Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Yusuf Talia Al-Ihsaan Award: Profiles of the Winner, Runner-Up, Finalists and Nominees

The Yusuf Talia Al-Ihsaan Award

The Al-Ihsaan award has been presented by the MSA since 2012 to recognise the work done by Muslim youth in South Africa. It aims to identify youth that inspire others to become active members of society, while at the same time promoting the idea of change. The award is judged at various levels, including spirituality, leadership, academics, humanitarian involvement, as well as the inspiration of students to others. Nominees must be under 30 years of age, and involved in making a difference in their community or society at large.
The name of the award, 'Al-Ihsaan', shows what the award aims to identify, acknowledge and encourage in Muslim youth: excellence and goodness, as emphasised in the Qur'an,
“Is the recompense of excellence (in obedience to God) other than excellence?” (Surah Ar-Rahman, Verse 60)

In 2013, the Al-Ihsaan Award was presented to Sizwe Mpofu Walsh, and in 2012, to Naeema Kharsany. The 2014 finalists are:

Imaad Isaacs
Naeema Hussein
Muhammed Sheik
Habib Noorbhai
Silomo Khumalo

This year, the award was renamed after our late MSA President, Yusuf Talia, as he exemplified excellence and embodied it in all aspects of his life. Brother Yusuf Talia played an integral role in the development of the MSA, and the formation of the Union of Muslim Students' Associations of South Africa. He inspired in others a passion towards doing good and motivated those who worked with him to give their best.

Yusuf was a member of the Disabled Students' Movement, where he showed a tireless dedication towards advocating for equality and disability rights. He was also the head of mentorship at Redineo, an organisation which mentors underprivileged children. Yusuf also served as the deputy president of the Wits Student Representative Council in 2010. He was named one of the top 200 South Africans by the Mail and Guardian in 2013 for his contribution to the higher education system and his work to improve conditions for disabled students. He is remembered as an individual who always had time to help his fellow students, and who represented the perfect example of service to humanity. Brother Yusuf had completed a BSc and a degree in Accounting Science, and was completing an honours degree in Physiology at the time of his passing.  

Profiles of the 2014 Al-Ihsaan Finalists

Winner of the Al Ihsaan Award 2014: Imaad Isaacs

Imaad Isaacs obtained his BA in Mathematics, Arabic, Film and Media Studies in 2013 from the University of Cape Town. In 2014, he completed a six-week internship in International Affairs at the World Affairs Council, Washington D.C, as part of the professional exposure component of the South Africa-Washington International Programme leadership development curriculum.

Brother Imaad is the founder and director of the Youth Academy for Leadership Excellence, an educational start-up that focusses on youth, leadership and entrepreneurship development of Grade 10-12 students.

Imaad is involved in a variety of different activities. He is currently taking elective courses in Educational Management and Leadership at the University of Cape Town. He also works as a Mathematics teacher at The Leadership College in Manenburg, Cape Town and is a lecturer at the Islamic Charitable Projects Programme (Southern African Branch). He is an educator and director at the BTG Department of Educational Research and Resources Development. He conducts various weekend and holiday intensive courses and workshops as part of the Bridging the Gap Organization, and also serves as a freelance tutor in mathematics, physical sciences and accounting.

Brother Imaad has completed an Islamic Obligatory Knowledge Course offered by the Arab Islamic Cultural Trust in Amman, Jordan, as well as various Qur'an and Tajweed studies. He studied and completed his memorisation of the Qur'an under the tutorship of Muhammad Fouad Gabier. He has also received his license, with authoritative chain, to teach the text and its interpretation from the Tayyibah An-Nashr Institute for the Ten Qiraa'at and its Sciences. 

Among the many leadership positions brother Imaad has held are Chairperson of the MSA of the University of Cape Town in 2011-2012, National Executive Committee Liaison member for MSA Union in 2012, as well as Student Assessor for the UCT Student Disciplinary Tribunal, which he currently still holds. Brother Imaad has spoken at the 11th Doha International Conference for Interfaith Dialogue, at the International Peace Youth Group, as well as at the Leadership academy on International Affairs, World Affairs Council, Washington.

Runner-up of the Al-Ihsaan Award 2014: Naeema Hussein

Naeema Hussein El Kout has excelled in many spheres, including public speaking, soccer, leadership and academics. She is currently studying towards a BSc Physiotherapy Degree and has, during the course of her studies, received the Golden Key International Honour Society new member chapter award.

