He talks about apartheid and other forms of racism
and how on occasions Muslims themselves have fallen in to this trap
of racism. Then he looks at Islam and the ideological foundations
of its opposition to racism.
Then for the remaining 50 minutes he discusses the
important issue of why is there lack of unity among Muslims and
what is the solution.
"Why is it then that Muslims
have not been united since the demise of Rasool Allah (the Prophet
of Allah). What is it that has happened, why has it happened and
is there a solution to this particular problem?
The three questions that I ask as a revolutionary
in my earlier years (I was very young at the time 15 to 17 years
Does Islam identify the social, economic and
political problems amongst mankind?
Secondly, does Islam provide the solutions
to those social, economic and political problems?
Thirdly, does Islam provide us with the methods
of struggle with which to deal with those problems?
And on all three of those I had a definitive
yes. And I couldn't understand why Muslims are divided, even up
to today. What I have discovered is that the worlds population,
or the unity of mankind is awaiting the unity of the Muslims.
The Muslims are the people of Tawheed and they are not united.
They have one Quran, they have one Prophet that they follow, they
have one origin created as "caliphate Allah ..", and they have
one destiny. They why is it that they are divided? I'm not suggesting
that Muslims live in a vacuum, but we can say that our enemies
weaknesses are not our strengths - we tend to fool ourselves.
So we must identify the enemies strengths and we must identify
our weaknesses, and the major weakness in this Ummah of 1.5 billion
human beings is their disunity.
We have been performing Hajj for about one
thousand four hundred and fourteen years, and those numbers who
go on Hajj have increased exponentially, and those that have gone
on Ummrah have increased exponentially - then what is it that
is not in place? It is my humble submission that there is a difference
between what Islam demands of us, and what we are prepared to
I want us all to answer the question, in our
individual capacity, is Islam the cause of our problems or is
Islam the solution to our problems? Now if we are going to say,
if you think carefully, that Islam is the cause of our problems,
then that puts us outside the fold of Islam - because then we
are kaffir. But all of us say that Islam is the solution of our
problems, but the problems don't seem to be solved and therefore
we have to revisit the cause of these problems. Why then are Muslims
communities, like South Africa, why are Muslim states, and why
are Muslim nations plagued by division and disunity and enmity?
The question I pose is does al Quran deal with
the concept of, firstly, conflict resolution in Islam amongst
Muslims and with reconciliation?
Firstly when we say our Kalima Shahadat [declaration
of faith] two things happen. One we acquire a set of rights which
Allah has ordained for us, a set of divinely ordained human rights
- not given by a parliament, or human beings or a body. But we
simultaneously acquire a divinely ordained set of obligations,
so for each right there is this obligation.
If a person embraces Islam then all the rights
that accrue to a Muslim accrue to him immediately, but the obligations
only accrue to him once he knows what those obligations are and
he is capable of carrying it out. So an obligation in Islam is
firstly it is morally binding on the Muslim, and secondly it is
legally binding on him because this is a contractual obligation.
But we must ask that we be certain what these obligations are
because they cannot be based on speculation. Because if they are
based on speculation then the iman of this person is not intact:
"certainty, absolute conviction of the truth is the whole of iman"
Iman cannot be based on doubt. So for this person to act he must
be certain, and this applies both to our individual obligations
as well as to our collective obligations - we must be certain
Why are obligations necessary? First and foremost
they are necessary because they are a means for solving intra-personal
conflicts, when a person has conflicts within himself and the
moment he prioritises his obligations the conflict disappears.
Secondly it is a means of resolving inter-personal conflicts -
conflicts between human beings. Thirdly it is also a means for
resolving intra-communal conflicts.
And this is what is happening in the Muslim
communities. The Imams are opposed by the masjid committees, and
the masjid committees are opposed by the musalids. I don't know
of any masjid where there is no such conflict. In Cape Town, in
South Africa, in Southern Africa these are the problems that keep
on cropping up, these are intra-communal problems. Then there
are the conflicts between communities, the inter-community conflicts.
Obligations are therefore a means for prioritising
our values, our processes and our responsibilities. Secondly it
is also a means for determining accountability.
Husbands have rights but they also have obligations,
wives have rights but they also have obligations, and that which
is the right of the husband is the obligation of the wife, and
that which is the right of the wife is the obligation of the husband.
