Jumuah lecture on Friday 1 October 2021 (23 Safar 1443)
Maulana Syed Aftab Haider
Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Almighty Allah (SWT) says in verse 85 of Surah Qasas (chapter 28 of the Holy Quran):
إِنَّ الَّذِي فَرَضَ عَلَيْكَ الْقُرْآنَ لَرَادُّكَ إِلَىٰ مَعَادٍ ۚ قُلْ رَبِّي أَعْلَمُ مَنْ جَاءَ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَمَنْ هُوَ فِي ضَلَالٍ مُبِينٍ
“Most surely He Who has made the Quran binding on you will bring you back to the destination. Say: My Lord knows best him who has brought the guidance and him who is in manifest error.”
What is the destination or place of return referred to in this verse? Some commentators of the Holy Quran explain that the place of return refers to the Day of Judgement (Qiyamah). However, the majority of commentators of the Holy Quran believe that it does not refer to Qiyamah, but rather, they say that it refers to the place of your origin.
In other words, this particular verse is referring to Mecca, because our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) migrated from Mecca to Madina but was still missing Mecca as his homeland. Hence, Almighty Allah (SWT) promised him that he will be returned to Mecca.
NATIONAL PRIDE FOR OUR HOMELAND IS INHERENT IN ISLAMIC TRADITION
The point I am trying to make here is that love and affiliation with your land of origin is natural. What we learn from this verse is that Almighty Allah (SWT) has recognised this as something positive. Therefore, in numerous other verses of the Holy Quran, when Almighty Allah (SWT) speaks about Jihad (struggle), and what situations are justified to take up arms and fight, the Quran repeatedly says that one of the reasons allowed to pursue armed struggle is when you are expelled from your homeland.
Hence, this verse along with others, present a very clear message that to be loyal and love your country is a value respected in Islam. It is therefore not un-Islamic to have patriotism! That is why we see numerous Hadith narrated from the Ahlul Bait (a.s) about love for one’s country and homeland as part of Imaan (faith).
Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) use to love Mecca, and it was very difficult for him to emigrate from his birth city. Then, when he made Madina his adopted home, he had an amazing love and affection for this newfound sanctuary, even towards the mountains and streets of Madina!
Whenever Rasulullah (SAWA) would travel out of Madina and then notice the precincts of Madina upon his return, he would energize the camels to run faster, out of excitement to reach home in Madina!
PATRIOTISM VERSUS PREJUDICE
What I am trying to say through sharing this, is that to love your country is recognized and valued in Islam. Indeed, patriotism is not in contradiction to Islamic laws and principles. However, to love your land and its people, does not mean that you should look at other countries and its people with contempt.
Islam has a broader concept referred to as One Nation ie. Muslim Ummah. This is beyond geographical borders or ethnic boundaries. Rather, being part of the broader Ummah of Islam does not mean that we should not love our country or its society. It does not mean that we should avoid being patriotic, for example.
There are authentic Hadith narrations from our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) stating that loving one’s land is part of Imaan (faith). As noted earlier, it becomes problematic when we use this patriotism as a basis for hate and discrimination towards others. We have seen this in its ugly form in our country, through xenophobia. This is therefore not acceptable, but to be loyal to your country is very much admirable and part of Islamic faith.
NATIONAL PRIDE ALONG WITH NATIONAL RESPONSIBILITY
If you love the land you live in and you care about the people around you, then you have responsibilities and obligations towards them. You cannot be indifferent towards those around you.
The fundamental point to always be cognisant of, is that you cannot simply enjoy the benefits of a place without taking your rightful place when it comes to loyalty and responsibility towards the same country. Our commitment to our country and society comes with obligations and responsibilities.
One of the most important responsibilities is to be concerned about the future stability, security and economy of the land you live in, caring about the people of our land. This is where our civil and social responsibility emerges, towards any process taking place to improve the prospects of our country.
We cannot simply be idle bystanders, saying that as Muslims, we have nothing to do with the non-Muslim society we inhabit.
The Holy Quran presents very clear guidance, that we Muslims are not only responsible for our nation of Muslims. Rather, we are ordained with the responsibility of calling people towards good. The Holy Quran regards us as the best of nations, because we have been appointed to invite people towards good and forbid them from evil. Hence, we have a pivotal responsibility in a society like ours, towards the people and the future of our country.
HOW CAN WE MUSLIMS TAKE PART IN AN UNISLAMIC SYSTEM OF GOVERNANCE?
Naturally, this becomes complicated and very difficult when we live as the minority, and the governing system of the majority is not based upon Islamic principles and values. The obvious question then is what are we supposed to do in this scenario? Are we still responsible towards the future of the people?
The answer is that we are indeed! Justice does not confine itself to the Muslim Ummah – our responsibility is towards all! How we will fulfil this responsibility differs, depending on the situation at hand and the prevailing conditions.
Now, we in South Africa should be thankful to Almighty Allah (SWT) for blessing us with this beautiful country and its rich resources, beautiful people, rich history of struggle against the injustice of Apartheid. It all brings responsibility and obligations on our shoulders. We can therefore not be indifferent!
The next point which is important to understand is this democratic election process. Should we take part in this process, or not? The response to this question goes back to another question, namely, does this democratic election process serve the best interests of the:
– People of this land, or not?
– Muslim community, or not?
We have two options, either we isolate or become actively involved in the broader society. The history of various Muslim minorities across the world has proven, beyond any doubt, that isolation has not taken them anywhere, nor has it benefitted them in any way. This has resulted in them becoming ineffective in the broader society.
