27 December 2005

Say a prayer please...

A child died at the Chitta Batta camp yesterday- had sent him to the hopsital in Mansera yesterday morning. They sent his little body back yesterday evening. Made his ghusl last night and buried him today. He was 9 years old and was living in a tent because his house was destroyed in the earthquake. He had pneumonia. This place is freezing cold. The major snow has yet to arrive...

20 December 2005

Thank God!

Every moment of every day, I lift my hands up to the heavens and thank Allah for allowing my forefathers to get onto that ship!

07 December 2005

EnD of an ErA :-)

Didn’t get a chance to send out a soliloquy last week- spent the week at a resort on the Vaal river at a place near Parys (No, not Paris!). Lotsa sand, water and trees! But was great having some alone time;p Not that I needed it.. Real purpose of the week long escapade was training and team building- best bit being the canoing and adventure games we got to play:) Right up until I was attacked by vicious stomach bugs that ravaged my internals for their full stay- Illness is actually a blessing and I now understand why.. And as a wise man once said, ‘Diarrhoea makes a man humble!’

Before and after Parys, I found myself at the Hartebeesport Dam- really beautiful place! There’s something about water that attracts people- even dirty, green water like what we find at the Zoo Lake! But like a true capitalistic nation that we are, prime natural spots like that have been heavily inflated so that only rich, bourgeoisie can afford to live where previously poorer people have been displaced! All in the name of premium golf estate living! But, that’s enough venting from me..
Had a balloon on the before trip that was vanquished during the week preceding the after trip- but that’s a whole new blog on its own so wont go into that now! Look out for the Blog Of The Vanquished Balloon some time in the future;-p

End of an era- well, this year was kind of like a mini era, in my books at least! Can safely say the past few months have been nowhere close to as bad as I expected and have been definitely way better than I could have ever planned! But as I may have said many, many times before- all good things come to an end:(
There’s so much more that I needed to share- was going to go in depth on the Murabitoons and also give a review of my visit to the so-called holocaust and jewish history museums in cape town. But I guess that will wait for sunnier days..

Well, I leave for fairer, colder lands soon- I will be contactable on the following email address: bilal.randeree@gmail.com

24 November 2005

There is no wealth but life..

First a bit more essence on the whole Ghoema thing from last weeks play- Die ghoema: 'n drom wat soos 'n balie lyk en is uniek aan die Kaap. Dit word van 'n brandewynvatjie gemaak'... The slaves that worked on the wine farms invented the ghoema by using a wine barrel and removing the base of it. Nevertheless, quite a memorable and entertaining experience, and makes one wonder how society can survive without music, tradition, colour, art and fun! Our specimen somehow manages to do so but with obviously devastating consequences…

Spent the weekend in Durban- lotsa sun, sand and surf! Durban has the best beaches- tried every one from there till Cape Town and I can safely say that none other comes close! The warm water and terrific waves- catching one is a near orgasmic experience- at least in my highly inexperienced opinion;-p

For my first few minutes in the water (spent a large part of 48 hours in the water!) I thought of only one thing- what is one of those sharks from last week rock up and say, ‘Hey Dude, remember me? Where’s your fancy cage now eh! Hehe…’ Shit, was I skrik! Took me few minutes to calm down but I assure you, many who go shark diving will not be able to swim in the ocean ever again!

What is Cloud 9? The 1896 edition of the International Cloud Atlas defines the ninth cloud as cumulo-nimbus, rising to a height of 10 km, which is the highest a cloud can be. That must have something to do with the feeling of elation that its normally associated to..
But there’s just something about being on Cloud 9- that feeling that, ‘Wow, things are working out so well!’ and you just enjoy it but it only lasts for so long! Sooner or later some moorse Jumbo jet comes past and knocks you off your cosy cloud and you hit mother earth with a bang- now you need to once again mull and contemplate, reflect and introspect, and come up with a revised POA. Moral of the story- Hell, I don’t know! But life is short- and not always rosy- so make the most of it while it lasts and know that whatever challenge you face, there are others who have it much worse!

Of all the contrivances for cheating the working classes of mankind perhaps none is so effective as that which deludes them with paper money-Daniel Webster
Don’t know who this guy is or what exactly he meant by the quote, but it may be interesting for those who are in the field to look into it- what gives paper money value? Is it just the credibility of the governments behind them? How does do we as Muslims feel about this? (p.s For more info I would suggest a chat with the Muraitoon!)

That’s all for this week- substandard drivel as usual but much shorter so hopefully much more readable;-)

17 November 2005

Tell me ur friends, & I will tell u who u are!

It’s always great to visit the Mother City- it actually feels like you in a different country; everything there is so different! From the Jumah prayer to the big mountain in the middle of the city-

The Jumah is a wee bit different from what we are accustomed to up north- see this wacky take on ours: http://rebspage.blogspot.com/
There you feel much more involved, it’s much more interactive (though definitely not interactive enough!) but feeling like you are actually participating in the prayer feels really good… And women as well- I’m sure many here will be flabbergasted to see women just on the other side of the chain when performing Jumah at Claremont Musjid, but there that’s pretty much the norm..

As for the mountain, I’ve expressed these sentiments before, but it’s really just in the way! You need to go all the way around the mountain to visit the other side. If it was here in Joburg, they probably would have made tunnels going through it! Or they would have hollowed it out and made a multi-level car park! Annoying, cause of traffic, perhaps not exactly aesthetically pleasing to some and even possibly frustrating at times- but it is truly remarkable how an entire metropolis was built around it!

Cape culture is quite exciting- went for a play, Goema, that was raising funds for MARCH (Muslims Assisting Red Cross Hospital). The play, well it was actually a musical, went through the history of the cape- from the time slaves and Muslims landed there to present and a satirical account of various incidents and eras since then… The Goema is, (well I’m not too sure what it is but will look it up for sure!) I think, music from the cape that started during the times of the slaves and has evolved to what is sung during the carnivals and on other occasions… The musical was extremely entertaining in a very cape town sort of way and thoroughly enjoyable! I would highly recommend it for anyone in the area from now till January as a entertaining yet educational experience:)

Getting up close and personal with sharks has always seemed as a sure way of getting a cheap thrill! (okay, not soo cheap actually!) But submerging yourself in a cage in heavily shark infested waters was really quite an adventure. Would have been much better if the weather was a bit better, the sea a bit calmer and the water a bit warmer! But on the whole an exciting experience- you feel very safe both in the boat and the cage but the sharks are flipping HUGE! Wouldn’t want to meet them without the comfort of a cage though! But as any experience with nature, it does and should make you realise and recognise your Creator in the magnificence and beauty of His creation…

The controversy around chumming (the practice of attracting sharks using bait) was discussed at length before the expedition was undertaken, and the clarification given as follows- fisherman have always chummed; the sharks are not actually fed; the sharks have a exceptionally short memory; Gansbaai (the shark diving spot) is the site of many scientific studies that are being conducted on sharks and is 2 hours from Cape Town!
We took pictures with a water proof camera and will try to host them as soon as developed- though I hope they come out clear as the sharks move quicker than you can imagine! Try it out sometime- it should have a spot on your list of things to do; along with bungy, scuba and sky diving!

Think I should have resigned myself to the will of one of those sharks- I’m sure it would have been much more pleasant than dealing with the human equivalents that are all around us! Sorry, I think that may be unfair to the sharks- they are not evil; they just like meat! Unlike the grotesque beings we have who thrive on sticking their snouts in every possible orifice! So flipping annoying I think its fine using them as shark food- that’s if the sharks can even stomach such drivel! Sorry, just a bit of sporadic venting- won’t happen again!

Watched ‘Paradise Now’ at The Labia (a theatre- the word has some medical connotations that I haven’t yet ascertained!) The film was about the ordeal a pair of Palestinian men go through after signing up to take part in a martyrdom operation. Really well made I believe and definitely realistic- the best part being that you leave the film without a definite answer to questions of these operations, but rather, the show asks the same questions in clearer, more concise way! Point being, that its difficult, if not impossible, for others to judge or comment on their actions because we can in no way understand what they go through and the environment they live in…

So after a weekend (well, a wee bit more maybe;->) of sights, fish, friends and fun; back to real life, reality, work and them sadistic pseudo-sharks :-(

09 November 2005

A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.

Usual euphoria experienced as at any joyous occasion, main affair at this event however being not more than wide variety of diverse courses on the menu! Yup, Eid was here- came like a whirlwind to obliterate all traces of dietary constraints mustered up during the 30 day spiritual high, but like all good things, the high as well as the day itself, came to a smashing end! Always fun spending time with family, our clan being not your average bunch in terms of size or ferocity; exceptionally entertaining at the least:) Politics and religion are usually frowned upon topics of discussion for average gatherings, but our crowd thrives on stimulating discourses on these intrinsically beneficial (&I believe entwined!) themes- entertainment at another level and you learn something new (&wacky!) everyday..