That which is the right of the child is the obligation of the
parent, and vice-versa. That is why Islam works and other systems
don't work. And there are no policemen that enforce this because
they have accepted this kalima shahadat and that binds them to
But these obligations also determine the criteria
for action. So now we understand how to deal with these problems
in our communities because Islam deals with real life problems
- the Quran was not revealed to children, it is not children that
engage in talaq, it is not children that have got to pay gizia,
it is not children who have to engage in jihad, these are the
concerns of adults. And therefore these real life problems must
be dealt with.
Two sets of ayat al Quran will make this exceptionally
clear to us. The first one, surah al Hujarat (49) ayah 9 translates
"if two parties amongst the Mohmin" - it doesn't say Muslim -
"if two parties amongst the Mohmin fall in to a quarrel make you
peace between them, but if one of them transgresses against the
commands of Allah beyond bounds against the other, fight you"
- physically to fight, this is not shadow boxing, this is not
metaphorical fighting, it says "fight you against the one that
transgresses until he complies with the commands of Allah, but
if he complies then make peace between them with justice and be
fair for Allah loves those who are fair and just"
Now when the Islamic movement in South Africa
coined the phrase and put it on stickers and posters "JUSTICE
BEFORE PEACE" some of the ulema opposed it. How else is peace
going to be established? Now if Muslims understand that between
themselves and they practice it, then it is not difficult to understand
how peace is established between the Muslims and their enemies
- its only on the bases of justice and nothing else. So peace
in Islam is a manifestation of justice and that is why we as Muslims
we love justice more than we love peace for peace emanates from
From Quran: "the believers are but a single
brotherhood" and in the first constitution of Medina, the very
first clause says that this Ummah is one ummah and that there
will never be another ummah like it. The believers are but a single
brotherhood so make peace and reconciliation between your two
contending brothers and fear Allah that you may receive mercy".
And I know sometimes that this ayat is recited sometimes is several
different modes of recital and some even say 14 different modes
of recital but I know that there is only one mode of understanding
- and that is what is absent.
The second set of ayat "Oh ye who believe,
oh ye who have iman, oh ye who have reached this level or awareness
and consciousness and of commitment obey Allah and obey his rasool
(prophet) and obey those who obey Allah and his rasool. In South
Africa the ulema of the courts, of the government, they told us
that ayah means "oh you who have iman obey Allah, obey his rasool
and obey the government in power" and they collaborated with the
apartheid government and I'm sure all the oppressors in the world
do the same - they tell you the Quran says you must obey the government
That ayah does not end there, the rest of the
ayah reads "if you differ in anything amongst yourselves then
refer it back to Allah and His rasool, if you do indeed believe
in Allah and the Last Day, that is best and most suitable for
final determination". Now the beauty of that in terms of rational
thinking is when people have a dispute and they cannot resolve
their dispute you don't refer the disputers, you refer it to the
higher authority to resolve it. So on both those grounds the ulema
of the world have failed their communities in that respect, the
good ones excluded. It is on that bases then that the intra-communial
and inter-communial conflicts can be resolved. It has not happened
since the demise of Rasool Allah.
I went to Sheikh Omar Habib to invite him to
the Islamic Unity Convention. I said let us put first things first,
we are 1.2 million Muslims [in South Africa], but there are 800
organisations representing the interests of these Muslims. So
you have 800 different opinions on certain issues. He said to
me "My dear boy" - he's older than I am, he studied at al-Azhar
for 13 years, so he said "My dear boy, what you are trying to
do, nobody has ever done in the history of Islam". Because after
the demise of Rasool Allah (SAW) the Muslims were split. And he
told me Jamaal udeen Afghani had tried, Syed Qutb had tried, etc.
My answer to him, in my ignorance, was "Sheikh Omar I am not a
follower of those who cause division of the Ummah, I'm a follower
of Rasool Allah (SAW). Because the Muslims were not disunited
under Rasool (SAW). And he had no answer for me.
The question then is answered, does the Quran
deal with conflict resolution and reconciliation? If Islam does
deal with it between husband and wife, between father and child
then its quiet obvious it deals with it between ruler and ruled,
and between nation and nation, and between oppressor and oppressed.
One, which conflict management principles are then in place in
the Quran. Two, which conflict management policies are in place
in derived from these principles, and Three, which conflict management
processes are in place based on these principles on these policies
so that we can go forward?
The one person, may Allah be pleased with him
was Imam Khomeini, and he had made no bones about this issue.
