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

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