As I was saying to someone the other day, the trick with work is being smart- you need quality, not quantity:) Wipe that smirk off your face, you know it’s true! As long as you play your cards right, you don’t need to please everyone- hand pick you buddies and then, if you must, go out of your way to please them. The danger being, that if your new found cronies decide to move onto greener pastures then, simply put, you’re screwed! However, it’s not often that an entire elite are head hunted, thus I still believe that it’s the best strategy in the long run.. Differ if you must!

Imagine being in close proximity to a shark- yes, a great white shark! And on top of it you are stuck in a cage- heaven forbid something goes wrong and the shark gets in or you get out! But still playing around with the idea in my messed up mind- there’s the ethical consideration; does cage diving have any direct link to shark attacks on our coast? Well, studies have proved inconclusive and besides, if they eventually prove the theory accurate then there will be no more shark diving so maybe should get it done now:p It’s a once in a life time thing- much like bungy in Storms River! Wicked:) Been finding myself in harsh decision making environments, highly necessary contemplative ones, largely due to possible repercussions I believe; and while weary to outside influences of both positive and other, I think confident, rational steps always prove to be triumphant!
Bit off on a tangent, but would like to bring this up: Smart motto I stand by- No regrets! Not in a, ‘Be stupid and do what you want and even when you #@&% up still stand like a goof and shout out, “NO REGRETS!”, but rather, put as much thought behind what you decide, and together with adequate consultation and, where necessary, some guidance, if things work out differently than planned, don’t regret anything- life’s too short and if you don’t enjoy the now you’ll end up waiting forever!

Shucks- this looks like really haphazard, random, ramblings of an unsettled mind- or not! But take what you want and leave the rest for those who can recognise and appreciate true quality:) This new low in the my writings may be an indication for a sabbatical of some sort- but one mans low is another mans high;p Shucks- I’m really gone out of control!

The unleashing of the devil is the other ramification of recent- where my modest mind cannot fathom the dynamics of Satan being tied and untied, I’m sure you have also felt the change in atmosphere- the least of which seems to be newly acquired unwanted inches, but more serious concerns being the wandering eye and lure to neglect prayer! But hopefully, God willing, being aware of these and other possible temptations should help in being able to ensure an adequate continuation of recent practice largely unabated. A valuable tip I offer you: Make use of precious pillars of support that exist around you should you be lucky enough to have them! If not, let me know and I’ll point you in the right direction!

About Kashmir: expect final details early next week but latest has been renewed calls for any with any medical skills to take any time possible to assist in any way you can! Any takers?

01 November 2005

Doing justice means giving everyone his due.

Shocking how quickly life can change its course- and sometimes thankfully back again just as quickly! Illness is from the Almighty, he tests whom He wills, giving us the opportunity to become even closer to Him, to recognise Him even more. Life changing decisions, impending issues and major goals are all put aside while the lab works fervently to produce results- hopefully, and now thankfully, favourable results that allow life as we now it to find its footing, get back on track, with a refreshed outlook and an even greater sense of spirituality! Every bump on the road is a learning opportunity, every challenge a new opening- all working together to panel beat our mindset…

A once wise man, recently raised concern on impending regret for having not utilised the wonderful opportunity of Ramadaan to its maximum potential- a valid concern at that and hopefully one that we do not fall prey to! Sad but true, the prospect has all but passed and there is no turning back the clock- but the little that we had adopted as habit for the month, beneficial actions and the like, while possibly easier to perform during the spiritual high of the blessed month, will most definitely seem near impossible once the devil and his cronies are let loose- so I implore you, let us be prepared for their onslaught and hold fast to the aforementioned- for this is really what Ramadaan was about: training ourselves for the next 11 months…

Word from Kashmir is that the 2 million+ survivors need immediate help: medical, engineering, management, culinary, cleaning and anything else! The need is immediate, not late December as I plan, but the slave master sees no profit in my immediate departure and I am weak- too weak to forgo my current livelihood! But for those who considered trekking to assist, avail yourself now and you will be much appreciated.. I await reports from London and local relief efforts closer to my late departure, that will confirm the need for mine and other services at that deferred stage- watch this space*

The end of Ramadaan also means happy times- the short, bumpy road bids our welcome to Newcastle- a place to congregate and cover up on eating for the entire month:) Should be fun catching up with the entire clan, strengthening the bonds that bind, and making merry while we do so- I see my pennings may have taken a dip, albeit temporary I promise you- look out for renewed vigour in days when I’m adequately nourished! (Missed my 3rd Sehri for the month!)

On the Islamic Finance front, you can also expect the monster to be awakened soon, as there is much work that needs to be put in from all sides to avert the imminent catastrophe- remember, you will be questioned about how you utilised your knowledge, whatever knowledge you have, for the sake of the world and the blessings of its Creator! Let’s wake up and make the world a better place for all…

‘And guard yourselves against a day in which ye will be brought back to Allah. Then every soul will be paid in full that which it hath earned, and they will not be wronged.’ (Quran 2:281)

Mandela Bridge!

26 October 2005

I look to the future because that's where I'm going to spend the rest of my life

There have been numerous calls from relief organisations working in Kashmir for money, equipment and volunteers. I have given what I can monetarily but feel the need to do a bit more! Word from others who are working there is that they need anyone that’s willing to come and help. Whether you have medical experience or know-how does not seem to be a vital prerequisite- just being able to assist in whatever small way possible may ultimately make life at least a little better for those suffering! But also, pipsqueaks and wimps are not welcome from what I hear- if you can’t stand the cold, or are accustomed to a fairly comfortable lifestyle then maybe its best if you stay at home! I wish to go for about 3 weeks this December- any willing humanitarians to join me?

A bus load of Indian Muslims on a tour of Soweto- not something you’d come across everyday! Especially since there were no ulterior motives- or were there! Visited Hector Peterson museum once again- second visit in a short time but it was pleasant déjà vu! Still amazing to see how crazy things were not so long ago.. But then again not much has really changed when you look around without your blindfold- I say it again, 50 years down the line people will wonder where the Muslims or just good natured people were when poverty, Aids and madness was engulfing all ends of the earth!
Spent time at Dlamini Musjid- the only Musjid in Soweto, a place of around 2 million people! Was a enriching and beneficial experience nevertheless for both the bussed and the locals, I presume.. As someone aptly said, let there be a time soon when we don’t occasionally bus into Soweto in air-conditioned buses like tourists but rather visit often the good friends that we have there!

The whole Islamic Banking thing almost turned into a bigger debacle than originally anticipated- managed to luckily nip it in the bud, I hope, by deflecting an almost certain juvenile pissing contest with a self proclaimed representative of the Beards! But with sanity now temporarily prevailing, there seems to be a bleak future for any intelligent, viable faith-based economic progress coz frankly nobody gives a rats ass about shit! Makes sense why the whole façade started and continues largely unabated- the flippin easiest thing to do is to not think! Coz if you think for yourself then you will instantly see how messed up things are then may feel the need to do something! So screw thinking- lets just go with the flow, lets just enjoy life the way we know it, lets just be…

‘Why do not the rabbis and the priests forbid their evil speaking and their devouring of illicit gain? Verily evil is their handiwork.’ (Quran 5:63)

Well, Ramadaan is bolting down its final lap- time for those potent last 10 day duas! I need a sizeable portion of those if you all can remember! Last chance now to actually use this wonderful opportunity to change your life for the better- some fast but gain only hunger, some spend the night in prayer and gain only a lack of sleep! Let us not be of those…

19 October 2005

We must accept finite disappointment, but we must not lose infinite hope!

My predictions were accurate- ABSA has just announced plans to launch ‘Islamic Banking’! The circus has begun- there’s no stopping every Tom, Dick or Haroun from now offering ‘Islamic’ products and services- and it seems like a child could arrange the ‘Shariah Compliant’ rubber stamp! There must be a bored rubbersmith somewhere churning out these stamps at a phenomenal speed…
The point being, that while Muslims do need alternatives to the products and services offered by conventional financial institutions, in no way can we accept these as the ideal! We should admit and propagate that these are just the lesser of the evils and make public our plans, if any, of establishing the principles of the Islamic economic system so that injustice, poverty, oppression, crime and all related perils can be cured!

And on a lighter note, but still with the interests of the Ummah in mind, I feel that maybe I should become a mad scientist- we need someone to invent a chemical that we can safely pump through the air-conditioning systems of Masaajids around the world. This chemical must instantaneously combust when it comes into contact with burps, thus giving the offending burper the shock of his life without actually harming him! Those who perform Taraweeh will know exactly what I’m talking about… but try to picture it- would be flippin hilarious!

Ramadaan is time for spiritual development and thus people tend to shy away from normal modes of entertainment- however, having attended two this weekend, I notice braais have widely been accepted as appropriate socializing entertainment for Ramadaan. The discussions got a bit heated and carried away at one- a member of the congregation had invited my fellow Taraweeyers and I to a braai with his friends and family- the age-old, beards vs non-beards debate was innocently initiated by me, then taking a step back I just sat and watched the conversation gather momentum and materialize into a inimitable organism of its own- while I must admit that both sides have valid points, this type of unconstructive debate rarely benefits anyone! Well, in order to redeem myself for being the fiend who instigated it, I made sure that I had the last say and emphasized the way forward as being more tolerant and a greater desire for self development from all sides…

Why, oh why do we HAVE TO grow up! Life was always so simple- I pay a thousand tributes to the writer of the saying, ‘ignorance is bliss!’ And youth, believe me, is the throne of this heavenly ignorance! But all good things come to an end- stand up, stand strong and face the challenges as they come- as Shakespeare (I think!) once said, ‘Be a man, my son, Be a Man!’
It’s strange how we can sometimes talk so much, but when the time comes down to put your money where your mouth is……I just got lost in thought...........its unfamiliar territory!

