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Archive for the ‘What’s going on’ Category

A reminder from Egypt’s chaos

Posted by Yacoob on July 4, 2013

An image from the Egyptian revolution 2 years ago.

An image from the Egyptian revolution 2 years ago.

With the unrest in Egypt at the moment – including rampant sexual attacks against women in the recent protests – it’s hard to be positive. However, Shaykh Navaid Aziz shared some wise words which I wish to share here, so that we may take positives from the situation:

“I generally refrain from commenting on politics just due to the fact that I don’t know much about it. However, what happened today in Egypt had very little to do with politics and more to do with the plight of humanity. 

1- We are our own worst enemies. Time and time again Allah will bless us with favors and we will go out an sabotage these favors. While Morsi is far from perfect, he was a big blessing to the people of Egypt. They have no one to blame but themselves for what is to come. 

2- What we witnessed is a growing dichotomy between secularism and religion. What people fail to realize is that when your government has no greater authority to respond to except for itself you will always see oppression. Our rulers need to be answerable to God himself, that is the only way they will be kept in check. When people lose the fear of God they lose all sense of morality. Our religion is a way of life and not just something we practice in our homes or mosques. 

3- Up and until we change our own internal states, the physical changes will make no difference. Few are the people that represent us in government that actually want what is best for us, as oppose to their own personal interests. The revolution must begin from within before the external one is sustainable. As a point of benefit their is a great wisdom behind the fact that most supplications that ask for victory usually begin with recognizing our relationship with our creator and seeking his forgiveness. 

4- Make it a litmus test of your faith to see how much you are praying for the people of Egypt, Syria, Burma, and the rest of the lands filled with evil and oppression. 

5- I was down and depressed all day today after seeing what had happened in Egypt. However, I came across a verse that I feel is very applicable to our situation right now: “Or do you think that you will enter Paradise while such [trial] has not yet come to you as came to those who passed on before you? They were touched by poverty and hardship and were shaken until [even their] messenger and those who believed with him said,”When is the help of Allah ?” Unquestionably, the help of Allah is near.” 2:214 

Egypt, Syria, Palestine, and Burma be patient a little while longer as victory is just around the corner. Stay positive and optimistic!”

While it’s fine to discuss the situation and read more and more about it, know that all of this will achieve nothing for the people of Egypt. It’s only when we turn our thoughts into actions – via dua for them, and our own inner change – that things will happen.

So, let’s spend less time caught up in the news, and more time in deep reflection and plead with our Lord for the millions of people – in Egypt and elsewhere – who are suffering as a result of political tragedies.

Posted in What's going on | Tagged: , , , , | 1 Comment »

Israeli Apartheid Week pt 5: Taking action

Posted by Yacoob on March 15, 2013


I hope you’ve learnt a lot and felt compelled to take action during this week’s series of posts. There’s more that I could say, but in this series, I’ve kept the words to a minimum, and allowed the videos to speak and more accurately represent the reality of what’s going on.

There are many, many groups, organisations, and individuals out there doing great work to help the victims of Israeli Apartheid. While you’re free, and have the time, resources, and ability to make a difference, please do.

It’s our duty as human beings to care about what’s going on to others – regardless of their religion, race, or culture. Land grabs and ethnic cleansing didn’t end when Nazi Germany fell, or once the Americans wiped out so many of the Native inhabitants of North America. It still happens today, and Palestine is the most prominent example of this.

For further information and testimonies, here are a few links you may want to check out:

Feel free to add your own links in the comments section – if you know of websites or organisations that are active in the cause. (And please do not add any extremist / terrorist links. This blog does not promote violence or injustice, and I will not allow such ideologies to be spread via the comments section.)

Previous segments: Part 1 | Part 2| Part 3 | Part 4.

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Israeli Apartheid Week pt 4: A city divided

Posted by Yacoob on March 14, 2013

Hebron is a Palestinian city in which Jewish settlers are particularly aggressive against the locals – with the full backing of the Israeli occupation forces. This clip covers various aspects about the oppression going on in the city of Hebron:


Hebron also houses the famous Shuhada Street – which Israeli forces have divided, with one side for Jews, and the other for Palestinians.

Shuhada Street - Hebron

Shuhada Street – Hebron

Previous segments: Part 1 | Part 2| Part 3.

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Israeli Apartheid Week pt 3: “I don’t care what people think”

Posted by Yacoob on March 13, 2013

One of the most inhumane parts of the occupation is the Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement in their own country. In this video clip, we see the attitude of Israeli border police, who point blank display the racist attitudes embodied in so many of these oppressors: “We’re humans; they’re animals.”

It’s also worth noting that, at these checkpoints, many suffering Palestinians – who need medial attention – are denied access to the areas they need to get to for hospital care. Many Palestinian mothers are in labour at such checkpoints, and many give birth there – only to find their babies dying there.

Previous segments: Part 1 | Part 2.

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Israeli Apartheid Week pt 2: What about the children?