Sister Naeema is an AWQAF SA youth representative and one of the founding members of Hayaatun-Nujoom, a forum for the leadership development of young Muslim women. She is a member of Gems of the Ummah, and a youth representative for GMWG. She has attended the Al-Azhar Youth Leader in Jakarta, Indonesia for a two-week International Leadership Camp. Sister Naeema also runs her own tuition service from home for primary and high school learners.

Sister Naeema has been a charismatic MC of many events and has participated in various Qiraat competitions at both a national and International level. Sister Naeema is an avid soccer player, serving as the Captain of the 1st Soccer team and receiving full colours for soccer while in school. She participated in the Arsenal International Soccer Festival, and was one of the Vice Captains of the Wits Ladies Football Club in 2013.

Finalist: Muhammed Sheik

Muhammed Sheik obtained his Bachelor of Social Sciences degree, majoring in Political Science and Economic Development, from the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. He completed his Honours degree, and is currently pursuing a Master's Degree, in Political Science and Public Policy.

Brother Muhammed is currently employed by the SABC, where he works as a journalist for SABC Radio Broadcasting. He also serves as a presenter/producer on Newsbreak on Lotus FM. He is a freelance writer for a variety of print and online publications, including the Daily Vox and the Daily Maverick. 

Brother Muhammed is a volunteer teacher for the New English Speaker's Programme, a non-profit organisation that aims to promote English literacy in rural communities. He is also an active member of VI+, a student-led organisation that focuses on the plight of those that are visually impaired. Between 2010 and 2013, he formed part of the Action Group for Palestine, focused on creating awareness of the oppressive living conditions experienced by the Palestinian people. Brother Muhammed also works with SANZAF and organisations such as the SPCA on a volunteer basis. 

Finalist: Habib Noorbhai

Habib Noorbhai is a registered Biokineticist, a researcher, humanitarian, lecturer and motivational speaker who strives to create a positive change in the lives of others. Brother Habib has held various leadership positions within the social, cultural, academic and sports settings.

He is the founder and director of the Biokinetic Humanitarian Project, a non-profit organisation that provides complementary exercise prescription and health education. He is the CEO of the Humanitarians, an umbrella non-profit organisation that aims to create sustainable and innovative changes in society.  Brother Habib has worked for a number of national and international sport teams, as well as at various cycling events. He is a volunteer fitness expert on Health24.

He has published papers in reputable journals and has presented at local and international conferences. Among his presentations are a TEDx UCT talk (Examples of Leadership in Academia) and a keynote presentation at the SA Sport and Recreational Conference. In 2013, he was rated among South Africa's top 100 brightest minds. He also served as chairperson of the UJ MSA in 2009-2010, and has been an active MSA member since 2007.

Finalist: Silomo Khumalo              

“I may not have sight, but I have vision”
Silomo Muhammad Khumalo is blind, but has not let his lack of sight prevent him from excelling in both the academic, sporting and leadership spheres.

Brother Silomo completed a Bachelor's degree in Legal Studies and Sociology at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal and has obtained his Honours in Public Policy.

He is involved in mentorship of disabled and previously disadvantaged students, as well as with the co-ordinating of disability campaigns at the university. He volunteers at Section27, a legal NGO, where he assists with interviews, statement-taking, drafting and translating for isi-Zulu-speaking parents of disabled children who do not have access to schooling.

Brother Silomo has run for election at the Student Representative Council of UKZN, and is Captain of the KZN Blind Cricket team.

Al-Ihsaan Nominees 2014

Nominee: Aayesha J Soni
Aayesha Soni is a sixth year Medical student at the University of the Witwatersrand, where received the Vice-Chancellor's Scholarship in 2009. Sister Aayesha plays an important role in the Media Review Network, where she is a passionate advocate of the Palestinian struggle, through her publications and appearances in the media. Sister Aayesha is also an active member of the MSA, where she has spearheaded many events, including the establishment of a Da'wah table on campus.

Nominee: Mateenah Hunter
Mateenah Hunter completed her LLB at the University of the Wiwatersrand, after which she obtained her Master's in Public Interest Law and Policy at the University of California. She currently works as a Policy Development and Advocacy Fellow at Sonke Gender Justice, and NGO that is at the forefront of gender rights. Sister Mateenah is an attorney at the High Court, and has held many other high-profile jobs. She has a keen interest in social justice, and its role in Islam.

Nominee: Hasan Kaka
Hasan Kaka is a first year student at the North-West University. He is an active member of the NWU MSA and has been nominated on the basis of his exemplary adherence to the Sunnah, in terms of both his outward acts, and his character. He is persistent in his attempts to motivate others towards good.

