Today one of South Africa’s most legendary icons turns 95! In celebration of Nelson Mandela’s Birthday, the Nelson Mandela Foundation has started an initiative called 67 minutes, where people are encouraged to spend 67 minutes of their time at a charitable organisation, an orphanage, a soup kitchen, any place where your contribution of time would help towards a better, more hopeful future. For those who cannot are unable to contribute their time, they are encouraged to contribute R67-00 to a worthy charity of their choice.
The lessons that are being encouraged by this initiative are also lessons that Islam has been teaching since its inception. The concept of charity, with Zakaah being compulsory once a year, and other charities like Sadaqah and Lillah being optional, but recommended.
I particularly enjoy combining Islamic education with everyday issues, and today is a perfect opportunity to do so. Teaching children something of our country’s history which is so entangled with bitter struggles and revolutionary success, oppression and victory, inequalities and conquering moments. Explaining to the ‘rainbow nation born-frees’ (Term used to describe children born into freedom post-apartheid) how this legendary man, is a symbol of equality and freedom, how he fought oppression, how he perservered and conquered, how he believed and gave hope not only to South Africans but to the world, can only inspire them to achieve as well!
Nelson Mandela once famously said: “I have fought against black domination, and I have fought against white domination. I have cherished the ideals of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities”
The concept of freedom and equality for all is also one that Islam has been teaching since its inception. The colour of a persons skin has absolutely nothing to do with a persons abilities, intellect or achievements!
Hadith of Rasulullah (Sallallaahu Álayhi Wasallam), wherein it is reported, ‘No Arab holds greater esteem over a non-Arab; nor a Black person over a red person; except on the grounds of the one having greater Taqwa than the other.’ (Tirmidhi)
This is further explained in the Holy Quraan: ‘O People! Verily We have created you from a man and woman and we made you into various tribes and creeds for the purpose of mutual recognition (not discrimination and racial pride). Verily the most prestigious and honoured amongst you is he who fears Allaah Taãla most. Verily Allaah Taãla is all Knowing. All Aware’ (Surah 49 Vs. 13)
May Allaah guide us all to be able to do it ourselves, and to raise our children to see beyond physical attributes and learn to recognise a persons true character, to appreciate that Taqwa is the only defining factor!