Newsletter of the Claremont Main Road Mosque · Roewa Edition - June 2013/1434
The Significance of the 15th Night of Sha`ban (Roewa) Imam A. Rashied Omar Traditionally in the Cape, the 15th night of the lunar month of Sha`ban (Laylatul-nisfi min Sha`ban) is commemorated as Roewa. The night is also known as the “Night of Repentance” (Laylatul Bara’ah).
it is not our purpose here to enter into the details of this debate, it suffices to say that the special supplication (Roewa Du’a) was never made by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself.
Customarily, on this night congregations would gather in the masjid, and sometimes families would meet at homes, to recite Surah Ya Sin (Quran, Chapter 36) three times between the Maghrib and ‘Isha prayers. Each consecutive recital is followed by the making of a special prayer (known as the Roewa Du’a) and each recitation and supplication is done with a special intention (niyyah) – for long life in successful obedience to Allah, for abundant provisions and protection against calamities, and for independence from reliance on human beings and reliance only on Allah, the Sublime.
In conclusion, it is important for Cape Muslims to know that the significance of the 15th night of Sha’ban and the procedure for commemorating it is contested by some scholars who deride it as a bid`a practice (innovation). We concur that there is no evidence that the congregational commemoration and procedure of reciting Surah Ya Sin three times was done by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
Historically however, there has not existed unanimity and consensus amongst Muslim scholars with regard to the significance of this night. Some scholars argue that the 15th night of Sha’ban has no special religious and spiritual significance and should be treated just as any other night. The majority of Muslim scholars however acknowledge that the night does have a special religious and spiritual significance. The well-known work, Tuhfatul Ikhwan, records a hadith in which the Messenger of Allah is reported to have said: “Allah’s special mercy and forgiveness is more munificent and available from the very beginning of this night”. Such a view is supported by the following hadith contained in the collections of al-Tabarani, Ibn Hibban and al-Bayhaqi. The Companion Mu`adh ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) relates that the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) said: “Allah, the Most Compassionate, looks at His creation during the night of the 15th of Sha‘ban and He forgives all His creation except someone who associates others with Allah (mushrik) or one intent on hatred (mushahin) especially towards his parents.” Locally, there has been a long-standing debate concerning the authenticity of the ahadith extolling the virtues of laylatun nisfi min sha`ban and particularly the special supplication that is made on this night. Whilst
“The recitation of Chapter 36 (Surah Ya Sin), the Heart of the Glorious Qur’an, is beneficial at any time.” Notwithstanding this, CMRM have taken a pragmatic position on the customary practice (`urf) of commemorating roewa. It is our considered viewpoint that we should continue the roewa tradition of getting together on the 15th night of Sha’ban. If the only blessing of it is that we pray Maghrib and ‘Isha in congregation, then it suffices to justify continuing this traditional practice. Moreover, the recitation of Chapter 36 (Surah Ya Sin), the Heart of the Glorious Qur’an, is beneficial at any time. Furthermore, we can substitute the traditional prayer (Roewa Du’a) with any other supplications. In particular, we recommend the reading of the most significant supplication for forgiveness recommended by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) known as the sayyidul istighfar. The night affords us with a wonderful opportunity at re-instituting the efficacy of prayer, which is so sadly neglected in our secularised world. The night could also be beneficially employed in stressing the important attribute of Allah, as ever an acceptor of repentance and reminding us that seeking Allah’s forgiveness should be central to our practice as conscientious Muslims.
Editorial Since our last edition, tragic events locally and globally have made many of us hyperconscious of the endemic violence in our society. Locally, we were all stunned by the brutality of the rape and murder of 17 year old Anene Booysen in February this year. In this edition we report on CMRM’s response to the scourge of gender violence in our society. In the past few months in the Western Cape, we have also witnessed a succession of violent deaths involving school children. In his article, Kassiem Adams provides some sobering reflections on the disaffection of our youth that makes them vulnerable to such acts of violence. Globally, we continue to witness violent acts of terror perpetrated against innocent civilians. In his article, Dr. Salih Solomon reflects on his personal experience of being at the Boston Marathon at the time of the recent bombing there. This being the first ‘Roewa’ edition of Al-Mizan, we have led with some reflections by Imam Rashied on the significance of this 15th night of Sha’ban. We hope it will inspire all of us to continue to uphold this tradition in the Western Cape. As usual, we report on a range of CMRM events and activities. One such event that we hope will re-invigorate debates amongst local Muslims, is the recent information workshop on astronomical calculations for establishing the lunar calendar, which CMRM hosted at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). In our report we provide the dates and times, based on astronomical calculations, of the new crescent moons that will herald the start and end of Ramadan 2013. As the last issue before Ramadan, we want to take this opportunity to wish everybody a blessed and spiritually uplifting Ramadan 2013.
