Monday, August 27, 2012

Sadmatil Oola

The Prophet (PBUH)  has said:  innamas sabru inda sadmatil oola
Indeed patience is at the real beginning of the hardship.

'Inna Lillaahi maa 'akhatha, wa lahu maa 'a'taa, wa kullu shay'in 'indahu bi'ajalin musamman
Surely, Allah takes what is His, and what He gives is his, and to all things He has appointed a time ( Al-Bukhari 2/80)

Possibly, the greatest illusion I’ve ever harboured has been the illusion of safety. Mine is the house with an alarm system that is never armed. A gate that is sometimes left open.  Children who play in the yard.

My business is much the same. The alarm is never armed there either.  Perhaps it’s foolishness.  Sheer laziness on our part. Or maybe it’s because I refuse to be held hostage by the thieves and murderers who walk among us.   

I’m not one of those who imbibe crime horror stories with near-relish. I don’t want to know about all the hi-jackings, the armed robberies in my area. And when a horror story does occasionally find its way to me, I feel empathy. Am saddened by the lack of respect for human life. But my life continues as it always has, me, snug in my illusory bubble.

So I’m sure you’ll understand that I’m reeling right now.   The shock, the horror hasn’t fully set in. It’s a too-new horror. A too-close-to-home  shock. Lazeeza’s was robbed yesterday. There were guns and barking men. There was hard earned money forcibly taken. There was personal space raped.

And now there’s guilt. Neither my husband nor I were there when it happened. Our manager was. And his wife was (for the first time ever) with him. I keep playing his account over in my head. Keep thinking it should have been me.  I’m almost certain, my husband thinks the same.  Then it would be our cell phones stolen. Our lives inconvenienced by having to replace identity documents and drivers licenses.  In some ways that would have been easier (perhaps more painful?) to live with.

I’m not angry at the thieves…yet.

 I am upset though that my little girls felt unsafe enough to want to sleep in my bedroom last night. Upset for my manager and his wife whose lives have been changed forever.  Angry that my eldest, who’s already developed definite ideas about blacks being a thieving bunch, will be even more unwilling to listen to my views that go something like – crime knows no race or religion.

I am angry at my government for failing me. The SAPS never arrived. My security company took statements to drop off at the police station on their behalf.  Not that I expected the SAPS to apprehend the thieves, had they ever arrived, mind you. I’m not that naïve.  Ours is a country where crimes are recorded for statistical purposes only.

I have considered arming myself.  As long as you live in South Africa, you live with the reality that someday you will find yourself staring down the barrel of a gun. I’d be lying if I said I’d never considered the possibility that such a day would come.

I feel no fear. I do however feel betrayed.  By the people who take my tax money and give me nothing in return.

Today the sun will rise. I will awaken my kids for school. They will be questioned by the people they meet (because bad news spreads faster than any virus). People will speculate. There’ll be rumours. And in the midst of all that I’ll pray that my faith is enough. That I do not sink into despair. That I am fortified by the same benevolent Rabb who saved us all from physical harm and injury.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012


you visit sometimes
like that breath stealing
childhood affliction
the burn in my throat
fire in my chest
that my heart would slow
flaming lungs
breathe memories
you said
long done
your laughter
the whisper of a zephyr
post suhoor dream wisps

and then I remember
your perfume
on my hands
on my face
heart slows
throat falls in
on itself
like the memories
try to breathe
breath sticks
in my throat
phlegm like
I could but
Cough you up
Into a wad of tissue
flush away
the sound
of your voice
your smile
maybe then
lungs would blossom

youre not
my oxygen

the moment
it passes
and all thats left
is a pain
nerve endings
an almost cant breathe feeling
much like
the almost lived to love him

note: been a while since I've written poetry. Twas a Ramadhaan inspired offering. Asked to be shared...

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Al Aqabah - Suratul Balad

Some time back a friend recommended that I read The Shack. “But read it with an open mind,” she said. So when the bookshelves of a bookseller at the Mall yielded a copy of said novel, I bought it. Settled down with it that very night. As anyone who knows me will attest, I have a very ‘open mind’. But I tend to draw the line at having a mind so open that my brain – or in this case, my faith – falls out. Having the Trinity shoved down my throat was just not my idea of an enlightening read.