Nominee: Safwaan Ahmed
Safwaan Ahmed has recently completed his degree in Sports Science at the University of Kwa-Zulu Natal. He has previously completed Islamic studies in Egypt and is a Haafiz-ul-Qur'an. Brother Safwaan shows a rare commitment to the MSA and is always keen to assist where needed. He is ethical, trustworthy, patient and lives a well-rounded life according to Islamic principles.

Nominee: Dureyah Abrahams
Dureyah Abrahams is currently in Grade 11 of Islamia College, after having returned to school following completion of her hifdh. Sister Dureyah has spondylometaphyseal dysplasia, which affects her mobility and growth, but has nevertheless has achieved admirably. She is a youth radio presenter on the Voice of the Cape, a writer on the online Islamic site Light After Night and has established her own personal blog. She is a motivational speaker and provides online support to others.

Nominee: Fatima Mukaddam
Fatima Mukaddam is currently studying towards her Master's in Political Studies and the University of the Witwatersrand. She has served as the Secretary and Vice-Chairperson of the WITS MSA, and the Fundraising, Entrepreneurship and Skills Development Officer of the WITS SRC. She has played significant roles in major MSA projects, such as the Ramadaan Humanitarian project and Project iQra. Fatima firmly advocates for student leadership, and is dedicated towards motivating others to engage in leadership roles.

Nominee: Yusuf Moolla
Yusuf Moolla is currently in his final year of Medicine at the University of the Witwatersrand. He has been the chair of the Wits Med MSA in 2010, and has since guided the MSA throughout his time on campus. Brother Yusuf is involved in the JCE Jamaat Khana project, as well as with organisations such as SANZAF, the IMA and the Jamiat. 

Congratulations! We pray that the Almighty blesses them in all their endeavours and continues to grow them from strength to strength to enable them to make an even more significant difference in the community and world.

“We relate to you their story in truth: They were youths who believed in their Lord, 
And We advanced them in guidance”
Al Qur’an: 18:13

Saturday, November 15, 2014


The Union of Muslim Students’ Association of South Africa welcomes the statement issued by COSAS (Congress of South African Students) last week, to end action of placing pig heads inside Woolworths stores. A COSAS spokesperson initially claimed that the move was in solidarity with the BDS Boycott Woolworths Campaign, which BDS SA later clarified as being incorrect and distanced itself from the action – a response that we condone.

The Union of Muslims Students’ Association supports and encourages the efforts made by BDS SA and other Palestinian solidarity organisations, who have been resolute in getting COSAS to halt such actions. Our collective support of the Palestinian cause and our call to justice is based on ethics, and thus, should be carried out in an ethical manner that is befitting of the cause.

As the Muslim Students’ Association, our sense of justice stems from Islam, and hence, we commit ourselves to conduct and actions that are dignified and in line with Islamic teachings.

In the spirit of justice, equality and solidarity, the Union of Muslim Students’ Association realises the importance of furthering our stance on the Palestinian struggle. We believe that continued, sustained and consistent action must be embraced in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, and we reinforce our support of academic, cultural, and commercial boycotts, divestments and sanctions of Apartheid Israel as a constructive means to do so.

The Union of Muslim Students’ Association will continue to support the call made by the National Coalition for a Free Palestine to boycott targeted retailers. We support the demand for Woolworths, and other stores, to immediately end its trade relations with Israel or face consistent action by concerned South Africans.

With continued action and fervent prayer, may we see a free and liberated Palestine in our lifetime.
Aluta Continua.

Statement issued by the Union of Muslim Students’ Association of South Africa

For more information, contact:

Khadeeja Manjra, Vice President - Union of Muslim Students' Association of South Africa,

Al Kauthar Upcoming Course: Yunus (AS)

Take a moment to reflect on Yunus (AS)
Sign up for course on the Prophets of Allah, By Sheikh Daood Butt

Date and venue:
6th December 2014 (University of the Western Cape, Cape Town)
7th December 2014 (Wits Medical School, Johannesburg)

Catch the Early Bird Fee at only R150 per person (before 20th November 2014)

Register now at / 076 911 0225


Thursday, November 13, 2014

The Humanitarian Project: A Student's Perspective

The Union of Muslim Students’ Association’s national Humanitarian Project 2014*, in conjunction with SANZAF, was designed around the concept of “Waste into Wealth.” The project aims to create sustainable entrepreneurship within communities, as well as educating, encouraging and empowering both students and disadvantaged communities to turn waste into wealth. This past week Tuesday, I met with five emigrant entrepreneurs that have been a part of SANZAF’s Waste into Wealth Project, to interview them about the impact the initiative has had on their lives. This is their story.

