Monday, October 5, 2015


The Union of Muslim Students’ Association (MSA Union) of South Africa stands in full solidarity and support of the march taking place at the University of Johannesburg, the University of the Witwatersrand and the University of Cape Town on October 6, calling for the insourcing of workers.

We cannot call for transformation without noting and calling out the gross victimisation of our workers – our mothers and fathers on campus – who spend their time ensuring that we are able to exist in safe, clean and secure environments. 

As stated on the official Facebook page of the October6 movement, From 1999 many of South Africa’s public universities began outsourcing the labour of workers on campuses. Thousands of workers…are no longer paid directly by universities, but receive their salaries through private companies contracted by universities to broker and oversee labour on campuses. These companies make substantial profits from acting as ‘middle-men’ in these labour arrangements, profits which are created from driving down workers’ salaries.

When workers lost their direct employment contracts with universities, they not only had their salaries cut by up to 40%, they also lost the benefits they had once received as employees of universities, including the right for their children to attend university for free. They also lost work security. Although workers come to campuses every day to offer work that ensures the smooth running of universities, they have been made into second-class citizens on campuses. High rates of casual work means that jobs are insecure. They cannot petition the university for better working conditions because the university no longer employs them directly. In order for companies to retain their profitable contracts with universities, they have harsh regulations on workers so that university managements are protected from any ‘trouble’ that comes from employing people at tiny salaries with no benefits. 

University managements make themselves unaccountable to workers because they argue that workers are no longer their responsibility, they are the responsibility of private companies. But workers spend all of their working days on campuses, traveling vast distances to provide important services to all of us that live and work at universities.

Campus workers are our co-workers and colleagues. They share our daily work space and are an indispensable part of our university communities. Outsourcing undercuts this commonality. It eases the mistreatment of workers and it fails to recognise their presence as vital to campus life.

The exploitation of workers remains the very lifeblood of capitalism – and as a Muslim organisation, it is our duty to call out injustice. Allah SWT says in Surah Maida, verse 8: “show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice.”

As a body representing students, we recognise the need for such a march and fully support the broader movement towards our institutions of learning becoming decolonised, public African universities.

Wits – 12-2pm, Great Hall and Jorissen Street Entrance
UJ – 12-2pm, Main Gates, Kingsway Avenue Auckland Park
UCT - 12-2pm, Lower Campus, Bremmer Building to Marikana Memorial Hall

Issued by the Union of Muslim Students’ Associations of South Africa
4 October 2015

For more information, contact:

Nadeem Mahomed                                
071 891 8722 |

Aaisha Dadi Patel
Head of Politics & South African and International Affairs
071 358 5104 |

Sunday, August 30, 2015

FNB Business Women's Breakfast - A Student's Account

By Zaynura Jehan Dolley 

With the pleasure of Almighty Allah and the generosity of MSA Union, I was fortunate enough to attend the FNB Business Women's Breakfast held in KwaZulu-Natal on the 5th of August, at one of Durban's prestigious ICC Halls. The event was held not only in celebration of Women’s Month and the phenomenal strides that women have made in South Africa, but also to highlight the unique journeys, lessons learnt and in advice from the key speakers that addressed attendees that day. 

Please note, the following account could be offensive to boring and otherwise humourless individuals. With only the greatest amount of respect, if you so find yourself of such disposition and choose to read further – please note that you do so at your own irritation … hehe 

Key speakers at the event included author and former President Nelson Mandela’s assistant Zelda la Grange and Freshlyground's lead singer Zolani Mahola. Not to mention the award-winning ballerina, businesswoman and current Top Billing presenter Lorna Maseko and finally IT innovator and former Google South Africa Boss, Stafford Masie …

On arrival at the event, we were met with a red carpet welcome and big warm smiles by polished, uniform-clad hostesses, ready to escort you to your seat within the hall that held over 700 woman from all walks of life. Seated at round tables each laid with a buffet of fruit, smoothies and fruit juices, as well as a basket of breads, an assortment of cheese as well as berry and muesli trifle, the set up itself was quite aristocratic. Everything was most delicious let me assure you … except for perhaps the blue cheese, which I could not touch! (I eventually asked if they could have it removed from the table. To be very honest – I thought someone had taken off their shoes and such smell had wafted up to my nose … but alas – it was naught but the joyous presence of blue cheese)

