sciences and without; a teacher that never ceases to inspire; endowed with an elegant calligraphic hand and a penchant for poetry; thoroughly unassuming, pleasant, brilliant and tender-hearted.”

8. Forever a humble servant

Despite his high qualifications, scholarly achievements and association with respectable senior Ulama from abroad, till his passing, Moulana Karaan always shied away from the limelight and shunned praise. His knowledge bred humility. During his last days, a friend asked him on what could be written of his life and legacy. Moulana’s exemplary answer was: “It is not about me, it’s what we leave behind for the community and the Ummah”.