Islamic teachings turned gang war fiefdom into peace zone

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Cape Town: Manenberg is a town known for its incessant gang wars, drug dealings, and other crimes. But as per a BBC report an Islamic scholar Shaikh Maqdam Ishaque Salek is turning this place into a peace zone during his “Mehfil-e-Zikar” every Thursday for the last three years.

About 100 to 400 people attend this Mehfil-e-Zikar every week. But according to Shaik Salek, the significant thing is that as soon as the congregation starts the incessant firing of the ganglords stops.

According to a report, the population of Manenberg is mixed or “colored” people. Colored is the term used by the past apartheid Government of the whites in South Africa to describe the non-whites and non-blacks population of Indians, Pakistanis, Malays, and other Asians.

Manenberg is overpopulated

Manenberg is a thickly populated area with many civic issues which needed to be redressed. Its overpopulation needs better housing and civic amenities.

The colored population of Menenberg is 52 thousand with Christians forming the majority. Poverty and unemployment are the main reasons for crime and gang wars here.

Most of those holding Mehfil-e-Zikar is Malays or Malaysian Muslims who are living in this area since generations. In Zikar, this community repeats the names of Allah in a distinctly soulful way. After the Zikar, the congregation is served with hot meal.

Rate of crime decreased due to Mehfil-e-Zikar

According to BBC report, Manenberg was declared a “Red Zone” in 2015. However, since the commencement of Mehfil-e-Zikar, the rate of crime decreased in many areas of the town.

Many ganglords respect Mehfil-e-Zikar and ensure peace throughout the congregation.

Noticing the peace during the past three years, the Local police has awarded the organisers of the congregation with “Peace Award”.

Christians too attend this congregation and Christian religious leaders are invited to address this congregation.

The topic of discourse by the Muslim scholars is mostly social subjects like peace, love and respect of familial ties.

Shaikh Salek said due to the Zikar of Allah, peace is returning to Menenberg. “We wishs to conduct this congregation every day but due to the financial constraints we cannot do so. However, we are trying to bring peace and harmony between various communities of the town. We would try to end the menace of drugs and crime in cooperation with the local government agencies,” said Shaikh Salek.