Well, that’s all folks! I leave you with some wise, wacky, wonderful words:
"Work like you don't need the money, love like you've never been hurt, and dance like you do when nobody's watching."

12 October 2005

Protect your possessions by payment of Zakaat

My manager asked me the other day, ‘Why do you fast?’
Why? What do you mean why? “It’s compulsory in our religion, that’s why we do it!”
‘But what is the purpose of fasting?’
Purpose! What kind of question is that? Who says there is purpose for fasting? “Well, it is a form of training. A person has to willingly forgo his legitimate needs and desires- there is nobody watching him to see if he is actually eating or not so he does it only for the pleasure of God. It is a person being totally obedient and submissive to God. And plus it makes you appreciate what you have as you now have an idea of how those who don’t have food feel…”
Does that answer your question? Well, he seemed to get the idea and was pretty stupefied already so I left it at that…

I’m open to any suggestions as to how I should deal with this type of inquiring in the future. Many of you may have been asked already or if you are working will most definitely be asked some time in the future!

I am going to design a windscreen that, while still being see-through and serving the purpose of a windscreen, portrays a semi-transparent electronic view of the Quran! It will make it so much easier to read Quran while you stuck in traffic! Alternatively I could hire a driver and thus have ample time to revise :-)

The Standard Bank Gallery had 16 of the Timbuktu Manuscripts on display- really remarkable stuff! Took some pics which I hope to host on the blog, but actually seeing them was really great. From treatise on science, economics, politics, mathematics and an exquisite 1800 hand written copy of the Quran. Now I’m definitely going to Mali to check the other 700 000 manuscripts for myself… Plus there should be more pics on: http://msaalumni.blogharbor.com/

Zakaah actually means ‘increase’- how? Well, by discharging your obligation and thus purifying your wealth, Allah will increase your provision and grant you blessings in your sustenance. Had a Zakaah workshop with Sanzaf on Sat- it’s actually not that complicated and shouldn’t be.
You just need to set a date when you will calculate your Zakaah, add up what is included and less what is excluded! But we should also be looking at the purpose of Zakaah- it is payable on cash that is hoarded for a year- thus it evidently discourages hoarding which we somehow still manage to do! We also tend to view it as a debt that just needs to get off our hands! We don’t treat it as we would treat our own personal investments…

But this past week has just been a blur- not enough sleep, almost late for work almost every single day and some sombre contemplating and mulling going down!

05 October 2005

O My Lord, Increase me in my knowledge!

As promised after my dinner with the President last week, I have done some reading on the Timbuktu manuscripts. You often hear the expression ‘Go to Timbuktu’, referring to a place that is difficult or impossible to reach, a mirage of the imagination, a place that is not real, just a fairy tale, mythical destination!
But since the 12th century, Timbuktu, in current day Mali, was a centre of trade and Islamic learning- scholars and students from as far away as Baghdad and Cairo to study from the renowned manuscripts found in Timbuktu. Yet since the 1800s, the city's importance had declined, drifting to the sandy edges of the Sahara desert and into the imaginations of Western minds…

These bound texts highlighted the great teachings of Islam during the Middle Ages, covering an array of subjects such as astronomy, medicine, mathematics, chemistry, judicial law, government and conflict resolution. Islamic study during this period of human history was growing, evolving and breaking new ground in the fields of science, mathematics, astronomy, law, and philosophy while the intellectual evolution had stalled in the rest of Europe!

By the 1300s the University of Timbuktu created roving scholastic campuses and schools of learning that travelled between the cities of Timbuktu, Gao, and Djénné, helping to serve as a model of peaceful governance throughout an often conflict-riddled tribal region. At its peak, over 25 000 students, in a city of 100 000 people, attended the University of Timbuktu.

Over time, with invasions and the drifting of scholars to other centres of learning, the city’s manuscripts fell into a state of disrepair, the biggest decline occurring with the French colonization in the late 1890’s. With the resultant pressures of poverty, a series of droughts, and a civil war the manuscripts had began disappearing into the black market where they were sold to private and university collections in Europe and the United States.

Today there are still an estimated 700 000 endangered manuscripts in Timbuktu and its surroundings, a living testimony of the highly advanced and refined civilization in Sub-Saharan Africa, which if not preserved, translated and studied, will be lost forever! I believe that it is truly admirable of our President to have initiated the project to preserve the manuscripts- however; there is still the need for true scholars to begin translating and studying these great works…
I have place Timbuktu on my ‘Places to visit as soon as I get more leave’ List! Anyone up for a trip?

Istiyaq Shukri, author of the Silent Minaret, winner of the EU literary award, and travelling companion on our recent trip to Palestine, was here on a tour for his book- read parts of it and spoke a bit about our trip at Wits and in Newtown. His book, a fictional story that ended in the Palestinian town of Qalqilyah (the same town that our trip ended in!), has received rave reviews all over. I personally don’t feel it’s healthy to mix fact and fiction, but not having read the book yet, maybe he has been able to not allow the reader to blur the two… Will get back to you once I have read the book!

30 Tonnes of groceries- rice, meali meal, can food, etc…
At least 30km- from Mayfair to Vlakfontein, Soweto, Lenz South, etc…
Yup- it was hectic! Feel sorry for those who imagined hamper distribution would have been smiling at some aunty and giving her a packet of groceries! But also, while I pray that Allah rewards all those you assisted, just giving hand outs is not the be all and end all- people are suffering and they need to be empowered so that they can change the doomed path of their lives. And even the environment is against them now- the economic environment; the theory of economics states that under an interest based, capitalistic system, the poor will get poorer and the rich get richer!

The anti-capitalist, at a “Entrepreneurial Networking Event”, and the leftist at “Shukri’s Farewell”, in my mind both seem very similar- the former against the system because it restricts his passion and creativity, and the latter against the very same system because it restricts his thought and progress of the masses he ‘represents’- but both seem to be fighting a losing battle, because the system appeals to every man’s modern day acceptable desires!

Keep all your fasts, pray all your Taraweehs, and make lotsa dua for the entire Ummah! Also, while you find that you have more time on your hands due to the TV/social life/etc taking a back seat for a while, try to sit down and collate the thoughts that are going through your head, construct them into readable sentences and email to me as soon as possible for publication in the next annual National Magazine- written for the youth by the youth…

27 September 2005

I am an African!

Macbeth- never really knew what the story was about- in fact, even having seen a contemporary take on the play, I’m still not certain! But what I do still feel that Shakespeare (or as some have said in the past, for his somewhat ‘Islamic’ ideas: Sheikh Speare!) was a brilliant man- to have come up with such wonderful ways of expressing himself and even, I believe, getting a message out, subtly at times and even blatantly as well! Is there space, or rather need, nay benefit, for us to be exploring the dynamic field of theatre- not necessarily the way conventional (if there is such a thing as ‘conventional theatre’!) theatre has played out, but rather aimed at a beneficial form of ‘entertainment’ to educate, even subtly at first, and filter a message through?

The students have really outdone themselves- collected quite a few tons (I have no idea so wont speculate, but know it was literally tons!) of groceries and packed them into hampers for Ramadaan. Was good to see the active involvement of many, as well as the good impression it may have had on others who witnessed the mass packaging of these hampers on the Wits lawns last week. Some even had to brave the elements and sleep over Thursday night to guard the goods that were not packed yet!
And I suppose it’s the ‘getting involved’ that’s most important- no matter how much we collect and distribute, someone will still go to bed hungry at times; so to get as many as possible to assist packing and distributing, so we see for ourselves the suffering in our own back yards, this should make us appreciate what we have and make more concerted efforts to change the lots of the oppressed… May the Almighty reward all those who contributed and assisted! Ameen…

Always good to go back home- spent yet another weekend in the peaceful, tranquil environs of Newcastle; with just enough noise being relentlessly generated by my younger siblings! Time flies, things change, friends grow up and become distant, bushes grow big, trees we played on have since been felled, the paths we walked on have been outgrown, the river I had to swim across to get to school every morning has been polluted! Just joking bout the river part, but time really does fly and things really do change…

Had the great pleasure of attending a dinner last night with President Thabo Mbeki for his ‘Timbuktu Manuscripts’ project! Ok, I didn’t sit at his table but I was close enough! Truly admirable to have our President involved in such an important initiative and it’s great of the Muslim community to be so actively supporting it. I don’t know much about the project yet, but will now need to look into in closely.
While it’s all well and good that our community is supporting the preservation of these invaluable manuscripts that are decades old, whether these manuscripts will be translated and utilised firstly in trying to revive the spirit of true Islamic scholarship, and also to ultimately benefit from these priceless artefacts!
We need to also seize this great opportunity to dispel the myths and media-fed notions of Islam that exist both here and elsewhere- the President, in his speech, spoke about the great Islamic civilisation and it’s brilliant scholarship and systems being ‘African’ as well, having benefited and contributed so much to modern day civilisation and yet being almost totally forgotten! The dictionary explains ‘Timbuktu’ to be a place that is unreachable, while this very place was a major commercial and academic hub of the world at one time…
We should be studying our great heritage, not just as academic exercises, but rather so that we can revive the true spirit of Islam and through doing this solve the problems the world is facing today and make it a better place to live!