Posted by Yacoob on March 12, 2013

One of the saddest parts of the conflict in Palestine is that innocent children suffer due to the brutality and greed of adults. In this short video, several children are interviewed. As you watch – particularly the outraged little girl – just imagine these were your children, and this was your reality.

Previous segments: Part 1.

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Israeli Apartheid Week pt 1: A short intro

Posted by Yacoob on March 11, 2013

Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is an annual international series of events (including rallies, lectures, cultural performances, music shows, films and workshops) held in cities, communities and campuses across the globe.

IAW raises awareness of Israel’s apartheid policies toward the indigenous Palestinians and serves to garner support for the non-violent Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign which seeks to bring an end to Israel’s apartheid policies and violations of international law.

For us South Africans and our liberation, people of the world mobilized in their hundreds of thousands – if not millions. During the 1980s, they held protests, music concerts, free Nelson Mandela events, lectures, film screenings and a host of other events to raise awareness of Apartheid South Africa’s racist policies and to build support for the successful boycott, divestment and sanctions against South Africa campaign.

Today, we have the opportunity to “give-back” by joining the international movement in solidarity with the indigenous Palestinian people (and their progressive Israeli allies) against Israeli Apartheid, and participating in Israeli Apartheid Week (IAW) is one such form of solidarity!

Find out more about Israeli Apartheid Week and how you can get involved here:

To help set the theme, here’s a short animated video introducing the conflict:


You can also view the full schedule of events across South Africa here.

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A thousand words – part 1: Context is everything

Posted by Yacoob on November 20, 2012

It’s said that a picture says a thousand words, so this new series focuses on portraying messages via imagery – whether those be cartoons, photos, or other types of visuals. Text may be included, but the visual is the primary focus.

Part 1: Context is everything



“Telling half the story is just as bad as not telling it at all. To suggest that the Israeli attacks were due to the rockets fired by Hamas is a blatant lie. And if so, did anyone in the British media establishment care ask why Hamas fired the rockets in the first place? Does it matter at all that the Palestinians are a nation under Israeli occupation, and Gaza has been under siege for 4 years? Context is everything.” – Anas Altikriti

(Image source: Real Eyes Realize Real Lies)

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Lower than the animals

Posted by Yacoob on November 1, 2012

“Surely We created man of the best stature.
Then We reduced him to the lowest of the low,
Save those who believe and do good works, and theirs is a reward unfailing.”

Holy Quran – Surah 95, verses 4-6.

Commenting on this verse, scholars of Islam mention that it means that human beings have the capacity to be higher in stature than the angels, but also could become reduced to a state lower than the animals.

Reading the tragic story below – which occurred in Syria recently – this verse came to mind. The perpetrators of this crime – as well as all others who use rape as a weapon of war and oppression – are indeed far lower than an animal could ever be:

“This is a story of a 28-year-old single woman. She was a virgin, like all the single women in our society. It took place in Douma (a suburb of Damascus), where the Republican Guards broke into the three-floor building where she used to reside, entered all the apartments, and took out all the residents.

“They killed the men, eight total, and kept the women. One officer chose this young woman, dragged her by her hair, tearing her headscarf. When her mother tried to help and protect her, [the officers’] guards hit the mother on the head with their rifles and she fell on the ground bleeding. They took the young woman into a room and raped her. All the women outside heard her screams. They started crying and shouting, asking for mercy for the woman and for themselves, but it was in vain.

“When the victim came out of the room, there was blood everywhere. She had been brutally raped multiple times. They took the bodies of the murdered men and threw

them in front of the entrance to the building and left.

“The young woman was in a heartbreaking condition. She was hysterical. Her mom lost her mind when she saw the horrible state of her daughter.”

The dates of the reported rape is unknown. Because Syrian government officials currently refuse to allow access to journalists, researchers, and aid workers, WMC’s Women Under Siege cannot independently verify this report of sexualized violence in Syria.” (Source: )

We may feel helpless about the situations in Syria, Burma, and elsewhere, but the least we can do is pray for the innocent people whose lives are being ruined by the ruthless criminals that perpetrate such acts.

Beyond that, we can speak about it – or help spread awareness about what’s going on.

With that in mind, here are several Facebook groups/pages you can subscribe to to help keep up to date with the events.

Feel free to add your own additions in the comments section – whether it be related to Syria, Burma, Palestine, or anywhere else that rampant oppression and injustice continues to thrive.

Beyond words and spreading awareness, the actions we take are even greater – whether that be through donating to reputable organisations that are assisting the victims, actually trying to go to such places to assist in relief work, or any other well-intentioned action.

It’s always beautiful to see how tragic events – such as 9-11, the tsunami of a few years ago, and now Hurricane Sandy – pull people together and bring the best out of them. Telethons are held, donation drives are publicised, and people really open their hearts, wallets, and hands (via volunteer efforts) to help the victims.

But tragedies worse than all of those events are happening on a daily basis in these troubled regions of the world – so let’s not limit our generosity to the latest popular cause. Hundreds, thousands, and even millions in these places would welcome our efforts.

