Speaker: Haafith Imraan Choonara | Date: 24 March 2017
Recap by: Zakiyyah Sablay
Masjid: Darun Naim, Castletown Road, Wynberg, Cape Town
For Africa Muslims Agency (AMA) , 2017 marks 30 years of work in Africa. Whilst this is something remarkable, Haafith Imraan Choonara urges us to look deeper. To realise that this also means that for 30 years, the people of Africa have been in need.
Before he begins speaking about the rest of our continent, we are reminded of the fact that Cape Town is currently experiencing the worst drought in decades. But we are also reminded that Allah knows completely. That it’s His Plan and His Plan is always good. That there’s good reason why we’re going through what we’re going through. When there was an abundance, we forgot. So He has taken away, to keep us close to Him. Thoughts about water come to my mind. About His choice to withhold . And His choice to release. About how totally dependent we are on Him.
Haafith Imraan brings our attention to the larger picture. To our Africa. He goes on to inform us of the dire state of the people in drought-stricken Somalia. Later, we hear stories about his experiences in villages in Malawi. We are told about villages where the girls are taken out of school to serve as water-carriers. These girls have to walk miles and miles to fetch and carry litres of water more than once a day. (Pic from UNICEF/Malawi/2015/Chikondi) The question : how are we ever going to grow Africa if we don’t educate its children ?
When seeing others go through a calamity, one’s first reaction is often “Allah’s testing them”. But if Allah’s testing them, why did He bring it to our attention? Haafith Imraan mentions that He brought it to our attention because now that we know about a situation, what are we going to do about it. We’re going to be answerable for the knowledge. Allah can change a situation without us, but He knows we need to earn some of His Mercy. For Muslims, it’s always good. it’s always Alhamdulillah. So we become tools. We are tools in the process. in His process, Haafith reminds us. One of the things AMA does is dig-water wells across the continent. In Malawi, there is drinkable water 2m under the ground. Allah could have had it running on the surface. But the process is to make the effort. For some of us, it may be the physical effort of digging the well. For some, it is the financial effort of donating towards its digging. Without the process, we would never have to be selfless. This process makes us remember and when we remember, we become human again.
We are called to have faith in the following concept of giving : when you give, nothing is gone. A water-well can change the dynamic of an entire village. Girls can go to school, people have water, the animals have water. Again we are reminded that Allah doesn’t need us to give. We need to give because we need His Mercy. A part of a verse in the Qur’an plays in my mind : And Allah is The One who is Free of Needs and you are all in need (Surah Muhammad verse 38).
Haafith Imraan mentions the fact that Allah knows us better than we know ourselves. That if people knew us the way He knows us, we probably wouldn’t respect each other. But He covers our faults and weaknesses so we deal with each other with respect and dignity. I think about the amount of mercy in this, my heart will never be able to fully understand the love. I think about how much love is in His System. How we are who we are, yet He keeps the doors to His Mercy open for us.
We are told about how alive Islam is in the lives of the people of the villages. Of an old woman who made dua for water to come to their village and the AMA team arrived a week later. Of walks in the village in the darkness of the night, but recitations of the Qur’an are heard.
He talks about how perhaps one feels nervous/ fearful to give money and then quotes from verse 2 & 3 of Surah Talaq:
“And whoever has taqwa of Allah, Allah will make for him a way out (//2) And (Allah) will provide for him from where he does not expect (3//)”
He stresses that the importance of believing that if the Qur’an says from where we don’t expect, it means from where we don’t expect. We can’t comprehend it but Allah will open doors.
A special message for the youth is sent out. That there’s no such thing as ‘secular education’. Education is education. It’s all Islamic. This world is all Islamic, Allah created it. Whatever fields we go into, the important thing is to remember our roots. To remember our purpose on this planet. To strive for excellence. To know that we need to strive for this because as long as we have breath in our lungs, as long as we are breathing, our job’s not done.
As Haafith Imraan Choonara closes, I look around and try to soak in the mercies of my life right at that moment. I believe that we are members of a community only getting by by the Mercy of a Lord who is Ar Rahman & Ar Raheem, a Lord who is A lot Merciful & Very Merciful. We are urged a final time to become people of giving. To become people of seeking His much-needed Mercy.
TO DONATE TO AFRICA MUSLIMS AGENCY, FOLLOW THIS LINK TO THEIR WEBSITE: Africa Muslims Agency