 Said Ally is a 20 year old Tanzanian national that immigrated to South Africa three years ago. After staying with his brother for two years whilst trying to find employment, Said was left homeless when his brother returned to Tanzania. Desperate and alone, he was directed to SANZAF’s offices by a friend that had informed him of the Waste into Wealth Project. It was at SANZAF that Said was able to purchase second-hand clothes, some of which he would keep for himself and most of which he would resell at the Goods Market. The income he received from selling the clothes assisted in paying his rent, groceries and other expenses. A portion of his income is also sent back home to Tanzania to support his parents and three younger siblings. The programme has assisted Said with a trickle of income where before he had none – “trickle” being the operative word, as all of the money he receives from reselling the clothes is spent on necessities; there is none remaining at the end of each month to pool into a sustainable dam. Said is thankful for the SANZAF programme, but his ultimate dream is to run his own business, with a full time stall and sufficient stock. When asked if he would have the necessary skills to run a business by himself, Said answered positively, affirming that “business is in my blood. I know how to run a business. I just need a chance.”

The second entrepreneur I interviewed brought along her 2 year old son, a tiny Tanzanian devil that complemented my notes by dribbling, drooling and doodling all over them. His mother, Sania Hassen, a 32 year old Tanzanian national with deep brown eyes, sadly related her story to me with a weathered smile. Sania immigrated to South Africa in 2000 with her husband – when asked why she left Tanzania, she simply replied “There was nothing there.” Whilst her husband worked at Scooters as a delivery man, Sania stayed at home and brought up her two (now three) lovely boys. Life suddenly took a turn for the worse when she and her husband divorced. Sania, a single mother now, found that she was unable to support herself and her children any longer. A friend informed her of SANZAF’s Waste into Wealth programme, and after visiting their offices and purchasing a bundle of second-hand clothes, Sania was able to resell the clothes at a profit and earn some income. This alleviated some of the financial burden placed upon her by her circumstances - however, just like Said, Sania spends almost all her income on necessities such as food, school fees and rent. Once again, there is very little to no money left over at the end of the month for her to save, and there is no scope for her to expand her second-hand clothes-selling business. She complained that some weeks SANZAF doesn’t even have clothes to sell to her. When asked what her dream situation would be, Sania replied “To own my own business. I have been selling clothes for a very long time. If I just had a chance to open a business, I wouldn’t need to go back to SANZAF anymore.”

 I interviewed three more entrepreneurs - Fatima Ndlovu, a 58 year old grandmother from Maputo, Hafsa Muhorakeye, a 32 year old immigrant from Rwanda, and Fatima Matolweni, a 28 year old mother from Tanzania. All of their stories were uncannily similar to Said’s and Sania’s. They had all been dependent on someone else for financial subsistence, and once that relationship or that source of income dried up, they were left desperate, distressed, and with children to support. They were all introduced to SANZAF via a third party, and were able to make some money in order to pay for basic necessities through purchasing second-hand clothes and reselling them. The project is a success in that it has provided those with previously no source of income whatsoever, with an outlet to make money and therefore pay off their expenses to survive. Alas, that self-same avenue is the most potent shortcoming of the programme itself – these people are now simply surviving, but not thriving. The intention of the project was to create sustainable entrepreneurship within communities – whilst entrepreneurship was certainly been created, it is hardly sustainable. The participants have to purchase second-hand clothes from SANZAF, which eats into a huge chunk of their base capital each week. Sometimes, clothes are not even available for them to purchase. Finally, all of the interviewees said that their dream was to own and be in charge of their own business. They are adamant that they have the skills to be able to run the business, based on years of experience. The setting up of a business stall, with an initial outlay of stock and petty cash, if run managed successfully and with the involvement and participation of students, would be ideal in achieving both the dreams and goals of the Project and its participants.

Written by Muhammed Ismail Bulbulia

Muhammed Ismail Bulbulia (aka MiB) is a freelance writer and activist. He writes short stories, one-act plays, grocery lists; you name it. When he's not bleeding onto the blank page, you can find him either complaining about studying Accounting at Wits or callousing his fingers on the guitar.