Our first address was by the ever-charming Stafford Masie who, as an IT specialist, expressed his terror at addressing a hall full of females – saying as an IT nerd, talking to one female is practically impossible so the 700-to-one ratio would be pushing it a little. The MC of the event didn’t make it any better of course with her advising the crowd to acknowledge “hotness” when you see it (referring to poor Stafford. Not that I looked at all of course – the blue cheese and I had developed quite a relationship by then). Stafford spoke about the great love he has for his grandmother and her being his great inspiration. He found such strength and happiness through her rearing and being a little coloured South African boy eventually finding his way to rubbing shoulders with the greatest names in IT programming – it says a lot for the rearing, foundational, inspirational values of a female in the home environment doesn’t it? Stafford strongly believes that a woman’s role does not end at home though. He is a strong advocate and supporter of having females on the exec boards of businesses and companies, in fact citing the reason behind Kodak’s insolvency being the lack of female influence. He advocates female representation not just to create a balance of the inequalities of the past, but because females possess a unique understanding of people and what they need, feel and want. That, coupled with their natural intuition, is a round table recipe for success!!

Our next speaker was the ever beautiful Lorna Maseko - Glamorous, Diva, Comedian and from ever humble backgrounds. Growing up and coming from the Alexandra Township, having given the opportunity to practice ballet at age 8 – she found herself becoming the first black ballet dancer travelling to and performing in Switzerland, dabbling in business and eventually finding herself become a presenter on Top Billing. She speaks on the essence of hard work and says that it’s the most rewarding and the key to success, quoting that “Hard work beats talent, when talent doesn’t work hard”. Saying further that her life is about putting the work in, reaping the rewards  and creating your own success story; it doesn’t matter where you’re coming from or what people say you can and should not even entertain dreaming of doing because of your circumstance – go ahead and make it happen anyway

We then had Zelda le Grange share her experiences with former President Nelson Mandela. Eliciting a great response from the crowd, she starts off by mentioning the women of 1956 marching to the Union Buildings in protest of the “pass laws” , moving to the woman that she was - admitting that she and her family happily lived in Apartheid and they never asked questions. In 1994 she applied for a job as a typist in government only because it was close to home. When she first met Madiba she says she was absolutely dumb founded by his friendly and open demeanour toward her. He in fact extended his hand to shake hers and her immediate thought was … “surely he must know I voted no in the last elections” and secondly was that in his first approaching her – he spoke to her in Afrikaans. The language of the people who oppressed him and tortured and killed many of his people … and yet the humility of the man to speak to her in that very same language - was mind-boggling. Madiba always said that “when you speak to a man you speak to his head, but if you speak to a man in his language – then you speak to his heart”. This she says is true as it started a process of her digging into the history and reasoning of Apartheid and led to the start of her ultimate loyalty and respect for the man known as Nelson Mandela. Dedication, loyalty and commitment are what she says is the recipe for achieving the world and reaching the distance. Discipline, respect and integrity are what Nelson Mandela taught her. To the extent that Madiba even disliked those people who came late and found it nothing short of disrespectful. With respect, she says the two most important things that he had told her was  “never allow the enemy to determine the grounds of battle” and “the way you approach a person is the way the person will treat you.” He always respected each and every person absolutely and that is what she says is the Madiba magic. She further says that if we make it fashionable for the above values to be practised with our children - as women and parents – society and the world can be a much better place.

And finally was the lead singer of super successful and locally nourished Freshlyground! She started her address with a powerful rendition of a lullaby that represented her life and is one of the most popular songs that Freshlyground produced. She too came from a township, but in the Eastern Cape. She comes from a single parent family where it was her father who had looked after and her siblings and spoke about her love for her family and the importance of maintaining family ties as, not only in business but also in personal life, the importance of having a network of people to count on and communicate with can make a world of difference. She also told a tale of not letting the critique of other people dictate the distance you travel. When she and her band had first performed, during their early days, in front of a panel of judges, the judges had said that the band was a “talentless bunch of hippies destined for oblivion” and despite which…  heyy perhaps some of us don’t know who in the world Zolani or Freshlyground are – they currently climb the stairs of music industry success and have performed with international artists and on international stages. Hence the sentiment of not giving up because of bad critiques or because of a speed bump or two.

And at the end of it all, I got a chance to meet and greet a few busy women before they had to rush off back to the office and the wealthy housewives to pick up their kids and even recognised a lecturer or two from my University and exchanged knowing smiles. All in all it was a beautiful and inspiring experience and one thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated. Jazaka’Allah Khair for the opportunity and to all of you for reading.   

