Friday, August 30, 2013

Al Ihsaan Top 5 Finalists Profiles

The annual Al Ihsaan Award is presented by the MSA Union, and aimed at acknowledging excellence in all aspects of life and to recognize work being done by Muslim youth. The award is intended to inspire more youth to become active citizens in society, thus, increasing social awareness. Candidates must have shown a significant impact in making a difference in the community and society at large, and were evaluated on various levels including Tarbiyyah, leadership, academics and humanitarian involvement as well their inspiration to others. About 2 months ago, MSA Union opened nominations and asked people if they knew someone who inspires them, takes leadership in the community and is a great role model to others. Below are the profiles of the top 5 finalists who were shortlisted for the award (in no particular order). The winner of this year's Al Ihsaan Award is Sizwe Mpofu Walsh. We congratulate Sizwe on this achievement, and we pray that Allah blesses each of our finalists in all their endeavours, blesses them with the best in both worlds, and rewards them for their immense efforts, Ameen. May you always be inspired, and inspire!
Ismail Amla

Ismail is currently in the process of completing a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering, focusing on motorsport applications, at WITS University. He was drawn towards the field of engineering as he felt it gave him a platform to add value to society by improving the lives of fellow South Africans whilst working in a discipline which had held his interest from a young age. He enjoys spending his time as a tutor and occasional lecturer to first year students, sharing his passion for engineering with them. He is also the manager of the university Musallah and the treasurer of the MSA, in addition to his academic pursuits.

Ismail grew up in Lenasia and completed his schooling career at Lenasia Muslim School. From early on, he had to learn to overcome many challenges . Being diagnosed with epilepsy, severe asthma and alopecia at the age of four meant he had to manage many serious health issues along with the social stigma that is sometimes accompanied by illness. Through reflection, he came to understand that these difficulties were sent from Allah and that Allah does not burden any soul more than he can bear. This has only helped him to become more motivated to fulfill his role as a servant of Allah. 
His message to the Muslim youth is to work your hardest to complete any task you're faced with in the best manner that you can, no matter how small and insignificant the task may be . When faced with a situation which is unfamiliar, you will lose nothing by simply asking for help, but you can definitely gain a great deal! Often you learn the most from people and places where you never expected to learn anything at all.  Never give up trying . And most importantly ask Allah for guidance and assistance in all your affairs.

Muhammad Zakaria Suleman

"Muhammad Zakaria Suleman graduated with an LLB from the University of KwaZulu Natal and is currently a legal researcher at SECTION27. His primary focus of research is access to health care services, disability rights and children's rights.

He is a member of the Golden key Honours Society, and currently serves as Fellow and Honourary Executive member of the Students for Law and Social Justice National Committee. He has presented his research internationally and focuses his interests locally.

Using the realities of the day, he escapes his nights into poetry. Creating worlds that could exist had we taken the time out to ponder over the true potential we have.

When we believe in our dreams; When we realise that we are the only ones that can see them; visualise them; and articulate them. It is only then can we translate them to others. Once we translate them, it is then through dialogue that inevitable change occurs."

Basheera Surty
I am an Occupational Therapist by profession.  I work with children doing hands-on therapy and programme development but I am also currently creating a project on inclusive education, which I am very excited about.  This project involves developing a programme that enables and provides opportunities to children with disabilities in rural communities to participate in play groups.  Opportunities like this one, is not only the basic human right of a child but also contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty in a community.  Children with disabilities will be given equal access to opportunities such as learning through play and they will therefore be more successful in school and in the long term this individual will have a greater chance at getting job and be able to contribute to building a healthier society and an integrated community.

When I am not working, I enjoy travelling, attending halqahs and other interesting talks on religion and spirituality but mostly, I’m happiest when I’m hanging out with my family and friends.  I treasure them because I know without their inspiration and support; I wouldn’t have enough faith to follow my dreams.  I also love being outdoors in the sun and running! 

