The South African Muslim Network (SAMNET) is honoured to launch the book "Muslim Portraits - the “Anti-Apartheid Struggle”. The book entails short biographies on 125 Muslim Anti -apartheid activists.
The book is available for sale to the public, and any monies generated from the sales will be kept aside for the publication of a second book which Goolam Vahed has indicated that he has ideas for. We believe it is important to highlight the contributions of Muslims in various spheres of South African society and to document our history.
The book is available from select book stores as well as SAMNET offices.
The cost of the book is R150.00 Plus 50 for posting and packaging. There will be discounted rate for orders of 20 copies or more.
South African Muslim Network
Tel : (031) 207 4223
Fax : +27 86 549 9786
By Ebrahim Rassool Ambassador of
What a wonderful work! Muslim Portraits is one of those works that very few of the people portrayed would ask for in order to immortalise their contribution to the struggle against apartheid and for human rights. Almost without exception, they would invoke the injunctions to modesty and humility to make a case why they should not be eulogised or written about.
But they would be wrong. Part of the struggle in
Muslim Portraits does this job admirably. It does so despite very consciously courting controversy about whether to look specifically at ‘Muslim’contributions; about whether everyone included would fit anyone else’s definition of a ‘Muslim’; or whether the diversity of perspectives represented by those covered in Muslim Portraits were not, at one or other time in the course of struggle, mutually exclusive or intolerant of each other.
But the courage of the work is precisely in its decision to ignore these doubts and to put the higher purpose of Muslim Portraits above sectional concerns. History and future generations may one day show, despite the danger of appearing to separate Muslims as a vital thread in the South African tapestry; why it was important now to show that Muslims could recognise the violation of Islam’s values and respond in concert with citizens of other faiths and ideologies. Future generations may marvel at how human beings seemed different in so many ways, but so much the same in crucial ways, when they read Muslim Portraits.
One is struck not merely by Muslims’ distinctive identity within the South African diversity, but by the diversity of thought and motivation among Muslims themselves. If anything, the identity ‘Muslim’ emerges as a religious and cultural umbrella within which the oppressive conditions of apartheid fomented a diversity of politics, ideologies, nuances, actions, shades and fields of activism. In the strange democracy of the struggle for democracy and human rights, this diversity flourished off the basic Islamic and human instinct for dignity, equality, freedom and human rights. This is especially so when these principles and objectives are not overlayed with a desire to totalise interpretations, methodologies, and attitudes.
Muslim Portraits may have stumbled upon the meaning of the verse from the Quran: “Those who struggle in Our way, We will show them the way.” In giving us a glimpse into how over 100 Muslims have contributed to struggle in
Through their, and many other Muslims’ example, has Allah not shown the way for Muslims in the world today to win trust in the face of mistrust? Can we illustrate that when we cherish our internal diversity, we foster a greater societal diversity that also values our difference? In building equal and inclusive societies do we not help to banish the capriciousness of ever-shifting decisions and definitions of
who are insiders and who are outsiders? Do we not see the enhancement of the South African Muslim fabric when such a high proportion (nearly 20 percent) of the portraits are those of women, who were actively engaged in the frontline of struggle!
In an emerging global context, Muslim Portraits must guide the millions of Muslims currently asserting their right to be free in the ‘Arab Spring’. It must guide the 25 percent of the Muslim Ummah who live as minorities in the face of many challenges. And it must be a guide to those amongst us who are consumed by righteous anger, but do not possess the tranquility of spirit to harness our emotions constructively.
We must pay tribute to the vision of SAMNET, the research and writing skills of Goolam Vahed, and the foresight of the sponsors for Muslim Portraits. Their work will mean that young Muslims can grow up in
benefits of freedom and equality to find their own contributions to
May they also be inspired to find worth causes to which their souls can respond.
Glen Frankel, in Rivonia’s Children, makes the following points that are pertinent
to the intentions of this book. He writes: In the end I see two purposes for this book : to tell an important but little known story about moral choice; and to try and rescue from obscurity a group of people and a body of work that deserves our critical attention, admiration and respect. At the end of a harrowing century, we need to collect and retell such stories, if only to remind ourselves from time to time of the need to be vigilant in protecting civil society from police states, large and small.
Frankel goes on to emphasise the importance of preserving history when he writes the following, citing Hannah Arendt, in her book Eichman in Jerusalem: One of the goals of a police state is to establish “holes of oblivion into which all deeds, good and evil, would disappear”. It is our duty, according to Arendt to preserve history by descending into those holes, rescuing those individual deeds and recounting them to ourselves and our children. The political lesson of individual heroism, she writes, is simple: “it is that under conditions of terror most people will comply but some will not.”
In much the same way, by staying true to their cause and themselves, the South African activists profiled in this book, despite any mistakes they may have made, helped to keep hope alive in their country, and pave the hard road to freedom. More importantly, these are all ordinary people who were caught up in an extraordinary environment. When talking about the contributions of Muslim activists, we must be mindful that most, if not all, were part of organisations and campaigns that had people of different races and religions. The common cause of defeating Apartheid required that such cooperation and unity was paramount. This unity is a common thread throughout the history of the Indian community from the time of Mahatma Gandhi’s campaigns to that of the 1946 passive resistance. Among Gandhi’s close associates were Nagdee, Cachalia, and Naidoo. We can never forget the pioneering work of Doctors Dadoo and Naicker who forged unity of the Indian community across religious and language lines. They took that quest for unity further when, on behalf of the
Madiba further went on to stress the importance of religion in the struggle when, in his address to the Parliament of World Religions in
I do appreciate the importance of religion ... you’d have to be in a South African jail under Apartheid where you could see the cruelty of human beings to each other in its naked form. But it was religious institutions, Hindus, Muslims, leaders of the Jewish faith and Christians who gave us hope that we would one day come out. We would return.
Now in the 18th year of our democracy, we still face many challenges in building the society of the Freedom Charter. Poverty, hunger, unemployment, corruption and climate change are amongst the many challenges that the country has to grapple with. It is in how we and future generations respond to these challenges that will determine whether we have learnt the lessons from the activists profiled
in this wonderful book.
Imam Haron / EnverHassim / Kader Hassim/ Nina Hassim / Hassan Howa / Mohammed Abdulhai Ismail / Aboobaker Ismail / Johnny Issel / Shahieda Issel / Adli Jacobs / Yusuf Jacobs /
Last Updated ( Monday, 08 October 2012 11:48 )
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