Here’s an extract from ‘I am an African’ :
I am the grandchild of the warrior men and women that Hintsa and Sekhukhune led, the patriots that Cetshwayo and Mphephu took to battle, the soldiers Moshoeshoe and Ngungunyane taught never to dishonour the cause of freedom.
My mind and my knowledge of myself is formed by the victories that are the jewels in our African crown, the victories we earned from Isandlwana to Khartoum, as Ethiopians and as the Ashanti of Ghana, as the Berbers of the desert.

20 September 2005

Laziness is often mistaken for patience.

The month of Ramadaan is here soon- managed to make arrangements for Taraweeh in an area with easy access to homes with food! But I can imagine it being extremely tough this year with work and stuff- the past few years I had studied the whole night and slept the whole day…

Attended the Black Accountants convention in Gallagher Estate last week- a bit strange that there is such an organisation and I somehow ended up on the JHB exec so I had to show face at the function. One of the speakers, a Willie Madisha from Cosatu, made an interesting point- during Apartheid; a certain group of people were allowed to amass wealth at the expense of the masses. Apartheid was then replaced by Capitalism which meant that people with wealth could keep and benefit from this wealth and ultimately the previously disadvantaged groups would largely still be economically oppressed with little hope of making a better life for themselves! And all it took was to make some previously disadvantaged people wealthy and things could go on with not much opposition. The ironic thing is that the group that could make the necessary changes, the black accountants there, stand in line to loose the most if the economic system changes- for a redistribution of wealth to occur, the middle class will be more affected than the upper class…

Sony Ericsson had a launch at Kayalami on Thurs night for some of their new phones- a real waste of money if you ask me! They had some idiotic drama dude and his bunch of untalented goons acting out a commercial and a fashion show. Picture this- a fashion show with models modelling phones! The phones are real cool but Sony needs to jack up their marketing and advertising department if they want me as a customer…

ABASA had a Gala Dinner to finish off the convention of Friday night- the theme was ‘Quest for an African identity!’ There was nothing African about the function at all- the new black elite culture is a fusion of western, secular, individualistic materialism all rolled into one! Tim Modise spoke, along with a few black CEO’s from major multinational corporations- he has always been my favourite radio presenter, and once again I enjoyed how he stated the blatantly obvious- black professionals need to start paying more attention to their social responsibility and start making plans for long term change in this country…

Got to RAU a bit late for the concert- Zain Bhika and chorus going all out in a fundraising initiative for the MSA Ramadaan collection- a think the MC put it quite well when he congratulated the guy who won a cellphone- “At least it was worth your while coming!” Alternative events like this are great- very professional and well organised, so I think we can now move on to hosting international celebrities and maybe even academics…

3 Continents Film Festival on Human Rights was on here for the past two weeks- think its coming to Cape Town now and would really encourage all of you don’t there to try and catch a few of them. Watched one on Saturday night- a personal account of Norwegian UN soldiers about the Israeli rocket attack on a village in South Lebanon in 1996. Really gruesome and tragic footage that honestly sends shivers down your spine! Is the world really just gone mad! What the hell is going on? Are we not living in the 21st century? Also saw actual footage from Chechnya taken by a guy who was recently killed in Iraq- its just unbelievable what’s going on over there! But then again, is anyone willing or even able to do anything?

Drive south of Johannesburg and take the second Vanderbilj Park off ramp, few more rights and lefts and you can find a nice bit of the Vaal River. A wonderfully serene refuge of nature from the rat-race of city life, really relaxing and calming- spent the day unwinding there on Sunday. Something necessary, I think, to ensure sanity in this frantic world of ours!

Talking about the rat-race; last night being a ‘Big Night’, a few got together to reflect and introspect- the past year has seen the trials on the rat-race take its toll on many of the newly employed! The inevitable realisation being, across the board, that even if you win the rat-race you are STILL A RAT!

Useless facts (Once again, courtesy of Ismail Sader)
Taxable income: 270,000 +

Tax: 78,070 + 40% of each R 270,000
- Well it’s a useless fact for me, don’t no bout u.

- 727 - the number of airports in SA, only 143 of which have paved runways.
- Stratus: Uniform low grey cloud with a surface of about 460m.
- Your taste buds are replaced every 10 days.

Another new edition this week: look out for ‘pics of the week’ posted on the blog along with this email…

14 September 2005

Hates any man the thing he would not kill?

Interesting stat I have come across- 9 out of 10 people don’t care! They don’t care about what’s going on in the world, they don’t care about the suffering of others, they don’t care about happiness or sadness, they don’t care much about anything- so that begs the question: are you ‘the one’ or just ‘one of the nine’?... Do you care about anything else besides money, career, comfort, etc?
Oh well, who cares!

We did a big slide show presentation to the Fri Nite crew and I think it went pretty well- but I guess to ascertain the effectiveness of our presentation we need to wait and see what effect, if any, it would now have on the audience there…

Have you read Merchant of Venice? The movie is blind interesting and has a brilliant script- I was having a discussion about interest and usury with a colleague at work earlier that day; told him how usury was forbidden for both Christians and Jews as well. And I had remembered from the book that Jews had started giving loans on interest to non-Jews but because it was forbidden, didn’t charge fellow Jews interest- apparently some still do this up to today…

It also shows how the Jews were oppressed- they had to live in a certain part of the city, the ghettos, and had to wear red hats when they wandered into other parts of the city. I agree, they do have a long history of being oppressed but they have today become the oppressors! There is a scene in the movie where the Jewish moneylender, Shylock, questions why his people are oppressed and mistreated- and today I would like to hear a Palestinian question in a similar vein:
‘Why? Is it because I am an Arab? Hath not an Arab eyes? Hath not an Arab hands, senses, affections, passions, organs, dimensions?
Are we not fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same winter and summer, as a Jew is? If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that!
If an Arab wrong a Jew, what is his humility? Revenge! If a Jew wrong an Arab, what should his sufferance be by Jewish example? Why, revenge! The villainy you teach me, I will execute, and it shall go hard but I will better the instruction!’

Oh well- get the picture, don’t you?

I have no intention of linking everything to Palestine- but the feeling I got when I saw this show really made me want to question them- how can you forget what you’ve been through and now make others go through the same and worse!

The other tale that I found interesting in the story was about a lady whose father had left three chests that would decide on who can marry her- only by choosing the right chest could you have her hand in marriage! The chests were gold, silver and copper- I thought it seemed pretty obvious which was the chest to choose- but isn’t it necessary to have a similar system today: not three chests but rather a software program that requires answers to many questions to be inputted and at the end it spits out a comprehensive report on the person being interviewed:) Any budding programmers interested in working on such a program? I assure you that you will be adequately compensated!

And back to Palestine- I just got word from our Palestinians friends; they are planning an ‘Eyewitness Israeli Occupation Campaign’ that will run from the 8 – 29 November and include the Olive harvest and Palestinian Independence Day events… Details to be released later this month- watch this àspace!ß

Ashfaaq Carim’s grandmother passed away in Potch this Sunday- please remember her and all marhooms in your duas…

This week sees a slight change to the regular format of email that you have probably become accustomed to:
Useless facts (courtesy of Ismail Sader)

- 40 million, the population of Lagos (Nigeria). Yeah that’s right the population of RSA is about that much.
- 1700, the no. of Olympic swimming pools you could fill with the beer that SAB sells in one year. - 96, the no. of South Africans who died of congenital syphilis in 1997.
- The Venus flytrap is capable of eating an entire hamburger.

A new methodology for auditing was recently rolled out at work- at first I was horrified as this presumably meant a greater volume of more difficult work, but I’ve subsequently been pleasantly surprised! The old methodology was substantially different, so the less you knew and understood it, like me, the better off you are right now:) Just sat through a meeting where the usual smart-alecky geeks were squirming all over and ludicrously struggling to elicit some approval from the partner! So my theory has just been proved: The less you work, the better it is for you!

08 September 2005

...living a life cluttered with mundane tribulations...

Time flies- two weeks already since we got back! And I sadly feel myself re-adjusting to the normal pitiful drone of day-to-day existence… But happily feeling more revived and energetic so that I can fulfil the responsibilities that now lay upon my shoulders after being given the wonderful opportunity of living and feeling with the Palestinians

But wait- what the hell am I supposed to do? I am an accountant! As much as I hate to admit it- my life from now on (till I can somehow get more leave and escape again!) revolves around big multi-national capitalistic corporations! And while I may have previously come up with a brilliant way of consoling myself on that regard (refer to previous emails detailing the long-term plan of Muslim professional in the economic field), I am now confined by this revolting mania called ‘work’!

