There are approximately 1.3 billion Muslims around the world. That technically means one in five people in the world are Muslim. Arabs represent about 20% of the Muslim population but the other 80% are scattered around the world. The Islamic brotherhood transcends boundaries of time, space and location. We are all from the best of ummahs, the Ummah of our beloved Muhammad (sallallahu 'alayhi wa sallam). We are therefore linked by our iman, no matter where we reside in the world. SubhanAllah!
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be living as a Muslim in another country? Well I have, and that is what has spurred me to start this series comprising of interviews with Muslims from different parts of the globe. Although these short interviews would not be able to do this topic justice, I hope that they might give us a little peep into Islam around the world and enforce our Islamic brotherhood, inshaa Allah.
With that said, hop on board and buckle your seatbelts...
It is a country of 43 million people, of which approximately 2 percent are Muslim. It is divided into 9 provinces and has 11 official languages. Think nature,colorful people and diversity...
Brothers and sisters, welcome to South Africa, the rainbow nation!
a brief history:
Islam reached the Cape of Good Hope virtually at the beginning of the White settlement when Jan Van Riebeeck arrived there on April 6th, 1652. He brought a few servants along, although it is not certain whether there were also Muslims servants in the group. Historically it is certain that the Muslims reached the Cape around 1654 when the Dutch East India Company decided to use it as a penal settlement for political prisoners. The Indian slaves formed the embryo of the Cape Muslim Community. They were reinforced by the slaves from Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka), Indonesia, and Arabia, although Islam was transplanted mainly from India and Indonesia.
A little chat...
Being South African it would be quite biased if I interviewed myself, so I caught up with one South African Muslimah who graciously agreed to share a few comments about Islam in her country with me. We shall call her Ayesha. A big "Assalamu Alaikum" to her and lets get down to business..
Hidaya: Where is South Africa situated?
Ayesha: On the Southern tip of Africa.
Hidaya: How long have you lived there?
Ayesha: All my life.
Hidaya: In a few words, describe South Africa.
Ayesha: Sunny skies, blue oceans, rolling green hills, melting pot of cultures...oh! and the lions roaming the streets of course (lol).
Hidaya: What do you like best about your country?
Ayesha: The weather and the environment.
Hidaya: What don't you like?
Ayesha: The crime.
Hidaya: Is Islam strong in South Africa?
Ayesha: Yes it is alhamdulillah.
Hidaya: Why would you say so?
Ayesha: Many of the Muslim women are [in] hijaab and niqab and many men are Islamically dressed. There are masaajids in almost every town as well as madrasas and Muslim schools.
Hidaya: Is there freedom to practice Islam in your country?
Ayesha: Yes there is, since South Africa is a republic country and freedom of Religion is upheld, Alhamdulillah.
Hidaya: Is Dawah work active in South Africa?
Ayesha: Yes, quite active MashAllah.Many organisations have taken up the noble task of spreading Islam by visiting different locations,printing Islamic literature in different languages and opening Islamic information centres etc.
Hidaya: What role did the Muslims play in the Apartheid Era?
Ayesha: Many Muslims were actively involved the fight against Apartheid Alhamdulillah
Hidaya: Do you think that Apartheid brought the Muslim community closer?
Ayesha: It had a salutory effect.Muslims were forced to live together.That brought them closer.But on the other hand ,many Musjids were abandoned when our areas were expropriated and also Dawah was restricted.
Hidaya: Does rascism still exist within the Muslim community ?
Ayesha: It does to a certain extent,but it is more present in the older generation since they were brought up in a segregated environment.
Hidaya : What is the condition of the Muslim youth in South Africa?
Ayesha: Like all muslim communities in non-muslim countries the pressure of living in western societies have led many Muslim youth to the wrong places and hanging around with the wrong crowds.However,Alhamdulillah,I think there is a growing number of Muslim youth are realizing their Islamic responsibilities and actively following and promoting The Deen.Many Muslims on campus are reviving the Sunnah in such hostile environments.
Hidaya: What is the general relationship between the Muslims and non-Muslims of South Africa? Is there an awareness of Islam among the non-Muslims?
Ayesha: Alhamdulillah,there exists a harmonious relationship between the Muslims and non-Muslims.There is a fair amount of awareness since we do live among them but many of them are misinformed.
Hidaya: Do you think that many South African Muslims are well informed about the state of the Muslim Ummah around our troubled globe?
Ayesha:Yes,especially with alternative media like Channel Islam available in many homes
Hidaya: Do you think that the South Africans are active enough in taking a stance against the injustices committed against our brothers and sisters?
Ayesha: I don't think that what we do can ever be enough.Many people are trying to make a difference.Like the media coverage of the injustices and our media networks having pledge lines,the Human shields who visted Iraq etc.We obviously can do more InshAllah.
Hidaya: What do you think the Muslims of South Africa can do to contribute to a Progressing Ummah InshAllah?
Ayesha: I think they should change their attitudes,with the right attitude we can accomplish anything.Many have care-free attitudes.We are living very sheltered and cocooned lives.
Hidaya: Last but not least-There are many Muslims from all over the globe who are reading this Insha Allah.What are your closing words to them as a fellow Muslim sister?
Ayesha: Remain steadfast on Deen and dont be swayed by worldly temptations.It is the only way to achieve success in this world and the Akhirah.
