• August 15th, 2020

Opinion - Tolerance, productivity and Muslim community of Namibia

The culture around fasting this year, which started on 23 April until 23 May 2020, is curtained by the Covid-19 pandemic. Normally, most Muslims jointly commence the fast at Masjid or home. When it is break time, some of the Muslims flock to the Masjid to break the daily fast together. But this year, all those practices accompanying daily fasting are absent, thereby providing a quite unalike fasting experience this year.

Ramadhan is the most sacred month for Muslims all over the world. It is the month in which every Muslim abstains from eating, drinking, smoking and lawful sex during daytime from dawn to dusk for a month. Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, and fasting is known and is widely practised by most world religions in one or another form (Quran2:183). 

In each house, there are food and drinks acquired lawfully by each household, bought for sustenance of the family.  Fasting, therefore, teaches one to abstain from lawfully acquired food and drinks for the entire day, which in retrospect teaches self-control, patience, and tolerance. A person should not become a slave of one’s low desires and should restrain oneself, Allah (God) Almighty promises paradise to that person (Quran79: 40-41), resulting in strengthening of one’s morality and self-control and consciousness of the Creator.

Tolerance in Islam relates to how one relates to the behaviour of others.  Always try and understand the actions and behaviour of others. Once you understand what motivates others to behave the way they do, you will be better able to understand and accept their actions.  It is not in your power to change others or to force others to accept your belief, because there is no compulsion in religion (Quran2:256).
We should always keep in mind that guidance is not from you and that Allah (God) Almighty in His power and wisdom would have made all people worship Him, He did not and you should not force people (Q10:100). Our ways of worship will, therefore, be different, as everyone worship in accordance with his or her belief and conviction (Quran109:4-6). 

The hunger and thirst a fasting person feel and experience should teach a person to be empathetic towards the plight of others who are less fortunate within our communities.  Generosity and feeding the poor and needy are also mentioned in the same verse together with fasting in the holy Quran (Quran 2:183 & 184).  

What we recently witnessed in media of Muslim organizations and Muslim businesspersons distributing food and essential goods to the poor and the needy in the suburbs, is, therefore, the response to this verse. Through giving they associated themselves with daily deprivations felt by the less fortunate.

Namibians embraced the religion of Islam from around 1978 onwards and continue to do so until now. Many Namibian Muslims are therefore part and parcel of Namibia’s daily living. In addition, many Namibians met Muslims and were accommodated by Muslims in different countries during the days of the liberation struggle. Some of our leaders and the Swapo Party were well-treated by Muslim governments and their leaders, like Libya, Egypt, Algeria, Nigeria and other Muslim dominated countries. 

Our leaders narrated types of assistance the Swapo Party received from the Muslim countries.  Our leaders were provided with passports to travel from country to country and to attend major conferences and world events. One such leader mentioned to me his Muslim name that was in the passport. Our leadership, therefore, showed understanding and tolerance of Islam and Muslims whenever one approaches them or are in their company.

Namibian Muslims are therefore required to adhere to teachings and tenets of Islam like fasting, daily five-time prayers, pay zakat and to be kind and friendly to others. They should strive to be upright in all dealings with others. Abbas (RA) narrated that a man asked the Prophet (SAW), tell me what should I do to be admitted to Paradise and he (SAW) answered: Worship Allah, associate nothing with Him, observe Salat, pay Zakat and strengthen the ties of kinship (Bukhari, Muslim). 

As we live amongst our people as family and as Namibians, we equally experience daily challenges, be it the current Covid-19 pandemic, lack of employment, poverty, lack of productivity within Namibia, and lack of housing and sanitation. How to overcome these challenges and being part of the solution should be our aim, which we are striving towards.

Currently, many Namibian Muslims are involved in providing services and expertise in diverse sectors. They serve in public and foreign service, parastatals, universities, non-governmental organisations, safety and security, private sector like financial sector and communication sector, and so forth. Muslims from other countries resident and doing business in Namibia also form part of those providing essential services and engaging in commercially viable business projects. We said earlier that we should be part of the solution, and not to be part of the problem. We should, therefore, strive to improve our livelihoods, and be self-reliant in our income and be generous in helping others to improve their living. The negativity around Islam and Muslims should be changed through your actions. Be moderate and not be extreme, as this is the virtue of Islam. Live in harmony, love, and respect others.

Let us use this period of fasting to reflect on our role and purpose in life. What is expected from each one of us? As Namibian and a Muslim, what should I do for the people and my government, rather than, what should my government do for me? That type of mindset will enable us to be involved in doing good and to avoid evil (Quran3:104).  
Wishing you more blessings for the month of Ramadhan and thereafter. Let us emerge as a productive force, holding the hands of vanguards of Namibia to take this country to greater heights of prosperity and productiveness. RAMADHAN MUBAARAK!

Staff Reporter
2020-05-13 10:06:23 | 3 months ago

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