However, if we take the other option, by playing an active role in the political process, through the elections as an example, then what about our principles which are often compromised in the process, due to the governing system not being based on our principles and values? What are we supposed to do now?
POSITION OF OUR GRAND RELIGIOUS AUTHORITIES ON VOTING IN NON-MUSLIM COUNTRIES
The answer is once again based on principles. If you can use your participation in the best interests of the people of the land, and in the best interests of Islam and Muslims, at any level, then indeed, participation in the political process and social activity is very much allowed, even with non-Islamic principles being applied.
The position from our leading Maraji’ (grand spiritual authorities) is very clear on this question of whether we can participate in the elections, living in countries as minority Muslims, and also whether we can vote for a non-Muslim candidate.
Their principal response addresses the following issues:
a. Very highly encouraged, because this is important in fulfilling our national duty and loyalty to our country.
b. Participation is also crucial for our rights as a Muslim community
2. Who to vote for: This is where our Islamic values and principles need to guide us. It is unlikely we will find a candidate who is 100% on Islamic values and principles in a secular, liberal democracy.
However, if we are convinced that the candidate’s goals serve the interests of the country and its oppressed people, and also serves the interests of Islam and Muslims on a local and even international level, then we are indeed encouraged to vote.
In fact, the fatwa (religious decree) of our beloved leader Ayatollah Sayyid Ali Khamenei is very clear that it does not matter whether the candidate or party is Muslim or not, as our decision on who to vote for should be based on the principal criteria outlined above.
Therefore, I believe there are sufficient guidelines for us from our religion and our religious leaders, that isolation does not serve any benefit.
CRITICISMS AGAINST MUSLIMS FOR NOT PRIORITIZING THE UPLIFTMENT OF SOUTH AFRICA
Leading up to elections, we often find people presenting verses of the Holy Quran and Hadith to defend their position of isolation, arguing that this is an evil system (Taghut). Without going into extensive details, these arguments all have a coherent retort.
So, one argument for example, is that we cannot take part in a system of Taghut. Now, the counterargument presented by our religious scholars on this is that if you really believe that the system is one of Taghut and Satan, then we should not be living in this system to start with!
In fact, then Hijrah (migration) becomes compulsory! However, what we tend to commonly see is that the overwhelming majority of cases are the opposite, where people migrate from Muslim countries and establishments towards non-Muslim countries, or a “Kufr system” as they like to call it.
However, in our case where the majority of us were born here, and did not migrate from other countries, we do indeed have a responsibility towards the improvement of this country. This is one of the accusations against Muslims, where we are seen as always rightfully concerned about the plight of the Palestinians and the Muslims of China and Kashmir etc.
There is no doubt that we MUST highlight our concerns about this, because we believe in our responsibility towards the broader Ummah of Islam. But now, the question is, what about the suffering of the people in our own land? What about the challenges of our neighbours? What is our contribution towards alleviating the pain of our fellow citizens? I am sure we will all agree that this is a very valid criticism against us Muslims of this country.
How can we be crying for the oppressed people far away, but then not show any care for the people next to us whom we live along with and share the benefits of this country?
Now, when we reflect on these issues, the upcoming local elections become even more critical. I believe our involvement here is more important, because the officials elected through this election are directly connected to service delivery and the challenges which communities face every day!
Therefore, our contribution and involvement can play a very important role in improving the situation for the most marginalized in our country.
BAHRAIN WELCOMES ZIONIST ISRAELI FOREIGN MINISTER WITH OPEN ARMS
Shamelessly, the monarchy of Bahrain has royally welcomed Israel opening its embassy in the capital city of Manama, while the streets of Manama and across Bahrain were vociferously protesting against this normalization.
With the formal, official establishment of this relationship between these two countries, Bahrain has declared its unity with Israel to fight the common enemy to them, namely the Islamic Republic of Iran.
This is the reality in front of us…how the Arab governments have stooped to that low level. They have always maintained relationships with Zionist Israel behind the scenes, but they have now reached a point where they have absolutely no shame in openly expressing that this relationship is to fight the Islamic Republic of Iran.
They are ready to sell their dignity on the most sensitive issue facing this Muslim Ummah (Palestine) and fight their Muslim neighbour (Iran) to save their power and control their people. This is what we see before us today, while Israel continues to kill people indiscriminately.
THE UGLY PLAGUE OF CORRUPTION TAKES ON NEW DISGUSTING PROPORTIONS
In the first khutbah (sermon) I encouraged that we all should vote in the upcoming elections. While this is the clear principle position, I must admit that I sometimes also feel uncomfortable about this. The level of widespread, deep-rooted corruption we see from the system introduced by this democratic process makes it very uncomfortable to still encourage everyone to vote in this system.
When we hear about the Minister of Health, who was the face of the country’s fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, embroiled in looting the public coffers earmarked for the disaster recovery of the same pandemic that he was crying about publicly.
Therefore, participation in the election process is very important, but who to vote for is equally important. Not only is it important to study the various political parties in the elections, but it is also crucial to study the candidates running for office.
It is really disgusting to see how they have absolutely no sense of humanity, while people are suffering and dying in such huge numbers, with the medical staff fighting the coronavirus pandemic so courageously, but the commander of this “army” is busy stealing millions at the same time!
This is the scourge of corruption, which continues to tear our beloved country apart!
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