Before I came here, a few months ago, I reread Imam Khomeinis
collected speeches - its published under the title Kausar, there
are four volumes. The first volume is from 1962 to 1978, in there
Imam Khomeini says there is no difference between the Muslims
in Turkey and the Muslims in Iran, and during the revolution Imam
Khomeini also emphasised "la Sunni, la Shia, wahda wahla Islamia"
Now I'm not saying that there aren't differences, yes there are
historical differences, there are differences of interpretation.
But I am saying what is the Quran saying? If I transgress against
the principles of the Quran then obviously there is something
wrong which must be corrected in accordance with the principles
of the Quran, that is very obvious.
As a result of these problems not being resolved,
in South Africa we have a Shafi masjid and a Hanafi masjid in
the same street, because the two couldn't live together. It was
so bad that fathers wouldn't give of their Hanafi daughters to
a Shafi husband. Fortunately, this was in the 1950s, this has
now started to die out. And we can multiply these cases based
on ethnicity, nationality, language, etc. and the principle of
"ina akrumukum ahndallahi akhakum" is totally ignored.
The conceptual framework, based on the teachings
of Imam Khomeini and other ulema who are sincere about the pursuit
of the unity of this ummah, said and this Imam Khomeini said to
the members who went to the Majlis (the first time). He said to
them "differ on issues, not on personalities". In the Islamic
Unity office we have got a notice up in front of every office
- the women's forum, the youth forum, the national ulema council,
and the Islamic unity convention national office and the educators
forum and it says "look not at who is right but at what is right".
Now when I address people in accordance with their personality,
then I tailor my talk to suit their personality, when I address
people in terms of their mentality, it is a far higher level of
communication. Because it is not merely mind to mind or akal to
akal or intellect to intellect, it is also heart to heart and
thats very important. So Muslims must expropriate the truth where
ever it is. I was ashamed one day when an alim said "By you doing
that and praising Imam Ali, etc. you are expropriating the haq
of the ahlul bait. Now I've reread this Quran, 10 thousand times,
and it says this Quran is revealed "as a guide to mankind" [2:185].
It wasn't sent to the Quraish, imagine the Quraish telling me
that you are expropriating the haq of the Quraish.
So there is a conceptual understanding that
must start to reach us, and its a very serious matter, before
the world bursts in to flames, because this is what the west is
looking for. And if we are not united they are going to walk over
us one by one.
I believe that safe guarding a small organisation
anywhere in the world even in South Africa, to retain its identity,
at the expense of the destruction of the Islamic Republic of Iran
is a great crime because it means we reduce those sacrifices to
nothing - the 100,000 that were killed under the shah, the 100,000
that were maimed under the shah and the million mujahadeen who
lost their lives in defending the gains of that revolution. So
we have to understand what is it that we are protecting and what
is it that is destroying us.
The second thing that I learn from this process
is that we must distinguish between factual problems and attitudinal
problems. If on my way here the motor car stalled and we got out
and we checked is there petrol in the car, is there oil in the
car, is there water in the radiator, are the spark plugs okay.
Now I cannot restart that car until I find out what the problem
is - its a factual problem. Now if I discover that the coil has
cracked, that car wont start, I have to repair that coil. But
attitudinal problems can only be resolved by changing attitudes.
Now by putting the facts on the table does not necessarily change
the attitudes - this is what we have discovered. But we must put
the facts on the table. We had a classical example of this at
Cambridge University the other night, sister Merva Kavakchi was
on the platform and supporters of Kamal Attaturks line were present
in the audience, and they said "but you are not a Turkish citizen".
So she explained why she is a Turkish citizen. Now their attitude
was the problem, because if it was a factual problem you would
have picked up the telephone phoned the embassy or phoned the
president in Turkey and solved the problem. But even that fax
arrived that says she is a citizen, their attitude would not have
changed because they came there to humiliate her, to oppose her
message. Socrates, a Greek philosopher of 4000bc, he said "look
not at who says, but at what he says" the reason being don't let
your prejudice intrude. If an atheist tells you that two plus
two is four what are you going to do with it? You cant tell him
you are a kaffir, I don't believe what you say! For the simple
reason that you have the tools to verify what he is saying, so
establish the facts.
But the third level of problems are conceptual
problems - problems of understanding. And any teacher knows, who
teaches mathematics for example, not all students understand the
same theorem at the same time. You can walk through that class
of 40 students and each one of them will understand at a different
time, some might not understand it at all at the time it is delivered
at perhaps a couple of days later they see it.
