Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Zainub Priya Dala I support you

                                                    (Picture taken from The daily Vox)
This morning I was interviewed on Channel Islam with regards to the assault case against a Durban-based South African author Zainub Priya Dala. For those of you who are not aware of the story, Zainub Priya Dala was a guest at the “Time of the Writer” literature festival in Durban and as part of the festivals outreach program she traveled to Chatsworth  for a workshop where she addressed learners and students at a community centre. Whilst interacting with the public she was asked which writers she admired to which she replied quite casually Arundhati Roy and Salman Rushdie. After mentioning the name Salman Rushdie some of the learners and teachers stood up and left. Later that afternoon she started receiving threatening text messages from complete strangers asking her to repent as a Muslim woman for admiring the work of Salman Rushdie. Then last week Wednesday whilst driving in Durban she was followed allegedly by three Muslim men in their early thirties. They tried pushing her off the road and eventually when she stopped at a busy intersection, the men assaulted her. They took out a knife and placed it across her throat and then smashed her face with a brick leaving her bleeding on the side of the road before speeding off. Dala mentioned that they screamed at her calling her “Rushdie’s bitch”
In this morning’s interview I was quite shocked that the presenter asked me if the author is Muslim. For a start what does being Muslim have to do with the fact that three Muslim males assaulted a woman. No religion condones violence or beating up people simply because they do not conform to mainstream ideologies. What I find quite interesting is that many South Africans have not even read the Satanic verses to understand why the book is considered blasphemous. The mere fact that they hear the name Salman Rushdie triggers the aggression within them. I have read the Satanic verses and whilst I do not condone everything that the man has written I have to acknowledge the fact that the man is a literary genius. He has an excellent command of the English language and his style of writing is unique. We need to take cognisance of the fact that he has not only written the Satanic verses. Of course, it is this one book that catapulted him to fame for all the wrong reasons but he has written many other books like “Midnight’s children” and “The ground beneath her feet” which were literary masterpieces that received international acclaim.

The assault on this Durban based author allegedly by three Muslim men was an act of cowardice on their part. It was a disgusting act that totally goes against the teaching of Islam or any religion for that matter. The presenter shocked me even more by stating that whilst the act was unacceptable maybe she needed to be more careful and respected the sentiments of the community by not mentioning Salman Rushdie, that perhaps in this case freedom of expression did not apply. He chose quite a silly rationale by stating that if you were in Israel as a traveler would you mention the name Adolf Hitler and speak about the Holocaust.  To which I replied that you cannot compare South Africa to Israel. The demographics of each country is very different. We reside in a democratic country where we are allowed freedom of speech and expression. The public has a go at the president of the country on social media. Muslims residing in this country are not a law unto themselves. We do not live in some isolated island. We reside in an integrated society and we need to respect the laws of this country.
A few months ago Mufti Ismail Menk was assaulted by a group of Muslim men in Durban who did not agree with his views on certain aspects of religion. Does this mean that Mufti Menk should start respecting the sentiments of that community and stop voicing his opinion on live television? The irony about this whole assault case is that no where did the author speak about Islam or religion. No where did she say that she agrees with what is written in the Satanic verses. All she said was that she admires the way he writes.

The three men who assaulted her are idiots in my opinion. It is people like this who tarnish the name of Islam and give Muslims a bad name. Had they not assaulted the author I am sure that no one would have even spoken about the Satanic verses again. What they have done in actual fact is ignite curiosity into people making them aware of a blasphemous book that should not be given any importance in the first place. We always speaking about bringing people into the fold of Islam, but how will Non Muslims view us if we have Muslims bashing up Muslims simply because our opinions on certain topics differ. It is an absolute shame and a disgrace.  At one point in the interview, the presenter mentioned in a subtle manner that perhaps these men have a staunch outlook to religion and the fact that she mentioned Rushdie’s name made them undertake such vile actions. Whether you are staunch in your faith or not is not anyone else’s concern but your own. You have no right to beat up another human being especially a woman and that‘s the bottom line. You may be staunch, you may be preaching your whole life, you may be praying five times a day but you will still go to hell as a result of bad character and the way you treat your fellow human being. As South African Muslims we need to stand up in unison and say that this kind of behaviour is not acceptable within our communities. The Prophet (saw) treated his enemies with respect and kindness. He invited people to Islam peacefully. It is sad that the very same people who claim to love their religion and to love the Prophet (saw) behave like animals contrary to the Quraan and the sunnah of our beloved Prophet Muhammed (saw). 