About the author
A "die-hard winged eyeliner fan and wearer", Zaynura is studying her third year in Law at UKZN Howard College. She is also the current deputy chairperson of the MSA chapter there and dedicates time to motivational speaking.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Civic Engagement - An Islamic Duty

By Nadeem Mahomed

Today (12 August) marks International Youth Day; a day commemorated by the United Nations (UN) since 2000. This year the theme adopted for the Day is ‘Youth Civic Engagement’.

UN’s Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, comments “In this landmark year, as leaders prepare to adopt a bold new vision for sustainable development, the engagement of youth is more valuable than ever. At this critical moment in history, I call on young people to demand and foster the dramatic progress so urgently needed in our world.” 

The engagement of youth in societal matters is essential in achieving sustainable human development, yet platforms for them to engage with these issues in the spheres of society (economically, politically, socially) are often not easily accessible. Being the representative body of Muslim student in the country, the Union of Muslim Students’ Associations (MSA Union) of South Africa has endeavoured over many years to provide such a platform to our students.

Why do we need a socially conscious youth?

We know that Allah SWT is Al-Adl, The Just and Most Equitable. If Allah is just and we see injustice being committed on the Earth, then it is because we, the Creation, are perpetuating this injustice.

There are verses upon verses in the Holy Quran making justice unavoidable for us. Verse 135 of Surah Nisa reinforces this: “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even though it be against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, be he rich or poor, Allah is a Better Protector to both (than you). So follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest you may avoid justice, and if you distort your witness or refuse to give it, verily, Allah is Ever Well-Acquainted with what you do.”

Allah makes it clear that if we have tauheed, we must pursue justice no matter the circumstances.

As members of broader South African society, we have a responsibility to contribute to it. We do not live in a cocoon, and living in a society riddled with a range of socio-economic issues - especially post-Apartheid - it is imperative that we engage and look at the ways in which as Muslims we can contribute. For example, the National Development Plan has been adopted by the ruling party and can therefore be seen as the plan for the future of this country. Do we know what that plan says? Have we scrutinised it and been involved in pointing out its flaws – and working to fix those flaws? Have we sat down as a Muslim community and given thought as to how we can improve education, healthcare and security, how we can combat corruption and unemployment and address transformation?

As a Muslim organisation, we have too often heard that politics has no place in our work within the Deen and this was an unfortunate rhetoric that was put forward by many during the Apartheid era. Over the years, the practicing of our religion has, in many regards, been reduced to a mere set of rituals.

But [this is a blog, so I will use my literary licence to start this sentence with “but”] I would like to ask this: our Islamic calendar – when did it begin? It does not begin with the birth of the final prophet Muhammad SAW, as the Christian calendar does with the birth of Hazrat Isa AS, nor did it begin with the first revelation. The Islamic calendar began when the Muslim community of Makkah made hijrah to Madinah and assumed political power of the city. Islam, has since day 1, been intertwined with politics (if looking at politics as the activities associated with the governance of people).  

It is understandable that everyone has their interests, and politics may not be one of them, but social issues must be. We must make an effort to know what is happening around us. Listen to the news, not just the weather or sport updates. Occasionally flick through a newspaper. Follow some news accounts on Twitter, along with Mufti Menk’s. Discuss the news events of the day with your family at dinner. Formulate views and opinions on what we see unfolding in parliamentary proceedings on a daily basis; about the investigations into Nkandla; about whether the widows of the miners killed in Marikana will get justice. Formulate them and express them.

Further afield, we must remain aware of international issues. We know all too well about the atrocities committed against the citizens of Palestine, but Palestinians are not the only persecuted people. Exhibit A - the Rohingyan people. They have been discriminated against since the 1980s, but their plight has gone unnoticed for the most part. As a society, we are comfortable in waiting for someone to tell us whose struggle is important and whose struggle we must care about – we do not take that initiative ourselves.

And why Muslim youth specifically?

As Muslims, we believe wholeheartedly that Islam is the best way of life, and that the Holy Quran has the answers to all our problems. So why then are we fine to entrust the future of our communities and families in the hands of everyone else? We need to be at the forefront of charting out the future of our country so we can rest assured that our future generations will grow up in a country whose values are closely aligned with that of Islam’s and continue to enjoy the religious freedoms we do today.

