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!

06 June 2005

Our greatest fear is not that we are inadequate, but that we are powerful beyond measure.

Worked really hard on the proposal for our consortium bid- till the late hours of Monday night! Shocking for someone like me who hardly does much work in a regular week:) Make dua our bid is successful- inshaAllah…

On Tues I left work after lunch to make a delivery in Sandton- decided to take the afternoon off coz had to attend the BYM 2005 launch at Vodaworld. Spent the afternoon in Sandton Library- it’s a nice place to hang out- cheap, interesting company, and if not then you can always just pick up a good book! BYM, for those who haven’t heard of it, is Brightest Young Minds- it’s an annual conference that is held for 100 of the brightest young minds in the country! Somehow, and I still can’t grasp how, but I was selected to attend last year! A truly life changing experience- imagine spending 10 days with a 100 interesting, intelligent, motivated, well- educated, entrepreneurial, gifted and absolutely remarkable young South Africans! Besides, had Habib, the Laher, Mo Cajee and other good company as well! We spent a week in Cape Town and then took a train to Pretoria- they really pampered and spoilt us throughout. The topic of last years conference was South Africa in the year 2014- if at least some of the ideas that came out from last years conference are carried out, I believe that we have a bright future ahead of us…
A board member from Vodacom was guest speaker and shared some good points with us- the reason we went, and his advice to us as well, was that you must never underestimate the power of networking! To get places in the world today, for whatever reason -it’s not what you know, it’s who you know!

Lunch at Wits has become a regular Wed event- sadly Irfaan will not be with us for the next few weeks- gone to Qatar with Ash to check job prospects at Al-Jazeera. It seems like the whole joburg crew is going there- maybe someone should alert the CIA and break up the ‘cell’:) Lol!
Good luck to the guys- it’s probably going to be loads of fun! Maybe I come there soon…
The plans for the road trip are looking good- everything’s on course for Road Trip 2005 being almost as good as Road Trip 2004! Yuhoo:p

I got pulled onto the JSE on Thursday- really crap going to work after almost 2 weeks of being idle! But it is a nice building and the work was not too bad- and it sounds good saying, “I was chatting to a guy at the JSE…”

A Bulgarian girl stopped me in Sandton a few weeks ago and said she liked my MSA tshirt and wanted to know more about Islam- didn’t think she was going to call but she did so on Fri after work. I met her at a coffee shop in Sandton Square and she took a few of the tshirts. She had many questions about Islam and I spent quite a while answering them all- but been thinking, is it wrong to be meeting a strange female for coffee if we talking about Islam?

The Iranian Embassy had a seminar on The Legacy of Imam Khomeni at Unisa in Pretoria. The typical South African Muslim youth knows nothing about Shias- if you read the book on Shias by Mufti Elias, you would have read on the cover that- All Shia are liars, they get reward for lying so you can’t talk to them coz they will lie! And if you read Mufti Desai’s answers on Ask-imam.com, he says that not all Shia are Kaafir- only those that have certain beliefs. Now, if all of them lie, but all of them are not kaafir, how can you find out who’s a kaafir or who isn’t coz they are all liars and so they might lie to you if they are kaafir and you can’t believe them if they not because they could be lying! Damn, it’s so flippin confusing, no wonder we’ve been told to just keep away from them all this time- and it was fine in the past because of Apartheid we never had to worry about them. But now they coming into the country in large numbers and if we don’t understand them, things could get a bit messy. Besides, I’ve never seen so many blacks at a Muslim function before- and it wasn’t a Dial-a-crowd bunch of blacks, but seemingly intelligent and educated people…
The speakers at the seminar were not all shia- some prominent sunni academics from various universities around South Africa. One guy from UWC almost dug his own grave! He constructively criticised Khomeni and the Islamic Republic of Iran (and in my humble opinion, quite rightly so!) and asked a few open, probing questions- this had the Ambassador take the mike and shoot him down for “bringing up those issues on the wrong platform and creating doubt in the minds of the audience!” I feel that his actions probably just made things worse from his side of view- an invaluable lesson: Never say or do anything when in a state of anger…

The quote in the subject line is by Mandela- btw, I met him yesterday!! Yup- me and Mandela shook hands! Damn, I need to buy a camera- a picture with him is probably invaluable… Took my granny for a memorial function at the Jhb Metro Centre, in honour of Yusuf Cachalia and Bram Fischer- two very prominent anti-Apartheid activists. I plan to do a small write up on them and put it on the blog later this week- look out for it: http://msaalumni.blogharbor.com/
It was a pretty small function but there were many high profile guests there- Mandela, George Bizos, the Cachalia and Fischer families, Mac Maharaj and other government guys and old activists. My mum was in boarding school with Yusuf Cachalias son, Ghaleb, in Swaziland. He gave a good talk about his dad’s life- said that even though he seemed to have a disregard for rituals and cultural practices of Muslims in this country during Apartheid, it was actually Islam that drove him to be so active against the apartheid regime- his desire to implement the essence of Islam, that is against all forms of oppression on all people, Muslim or not! He also spoke about Jihad- that it does not mean holy war, there is no holy war in Islam- war is either just or unjust! Jihad means struggle and the greatest struggle is the struggle of the soul…
Bram Fischer was born into an aristocratic Afrikaner family- but he went against all and became a highly recognised anti-apartheid activist! These were great men whose lives we need to know and whose efforts we need to ensure, were not in vain! As the MC, Azhar Cachalia said, “The struggle is not over- it has just changed from that of a race struggle to that of a class struggle…”