40-42 Main Road, Claremont, 7708 • 021 683 8384 • www.cmrm.co.za
Chairperson’s Message Yusuf (Jowa) Abrahams
ities at the masjid. The It is always an honour to report on the activ enging and yet very chall a period since our last edition has been and governance at ation inistr adm the rewarding one in respect of ed tirelessly to ensure that the masjid. During this time we have work best practice. There are all practices are in line with organizational fine tuned and further be to have now systems in place, which will d. There have been Boar the by upon oved implemented and impr highlight some of these: many highlights and challenges and I will oned after consultation • The AGM scheduled for March 2013 was postp Argus Cycle Tour. The the with members as the day clashed with Sunday of Ramadan third the for led AGM has now been re-schedu e all congregants to urag enco We . 2013 July 28 corresponding to attend. Administrative Assistant • Ms Shariefa Wydeman was appointed as g and interview process. rtisin adve e ustiv exha to the masjid after an ently. The books and files All enquiries and issues are handled effici being organized with the ntly in the office and storeroom are curre worker at the masjid. tary volun a , bafu assistance of Roshan Nam admin from the madrasa • Nurjehan Watson does only madrasa She is accountable to the id. office, now located upstairs at the masj ittee. madarasa management comm are monitored on an • The work of the caretaker and other staff at Peters has done an ongoing basis and the vice chairperson, Achm upkeep of the masjid. and ce tenan excellent job in respect of the main of adequate space lack the still is us for s enge • One of the major chall much progress been not at Jumuas, on ‘big nights’ and ‘Ids. There has . with purchasing the building next door aign continued with the • CMRM’s Jihad Against Poverty camp hed communities at the distribution of blankets and food to impoveris g Ramadan and we durin ing start of winter. This project will be ongo gratitude to all who rest since Our ts. hope to involve more congregan d. ibute have already contr ns inside and outside the • We have consulted with a number of perso that the current masjid view g stron a masjid community, and there is of some governance ct respe in ed revis be constitution needs to Review Committee to look practices. We hope to set up a Constitution est and expertise to get inter the at this and we encourage those with
involved. ntly being addressed and • The question of the CMRM Trust is curre at the AGM. one of the Board members will report back are not yet registered who you of • We wish to encourage those ip forms and make a bersh mem lete comp to id masj members of the pledge to the masjid. the work that they do and Finally our thanks to all Board members for ongoing leadership. their for eed Shah Imam to Imam Rashied and your generous donations Once again our sincerest gratitude to all for and the many masjid ep upke and the support you provide to the projects.
Imam’s Message Imam Shaheed Gamieldien In the Glorious Quran, in surah Maryam, Chapter 19, verse 5, Prophet Zakariya acknowledges his physical limitations in the following moving supplication: He (Zakariya) prayed: O my Lord and Sustainer Indeed! My bones have become weak and infirm, And the hair upon my head doth glister with grey. But never my Lord have I in my prayers not been blessed by you (Q:19:5) We are living in an era where our lives are being controlled by the electronic world. We sometimes spend endless hours with our electronic gadgets that we forget about our social responsibilities. Sometimes we don’t have time for our own families let alone the elders in our communities. These elders are left on the periphery of society and we see them as a burden to us. They need to be loved, to be cared for, to be appreciated and most of all to be seen as part of the broader society. At CMRM we have tried on a small scale to promote the inclusion of our elders as part of our masjid community. Home visits, dhikr sessions to celebrate their birthdays at the masjid and invitations to attend community functions are part of us showing our appreciation and gratitude towards them. Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have exhorted us to show mercy, compassion and tenderness towards the elderly: He is not one of us who does not show mercy, compassion and tenderness towards the elderly. (Tirmidhi) Also part of us honoring our elders who have passed on, is to have dhikr sessions at the masjid. These sessions were highly welcomed not only in remembrance of Allah, but also to celebrate the contributions of our elders to the vision of Islam in our community. I think particularly of past elders like Boeta Rashaad Saban, Boeta Sedick Galant, Boeta Karriem Sadan, Boeta Cassiem Ganief, Boeta Cassiem Sadan, Boeta Ismail Saban, Boeta Achmat Gameeldien, Boeta Kassiem Omar and my father Boeta Gasant Gamieldien. May Allah (swt) have mercy on their souls and forgive their trespasses. In this issue of Al-Mizan we pay tribute to one of these elders, Boeta Cassiem Sadan. Our beloved Prophet (pbuh) also gave us sound advice of how we could display compassion to our elders: The best way of honoring one’s parents is for the child to keep in touch with his parent’s friends. Let us embrace these noble acts of caring and kindness towards our elders. I also want to encourage the families to write short articles about their parents and submit it to the board of governors to be published in Al-Mizan. We pray that Allah (swt) grant us the necessary human skill to care for and honor our elders and to grant our elders good health Insha-Allah.
The Transformative Power of Forgiveness Dr. Rafiq Khan Misunderstanding and miscommunication often degenerate into conflict. This is unfortunately an unavoidable consequence of our human existence. What sets us apart, however, is how we react in such situations. In surah Fussilat, Chapter 41, verses 34-35, Allah the Most High, prescribes how one should conduct oneself when faced with such an event.