The next time I met the bookseller, he beamed at me. “The next book I need to give you is the story of a Muslim woman who found Christ,” he said. Did I mention that he happens to be a pastor?

Evangelical zeal has always terrified me*shudder*. Much the way Muslim zealots must terrify those of other faiths.  When we ram our truth down others’ throat, we imply that their truth is not good enough. Imply that we could be their saviour, even when we are fully aware that the Prophet (pbuh) was told, on the occasion when he grieved that his Beloved uncle Abu Talib passed away without having accepted Islam:

Lo! thou (O Muhammad) guidest not whom thou lovest, but Allah guideth whom He will. And He is Best Aware of those who walk aright (28:56)

Even when the Quraan is replete with aayaat like these:

And if they argue with thee, (O Muhammad), say: I have surrendered my purpose to Allah and (so have) those who follow me. And say unto those who have received the Scripture and those who read not: Have ye (too) surrendered? If they surrender, then truly they are rightly guided, and if they turn away, then it is thy duty only to convey the message (unto them). Allah is All Seeing of (His) bondmen (3:20)

In my Google search for these aayaat, I was aghast to discover a website dedicated to disproving the Quraan, using text from the Quraan. But then, are there not those among us who do the same to the Bible?

And that, right there is why I choose my methods of balaagh, of conveying, with such great care. If I can live my Islam with integrity and honesty, I’ve done myself (and my faith) a far greater service than if I were to challenge another on their faith, brazenly calling them misguided.  Arrogance and imaan do not combine well in the same heart, I’ve come to learn.

But even when I live with integrity, a quiet sort of dignity, I am bound to encounter those who are blinded by hate, arrogance, and yes, even stupidity.  Like Mohammed Fayaz Kazi did, that wintry evening that he was called to meet his Maker, the mantle of martyr thrown upon his shoulders. May Allah illuminate his Qabr, and grant him and all those who have passed away, the highest rank in Jannah. Aameen.

What for me, is almost as tragic as his passing, is how people have begun to use his death as an excuse to generate mass hysteria.  How others have so readily gone into victim mode, going as far as calling South African Muslims ‘oppressed’ (WTH!), even as others have gone all “an eye for an eye” and begun strident calls for retaliatory killings. And most distasteful of all, how some have used it as an opportunity for public preening. Indeed, it is when we are tested that out true mettle is revealed.  

We live in a secular democracy. It is pretty much the unanimous opinion of contemporary scholars that we are duty bound to obey the laws of our country of residence. Rule of law in SA (however defunct we may think the justice system to be) dictates that investigations be carried out and the murderers be brought to book.  If you’d much rather live under Shariah law, you’re welcome to emigrate.

Wherever we may go, we are bound to encounter people who have bought into the fallacies about Islam. Or have never bothered to learn any different. We cannot change their thinking, but we can adjust our reactions to their ignorance. Better yet, we can engage them and work towards dispelling these myths. Our most powerful tool in this instance would be our character. How ‘Muslim’ is my character really? This I the question we should all be asking.  

Petulance, is just well…petulant. Why are we as Muslims always ready to scream “Death!” “Boycott!” “Conspiracy!” the minute anyone does anything that upsets us? We look exactly like the ANC when we do so. And seriously, which thinking person wants to look like the ANC? It’s a crying spear! Uhm, I meant shame. Surely we have the collective intellectual muscle to respond with cogent (cutting, if need be) rebuttal.  

And last, but not least, when are we, as Muslims going to tap into our collective humanity and begin to see injustice for what it is, regardless of the perpetrator? See suffering for what it is, regardless of who the suffering being be? Feel the pain, sorrow, loss of another, a keenly as though it were our own? Why are our concerns always so very narrow? Did the Prophet (pbuh) not tell us: “Al Khalqu iyaalullah – All of the Creation is the family of Allah”?

South Africa, with all its failings, is as rich in mineral wealth, as it is in tolerant beings, capable of mutual respect. Maybe if we celebrated these relationships more, instead of (as we, as South Africans are wont to do) always highlighting the ugly, we might find, that we have more in common with the black man across the street, than we ever imagined possible.  Are we not “all unique. Just like everybody else”? There will always be those who hate. That should never be a reason for us to limit our capacity for love.