Over decades, we have inherited societal ills from the generations before us. Ultimately, it is the youth that will have to deal with those issues. We need to take this platform, with both hands and a loud voice, to engage with these issues and come up with the solutions. The mere fact that the problems our societies face have not been solved indicates that those solutions must lie within the minds of the generations to come. We need an environment that cultivates this thinking to see this to fruition. As the youth, we cannot remain ignorant. We need to champion causes, and have an active voice and presence in our communities.

You do not need to be going to marches or protests or even re-tweeting 'Free Palestine', or whatever the struggle-trend of the moment may be, to prove that you are aware of injustices that may be going on. In fact, you do not need to prove anything to any human being. Our duty is with Allah to fulfil His commandments during our time on Earth.

It is vital that, as an individual, you are able to empower yourself with the knowledge of the status quo - from both a local and a global perspective - to remain aware of injustice, to take up the fight of the oppressed and carry this Ummah forward, God-willing.

About the author
Nadeem is the current President of MSA Union and represents MSA Union within national civil society circles. Doing his Honours in Accounting Science at Wits University, he also plays an active role in student development and politics on campus.

Friday, July 10, 2015


July 10 2015 marks Al Quds Day – commemorated on the last Friday of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, declared by the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini as “an international day of struggle against Israel and for the liberation of Jerusalem."

On this day, as the MSA Union we reiterate our solidarity not only for the people of Palestine, but for all oppressed Muslims around the world.

May Allah ease their suffering, deliver them from oppression and grant relief to them.

We rounded up some info and stats about a few nations in which Muslims remain oppressed


  • In 2014, Israel embarked on a 50-day full-on onslaught of attacks on the Gaza Strip called operation Protective Edge which resulted in the death of almost 2400 Palestinians – primarily civilians – and the destruction of more than 18 000 homes. The damage is beyond repair, and it will take years for Gaza to recover.
  • The Rules of Israel’s military occupation in the West Bank state that the age of responsibility starts at 12. The injustice continues even for the children of Palestine.
  • The European Union:  “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories”
  • June 2015 marks eight years since Israel’s tightening of blockades on Gaza. Crippling land, sea and air blockades have been in place since 2007 on the Gaza Strip, affecting more than 1.8 million indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. While Palestinians in Gaza face a 45% unemployment rate, Israeli companies profit from a monopoly on the supply of goods to Gaza, from which they made $375-million in 2012 alone.


  • The Rohingya people are an ethnic minority in Myanmar and have been persecuted by the Buddhist majority government.
  • They are labelled illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, and since 1978 military operations have been conducted against them
  • The United Nations has described the Rohingya people as the most persecuted minority in the world.
  • They are denied citizenship and classified as Stateless people – no state will recognise them.
  • Because of their status as stateless, they are denied access to education, healthcare, require permission to marry, have their reproductive rights restricted and are subject to numerous abuses such as forced labour.
  • Myanmar's President Thein Sein says refugee camps or deportation is the "solution". They are faced with threats of rape and mass killing on a daily basis.
  • Countless Rohingya die drowning every year while trying to escape the persecution – in 2015 alone, more than 700 Rohingya have died at sea while trying to escape to neighbouring nations of Thailand and Indonesia
“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

A group of South African organisations are currently collecting humanitarian aid for the Rohingyan people. See our blog post for more: 


  • In July 2012, the International Red Cross labelled the violence in Syria a civil war.
  • Estimates of the death toll of the war are at 210 000, as of 2015, with half of the total casualties being children – in reality though, the figure is likely to be higher.
  • 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.
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).

Those wanting to support Gift of the Givers’ continuous attempts to assist Syria can do so by making a deposit into their account:
ACCOUNT NAME: Gift of the Givers Foundation
BANK: Standard Bank
BRANCH: Pietermaritzburg, South Africa


  • Population: estimated 10 Million people
  • Rough statistics:
-          Estimated Killing: 91 865
-          Women raped: 9708
-          Civilians missing: 10 000

  • Since 1947, after the Indian Subcontinent gained independence from British Rule, both India and Pakistan have engaged in an ongoing and unresolved conflict over Kashmir – which has a majority Muslim population.
  • Kashmir remains dominated by Indian control over police and Parliament

So, what can you do?