*The Humanitarian Project is the national flagship project of MSA Union. This project builds on last year’s project where a second hand clothing collection was conducted on some South African campuses and communities and then given to identified entrepreneurs to sell. This year we incorporate this aspect of empowerment of entrepreneurs under a broad banner of ‘Repurposing Waste’ projects. This has arisen from a collaboration between the Union of Muslim Students' Association and its initiative Green Deen South Africa, in conjunction with SANZAF.The project is aimed at creating mass student involvement while educating and empowering both students and disadvantaged communities to turn waste into wealth. 'Repurposing Waste' was the theme for this week and included activities and awareness around recycling, reuse, upcycling, education and empowerment. We are always open to suggestions and critique, so please feel free to give us suggestions on how to improve the project

SANZAF Johannesburg collects clothing throughout the year if you would like to contribute to this collection you can drop it off at:
39 Mint Road, Fordsburg
PO Box 42565, Fordsburg, 2033
T: 011 834 2544

Upcoming Al Kauthar Course: The Prophets of Allah (Their Lives and Timeless lessons)

Al Kauthar will soon be having their course on the Prophets of Allah in Cape Town and Johannesburg. Below is the poster entailing the details. Over the next few days, we will be posting some of their posters on our blog which could give us a few things to reflect on in the build up towards the course, and to encourage us to consistently read on and learn from our Ambiyah (AS) - our best examples!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Tribute to Yusuf Talia, by Khadeeja Manjra

Dear sister, brothers and beloved friends

I greet you in peace.

This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult and challenging pieces I have ever had to write, for two main reasons. Firstly, because the death of our brother, leader and friend Yusuf has still not sunk in completely. Though my eyes have skimmed through tremendous numbers of heartfelt memorial messages, newspaper articles and tributes, emails and messages from friends and family, and though my fingers have had to type the first email that informed our committee and broader group of friends that Yusuf was being admitted to hospital, and thereafter sent messages informing people that “Unfortunately, our brother and leader has passed away” and though my voice subsequently had to surface when calling people before he passed on about how things were not looking the best, it still has not yet sunk in.

“Activist and Inspiration: Yusuf Talia dies due to illness” “Activist Yusuf Talia dies after battle with muscular dystrophy” “Yusuf was” (and not is) “Yusuf will always remain an inspiration” “Yusuf lived” (and is not living) - it is all surreal. Suddenly everything has become the past tense, and a once enormous component of our MSA family and brotherhood is now no longer a companion of ours in this world.

The second reason is because it is virtually impossible to try and convey an adequate depiction of who Yusuf was and how he lived his life in just mere words. It cannot be done. The spirit, determination, grace and dignity with which he lived his life and the impact he had needed to be felt, experienced and appreciated to truly understand it. But I will succumb to the poverty of my words in trying to capture and express it, and my appreciation of this spectacular person I was blessed to know.
I met Yusuf for the first time at the IMA 2012 Convention where the MSA Union was hosting breakaway sessions and held its first national meeting since its revival at the end of 2011. I was a second year student at that time, had just become the chairperson of my campus MSA, and found out about the MSA Union and what they were doing through email correspondence with the interim MSA Union committee, which included Yusuf, and some MSA alumni.

I had no prior knowledge of who Yusuf was or what he had accomplished in life – all I was exposed to was a person who spoke inspiringly about unity, purpose and working towards common goals, and who was open and welcoming to someone like myself, who he had not even met, but who shared the a similar vision. I knew immediately that I was speaking to someone who was a true leader who was motivated by a greater cause, yet still remained humble and approachable. Our interaction was, initially very formal, but it was around the time of the MSA National 2012 Camp that was hosted in Durban where we became extremely good friends and began speaking more frequently from realising that we shared common goals, ideals, and thoughts of life and society. He eventually convinced me to run for Vice President at the next MSA Union national elections in January 2013, which I was initially hesitant to do because of being concerned about my relatively younger age and inexperience. But he encouraged me to do look beyond this, and only later did I see how powerful that action was – that Yusuf proved to every person he met, just through the way he lived, that there is no such thing as barriers when you are working for a greater purpose, and that his act of encouraging me to step up to the challenge was just another manifestation of this. I eventually agreed, and made a light-hearted pact that I would do so only if he ran for President again (which he, humbly, only agreed to do so if nobody else wanted to)

Today, I could not be more grateful that we both made those decisions because it was from this that Yusuf transformed from not only being a mentor and leader to me, but a lifelong friend, brother and confidant. There is a unique relationship that develops between those who work within the MSA. It is an unexplained phenomenon to which majority of people in the MSA can attest. There is something about working for a greater, higher purpose together that creates unbreakable bondages between and lifetime friendships – friendships, I believe, that will transcend the barriers of just this world.
Many of us know the multiple organisations, initiatives and projects that Yusuf was involved with. He undoubtedly and consistently made invaluable contributions to numerous campus student societies, civil society and the Muslim community, with the aim of fighting and working for social change and social justice. The world will mourn the loss of this great giant who lived amongst us with so much of dignity and heart for positive change, and his legacy and commitment will continue to inspire his generation, and the future generations.

