Muslim community mourns ‘martyr’
Religious leaders appeal for calm in the wake of fatal attack on KwaZulu-Natal mosque
IT TOOK feeling a knife at his neck for Durban moulana Ali Nchinyane to understand the meaning of “Labayka Ya Hussein” (I am at your service, Oh Hussein) – in spite of having preached it often.
“I fought for my life. I did not want to die,” the young priest said, recalling the moment when three men walked into the Iman Hussein mosque at Ottawa, near Verulam and attempted to slit people’s throats.
Nchinyane was speaking at the funeral of Assab Essop, who did not survive the Thursday attack that has sent shockwaves through the town.
During the Saff prayer session he struggled to stand up after bowing in prayer in unison with fellow devotees in the parking lot of the mosque beneath a minaret, palm trees and stars. He was still recovering from cuts to the hands and neck.
The building could not be used as it was still a crime scene.
Mourners came from as far as London as well as all corners of South Africa to pay their respects to Essop, a mechanic, father of two and member of the congregation of the mosque a block away from his home.
Another mosque official, Muhammed Ali, was also stabbed during the attack. He was still in the intensive care unit at Addington Hospital when the funeral ceremony took place.
Also absent was Essop’s mother, Fareeda, who is scheduled to return to Durban from Indonesia today.
She had been on holiday with a friend.
In his brief address, Ncinyane said that while the Shia branch of Islam believed in “a lifestyle of love and revolution”, those who attacked it would not be forgiven.
“And we’ll fight against them. Hussein taught us to fight until the end. Train your- selves mentally and physically. If something like this repeats itself, be ready,” he said.
A number of mullahs addressed the funeral, highlighting that Essop’s status had been elevated to that of a martyr.
The ceremony heard that death was a cost all members should be willing to pay for Islamic unity and brotherhood.
“We urge our society of Sunni and Shia to be calm, as much as they can,” said one.
“All of our enemies are united to destroy us, to use us against each other. We should not let them. We should make them disappointed. Our enemy is the Zionist regime.”
Deputy mayor of Durban, Fawzia Peer, who was among the mourners, said she believed locals were behind it and that it was not an international terror incident.
“We’ve got some tips. The Hawks are busy with it and I am sure there will be some good news soon.”
Peer condemned religious intolerance.
Mourners at the funeral of Shaheed Abbas Essop carry his body. Essop was killed at the mosque in Verulam yesterday.
Shaheed Abbas Essop’s coffin.