Monday, May 28, 2012

Islam and Education

Al Azhar University - Cairo , Egypt
All of us are (or should be) familiar with the quote "seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave" , this is quite important and it must be noted that the first word revealed to the Prophet (S.A.W) was 'Iqra' or read.

Through Islamic history we find a strong link between the Masjid and the pursuit of knowledge . Education began at the Masjid. The word university is 'Jamiah' in Arabic .the word ' Jami' means Masjid. Basically what that means is the word university in Arabic is the female version of Masjid.Masjids in Islam form part of the earliest universities. Perhaps one of the most widely known Islamic university is the Al - Azhar university in Cairo. This institution is over 1000 years old.One of the first universities in history is In Morocco, known as Al- Qarawiyin . This was built in 841 CE by Fatima Al Fihri .This institution was a community based one beginning with religious instruction and eventually to all subjects. Subjects included Quran , astronomy, theology, law , logic , arithmetic , geography , and medicine.

In baffles me when people make statements like 'secular' and Islamic education , why is there differentiation between the two? Islamic history shows how well it is able to be intergrated! Another thought comes to mind, why is it that the Masjid has only become a place to read salah? Is it not supposed to be a community centre , a place of broad learning , a place where academic discussions should take place?

I believe that a major mind set change has to occur, gaining knowledge in all spheres should become highly sought after.The solution is clear, we as a community need to go back to the values of the great leaders during the golden era of Islam , and develop ourselves holistically in the divine and applied sciences. We need to work together , unified in order to make education and the Masjid the focal point of our community.

( facts above was based on the book '1001 inventions of Muslim civilisation' )

Sunday, May 27, 2012


We are fortunate to be Muslim. I know it sounds cliché and people say it so often the privilege we have had bestowed upon us often loses its gravity in our minds, but as you grow older and get exposed to more of the world and the terrible truths which exist in it one realises how lucky we really are to be Muslim. To have a guide in every single aspect of our lives, and that too a guide so flawless as exemplified by the Quraan and the Sunnah is a feat that should not be taken lightly. We should be honoured that Allah (S.W.T) has chosen us to be the Ummah of his beloved Nabi (S.A.W), and in accordance should try and uphold that honour to the best of our abilities. As students, a particular and important way of showing our appreciation of having Islam in our lives is by endeavouring to be the best that we can be.

Whatever field you may be studying and interested in; learn more, achieve more, be more! Use campus and the freedom we have not only to increase our knowledge in terms of studies, but in general as well. There are countless Ahadeeh, instructing us to acquire knowledge in every possible way. A significant one reads that the Nabi (S.A.W.) stated: “That person who shall pursue the path of knowledge, God will direct him to the path of Paradise; and verily the superiority of a learned man over an ignorant worshipper is like that of the full moon over all the stars.” Allah has created a magnificent world for us to live in; with details so intricate and mechanisms so perfect it is sometimes difficult for the human mind to comprehend. It is therefore obligatory for us to appreciate the greatness of our Lord by observing, learning and using the knowledge that we gain to help further the course of Islam. Let us all strive to excel in what we are studying, and truly propagate what we learn only for the pleasure of Allah (S.W.T) Ameen. Remember:     “Knowledge in youth is wisdom in age”.

Written by Aayesha Soni

(This article was published in the Wits MSA newsletter 16 May 2011)

Friday, May 25, 2012


I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers." Khalil Gibran

In life, we are bound to come across many different types of people. Each person we meet, whether we know it or not, leaves an imprint on us. We are all teachers in our own way. Surely we would not want to be among the teachers whom people are ungrateful for. I.e. An example of what not to be. What worries me about our society today, is the fact that our respect for each other has dwindled. We often undermine the importance of a mere greeting.  "When two Muslims meet (give salaam), and shake hands, they are forgiven their sins before they part (with each other)." (Abu Dawud) Ultimately, all that we really seek, is acceptance from one another. Yet, more often than not, in our quest for countenance, we are met with judgement and standoffish airs. We are all guilty of having felt superior or even inferior to another person at some point in our lives. This is probably due to our obscured perception of what is admirable and what is not. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said:"You are not better than people unless you excel them in piety "That pretty much sums up what I have been trying to say. Piety being the key word. Modesty is a sign of faith and good character. I do not see the words 'status' 'money' or 'beauty' included there. Hence, those factors should not determine how you portray yourself to the world.

Be the best you can possibly be. And most importantly, be kind. Everyone you meet is surviving the past. May Allah grant us all understanding. Ameen.

Written by : Farah Ayob
 *This article was first published in the Wits MSA newsletter , 14 March 2011

Thursday, May 24, 2012


May 21, 2012


The Muslim Student Association (MSA) as well as various individual members and representatives of the MSA have recently received invitations from the South African Union of Jewish Students (SAUJS) to attend the “Muslim-Jewish Conference” to be held in Bratslava, Slovakia on 8 - 15 July 2012. The conference is billed as an inter-cultural, inter-religious conference hosted by a number of organizations and individuals. One of the members of the board of the conference is Rafi Elul, advisor to the President of Israel and former member of the Israeli Parliament. According to SAUJS, six South Africans have been invited to the conference – three SAUJS representatives and three representatives of a Muslim student organization. After much deliberation the MSA has taken a decision not to send delegates to or to participate in thisconference. We are concerned about being associated with an organization that has links to Zionists, such as Mr. Elul. We are also concerned about the fact that the invitation came through a Zionist organization such as SAUJS.

MSA realizes the importance of and advocates for healthy inter-religious relationships based on the desire to establish justice and oppose injustice, colonialism and imperialism. The MSA is thus willing to engage and cooperate with any faith-based, or other, organizations that support the goals of justice and wish to collaborate in fighting injustice. We refuse to cooperate with any organization that supports injustice, racism and colonialism. We support the objective of the conference to create unity and improve ties between religious communities. However, we believe that such relationships can only be forged on the basis of a just struggle for liberation and the freedom of all people.

SAUJS is neither an organization that promotes true inter-religious engagement nor is it an organization that supports our objectives of justice and liberation from imperialism and colonialism. Indeed, and this is entrenched in their constitution, SAUJS supports Zionism and advocates for a state which practices colonialism and Apartheid; that state being Israel. As long as SAUJS supports Israel, MSA refuses to cooperate or have any affiliation with SAUJS on any project or activity – whether conferences, sporting events or any other events.

As the MSA we have to take caution when attending inter-religious dialogues and conferences for these platforms are often used for political objectives. Dialogue is argued to be a non-aggressive, peaceful interaction between two groups of people on a supposedly equal platform, and in this case these groups are Jewish and Muslim youth. While this is appealing at face value, when talking and engaging with Zionists, the platforms are never equal. These platforms seek to legitimize the Zionist agenda and we will not allow our religious affiliation to assist this unjust political aim.

In this spirit, the MSA will not accept this invitation and calls on all Muslim students that might be approached by SAUJS to firmly reject the invitation and to reject any joint activity or collaboration with SAUJS.

Submitted by: Muslim Student Association

For more information, contact:

Minhaj Jeenah,, 072 456 7260
Yusuf Talia,, 071 677 2391

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