« Wedding at Wayne Manor | Main | Eternity at Stake »
May 30, 2004
I am better than Him

by Bint Abdul Khaliq

Bismillahir-Rahmanir Raheem

The Prophet (SAWS) said in his last khutbah:

"O people...you are all equal. Nobody has superiority over another except by piety and good action. Remember, one day you will appear before ALLAH and answer for your deeds. So beware not to stray from the path of righteousness after I am gone."

Alhamdulillah, I am proudly a Muslim South African. Born and bred in the "Rainbow Nation." Co-existing as a citizen of Colour amongst all my other fellow citizens in the paint box. My country has suffered a lot, cried tears of pain and oppression. And ten years ago it cried tears of joy - when the repressive Apartheid Government finally crumbled. Even so, some ideologies have become so entrenched in the minds of people that they are proving to be very difficult to change. But to ignore the change that HAS taken place, that would be extremely unfair. To understand this, let us take a little peep into the Apartheid regime, pre-1994…

Apartheid is an Afrikaans word meaning "separation" or literally "aparthood" (or "apartness"). In English, it has come to mean any legally sanctioned system of ethnic segregation such as existed in the Republic of South Africa. The South African policy of Apartheid began in 1948 but the culture of Apartheid had been in South Africa for many years. Both the culture and the policy of Apartheid was accepted as status quo by many South Africans.

If you were born White - you’d have to thank God for endowing you with this "privilege." The colour of your skin determined your rights. It seemed the darker your skin colour the fewer rights you deserved. Whites always came first. The rest were all inferior but Coloureds were next in line, followed by Indians and lastly, those who were the true owners of this beautiful country of South Africa, the Blacks.

There were a lot of laws that restricted the rights of non-Whites and which gave extreme power to the Whites. The principal apartheid laws were as follows:

The Prohibition of Mixed Marriages Act (1949)

Amendment to The Immorality Act (1950)

This law made it a criminal offence for a White person to have any sexual relations with a person of a different race.

The Population Registration Act (1950)

This law required all citizens to register as Black, White or Coloured.

The Suppression of Communism Act (1950)

This law banned any opposition party the government chose to label as "communist".

The Group Areas Act (27 April 1950)

This law barred people of particular races from various urban areas.

The Reservation of Separate Amenities Act (1953)

This law prohibited people of different races from using the same public amenities, such as drinking fountains, restrooms and so on.

The Bantu Education Act (1953)

This law brought in various measures expressly designed to reduce the level of education attainable by Black people.

The Mines and Work Act (1956)

This law formalised racial discrimination in employment.

The Promotion of Black Self-Government Act (1958)

This law set up nominally independent "homelands" for black people. In practice, the South African government had a strong influence over these bantustans.

Black Homeland Citizenship Act (1971)

This law changed the status of the inhabitants of the "homelands" so that they were no longer citizens of South Africa, and therefore had none of the rights that came with citizenship.

My friend was studying the subject of history and she was telling me about "The Pencil Test" carried out by the authorities. A pencil was passed through your hair and if it got stuck, you were declared a Black and were sent to live in the Townships (Blacks have springy, close-knitted hair). Some Blacks who had hair that was not so close-knitted would try and use this test so that they would be classified as "Coloureds" and therefore be granted the few more privileges that came with the tag. Blacks had to carry with them passes dubbed "dom passes," and if they were found without it, it was a criminal offence. For a non-White to use a "White" toilet, beach, train, restaurant - a "White" ANYTHING was an offence. And the list carries on. All people of colour were regarded as inferior but the Indians and Coloureds were not targeted as much.They were basically tolerated and given some leeway. Many people stood up to protest against this inhumane and uncivilised treatment.They were
imprisoned (like Nelson Mandela), tortured and sometimes you’d even find people "accidently" falling out of building windows and other strange deaths taking place.

"On 21 March 1960, 20,000 black people congregated in Sharpeville to demonstrate against the requirement for blacks to carry identity cards (under the stipulations of the Pass Law). Police opened fire on the demonstrators, killing 69 and injuring 180. All the victims were black. Most of them had been shot in the back. Colonel J Pienaar, the senior police officer in charge on the day, was quoted as saying, 'Hordes of natives surrounded the police station. My car was struck with a stone. If they do these things they must learn their lesson the hard way.'"

The event became known as the Sharpeville Massacre.

Apartheid starts to slip…

Internationally, South Africa became isolated. Numerous conferences were held and the United Nations resolutions passed condemning South Africa. Investors started boycotting South African companies and refused to invest in them. South African sports teams were barred from participation in international events, and South African culture and tourism were boycotted. As a result of this, we saw a few improvements being made.

