umm abdillah, Radio Islam Programming | 2014.11.07 | 13 Muharram 1436
The Hijra was the emigration of the Prophet Muhammad [salla Allāhu ʿalay-hi wa sallam ] and his followers from Makkatul Mukarramah to Madinatul Munawwara. Technically, the first Hijra occurred when a group of Muslims escaped persecution in Makkah and travelled to Ethiopia. Hijrah in Islam, thus signifies a transformation. The companions of the Prophet (pbuh), exited physically from unacceptable conditions in Makkah, and by enduring the physical, mental and emotional hardships of the Hijrah it became a process of self-purification for the love of Allah. It also symbolised their refusal to lose hope in the face of persecution. The concept of Hijrah is thus considered an important stage in the inner spiritual journey of returning to one's Creator and abandoning our attachment to worldly and material belongings. If we consider this in light of how we view love, marriage, partnerships, commitment, the concept of family, and the continuation of the Ummah - a global community that transcends race - it would mean we sincerely rethink and reshape and “re-care” about our society. It would mean that those who have an existing infrastructure become the Ansar – the Helpers to their “Muhajir” community.
The “Indian” community in South Africa has their own challenges with regards marriage which we could unpack ad infinitum. However, for the purpose of this post, it’s the convert or revert community we need to consider and enable. After all, the Ansar become Al Ansar – The Helpers – because of their assistance to the Muhaajireen. In many ways, a convert Muslim is on a continuous Hijrah from Disbelief or an antipathy toward Faith, moving toward the alleged freedom and beauty of Islam. A 2002 article in the Christian Science Monitor quoted Muslim poet and writer Don Mattera as saying: "Islam is the fastest growing religion of conversion in the country, but no one will tell you the statistics, because they don't want to threaten the Christians."
That we focus less on the romanticism of marriage; the executions of weddings, the subsequent “problems” that come with marriage, and more on its’ necessity in the preservation and propagation of Deen is paramount. If that were truly how we were socialised, our convert community wouldn’t feel so alone and isolated in this regard.
Any God-fearing man or woman yearns for marriage, which is essentially a reconstitution of primal unity, and hence of peace. Allah told us Himself: “It is of His signs that He created for you, from your own selves, spouses, that you might find peace in them; and He appointed love and mercy between you” (Quran - 30:21). It is for this reason Imam Abu Hanifa (ra) said that marriage is the best of all non-mandatory actions.
The above considered, how do we enable marriages for our convert communities while we face so many challenges within the “Indian” Muslim community? At the beginning of the lunar year, one that is calculated from the onset of Hijrah, we’re forced to ponder the concept of change and transformation the Sahaba undertook. This entails that we move beyond self-absorption to a scope and field beyond ourselves. It demands that we better the lives of the Ummah – that very same ummah whose boundary transcends race and colour. Is that not what the Sahaba aimed to achieve via the Hijrah, and thus the responsibility of every Believer?
For a great number of reasons we may prefer not to marry out or into a particular culture or race group. Hence, a good place to start is our misguided oscillation between fairytale romances to the type of spouse the Prophet (pbuh) would have considered “good enough” - for ourselves and our children. After all, was it not his desire that the truth of Surah Yasien be in the hearts of every Ummati rather than a desire for 2.5 kids, private schools, overseas holidays and the white picket fence? Nabi (S) said: “Allah shall enter this Deen into every baked and unbaked brick home with either great honour or terrible disgrace. Allah will grant the honour to Islam and the people of Islam, while the disgrace will go to kufr (and its people)." [Al Haakim in Al Mustadrak]. It now remains up to us, whether we perpetuate the fairytale of the Kufr monoculture and its fickle nuances, or we make a genuine hijrah to the fulfilling the desire of our beloved Prophet (s) in the propagation and preservation of Islam.