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By Farana Lambat

Have you sat back and wondered exactly what does it mean, we hear it all the time but are we as “modern” Muslims educated on Ikram-E-Muslimeen.  Well basically it literally means to respect every Muslim, and implies complete observance of the Islam code for social conduct. It is but natural that we have to pay special attention towards man of faith for every Muslim has in his heart the light of Imaan however dim the light may be. We do not seek more than rekindling this light and making every Muslim realize or rediscover his hidden treasure. By making our social undertakings subservient to the Devine Rules we are required to be a true symbol of Imaan.  It is an unquestionable fact that so long as the Muslims were true to their religion they were honoured and respected everywhere.

A Moamin is supposed to be a perfect and respectable man, striving always to excel in virtues and avoiding all mean affairs which do not behoove of him and above all he feels anxious for the welfare of humanity at large, he tries to exhort the people to virtuous deeds and in return for all these pious actions he never seeks any worldly gain, but his main objectives is only the compliance of Devine Commandments. He is prompted to adopt all this conduct solely to attain the pleasure of Allah. When asked what was the best Imaan, Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) replied “The best Imaan is to love him who love Allah and hate him who hate Allah and keep your tongue engaged in Zikr of Allah” and when asked what else? Our Nabi (peace and blessing be upon him) said “To wish for all man as you wish for yourself, and discard for others that which you discard for yourself” (Mishkat)

Having said that, now let’s take a look around us, not even as far as our neighbours let’s look at our own family. Are we not eager to critize our fellow brothers for the bond on his property or the finance on his vehicle or his overdraft on his bank account? “Interest” is deemed Haraam (forbidden) how do we as Muslims sit back and allow brothers in need of financial assistance to indulge in this. Are we not supposed to extend a hand of help? Why is it when it comes to financial assistance we shun our every own brothers in Islam? Yes you have the right to do as you please with your wealth but what about your duty to your brother in Islam. Accordinging to census 2012, South Africa has a population of 51 770 560, of which 2% are Muslims ….that’s right 2%, which is just a drop in the ocean. Take a look around at the other communities, the Hindu’s, Jews, Christians are they not united, do they not assist each other in times of need. And here we are, the 2% of the population proud Muslims, a brotherhood in Islam, the question is are we really? When last did you practice “Ikram-E-Muslimeen”  A comment made by a brother “The wealthy can lecture as to how we are bringing Allah's wrath by taking out interest yet they are the ones that say maaf I don't have money when you approach them for a interest free loan. Is it the case that we should rent and be indebted to them and never own our own home” Is this the state of affairs amongst our Muslim communities?

Our Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said “One should help his brother, whether he is an oppressor or the one being oppressed. If he is an oppressor, forbid him from his oppression. If he is being oppressed, then come to his aid”(Muslim) No man is an island, and neither is any Muslim. Muslims need each other and need to learn to capitalize on individual strengths. The fabric of the Muslim community comprises of unique and distinctive individuals with unique skills and interests. Muslims are allowed to indulge in any field of interest of expertise as long as the particular field was not considered as Haraam “forbidden” in the Quran and the Sunnah.

One of the challenges in today’s Muslim society is building independence and identity, especially when the image of Islam is continuously fraught with malice and violence. To make matters a little more challenging, the cohesiveness of Muslims within their own communities is not as strong as it was during the time of our Prophet Muhammed (peace and blessings be upon him).  The Mosque which is the heart and the soul of the Muslim community is not just a mere house of worship but the nucleus of an Islamic community. The Mosque, traditionally, is also the home to caretakers and the poor. The Baitul Mal (the first public fund) which was also set in the mosque provided  financial support for the Ashab us Suffah (the People of the Bench – those who were unemployed or had no family). We too are fortunate by the grace of the Almighty in our age that financial funding is available to the unemployed and destitute. I would however like to take a step back and look at the not so destitute, the working class, the class within our communities that are drowning in payment of “Interest”, the very same “Interest” which is Haraam (forbidden). Having pondered on this I took the opportunity to chat to a few people and to my astonishment found that on average an individual pays R8200 interest a month on a bond of R1.3million and interest of R2374 a month on vehicle financed for R370 000.  That’s right a total of R10 574.00 a month on interest, may Allah protect us all. If we are to take these amounts paid as interest R10 574.00 and pay it directly towards an interest free home loan or a loan for a vehicle how quickly will the individual be able to payoff that home or car.  Now here I pose a question why is it that we are not able as a Muslim community to offer interest free loans to individuals as these? They obviously have a sound financial standing for a bank to offer them the loan/bond/finance. Do we not have members of our community who are more than financially capable of setting up a fund a “Baitula Mal” per say,  to assist our fellow brothers, here again I must stress, this is not charity as the person in question is paying back the loan just not with interest. How many a lighter shoulders will we make if we step up as a community and assist a brother with a loan for his home, can you imagine the rewards we are losing out on as this very person will make dua for you with every salaah as now instead of making dua for the interest rates to drop he will make dua for the person who has taken away the interest from him and at the same time has stopped him from partaking in a Haraam (forbidden) act.

There is a Hadeeth in which the Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) told us that anyone who alleviates the worldly suffering of his Muslim brother, Allah the Almighty will alleviate his fear and hardship on the Day of Judgement, anyone who relieves a Muslim in distressed circumstances, Allah the Almighty will facilitate matters for him in this worldly life and in the Hereafter, and Allah the Almighty supports the slave as long as he supports his brother.(Muslim, Sayings of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) by Prof. Ghazi Ahmad)   

I am saddened to say that the identity and independence which was the telling sign of the first Islamic civilization seen in Madinah over the decades,  although still thrives but sometimes loses its strengths in the modern world, with fewer Muslims able to stand together, united and strong. As I write this, I pray that Allah Almighty guides us on the right path, open and soften our hearts to the plight our Muslims brothers, I pray that my children can stand tall and say I understand “Ikram – E-Muslim”, I believe in it and I practice it.

Allah Ta'aala knows best.

Farana Lambat (nee Dudan)


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