Since last year, after I returned from a visit to Gaza on a project for youth called Games to Gaza, I began running marathons with the Palestinian flag advocating for the Freedom of Palestine.  I’ve also expanded on this by running for different causes such as ‘running against women and child abuse’.  I do believe in all people having the potential to do incredible things and so I am part of a Mentorship programme to assist youth from underprivileged backgrounds to realize, visualize and live their dreams. 
Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh (Winner of Al Ihsaan Award 2013)

Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh graduated in 2012 with an Honours degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from UCT. In 2013, he will read for the Mphil in International Relations at the University of Oxford as a recipient of the First Rand Laurie Dipennaar Scholarship. He served as the president of the UCT Students’ Representative Council (SRC) in 2010 and received the Vice Chancellor’s Award for “outstanding contribution to the University”. 

He interned in the office of the late Congressman Donald M. Payne on the South Africa-Washington internship programme in 2011. In 2013, he was selected as one of the Mail and Guardian’s top 200 young South Africans. He is cofounder of Grow2Lead, a youth leadership training company established in 2008 which has rolled out programs to over 6000 young South Africans, released a hip-hop album in 2006 that was nominated for a KORA All-African music Award, and is a founding member of InkuluFreeHeid: a youth led social movement created to deepen South African democracy.

Zaakir Ahmed Mayet

My name is Zaakir Ahmed Mayet, residing in Johannesburg and I have completed my LLB at the University of Witwatersrand. I am currently completing my articles of clerkship. I am the Chairman of the NPO – Media Review Network which aims to dispel myths surrounding Islam , combat Islamophobia in the media as well as defend other causes of justice. It truly is a humbling experience to have been nominated for such a prestigious award.

 However, this award is not about an individual but rather how we, the Youth as a collective can address the issues facing the Ummah. The Muslim world is being torn apart by foreign occupations and internal strife. As our mothers become widows, our children become orphans and our brothers become martyrs, the obligations on the Youth to defend the Deen, our brethren and to become a source of leadership has never been greater. Our greatest strength lies in our ability to Unite, set aside all differences and rally behind our Declaration of Faith. As Youth, we are compelled to seek Justice, be it in combating poverty, ending wars and occupation, freeing our brethren in unlawful captivity or enriching the moral fabric of society. All our answers can be found in the Holy Quraan and the example set by our beloved Prophet Mohammed SAW which serve as guiding stars in these troubled and turbulent times. May we as the Youth always be guided by the principles of Truth, Justice and Unity and may the Almighty accept all our efforts Insha Allah.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Solidarity Day

-    In Solidarity and Remembrance of  those who are conflicted and oppressed around the World.

  •  More recently the Israeli Knesset has passed a controversial bill which is called the Pawner Plan Law which is planned to displace tens of thousands Bedouin citizens in Negev. When implemented it will result to the second largest ethnic cleansing of the Arab Bedouins since 1948.
  •  11th of July 2013, a 5 year old Palestinian Boy was detained by Israeli forces for throwing a stone. The Rules of Israel’s Military Occupation in the West bank state that the age of responsibility starts at 12 and apparently applies to both Israeli and Palestinian Children. The injustice continues even for the children of Palestine
  •  Peace talks are due to resume for the first time in nearly three years after intense US mediation through US Secretary of State John Kerry , with Israel and Palestinian Official As Israel has agreed to release prisoners
  • In July 2013 the European Union Collectively agreed to Stop EU funding to the illegal occupied territories of Israel due to Israel continuous expansion of settlements
  • spokesman for Lady Ashton, the EU’s foreign policy chief: “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories”
-          Like South Africa , The EU has adopted the  legislation relevant for the correct labelling of settlement products  from the illegal occupied territories.


  •  The Rohingya people are an ethnic minority in Myanmar was have been persecuted by the Buddhist Majority government
  •  They are labelled illegal immigrants from Bangladesh,
  •  Since 1978 Military operations have been conducted against them- forcing them to flee to Bangladesh with no hopes on return as well as rape, mass killing
  • The United Nations has described the Rohingyans as the Most Persecuted Minority in the world
  • They are denied citizenship, access to education, healthcare, require permission to marry, have their reproductive rights restricted and are subject to numerous abuses such as forced labour.
  • In June 2012 a Buddhist women was alleged to be raped and Murdered by Rohingyans which led to the subsequent violence and clashes between Buddhist Rakhines and Rohingyans
  •  Myanmar's President Thein Sein says refugee camps or deportation is the "solution"
  • In July 2012 , protect the Rohingya group started to create awareness and begin a dialogue on the plight of the Rohingyans
  • This [Rohingya persecution] is truly systemic. It's part of Myanmar's legal and social system to discriminate against the Rohingya on the basis of their ethnicity … all the facets of life are affected by a system that codifies and makes lawful their persecution and discrimination." Benjamin Zawacki, a Myanmar researcher for Amnesty International


