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…