Opinion | Umm Abdillah | Radio Islam Programming | 2015.04.17 | 27 Jumadal Ukhra 1436H
When SABC's Eben Jansen’s "unprofessional" interview with EFF spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi sparked outrage on social media earlier this month, people who hadn’t seen the interview made a point of watching it before commenting. “Watch from 19 minutes in” “Watch it from the 20th minute of the show” was a common precursor to the video link that went viral. The point: even the popcorn gallery sought an informed opinion before they too could join the Band of Outraged. Disappointingly, when Muslim media personality Moulana Sulaimaan Ravat merely retweeted a comment related to xenophobic violence in South Africa, that related to an on-air discussion on Sabahul Muslim on Wednesday, he was scarcely afforded the same courtesy. In fact he was called a moron. This, by Muslims who don’t even listen to his radio show, let alone heard his on-air comments, or tried to hear the context related to the contributor’s offensive tweet he retweeted. The purpose of this post is two-fold. First, on a minor level, to call out the assumption he endorsed this sentiment in a positive manner “because all Ulama and Muslim scholars are dumb, callous, judgmental fanatics” “so out of touch with reality” “who don’t even know how to use modern technology” and Second, to analyse what was truly offensive about the original tweet from the contributor – a certain “@fatima_danka – (sic) foreigners don’t close there shops for jumuah salaah..maybe they have angered Allah. Also they are rude to customers”.
Social Media Etiquette is a Myth
Let us start at the beginning. Social media is a tool of engagement and marketing. It allows people and businesses to create, share or exchange information and ideas in virtual communities and networks. For a media company like Radio Islam, or any radio station for that matter, a second purpose is to drive the social media audience to switch on the radio. Thus, interactive questions seeking audience input and opinion are regularly posed on the social media pages of Radio Islam personalities.
Sulaimaan M. Ravat @sulaimaanravat · Apr 15 · What are root causes for #XenophobicSA? Criminality, jealousy, post-apartheid entitlement, or visionless leadership in this regard? #SMQ
On this particular show in question they are hashtagged #SMQ – Sabahul Muslim Question and are all retweeted and read out on air in a bid to stimulate debate and conversation, even the contentious ones. If need be, the contentious ones are dissected or corrected on air. There is thus a definitive link, and always has been, between what goes on between both platforms. Ignoring contentious comments is understood to be counterproductive to debate, learning and or clarification. Thus, even the outraged statements in response to the contentious one were retweeted. Further, it is well understood that the presenter managing the sms lines, email threads and twitter feed while presenting does not, and will not, have the time to reshape or contexualise tweets before retweeting. That happens on air. The presenter does however get to know his/her audience better and it is tacitly understood by all, that not every opinion is correct.
Hence comments full off assumption, hubris and plain rudeness are in poor taste and a poor reflection from the self-hating peanut gallery: ‘And the fact that that moron could dignify that with a retweet to his equally moronic fan club? Surely promoting an ill-conceived opinion is courting problems?’ Further, it’s worth mentioning too that the presenter in this case has won, not one, but numerous awards and nominations at the MTN Radio Awards since its inception. Best Breakfast Show Presenter, Best Community Presenter, Best News and Actuality Presenter, Sabahul Muslim for Best News and Actuality Show, Best Breakfast Show and Best News and Actuality show in 2013 and 2014. The presenter has been nominated for Best Breakfast show presenter again in 2015. Thus, even per industry standards the content presented and aired on the show is excellent.
But is Allah angry with foreigners (and locals) for missing salaah? And how do you distinguish between a Trial from Allah and Punishment?
Allah has bestowed many blessings and countless Grace upon us. The most important of these blessings is the blessing of Islam.
Despite the mercy and grace of Almighty Allah, as Muslims we also understand that punishments are what happen to us in return for our evil deeds, or as a means to turn back to Allah. Trials on the other hand are tests, which are sent to all of us, good people and not so good. Further, trials needn’t always be bad things - people are tested by means of (too much) good stuff too.
Allah tells us in the Holy Quran: "And certainly, We will test you - with something of fear, hunger, loss of wealth, loss of lives and loss of crops, but give glad tidings to the patient. Those who, when afflicted with calamity, say: "Truly to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return. They are those who are blessed and will be forgiven by their Lord, and receive His Mercy. It is they who are the guided ones." [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 155-156]
Allah also reminds us: "Did you think you that you will enter Paradise without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with severe poverty and ailments and were so shaken that even the Messenger and those who believed along with him said, "When will the Help of Allah come?" Yes! Certainly, the Help of Allah is near! " [Surah Al-Baqarah, 2: 214]
The Prophet (pbuh) also said: “The extent of the reward will be in accordance with the extent of the trial. If Allah loves people, He tries them, and whoever is content with this, will have contentment: and whoever is angry - will always have such anger.” (Reported by Tirmidhi)
Even for a single moment if were to lay off the actual contentious tweet and rather examine the premise, we’ll find that neglecting salaah (as a mere example!) does invite the punishment of Allah – and that doesn’t only relate to foreigners, but any of us.
What is VERY important here is to understand this uncontrolled violence South Africa is witnessing currently isn’t necessarily a punishment, but could be trial.
Further, our own behaviour during any trial is a strong clue as to why the trial was sent.
It is related that Sh. Abdul Qadir al-Jaylani (ra) said that trials occur for one of three reasons, each of which has a sign:
(1) Due to sins - the sign of which is the person’s lack of patience & lots of restlessness and complaining during the trial; or
(2) As expiation for sins - the sign of which is patience and not complaining or being restless, along with obedience to Allah being easy on the body; or
(3) As a way to raise one’s rank to the highest of degrees, the sign of which is contentment and calmness, along with obedience being easy on both the body and the heart. [Nahlawi, Al-Durar al-Mubaha fil Hazr wal Ibaha].
Seeking personal spiritual sense of calamities differs from the history or geography and political legacy involved in solving Afrophobic violence. This article intends to serve as no response in how to deal with or solve the tragic circumstances foreigners in South Africa find themselves.
Yet, after we’ve sought Allah’s guidance and engaged in every permissible means to end it, and when we raise our hands in prayer to the Lord of the Worlds and bow in servitude to Him at the end of each horrible day throughout this period, we do remember these words of our beloved Nabi:
- About your deeds being your Rulers – “When Allah desires the felicity of a nation; He makes the tolerant amongst them their leaders, their Learned their arbitrators, the generous their wealthy. And on the other hand, when He desires the torment of a nation; He appoints their foolish as their leaders, the ignorant as arbitrators and the miserly as their wealthy.” [Hadith]
- About trying to rectify our actions – “The nation that is involved in misappropriation of trusts (embezzlement), Allah will fill their hearts with terror for their enemies. The nation that is engaged in fornication will experience great numbers of death. The nation that cheats in measure will have their sustenance curtailed. The nation that legislates against the truth and justice, will experience great bloodshed and the nation that breaks it's contracts, will be subdued by the enemy." - [Hadith] Mishkaat.
And on the off chance someone happens to remind us of the above, that’s barely ‘judgmental’.
May the Almighty shower His Grace and Mercy on us All. Ameen.