  • Educate people around you on the situation
  • Attend marches and protests
  • Read up some more. Scour the internet, speak to experts – keep yourself updated about what’s going on
  • Encourage your local MSA to have seminars, debates and more events to educate students on local affairs
  • Volunteer at organisations in assisting them in making a difference! Get involved

      For Palestine: Boycott Divestment and Sanction (BDS South Africa)
          @BDSSouthAfrica on Twitter and BDS South Africa on Facebook

       For Rohingya : Protect the Rohingya
        @ProtectRohingya on Twitter

Move beyond principally acknowledging a crisis, and become actively involved in creating awareness!

Want to get involved with MSA Union’s Politics committee? Email

Thursday, July 2, 2015

An introduction to Dhikr in the form of Gadat

By Aslam Bulbulia

In the Name of Allāh, the Most Compassionate, the Most Merciful. Peace and Blessings upon our beloved Prophet Muḥammad, his family and his Companions.

A short introduction to Dhikr in the form of Gadat:

On Saturday the MSA will be hosting a Dhikr (remembrance) of Allah at the Auckland Park Masjid from 14:30-15:30.

The Prophet (SAW) said in a Ḥadīth: “Allāh the Exalted and Transcendent stated: ‘‘I am near to the thoughts of my bondsman (servant) as he thinks about Me. And if he remembers Me in his heart, I also Remember him in My Heart; and if he remembers Me in an assembly, I Remember him in a better Assembly; and if he draws near to Me by the span of a palm, I draw near to him by a cubit; and if he draws near to Me by a cubit, I draw near to him by the space of two hands; and if he walks towards Me, I will rush (run) towards him”” recorded in the books of Bukhārī, Muslim, Tirmidhī and Ibn Māja

The dhikr on Saturday is commonly known as a Gadat. Growing up as a Muslim in Johannesburg, the first time I attended a Gadat was at the 21st birthday of one of my friends who had grown up in Cape Town. It was a beautiful experience and although I was familiar with the words being recited, the style of recitation was new to me and I have been curious about it ever since - trying to attend them at every opportunity.

I recently had the opportunity to experience dhikrs in Morocco and Toronto and was amazed at the similarities between the Gadat and other dhikrs practiced. The wording of the dhikr originates from the Ratib al-‘Haddad by Imam 'Abdullah ibn 'Alawi al-Haddad from Tarim in the Valley of Hadramaut, Yemen.
What is recited is a collection of verses from the Glorious Quran, the beautiful names of Allah, praise for the Prophet Muhammed (SAW) and common prayers to Allah.
He was an eminent scholar that placed a lot of emphasis on Islamic spirituality (sufism) but this can sometimes seem a very mystic thing. In simple terms, the way I understand it, he focused on trying to cure some of the illnesses of the heart which would include pride, greed and arrogance through the remembrance of Allah. The more we remember the power of the Almighty, the significance of Him in relation to our own lives, the purer we will be in our intentions and actions leading to more whole individuals and a better world. This is in addition to the direct reward that would be received for the recitation of the dhikr.

In many ways the Gadat  has become a very South African expression of Islamic identity. The Gadat style is more particular to South Africa because the style of recitation is called the tokang and jawap system - the only style of dhikr in the world that uses a 'statement' and 'answer' system. For those who have heard it, it would be as follows: the leader, or Galiefa, would recite the opening verses of a Surah and the congregation would 'Jawap' or respond with the following verses.

To hear a more standard recitation of the Ratib: 

To hear the South African Gadat: 

More on Imam ‘Abdullah ibn ‘Alawi al-Haddad:

Translation of the Ratib al-Haddad:

About the author
Aslam is an MSA Alumni, having served on MSA Wits and MSA Union committees in the past. Aslam is currently completing his Masters degree in Development Planning at Wits University in Johannesburg. 

Friday, June 19, 2015

MSA Union slams Israeli Propaganda Trips

بِسْمِ اللَّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيم

(In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful)


The Union of Muslim Students' Associations (MSA Union) of South Africa condemns in the strongest of terms any partaking in fully funded, courtesy trips to Israel in the interests of promoting propaganda for the Zionist agenda. 

This condemnation comes as numerous members who form a part of Progressive Youth Alliance (PYA) structures have accepted invitations to join a delegation travelling to Israel. 

This is despite the fact that just last week, a statement was released by the by South African youth and student groups slamming Israeli propaganda trips to Israel, signed by (amongst others) the President of the South African Students' Congress (SASCO). The statement explicitly states that any member of any PYA structure (SASCO, the Young Communist League and the ANC Youth League) who participates in these Israeli holiday propaganda trips will be strongly condemned and have serious disciplinary action taken against them. 