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Book launch: Riding the Samoosa Express

I never dreamt of becoming an author or having my name printed on a book cover. I guess it was destiny that allowed me to be a part of the “Riding the Samoosa Express” journey. The book launched successfully on Saturday the 21st of March at Skoobs theatre of books located at Montecasino. I am extremely proud to have been a part of this project alongside 27 other strong and dynamic South African Muslim women. Through my travels I have observed that many westerners actually have a very warped sense of how a Muslim woman should be. We are always portrayed in newspapers and in the media as being pitiful or hailing from a culture that supports male domination and patriarchy. “Riding the Samoosa Express” is an anthology that brings to the fore true life experiences of 27 strong willed and strong minded Muslim women.  It is a narrative that explores various themes including love, life, divorce and the concept of marriage as seen through the eyes of well educated South African Muslim women who have went against the norms of society and achieved their goals in life. It is a celebration of women and in particular Muslim women who have steered away from stereotypes and started questioning the idea of a patriarchal male dominated society. Islam has always placed women in extremely high esteem but we have allowed a patriarchal system to hijack our role and place within the Islamic world.

I would like to thank Zaheera Jina Asvat and Hasina Asvat for granting me the opportunity of being a part of this wonderful initiative. The Nisaa institute for women’s development has been adopted as the beneficiary for the book. The institute is an NGO organization that renders services to abused women and children. Hence I urge all my fans and friends to purchase this book and make a contribution towards a worthy cause. This book has proven to the world that Muslim women have a voice and we are willing to stand up against all odds in order to achieve success. I hope that this book will also be an inspiration to women out there who find themselves in abusive or submissive relationships. May this book arouse within you a desire to break free and ignite within you a passion to achieve all your goals in life. 


Friday, March 20, 2015

Riding the Samoosa Express

Our book "Riding the Samoosa Express", edited by Zaheera Jina and Hasina Asvat, written by 27 contributors including myself will be launching tomorrow morning at Skoobs theatre of books, Montecasino. The books will also be available for purchase at the following stores:
Also, at present the books are selling for R200 each but if you log onto you will get a R50 discount on the book. Just fill in the name "samoosa" in the coupon space when you place an order and it will deduct R50.00
"The Nisaa Institute for Women's Development" has been adopted as a beneficiary of the book.
"The Nisaa Institute for Women's Development" is an NGO organisation rendering services to abused women and their children.
Dr. Zubeda Dangor from the institute will give a short talk at the launch.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Beware of the "wrong numbers" in your area

