every now again we are fortunate to experience moments which result in paradigm shifts and which will stand out later as an inflexion point from where your actions change forever. these moments come in different forms to different people at different times and i guess for various reasons allah chooses. i consider such moments a complete priviledge. i was recently lucky enough to attend a screening of the documentary film, the imam and i. it was really a profound experience for me. apart from being a pleasant cinematic experience (the documentary was very well put together), the film really made me ask the question, ‘what am i doing to live the message of the quran?’. for me, undoubtedly, that message is one of justice which is rather stating the obvious, but i also think as muslims (myself included) we have forgotten that and allowed ourselves to get caught up in mechanisms of fiqh, shariah law, interpreting the five ‘pillars’ and then even worse things such as sectarianism (my version of islam is better than yours, that sort of thing). firstly, why is justice conveniently ommitted from the five ‘pillars’ when it is the pervasive central message of the quran? something is amiss. conversely, why is sectarianism so pervasive in fabric of the ummah when in fact it goes against every single surah, every ayat of the quran and this goes against the very essence of tawhid. anyway, i digress a little and these two issues are separate posts on their own – but these were some of the things the imam fought against in his time and it is really saddening to learn that he faced enemies both from within islam and outside. he was eventually killed in detention by the apartheid police.
the other theme which really resonated with me was a comment by the late robert sobukwe (there was another massive paradigm shift for me there and i need to do more research on this great man, whose message sadly, but not surprisingly has since been repressed) when asked why under apartheid, the security police felt so threatened by islam. afterall muslims were and continue to be a minority in south africa. robert sobukwe’s response was that muslims had the blueprint to govern the country based on principles of justice, equality and democracy (something to that effect). muslims have the blueprint. again it is stating what should be the obvious but i think with all the nonsense we’ve allowed in we can no longer see the wood for the trees and that is a great great tragedy.
its encouraging to see that the memory of such a great man is being kept alive by various people, but i was also very sad to see how his family was relegated to persona non grata in the wake of his death by people and organisations which are the self-styled ‘representatives’ of muslims and self appointed ‘ulema’ of the masses. i’m sorry, but you do not represent ME. i was also saddened by the fact that the holding cells where he was matyred were at a police station which is literally minutes away from where i grew up. i havent yet figured out why this has such an effect on me but it makes me sad to have not known this earlier, known about the imam’s life earlier – i lived so close to his ‘memory’ but couldnt have been further from it in actions and understanding.
at the end of the film there was an opportunity for discussion and what stuck out for me was the question, ‘what did i do then, what am i doing now, what am i going to do in the future?’…..on the day of judgement i better have some answers!