Partaking in these propaganda trips is constituting being complicit in the bloodshed of the Palestinian people. The MSA is above all else an organisation of conscientised human beings who advocate for social justice, as is enjoined by our Creator; we therefore stand in solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine and cannot therefore sit by and let this happen.

We share the opinion of the PYA, as expressed in the statement, that holiday propaganda trips such as these are a direct response to the long-standing support of South African people to the Palestinian struggle as well as the support of the boycotts, divestments and sanctions against Israel campaign (BDS). 

Certain MSA campus chapters remain aligned with organisations comprising the PYA on their specific campuses, and we thusly reiterate the importance of ensuring that our comrades not be swayed by the lure of Israeli propaganda. 

We continue our support of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination in the name of freedom, justice and equality and, Insha Allah, with continued action and fervent prayer, may we see a free and liberated Palestine in our lifetime. 

Issued by the Union of Muslim Students’ Associations of South Africa
on 19 June 2015

For more information, contact:

Nadeem Mahomed                                
071 891 8722 |

Aaisha Dadi Patel
Head of Politics & South African and International Affairs
071 358 5104 |

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


MSA Union is embarking on an exciting new Quran Campaign this Ramadaan! We want hearts reconnecting with the Quran, done through personal reflections and life lessons from this most beautiful Book. And when better than in the Holy Month in which it was revealed!

Our plan is to give you, the student, the platform to select some ayaat/verses from Quran that have really touched your life, and share this with others in the hope that it'll achieve the same for them. This will be done by making a short video clip of your experience and sharing it on social media...

Additionally, we plan to have local scholars share some insights of selected ayaat which have impacted them personally as well and also capture these insights in a short video clip, Insha Allah.

Each day of Ramadaan we'll be looking at a verse from a different juz/chapter (e.g. Day 1- Chapter 1, Day 2- Chapter 2, etc.).

Template for the 3-5 minute video clip:
1. Name
2. City/ University
3. Surah + verse selected and brief outline
4. Personal value and impact it's had on you
5. How you've implemented it in your life

Be part of #ADateWithQuran Campaign and share the love for the miracle that is the Quran. 

Reflect. Inspire. Motivate.

For more information, contact us on or  073 547 2773


Monday, June 15, 2015

REVIEW of the MSA UNION Qur’an Conference 2015

By Nabil Yasien Mohamed

From the Left: Anwar Jhetam, Shaykh SM Hasan al-Banna, Nabil Yasien Mohamed and Abbass Darab
Photographer: Khadeejah Manjra
The Union of Muslim Students’ Association (MSA Union) convened their first National Qur’an Conference in Johannesburg, South Africa at the University of Witwatersrand, from the 30th April to 3rd May 2015.
The vision for such a conference was articulated by the former president of MSA Union, the late Yusuf Talia. The credit for the realization of this vision was the hard work of the project team of MSA Union and the sponsorships from AWQAF SA and many others.

The main objective of the conference was to bring the meaning of the Qur’an to the center of our everyday lives. It was open to scholars, students and the general public. Various topics were covered from a Qur’anic perspective, including Environment, Youth, Science, Gender, Interfaith, Economics and Politics. The conference stimulated questions and discussions on Islamic law, Islamic theology and current affairs.

The main guest speaker was Shaykh SM Hasan al-Banna, from the UK, founding director of the Islamic Institute for Development and Research (IIDR) and an Advisory member of the Research Center for Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE). In his speech on the importance of Civic Engagement and Spirituality, he proposed a middle-path between Sufi extremism and Islamism. He emphasized the importance of infusing Islamic spirituality in our everyday lives, be it the workplace, the marketplace, or the political arena. This reminded me of the Romans, who described the Muslims as ‘Knights during the day and Monks at night’.
I was fortunate to interact on a personal level with scholars such as Sheikh Hasan Al-Banna. It gave me a better appreciation of his sincere devotion to the study of the Qur’an and to his approach to Islamic scholarship. The conference created a setting in which attendees could discuss and connect with the scholars, a meeting of not just minds but hearts. 

