Yusuf Omar - Opinion | 3 July 2017
The 'My Pillar of Strength' campaign played out during the month of Ramadaan on Radio Islam International. Listeners were requested to send in their submissions and pay tribute to the heroes in their lives. The campaign was a huge success and the amount of submissions we received was phenomenal. Unfortunately, only twenty submissions were selected to play out on air (Weekdays during Ramadaan). Nevertheless, the campaign opened our eyes to the heroes that walk among us. It also taught us valuable lessons. After carefully going through the twenty submissions that were selected to play out on air, I decided to pick out five lessons that we all can learn from this campaign. At the end of this article, I will provide a link to the podcasts of all the submissions and after each point I will mention which submissions highlighted that specific point. Let’s go…
1. It’s the thorns that cultivate love, not the roses.
When we think of love, the colour red comes to mind. Along with that, maybe the taught of a rose, strawberries and cream and a bar of Swiss chocolate. Yes, all these things might signify love, but the Pillar of Strength campaign has taught us that it doesn’t strengthen, cultivate or shape love. True love sprouts from difficulties and hardships. When two souls, side by side, walk through a storm, the experience creates a bond between them that is very difficult to break. As a married couple, life will throw some curve balls, but those hands that hold each other and stand together will, in most cases, never separate again. Whether it be the death of a child, financial difficulties or a terminal illness, sticking together and granting each other warmth during a blizzard is what love is made off. That bond is guaranteed. The key factor is sticking together. That’s the hurdle, a hurdle worth jumping.
2. Shoes have tongues, it’s a pity they can’t talk.
The Pillar of Strength campaign brought to light various difficulties that were experienced by people from all walks of life. It taught us that whether male or female, old or young, everyone is going through some difficulty. Some are caring for a sickly child, some are going to sleep hungry, some are finding it hard to cope after losing a loved one and some are scared after being diagnosed with a terminal illness. These are just a few of the difficulties that were brought to light. So what is the lesson here? The lesson is very simple. Show love and kindness to all. We have no idea what people are going through. Naturally, as humans, we have a talent of covering things up. People will always do this. They will never show the world that they are suffering. We might shout at a co-worker not realizing that he was up all night crying after seeing his children going to sleep hungry. Sometimes, we might ‘take off’ with a waiter not realizing that she is currently working her third job for the day in order to pay her child’s school fees. The point is that everyone is going through some sort of difficulty in life and every shoe has a story to tell. Don’t act in such a way that you add on to another's difficulty.
3. Non-Muslim does not equal enemy.
How unfortunate it is that some Muslims think that all non-Muslims are enemies. Of course, we live in a time where Islamophobia is rife and hate crimes are abundant. However, two submissions showed us that there are non-Muslims with beautiful hearts that walk this earth. They will assist you and they will be on your side when you are being discriminated against. We need to be careful as to who we fraternize with but at the same, we should never paint everyone with the same brush. So when we do come across non-Muslims with such great character, what should we do? Dawah with wisdom and good character. That’s it. Non-Muslims with great hearts existed from the time of Nabi S.A.W. and the Sahaaba R.A. showed us how to treat them. When the Muslims made Hijrat to Abyssinia, the king of Abyssinia, Najashi, was not a Muslim yet he assisted and protected them when the Quraish came looking for them. Later on, he accepted Islam. His Hidaayat was decreed by Allah but as far as the efforts of Sahaaba R.A. are concerned, it was Dawah with wisdom and good character that attracted him to Islam. Let us take a lesson from this incident.
4. A parent’s love is unconditional and unmatched.
The Pillar of Strength campaign brought attention to the various forms of relationships that people enjoy. The warmth of neighbours, the love between a married couple and the good old fashion humanity between two strangers were all seen, but none of these can compare to the unconditional love that a parent has for a child. When your days are dark and gloomy, it is only your parents that will be by your side. The campaign touched on children with health problems. Listeners were brought to tears as they heard the love and struggles that their parents went through in caring for them. Even as an adult, no matter what your situation, they will stick with you. At the time of divorce, unemployment of any other heartbreak, it is your parents that will always be here for you. Besides parents, the love from grandparents was also touched on. Speaking of parents and grandparents, a while back i visited a home for the aged with some students. A trip i will never forget. Read more about it here.
5. True beauty is not seen, it’s felt.
Why is it felt and not seen? Because a beautiful painting or design is seen with the eye and understood with the mind. On the other hand, a beautiful act of humanity might not necessarily be seen with the eye, but it’s felt with the heart. The campaign showed us individuals that financially assisted others and refused a payment in return. It showed us families that went out of their way to assist their neighbours who were in need. Ubuntu, a concept that South Africa is built on was demonstrated in so many different ways and, it is that, that is beautiful. That is the masterpiece. The latest model car that we drive or the new mansion that we erected is nothing in comparison to that act of kindness we showed to our neighbour. That designer handbag holds no weight in front of the act of visiting our newly widowed cousin and giving her a shoulder to cry on. The sterling efforts of doctors were also highlighted in his campaign. Going out of their way and assisting that patient in need is a masterpiece that only the patient’s eyes can see. In simple words, the actions that the world will not see, will always hold more beauty than the material that is seen. This, I think, is the one lesson that we can all take from this campaign.
Click here for the podcast links to parts 1 – 20.
Over the years, we had a variety of tributes on Radio Islam International during the month of Ramadaan. We gave listeners the opportunity to pay tribute to outstanding males (Men of Real Excellence) and females (Women of Wonder). We also had a tribute campaign that focused on children with disabilities (Children of Heaven). If you have any ideas for future tributes and you think it is something that we, as an Ummah, should highlight, then send your thoughts and ideas. Drop me an email firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a tweet.
On the night of Eid, we selected one submission that impressed our judges he most. It was touching to say the least. Click here to listen to the full submission and interview with the winner.
Yusuf Omar resides in South Africa and holds a BA in Islamic sciences. He is currently a writer/presenter at Radio Islam. He loves playing with words and has an interest in fine arts. He also believes in mermaids. Check out some of his other articles here. Interact with him on Twitter and Instagram.