  •    In July 2012 the international Red Cross dubbed the violence in Syria as civil war, Between the Free Syrian Army and the Bashar Al Assad Government forces
  •   In March 2013 the United Nations reported that there are over one Million Syrian refugees , half of them being children
  •  According to the United nations after 27 months of conflict, at the end of April reported the death toll to be around 93 000
  •  The United Nations estimates that the conflict claims as many as 5,000 lives per month, nearly 1 in 3 Syrians are refugees or displaced inside the country, and there are 6.8 million Syrians in need of urgent assistance.
  •  According to the Observatory which monitors violence through the network of security and medical sources report  over 100 000 deaths, 10 000 have been detained by pro-Assad’s forces and 2500 Assad military men have been captured by the Free Syrian Army (“ rebels)
  •  The conflict in Syria has led to insecurities and sectarian tension in other states such as Lebanon and Iraq
Syria is part of that mubarak land (Shaam) for which Nabi SallAllahu 'Alayhi Wasallam made the Du'aa: Allahumma Baariklana fi Yamanina wa fi Shaamina (Oh Allah bless our Yemen and our Shaam). Someone asked: "and our Najd Ya Rasoolullah SallAllahu 'Alayhi Wasallam. To which Nabi Sallalahu 'Alayhi Wasallam repeated the Du'aa for Yemen and Shaam and the person asked again for Du'aa to be made for Najd but the Prophet SallAllahu 'Alayhi Wasallam repeated the Du'aa for Yemen and Shaam only and on around the third time the person asked for Du'aa for Najd the Prophet SallAllahu 'Alayhi Wasallam said that Najd is a place of fitna from where the horn/era of shaytan will emerge. (Bukhari Sharif)

Historically many false claimants to prophethood came from Najd such as musaylama bin kadhab, etc. Ibn Abdul Wahab Najdi (founder of Wahabism) and the Saudi dynasty are also from the Najd province which is East of Madinah. Madinah and Makkah are in al-Hijaz province. The point being that Syria which constitutes a large part of Shaam is blessed.

Please post the following under Syria on the blog:
Gift of the Givers has a hospital in Syria and they are sending food to Syrians in Syria and Syrian refugees in Yemen. People can deposit into their International Projects account and put the deposit reference as "Syria Lillah" or "Syria Zakaah". Then email them the proof of payment specifying where the money should go to: hospital, feeding in Syria or feeding Syrian refugees in Yemen. Their International Projects account is:
 ACCOUNT NAME:Gift of the Givers Foundation
BANK:Standard Bank
BRANCH:Pietermaritzburg, South Africa
They also make provision for Online Transfers:

Main contributors to the Economy: agriculture, saffron , horticulture, manufacturing sector, and tourism
  •         Population  : estimated 10 Million people 
  •         Estimated Killing 91 865
  •         Women raped 9708
  •         10 000 civilians are missing

-        Jammu and Kashmir
-        Valley located in the Himalayas – Known as the Paradise of Earth
  •  Since 1947( August) after the Indian Subcontinent gain independence from British Rule , both India and Pakistan have engaged in an ongoing and unresolved conflict over Kashmir ( over 6 decades
  • It is under Indian control but Muslim majority population , with about 4% of Hindus which reside in Kashmir
  •  Over 40 000 civilians have been killed since 1989
  •  Average one Indian Solider to 10 Kashmirie
  •   India administrates Jammu and Kashmi
  •  Pakistan administrates territories of Azad Kashmir and Gilgit- Batistan