“ Good and evil cannot be equal. [Prophet], repel evil with what is better And your enemy will become as close as an old and valued friend. But only those who are steadfast and have patience, Only those who are blessed with great righteousness, will attain such goodness’ (Q41:34-35)
A very superficial reading of these verses would give us the understanding that we should never fight evil with evil but rather strive to do some good instead. This will assuage the feelings of those aggrieved and hopefully peace and friendship will prevail. But how different would such an understanding be compared to a purely secular approach to conflict resolution? What unique role does the Qur’an play in shaping our behavior? What gives the Qur’an and Remembrance of Allah an edge over other methods in guaranteeing a better outcome in interpersonal relationships? The Qur’an does not appeal solely to man’s rational faculty. It appeals largely to his or her heart or sense of perception of that which is beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. It wants man to be “de-centered” and not obsessed with his/her self–image. This is no ordinary kind of perception. A heart filled with the remembrance of the Divine is capable of forbearance, being able to absorb the faults of others and mutate these through the power of love into something positive and wholesome. Such is the example of the Prophet of Allah (pbuh), our pious predecessors and many of those blessed with sainthood. Unresolved conflicts tend to lead to enmity and hatred. It extracts a huge toll on our physical, mental and spiritual health. To bear grudges is a costly exercise. Perceived slights, hurts and other indignities tend to ignite a desire for revenge and to ‘get even’. Lines are drawn and differences get accentuated. The net result of all this is perpetual conflict, pain and deep anguish. We all share the same capacity to forgive and let go of hurt. Setting a higher moral example has all the probability of eliciting a similar response from those with whom we differ. If we fail to do so, we allow ourselves to fall victim to a vicious power struggle, draining us of vital energy, which could otherwise be more gainfully employed. A change in strategy, for example, by serving our opponents with a different moral vision, will enhance their humanity by appealing to their innate good. This is no easy task; it means transcending many of our own weaknesses and prejudices. It means being unselfish and recognizing we are just as frail and vulnerable as they are. Acknowledging this fact draws us towards them with compassion. It makes it easier to forgive them. In other words, by looking within ourselves first, we are put in a better position to forgive others with genuine love and compassion. Forgiveness requires a great degree of moral fortitude and courage. Reaching out to those with whom we have differed in the past is a sign that we have been able to transcend our own hurt and deep pain. It is a sign that we are on the way to true healing within ourselves. Our understanding of how generous the Divine has been to us makes us extend that generosity of love and compassion to others in return. If we are compassionate towards our fellow human beings, Allah, the Sublime, will be compassionate towards us. If we cover their faults and make excuses for their behavior, Allah, the Most Compassionate, will be kind and generous towards us, for he is indeed Al Sattar (The Concealer of faults). Let us pay careful attention to these verses of the Qur’an, in the hope that Allah (SWT) will open up a door of understanding in our hearts of how to overcome conflict, and to lay the seeds for real, genuine and, lasting friendships.
MASJID AC BEFORE
Environmental Justice In 2011 CMRM became the first masjid to register with the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) as an Eco-congregation and we remain actively involved in “Green” events. We have now included Environmental Justice in the mission and vision statement of the masjid. Our focus at the moment is to make changes that will reduce our masjid’s consumption of water and electricity. To this end we have undergone a water and energy audit. Some of the changes we have made include: * Installing light sensor (automatic) taps * Fitting aerators which mixes air with water, decreases flow and therefore reduces water consumption * We have moved from using hand towels and washing machines to paper towel and just recently had paper towel dispensers fitted which will hopefully ensure less usage. We are monitoring usage quite closely. * Installed a smaller geyser Future plans include: * Changing from using virgin paper towel to recycled paper towel without compromising on strength or absorbency * Changing the masjid lights to the more energy efficient LED’s * Installing solar powered geysers * After a sizable reduction in energy consumption we plan to switch to photovoltaic technology.
JIHAD AGAINST POVERTY Spreading the Warmth In anticipation of the cold Cape Town winter CMRM embarked on a blanket distribution campaign in April and May 2013. Thanks to generous donations and contributions of blankets from the congregation and the Solly Noor Trust. To date 717 blankets have already been distributed to various locations in the Western Cape. These include to communities in Khayelitsha, Gugulethu, Dunoon, Elsies River, Marikana informal settlement in Phillipi, as well as a number of organisations such as the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children and the Claremont Haven Night Shelter. CMRM plans to follow up its blanket distribution with a massive food drive during Ramadan 2013. CMRM has pledged to use Fitra, Fidya, Zakat and other donations to provide daily iftar meals for 200 people at the Du Noon masjid and 20 people at CMRM. In addition, we hope to sponsor a daily meal for 70 people at Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children; for 45 people at IHATA Shelter for Abused Women and Children; and for 50 people at The Haven Night Shelter in Claremont.
ACTIVITIES Combating Gender Violence In the aftermath of the brutal murder of 17 year old Anene Booysen from Bredasdorp, CMRM released a statement on 10 February 2013 (published in the Cape Argus and Muslim Views), calling on all faith communities to take action to combat violence against women. The statement declared that “we can no longer remain silent and inactive in a country, which has the disgraceful reputation of being the rape capital of the world”. The CMRM statement further called on religious communities “to engage critically and deeply with our individual approaches to gender relations, the ways that we foster acceptable norms for men and women, the gender values we implicitly promote through our concrete communal actions and ritual forms, as well as our vigilance towards potential sexual predators within our communities”. Following the release of the CMRM Statement, on Friday 22 February 2013, Dr. Shuaib Manjra delivered a powerful khutbah titled “Breaking the Cycle of Violence” and once again called for action from all conscientious citizens. Following the jumuah service, CMRM held a successful silent vigil along Main Road, Claremont. Participants in the silent vigil included congregants, workers in the area as well as students from neighbouring schools. They held up placards condemning the endemic violence against women and children in our society. At the end of the silent vigil, CMRM erected a permanent banner outside the mosque that states “Rise Up Against Rape and Sexual Violence”. The banner is there for every passer by to get the message that THIS masjid rises up against rape and sexual violence. CMRM also made a special collection for the Saartjie Baartman Centre for Women and Children. On 5 March 2013 a delegation of CMRM members delivered groceries as well as a cash donation to the Centre. On Friday 29 March 2013 (Good Friday) Dr. Sa’diyya Shaik, from the Department of Religious Studies at UCT, delivered an emotional pre-khutbah lecture titled “Reflections on Ethics and Justice: The Crisis of Violence and Rape of Women”. In addition to the above activities, on Saturday 23 March 2013, Mariam Baderoon represented CMRM at the Gender Based Violence Imbizo, which formed a part of the One Billion Rising Campaign, aimed at building awareness of gender based violence. In her presentation at the Imbizo, Mariam stated unequivocally that “as people of faith it is our responsibility to fight not only the scourge of violence against women and children but every other crying shame in our society.” There is no doubt that as a society, plagued by gender violence, we have lost our moral compass and are in danger of losing our humanity. It is time for collective action so that we can reclaim our honour and integrity as a society.