“The greatest dignity to be found in death is the dignity of the life that preceded it. This is a form of hope we call all achieve, and it is the most abiding of all. Hope resides in the meaning of what our lives have been.” 

But beneath these accomplishments that everyone knew Yusuf for, lay who Yusuf really was: Yusuf, the person. Neither our failures nor our accomplishments fully convey who we are; it is our character that is the best reflection of the quality and calibre of person that we are. This is the part of Yusuf that I knew, appreciated and will always remember, and this is the part of Yusuf that leaves a huge gap in the hearts of his close friends and family.

We will miss the Yusuf that had an immense insight into the personality of his friends, teammates and colleagues. So many times he would pick up if I was upset, mellow or stressed from the tone of our conversations and would make a simple statement about his observation and then offer support or an ear to listen, or a ‘warm beverage’ which was a joking gesture we had if the one picked up that it was stressful period for the other, especially when we proceeded to take up ridiculously huge MSA projects at the last minute (and would love every bit of the crazy rush to get things done) He knew me so well to the extent that even when I had got proposed, all I had told him was that I had something to tell him, and he thereafter simply and correctly stated exactly what it was and my fiancé’s name. 
We will miss the Yusuf whose ego was completely out of the equation in whatever he did – in his relationships with people, in the work he did, in the way he spoke, thought, lived, believed, and even vented. He embodied selfless living, selfless friendship, and selfless leadership – all 3 of which are extreme rarities in today’s times. He greatly valued the act of Shura (mutual consultation) and strongly implemented this principle in all MSA meetings, interactions and decision-making processes.

We will miss the Yusuf who reached the level of walking amongst giants, but remained a humble and approachable soul with absolutely no heir or high opinion of himself. Sometimes I actually had to force him to let me tweet, share or post an article that he was featured in or which covered a story about him. He used to tell me something that will forever remain with me, and which I am committed to taking forward in whatever endeavour I pursue, “The successes of MSA’s are theirs (the committees), the failures are mine”

We will miss the Yusuf who was an absolute gentleman and had an incredible, quiet sense of humour that would literally have us audibly laughing at just a simple comment he would make. When I had gone away for Umrah earlier this year, the amount of MSA activities and events just happened to spontaneously increase and things had become noticeably crazy for the entire committee whilst I was absent. Yusuf promptly messaged me saying, “You know what this feeling is like. You know when the mom goes away. Then the dad must look after the toddler alone for a few days. And the toddler is in the Terrible Twos.” Another time, his brother Waseem had laid out a ramp between the gradient extended between the doorstep and floor so that Yusuf would be able to wheel his wheelchair over it to exit the room. I scurried out of the room in front of him, concerned that he may fall, but he calmly reversed his wheel chair out over the plank and turned it back around smiling and saying, “Don’t stress people. I’m a good driver.”  Very often when I would tweet a stream of medical jokes or send him and a few other friends I piece of poetry to read and critique, Yusuf would message saying, “So it’s exam time again, right?” having full knowledge that those were things I would do as a means of passing time in the week of exams.

We will miss the Yusuf whose private and public life were not separate entities. He was not one person at home and with his friends, and a different person in the organisations he worked within. He was consistent and consistently sincere, always focused on making a change, growing, and improving. Islam defines a Mu’min is one who is true and firm in his faith in God, and a Mujahid is one who strives his utmost, with all the means at his disposal, to gain God’s Pleasure. “The Believers are only those who have attained to faith in God and His Messenger, and have left all doubt behind, and who strive hard in God’s cause with their possessions in their lives: it is they, they who are true their word.” (Surah Hujarat, Verse 15) In my humble opinion, Yusuf was a Mujahid, and he dedicated his life to working for something, and the One beyond himself.