-        Since 1947 over 3 wars have been fought between India and Pakistan of Kashmir
-        Above all Kashmir is now demanding for their independence, sovereignty and self-termination. Apart from both India and Pakistan 
-       Kashmir is a Muslim Majority dominated by Indian control over Police and Parliament
-        Pakistan disputes India’s control over Kashmir
-        Pakistani forces which media dubs them as rebels have been fighting Indian Forces since 1989 in Kashmir
o   Either for independence of Kashmir or for Kashmir to be merged to Pakistan
What has happened in Kashmir Recently?
  •  A Parliamentary raid took place on an Islamic school (Madressa) in search for militants.This lead to widespread protest especially by residents of the Good district in Kashmir, resulting in police killing four protestors.They gathered outside base of the border security forces in Gool which is 230KM south of Srinagar( Summer capital of Kashmir- Indian control primarily dominated here)
  • Pakistanis gathered to about 400 protestors who took the streets if Muzaffarabad (Capital of Pakistan). They marched to the United Nations office to hand them an memorandum/letter seeking for international intervention to protect the human rights in Kashmir

 History of Kashmir
-        In 1947 after independence from British rule
-        The Maharaja  Singh of Kashmir signed an interim standstill agreement to maintain transport and other services with Pakistan
-        By October 1947, conflict heightened and the Maharaja Singh has appealed to India for military assistance
-        Thus the Indian Governor General: Lord Mountbatten suggested that the best way to instil peace is if Kashmir falls under India’s Dominion for a temporary basis. This was known as the Instrument of Accession and resulted in India taking 2/3 of the territory, Pakistan taking the Northern reminder and China occupying the eastern parts of Kashmir and Jammu
-        What is the instrument of accession ?
o   Granting of Indian jurisdiction on external affairs and defence
o   This lead to Indian claiming ownership of the entire state of Kashmir-
o    only 1/3 of terrotority was administrated by Pakistan
-        According to India the Instrument of Accession of Kashmir to India was finalised then and thus Kashmir is theirs, contrary to that Pakistan believe Kashmir is a disputed territory and are demanding for self-determination of Kashmir
-        December 20 1948- the United Nations Commission proposed that Kashmir’s future is to be decided by the will of the people of Kashmir- THIS NEVER HAPPENED
-        After 1989:  end of soviet occupation in Afghanistan> lead to the apparent militarization of Kashmir and allegedly Kashmir became a training ground.
o   Indian gave the army increased authority to end the insurgency under the controversial Armed Forces Special Powers Acts
-        Since 1989 on going  conflict have been going on which deaths, casualties , kidnappings etc. have been escalating
-        In 2001 , Pakistani General Musharraff and Indian Prime Minister had met over a 3 day peace summit and failed to produce a joint statement on Kashmir
-        In 2003 the Prime Minister of India, Atal Behari , offers ‘ Hand of Friendship’ to Pakistan which by November 26 they implemented a Pakistani proposed ceasefire- No change in the situation
-        Pakistan cities many UN resolution that favours a UN-run referendum but Indian argues the Simla  agreement of 1972 binds both Pakistan and India to solve the problem of Kashmir on a state to state basis
o   The Simla agreement formalises the Line of Control – yet it didn’t prevent any further clashes i.e. 1999 on the Siachen Glacier
-        After the recent incident in Kashmir, both Indian and Pakistani officials meet again to try and resolve the situation in Kashmir
                 Another struggle for Land, Another fight for justice!!
  • Stand for All Muslims
  • Educate people around you on the situation, whether its in Palestine,Burma or Kashmir

Some Ideas on What Can You Do?
  •         Encourage your local MSA to have Seminars, debates and more events to educate students on local affairs
  •        Create posters, pamphlets etc. on war torn countries and circulate it in order to raise awareness and educate others
  •       Volunteer at organisations in assisting them in making a difference
  •       For Palestine : Boycott Divestment and Sanction  – Muhammed Desai :  084 211988
  •        For Rohingya : Protect the Rohingya - David Kamer: 0734922304
  •     Get  creative !! write poems, articles and essays and be featured on MSA UNION's blog

-          Move beyond principally acknowledging a crisis and become actively involved in creating awareness !! INFOGRAPHIC DONE BY : Saffiyah Patel - MSA UNION Head of Media and Marketing 
     ARTICLE BY: Sumayya Omar - MSA UNION Head of Politics and