SATURDAY MORNING MADRASSA Madrassa News Ridwan Wagiet
The CMRM-Saturday Morning Madrassa (SMM) has reached the end of the 2nd quarter of its academic year, albeit in wet weather conditions. All examinations have been completed and parents will have collected studentsâ€™ reports on 22 June 2013. The Adult Quran Literacy programme is in full swing with sixteen adults attending. The class is comprised of a cross section of the Muslim community, from those who were exposed to a poor madrassa education as children to reverts and parents of Saturday Morning Madrassa Students. The class is a 50/50 gender mix and the ages range from between 20 years and 65 years. These adult classes usually have a social spinoff and we found that this particular class has gelled to the extent that they have become social friends who regularly visit each other outside madrassa hours. This marvel has already manifested itself in the actual madrassa where many of our students are still close friends after meeting at the madrassa for the first time as children fifteen years ago. The Madrassa is aware of at least one couple that married after meeting at the Madrassa. A fair number of the first time adults have gone on to become madrassa teachers at CMRMSMM and elsewhere. One of the reasons for this is the success of the Quran Reader Modules 1 to 8 which was developed and published by the Madrassa with the invaluable contributions of Aunty Moena Galant. The development of the structure of the modules has reached its pinnacle.
Toufiq Adonis (left) is now a teacher at the madrassa
Our Teacher Development Programme which commenced in 2007 and which ran concurrently with some Adult Education Programmes has also produced the desired outcomes. This Teacher Development Programme was spearheaded by Teacher Fajwa Abrahams, teaching Quran Literacy and Fahmi Gamieldien teaching Arabic. Dr Nadeen Moolla, an Educational Psychology Lecturer at the University of the Western Cape, played a pivotal role in the development of our teachers to the point where she has now been invited by other teachers at the madrassa to sit in and assess their abilities. Dr Moolla has become an invaluable friend to our Saturday Programmes. The madrassa is now in the advanced stage of the development of our Arabic Programme which will cater for Arabic from Grade 1 through to Grade 12. Teacher Nadia Jonathan and Shaykh Mukhtar Gul are attending all the workshops called by the Department of Education to advise on the changes of the FET Arabic Syllabus. CMRM-SMM will shortly have its own workshops on the Arabic Programme to ensure that our teachers are kept abreast of the changes.
Mualliama Nadia Jonathan â€“ Matric Arabic Teacher
The First Muslims: History and Memory Asma Afsaruddin (2008)
Jaamia Galant The First Muslims: History and Memory, is a book of two parts. In the first part of the book, Asma Afsaruddin provides a historical account of the formative years of Islam (between 570-855 CE) by chronicling the lives of the first generation of Muslims and highlighting significant events that occurred during this time. The first Muslims include the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), Al-Khulafa al-Rashidun (The Rightly Guided Caliphs), Al-Sahaba (The Companions), Al-Tabi`un (The Successors) and Tabi`ut al-Tabi`in (The Successors to the Successors). Collectively these first Muslims are known as al-Salaf al-Salih (The Pious Forbears). To reconstruct this history, Afsaruddin draws primarily on classical Arabic sources that relate accounts of the lives and practices of the early Muslims. These include early biographical works, historical narratives and Qur’an commentaries, complimented with references from the Qur’an and hadith. In the first part of the book, historical events are narrated as a framework within which to understand the development of different legal, literary, philosophical and theological tendencies within Islam. It is thus against the backdrop of the succession debates after the death of the Prophet (pbuh), the emerging khaliphate rule, and the rise and fall of the Ummayyad and ‘Abassid dynasties, that Afsaruddin delineates for
example, the schisms between Shi’ites and Sunnis, the differentiation between the four Sunni legal schools (madhahib) and the growth of tasawwuf (Sufism). The historical narrative attempts not only to retrieve the spirit and world view of alsalaf al-salih, but also to demonstrate the essential malleability and rational basis of Islamic jurisprudence and the social and historical contingencies which determined its application. Moreover, by juxtaposing early and later historical and biographical sources as well as early and later Qur’anic exegesis, Afsaruddin also shows how the recording and narrating of this history itself was influenced by the socio-political milieu in which the authors found themselves. Afsaruddin’s strategy of using contrasting historical and biographical sources to describe the same events and people, as well as contrasting Qur’anic exegesis of the same verses, serves to sensitise the reader to why certain historical sources or Qur’anic exegesis, might find favour with some groups today more than others.