Now the Muslims cannot give up on the truth,
for Allah says in the Quran in Surah Baqarrah (2:42) And do not
mix up the truth with the falsehood, nor hide the truth while
you know (it). and the Quran also says that the dialectics of
truth is totally distinct from the dialectics of falsehood as
nothing can come from falsehood. The Marxist say that every idea
contains within itself the germ of its own destruction. This is
what they are saying - because you have a theses and then you
have an antithesis and then a new synthesis will come out of it.
But the Muslim says how is this possible? I have the truth what
do I use as an antithesis against the truth - it must be a falsehood.
So how do you get a new synthesis out of this falsehood and truth.
So we say that it is falsehood that contains the seeds of its
own destruction and the truth contains the seeds of its own germination
and development for there is no higher value than the truth.
Now the third point that comes out of our approach
to resolving this problem is that we must address the causes of
the problem and not the symptoms. Can you imagine that a medical
doctor wanted to treat somebody with measles and put on cosmetics
to disguise the measles The person is still ill - he doesn't look
ill but he's very ill. So Muslims have been addressing the symptoms
of the problem - they don't want to get to the causes.
Now the Ulema are at the centre of this conflict
resolution and reconciliation because the sincere Muslims have
a great respect for the genuine Ulema: "The Ulema are the heirs
of the Prophets" meaning what do they inherit? They inherit two
things - they inherit the mantle of truth and they inherit the
mantle of justice. And if they don't have those two, unfortunately
they don't qualify. This message can be delivered in Kabul, it
can be delivered in Cairo, in Islamabad, in Capetown - it can
be delivered anywhere in the world, for it is the principles that
are important in this regard.
The fourth lesson then is a conflict of perspectives
and conflict of interest. Now if I had a cup here in my hand,
unfortunately I don't But assuming this was a cup, and the handle
of the cup is on my right hand side, for all of the audience here
the handle is on your left hand side. For the person on my left
he doesn't see the handle. For the person on my right this handle
looks peculiar because it looks like just two vertical and horizontal
lines. For a person who has a plan view of this cup it looks totally
different and if this was a glass table and the person looked
at the cup from underneath it has a different perspective. But
why do we have different perspectives? Because there is one common
reality. So there is the reality called Islam, and we have different
perspectives about the same Islam. We are not having different
perspectives about different realities. You would call me crazy
if I insisted that the handle on this cup is on the right hand
side. All I can say that yes it is on the right hand side because
of your perspective. So there is a conflict of perspective in
our communities, amongst the nations of Muslims.
But there cannot be a conflict of interest.
There is a conflict of interest between the oppressor and the
oppressed, but there is no conflict of interest between Muslims.
With one Quran, one Prophet, one destiny how can we have a conflict
of interest? This is basic in terms of us trying to resolve this
problem. The question of racism, of nationalism, of any other
ism which divides Muslims is not acceptable.
And if we are asked what forms of government
Islam is opposed to, our answer is very simple. Islam is opposed
to all forms of government which are opposed to Islam. So if democracy
is opposed to Islam, if on the basis of a show of ignorant hands
you want to change the sharia, then Islam is opposed to that understanding
The unity of mankind is awaiting the unity
of the Muslims. And do we want to be held responsible for the
fact that billions of human beings remain kaffir because we are
How can I go to a person that has not embraced
Islam and tell him that Islam is the solution to your problems
and he tells me islam is not even the solution to your problems,
how can it be the solution to my problems? So on that bases then
when I approach a person that has not embraced Islam I am not
going to ask him why have you not embraced Islam.
I asked a couple of adults why you are Muslim
and I got very beautiful answers. Islam is beautiful, Islam teaches
justice, Islam teaches personal hygiene, Islam teaches mental
hygiene, Islam keeps us sober from birth to death, I said mashallah
all beautiful answers. But what does the Quran say why should
you be Muslim? And I could smell their neurones burning because
its not a question that is asked everyday, because we assume that
if we are born into a Muslim home then we are Muslims.
For me the most glaring answer is in Surah
Muhammad (Surah 47, ayah 1-3), translated it reads "Those who
reject Allah, and hinder men from the path of Allah, their deeds
will Allah render astray from their mark, they will not succeed.
But those who have iman and who act in accordance with what is
right and who believe in the wahi sent to Muhammad (SAW) because
it is the truth from their Lord, he Allah will remove their ills
from them and improve their condition." So I am a Muslim because
the Quran is the truth.
