umm Abdillah, Radio Islam Programming | 2015.02.20 | 29 Rabi'ul Aakhir 1436 AH
The State of the Nation address and its blowback is one of the few times each year when a large percentage of the South African public reliably pay attention to politics. “Politics is broken,” we are constantly told. Yes, maybe, but how? It may be true that politicians have become professionalised and way out of touch with "normal" people. When you think of the word “politics”, what comes into your mind? Elections, voting, decisions, power, parties, MPs, councils, bills, acts, laws, rights, citizens, democracy, taxes, Ministers, boring, arguing, ceremony, corruption and on and on. Have you ever thought about how politics affects you?
According to research before the national elections last year, youth in South Africa face a number of challenges including more active participation in politics. While live political debates were in session many youth found themselves chanting songs outside mocking their opposition. A number of them appeared to be blindly following political leaders with very little knowledge of what was going on. When asked why they were there and what was going on inside, a number of them stated that they were not aware of the political debate. They were just excited to have been freely ferried there and given food. On the other hand, the antithesis – people who don’t care at all.
The "problem with politics" is often identified as its tribal, confrontational style: people just want politicians to stop fighting each other and "get on with the job". What we fail to realise however is disillusionment with politicians doesn’t mean we’re absolved of the responsibility of becoming involved in politics. Now more than ever the millennial generation needs to become active in civil service which then facilitates the ability to make powerful political changes.
Political Literacy before Political Change
Actual change happens under less of a spotlight than parly’s red carpet. Politics is how people make, preserve and amend the general rules under which they live. It is social; it is about working with others. This may involve diversity and conflict but also a willingness to co-operate and act collectively. Politics can be seen as a search for conflict resolution and not simply its achievement, as not all conflicts are, or can be, resolved.
The people we elect to local councils and the SA Parliament make decisions that affect almost every aspect of our daily lives. Politics influences the daily lives of citizens from all socioeconomic backgrounds, races and ethnic origins. Politics quells violence by fostering a sense of cooperation and encouraging communication and acceptance among citizens. These include decisions from what happens in our schools and workplaces and what recreational facilities we have, to national issues, like health and education, and global issues like defence and the environment. It matters to each and every one of us who represents us at local, national and international level - they reflect our values and principles.
Political literacy is about understanding how politics shapes our everyday lives.
As involved Muslims, we can have a major impact on this country's views regarding education, healthcare, humanitarianism and equal opportunity, abortion, environmental issues, commerce and trade, and banking and finance practices. We can strive to ensure the enactment of fair and just laws. We can impact how little children are being left to fend for themselves in a growing interest and inflation system - which emphasises material gain over family life. We can impact the extent of single parenthood, the curb of HIV and AIDS and prostitution which leaves one parent struggling to make ends meet to support their children.
Muslims who are not active in voting or participating in political activities may be doing a great disservice to their fellow Muslims. They may be limiting the efforts and weakening the position of the Muslim community. Our concerns need to be directed to political candidates and officeholders to be addressed, so that we as Muslims can determine who is most committed to the welfare of our community. A united voice in support of particular candidates or individuals in the public arena from our community will be more significant than our fragmented support. As a whole, we can make a difference in the laws that are being passed and in the outcome of many situations that affect our lives, and the lives of non-Muslims as well, on a daily basis.
Radio Islam Listeners weighed in with their opinions on Sabahul Muslim
Zaheer Pahad @pahadzp - Most politicians change their tune to suit the climate. Sometimes analysis is required, more of the time not.
Nanima @nanima - We all need to stop complaining and be the change we want to see in the world & become active citizens.
Saj @sessack13 - We need to be better informed because we live in a time where politics impacts on whether we can practice our religion.
YUNUS BHAMJEE @YBHAMJEE - Our first priority is to help link ppl with the Creator. Be informed, interact and use all means within Shariah to aid you. #SMQ
Faheemah Kolia - It's critical to know what they're saying, but very often their words are distorted by the media and we get the impression of the journalists agenda, not the actual words. Unfortunately these journalistic prejudices are what causes the unnecessary debates and analysis which can be confusing and misdirecting. If we could always get it from the horses mouth 100% of the time, it would make it easier for citizens to respond effectively. Identify news sources and reports that are mostly accurate and most often unprejudiced / unbiased and stick to those only. Know how to read through the jargon as best as you can, so you don't become a 'sheep'. Political awareness empowers you to make conscious living choices.
Imtiyaz | @iiimtiyaz - It reminds me beautiful quote of Bertolt Brecht: “The worst illiterate is the political illiterate, he doesn’t hear, doesn’t speak, nor participates in the political events. He doesn’t know the cost of life, the price of the bean, of the fish, of the flour, of the rent, of the shoes and of the medicine, all depends on political decisions. The political illiterate is so stupid that he is proud and swells his chest saying that he hates politics. The imbecile doesn’t know that, from his political ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child, and the worst thieves of all, the bad politician, corrupted and flunky of the national and multinational companies.” #politics #SMQ