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September 29, 2006


John Tallon

It is rare to find a piece such as this that honestly tries to find a place were we can begin to discuss our differences and similarities with people of different backgrounds. There will always be some who are so vehemently and diametrically opposed to our views that we are unlikely to find ourselves in dialogue. But as the piece pointed out, that does not mean we shold ostracise others because we believe they agree with the extremist point of view. I was recently involved in a heated debate with a fellow student who took exception to the activities of a third student, a friend of mine. The argument centred on his belief that my friend, being a Muslim, was essentially a hypocrite and degenerate because he drinks alcohol. I pointed out that many, with a wry smile, admit to being 'lapsed Catholics', whatever they may be. In truth, few Christians follow their beliefs faithfully. Indeed, in the liberal UK, one can almost pick and choose the parts of the Bible one wants and find a recognised Church that will agree. Bypassing the argument about the religious validity of these disparate beliefs which all claim to come from the same document, it shows that Islam, like Christianity, has many 'flavours'.
There is another interesting point. Can anyone not deeply invloved in a faith upon it? How valid are 'outsiders' views? In reference to the Pontiffs recent point, had he wanted to draw the sting of Muslim violence, he might have been better served to ask Christians to look at their own violent history and see if that generated a parallel line of discussion in the wider Muslim community. If it had, at some point the two discussions could have come together. Perhaps then, rather than stand apart and criticise each other, the Muslim and Christian communities could have explained how their shared violent history had affected their views of each other.
Wishful thinking perhaps. I have drawn some parallels between the current conflict with Muslim extremism and that between the UK government and Republican separatists. Whatever each group was guilty of during the conflict, ultimately, both sides came to recognise that the conflict was going nowhere and was being driven by a minority group of die-hard extremists, both loyalist and nationalist. The political centre ground decided to marginalise these elements. The political landscape widened to include new groups who pursued their goals peacefully (largely). Distasteful at it seems at present, one day we will need to address the issue of entering into a dialogue with those whose opinions we find threatening. Hamas, Hizbollah (not elected, I am aware) and ultimately some elements of al-Qaeda will emerge from the shadows. Whether we do talk to them, we will have to decide at the time. But we should keep in mind that almost the only way to establish a lasting peace with an extremist opponent is by negotiaition. We try this tack with states, China and North Korea most obviously. Would it work with small extremist groups?


er it's worth remembering that the balkans were mostly governed by local (non muslim) noteables which is why they didn't become muslim-for most of it it was form of overlordship rather than direct rule in the middle eastern style


John Tallon said: "...the only way to establish a lasting peace with an extremist opponent is by negotiaition."

It worked well with Hitler in 1938. Let's try it again.

It worked well with Stalin in 1948. Let's try it again.

It worked well with Kim Jong Il in 1994. Let's try it again

It worked well with the murderers in Darfur in 2005. Let's try it again!

No, to tell the truth, the only way you deal with these people is putting as much pressure as you can on them. The Soviet Union flourished while we tried to deal with them, then collapsed when Reagan pressured them. Hitler flourished and was emboldened by Britain and France's trying to understand what Hitler wanted.

And who gets hurt? We backed away from Kim in 1994, and he promptly murdered 1 or 2 million of his own people - starved them to death. We backed away from Southeast Asia in 1975, and 2 million Cambodians died, as well as hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese. Boat people are the result of irresolution.

al-Haj Abdullah bin Abdurahman al-Qadiri al-Chisti al-Athloni

Giving without reserve

It is with reticence that I write this. I do not wish to place myself on the moral high ground, or to sermonise anyone. This chapter tries to show the truth and importance of dreaming of our Holy Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger). These words seek to confirm that ours is a Prophet of Mercy, a Witness, and a Bearer of Good Tidings. It also aims to portray the consequence of du’aa in the Masjid al-Haram. It is moreover meant as a method of encouragement for our children to some day continue with the Prophetic Tradition of raising an orphan for the sake of Allah, The One of Unbounded Grace. So that they may by this means know that there is more to life than just prayer and fasting. And that they should give of themselves unreservedly. That they might through it also, temper their adhkaar with compassion.

We were asleep at the Mashrabiyya Hotel in Khalid bin Walid Street in Shubayka, Makkah al-Mukarramah when, by the Mercy of Allah, I had the most beautiful dream. I saw myself standing in the holy presence of our Truthful Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet). The appearance of Our Holy Messenger matched scriptural records. Our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) was spotlessly dressed in white robes and a white turban. I stared aghast. Our Prophet stood about two meters away and faced me directly. I do not have the words with which to suitably portray this most wonderful man, the Seal of the Prophets. I have never seen anyone so unimaginably holy, so indescribably handsome. I reached for my turban, embarrassed for not wearing it. “Leave it,” I said to myself. “You are in the Company of the Prize of creation.” A brilliance shone from our Guided Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet). Our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) smiled at me. The smile radiated light. I stood alert, too humbled to speak. I wished that the dream would last forever. The heavenly smile lasted between ten and fifteen minutes, it felt like.