“The reader is left to ponder what it means in contemporary society to claim to be a ‘salafi’ – meaning to claim some form of attachment to al-salaf alsalih, the pious forbears.” Hence, in the second part of the book, Afsaruddin reflects on how some of these contrasting historical sources have been appropriated within competing discourses of Islam today. First, she discusses the ways in which political Islamists rely on certain historical sources and Qur’anic exegesis, mostly from the 14th and 15th century, to claim that they are following precedents set by al-salaf al-salih. She illustrates how political Islamists use these sources to legitimize their particular world view of, for example, divine sovereignty in the establishment of an Islamic state; the immutability of the shari’a; the limited status and role of women in society; and the concept of jihad as primarily a revolutionary struggle. As a contrast, Afsaruddin then discusses the ways in which contemporary modernist reformers rely on different historical sources and Qur’anic exegesis, mostly earlier sources
from the 8th and 9th century, to similarly claim that they are following precedents set by al-salaf al-salih. She shows how modernist reformers use texts to legitimize their worldview of for example, an Islamic state governed on the basis of shura (consultation), bay’a (allegiance) and ijma’ (consensus); of applying the intent and objectives of the shari’a rather than its literal injunctions; of equal social and political rights for women in society; and of a conception of jihad that acknowledges its polyvalent interpretations within the Qur’an. What Afsaruddin achieves in this part of the book is to illustrate the contesting constructions of al-salaf al-salih by two groups with contrasting worldviews of Islam, but who both claim authenticity and legitimacy by linking their views and practices to precedents set by the pious forbears. In other words, she argues that both groups claim to be ‘salafis’. Afsaruddin provides ample sources and references for the reader to make his/her own assessment of which of these two groups has the greater claim to be ‘true salafis’. But in fact, she does not leave it to the reader to make this assessment. She herself argues cogently at the end of the book, that it is indeed the modernist reformers, who uphold the true spirit and worldview of al-salaf al-salih. The term ‘salafi’ today has become associated primarily with conservative and literalist interpretations of the Qur’an, Sunnah and shari’a. Yet in this book, the historical narrative of early Islam based on classical Arabic sources, allows the reader to consider the practices and worldview of the pious forbears that are clearly reflective of the more liberal and inclusive worldview of modernist reformers today. The reader is left to ponder what it means in contemporary society to claim to be a ‘salafi’ – meaning to claim some form of attachment to al-salaf al-salih, the pious forbears. This book is highly recommended for anyone looking for a critical reading of the lives and practices of the first Muslims within changing socio-political contexts. It is especially recommended for all those who strive to emulate the spirit and practices of al-salaf al-salih in their personal, social, spiritual and political lives.
Towards a Universal Lunar Calendar formally adopted astronomical calculations as their method for determining the Muslim lunar months.”
On Sunday 9 June 2013, CMRM convened a successful lunar calendar workshop at the South African Astronomical Observatory (SAAO). The purpose of the workshop was to educate and spread literacy concerning the various fiqhi methods for determining the lunar calendar. More than 80 participants were addressed by Imam Rashied Omar, Dr. Nicola Loaring, an SAAO astronomer, and Shaykh Muhammad Moerat of the Muir Street Masjid. The background for the lunar workshop was the recent debacle in which three days into the lunar month of Rab`i al-Thani this year, the United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) unilaterally decided to change the calendar date on the basis of a belated claim of sighting the crescent moon to herald the start of Rab`i al-Thani. UUCSA changed the start date of the month without consulting the lunar hakim, Shaykh Siraj Hendricks of the Azawiya and without informing the Crescent Observers Society. Despite numerous protestations UUCSA has still not been open and transparent about how they came to the decision to backdate the calendar. It is within this context that CMRM again raised the debate about lunar calculations as a way of circumventing the obvious difficulties of naked eye sightings. CMRM holds the view that a scientifically determined lunar calendar would provide both accuracy and predictability for establishing lunar months. In his address Imam Rashied said that “since CMRM first proposed the adoption of astronomical calculations as a valid method of establishing the lunar calendar in 1988, there have been several international Muslim conferences that have endorsed this idea. For example the Fiqh Council of North America, and more recently the French Muslim Council (CFCM) have
According to Imam Rashied, “since CMRM’s proposal to adopt astronomical calculations has not been embraced by the local `ulama, CMRM have adopted a pragmatic viewpoint that exists within the shafi`i law school. According to this view an astronomer, as well as anyone else who believes in the veracity and correctness of the astronomer’s calculations, may personally start and end the fast of Ramadan according to astronomical calculations.” (see Kitab al-Fiqh `ala al-Madhahib al-Arba`a, Kitab al-Sawm, Vol. 1, p.551 by Shaykh Abdurrahman AlJuzayri). Dr Nicola Loaring explained the limited conditions that make sighting of a new crescent moon possible with the naked eye. According to astronomical research undertaken over time, a new crescent moon must be between 1721 hours old before it is visible to the naked eye. In addition, certain environmental factors such as sky brightness, dust and air pollution, humidity, cloud cover and light pollution, all impact on the possibility for sighting the new crescent moon with the naked eye. Using scientific calculations, Dr Loaring presented the dates and times for the new crescent moons in July and August this year that would herald the start and end of Ramadan. These dates and times are summarised in the accompanying tables. Shaykh Moerat provided support in favour of employing astronomical calculations by citing a well-known hadith in which the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is reported to have said: “We are an illiterate ummah, we do not know
the art of writing nor of calculating - the month is either 29 or 30 days”. Quoting the interpretation (sharh) of this prophetic tradition by the Azhari scholar, Shaykh Mansur `Ali Nasif in his Kitab al-Taj, Shaykh Moerat argued that this hadith suggests that in a literate society, the ability to calculate the month with certainty is desirable, as is the norm for calculating salah times. The lunar calendar workshop succeeded in its endeavour to educate and inform. It was encouraging to see so many CMRM congregants participating as it showed their genuine interest in informing themselves about CMRM perspectives and practices. CMRM has received a few positive suggestions which emerged from the workshop and hopes to follow this up in the near future. One such proposal is to set up a Commission of Inquiry into the recent lunar debacle. Questions that need to be answered are: Firstly, why was the original shari’ decision of the lunar hakim abrogated and the calendar back dated without consultation? Secondly, what is the shari`ah evidence that confines our acceptance of the sightings of the hilal to the political and national boundaries of South Africa? The answers to these apposite questions are essential to finding the way out of our current confusion. Another encouraging proposal was to establish a bursary fund for a young Muslim student to study astronomy. CMRM hopes to convene a follow up lunar workshop before ‘Id al-Adha in October 2013.
