MYM urged to speed up Jihad against poverty and suffering

The Muslim Youth Movement must continue to apply the definition of Jihad by doing more to alleviate the scourge of poverty, inequality and the exploitation of the poor, the MYM was told at its Gauteng re-launch held recently at the University of Johannesburg.

The theme of the event was “Jihad in Post-Apartheid South Africa”, and was attended by current MYM president, Thandile Kona and a few veterans of the organisation from the 1970’s and 1980’s.

The re-launch was meant to introduce to the public the newly elected Gauteng regional leadership.

The keynote speaker, former MYM president and now Executive Director of the Afro Middle East Centre, Na’eem Jeenah, explored the history of the MYM and the contribution of South Africa’s Muslim community in the struggle against apartheid.

He said Muslims described how Muslims had faced moral dilemmas of living under an oppressive system and how the different sections of the community confronted those moral dilemmas.

Sketching that history, Jeenah elaborated on how the Muslims who took part in the struggle against apartheid, especially in the 1980’s and early 1990’s, challenged the narrow understanding and application of the concept of jihad in the context of apartheid South Africa.

According to Jeenah, they firmly placed the struggle for a just social order in South Africa within the confines of a broad definition of jihad.

Jeenah further went on to challenge the current MYM leadership to redefine its purpose in the light of the challenges of poverty, inequality and the exploitation of the poor by capital and commit itself to be on the side of the downtrodden.

Giants

Also speaking at the event, the chairperson of the MYM in the region, Minhaj Jeenah said, “We realise that we are standing on the shoulders of giants. Giants that, when mainstream Islam said fighting in the struggle against apartheid is kufr, they stood up to the status quo and declared a jihad against the oppressive apartheid regime.

Giants that protested against the tri-cameral elections, giants that claimed back the space for women in our masaajid when it was non-existent in this country and placed the struggle for gender justice firmly on the agenda of South African Islamic discourse, giants that realised the needs of South African civil society and formed what are now major organisations such as SANZAF and IMA.

“Giants that distributed the first English Qura'n in the country when the very idea of attempting to understand the Qur’an was completely taboo. Giants that attempted to change the polarised racist Indian identity of South African Islam. Giants that understood that Islam places the most marginalised members of society at the forefront of our struggles, giants that were arrested, ostracised, and verbally abused in their struggles for justice, freedom and equality. Giants that now play key roles in the country's politics, academia and civil society.”

The regional chairperson outlined its commitment to reaching out to poor communities in Soweto, Diepsloot and Orange Farm.

Meanwhile, at a different event following the MYM Gauteng re-launch, the MYM president and national assistant secretary, Zainab Mponda was in Mahikeng to launch a new regional structure of the organisation.

The launch, held at the Setlopo Islamic Centre was a culmination of the work of local Muslim youth who had always wanted to be a part of the MYM.

The enthusiasm shown by the youth at putting together the well organised event was lauded by the president and he expressed hope that the newly elected regional chairperson, Ruqayyah Abdullah, will continue the work of recruiting more members and growing the organisation.

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