I’m sure many of you must have come across advertisements in the newspaper from herbalists and pundits who claim to be able to solve all your life problems ranging from bringing back a lost love, helping you win the lotto, getting your murder in law to love you lol as well as penis enlargements .
A few days ago I was browsing through the local newspaper and I came across many such advertisements. Naturally I started laughing. My colleague was wondering what the big joke was all about. After enjoying a good laugh with me, he decided to relate a few stories to me about his experiences with hocus pocus herbalists. Many years ago a friend of his was curious to know more about these so called magical healers, were they genuinely there to assist a person in distress or were they merely con artists fooling the public. His stories were hilarious.
The first person they visited was a fortune teller and so called life coach who also makes a monthly appearance on a national radio station. My colleague was asked to pick out a card from a stack of cards. The card he picked out had the word “Imagine”. He was told that whatever he imagines he will receive within a short space of time. He imagined driving off in the sun set in a brand new car. Needless to say, the opposite happened. The car he was driving packed up and he needed to spend R14000 to get the car repaired. As he related the story to me he was giggling like a little girl. A few weeks ago he wanted to see if this hocus pocus fortune teller was still in existence. He googled her and then decided to call her. Over the phone she told him that she charges R450 for a normal reading about his life but if he wants a deluxe reading it will cost him R500. In a deluxe reading he had the opportunity to ask her questions over a three day period. He then decided to email her and verify her response via email. When she realized that he was a medical professional, her fee went up. The normal reading according to the email was R500 and a deluxe reading R550. On her website it states clearly that she is able to bend someone’s thinking in your favour. When my colleague questioned her about this she replied quite abruptly, “I am not a witch. I am not a Sangoma. I am a life coach to advise you. That’s all.” My colleague then told her that it is not fair to be making such false claims on a public domain like the internet. This woman has proven to us that she is a con artist only out there to make a quick buck or two by playing on the emotions of an individual. She does sound very convincing though over the telephone.
They then visited a Nigerian herbalist whose office was situated near gateway shopping centre. This man wanted R6000 for his services. Shocked at the price he charged, as quickly as they set foot in the office, they dashed off just as speedily. By word of mouth in the community they were then referred to a Muslim man residing in Chatsworth. This man claimed to be a world renowned aamil who knows how to rid the body of negativity and jinn. When they visited this man, my colleague’s friend who was a female was told that the black magic is very deep within her. The only way he can rid her of the black magic is by sleeping with her, engaging in sexual intercourse with her. He also suggested that all the money she has at home must be bundled together and left with him for one night. The next day she must collect the money from him and within a few days her money will double. Naturally, they were shocked by what he said and after charging them R300 they left his home speechless. They discovered yet another con artist sitting at home and making money by fooling the public.
My colleague has a friend who is homosexual and he met a gypsy residing in a caravan near his place of work in Durban. One day whilst chatting to him she told him that he is in love with a girl and very soon he will b with her. Naturally he burst out laughing as he was involved with a man and had no interest in women. Nonetheless he continued listening to her fabricated stories. She told him that she needs to go to Bethlehem and light 7 candles for him there to bring him luck in his life and to return his lady love to him.
I had no idea that there are so many people out there that actually believe and worship these “wrong numbers“. In his quest to find out more about fortune telling he and his friend encountered a lady from Isipingo. She told them to meet her at her residence but they need to bring a live chicken along with them. They took the live chicken to her. The lady said some prayer and then asked them to cut the chicken. She cleaned the chicken and told them to take it home, spice it up and cook it. They needed to eat the chicken over three days and they should return to her after three days with all the chicken bones lol. They followed her instructions but nothing happened. The only thing she achieved was fattening them up with a freshly cooked chicken. As I am writing this article I am experiencing periodic bursts of laughter so do mind my spelling errors if you do come across any.
After the Isipingo experience they moved on to Durban north where they met a Black man residing in a residential area. He told them to bath in sea water and gave them leaves to burn in the house. After a day or two they realised that the leaves given to them were actually insect repellent leaves that could be found anywhere down town. They are usually sold by street hawkers to mainly African people. They discovered yet another hocus pocus “wrong number”. Whilst walking down town Durban city they encountered a Sangoma. This sangoma told my colleague’s female friend that she must place a packet of beads in her panty and another packet of beads under the bed if she wants her boyfriend to come back. Lolol... Naturally nothing happened.
Friends, sihr and black magic exists within our community and I have witnessed this with my own eyes. There are means and ways of curing someone from black magic through ruqya, that is through reciting verses of the Quraan that will bring about cure, but finding someone to solve everyday problems by cutting a chicken or walking with beads in your underwear is simply ludicrous. If you choose to visit an aamil, be very careful as there are many hocus pocus aamils out there as well. Recently an aamil was caught red handed on video tape planting things in a person’s business and making it seem as though a family member planted it there. These aamils destroy families. An aamil who has a gift from God will have a pure heart. He will never ever disclose the name of the person who cast a spell on you and is trying to harm you. He will never aspire to destroy a family and neither will he take large sums of money from the victim inflicted with black magic. He will assist with making the person better solely for the pleasure of God Almighty. When God makes us face any difficulty we should turn to Him for help. Sometimes God gives us difficulty so that we can turn to Him and become closer to Him. No human being has the power to solve our issues except God Almighty. Beware of all these hocus pocus ‘wrong numbers’. If you come across people like this within your community, expose them. Do not allow them to play on the emotions of vulnerable individuals. On that note, I’m off to find myself a live chicken that lays a golden egg. The local sanogoma said that the golden egg will lead me to my prince charming lololol.