Table 1: For commencement of Ramadan 2013 Monday 8 July 2013 Astronomical New Moon
Age of moon at sunset
Possibility for sighting
Not visible to the naked eye in SA
Those who follow calculations will thus commence the fast of Ramadan on Tuesday 9 July 2013
Table 2: For end of Ramadan 2013 Tuesday 6 August 2013 Astronomical New Moon
Age of moon at sunset on Wednesday 7 August 2013
Possibility for sighting
Not visible to the naked eye in SA
Those who follow calculations will thus end the fast of Ramadan at sunset on Wednesday 7 August 2013
Reflecting On Our Disaffected Youth Kassiem Adams These reflections arose out of a recent personal experience at the school where I teach. These thoughts are an attempt to highlight some of the issues that has lead our youth to disaffection and recalcitrance and suggests a few strategies that we can employ to counter this negativity. Toward the end of the first term this year one of my pupils was fatally wounded in a stabbing incident outside the school. His assailant was a former pupil at our school. Both these boys were Muslim. The incident shook me out of my comfort zone because I always read about these incidents happening at other schools on the Cape Flats, further from the slopes of Table Mountain. In the subsequent months this kind of scenario played out at three of our neighboring schools with the most recent incident being the fatal shooting of a youngster inside the school gates. These events have had a profound effect on me and made me wonder to what extent I, as a teacher, was complicit in these tragic events. I asked myself if I had failed to communicate a healthy set of values to these boys. Most of them come from ‘good’ homes. You see them in the mosque on Friday, they fast, they like to make ‘gadat’ etc. Yet these same youth are capable of extraordinary levels of anger and violence as illustrated in the incidents above. On further reflection and in discussion with colleagues I found that even though they appear to comply with the rituals of their faith, they internalize very few of the principles of compassion enshrined in the Islamic value system or any of the faith traditions. Their disaffection can be ascribed to a number of reasons of which I only mention a few. These youth have become alienated from their ‘core value system’. As Imam Rashied mentioned in a recent Khutbah, they have become ‘rootless’. There appears to be a disconnect between the values that they learn in the home, madaris and mosques and the issues that they have to confront in their daily lives outside these controlled environments. They have become alienated to such an extent that they seek solace in all sorts of behaviours from gangsterism and drugs, to speed, risky sexual behaviour and gender violence. They even play sport in an overtly aggressive manner that goes outside the spirit of sport values of sportsmanship, teamwork and joy. It is not uncommon for fights to break out at school sports matches. When questioned or cautioned about indulging in ‘risky behaviour’, many youth answer that we ‘don’t understand them’. It should be noted that this behaviour is not confined to any one social class. The socio-economic circumstances may differ slightly, but the tragic consequences are invariably the same. Parents have to realize that it is paramount to communicate effectively with our youth if we do not want to lose them. We must become involved in the lives of our children to the extent that we can help to counter the influences they are bombarded with on a daily basis. We must be clued up on the social networks, we must know what is trending on twitter and facebook etc. As a teacher in a high school I am indeed privy to some of these things. As parents and teachers, we must talk and listen to our youth. Alienation of the youth is linked to their desire to belong, to fit in and to feel valued. It is for us as parents and teachers, to provide
opportunities for our youth to develop wholesome interests and engage in activities that value their contributions. We must communicate our value system to them in a way that involves a lot of listening and very little prescription. We cannot continue the practice where many of our khatibs routinely send us to Hell rather than Heaven every Friday. Condemnation is not the way to get through to our youth. We have to reflect with them on the dire consequences of risky behavior, but also help them think through what other options they have. Too often we leave our youth to find their own solutions.