So when I go to the non-Muslim I would ask
him not why have you not yet embraced Islam, I would ask him why
have you not yet acknowledged the truth? Now this person has got
two answers ready for me. One is "What you are saying is the truth
is not the truth" which means he has read the Quran, which means
he has made an attempt to understand the Quran. But if that person
tells me "I have not yet come across the truth" and that person
has been in my company for 12 hours or more then there is something
wrong with me.
So on those grounds then, yes there are 1,5
billion Muslims in the world, and they believe that they are Muslims
and I believe them when they say that they are Muslims. But I
also say that they are treating our Quran like a supermarket -
they want to take of the shelves what they want to take and they
have not accepted the fact that the entirety of the Quran is binding
on them. So we must not resort to a components analysis of Islam,
we must be a systems analysis. What is the system of Islam that
needs to be in place?
And in conclusion, just to give an analogy,
if we go to an automobile factory we find the assembly room in
the motor car factory, and all the parts are lying on the assembly
floor together with a manual - the slippins, the wipers, everything
that fits on that car, because they are all marked. And in the
next room, which is the showroom, there is the car which is assembled
with petrol in and oil and water in the radiator. The car on the
assembly floor is the sum of the parts, the one in the show room
is the whole car. That one can drive, this one, on the assembly,
So the philosophers say that the whole is greater
than the sum of the parts. Believe me, all of these parts are
lying there, somebody has to assemble it in order for the system
of Islam to take its rightful place. He Allah has given us this
blessing and he would not have sent the wahi to us if we did not
have the intellect to understand this wahi and if we did not have
the willpower to implement it."
In the Question Answer session one of the questions
lead Imam Achmad Cassiem to talks about Hajj:
"Hajj is about freedom and about struggle,
its about unity and its about brotherhood, its about power and
strength, its about faith and its about commitment.
Hajj is about faith in the unity of creation
and faith in the unity of the faithful.
We tawaf in one direction. We cant find one
group going clockwise and another going counter-clockwise but
that is what we do socially. But we don't do that when we are
on Hajj - we move in one trajectory, and we have been doing this
for one thousand four hundred and fourteen years.
We have one qibla, we have one ummah, we have
one destiny which we say every time a Muslim dies we say aloud
" Innaa lillaahi wa innaa ilayhi raaji'oon".
When I go to the hotel there is an arrow on
the ceiling and on there is written "Qibla", I believe
on certain Muslim aeroplanes they have got a special salat room,
I think they've got a gyroscope. In South Africa we turn 22 degrees
north-east (from Cape Town). So physically, geographically I'm
in qibla. But my intellectual qibla is in Moscow with Karl Marx,
Lenin and Stalin. My financial qibla is in Washington, in Wall
Street. My emotional qibla is somewhere else. So that must first
Now Hajj is the time and place where we must
unite. You don't have a choice - you go on Hajj you must unite.
You cannot go and build your own little Arafat and go and perform
your Hajj separately.
Hajj is a sanctuary for beast and man alike.
Muslim cannot harm Muslim, Muslim cannot harm insects and animals.
Then how is it that somewhere in the world Muslim is killing Muslim
on behalf of an imperialist power?
Hajj is collective striving - we think together
and we act together. The intellect of the human being and of Muslim
particularly can only function in a social order which is free
from greed, free from egoism, free from egotism, and free from
selfishness, and Hajj provides us with that opportunity. If you've
put on your ekrham - you've put on your burial shrouds. So what
is there then that prevents this unity from consolidating itself?
Hajj is also a profound political statement.
Its is anti-racist, it is anti-racialist, it is classless, and
it is super-national.
Hajj is also a profound economic statement,
for the only privileged ones amongst humanity according to Islam
are those who have nothing because they must receive - those are
the only privileged ones.
Hajj is also a profound sociological statement.
"There is no Islam without Jummah" according to our
Rasool-Allah (SAW) - there is no Islam without communal effort,
without co-operation, without co-ordination. Even in small communities
we don't have that.
Hajj is also a profound philosophical statement,
you are here because you want to be here. So Hajj is not just
a law of personal transformation, Hajj is also a law of social
transformation. And yet as Dr. Ali Shariati says, the majority
of Hujjas, or Hajis that come back, they come back with a suitcase
full of souvenir and an empty mind. In South Africa every year,
plus minus eight and a half thousand Hajis come back, in Cape
Town alone two thousand five hundred, now if those people had
understood what they had done then our community should be transformed
and reinvigorated every Hajj. It has not happened..."