Posted in What's going on | Tagged: , , , | 3 Comments »

Timeless Lessons for Humanity

Posted by Yacoob on April 18, 2012

“And Pharaoh send heralds until all cities, [bidding them to call out his troops and to proclaim:] “Behold, these [children of Israel] are but a contemptible band*; but they are indeed filled with hatred of us seeing that we are, verily, a nation united, fully prepared against danger…”

(Quran; Chapter 26 – “The Poets”, verse 53 to 56; translation of meaning by Muhammad Asad)

This passage struck me because of the commentary Asad gives at the the *:

“Thus the Quran illustrates the psychological truth that, as a rule, a dominant nation is unable really to understand the desire for liberty on the part of the group or groups which it oppresses, and therefore attributes their rebelliousness to no more than unreasonable hatred and blind envy of the strong.”

What came to mind – while reading – is the phrase that former U.S. president George W. Bush would use to justify his ‘war on terror’:

They hate us. They hate our freedoms and our way of life.

And in this hate, they carry out acts of terrorism against the target of their hate.

Looking at other cases in history – and even in the present day, I am certain we could find examples where the media and government demonise an oppressed people’s efforts for freedom as ‘hate’ and ‘unreasonable’. Because if an oppressed people don’t go along and humbly, silently accept and submit to the ill-treatment handed out to them by the oppressive rulers / ruling class or race, they are labelled as troublemakers and hate-mongers.

I’m not saying that all minorities or fighters are in the right all of the time – because they do sometimes go beyond the limits of acceptability – for example, killing innocents can never be justified or acceptable (even as ‘collateral damage’).

But what I am saying is that it’s so common for those in power to tell blatant lies, cover up truth, choose information selectively, and twist the story to depict the weaker side as violent and hateful – while depicting themselves as honest, noble, and just.

A lesson from this is to be wary of what you read and hear from the media and leaders of powerful nations and organisations. Remember who is giving you the information, and whose opinion is being pushed on you – whether directly or subtly. Remember the words of Brother Malcolm X:

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

Another reason I quoted this passage and commentary from the Quran is that I wish to highlight the timelessness of Allah’s final revelation: how this Book – and the history of our human race – can never be ‘archaic’ and ‘outdated’ – as some critics say. It’ll always be relevant, because though times and technologies change, human nature always remains the same.

And so, just as certain themes occurred in times of old, those themes repeat themselves nowadays – and will continue to repeat themselves in future.

Posted in Quotes, What's going on | 2 Comments »

Apartheid Lives!

Posted by Yacoob on March 7, 2012


As part of the South African leg of the 2012 Israeli Apartheid Week, the film “Roadmap to Apartheid” is currently being screened in different parts of the country. The film explores, in detail, the apartheid comparison as it is used in the enduring Israel-Palestine conflict. As much a historical document of the rise and fall of apartheid in South Africa, the film shows why many Palestinians feel they are living in an apartheid system today – under Israeli occupation, and why an increasing number of people around the world agree with them. It features interviews with South Africans, Israelis and Palestinians, and the film winds its way through the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and inside Israel moving from town to town and issue to issue to show why the apartheid analogy is being used with increasing potency. It analyses the similar historical narratives of the Jewish people and the Afrikaaners, the tight relationship the two governments shared during the apartheid years, and everything in between.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has seen the film, and commented: “Roadmap to Apartheid is very powerful and compelling, and the visuals of house demolitions are appalling.  Religion is repeatedly misused by politicians. One of the lessons of Jewish history is that God is always on the side of the oppressed.  Another is that those who dehumanise others dehumanise themselves.  Israelis will pay a heavy price for their callous mistreatment of Palestinians.”

It’s a must-see for all who feel strongly about justice in the world, and especially South Africans – who know very well the experience of such a cruel and divisive system.

You can view the trailer here, and if you’re in SA, there are still a few screenings remaining in the country:

Cape Town
Sunday, 11 March @ 14h30 (Joseph Stone Auditorium, Klipfontein Road, Athlone)

Thursday, 08 March @ 19h30 (Factory Cafe, 369 Magwaza Maphalala Street (Gale Street), Glenwood)
Sunday, 11 March @ 14h00 (Al Ansaar Hall, West Road, Overport, Durban)

Thursday, 08 March @ 13h30 (L2-69, Graduate Centre, University of Pretoria)

Click here for details of screenings in Soweto, Modimolle/Nylstroom, Ermelo, and Polokwane; and here for details of further events around the country for this cause, including a panel discussion with cartoonist Zapiro, Professor Allan Boesak, Ronnie Kasrils on Thursday evening.

Other important documentaries and resources on the subject are:

With all the war talk about an Israeli attack on Iran, let’s not forget about the silent war that happens each and every day in the occupied territories.

Look beyond the political rhetoric, and think about the people that are suffering as a result of this absurd, inhumane occupation – and imagine what it would be like if you or your family were the victims.

It’s through ventures like this 2012 campaign that the reality of the situation can be exposed, and more and more people are awoken to the shocking truth of just what is going on.

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