NOTES: ADDRESS BY YUSUF ABRAMJEE, SOCIAL COHESION ADVOCATE
Muslim Judicial Council
72nd anniversary: Cape Town.
Friday 10 February 2017
Congratulations to the MJC – celebrating 72 years of serving the community. We salute the leadership of the council and we wish you well.
I want to focus on a few current issues:
It is disgraceful and hurtful to see Islamophobia on the rise – locally and internationally.
Hatred for Muslims from some quarters is on the increase and the time has come for citizens to stand up, promote religious tolerance and take a stand against those who are targeting Islam.
Islam is a religion of peace. Those who carry out violence, promote discord and hatred and kill the innocent in the name of our religion should be condemned and criticized at every corner. We need to ensure that we promote peace, love, reconciliation and compassion.
We as South African Muslims should celebrate the fact that we enjoy religious freedom. Our Constitution guarantees us that. Although we are a minority in this country, we are able to exercise our religious rights freely and openly and that is something to be proud of. It’s something to celebrate.
The recent attacks on three Mosques in the Western Cape is a disgrace. We strongly condemn the acts of those who want to sow division, promote religious intolerance and those who are out to destabilize our communities. We say: Shame on you. You will not succeed by throwing pigs heads and blood in our places of worship.
My message to the culprits is clear: You will not succeed in your evil quest of tarnishing our religion. We remain hopeful that the law will come down hard on you – sooner or later. You nameless and faceless individuals should need be arrested, convicted and punished. You will eventually be exposed.
It is concerning for us as Muslims to see an increase in objections to Mosques in many areas of South Africa. There seems to be a movement at work mobilizing to try to stop the building of Muslim places of worship. We have seen it in areas like Valhalla in Pretoria, Sandton and Buccleau and now Atholl in northern Johannesburg.
The objectors use traffic and noise levels as a disguise to oppose the erection of Mosques. These same objectors will not make a noise when bottle stores, casinos and prostitution dens open right in their neighborhoods. But they mobilize when Muslims want to pray. This is a sad indictment on society. The time has come for all of us to show religious tolerance and to respect each other’s religions. We need Mosques, Churches, Temples and Synagogues side by side. We need to allow everyone the opportunity to pray and to exercise their religious freedoms. This will take us forward!
We need to respect all religions.
This week, I again saw a number of posts on social media in South Africa by individuals criticizing Muslims and Islam, insulting our beloved Prophet Muhammed (PBUH) and calling us, Muslims names.
I don’t want to repeat some of the things said…It is sickening and nauseating. Such foul, nasty and odious attacks on our religion must stop. Institutions such as the South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC), CRL Commission and the Equality Court must act decisively and with urgency and stop the hatred which which is being spitted out by some. They need to take stern action against those individuals who cause religious and cultural divisions. We need protection and we need it now.
Early last year, I reported a number of individuals, during the height of the Valhalla Mosque Row to the CRL Commission for their Islamophobic comments on social media. They linked us to ISIS, Al Queda and Boko Haram.
Many months later, I am still waiting for a ruling. I also reported a CRL Commissioner. We are still waiting for a ruling! The delays are unacceptable.
The CRL Rights Commission is a constitutional body established in terms of the South African Constitution of 1996. Its constitutional mandate is to strengthen our constitutional democracy. But we need this Commission to act decisively to promote our religious, cultural and linguistic rights. We need them to be effective and I repeat: protect us. That’s what our Constitution dictates.
Social cohesion needs to be promoted at every turn. It is the responsibly to of every citizen to do their bit. The time has come for all of us to promote the philosophy of active citizenry. This means we have to all stand up for our rights and roll up our sleeves.
Recently, a young Cape Town woman was turned down from joining the South Africa Navy because she wears a Hijab. This is not right. It’s unacceptable. Individuals who want to exercise their religious obligations should be accommodated.
I remain hopeful that the Navy will review its decision and allow Muslims women such as Taskeen Ebrahim to wear her Hijab with pride. I know the MJC has taken up her plight and I hope we will succeed.
The so-called “Muslim Ban” by US President Donald Trump continues to draw attention and anger across the world. Trump, who clearly dislikes Mexicans and Muslims, is playing right into the hands of extremists. He is sadly giving them reason to continue carrying out acts of evil. We need bridges, not walls. We need love, not hate. Refugees seek refugee and shelter, not resentment or stigma. Trump is clearly xenophobic and we as South African Muslims join the world chorus to call on him to stop his madness. There is no place on our world for division and racism.
Let’s all continue to do our bit to make the world a better place. Let’s join hands and unite. Let’s work together to promote peace, goodwill and social cohesion. Let’s help those in need.
We have to unite. Our religious leaders must lead the way to fight social ills. Drugs, for example, are killing our people. Let’s use our podiums to inform and educate our congregations.
Crime is on the increase. It’s time for all of us to work together and reclaim our streets from the gangsters.
We need organizations like the MJC to use their wisdom to guide the jammatul Muslimeen on practical ways of applying what the former President of the MJC calls the “fiqh of citizenship.”
This is a powerful concept of teaching Muslims how to be responsible pro-active citizens. It instills social activism from an informed perspective. It promotes a Muslim citizenry aware of the power of influence and not just the influence of power. It helps in developing a caring, engaged Muslim citizenry using excellence to serve all of mankind. That is the practice of the seerah of our beloved Prophet (PBUH). That is the practice to profile our identity in a multi faith society. A practice to model the values of the Deen. A practice to advance our freedom in a culture fair way. It is time to “politicise our spirituality and spiritualise our politics” in a pro-active way.
Let’s promote intra-Muslim solidarity and economic development and support and empower our community with the life skills to walk with self assuredness as Muslims underpinned by humility.
Let me conclude by saying: All Muslims are not terrorists and extremists. We promote peace and we will continue to do so.
With kind regards
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