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What are you living for? | Blog


I like what I read on one of Dalia Mogahed’s statuses. She wrote, “One of the strangest phenomenons of social media is what I’ll call ‘imagined mutual exclusivity of concern’. So if you post about someone getting shot in DC you’re attacked for not being concerned about Syria. If you post about Egypt, someone is aghast that you’re not raising awareness about child porn.”

And with that, today I want to write about Nelson Mandela - the great man.

There are many lives lived, and many lives lost. There are those who live their lives dedicated to being a force of negative influence. Whose existence on earth is to increase pessimism, gloominess and suffering to others around them. Currently   suffering in their own self-created prisons, they go out and unleash their toxic personality on everything and everyone in their path.

Then, you have those that are merely on earth to just fill up space, they do no good nor harm except by chance. They simply exist; as if a coffee table in the sitting room used occasionally as a stand for your book or mug, every now and then reminding you of its existence by causing you pain as you pass by and hit your little toe against its foot. These people merely live by chance, not by choice.

Then, you find the amazing souls, those that positively influence others. These souls start by having so much positive energy in them, which in turn naturally radiates and shines to those around them. Some of them impact individuals and families on a personal level, others impact sects and groups of people, but the rarest and most unique are those that impact the world on the scale that Madiba did. A humble man who did not claim sainthood or prophecy, his call was for all to be seen as equal. A call of which our beloved Prophet salaAllahu alayhi wasallam had called to over 1400 years ago.
A genuinely positive personality.

 "And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours; verily in that are Signs for those who know."  Holy Quran 30:22

"All men (includes women) are equal in Islam, the Arab has no superiority over the non-Arab, nor does the non-Arab have superiority over the Arab, save in the fear of God." Prophet Muhammed, peace be upon him.

I decided to read his biography a few years ago and I was so inspired by his struggle and his life. Nelson Mandela decided against all odds that he was going to give up his life to fight for others’ rights. In his words he says, "I have fought against white domination, and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die."

Nelson Mandela’s vision was clear. He was here to bring humanitarian justice to all. It was not limited to a certain sect, colour or race. His vision did not stop at where his benefit ended, he sought justice for all and of the Palestinian plight, he said, “We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.”

It is clear to all Muslims what our main purpose in life is - to worship Allah. A Muslim’s first response would naturally be “that is what we live for”, but we know that we do not enter Allah’s bounties and heaven except through His Mercy, not through our actions. Add mercy to your actions. Have you ever thought of what it would be like going back to Allah with great pride and saying “Ya Allah, I did such and such out of love, humanity, kindness and mercy, ya Allah, grant me Your mercy?”

I found these questions while browsing the other day; I found that they were very fulfilling because three out of the five questions had nothing to do with you. The most fulfilled people are those that give more than they take, they are out doing and being for others.
  1. Who are you?
  2. What do you love to do?
  3. Who do you do it for?
  4. What do they want or need?
  5. How do they change or transform as a result of what you give them?
As time passes, so many stories are coming up on social media. Madiba was a man that affected people on a general and personal level. He was a true leader that noticed individuals and appreciated them. Samra, an old school friend of mine wrote about him today, she said,

“I will never forget the day I had the honour of attending a conference in Jumeirah Beach Hotel in which the guest of honour was the great Nelson Mandela. He took every one's breath away when instead of first greeting important officials and socialites, he insisted to personally shake the hands of every staff, from the waiters to the cleaners. What a great man! And as I was alone walking away from the conference, I saw him being driven in a buggy from the conference to his suite, and he waved at me as he passed me by, like hundreds of thousands before and after me. I was so gushed with excitement, like a school girl! So happy to have a cherished memory of Madiba”

Let us not turn a blind eye to Madiba’s cause; although he is gone, let us not allow his legacy to die with him. Apartheid may have been wiped out of South Africa in its old form, but the world continues to suffer racism and discrimination. Our Muslim Ummah certainly has a long way to go in eliminating this epidemic. Our society is suffering because of this horrific illness that Islam does not condone in any aspect. Our marriages, social settings and work environments are limited because of our selectiveness of race, colour and financial statuses.

As for Nelson Mandela’s fate, no Muslim or non-Muslim has been granted the authority to be anyone’s judge in this life. Life in Islam is sacred and our return is to Allah who is the Ultimate judge.

Beautiful inspiring quotes by Madiba that inspired me are:

Madiba on courage

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

Madiba the educator

“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world”

Madiba the humanitarian

“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”

Madiba the motivator

"There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living"

Madiba on resilience

"It always seems impossible until it's done."

Madiba on communication

"If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."

Madiba on peace

“When a man has done what he considers to be his duty to his people and his country; he can rest in peace”

When Ahmed Deedat fell into his illness, the following statement was made by the ambassador of South Africa: "Mr Mandela is concerned about any South African living in any part of the world but the case of Deedat is special as he is highly respected, not only in South Africa, but in the world, for his dedication and hard work in the preaching of Islam during the past fifty years." (Ahmed Deedat: The Man and His Mission, by Goolam Vahed, p. 18)


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