On Sunday (19 February 2012) our organisation had a Mawlud programme in Driftsands, not too far from Cape Town. This is not the first time that we’ve had a Mawlud there, but I mention this because our organisation has regular Mawluds in the townships. This is new in South Africa, because previously Mawluds were only held in what was called “Coloured” and “Indian” areas. So it is quite strange for people to go out to the townships and celebrate the birthday of Nabi Muhammad (ﷺ) with the people living there. It is especially strange, because it was not done like this before. We are people of little understanding, that is why we never celebrated the Messenger’s (ﷺ) birthday in the townships. It was believed although never said so, that his (ﷺ) birthday had to be celebrated among people who were not “Black”, because of historical reasons. This sounds very strange, but the mosques where the birthdays were celebrated in the past tell us the whole story.

What we have done is to inform the generally down-trodden people in these areas that the Messenger of God (ﷺ) is also for them and not only for those who see themselves as different from those in the townships. Did it ever occur in the minds of our fore-fathers that we should take the celebration of the Prophet’s (ﷺ) birthday to people who were not only non-Muslim but also what is referred to in this country as “Black”? This is perhaps one of the reasons why many people in the townships saw Islam as being an “Indian” religion. The fact that they saw it like that is an indication of the thinking and practices of the people living outside the townships. These “Black” people, were considered the “other” and not part of the broad stream of humanity. But this is not what I want to talk to you about.

During the proceedings a policewoman from one of the local police stations addressed us. She thanked Imam Yasin, the resident imam in Driftsands, for keeping the children of Driftsands off the streets and out of the clutches of crime and drug abuse, and she asked us to have more workshops and programmes on Islam to teach the people of the area about this religion. I sat appreciative of her words and appreciative of the work of Imam Yasin, but I also sat stunned by the fact that a non-Muslim woman who saw in the work of Imam Yasin a means of protecting the children of the townships against crime and drug abuse. This was not a Muslim woman talking.

This was a non-Muslim woman who saw in the work of Imam Yasin possibilities for the protection of the children of the area in which she lives. I do not think that she was pretending, because her body language was positive. It appears that it sometimes takes a person, from outside Islam to remind us of what our religion is capable of doing. Many of you, as usual, were not there and so you missed this experience as you constantly miss other similar experiences in the townships.

Imam Yasin was humbled by the compliments passed about him, but I am sure that inside his body his heart was giving a few extra beats of warmth and pride for the success of his achievements. He has been able to show through sheer hard work in that community the positive contribution that Islam can make to the lives of people, even if these people are not Muslim. Many of us do not understand this and that is why some of the ladies wanted to cover up the legs of the policewoman while she was in the mosque. We put Islam into a little box and we consider that what is in the box to be the totality of Islam. If Imam Yasin was like this he would never have been able to make the contribution to the lives of the people of Driftsands, as he is making. There are many lessons that we can learn from his actions. Perhaps the most important one is that we should knuckle down to our work and stop causing waves to express the machinations of our egos. Day in and day out Imam Yasin serves God in Driftsands. He does not serve his ego neither does he try to show how important he is. And it is these attitudes which have endeared him to the people of the area despite the differences in religion. He makes his humanity the means to reach the hearts of other people in order to teach them about Islam.

I think that what is happening in Driftsands is an example to all of us of what we can achieve amongst the poor people if our hearts are right. If our hearts remember Allah Almighty and have been turned towards Him and He has placed a desire in those hearts to reach out to others through our common humanity, then we can succeed. We must understand that success in da-wah work does not lie in fancy speeches but in using hearts that remember their Lord in our associations with the poor. When hearts that remember their Lord are asked to reach the hearts of poor non-Muslims, then those hearts become instruments for the opening of the hearts of others. In many cases we are succeeding, because our hearts are rememberers; to open and to impact on the hearts of those who are not part of our religion. Perhaps, in a certain way, Imam Yasin has shown us how to use our hearts and in this showing, there is no pretence, or whatever else we bring on board, in our relationships with others. Some of us should use more of our time to sit and learn from him. We ask Allah Almighty to grant to us more individuals like him, those whose hearts remember their Lord and in this remembrance their hearts are made to open the hearts of those who are not in our religion, amin.

[Unpublished 2012]

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