We will miss the Yusuf that who proved to us that there is no such thing as barriers when you have your heart and mind set on a greater purpose. Many times I used to wonder what Yusuf’s view of his disability was, and my question was answered when I saw what one of his favourite quotes was, “What is destined will reach you, even if it be underneath two mountains. What is not destined, will not reach you, even if it be between your two lips! Whatever is meant for you will be coming your way, while you are led and directed toward it. As for that which is not meant for you, you will be deflected from it as it is turned aside from you. Go easy on yourself, for the outcome of all affairs is determined by Allah’s decree. If something is meant to go elsewhere, it will never come your way, but if it is yours by destiny, from you it cannot flee. “Umar Ibn Al Khattab (RA). Yusuf viewed his disability as something that Allah had decreed upon him for a reason. It was not given to him as means to hamper him from fulfilling his purpose, but that it was a part of how Allah had created him in order to achieve his purpose. He would invest the time, energy and effort and do what he could, when he could and how he could, and the rest and the outcomes would be determined by Allah.
It’s important to realise that whilst Yusuf has left us, what he lived, worked and dedicated himself to still goes on. The best way to honour someone and their vision is to continue working towards actualising these goals and making it a reality. Yusuf’s hard work, especially with MSA (which is just one of the many vehicles for change) will not have been in vain. Those of us still in the organisations he was a part of need to be committed to allowing his legacy to inspire us to enact positive change and to never stop growing.

His death should not indicate the end of a legacy of change, but his life should be an inspiration to inspire many more legacies of change. People like Yusuf Talia, in both their life and death, need to aspire us to remember the purpose of our existence. Whilst we mourn his death, we should celebrate his life. A life that was lived with the fullest of conviction and a life that fulfilled the purpose for which it was created – it was only for this reason that Allah had chosen for him to return to Him. And may we never be taken by death until we do the same.
I would like to also make special mention of Yusuf’s parents and brother – Fatima, Nazeer and Waseem Talia. Yusuf many times referred to them as his “A-team” and driving force. They are truly 3 of the most amazing people I have met, who unconditionally and endlessly supported and encouraged Yusuf in all that he pursued. May Allah bless them with this strength during this difficult time, and I pray that they are blessed with a special place in Paradise for everything that they have done.

I, unfortunately, did not have the opportunity to say goodbye to Yusuf. It is a fact that pains me, and will pain for a long time. My plane tickets had booked for this coming weekend since last week, as soon as I heard that things had taken a bad turn. I was unable to go down last weekend owing to my paediatrics exams being this week, but Allah alone knows the reasons for me not having the opportunity to see and speak to him one last time before he left this world.  He is safely in a special place in Paradise, God Willing. Maybe not being able to say goodbye in this world means that our next Salaam or greeting of peace will be in a place where peace really will be eternal. Allah knows Best.

This is a picture of Yusuf and I at the first MSA Union Induction Programme we hosted in Gauteng for newly elected MSA committees in the region. These verses were part of the portion of the Qur’an that was recited at the beginning of the programme. When I reflect on the meaning of them, I realise that he truly actualised these verses in both his life and death.

Rest in eternal peace, my brother. It was an honour to have served our Deen with you. May you be amongst the company of the Ambiyah (AS). May you have arrived in Eternal Love. May you really be truly at peace and free from any pain of stresses. May your legacy continue to inspire others for generations to come. May your work and vision for society and the world become a reality.
Until we meet again.


Monday, September 22, 2014


                                                                                                                 22 September 2014 

Assalamu Alaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakaatuhi. May the peace and blessings of the Lord be upon you. 

As leaders we have all experienced the challenge of making difficult decisions and this time, the Union NEC is faced with our toughest task to date: having to announce the death of our beloved President. Yusuf Talia has breathed his last earlier today. 

As some of you are aware, our President, Yusuf Talia was admitted to hospital and his condition deteriorated over the past few days. We feel it befitting that he be honoured as a fallen hero of the MSA, granted his selfless contribution to the development of the structure. 

Salatul Janazah will be performed in Johannesburg and will leave from 21 Surbiton Avenue, Auckland Park, pick up at 9pm proceeding to Newclare Kabrastaan. 

Salaatul Ghaaib (Salatul janazah in absentia) is planned for Durban and Cape Town details to follow soon Insha Allah.  

Insha’Allah we will be having regional memorials for brother Yusuf shortly and details will be available soon.  

A great leader and colleague, Yusuf inspired and lead MSA Union with sincerity, justice and excellence and his reach spread far beyond MSA Union, he was an all- round great leader. We pray that we can carry on the legacy that he has set for us.  

Yusuf has been an inspiration to many of us and we ask you to remember him and his family in your duas. 

If you have any other suggestions, please don't hesitate to share. We have learned the value of collective leadership through the example Yusuf lived, and in his death, we believe that through collective leadership we should honour his life. 

