Allah Almighty says in the Qur’an:

وَ لَقَدْ كَرَمْنَا بَنِى آدَمَ

We have honoured the chidren of Adam (xvii: 70).

I will come back to this verse later. During the week [2012] one of the murids mentioned to me that he is afraid to feel good about the mosque built in Du Noon and all the activities associated with that building. He was afraid of his ego. I asked the question: “Why can’t we feel good about what our Lord has granted us?” Allah Almighty speaks about this in the Qur’an:

وَ أَمَّا بِنِعْمَةِ رَبِّكَ فَحَدِّثْ

But as for the bounty of your Lord, proclaim it (xciii: 11).

It is quite true that sometimes we worry that if we should mention some of the graces or blessings that our Lord has given us, then it would appear as if we are blowing our own trumpets. But that is not what Allah (ﷻ) says. He says that if He has granted us any special blessings then we should make that known. For many of us this is very difficult, because of the attitudes of people. But I want to assure all of you that there is nothing wrong to tell people if your Lord has granted you anything special, but it must be told with humility and with deep gratitude for what you have received.

One considers the almost astounding success that we have had in the construction of religious structures as a major blessing and that the fact that we are involved in this work is part of the implementation of our Lord’s Decree. On Sunday, 22 July 2012, at the official opening, as we call it, of the mosque in Du Noon, one could not help but become upset by the events of the morning; not upset in a bad way, but emotionally upset because of the deep gratitude in our hearts that we are all involved in the application of a Decree that has to do with the building of religious structures in the poorer areas of this country. For many of us the occasion filled our hearts with appreciation and caused a rush of tears to our eyes, again thankful for what Allah Almighty has granted us as of his weakest servants, in this part of the country. On occasions like these, when there is this display of Divine Grace, one in fact wants to stand up and call out to one’s Lord: “O my Lord, Alhamdu lillah. O my Lord, Shukr lillah.” There are no other words available to express the recognition by the heart of the Graces of his Lord. Our tongues say: “Alhamdu lillah”. Our hearts call out: “O my Lord.” How else can we as simple human beings express our gratitude to our Lord for what He has granted us?

Why is it so embarrassing to cry for our Lord? What is so wrong when tears flow from our eyes not only in remembrance of Him, as such, but also in appreciation of His Bounties. On Sunday, I looked at the crowd at the opening. Many of them represented the recipients of the mosque, in a sense. They were going to use it and through their spiritual activities are going to convert it from a building into a masjid. There is so much meaning in all of this. In Du Noon, many of its inhabitants come from different parts of the continent. Many of them, if not all, have escaped that country to seek refuge from wars and all other kinds of acts against them. They came here to find peace from the ravages of war, and all that this means. Sitting there surrounded by all of these people, one of course, pleads that Allah Almighty should make the mosque a haven of peace for these people; so that when they enter the mosque, they enter into a space in which Allah (ﷻ) pours His sakinah, His peace. So what is so wrong when tears well up in our eyes, because of appreciation that that mosque stands as a symbol and as a haven of peace, for those people who for years have been subjected to different kinds of violence? In many of their eyes there still lurk the fears of what they have gone through. And when we choke on our words, it is part of our plea that Allah Almighty, through this mosque, should remove the fear from their eyes and place in their hearts the peace that they so much desire.

We all felt good, because of what we could do to bring some sanity into the lives of these people, and I think that the surge of emotion in the mosque that day was an expression of how our hearts felt for them. What happens in our hearts on occasions like these is not of our doing; it is of our Lord’s doing. So, not only did our Lord open all the doors necessary to build this mosque, but He also placed in our hearts the goodness that we share with each other in having completed it. Every time a mosque is completed, and every time I declare the silent statement: “Bismillah hirrahman nirrahim. O my Lord, I declare the area covered by the carpet in this structure as being mosque, waqaf in Thy Name, Alhamdu lillah”. Do you think this is easy; to be involved in processes of the declaration of waqaf? Do you think it is easy to be involved in building a structure in which the poorest of people can make sujud or count His Names on their fingers or humbly recite the Qu’ran or just sit and contemplate?

Centuries ago our fore-fathers, then a poor community of former slaves and political exiles, started to build their own mosques in the poorest areas, because they lived in such areas. And so the first one as we understand, went up in Dorp Street in Cape Town. Today I understand the feeling of those ex-slaves or descendants of slaves, but all of them foreigners, going down slowly in sujud in their own private prayer space in the first mosque in this country and joining their fore-heads tightly to the floor in appreciation of the bounty of freedom from slavery and the bounty of having a mosque. We talk of our tears. Can we imagine the tears that flowed from the eyes of our fore-fathers and let me repeat, either foreigners or the descendants of foreigners, when the first Adhan echoed through the landscape of the Bo-Kaap.

This community, when the first mosque was built, cried thousands of kilometres away from their homes. Our brothers in Du Noon, also foreigners, thousands of kilometres away from their homes and their families, cry because they have a place to pray. Is there anything better in this world that one can give or share with one’s brother or sister than a place of common prayer? If we think now, and we ask ourselves: What were the thoughts in the minds of our forefathers who came here as people at the bottom of the social scale, when they put up their first mosque?” And we ask further: “What were the thoughts in the minds of our brothers from Africa when the Naqshbandi Tariqah built for them their first mosques? Today, they have taken possession of the mosque. They sit outside on its steps chatting away. They sit inside on the mat reciting Qur’an or praying. Just as the Awwal Mosque became our mosque, so the mosque in Du Noon has become their first mosque. One of the first things they did was to put up a curtain between men and women. They understand their Islam like that. Let them have their curtain or whatever else they want. They are our brothers in Islam.   Just as they are we, when we talk as Muslims, so we are they, when we talk as Muslims. And the honour that our Lord has given us, as part of the honour mentioned in the verse at the beginning of this letter, is something that all of us will cherish deeply in our hearts. Part of that cherishing is to say, amin. And we ask our Lord to strengthen the bonds between all believers, bonds of brotherhood and being for each other, amin.

[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]


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