Our Prophet (SAW) said: “Souls are like troops which gather together. The ones who met before get on well; those whom they recognize, they get along with, and those whom they do not recognize, they will not get along with”. This refers to a time before we met in this world, in the realm of forms, when Allah said: “Am I not your Lord?” to which we said:  “Yea! We do testify!” This collective covenant, recognising our Lord, is what binds us as one brotherhood.
I felt this brotherhood/sisterhood (ukhuwwah) at the conference. In spite of our different ethnic backgrounds, or theological orientations, be it Deobandi, Sufi, Salafi, or modernist, we unconsciously tried to uphold this pre-existential covenant, and responded from the depths of our souls, from our fitrah or innate nature.  It is at such open-spirited conferences that we learn the possibility of co-existence and cooperation of Muslims from diverse ideological and theological backgrounds.  We learn here that unity does not imply conformity, but respect for diversity.

There was an eager thirst from the attendees to drink from the fountains of knowledge; everyone was there to learn from and engage with the scholars. Most were serious, ferociously taking notes and inquisitively asking questions.  There was a significant Cape representation at the conference and some of the speakers from Cape Town were: Moulana Tauha Karaan, son of the late Yusuf Karaan (may Allah have mercy upon his soul) and founder of Dar al-Ulum Arabiyyah al-Islamiya (Strand), who spoke on the Qur’an and Economics as well as Qur’an and Aqeedah and Sheikh Riyadh Walls (Stegman Road Mosque) who spoke on the Qur’an and Science. Among the presenters were young students of traditional Islamic studies, namely Zakariyya Harnekar (Dar al-Ulum Arabiyyah al-Islamiya), Abass Darab (Zaytuna College, USA) and Anwar Jhetam (MSA Union).

In the light of prevailing sectarian violence and polarising worldviews it is conferences of this kind that will bridge the divide. One of the key concepts that cropped up frequently was the concept of wasatiyah (moderation). Through wasatiyah dichotomies are transcended, and tolerance can be achieved.

Unfortunately, the conference did not pull half the crowd that was expected. I do not know if it was due to poor publicity or a lack of interest on the part of the community. Nevertheless, those who were present must have been enriched, as I have been.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


The United Nations (UN) has called the Rohingya of Myanmar one of the world’s most persecuted ethnic minorities. Gross human rights violations of the Rohingya have been recorded since 1978.
The state sanctioned violence against them is symptomatic of a long and oppressive history of discrimination by the Myanmar government which has labelled the Rohingya illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. They are thus rendered stateless despite their presence in Myanmar going back many generations.
They are despised by most of the Buddhist majority and are denied basic rights such as citizenship, education, the freedom of movement, employment, the right to own property and marry without state permission. They are also subjected to forced sterilisation and forced labour.
The brutal persecution in Myanmar has forced the Rohingya to flee in droves as “boat people”, risking their lives on rickety boats on the open seas in order to seek a better life making them easy prey for human traffickers.
The discrimination against the Rohingya has been further reinforced by the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) governments who have, for the most part, remained silent about their fate. Neighbouring countries have blatantly participated in push-backs of Rohingya boats which was a contributing factor to the current humanitarian catastrophe. In the past three months, alone, more than 25,000 Rohingya have left Burma by sea, more than double the amount during the same period last year.
Despite the efforts by various countries over the past week to find solutions to the Rohingya crisis which left 8000 Rohingya adrift on the Andaman seas, humanitarian aid is urgently required.
The following organizations have joined the appeal to protect the Rohingya:
Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA),
Media Review Network (MRN),Muslim Students Association (MSA),
Cage Africa
Ogaden Community
Makopa Foundation
BDS South Africa
We appeal to all South Africans to open their hearts and to contribute towards this worthy cause.
All contributions and donations are welcome and can be made into the following account.
Bank Details –
Name:     Palestine Solidarity Alliance
Bank:      ABSA
Branch:   Lenasia
Acc. Number:   4070101666
Reference:   “Rohingya Relief”           
Issued By:
Protect the Rohingya
Advocate SE Mayet  

Endorsed by:
1. The Palestine Solidarity Alliance (PSA)
     Naazim Adam
2. The Media Review Network (MRN)
     Ibrahim Vawda
3. Cage Africa
    Karen Jayes
4. Ogaden Community SA
    Mohammed Dahir
5. MSA Union of SA
    Nadeem Mahomed
6. Makopa Foundation
    Haroon Mahomed
7. Boycott Divestment and Sanctions South Africa (BDS)
    Kwara Kekana

For more information from MSA Union:

Nadeem Mahomed
071 891 8722 |

Ayesha-Bibi Khan 
Secretary General
076 867 4755 |