29 October 2008

Irony of South African Muslims

How ironic is this- Sami Yusuf is hosted on a national tour of South Africa by a ‘Shariah compliant’ investment fund. From what I hear his concerts were awesome- I like Sami Yusuf too- saw him at Wembley in London performing for a 10000 strong crowd. And the 1400 odd year old debate on whether music in permissible is now on almost every blog, Facebook group, dinner table and ask-a-mufti session!

Reminds me of the sad story about the grandson of the Prophet of Islam- a person from the region where the terrible atrocity occurred, was discussing the Shariah ruling of the blood of a mosquito with a scholar, and was told something like: ‘You, who comes from the people who brutally tortured and murdered the beloved of the beloved of God, now while the blood of the Prophets grandson is still flowing in the streets, you are more concerned about the blood of a mosquito!’

Do you see the irony? South African Muslims, those that come from a middle class bourgeoisie background, in the wake of a global financial crisis, are busy with discussion on the music, while the show was hosted by an institution that belongs to the global economic system! South African Muslims, who some say are ‘the very same people that REPRESENT inequality and injustice’, are more concerned about the blood of a mosquito!!

Could the similarities be any more obvious and shocking! And what is most surprising, is that the only discourse now if from those very (ifta) institutions that supported Western Capitalistic Economy initiatives under the name of Islam, without at all qualifying their support, without realising a long term vision; it is them who are now speaking about ‘Losing The War Against Allah’! Do we know which side of the war we are on?!

To quote some advice from a friend, ‘We need to realise that Muslims, like you and I, serve to perpetuate inequality in the world though our lifestyles and through our deviation from the principals set down by the Prophet of Islam.

Why do we eat when our neighbours go hungry? Why do we live in expensive homes in cities where people have no homes? Why do family's and communities not co-operate to fund each others homes and businesses? Because of the USA and ''capitalism''? Its amazing how people fail to see the failures in their own behaviour and put the blame on everyone else.’


Nooj said...

interesting take
def something the ummah is proficient in
so u would suggest we boycott the concert based on Oasis's capitalist ideals?
they do seem to be doing a lot of good for underprivileged communities
disgusting speeach abpout the radio stations tho
and the flaunting of the R50 000 donated every yr to the orphanage. such is business i guess

faheema said...

Attended the concert and admittingly engaged in the 'mosquito debate' thereafter.
Reached an inconclusive end, to say the least...

Comfy Muslims seek these opportune moments where the focus can be shifted from issues that pertain to our OWN behaviour - extravagance, arrogance etc.

Makes me think of Sami's lyrics:
"O my Lord,Let the Ummah rise again,Let us see daylight again Once again" (but without the hectic base:)

Azra said...

I've always maintained that people pick and choose in Islam according to what suits them.

With regard to music...there are many conflicting reports and ahadith...so to stick to one (because this one or that one said so) is folly.

I say live and let live...everyone has a choice. We too busy judgin each other to see our own faults. We forget that there is only one Judge, The Almighty SWT.

Besides, as I've mentioned before on so many other blogs, there are so many other vile atrocities and injustices that occur every day in different parts of the world...does it really matter if you left the house with your left foot instead of your right one today...we need perspective here. People are too rady to jump on any bandwagon to start a war. But to have the courage to fight the real injustices, to stand up and have a real voice...there are too many cowards.

Imtiaz the pragmatist said...

Bilal - I agree totally with your view on the myopic debate; and the need for SA muslims to tone down the bling, step outside the laager, strive to alleviate the plight of our less fortunate brothers and countrymen not just through charity but also by other means, and seek to eliminate the various injustices we are guilty of.

However, one must remember that Oasis is just an investment company, not an NPO, whose job is to maximise returns for their stakeholders in a Shariah compliant manner, and have been successful at it. They also filled a void long before other institutions jumped in on the Shariah compliant bandwagon.
Shouldn't we be then advocating supporting our muslim brothers instead of the non muslim institutions?

Most muslims, i suspect, just want a Halaal vehicle to save and grow their savings; some of whom who have used the proceeds to fulfil their desire to go for Hajj.

Greed is NOT good, but I think living austerely is a choice not a requirement.

Nooj - "flaunting the donation" lmao. You find it distasteful but have you considered it may be their policy to donate as a moral obligation and not a P.R. exercise?
What then would you have said if they had chosen to donate and not "flaunt" it?

How about putting thought to combining the merits of capitalism with the benefits of socialism to create viable solutions for a better society? Or are the two mutually exclusive?

