IMPORTANCE OF TABLIGH WORK IN AFRICA
The continent of Africa in its current situation is the most fertile land for the spring of Islam. Trends of Islamophobia have grown exponentially all across the world, yet Africans have generally maintained an image of Islam as an influence of peace and societal upliftment. We often hear of the rise of political parties as a result of their extremely negative approach to this religion, but this phenomenon still ceases to exist in Africa. This goes to show that Africans are ready to receive the Islam that is free from all biased and violent distractions.
Furthermore, many African countries are suffering from poverty, corruption and starvation, and are hastily looking for a solution. If we – as religious leaders – do not provide them with Islam as the cure to their maladies, not only Africa but the entire world will remain in suffering and heartache. Islam should not only be used as a tool for spiritual liberation, but for political and economic freedom as well. Islam in Africa particularly will attract the general public at both levels, and hence this opportunity must be used to the best of our ability.
In addition to this, Africa remains recipient towards Islam despite centuries of Christian missionaries under colonialism. The continent itself still suffers from the economical legacy of colonialism, and therefore still continues to look towards a just, viable solution. The school of the Ahlulbayt (as) with its overwhelming emphasis on justice is guaranteed to draw the attention of Africans as it will ensure that their rights cannot be violated again. This aspect in particular is not as greatly stressed upon in other schools of Islamic thought respectively, therefore making the continent especially suited for the message of Ahlulbayt (as).
Sufism in Africa is currently the most followed school of Islam in Africa at present. Sufism not only deeply encourages the love of the Ahlulbayt (as), but sees these holy personalities as the best intercessors in the path towards spiritual purification. Traditional African culture in itself places a great emphasis on spiritual development and transcendence beyond the material realm. These two factors are greatly beneficial towards the cause of Tabligh as the school of Ahlulbayt (as) is brimming with spiritual guidance not only with practical steps towards perfection but through the important institution of Dua as well. Africa at large is therefore ready for the spiritual message of Islam to flourish.
The success of Islam in Africa is already evident with the continent boasting a population of over 500 million Muslims. Tabligh programmes in the name of the Ahlulbayt (as) have also seen great success, with Nigeria – which previously had small a Shia population – now consists of over 5 million followers of the Ahlulbayt (as). If we are able to invest our monetary and spiritual efforts into Africa to an even greater extent, this heart-capturing school can only continue to grow.
CHALLENGE OF TABLIGH WORK IN AFRICA – SUSTAINABILITY
Despite the great potential for Islam that lies within Africa, there are a variety of tribulations that stand in our way to success, the most challenging of them being sustainability. What we see in Africa is that there are enthusiastic and passionate individuals who desire to learn about Islam, but there is a dire lack of funds to establish an Islamic Centre or the financial incapability to maintain such an establishment. This is truly unfortunate as an entire community may be willing to learn and practice Islam, but yet they simply cannot overcome the financial hurdle in order to achieve their goals.
Another aspect to the sustainability problem is the lack of financial assistance to the Mubaligheen. These individuals are the leaders of the Islamic community and without their presence, the community becomes stagnant. This leads to further problems as the community – which now experiences no spiritual growth due to a lack of leadership – suffices with a superficial understanding of what Islam is supposed to be. Sustainability thus needs to be concentrated upon in order for the successful propagation of the religion.
As evident above, the main challenge in Africa is economical resources. This problem, however, too has a solution in the form of Waqf. This institution is the real answer to our economic woes. Funding organisations is of vital importance and needs to be practiced, however leaving an asset as a waqf is far more beneficial as it ensures the survival of the community for a longer period of time than compared to a monetary donation. Waqf hence secures the long-term future of the community and also protects them from potential future problems.
In order for religious sustainability, education is also an important factor in achieving a successful Islamic mission. Currently we take care of the fees and expenses of various primary, secondary and tertiary degree students. By creating a community that is financially sound through job creation is important to leading a self-sufficient society. Currently, however, these students – whom we hope will achieve financial stability in the future – need funding for their academic activities. The expenses of a student need to be paid regularly, and since waqf is able to provide monthly financial assistance, therefore it is the most suited for this investment. In this manner waqf can truly be a real vehicle for social change within the Muslim community.
Waqf continues to support communities of the Ahlulbayt (as) at an international level. If this wonderful institution is encouraged from the grassroots level in Africa, the success of this mission of propagating the school of the Ahlulbayt (as) is truly a reality that is closer than many of us think.