17 April 2007

see joburg through my eyes (click here)


I sat there staring forward in disbelief. Three of them stood in the dock. It was such a surreal feeling. Somebody was speaking. I could hear words but they made no sense.

I was in the dock. Those three were me. It was me in the dock. It was everyone else in the dock. Those above me, those below me and those around me. Everybody else and me. But I stood there alone.

The words I could hear. What words are these? They were accusations. No, it was pure slander. I had done no such thing. I have committed no such sin. And most definitely, no such virtues can be ascribed to me. I am not capable of being so virtuous and good.

Why were such words being flung at me? What had I done wrong? Oh, so the words were meant for others, but for me too! How is that? How can I be responsible for the sins of others? How can I share in the rewards of the virtues of others?

Nobody told me that I am part of everyone. Everyone does not even know this. This fact which I now understand. This fact of life which I should have known.

So the problem of one is a reflection of all? But what could I do? Were my eyes open to what goes on around me? I call myself a Muslim, but I live not according to the guidebook for Muslims.

Is being a Muslim growing a beard? Or performing the 5 prayers as ritualistic as the norm. Or is it paying charity, and in doing so, at times, just appeasing my conscience? Is being a Muslim just being able to talk about what others say is Islam?

These are good but how will they help me in the dock? When I have deep love for wealth and power. When I am deeply racist and savagely materialistic. When I ignore the orphan, the widow and the wayfarer. When I say the greeting of Peace to many, but care not whether they have peace in their lives… Coz what is peace? Does a child without food, a widow without assistance, a society without knowledge and compassion, a people without sincerity; does anyone of know peace?

How did I come to the conclusion that others will understand Quran for me? That I merely need to ask others what to do and when. Why did I just accept it when I was told that Islam is a way of life? How can Islam merely be a way- a way that is followed blindly!

Islam is most definitely a way of life. It is a way of thinking. Living Islam means to use the framework established by the Quran to guide all your thoughts and actions. Not doing something, thinking it to be part of Islam, but not knowing or understanding why or what you are doing. No, that can’t be Islam.

So I step down from the dock. This dream is far from over. This experience is far from a dream. One day I will step into a dock, and after I step out of THAT dock, then only is the dream over. And the Judge of THAT dock, is Judge to whom I need to answer and prove my innocence.

13 April 2007

Road Trip: East London

Johannesburg- Newcastle- Howick- Underburg- Kokstad- Umtata- East London

Beware of the cows: they rule the highways in the former homeland. (Where the former Apartheid government rounded up all the Xhosas. The disparities, in terms of infrastructure are still visible.)

For some reason, you are not allowed to take any pork products out of the Eastern Cape. So you get stopped at checkpoints, reminiscent of those in Occupied Palestine, but nowhere as intimidating or dangerous, but waiting in the queues reminded me of that. And then they insist on searching your car even though you explain that as Muslims you will not even touch pork!

The beach was nice. On our last road trip we stopped in East London for just a few hours, so didn’t have chance to try them out. But still doesn’t come close to Durban’s great beaches! (If they still in one piece- going next week..)

And the highlight was dune boarding. Take a body board and slide down the steep dunes on the beach. You get a face full of sand, a few cuts and scratches, but its safe as long as you don’t panic and fall of your board. Pure adrenaline…

03 April 2007

lots stuff, arb and not...

Been real lazy with this blog the past few weeks. Quite a bit been happening- Human Rights Marches, Friday Sermons, Bail Hearings, theatre, book launches, poetry, Islamic finance products and meetings, and other stuff!

Human Rights Day [link]

Friday Sermon [link]

Much ado about nothing.
Awesome Shakespearean theatre! Good to sit back and have a good laugh, while having to pay absolute attention, and translate most of the humour from high English to the dirty vernacular we use these days. Besides, had a good friend performing in the production, and if we don’t support these young Muslims, who is! No chance of support coming from the community, for most would view theatre as something very taboo- but I feel that, like any other medium (tv, music, internet, radio, etc), it can be used to inform and educate- especially since we don’t seem to be getting anywhere with the traditional mediums and methods we use… But that’s just my view- maybe you agree, maybe not…

Chilli Boy
An amazing and hysterically funny play about an Indian ‘aunty’ who dies and comes back as a white rascist gangster from Boksburg. The guy is a real mean dude, and all of a sudden, starts wearing a sari and cooking curry and biryani! A must see for anyone who knows how to laugh. [Shucks- I sound like Barry R or that Imran dude from eastern mosaic!]

Book launches:
If I could write by S. Banoobhai. Don’t know much about it, but I did buy the book. Never thought I would buy a book by a guy with such a surname;P But the word out there is that its loaded with quality writing and advices- initially written for his daughter(s) so I guess it would help us out as well. Not that we need/take advice- our generation knows it all:P Ok, maybe not all, but pretty much more than we’re given credit for. No?

Night of a Thousand Drawings:
Launched by the group that does the weekly soup kitchens. Book was based on a function held previously, where drawings were submitted by random volunteers to the group. These pics were then photographed by a professional photographer, with some of the homeless people we work with, and then compiled into a neat coffee table book. The launch was quite unique- at a jazz place in Newtown!

More on the rest later!