But wait again- even if I had more time on my hands, what do I do? Will speaking on a few radio shows and showing of my pics really achieve anything? I’m pretty sure that if I figure this out I will be able to find the time to do whatever then needs to be done! (I have a pretty good track record to prove my ability to avoid work!)

In the past two weeks, we have done:
2 Radio shows on an (hehe) international satellite radio station,
2 shows on different Cape Town radio stations,
2 slide show presentations to audiences in the (hehe) City of Newcastle.

And what has changed? What did I expect to change? What did we hope to achieve?
- Education and Awareness! Make people more aware of what’s actually going on. (But human nature is such that most, being really touched and concerned while watching or listening, soon afterwards totally forget everything…)

So that has brought me to the following conclusion:
While it helps to actually see and if possible experience suffering for yourself, it is not entirely necessary. What is necessary is an understanding of what Islam and humanity at large, requires of you- if we understood that, and were really committed to it, then we would naturally be struggling in every legitimate struggle that we could!

Talk is cheap- here I am, in the lap of luxury, total freedom, virtually worry-free, and all I’m currently concerned about is the blinking battery light on my laptop! There’s no electricity (sitting in the dark- this never happened to me in Newcastle or even Palestine for that matter!) and this thing is going to shut down any second nowwwww

31 August 2005

Hell on Earth?!

Got back from Palestine last week- been asked by every person I met, “How was the trip?” and I’ll give you the same answer: It was interesting and a real eye-opener! I can show you all my pictures and present all my notes, but I don’t think it’s possible to convey the actual feeling and realisation of what life there is, in mere words and pictures…

I will try my best to adequately update the website with the pictures I took and the notes I made while there, and we also plan to present wherever possible, a audio visual presentation of our experiences- hope we do justice with it all…

You can’t go to Palestine and not come back depressed- the situation is truly depressing; realising how many opportunities we miss here is truly depressing; realising how much we take for granted is also truly depressing! It took me a few days to re-adjust to normal life- don’t know if it was the jet lag or what. But the 2 weeks in the West Bank felt like ages!

But on the other hand, the patience, perseverance and drive of the Palestinians to just get on with their daily lives and to resist wherever possible, despite the bleak realities of the situation, are very motivating and inspirational- if they can carry on, then why can’t we do whatever is in our power to try and improve their situation!

We should also be careful not to pick and choose our battles- Palestine may be close to our hearts because it’s an ancient struggle, in land we consider Holy, with Muslims we easily identify with; but wherever there is oppression and suffering, be it with Muslims or not, we should be doing whatever we can to make a difference!

Another thing that I feel we need to consider is- if Israel and America and whoever else Muslims feel are against them, have to just somehow disappear, then what? I believe that we will still have our hands full with a number of problems! Muslim leadership is generally very corrupt and the masses are in many cases not capable to replace them- Muslim society has degraded, in some cases, to levels below that of secular society; we have lost our morals and values and sometimes even the capability to think and rationalise correctly. There is much work to be done on the hearts and minds of Muslims all over, starting at home, together with whatever efforts we are making out there…

I have yet to catch up with work- need to do so by this Friday in order to get away with the few extra days I was away- will definitely find time next week to come up with a more organised layout of my thoughts and feelings which I feel need to be shared at this opportunity!
In the meantime, I would like to include a brilliant excerpt from a friend’s email which aptly conveys my feelings as well:

‘For someone like me, who's only exposure to what the Palestinians go through on a daily basis is via news reports, documentaries and now, the personal accounts of friends who've witnessed the indignities, I cannot even begin to fathom what it must be like to have one's spirit brutalized in such a manner. It’s so easy for someone like me to live, with nothing more than the occasional pull of indignation when I hear of some inhumanity, to go back to living a life cluttered with the mundane tribulations that deafen the 'distant' pleas of a people who are linked to me by the thread of Faith...We ask ourselves if We are deserving of our Freedom? Are not the Palestinians (and the global oppressed) worthy of the same? Perhaps our purpose is then greater, our burden far more to bear. Does our Freedom then come with a price? And if we continue to keep our waters calm and placid, afraid of the ripples of outrage...this Freedom that we take as a given, this Freedom that we take as our right... - this Freedom will be taken...away.’

Just a quick community update for those who haven’t heard yet: Mohamed Ziyaad Hassen (formerly known as Ned- but not anymore, use his proper name plz!) and Ayesha Jacub plan to get married soon. Remember them in your duas…

03 August 2005

Kingdom of Heaven?

It’s been a hectic week-
so much that I needed to do in preparation for our trip but somehow never got down to any of it till the last minute!
Surprise, surprise!

Bought a car last week- was on my way to Azaadville to see the car and on my way there the ‘Mighty One’ decides to start smoking from the dashboard! It was a sign- it’s days were numbered and I had to get rid of it! Had a tow truck take me to the Holy Lands and traded it in- was happy with anything in its place; anything with wheels is better than a GTi on the back of a tow truck!
Anyways, now I have a 2000 citigolf, 1.6i with 95k on the clock- its not a GTi but I’m not complaining! Bid a sad farewell to the ‘Mighty One’ and appeased my conscience knowing it is resting in such a sacred place:p

Took my new car home for the weekend- haven’t been to Newcastle in months and needed to clock card before we leave for Jordan this week! It was good to be home for a while; to be surrounded by people and noise and hot home cooked meals! Family not too impressed with my travel bug- this year already been to Drakensburg, Cape Town, Durban, Mozambique and now Jordan and inshaAllah Palestine!
We spend a few days touring Jordan and then try for Palestine through the Israeli border- met and spoke to many people over the past few days and been hearing some scary stories- the Israelis make life really difficult for Muslims trying to get in and they can turn you away with no reason at all! I really hope we do get it; will be a real suck if we get turned away!
Make a dua- there is a good enough chance we get in and if Allah wills it then so be it!

Will not be using this email for the next few weeks- email me at bilal.randeree@gmail.com I will try to keep blog updated as much as possible and host pics if possible!
Keep an eye out if possible…

And again I ask- make a dua, we will need it!

25 July 2005

Forgive your enemies but remember their names.

Been working very hard since I got back from Mozambique: because I was away they planned me on the job and I couldn’t pull out because I only got to work a day after it started! It’s an audit of a freight company near the airport- leave early every morning and get back late every afternoon! The work itself is more physical than what I’m used to, but I suppose it’s good as I now have experience in a totally different industry…

Busy make arrangements for Palestine trip- don’t feel that I’m as excited as I should be! I imagine that I should be flippin ecstatic, but also don’t want to get to hyped up just in case (inshaAllah it wont happen) we get turned back! Leaving in less than 2 weeks! Going to spend a few days touring Jordan and then going for a 10 day youth camp in Palestine. Plan on trying to visit as many sites in Palestine as possible… The theme of the camp is “Impact of the Wall on Palestinian Life”- hope to report back and increase awareness once we get back… Make dua all goes well!

Went for a MSA meeting on Wednesday- the Iranian embassy sponsored some equipment to the hospital as part of an MSA project. They seem to be very active in general; having a Women in Islam conference this week with Tukkies and also asked me if there are any students interested in going to study in Iran- Islamic studies at the Tehran University… I don’t know if anyone would be interested; there is a delegation from Iran here interviewing prospective students if anyone is…

We had a go karting evening as a team building initiative- team building is just the corporate term to legitimise spending thousands of rand on employee entertainment! But I’m not complaining- we had a 4 hour endurance challenge with our division split up into relay teams. After my second round of racing I got disqualified for the rest of the evening- my car was written off after a severe accident that was not even my fault! Driving home was cool- still felt like I was racing around those greenside bends! Great fun this go karting is, but don’t drive home immediately after!

Culture- have had many discussions on this topic over the years! Who defines it? Is theatre really culture! Grahamstown festival was at Wits theatre- called 969 Festival bcoz that’s apparently how far Grahamstown is from Joburg. Well, the cultured are never late, and I’m almost always never early, so missed the piece I planned on seeing! These people and their rules:p Also, the people that frequent theatre seem to be in a class of their own- not strictly upper, middle or working- just a mix of people who enjoy live television:p And it seems like half the male theatre goers are all tipsy!

I can’t believe how time flies- Ramadaan is coming up soon! Going to miss the iftaars and taraweehs on campus last year! Can just imagine how difficult it will be working during Ramadaan:( InshaAllah we can all make adequate preparations and have a blessed month- Ramadaan collection was planned on Fri here in Jhb and begins soon- think that we can co-ordinate a national collection with each area doing there own independent collections and distributions, but just marketing and advertising it together… any ideas? And us working class people should also try to assist where possible- this is more than just a campus based initiative… look out for details and volunteer wherever possible!