Statement issued by MSA Union of South Africa

For more information please contact: 

Khadeeja Manjra – Vice President - 0713512094 -
Raeesa Ghoor- Secretary General – 0781972522-  

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Humanitarian Project: A Green Spin

The Union of Muslim Students' Association (MSA Union of South Africa) and it's initiative Green Deen South Africa, in conjunction with SANZAF, takes great pleasure in announcing the National Flagship Project for 2014 - The Humanitarian Project: Repurposing Waste. This initiative follows projects such as the Ramadan Humanitarian Project (RHP), Project IQra and last year’s Humanitarian Project. MSA takes the view that we should make a sustainable contribution towards underprivileged communities in South Africa. We should strive as a society to empower people and overcome poverty. We also aim to create mass student involvement and raise awareness on our campuses. 

About The Humanitarian Project:
The Humanitarian Project is MSA’s flagship project. A flagship project aims to fulfil the following objectives:
- Student involvement on a mass scale
- To fulfil a social need
- To encourage social development and eradicate social apathy
- To be replicable across campuses
- To be edgy and address current needs and hypes

This project builds on last year’s project where a second hand clothing collection was conducted on some South African campuses and communities and then given to identified entrepreneurs to sell. This year we incorporate this aspect of empowerment of entrepreneurs under a broad banner of ‘Repurposing Waste’ projects. This has arisen from a collaboration between the Union of Muslim Students' Association and it’s initiative Green Deen South Africa, in conjunction with SANZAF.

Items that will be collected are: second hand clothing, electronic waste and upcycling material. Collection boxes will be placed at campuses around the country. The recipients of the second hand clothing will be people identified by SANZAF, who will also liaise with the recognised recipients. The recipients will receive training and support by SANZAF, which will ensure continuity and success of the project. Additionally campuses can choose to raise awareness by upcycling waste into cool novelties on campuses, collecting electronic waste for recycling and raising awareness on the importance of repurposing waste.

This project is envisioned upon an eradication of social apathy, replacing it with social development. It goes far beyond the realms of charity work, in that we aim to empower underprivileged people with the opportunity to start businesses of their own as well as educate people about the importance of repurposing waste. The project will be rolled out by MSA chapters across South Africa in campuses in Gauteng, North West, KwaZulu Natal and the Western Cape by a team of dedicated individuals.

For more information like our Facebook pages 'The Humanitarian Project', ‘Green Deen Campaign South Africa’ and ‘MSA Union’, follow @MSA_Union and @MSA_GreenDeen on twitter or go to the website

Statement issued by Nasreen Hamdulay, Head of Community and Social Outreach at MSA Union of South Africa and Fatima Ragie, Project Manager at Green Deen South Africa

Nasreen Hamdulay: 072 897 7850
Fatima Ragie: 076 258 5251

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Al Ihsaan Award 2014: Nominations now open!

The Al-Ihsaan Award is presented by the MSA to recognize work being done by Muslim youth. It aims to identify youth that inspire others to become active members of society while at the same time, promoting the idea of change. The award is judged on various levels, including spirituality, leadership, academics, humanitarian involvement as well as their inspiration to others. Nominees must be under 30 years and making a difference in their community or society at large. The name of the award "Al Ihsaan" - gives an indication of what the award aims to identify, acknowledge and encourage in Muslim youth - excellence andgoodness, as is emphasized in the Qur'an "Is the recompense of excellence (in obedience to God) other than excellence?" Surah Ar-Rahman, Verse 60, which is what we as Muslims should be cultivating in every aspect of our lives.

Below is the poster, and here is the link to submit nominations: - nominations are open until the 15th of August 2014, and the winner will be announced at MSA Union's Gala Dinner in September!

Last year's winner was Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh. 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. Mashaa Allah!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014



The Union of Muslim Students' Association received some sad news earlier yesterday morning, and it is with great sadness that we write these words to all of you. On 27 July, the President of Rhodes MSA, Rizwan Bhayat, and the Treasurer of Rhodes MSA, Muhamad Amin Musa have passed away in a boating accident. Search and rescue teams recovered their bodies and they were buried shortly thereafter.

The MSA, nationally, would like to pass condolences and our Duas on to the family of Rizwan and Muhamad. May Allah grant both our colleagues Jannatul Firdaus and grant their families ease during this difficult time.
 May Allah fill our brothers' Qabrs with Noor and may He reward them for their contribution to the Ummah. We remember their contribution to society and pray that Allah is Pleased with them and their efforts.

Indeed, to Allah do we belong, and to Him do we return. Please remember our brothers in your prayers.

Issued by Union of Muslim Students’ Association

For more information, contact:
Yusuf Talia, President of Union of Muslim Students’ Associations,, 071 677 2391

Khadeeja Manjra, Vice President of Union of Muslim Students’ Associations,, 071 351 2094