Sunday, February 19, 2006

(16) To boycott, or not to boycott?

At home this weekend, I saw a Jamiat KZN notice on the Musjid board calling for Muslims to continue the boycott on the Sunday Times. Odd I thought, must be an old notice. So I asked the Imaam. He said that he had just received a sms from Jamiat KZN asking for the boycott to continue. But Jamait Gauteng had already called off the boycott in last weeks Sunday Times! And this week they placed the ad again?!
KZN is asking Muslims not to boycott and not to advertise in the Sunday Times and Gauteng Jamiat itself advertises in the paper and calls on Muslims to stop the boycott!

Thought back to the Jumah sermon and recalled the Molvi saying how wonderful it was to see the entire Muslim world uniting for the first time in decades. So what’s going on? A person witnessing this is probably highly confused. Gauteng, where perhaps the majority of the advertisers are based, have been told to continue advertising, and KZN, where perhaps majority of the readership is based, have been asked to continue the boycott..

Do organisations of scholars need to have the same opinions? Do groups of Muslims always have to be in total agreement? I don’t think so. And I think that is the beauty of Islam. Muslims all agree on the fundamentals and on other issues agree to disagree. Look back into history- you always had those who would literally interpret and act upon the injunctions and then you had others who looked at the essence of it and tried to understand what was to be achieved. The familiar example of the Sabaha RA who prayed before reaching a certain place and those who said that they would reach first and then pray. The Prophet SAW said that they were both right.

But isn’t that a bit confusing for those of us who are not comfortable with our understanding of Islam? The only solution then would be for us to study and understand our Islam to the best of our ability. We need to be able to have our own points of reference so that we can be confident and sincere about our personal choices in these situations.

Then only would I be able to look at both arguments put forward from Gauteng and KZN and make up my own mind whether or not to buy or advertise in the paper. And similarly, when an institution says that women should not properly participate in a protest, those who disagree will do so in accordance with proper Islamic decorum. And also those who disagree with an institution certifying ‘Islamic Banking’ products, will put forward their opposing argument in the appropriate manner.

Then only I suppose would this ensure that our new found unity remains. As long as we don’t take our disagreements to the limits of ugly hate speech, characteristic of a certain Mufti’s newsletter, we should be able to ensure that steady progress is made. After all, those sinister enemies of Islam that do exist want us to fight among ourselves. And if we are not smart about our emotional reactions and rehearsed rhetoric, we would blindly walk right into their traps. As has often happened before…

And each one has a goal toward which he turns; so vie with one another in good works. Wheresoever you may be, Allah will bring you all together. Lo! Allah is Able to do all things. (HQ 2:148)