It was a busy week for msa- had a high schools program at Wits on Saturday. When does one get old? It seems that suddenly you realise, “hey, I’m not that young anymore!” Spending time with the younglings is excellent for rejuvenating ones youthful spirit! And plus we played this cool game: aMSAing race! These events are instrumental in recruiting new blood- trick is to ensure an adequate follow up! inshAllah efforts will not have been in vain…

Mr Irv is preparing to bid farewell to the good life (some still think so!)- he marries in a week so we had to leave him with a taste of the freedom he is leaving behind! Went HUGE with all ‘the youths’ on Sat night- had a few extras come over from Durban specially for the affair! (Okay, maybe Sun Youth Conf had something to do with it!) Our entourage went Paki (Bismillahs), a bit South (Melrose) for surreptitious variety of another sub-continent experience (Indian muslim heartland) and finally kicked out all traces of ambience and culture, from the hallowed halls of the Michelangelo’s lounge- it all walked out when the 20 of us walked in:p

The Beards (and I’m licensed to use the lingo coz I also have one:p) held the Youth Conference in Azaadville on Sunday. Rashad and the Durban members made the Great Trek to the holy lands especially for the event. (Azaadville is the 4th Holiest site in the world- Ihraam must be donned at the Miqaat and Ziyaarahs are available solely for the super devout!) God willing the event went off very well- again, the trick is to ensure adequate follow-up to obtain maximum benefit for all efforts!

We watched the home video of our Moz road trip last night- its flippin brilliant! Release for public viewing planned for later this year- it’s going to be the first in the evolution of documentaries- place your orders now and you will qualify for the early bird discount :)
I see some of you have visited my website- any comments, criticism, contributions, etc most welcome…

21 July 2005

Whether you think you can or whether you think you can't, you're right!

Whew- its been a wholesome 2 weeks since my last email! Been to Durban and Mozambique- for bread and milk details of the road trip, log onto my blog and check it out: http://bilalsblog.blogspot.com/

Mozambique is a very interesting place- just came out of a gruesome civil war that ravished the country and set it back decades! Moz was until very recently the poorest country in the world! Interesting history behind what led to such appalling circumstances; Moz was a Portuguese colony that was apparently a chic hangout for the rich and famous, safe haven for many freedom fighters from all over Africa, and a holiday destination for all- around the 70’s or 80’s, the socialist party took over Portugal and the Mozambicans managed to wrench their independence! The Portuguese just got up and left- they took whatever they could carry (equipment and machinery) and sabotaged whatever they had to leave behind! Buildings and homes were rendered useless by pouring concrete down the drains, wells, dams and farm lands were poisoned, and factories and production plants were stripped of machinery rendering them impossible to function!
And where did they all go? South Africa- the government allowed them to enter our country and become co-occupiers! The government was also a sinister force behind the ensuing civil war that began post independence! Frelimo, the party that gained independence, led by Samora Machel who became President and was assassinated by the Apartheid regime, was challenged by Renamo, a rebel movement pronged and funded initially by Malawi, Rhodesia and the South African government!
The result was gruesome- thousands dead, even more injured by land mines (manufactured in SA and distributed freely throughout the countryside!), and a country which thereafter for many years held the position of poorest in the world! The lows that Mozambique sunk to were possibly the lowest lows possible! The positive side now being, that they can only go up from here now…
Since the end of the civil war in 1992, the country has been building itself up quite steadily, and now has one of the highest growth rates in the world. The recent floods took them back quite a bit in terms of infrastructure, but one can sense the drive and ambition of the Mozambicans that should take them into better times soon enough…
Our neighbours- we should be making efforts to assist them where possible! The north of the country was the most southern point visited by Arab traders- people of that region are majority Muslim and are also those still suffering the most… There, now you know!

Well, returned to work last Tuesday- after an absolutelty heavenly week in a semi-paradise, it really was painful! Only thing keeping me going are the good memories of Moz and building up excitement about upcoming trip to Palestine…

Irfaan and Ash are back from Qatar- it went so quick, hardly felt that they were gone for that long. And been quite updated about there happenings anyways since they left. Had a nice get together to catch up on finer details- seems like Al-Jazeera is the new hip place to be working at!

Went on an excursion to Zak Park Ulooms on Sat morn- quite an interesting experience; if I may say, quite like a visit to the zoo:) In the sense that they took us from classroom to classroom and let us sit and observe the locals in their natural habitat! But was seriously beneficial in making us understand what the beards have to go through in order to get their qualification. I hope this was a start to a fruitful relationship- pointless for us to just criticise everything unconstructively, but as outsiders with some sense, we should be able to give valuable advise about things that are not so noticeable to persons who have always been in that environment… and obviously vice- versa…

Sat nite also saw the launch of a Muslim Alumni network- the idea, as I understood it, was to reaffirm commitments to the Cause and try to provide a platform for young, dynamic, sincere Muslim professionals to meet, interact, discuss and strategise to achieve our goals as Muslims living in this beautiful country during these opportunistic times! Or something like that- you interested?

Drum- a South African movie about the very magazine- interesting; a bit too Hollywoodish, but it gets the message across. Like the journalist who was killed for writing for the magazine, there were many other unsung heroes of the resistance who gave their lives in order to make ours better! Maybe, just maybe, we should get these flipping capitalistic, profit maximising, materialistic, un-Islamic dreams and ambitions out of our systems for a while?! If that’s even possible!

I know that I promised the end of these emails- sorry, if you don’t like it then just don’t read it!
Remember an interesting but rather vague and maybe baseless quote: ‘the cynic commits intellectual suicide’- what the hell does that mean?

11 July 2005

Day 8

Left for Xai xai early in the morning- our last day of holiday and need to make the most of it! It was about an hours drive from Bilene- the roads in this country and terrible! You need to literally find bits of road in between all the potholes! Driving through the
countryside, you notice the stark contrast with life and infrastructure in South Africa. The beach in Xai xai was amazing- there is a natural layer of rock that separates the beach from the rest of the ocean. We went snorkelling and discovered an amazing shallow reef- it was like scuba diving without all the equipment! Big colourful fish and schools of smaller ones swimming all around you- also saw lion fish and some other weird looking stuff! Were supposed to be back in Maputo by lunch, but we had so much fun we didn’t want to leave! Ended up reaching Maputo in the afternoon and still had to pack car and buy prawns- border was supposed to close at 7pm and we reached there just at about 6:50! But rush was useless as we found out border closes at 10 during the holidays..
But it was good to be back on familiar soil- where we having drinkable running water and roads instead of potholes! Mozambique is not that far from Joburg and I think close enough to hit a short trip over the next long weekend!

10 July 2005

Day 7

Woke up early- went to Holiday Inn on the beach front to catch sunrise- really stunning sunrise over the ocean! The Maputo Holiday Inn is a very smart building but is actually not very big; apparently the original Holiday Inn building has an interesting history to it: you can still see this massive multi story, high rise building on the beach front- the concrete skeleton looks like a new building under construction. However, the building was put up many years ago by the Portuguese- before leaving the country after independence, the Portuguese sabotaged it by pouring concrete down the pipes, thus rendering the building useless and virtually impossible to complete! They also took whatever they could move (machinery and equipment) and damaged whatever they couldn’t! That could have had something to do with why Mozambique was until recently the poorest country in the world!
We picked up the keys and headed for Bilene- it is a natural lagoon; looks like a huge lake! Really beautiful place, spent the day on the beach- the water is very shallow and because it’s a lagoon there are no waves. We tried swimming across but were famished half way across! Had a braai and went to sleep- nice soft beds in the three bedroom house with hot water and a shower that was ours for the night!

09 July 2005

Day 6

Couldn’t wake up- the beds were too soft and comfortable! Managed to drag ourselves out of bed eventually. Went exploring in the city- found our way to the market that really looked like something you’d see in the movies! There are piles of fish and shellfish- perfect ingredients for a real seafood feast! The main commodity of Moz is its cashew nuts- we bought stocks for home and went on to do some exploring of the city. The architecture all over the city is really quaint and retro- all these cool old buildings that desperately need to be restored! Didn’t expect the city to be so different from South African cities- really interesting city to visit and explore…
Were invited for supper to Eb’s connections- they laid out this scrumptious dinner of huge prawns and chicken. There were actually prawns left over- not because we were being polite, but because they made so much! Had more than my annual quota of prawns and not going to be having then again for a while… I recall that there was some political talk going on during the meal, but I have no recollection of anything; was too busy shovelling them prawns down!
The uncle arranged a house for us in Bilene, and also invited us to his farm- somehow the offer didn’t seem too appealing… Headed home for an early night (actually only slept very late), leaving early morning for Bilene which is 120km north of Maputo…

08 July 2005

Day 5

Last morning waking up in a tent- just as we getting used to sleeping on a hard surface and in such close proximity to so many others! Went on our last scuba dive- definitely won’t be long before I do it again. Hope to plan a scuba adventure of an upcoming long weekend soon! Went for our last swim in the Point of Gold- that’s what Ponto Douro means in English. It really is a piece of heaven- the water is crystal clear and comfortably warm for the middle of winter. Think it would be an excellent investment to buy land in that place.
Packed up our 4x4 and hit the road for Maputo. It’s a 120km journey but takes 5 hours- there is no road, you just drive through the bush on a hectic dirt track! It was fun driving, but as a passenger it was flipping annoying!
Reached the bay across Maputo at night- the view of the city’s skyline was wicked! Taking a ferry across the bay was an interesting experience- mingling with the locals but sticking out like sore thumbs due to our picture snapping fanatics! Accommodation in Maputo was 5 stars! Three story luxurious house with hot showers and soft beds- was great! Maputo is a vibrant, interesting city- somehow there also seems to be an abundance of exorbitant wealth!