Alhamdu-lillaah. I had never considered myself deserving of such an enormous honour. This was a spiritual experience of the first magnitude. “What does that smile mean?” I asked myself over and over again.

Part of my da'waat in the Holy Mosque in Mecca, was to ask Allah, The One Who Makes Clear to us His signs so that we may be grateful, to Grant to ourselves the opportunity and blessings of raising an orphan for His sake.

My wife and I had, over a number of years, tried to adopt a baby by applying at several local agencies, and were given all sorts of excuses which disqualified, and sometimes discouraged us. Reasons given were that we were not married according to South African law, that few babies from local Muslim parents came up for adoption, and the fact that we have children of our own. We were also faced with, what was to my mind, the worse aspect of the South African race laws. These regulations and those administering it, in this case, the social workers, prescribed that a ‘brown’ orphaned child had to be matched with ‘brown’ adoptive parents. A ‘yellow’ baby could only be placed with prospective ‘yellow’ adoptive parents, a ‘white’ orphan could not be raised by ‘black’ adoptive parents, and so on. They played dominoes with human lives. Some social workers were more ready to read the ‘race act’ than others. In an interview and in response to a question on whether we would mind adopting a child from a 'lower rung' of the colour scale, I told them that “a nice green one would do.” A jab to my ribs from my wife quickly halted the acid flow down the sides of my mouth. Stirring the ire of our then masters by criticising their political beliefs would not help, she meant. “When the white boss tells a joke, and regardless of its lack of humour – laugh!” she chided me later. Race inequalities existing at the time ensured that hundreds of black orphans went begging in more ways than one. It virtually excluded us from adopting a child. No orphans that matched our race and blood mix were on offer and they weren’t likely to easily present themselves for adoption, we were told. My wife is of Indian (as in “Indian” from India, as opposed to “American” Indian) stock and I am of (well) mixed blood.

On the morning of Wednesday, 1st June 1994, just three days after arriving back home from Haj, we received a telephone call from Melanie Van Emmenes of the Child Welfare Society. She explained that a five-month old girl had come up for adoption. The baby had earlier undergone successful abdominal surgery and she asked whether we would adopt the child. We jumped at the chance.

A rush of adrenaline replaced the after-effects of travel. We were rejuvenated. Capetonians usually visit local pilgrims before departure and also on their arrival back home. We excused ourselves from the few visitors and asked my mother-in-law to host them in our absence. My wife and I immediately went to the Adoption Centre in Eden Road, Claremont. We signed the necessary papers.

Afterwards, we told our children that we were about to receive an addition to the family. We plodded through a maze of red tape in order to legalise the process. (My wife and I had to marry in court because Muslim marriages were not recognised then, believe it or not). A few days later, my wife, brother and I collected the petite infant from a foster-mother in Newfields Estate. I shall never forget the joyous feeling when I first carried the frail waif past the front door. Her name is Makkia. We named her after the great city from which we had just returned.

Taking her into our home is one of the better things that we have done. Makkia has added a marvellous dimension to our lives. She is part of our life’s-work. I shall always be grateful to the people who had assisted us with the adoption.

The meaning behind the glowing smile from our Trustworthy Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) had played itself out in the most delightful way. In our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) we have a beautiful pattern of conduct. Like a lamp that spreads light, the Messenger of Allah invites to the Grace of Allah by His leave. Our Divinely-inspired Prophet is the first of the God-fearing. No person is better than him. Our Prophet Muhammad is the leader of the prophets. He is without sin. Our Prophet (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Messenger) is faultless and the foremost of those who submit to the Will of Allah. An exemplar to those who worship God, our Kind-hearted Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet) is the beacon of the pious. He is an inspiration to those who are thankful to God and the leader of those who remember Allah. How should I express gratitude to the Holy Messenger of Allah for his kind intervention? I am unworthy of untying the thongs of our Prophet’s sandals.

Allah, The One Who Is Sufficient For those who put their trust in Him, Had Granted our want through the barakah of our Beloved Prophet Muhammad (May Allah Convey His Peace and Blessings upon the Holy Prophet).

I’ve been fairly constant about wearing a turban during ’ibaadah since.

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