“Even though they appear to comply with the rituals of their faith, they internalize very few of the principles of compassion enshrined in the Islamic value system or any of the faith traditions.” In my reflection I also realised that it would be foolhardy to somehow assume personal liability in the tragic situation that I experienced. We must realize that these youth are our children, our future and our legacy. As a community we must take collective responsibility for ensuring their wellbeing. Parents, teachers, Imams, priests, the organs of state must all play a role. No one sector can abrogate or defer responsibility to another sector. It is my fervent and sincere hope (perhaps idealistic) that we learn from these tragedies so that the heartache that has been experienced in the homes of these fallen youth is not repeated. We must rescue our children in our homes and strengthen them with the tools needed to make responsible decisions outside, not because WE want them to, but because THEY want to.
Youth Du`a O Allah protect our youth And guide them O Allah, on every path of goodness And grant them sanctuary in your compassionate Care and Mercy, O Lord of the worlds And distance from them all causes of sorrow and grief O Allah strengthen and empower them and instil in them a natural inclination towards everything that is beneficial And guide them to the most noble of conduct in all their affairs So they may rise up as worthy leaders For indeed in them lies our hope for the future and our aspirations for reconstruction So we beseech Thee O Allah to realise our dreams, Thou art truly most noble and Generous 9
MASJID AFFAIRS SAFCEI workshop
Administrative Assistants Shariefa Weydeman
On the 22-23 May 2013, Mariam Baderoon presented some of the masjid’s ‘greening’ initiatives at the SAFCEI EcoCongregations Partnership Workshop in Johannesburg. She highlighted CMRM’s commitment to: • Take responsibility for preserving the natural environment • Implement measures which will reduce the masjid’s carbon footprint • Encourage congregants to embrace ecologically ethical lifestyles • Support NGOs that raise awareness and campaign around environmental justice
Shariefa Weydeman was appointed as Assistant Administrator at the masjid in March 2013. She works in the masjid office from 9am -1pm everyday and until 3pm on Fridays. Shariefa is a certified bookkeeper and has more than 20 years of administrative experience. Roshan Nambafu
Roshan Nambafu works two days a week as a voluntary worker at the masjid. She is originally from Uganda, is married to a South African, and has only been living in Cape Town for 1 year and 7 months.
Ramadan 2013 Programmes
Tribute | Cassiem Sadan (February 1930-August 2003) daughters to travel and live abroad in order to broaden their knowledge.
Mastoera Sadan & Muhammad Haron The affable and gregarious Cassiem Sadan was, indeed, ‘a bit of a character’; he was known affectionately as ‘Boeta Cassiem’ by the younger generation and by his peers as ‘Danie’. Boeta Cassiem was highly sociable and had an irreverent sense of humour. He was also a raconteur of note. Boeta Cassiem was the fourth child of Ali Sadan and Rogaya Osborne. He had five siblings: Abdul-Kariem (Gap), the eldest, Galiema (Tietie), Ganief, Amiena and Ayoub. All of them grew up in Claremont’s Hawthorne Road and all schooled at Talfalah Primary which was then located in Draper Street. After he completed his schooling, he pursued a career in the building industry. Instead of following in his father’s footsteps to be a carpenter, Boeta Cassiem decided to become a bricklayer; a profession that brought him a great deal of respectibility among everyone in the building industry. He went out of his way to assist others with their building projects. Cassiem Sadan married Rogaya Saban in 1959 and they had five children: Shahieda, Fatima, Mastoera, Wiedah and Shahied. Tragically, Shahied passed away when he was a toddler. Boeta Cassiem was very proud of his four daughters. He attached immense value to education and knowledge and he ensured that all his daughters received the best education. Boeta Cassiem was from among a small band of individuals who allowed his
Boeta Cassiem was intellectually stimulated by his peers such as Imam Abdullah Haron and Abu Bakr Fakier, who were both his close companions and friends. He thrived on the discussions they had at their respective homes and at the mosque. Along with these two companions and a few others, Boeta Cassiem was a founding member of the Claremont Muslim Youth Association (CMYA) at Stegman Road Mosque. Being an associate of the CMYA that had members who came from different socioeconomic and educational backgrounds, Boeta Cassiem was stimulated to read intensely and widely. He and the CMYA circle read the works of Sayed Qutb (d.1966), the Egyptian ideologue, among others and as a result of his exposure to their writings, he understood Islam as ‘a way of life’. He viewed Islam as a religious system that did not restrict itself to the performance of obligatory rituals. He considered the practising of one’s faith as a form of discipline and symbolic of one’s journey through life. He and CMYA members adopted a nondogmatic, progressive interpretation of Islam. He was committed towards social justice at all levels and advocated these values wherever he went. In 1978, together with other CMYA members, Boeta Cassiem played a pivotal role in wresting control of Claremont Main Road Masjid from the Abderoefs. He was elected secretary of the first CMRM board in 1978 and personally recruited Imam Rashied Omar, who was then a young university student, to lead the tarawih prayers at CMRM in 1979. Boeta Cassiem also served as Chairperson of the CMRM Board from 1987. In 2000 he was honoured as the founder member of the CMRM Trust, and served as a Trustee until his death.
the marriage between him and their mum, Rogaya, was one of equals. He gave her the necessary spousal space within which she freely operated and acted until she died in 1981. He continued to show this love and respect in 1984 when he married Aunty Fatima (nee Ganief). As a father, Boeta Cassiem taught his daughters that respect is a value that has to be earned and stressed that it was not a value that was automatically bestowed on those in positions of power. In this regard, he was critical of the Muslim Imams and Shaykhs who were in positions of authority. Whilst he acknowledged that some were learned individuals, this did not – in his view – bar anyone from critically questioning them. He taught his children to have ‘a healthy disrespect’ for authority; an attitude that does not always endear one to one’s community.