Monday, March 9, 2015

An interesting question indeed

I was chatting to a patient this afternoon and she asked me a very interesting question... why don't South African Muslim kids learn the sitaar or the tabla or the harmonium considering that some of the greatest singers and musicians coming out of India and Pakistan are in fact Muslim...why has it become a dying art form in this country... I smiled.. I had no answer.... But then I replied that today's Muslims have become fanatical.. one tracked narrow minded. Instead of focusing a child's energy on developing skills we are more concerned about brainwashing a child's mind against other sects or other Muslims who are different to us. Yes we need to teach children about religion.we need to teach them right from wrong..we need to teach them about Islam but we also need to teach them about loving humanity and accepting people for who they are. I think in this country there is a stigma attached to a Muslim person who is a professional dancer or musician. You automatically become branded a bad person with no character. That's how you are judged. On the flip side of things, you can be a drug dealer but if you have a beard and you wearing a kurta you are a good man..We look at others based on outer appearance and yet no one will ever know what lies within. King Abdullah passed away on a Friday.. Muhammad rafi saap passed away in ramadan. They may have been bad to the world. But in His eyes they may have had special qualities within them that pleased their Lord ..qualities that we couldn't see.There was a well known aalim who resided in SA. He passed away a few years ago. He was well versed in Quraan... Arabic etc... He was the guest of presidents... universities etc etc... He had a daughter who was a champion ballerina.. She studied abroad and married a revert but was just as well versed in Islamic studies as her dad.... Through ballet she brought people into the fold of Islam......South African Muslims reside in a cocoon....We are so quick to condemn and judge...I have come across Muslim families who actually teach their kids not to befriend Hindu, Christian or Jewish kids.... the kids are brought up only having Muslim friends.... This is definitely not what Islam teaches us...My patient is right...It is rare to find an Indian child playing a cultural musical instrument in today's times. I think we need to revive this tradition of our forefathers..Now before you start attacking me about halaal and haraam etc... this is my opinion and I'm not here to discuss religion or fight with please don't even try going down that road. 

                                             (picture courtesy )

Friday, February 20, 2015

An inbox message that touched my heart

I am quite touched by this inbox message I received from a young lady residing in Durban.
"Salaams Sis , I was looking at your pics , awesome , breath-taking , your holiday pics . you know you very very blessed . Some ppl only go to places like that in their dreams . While many of us just try to get by and eke a living , to many, a visit to the corner store to buy a few goodies is a dream to cherish , usually once a month . How I wish I could see the beautiful places you visit , how I wish I could feel and taste the foreign air that you breathe on your magnificent holidays .... Of all the places I wish to visit , what my heart longs and yearns for, is to visit the Roza Mubarak of Our Beloved Nabi (saw) . If I should be so lucky . You truly blessed . Just wanted to share ....listen to you , love your Arab News , take care , Salaams"
To the poster, firstly thank you so much for the kind words and I am glad that you do enjoy the Arab news segment on Radio Al-Ansaar. It definitely encourages me to put together an entertaining news bulletin for all the listeners out there. However, I do sense some negativity in your inbox message or perhaps an underlying sadness. My pictures may portray a fun life of travels and exploration but no one will ever know how difficult it was to reach this point in my life. Nothing in life comes easy and I was definitely not brought up with a silver spoon in my mouth. We grew up in a small council home. In fact the house was so small that it was one step to the bathroom, another step to the toilet, one more step to the kitchen and so forth. But we were happy and content. Contrary to what most people think, I went to a normal government school and did a lot of extra work and tuition at home. We only had one car that dad used to go to work and hence mom did a lot of walking. When mom eventually got a car it was an old rickety vehicle a Peugeot 504. I still remember the number plate lol GTG451T. Whilst many of the suburban women and kids would mock at the vehicle, it never really bothered us in the least. We were grateful that we didn't have to walk any more. We had a car to take us from point A to point B. As a young child I had dreams of being in the medical field and traveling the world interacting with people who were different from me and of course learning about other cultures, customs and traditions. I recall one day whilst driving home from my nani's house with my folks, I was browsing through a newspaper in the car. I was paging through the travel section in the newspaper and I seen pictures of Mauritius. In my mind I said, insha Allah one day I will go there too. Believe it or not I landed up going not once but twice. Everyone in life is born with a different life story and destiny.Each one of us has our own purpose on earth that we need to fulfill. We all come to this world empty handed and it is up to us to fill up the pages of our life story. Whether you brought up in a poor home or a rich home, whether you reside in a rich suburb or an informal settlement our life story is completely dependent on us. There should be no room in your life for negativity. Words such as impossible or "I can't" should never ever cross your mind. Alhamdulilla I do feel blessed and I am really grateful for everything the Almighty has bestowed me with. I never ever thought in my wildest dreams that one day I will have a successful career and travel the world. A lot of my success I credit to my family, my parents especially and of course my grand parents and moms sisters who were always there to support me through my studies. Success in life my dear starts off with a dream and it is up to us to make that dream a reality. There is no short cuts to being successful. It always comes with hard work and perseverance. May Allah fulfill all your dreams and grant you success in both worlds!! Ameen.....