I begin in the name of Allah, Exalted and Great is He, Subhanahu wata’ala
Alhamdulillah (All praises are due to Allah), I was fortunate to attend the 2017 National Muslim Students Union (MSA Union) camp themed #KnightsbyDayMonksbyNight.
As knights, during the day, we discussed elements of student life, our role in society, social justice and Islam. Largely focusing on socio-political concepts that have been creating a buzz in the media and academia and asking ourselves we locate ourselves in these conversations and spaces. Whilst simultaneously engaging in spiritual nourishment during the day and night with jamaat salaah and naseehas after each salaah as well as dhikr. Subhanallah, this proved to be the best part of the experience. For it was through this that we learned that nothing can be achieved without the fuel (spiritual) to drive and guide us in our battles during the day as knights trying to establish justice.
Looking back, I learned how similar yet so different our realities are. In that, although we were a gathering of by and large South African Muslim youth from various tertiary institutions, we were a diverse group. I noticed how different our institutional and MSA chapter cultures were. And how one organisation can be interpreted and come to mean many different things depending on geographical and social factors to name a few. And whilst diversity has the potential and ability to enrich any dialogue and exchange, it can also lead to conflict where knowledge of the difference is lacking.
We had many discussions – reflecting on many of the challenges that we face as young people today. We find ourselves in a situation where despite sharing the definitive and inherent commonhood of humanity, we sometimes allow our ignorance, lack of love and compassion for the next being to deny the humanity in the next person. Upon closer inspection, we often find that this is based on prejudices based on ignorance, and resultant fear of the unknown ‘other’. Any denial, abuse and oppression to a person is a denial of the humanity of that person.
We live in what they call ‘the information age’. A time where we have access to vast information. But how and where do we know where to begin seeking? What are we looking for?
These questions reminds me of an ayah in the Holy Qur’an where Allah says: “And I did not create mankind and jinnkind but that they worship me” (Surah Dhariat verse 56).
Taqwa (Allah consciousness) is therefore our objective. It is supposed to inculcate in us to be of positive contribution to ourselves and others. Taqwa is a call for us to be better human beings.
And last but not least, the end of the camp saw us grow into a family. Parting was very difficult. Its effects are still being felt. May we reunite soon and the relationships formed be lifelong ones as well as in the aakhira (hereafter).
Mashallah the camp was a great effort and enriching experience. May Allah accept the efforts of everyone who worked tirelessly and contributed to the success of the camp. And may Allah strengthen the youth and ummah, as well as guide us in successfully fulfilling the challenges of our time.
Zainab Taonga Chirwa
Madina Institute Class of 2017