In 1989, F. W. de Klerk succeeded P. W. Botha as president. On 2 February 1990, at the opening of Parliament, he declared that apartheid had failed and that the bans on political parties, including the ANC, were to be lifted. Nelson Mandela was released from prison. De Klerk went on to abolish all the remaining apartheid laws.

On 1994, Nelson Mandela was elected President in an election in which ALL South Africans voted. The Apartheid government had collapsed.

Please read the Effects of apartheid to get a greater understanding of the impact Apartheid had on people of all races in South Africa. I am a member of the "Indian" or "Asian" population group, and alhamdulillah I have not really suffered much discrimination because of my colour. I guess that’s because of the fact that I was born towards the end of the Apartheid Era and much of my youth happens to fall outside of it. But one can still see the remnants of Apartheid present in the people. Some (not all) Whites still have this air of superiority surrounding them. Remember the slogan of "I am better than Him" (remember that was exact attitude of shaaitaan when he refused to bow to Aadam [A.S.]). But remember Blacks, Indians and coloureds can be racist too.

This feeling of inferiority has been so deeply rooted in the people of colour, especially the blacks, that they have somewhat come to believe it. Some are finding it hard to realise the potential that ALLAH has given every one of us, certainly not on the basis of our colour. Also, Apartheid has left a huge gap between the "HAVE'S" and "HAVE NOT'S" because when Apartheid fell in 1994, the Black people were in a pitiful state. The majority were poor, lived in the townships and uneducated through no fault of their own. They have had to pull themselves up from the bottom and have done so tremendously but it is certainly a very difficult task.

Alhamdulillah, the Muslims played a significant role in this struggle against Apartheid. The Muslim population used to comprise mainly of Indians. Dawah was not that active during the thick of Apartheid and thus it was probably seen as an "Indian" religion by many Blacks and therefore regarded with caution. Alhamdulillah, this has changed tremendously in the past years with more and more Blacks, Coloureds and Whites embracing Islam. Islamic Dawah is quite active and Islamic literature is distributed in many different languages while da’ees take the initiative of visiting different locations calling others to Islam, may ALLAH reward them for their efforts. Ameen.

Apartheid was based on falsehood. Anything having its foundations on anything BUT HAQQ will not be succeessful. The colour of our skin, the country in which we were born, our lineage…we have no say in this matter. It is only ALLAH TA’ALA’S will, so what right do we have to be PROUD of it and claim superiority over others? ALLAH is the best of Judges. May ALLAH help our Palestinian brothers and sisters going through even worse at this very moment. Inshallah,they shall be victorious, because again, falsehood will never succeed as Apartheid has proven. I leave you with an ayah from The Holy Qur’aan wherein ALLAH says :

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).” (049:013)

of and relating to...
Talal said

MashaAllah. An incredibly eye-opening piece. Ameen to your du'a, and inshaAllah I pray we never forget all our brotehrs and sisters in the world who have gone through and are still going through the evil of dhulm.

on May 30, 2004 3:43 PM
Ibitsam said

Sakupona! sister( I think it is Zulu for hi but I spelled it wrong).
Assalaamu Alaikum Sister Bint Abdul Khaaliq
Very nice article. I read the biography of Nelson Mendela and for a sixth grade oratory competition, I memorized the speech his daughter gave for his release or upon his release.
I have always been interested in the situation in South Africa and although I have never visited there but through books and through stories of people, it seems that I was there when it all happened.... offcourse I watched movies on the struggle for justice in South Africa( I read Cry, The beloved country) and then I also read up on the Muslim people in South Africa(there is a group, Muslims against gangsterism and drugs, interesting). It is a beautiful nation that suffured much. Do you speak any of the native language like Zulu, Xhosa, or even Afrikaans?
I like the way Xhosa sounds, it is so difficult to learn it. I was friends with a sister who accepted Islaam and she was from South Africa and I think spoke Zulu, but am not sure. You are right, so many of our brothers and sisters are suffering such an apathied in Phillisteen. May Allaah help all Muslims everywhere.
I really enjoyed reading your article.

on May 30, 2004 5:50 PM
aida said

assalaam alikum:

mashallah. very nice and informative article.

i cannot help but draw similarites between Apartheid South Africa and the current situation in Palesine (thanks for the shout out at the end of the article ;)). The muslim ummah (or its rulers, at least) remains quiet as the apartheid wall rises higher and higher stealing more palestinain land.