07 July 2005

Day 4

The lady camping next door asked how we managed in the fierce storm last night- we asked, “What storm!” Somehow managed to sleep through some sort of cyclone! The tents of other campers got flooded and blown away- we were totally oblivious to the chaos that was going on around us!
Went on our second sea dive- did all the emergency exercises and then enjoyed the dive... Didn’t get to see dolphins again but did find the turtle! I am totally blown away by the magnificence of the world down there!
Two Moroccan guys pitched tent next door- Interesting okes- one guy plays professional basketball in Belgium! They drove to Kosi Bay border from Joburg, parked their car at the border and hitched a lift to Ponto…
Managed to find some shelter for our braai- luckily so as it was pouring! But once we were done the sky had cleared up and their was not a cloud in the sky- made a bon fire on the beach and lay there gazing at the stars- the entire sky was lit up and I have never seen so many stars before- no artificial lighting for miles, you could actually see the constellations… (or at least that’s what the other said!)

06 July 2005

Day 3

This weather is weird- woke up and it was pouring, 2 hours later the sun is blazing and the heat is sweltering! Did our first pool dive- not that difficult to scuba in a pool; the only challenge of the whole exercise is to get comfortable breathing through that whole apparatus. Had lunch and we then headed for our first open water dive in the ocean! On the boat, heading for the reefs that we were going to dive at, came across a school of dolphins! Really neat- people normally pay big money for dolphin viewing tours and here we just do it by the way!
Scuba diving should be compulsory for everyone! It opens up a whole new world… Just like in the movies, you launch of the boat by falling backwards off the side of the boat. It’s like swimming in a big fish tank- school of colourful reef fish just swimming all around you! We did a 12 metre dive- bit scary at first coz you not used to the feeling of pressure building up in your ears. But honestly, if you haven’t scuba dived, I can safely say that you really missing out on an astonishing experience. Our instructor was super cool- we did none of the exercises, just enjoyed the exhilarating occasion of our first dive… Saw a huge sea turtle and even got to hold it- the colours of the fish are marvellous- all shades and sizes…
There was a guy spear fishing and he caught these two huge fish that would’ve have been swell on our braai!

05 July 2005

Day 2

Couldn’t sleep- the floor of the tent was too hard and my sleeping bag didn’t provide enough cushioning! Woke Eb up and took a walk on the beach at about 3am! We met two security guards enjoying a raging bon fire on the beach- tried to have a discussion with them but the language barrier proved too tough to crack! However, and we discussed this later, what could we tell those guys anyways? I mean, they work so hard just to survive- what do they care about seeking the Truth or the existence of a Greater Being! As the saying goes, ‘You can’t teach man faith on an empty stomach!’
The weather turned out to be really great- we started our scuba diving course and did a bit of snorkelling- the water is so clean and clear; vision was really good underwater! Spent the day bumming on the beach- it seems like our lives are revolving around food! We had breakfast and then started preparing lunch, finished lunch and soon after we getting the fire ready for supper:) The bread in this place is awesome: you get it fresh and hot from the small bakery just down the road in the quaint market- probably the best bread I’ve ever tasted! Had a scrumptious braai and ended the evening of with a bon fire on the beach: had a good discussion on the disparities we have noticed since reaching this country- everyone is so poor, yet so content... They work so hard, yet have so little… Anyways, off to try and sleep- hope that tonight works out better!

04 July 2005

Day 1- Moz Road Trip

The beginning of a new journey- if the rest of the story is as exciting as the opening chapter then I’m going to be ecstatic! The plan was to leave Durban at 5am (hehe) and head straight for the border and Moz.
In true road trip custom, we left a mere 5 hours after deadline- 10am saw us hit the road on the ‘journey of a lifetime!’ 2 Accountants, a doctor, engineer and politics/film studies student, all crammed into a Rav4 with a big tent and two cooler bags of meat..
We stopped in Richards Bay to do our grocery shopping (last minute- again, in true road trip tradition!) We were naïve to think that shopping for groceries is a swift process, but we ended up having an adventure in the supermarket itself!
So after shopping and lunch we once again hit the road- made it to the border just 5 minutes before closing! Entered Moz from the Kosi Bay border on the east coast. The SA side was a pleasant face brick building with police and soldiers in splendid uniform and the bright and snazzy SA flag flapping in the wind! The Moz border, literally 5 meters away, consisted of a converted container and a rickety prefab office and the border personnel were dressed in dreary, old uniforms… Such a world of variation in only a few feet! What I found most amazing was the language- a line drawn on the map by some foreigner (I presume..) means a change in language and culture?!
Well, the disparities didn’t end there- the tar road stops 10 meters into Moz- the rest is dirt road; nay, not dirt road- dirt track! A 10km drive from the border to Ponto Douro takes almost an hour! Got to the camp site just as the sun set- managed to find a camping spot overlooking the beach and pitched tent.
Jealousy makes people nasty- the curses of those covetous souls came true and the rain came pouring down! Wet, cold, windy, trying to start a fire to braai meat for supper- we had enough of camping within the first hour! Somehow managed to eat and get into dry clothes- then came the real challenge; trying to sleep with 4 other guys in a tent! Well, the good news is that things can only get better from here:) No regrets, yuhoo! Lying in a sleeping bag and listening to the waves crashing on the beach just a few metres away- tomorrow morning we going to rock that beach!

28 June 2005

Only two things are infinite, the universe and human stupidity!

Went to Diepkloof in Soweto last Monday to watch a documentary by Naomi Klien- she is a world renowned social activist who made ‘The Take’, a political thriller, with another socialist, Avi Lewis. The doc was on Argentina- a few years ago the economy collapsed- an economy that was really doing well and at that time, was understood to be a prime example of how capitalism should work.
The collapse was shocking; the country had 5 different presidents in a matter of weeks and the banks also collapsed after a massive run on them. The local currency, the peso, was pegged to the US dollar and when the rich foresaw trouble, the changed all their peso’s to off shore dollars, packed up and left when the shit hit the fan. These included many factory owners who deserted their factories and left their workers in the lurch- the doc shows how the workers took over the factories and started working for themselves.
It shows how they struggled and managed to get things going, only to be served eviction notices once things were back on track, the economy was again picking up and those of the mass exodus began returning. The workers fought to retain what they thought was rightfully theirs- some won and others lost- another example of the inequalities and injustices of many of the worlds economies…
Naomi and Avi have made it their personal mission to show the world what’s really going on in Argentina and elsewhere in the world- admirable ambitions that should encourage us to have some greater goal in life than the mere amassment of wealth!

Tues saw another meeting with Jamiat in order to mesh relations between ‘the Ulema’ and ‘professionals’… Noble intentions, I dare say, and there seems to be light at the end of the tunnel:)
The meeting resulted in a planned excursion to an Uloom for university students(“,), as well as the proposed creation of a ‘think-tank’ for Muslims comprising of ‘superior minds’ from both groups- forward your applications if you would like to get involved!

On a less ‘Halaalish’ note, I would like to propose Layer Cake as an excellent form of entertainment: by the makers of Snatch and Lock, Stock; a very entertaining show! But of course, movies are a waste of valuable time and we shouldn’t be going anyways… Do you dare to disagree?

I’ve experienced another bit of Joburger hospitality- my car was almost stolen during Jumah last Friday! Yes, some imbeciles ravaged ‘the mighty one’ and even had the audacity to do so in broad day light! Luckily they couldn’t get away with it, who knows, they probably wouldn’t have gotten very far anyways;p Left more damage than anything- broken door lock, steering lock and gear lock! I’m a big fan of wealth redistribution, but this really pissed me off! Consoling point for the day was positive board results, so I pray thanks and carry on…

Danny Schecther, a media dissector from the States, was at Museum Africa on Saturday. He is a full-time critic of conventional media and goes the extra mile to offer an alternative source of news- google him and I’m sure you will be appropriately informed. He covered the way the media covered the war on Iraq, and nicely shows how the world public was mislead with an orchestrated and studio produced version of the news!
Weapons of Mass Deception, is an informative piece that humorously educates and informs- look out for a screening at a Friday Nite session in the near future…
Speaking to Danny, we asked what it was that made him commit his life to educate and inform the largely government and multi-national mislead public- his response, and a lesson for us Muslims, was that it feels good and that it’s the right thing to do! Now, as Muslims, we are obliged to fight against injustice, oppression, inequalities and even deception! Here we have, in the likes of Danny, Naomi, Avi and many others, faithless based social activism, and without taking anything away from their good works, I believe that it’s the duty of Muslims to be trying to accomplish what these people are…

So with similar ambitions, we went to Mamelodi on Sunday for a blanket distribution. Over 500 blankets needed to be distributed to this less fortunate community, by a bunch of university students from Joburg and Pretoria. At first I was convinced that a riot or stampede was most likely to ensue, but somehow the bunch of inexperienced academia, managed to pull off a pretty controlled distribution. Almost seemed like a big Indian-run business: the way things played out, if you stood on the sidelines it was not difficult to notice similarities between how things were handled during the distribution and the way Indian business is run...
More than just giving handouts, which is definitely appreciated by the poor during the miserable Gauteng winter, the distribution was about interacting with and trying to understand what these people have to go through… As someone aptly said, all those blankets, the warming up of almost an entire location, would otherwise normally just be the sound in some ‘clevers’ posh set of wheels!

