Letter to the Cape Argus by Shaykh Faaik Gamieldien:

 
To the Editor,
 
On Sunday December 31 SABC (channel) 2 screened a documentary showing "Muslims" visiting the shrine at Robben Island. The presenter of the programme went to great pains to try to link the occasion to Islam and "spirituality".

In fact the whole presentation was peppered with the word "spirituality" and the visuals of "Muslims" chanting and putting their foreheads on the grave seemed to reinforce the existence of such a connection.

 
I wish to state clearly and categorically that this kind of "shrine-worship" or "shrine-honouring" has absolutely nothing to do with Islam as a religion nor with its sense of spirituality.
 

In fact, Islam abhors such practices as shirk (ascribing partners to Allah) which is an unpardonable sin. Islam prides itself on its uncompromising monotheism and the absence of forms and figurines in its sacred spaces.

 
The erection of shrines to the dead and the veneration of such shrines are anathema to these fundamental beliefs. In fact the eradication of pagan beliefs and the physical destruction of all forms of idolatry were the central focus of the calling of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
 

Draping the grave with multi-coloured layers of cloth in an eloborate pagan ceremony of chanting and incense burning in veneration of the occupant of the grave becomes laughable when one considers that, historically, the corpse supposed to be buried there was taken back to Madura in the Indonesion archipelago for burial.

 
And to add further insult to injury the present shrine was constructed by the apartheid regime in 1969, two hundred and fifteen years after the death of Sayed Abdurahman Moturu, also known as Hadji Matarim, who is supposed to be buried there.
 

This was yet another elaborate ploy by the apartheid regime to keep the Muslims in spiritual serfdom. Many are the Muslims, but few are those who have accepted Islam.

 
Sheikh Faaik Gamieldien
Imam - Masjid Sunni
Rondebosch East
(Cape Town, South Africa)
Cape Argus, Monday, January 8, 2001 (Page 11)