Mandela, an Islamophile

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Like all Prophets, Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH) used to condemn the rejection of faith and adultery. Like Jesus and Moses, he used to preach the truth and honesty. He did preach the same principles to the little man as well as to the higher classes. He invited all of them to believe in one God and not to assign any partner to Him. He used to recite the following verse of the Koran: “Those of you who turn back from their religion and die as disbelievers, their deeds will be lost in this life and in the Hereafter, and they will be the dwellers of the fire. They will abide therein forever.” (Surah 2 Verse 217). And everybody knows the story of Abu Talib, the Prophet’s uncle, who took charge of the Prophet (PBUH) while he was eight years old. He was the uncle who had lent his support to the Prophet (PBUH) and had showered his kindness upon him during his lifetime. It is related that he was the protective godfather of the Prophet (PBUH) for more than 40 years. And when the Meccans wanted to harm or exile the Prophet (PBUH), he was the one who came to his defence. But unfortunately, he rejected the prophet’s ((PBUH) invitation and died without becoming a Muslim. That was a real setback which the Muslims had to take in their stride. In Sahih Muslim, it is narrated that Abbas (RA), the Prophet’s (PBUH) uncle, did ask him:” O Messenger of Allah (PBUH)! Your uncle Abu Talib used to protect and help you, has all this been of benefit to him (even if he died as an unbeliever)”? “Yes”, replied the Prophet (PBUH). I saw him in the furnace. I had him removed from there to a small fire which reached his ankles.” We must bear in mind that it is forbidden (haraam) to pray or make duahs for a dead non-Muslim, even if he is a relative:”It is not (proper) for the Prophet (PBUH) and those who believe to ask Allah’s forgiveness for the mushrikeen though they be of kin, after it has become clear to them that they are the dwellers of the fire” (Surah 9 Verse 113). However, some great prophets (AS) will have exceptional privileges of intercession to lighten the sufferings of their relatives. However, no one will be authorized to intercede for non-Muslims in order to get them to be admitted to Jannat. Sahih Bukhari has reported that the Prophet (PBUH) has stated that on the Day of Judgment, Prophet Ibrahim (AS) will be very sad to see his father who died as an unbeliever. He will say “O Allah! You have promised me not to dishonor me on the Day of Judgment. What can be a greater disgrace than a father who is deprived of Your mercy?” Allah Ta’ala will reply:” I have made Paradise haraam and forbidden to unbelievers” And then Allah will transform Ibrahim (AS)’s father into a beast or an insect which will be thrown into Hell. Allah will do that to spare embarrassment to Ibrahim (AS) who will not see his father in Hell. (Bukhari)

Hence, the conclusion is that there will be no intercession for the entry of such people into Jannah, although there will be exceptions for lightening their punishment. The Prophet (PBUH) used to say: “Had it not been for me, Abu Talib would have been in the most burning embers in Hell.” (Bukhari)

However, it should be borne in mind that the Prophet (PBUH) was a large-hearted man. And he did show his gratitude towards those who worked in the interest of Islam, even though they did not accept the faith. He used to say that if someone in particular was there, he would have immediately accepted his proposal because the latter had supported the cause of Abu Bakr (RA) when the Qureish had decided to exile him from Mecca. He had also deemed it beneficial for his Ummah to have intimate relation with their spouse during breast-feeding on the basis of the practice of the Romans and the Persians in that matter (Muslim).

There is also the story of the daughter of Hatim Tai who was once the prisoner of the Muslim. Hatim Tai was a famous and generous non-Muslim prior to the advent of the Prophet (PBUH). His generosity had amazed the Arabs. With his money, he had freed hundreds of slaves and he had saved hundreds of little girls from being buried alive. In pre-Islamic times, when parents used to bury their daughter alive, he had offered money to those parents in order to bring the girls under his charge. He was a very kind-hearted man who distributed food to hundreds of people every day. Baihaqi has reported that Saffanah, Hatim Tai’s daughter, while being a prisoner, did say to the Prophet (PBUH):”I am the daughter of the person who gave solace to the poor, who fed the hungry, who greeted people with salaam and who never repelled the needy. I am the daughter of Hatim Tai!” Upon these words, the Prophet (PBUH) exclaimed:” These are the personal qualities of a Muslim! Had your father been a Muslim, I would have prayed to Allah to shower His Grace upon him.” The Prophet (PBUH) finally ordered that she be set free in view of the fact that her father was a noble-hearted man. (Baihaqi).

Mandela was a man with a vision that was not prejudices against the Muslims. He had chosen Muslim ministers because he was grateful to those who had helped him in times of distress in prison. He showed gratitude to Khaddafi because of the latter’s assistance to the ANC. He did not act in an ungrateful way like some European presidents who cashed his money before executing him. Where do we find ungrateful people? And above all, when the West had brought pressure to bear on India and Pakistan to refuse to accept foreign students wishing to study Islam, Madiba had opened wide his arms to welcome them on his soil to learn to become Mawlanas and Muftis. When the Dar ul Ulooms of Asia were under pressure, South Africa was a haven of tolerance for the Ulamas. When islamophobia was storming its way worldwide, Madiba and the ANC did not flinch on their stand. In Mauritius, during the SADC Summit of 1998, he had stated:”We must condemn the hypocrisy of the West…” And since the writer of this article is a pure product of the Dar Ul Ulooms of South Africa, we must express our gratitude to Mandela and the ANC. Although he was not a Muslim, he did safeguard Islamic values. Today, many people are praying homage to him. But how many among them are ready to take up the challenge of Madiba’s struggle, the struggle against Islamophobia?

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