“Be the Change that you want to see in South Africa”
(A National Message: Prepared by the United Ulama Council of South Africa UUCSA)
O ye who believe! Persevere in patience and constancy; vie in such perseverance; strengthen each other; and fear Allah; that ye may prosper. (3:200)
Respected brothers and elders in Islam:
The recent strikes and demonstrations characterized by looting, mayhem and plunder calls for serious introspection. The government is unable to contain the unrest, and is clearly incapable to fulfill the most basic task of providing security. Have we become a lawless country, with an inept police force? What lies behind the endemic turmoil that we are witnessing?
South Africa is grappling with the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. By the official count, 6.7-million people are unemployed in South Africa, which is 29% of everybody who could be working. South Africa is one of the most unequal countries in the world. The harsh truth is that South Africa cannot become a less violent country until it becomes a more equal one. We as Muslims have the enrichment of faith and Divine guidance to help us drive away the dark clouds hovering above us.
Trust in Allah
Even when all doors appear to have been closed, as true believers we should never let feelings of helplessness fleece us of our trust in Allah. “The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although both are good. Strive to do that which will benefit you and seek the help of Allah, and do not feel helpless…” (Muslim).
Turn to Allah
We all have a powerful tool in our hands to help us get through difficult times, it is the power of our spirituality. The ability to turn to Allah in salaah, to sincerely seek forgiveness, to turn in repentance and beseech Allah with all humility through dua.
Extravagance has an impact on both the individual and on society. The Quran has labelled people who waste and who are extravagant as the ‘Brothers of Shaitan. The Quran says: “Shaitan wants only to incite enmity and hatred between you…” (5:91) Extravagance makes the poor feel deprived, causes them distress and arouses feelings of bitterness. It often leads to enmity, hatred and civil strife.
Avoid a display of your wealth
Nabi (saw) has said: “If there was something like an evil omen, it would have been in the house, the woman and the horse.” (Bukhari) In other words if there was such a thing as bad luck it would have stemmed from our imposing homes, our expensive cars and from women that behave in a seductive manner. Human nature is naturally enticed, captivated and charmed by the sight of stately comes, posh cars and the beauty of women. If we flaunt any of the three, it can potentially attract a ‘bad omen’ which is an expression of harm, pain, or some form of misfortune.
Treat employees with justice and dignity
Justice and fair dealings are basic values of Islam. No peace and harmony in the society can exist without justice. Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon) kissed the hands of a labourer who showed him his coarse hands due to hard labour. He prayed for him and spoke highly of those who labour to earn their living. Kissing the hand of a labourer was in acknowledgement of their dignity and human worth.
Avoid racist conduct – “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other (not that you may despise each other).”(49:13) All people are equal, it does not make any difference to what race they belong, what colour they have, what country they come from, what their gender is or what their occupation is. Young and old, rich and poor, white and black, citizens or foreigners are all equal; and they all should be respected, honoured, and treated with compassion and justice.
Contribute to the development of the less privileged
One of the central principles of Islam is helping others. Nabi (saw) has said: “Whoever relieves a believer’s distress of the distressful aspects of this world, Allah will rescue him from a difficulty of the difficulties of the Hereafter. Whoever alleviates [the situation of] one in dire straits who cannot repay his debt, Allah will alleviate his lot in both this world and in the Hereafter. Whoever conceals [the faults of] a Muslim, Allah will conceal [his faults] in this life and the Hereafter. (Muslim) Limited access to opportunity remains one of the greatest scourges in South Africa. Lack of education, poor resources and inadequate infrastructure characterise many communities. We share a common destiny, when we empower others and improve their lives; we indirectly empower and improve our own lives.
May Allah protect our lives, our property and our dignity and may He grant us the ability to be living ambassadors of Islam.