Last but not least, Moz plans are well under way- Moz, here we come:)
And after 6 months of these appalling emails, I am happy to say that they may have to come to an end!

22 June 2005

It's always the challenge of the future, this feeling of excitement, that drives me.

Got an email last week, inviting me to a game of touch rugby at the launch of some cup- don’t really know much about rugby, but anything to take time off work and you can count me in. Anyways, rocked up at Parktown Boys just before lunch on Tues and found a big crowd of VIP’s at the Currie Cup launch! Luckily they had enough players, so I didn’t have to risk tooth and limb, playing for the Media side against the ‘Legends’- haven’t heard many of the names before but you may know, Mac Masina, Rob Louw and some Joost vd Westhuizen… Joel Stransky, the rugby dude we met in Pletts was also there- well it was fairly entertaining and high profile enough to justify spending a few hours there… Mingled with the VIP’s and took some pics with the legends- but still trying to figure out who’s who! Ended up having lunch on the same table as Rugby boss, Brian van Rooyen, who is the major shareholder of Labat, the company that we did our accounts project on and also the company that was involved in a major legal case with KPMG- understandably, I didn’t mention where I work!

Politics- the topic of discussion with an Iraqi Doctorate student and a brother from Palestine. The freedom of speech and freedom of expression that we enjoy in this country is virtually non-existent in most so-called ‘Muslim countries’. If Islam has a future anywhere in the world, its right here- most of the problems that we face here can be solved by Islam. So people here need Islam and are looking for it; but we aren’t doing too well passing it on! I think its possible, that if a network of young, dynamic Muslims, with sincere intentions, decide to change things around, we can be living in a country that is more Islamic than most Muslim countries- without changing the names of everything and replacing them with Arabised names, but by understanding and implementing the essence of Islam, whenever presented with the opportunity of making a decision, or enforcing a policy. For this to happen, two things first need to be done: a commitment needs to be made by this network of people, and we need to know and understand what we are trying to achieve… agree?

Thurs was Youth Day- went on a bus tour of Soweto, a really insightful and educational experience. Over the years, I have been reading and talking about the events that occurred on this day, but never before had the opportunity to see where it all happened. Visited the Hector Peterson Museum and the area where it all happened. Also went to Mandela’s house and the Regina Mundi church. Besides Hector Peterson, the 13 year old school boy who was killed, and the unsung hero who tried saving him, Mbuyisa Makhubo, who disappeared and was never heard of again after going into exile, there were many other young people who were killed in the riots against the Apartheid regime. What’s important to remember is that there are still passionate youngsters out there who are dying for their freedom- let us not forget them either! And to ensure that those whose blood was spilt on this land was not in vain, it’s the responsibility of this generation to ensure that racial oppression is not just merely replaced with economic oppression. Isn’t it odd that we still have people protesting against local government and councils, very similar to the protests against the apartheid regime?
The tour guide we had seemed to find symbolism in almost every minute detail- from the colour of the paving to the water in the pond! But on the whole, a really exciting visit and a must see for all South Africans.

Heard of Paul Wolfowitz? He was in SA last week and a picket was arranged at the Gauteng Legislature against his visit- pathetic crowd of only about 60 odd people! And only a handful seemed to know what they were actually protesting against. At least they were there and having fun singing and dancing- it hopefully raised some awareness in the media that he was not welcome here! Wolfowitz is now head of the World Bank; an institution that lends about $20 billion a year to developing nations and often plays an enormously influential role in shaping their policies because of the conditions it sets for aid! And this being the ex-deputy secretary of defence of the USA, the architect of the war on Iraq, a board member of a major US arms manufacturer and a fervent supporter of the murderous Israeli oppressors! The world is a strange place- this moron who caused so much crap in the world, is now being hailed as the saviour of Africa and all third world countries! And what’s even stranger is the opposition to these clowns comes from, as was the case against the Apartheid oppressors, not concerned, good Muslims, but from faithless, atheistic Socialist’s!

A bit of advice- don’t go ice skating and swimming in a heated pool on the same night! You will get sick like a dog:( Learnt my lesson the hard way- but I suppose if had to do it again, it was so much fun that I probably would go ahead anyways! Ice skating is really cool- excellent entertainment for a Saturday night. And it’s a form of exercise as well, so at least it’s a little productive and not just mere entertainment:) Swimming in a heated pool on a cold winter’s night- something your mother will probably warn you against, but in the heat of the moment, who cares! Well, I paid dearly for my mistake- spent the whole of Sunday in bed!

Board results come out this Friday! Request for those valuable prayers- really need it! If I fail, don’t worry, you will hear about it- I will have a big braai next weekend and everyone will be invited!

14 June 2005

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

After meeting Madiba last weekend, the rest of week seemed pretty mellow… I understand that he was overhead telling the other politicians, “Guess what? I met Bilal” :-p
All the loafers have gone and left me alone! Wanted to do lunch on Monday and the regulars have all left the country! Ended up going to Medschool- what a sad place! Everyone there seems to take the whole study thing way too seriously… But ZakP rocks!
But managed to hook up a nice crew and we did an Akhals lunch on Tues- that place still amazes me: retards behind the counter, they never answer the phone, always grumpy and rude, posters from the 80’s still up on the walls, the place is dirty and it always takes an hour longer than you expected to get your food; yet they still so busy! Just imagine if they tried any common business etiquette- they business would improve phenomenally!

Our division had a day of team building on Wednesday- in the true accountants’ spirit; we spent the day playing bowls and croquet at the Zoo Lake Bowls Club! Really more fun than I had imagined- the poor old buggers would probably turn in their graves if they had seen how we played their games! These bowling clubs seem to be the last vanguard of apartheid- which person of colour, in his right mind, would join a bowls club? The only people there are whites who probably don’t realise that apartheid is over! But, to give them their due, the hosts at the club tried very hard to accommodate us- eventually they realised that it’s no use trying to explain the rules to us…

Had no intention of making this a movie review column, but I watched a really interesting movie- Hotel Rwanda: a gruesome depiction of a nation consumed in ethnic strife- the slaughter of 800,000 Tutsis by the ruling Hutu tribe in Rwanda during a hundred-day bloodbath in 1994. It shows a devastating picture of media-driven mass murder left unchecked. A journalist in the movie, after capturing some really gruesome footage of the massacres, remarks that, ‘People in the West will watch it on the news and say, “That’s so horrible!” and go on eating there dinners and just forget about it!’ Think that phrase applies to people in the South as well!
As Arundathi Roy said, In 50 years time, people will read about the atrocities of this century and ask, ‘Where were all the good, caring people when all this was happening?’ How are we going to answer that question!!

SABC1 has a talk show every Sunday morning- Chatroom. They were looking for a Muslim to come on and discuss ‘Criminalising Alcohol’- I seemed to be the only available person- went and really made a fool of myself! Don’t know when it’s going to be aired, but if you happen to have the TV on, please switch off and just forget you saw anything! It’s amazing how certain things make so much sense in your mind, and then when you try verbalising it, it just comes out like gibberish…

Went for my second ever Audit lunch on Friday after Jumah- don’t know why they don’t just give us the money and let us spend it ourselves! The amounts that these lunches end up costing are disgusting! It seems to be a vicious cycle- the corporate’s just charge each other exorbitant fees and past the costs down to the man on the street- so it’s always the poor who suffer while we spend loads in customer relations and marketing, etc…

The Beards called a meeting in Azaadville for the planning of the Youth Conference in July- I understand that I was supposed to stop at the Meeqat before entering Azaadville and don the proper garb :p The meeting was a bit exciting- we had Battle of the Muftis, Part 3 and Master B, peace to the force did bring! But seriously, there seem to be good intentions from all sides and hope that this thing is successful and beneficial…

So far this year I’ve been to the Burgs, Cape Town and Durban but hardly had chance to spend much time in Newcastle! Went for the weekend to show face and clock card- also needed to check for my passport before we go to Mozambique in July. Seems like the past 5 years in Durban have really made me vulnerable to NN cold- it was freezing! When you walk out fajr time, your whole body literally freezes… But it was good being home:) The clan had a big reunion braai on Saturday night- members from Durban and Ermelo were around and it was a nice get together… In the words of a wise person- Enjoy being with the family, it’s a blessing- even when it doesn’t seem like!