Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams is a prominent figure in the Muslim community of South Africa. He served as the President of the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), one of the oldest and most influential Islamic organizations in South Africa, headquartered in Cape Town.
Who is Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams?
Born and raised in Cape Town, Shaykh Abrahams studied in the traditional Islamic sciences locally and abroad. Before his presidency, he served the MJC in various capacities, including as the chair of several committees, demonstrating his dedication to community service and the development of the Muslim community.
Shaykh Irafaan Abrahams, esteemed principal of Darul Islam High School, has left an indelible mark on Surrey Estate and the wider Cape Flats community through his dedicated service. His well-known sermons have earned him a distinguished place in the community, but it’s his modest beginnings that shed light on his true character.
Growing Up in Surrey Estate
Born and raised in Surrey Estate, Cape Town, Abrahams comes from the well-respected Jonas family of District Six, and celebrates his 57th birthday this year. Both his grandparents were revered Quran teachers in the community and instilled their rigorous principles in their descendants, including Abrahams.
Raised by principled parents who echoed their own parents’ values, Abrahams attributes his deep love for the Islamic faith to the lessons they taught him, which continue to shape his life. From the tender age of eight, Abrahams can’t recall missing a single obligatory prayer, a discipline his mother emphasized. Despite losing her at the young age of 12, her final words about the importance of prayer made a lasting impression on him.
Abrahams’ older siblings took on the role of his caregivers, maintaining their mother’s principles. Abrahams and his siblings experienced financial difficulties, yet he acknowledges and is thankful for the values his parents instilled in them.
Islamic Education and Growth
In his adolescent years, his Islamic education was significantly influenced by Imam Ismail Johnstone, the former imam of Surrey Estate masjid. Johnstone was an expert in Arabic language and was highly effective in delivering Islamic teachings. Beyond imparting Islamic theories, Johnstone consistently motivated his students to practice good social conduct.
At 14, Abrahams began teaching Quran to children and by 15, he started teaching adults, a commitment that has spanned over four decades, even during his nine-year stay in Saudi Arabia.
Higher Education and Community Service
In 1987, Abrahams completed a Bachelor of Arts in Arabic and Islamic Studies at the University of al-Madinah al-Munawarah, Saudi Arabia. He later obtained a one-year Diploma in Teaching Arabic to non-Arabs at King Saud University, Riyadh, in 1995.
Abrahams has been a resolute advocate against gangsterism and drugs in the Cape Flats and served as the Imam of the Darul Islam Masjid. He also holds various positions within the community and continues to serve selflessly, with the aim of benefiting the society rather than seeking acknowledgment.
Service to the MJC
Abrahams started his work with the MJC voluntarily, in the Social Welfare Department, soon after his graduation from the University of al-Madinah al-Munawarah. His responsibilities included counseling, home visits, participating in shariah courts, and serving on the Imaarah of the MJC.
Now, as the President of the MJC, Abrahams is aware of the responsibilities that come with the position. He emphasizes that the most important challenge is being able to answer adequately on the Day of Judgement.
Shaykh Abrahams is known for his efforts in promoting unity and dialogue within the Muslim community and beyond. He’s been involved in various interfaith initiatives and often speaks out on issues of social justice and community development.