Jazakillahu Khairan to sister Ayesha for her time and input. May Allah take her from strength to strength give her the best rewards in bothe worlds.Ameen
Stay tuned for the next installment of 'Islam around the World' InshAllah.
Bint Abdul Khaliq
Very novel indeed, Masha'Allah...this idea of Hidaya's very own reporter.
Keep it up!
Looking forward to your next correspondence.
on March 14, 2005 12:14 AM
Asalaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wabarakatu,
Excellent piece Masha Allah. Very informative, very genuine. Looking forward to the next installments insha Allah.
Waslaam Aleikum Warahmatullah Wanarakatuon March 14, 2005 2:47 PM
I got this e-mail on a listserve that I'm on.
My name is Fatimah Bibi. Last year I started a Young Muslim Ladies Poetry group...It has been very successful with almost 70 members today. Anyway, I'm writing cause I want you to join. Even if your not into writing or reading peotry, just come and check us out. We are all young Muslim ladies trying to understand ourselves and the world around us....ok, enough preaching...come check us out, hope to see you
Post message: AlMustarahpoetry@yahoogroups.com
List owner: AlMustarahpoetryfirstname.lastname@example.org"
A very unique-styled and insightful piece.
look forward to the next one inshaAllah.
and Hassan, is there something you want to talk about :)on March 14, 2005 10:15 PM
yeah....you might need some help...
nIce piece Bint Abdul Khaaliq.
on March 14, 2005 11:57 PM
"and Hassan, is there something you want to talk about :)"
"yeah....you might need some help..."
i'm quite confused. to explain, my last comment was an invitation sent out on a mixed-gender e-mail list to join another list (which is why the message is actually instructions for joining the list). i most of the female writers have written poems.
I just browsed through some of the old stuff on this website. ma shaa allah, this is a great website. it provides unique insight into age-old topics.
may allahu ta'ala reward talal and justoju who really bring that insight to this site.
may allahu ta'ala reward all of us for our efforts. may he grant us hidaya.on March 15, 2005 12:03 AM
As Salaamu Alaikum
Jazakallah Khairan.May Allah makes it easy for me to carry on with this series.Ameen.
WAs Salaamon March 15, 2005 8:49 AM
Salaam to ALL: (the following is a side comment)
A curious observation followed by a peculiar personal feeling...
I have read and heard that certain Sahabas (Radi-Allahu-Anhuma) were not too keen of women going to mosque. For me this was sometime difficult to relate, as I believe that women should have general access to mosques, no matter where they are.
But, recently something happened and it made me think that perhaps this is why some Noble Sahabas (Radi-Allahu-Anhuma) were objecting to women attending mosques.
I have admired (and always will) those sisters who frequent the mosques. This to me is a sign of imaan and Rahmah from ALLAH to any given community. I will be the first to oppose any measures if someone comes and dictates categorically that women should not be allowed in the mosque, and so on.
BUT coming back to what I stated in the beginning; In the past 2 days, I have observed this young sister (dont know who she is or her background - and its not my concern, anyways) who has been attending the prayers. I once saw her at Zuhr or Asr and then I saw her last night at Ishaa again. Now, normally it wouldn't be an issue because many a times a solitary sister will visit the mosque, but usually they hop in a car and drive away. This is typical and happens all the time, just like for us men.
However, this sister walks to the mosques from her house (I dont know the exact distance), but what struck me, especially last night, was when I saw her walking alone in the darkness, it did not bring any sense of elation to me. Rather, I was questioning things that I have never questioned before like, why is she walking alone in the dark, Must she come to the mosque if she has to walk in the dark, why no Man-relative is with her, why is she not with a group of sisters?...I know I know, these questions are due to the circumstances and situational conditions. It may have seemed to me that her walking to and from the mosque was somewhat unnecessary...and then I thought perhaps thats why some sahabas (including Umar Radi-Allahu-Anhu) was not too keen about women going to mosques. Maybe it had to do with a solitary women walking alone in the darkness of night, and its implications.
Please feel free to comment & nail me to the wall, if you deem neccessary!
Ma'Assalaamaon March 15, 2005 10:05 AM
Mabrook Br. Asif, you've just had a hikmah epiphany.
SubhaanAllah, it's amazing when one puts aside their own desires, and reflects on the commands of Allaah (subhanahu wa ta'ala).
Where are the other sisters who go to the masjid? give the sista a ride, ladeez.on March 15, 2005 10:34 AM
or (dont hate me for this, this is old-fashioned, old world). Talk to the imaam, that she should not be going to the mosque by herself, find out whats up with her, and if possible marry her, so she has someone to go to the masjid(just kidding).on March 15, 2005 4:43 PM
MashaAllah ukhti, highly original idea. I am greatly looking forward to future installments inshaAllah.
And br. Asif, I agree with sis. Ibby. Muslimahs this pious are not so easily found so marriage should def. be a consideration....oh yeah, and your insight into the women not having to go to masaajid issue was nice too.on March 17, 2005 12:02 PM
As Salaamu Alaikum
Tour of South Africa
Map of South Africa:
Durban,South Africa-an aerial view
These aunties are enjoying a walk along the Durban beach front:
Jumuah Musjid,Durban.It is the largest mosque in the Southern Hemisphere, with a capacity to take an assembly of 4500 musallis.
Dusk over Johannesburg:
Table mountain overlooking Cape Town's V&A Waterfront:
Musjids in South Africa:
Jamiatul 'Ulama-KZN province: