24 April 2010

Doha debating SA

So its been a month in Doha already and I'm still slowly getting settled. All the admin with work is done and now need to find a base and a good mode of transport. Fortunate to have many good people around me, so a decent social life is promising.

Doha has quite a lot going for it - in recent days, Robert Fisk had the good fortune of meeting me, and so did many of the brilliant young film makers that came for the Al Jazeera Film festival.

Also happened to bump into Hamza Yusuf and Zaid Shakir who are in town raising funds for their Zaytuna college in the US. Interesting stuff...

I have been trying to practice my Arabic with whoever I can - didn't have to this week as the Aspire Musjid had a fair English lecture by Bilal Philips' regular replacement, or so they say. After Jumah though, the usual Quran radio station I have on in the car had an Arabic lecture.

The lecture of Shaykh Yusuf Al-Qardawi is aired on radio here. I was quite impressed when I heard him talking about South Africa (in arabic: Janoob Afrikiya) - from what I understood, he was explaining how Islam had spread all over the world, even to the tip of Africa. Muslims from traveled south from East Africa, others were taken as slaves from Indonesia and Malaysia, and he explained how the last batch came from the Indian sub-continent.

It was good. I wanted to open my car window and shout out to everyone - listen to the radio, he's talking about my country! He went through the history of how Islam developed, the first Musjid built in Cape Town, and how the direction to Makkah had to be changed once they were able to calculate it correctly. He mentioned how some Muslims seem to be so well integrated into society, and were doing an excellent job of showcasing what Islam was about.

But my shouting out the window idea died when he moved from the west of the country to the east - he said that Muslim women in Hijab are seen all over, in schools and universities, in offices and businesses. That they travel freely, both in the country and abroad. But many are not allowed into the Musjids!

I understood most of what he went on to say, but I didn't need to hear it. And we didn't need him to come and say it - Muslim women (and men) have been fighting for their right to be part of, and have access to, the Musjid environment - the Musjid which is meant to be the centre of the community, is only for men - as some/most SA men tend to think. Qardawi found that odd and spoke out, saying it was not right. But we didn't really need him to come to SA to say what most know already...

**update**

I see that I did get most of it right, as the newspapers here in Doha are reporting - like newspapers are expected to do, they have sensationalised his words a bit and kept most of the negative and very little of the positive, or so some say. Have a look for yourself:

Click here: http://mzan.si/Q7Fb

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