“He viewed Islam as a religious system that did not restrict itself to the performance of obligatory rituals.” To end, even though Boeta Cassiem got on well with everyone, he was among those who did not back-off when it came to issues related to socio-poltical and religious topics. With the Muslim clergy he openly differed on religious grounds and with Muslim politicians he questioned their blind loyalty to the ruling party amidst a faltering democracy. It may be stated that despite Boeta Cassiem’s profession as an artisan, he was also very much an independent thinker and robust debater.
In his domestic life Boeta Cassiem demonstrated that he was a man ahead of his time even though he came from a generally patriarchal community. At home, Boeta Cassiem’s daughters experienced how he treated all the women with utmost respect. Each of his daughters learnt that respect was a critical ingredient in marriage and as far as they could tell
My Boston Marathon: From Triumph to Terror
Dr. Salih Solomon Runners are often asked why they run. Each runner has his or her own unique reasons to run. Some run for health and wellbeing, others run as an act of renewal, or an act of defiance from a generally sedentary life. For some, running is about inspiration, confidence, love, and freedom. When I am asked why I run, I always pause for thought, as sometimes the answer is as simple as having a sense of movement flexing and extending muscles and the sound of breathing in and out. Other times it’s about being part of a running community, sharing the act of running whilst each having special reasons to run. The Boston Marathon is one such reason. It is the world’s oldest city marathon, in it’s 117th consecutive year since 1897. It is the only event of its kind that you have to qualify for (charity runners aside). It is one of the biggest events in the sport outside of the Olympic Marathon, where the world’s fastest marathon was set in 2011 (at 2hr 3min 2sec.) and the first registered woman marathoner in 1967. April 15 this year was my first time running the Boston Marathon – the day popularly referenced as Marathon Monday, and by tradition bringing out over 500 000 spectators to the celebrated course route from start to finish. Unlike anything I’ve ever experienced; the color, the spectacle, the international flavor, the energy was both inspiring and overwhelming. Everything went as planned as I fell into good rhythm, marveling at the crowds that I’d never seen as big or as loud. The dreaded hill section known as ‘Heartbreak Hill’ built up and pictured as a mountain turned out to be a molehill. The race was tough, it is a marathon after all, but I felt good, and the experience felt magical.
For many runners 15 April 2013 was a day of personal triumph…until it wasn’t. Boom! And then Boom! These deep sonorous thuds instantly altered a day, and perhaps generated the most significant running related story ever. The proximity of personal triumph and tragedy is a difficult dissonance for most to process and comprehend. I still have mixed emotions. I finished before the blasts, and was close enough to the first blast yet far enough to hobble away to safety. I was struck by the sharp contrast of relief at having escaped a disaster unscathed, and guilt at the initial thoughts of anger that all the hard work and the personal triumph, was overshadowed in an instant. There was for me a confusing swirl of sentiments including anger, frustration, disappointment, sadness and a sense of being cheated of the achievement or of a perfect race day ruined by the bombings. Yet I was also chastened by the sense of being selfish and insensitive in the face of tragedy.
“The real challenge of our time, our shared marathon, is in confronting our limitations in dealing with differences with compassion, in peace and with a sense of justice.” However, the meaning of it all was compounded by an initial nagging thought that the blasts (which turned out to be bombings) were acts of terrorism. That default thought: “please, let it not be Muslims behind this” agitated and annoyed me. The situation then struck as quite surreal: I am a foreign born brown Muslim male runner in Boston. Separate, usually unremarkable identifiers, suddenly acquiring meaning in the U.S.A. That thought process, alongside inadvertently being at the centre of a worldwide terror event in the U.S.A. was strange, weird even. It occurred to me that in the post 9/11 world, even a harmless South African Muslim with no reason or record of malfeasance, is saddled with trauma and internal stigma by way of the war on terror and isolated Muslim inspired terror attacks. It was sobering to realize this. The initial chaos surrounding me, a subsequent highly intimidating securitized atmosphere in Boston and a frenzied media at full throttle, was also something to behold. Ultimately, in witnessing the visceral trauma of ordinary Americans in the form of runners, spectators, and others I realized that they, too, are stigmatized. I have never
been the subject of an Islamophobic rant or act yet Islamophobia is real, as some Muslims in the U.S. have experienced in the aftermath of the Boston bombings. And as objectionable as Islamophobia is, and even if the Boston bombing perpetrators were not attacking the Boston Marathon itself, there is still no justification for terrorism. The power of the Boston Marathon’s mythological status in distance running will ensure that the race returns stronger next year. For most runners on April 15 this year, the race became secondary to the tragedy on its sidewalks. Many did not cross the finish line. For many, it was a life altering experience. For me, to run Boston was a supreme privilege – confronting physical limits and stretching beyond them. The real challenge of our time, our shared marathon, is in confronting our limitations in dealing with differences with compassion, in peace and with a sense of justice. The Boston Marathon bombings highlight our limitations in stretching beyond ourselves. This race, and our preparation for it, is not yet complete.
NEXT ISSUE 9 AUGUST 2013 ‘ID AL-FITR
May you enjoy a blessed and spiritually rejuvenating Ramadan