Here are a few examples that I felt were reminscent of Apartheid South Africa:

Palestinains now need a permit to stay in their own homes(http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article2204.shtml) .

Israel has also passed a law stating that Israeli-Palestinians who marry Palestinians from the West bank or Gaza cannot give their spouse Israeli citizenship. However, the spouse of an Israeli-Jew who does not have citizenship can apply for one.

The Absentee Property Law which denationalized many Palestinians after 1948 and deprived them of citizenship as required by Resolution 181. This policy has effectively denied the legal existence of 75% of the Palestinians who live in Israel. Jews, on the other hand, living anywhere in the world have the right to request Israeli citizenship. If a Christian or a Muslim applied for Israeli citizenship, however, they would be denied.

In the occupied territories, there are jewish only roads that lead to jewish only illegal settlements.

Checkpoints are set up everywhere to check for identity cards: these checkpoints greatly hinder Palestinian movement through their own land. The new Apartheid wall has cut through the middle of towns and backyards- sucseeding in seperating families who at one point lived only 5-10 minutes away from each other.

inshallah apartheid in palestine will fall as well.


on May 30, 2004 9:57 PM
Bint Abdul Khaliq said

As Salaamu Alaikum

Sowubona sister! My Hyperlink didnt seem to have shown up so here it is again. The Effects of Apartheid:


"I pray we never forget all our brotehrs and sisters in the world who have gone through and are still going through the evil of dhulm."

Ameen to your dua.

Sister Ibtisam,ja-ek het Afrikaans geleer maar ek kan dit nie baie goed praat nie. Which means:yes I had learnt Afrikaans but I cant speak it very well.Here Afrikaans is one of the compulsory languages you have to take in school right up to Grade 12 along with English.(This came about through apartheid too coz Afrikaans was what the Whites spoke.) I dont really knoe Zulu just a few words here and there and Xhosa is totally foreign to me.It is mainly the Zulus who stay in my area.

You seem to know alot about South Africa,maybe even more than some of us born South Africans who seem to just take it for granted that Alhamdulillah,right now we can live in harmony with people of all races, when those before us had to fight for this.Inshallah 1 day you should visit us here.

Sister aida I totally agree with you. Zionism = Apartheid. Its sad.The whole world can see it is happening but can barely do anything with America watching over Israel.

But Inshallah the help of ALLAH will come.As one Scholar put it: when gave Musa ( AS ) had crossed the sea after ALLAH had ordered it to split,Firoun was so arrogant he did not even consider that the sea might collapse on him and his soldiers and followed them and walked right into the trap of ALLAH.The firouns of today are also walking right into ALLAH's trap with this false sense of security.One day all will collapse around them,and ALLAH will disgrace the Oppressors of our Muslim Brothers and sisters.Inshallah The muslims shall be victorious.


Hlanigahle,Totsiens,Khuda Hafez,Ma'assalaama

Bint Abdul Khaliq

on May 31, 2004 2:28 PM
Justoju said


MashaAllah. I am incredibly glad you wrote this article. Very few people know what is happening in South Africa. Its about time muslim youth started writing about it.

on May 31, 2004 2:32 PM
Rami said

Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,

BBC World had a special on Nelson Mandela around the time of the South African elections. I had to say it was very good, although I did not get to see the whole thing.

Congratulations on the world cup 2010, perhaps I may see you there in South Africa...although in reality Egyptians are much better at soccer. =)

..and if anyone has yet to read the autobiography of Malcolm X I suggest you read it ASAP.

Wasalaam Warahmatullah Wabarakatu

on May 31, 2004 5:36 PM
Nadia said

Mashallah. Great job sister. Very informative piece.

on June 1, 2004 12:03 AM
Bint Abdul Khaliq said

As Salaamu Alaikum

I was doing some extra research on this topic when I came across the 'pencil test'.I found out that it was not practised on Blacks and Coloreds as I mentioned in my article but it was used when the authorities where unsure if a person was Coloured or White.Please forgive for this error.

Was salaam

on September 12, 2004 12:53 PM
nasia said

assalam alaikum sister,
it is an eye opener for everyone to read and belive that islam is the only religion with justice and equality.A muslim need to have patience in hard time, every muslim have to go though the test of islam but no one love us more than ALLAH(SWT)and ALLAH(SWT) is the best planner.

on May 18, 2005 11:22 AM
Fathima Nuzla Nizar said

Assalamu Alaikum,

Maasha Allah.It Is an eye opener for everyone to read and belive that islam is the only religion with justice and equality.

on June 30, 2008 12:24 AM
Post a comment

Remember personal info?