P.S. Disclaimer: I have never had any links to Oasis nor have ever been a shareholder/investor.
P.P.S. I'm not from a bourgeois family either.

Bilal said...

No, my thoughts on the concert are a totally different discussion which I have no time to get into. The point I am making is how we are concentrating on the blood of a mosquito (not that it’s not an important discussion), rather than being aware of the bigger things going on around us and our silent complicity!! Forget Oasis, Sami Yusuf and Mufti Bigshot- what about YOU?!

I agree fully. How do we wake from our slumber and take responsibility for our actions and lack of true (Quranic/revolutionary!) action?

Thanks for the sentiments. Perhaps the first fight against injustices starts against ourselves, our families and our community- who will be the first to lead the willing forward?!

Ok, so we on the same page when it comes to the dichotomy of Muslim thought (or lack of thought!).

This piece was not aimed specifically at Oasis- but on the point of being successful in terms of complying with Shariah; I have this debate with many a Shariah scholar- What Shariah is this, if it can allow for activity within an oppressive with making no (at least not yet) tangible changes to the system under which activity is allowed?

We must definitely support Oasis and all those who claim to be interested in the principles of justice and equality, as exposed by the Quran. But we should also be demanding that all actions, initiatives and products take us forward to a suitably clear vision of progress and change..

‘living austerely is a choice not a requirement’- How skewed has the scale becomes, that when calling for responsible, considerate living, its construed to mean austerity! However, I agree with your comment to Nooj- Islam could be seen by those on the outside to be the beautiful balanced way of living...

You have a roof over your head and food in the fridge? Maybe you’re not bourgeois, but you’re definitely privileged- and with privilege comes responsibility!

Farhana said...

Subhanallah Bilal, you have given voice to my sentiments exactly. People's failure to reflect on what it means to be a Muslim, and how that ought to shape ALL of one's life and decisions, results in these kinds of ghastly ironies. But I fail to understand how this happens.......is it a lack of education and information? Or is it plain down hard heartedness? Or both, in different measure in different people?

I attended a talk at Vanderbilt yesterday where Kelly Oliver spoke about her latest book, "Women as weapons of war: iraq, sex and the media" and one of the things that came out of the presentation by the author was how the shocking has become normalized (her reference was to the pictures and testimonies coming out of US torture centers). I think SA Muslims are quite like this, in that they can indeed drive by a shack settlement, hear of shack fires and not give a thought to what their obligations are, and yet drive home with a clear (more often than not quite self righteous!) conscience to perhaps a nice ladies taleem complete with samoosas and tea, or someone equally macabre. I think the contradictions that exist between their various ideological commitments is striking.

Allah SWA knows best.

Trinity said...

Nicely said.

Farhaana said something very interesting

"I think SA Muslims are quite like this, in that they can indeed drive by a shack settlement, hear of shack fires and not give a thought to what their obligations are, and yet drive home with a clear (more often than not quite self righteous!) conscience to perhaps a nice ladies taleem complete with samoosas and tea, or someone equally macabre."

I think the contradiction is only human. How can people function 'normally' having seen some of the most horrible things? They cant, that is why they tune it out. NGO's do all this good work, but they live in settlements with a fully functional 'first world' houses...not with the people. Unfortunately there are only very few people in this world that are able to help the helpless by joining them. Others would rather write and cheque and get back in their BMW. Because the truth is, sometimes it’s just too big. You cannot save everyone at the expense of yourself. You have to be okay so that you can help the next person.

I hope I make sense...its too early in the morning to function properly.

That Mash Guy said...

not just SA muslims bro

emancipatingmymind said...

Thats an awesome post Bilal and so very true.

It might be easier for us to pretend that the injustices don't happen. to bury our heads in the sand and pretend not to see but its certainly not acceptable or good enough.

Saying it's too hard is correct but just doesnt cut it. I think that writing a cheque is our way to assuage our guilt and gives us an oppotunity to pat ourselves on the back.

Of course it's hard to face the suffering and the pain of others. Its hard to sit there and listen to a woman telling you how the soldiers came and raped her and how tehy bombed he home killing her children and it's hard to see the bones of starving children, it's all hard but imagine for a moment then what it must be for the person who faces that.

We need to appreciate what we have but we need to start pulling our finger out and do something because for ever starving child and every broken woman and for all the injusticed in the world each and every one of us will answer. We need to start being the change we want to see. Especially as Muslims we need to lead the change.

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