2016 Youth ‘Itikaf
On Tuesday 28 June, after Tarawih prayers, students gathered at Claremont Main Road Mosque for the 2016 Youth ‘Itikaf. I had my doubts that this year’s ‘Itikaf could not possibly be as memorable as last years, however, my assumptions were soon contested. Along with students from a diversity of schools around Cape Town, boys and girls, we braved the cold with the mutual goal of heightening our knowledge, bettering ourselves and our understanding of the world around us and strengthening our faith in God.
The following day’s theme was ‘Fasting as a Path to Taqwa’ which saw informative and insightful discussions between Imam Rashied Omar and ‘Itikaf participants taking place. Based on the Fasting Verses of the Qur’an, we were able to gain a better understanding of fasting in the month of Ramadan, its intentions and benefits as well as who is permitted to fast. A visit from Shaykh Sa’dulla Khan further enriched our ‘Itikaf experience as he explained to us the importance of utilising our time effectively. He also shared an insightful tafsir on Qur’an The Open Discussion session with Imam Rashied provided ‘Itikaf participants with an opportunity to ask pertinent and in some cases, controversial, questions related to the youth and Islam which resulted in us gaining reassurance and necessary guidance. The final highlight of Wednesday’s activities was a YouTube Session as a contemporary approach to Islam with Mazin Jeppie. The YouTube Session led to fruitful and informative discourse around the plight of African Americans and how their plight is similar to that of African Blacks in South Africa both during and post-apartheid. Comparisons were made between the Black Power Movement in America and the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa which resulted in us gaining a clear understanding of the plight of People of Colour (PoC) not only on a national level, but on an international one too. Throughout the ‘Itikaf a key emphasis was placed on the need for self-reflection as it was concluded that structures and systems of oppression and injustice will only be dismantled once we as individuals make the conscious decision to change ourselves in a way that we prioritise social justice.
Thursday’s theme was ‘Justice as a Manifestation of Taqwa’ which resulted in ‘Itikaf participants engaging in critical and fruitful discourse relating to social justice issues. The Tutorial Session with Mujahid Osman was undoubtedly the highlight of the day’s activities as we collectively challenged and interrogated our beliefs, biases and prejuidecs; concluding that as Muslims we should not only be fighting against oppression but we should also acknowledge our position of power and privilege in society and use it as a catalyst for social change. Aside from the Tutorial Session, we were honoured to receive visits from Jihad Omar and Kassiem Adams who described the history of Dhikr- something that often goes undiscussed. The session was highly educating and a sense of pride was instilled in us as we marvelled at the beauty of what our ancestors forged.
Friday morning began with Surah al-Nisa’, Q4:135 being highlighted which calls believers to “stand up firmly for justice, as witnesses to God.” This extract perfectly encapsulated what our 2016 Youth ‘Itikaf was all about; conscientization, challenging our beliefs and prejudices and interrogating our own biases as a step towards achieving social justice. In doing so, we are not only calling for self-reflection but also for societal reflection. After the Jumu’ah service, we had an opportunity to creatively express ourselves with Fatima Docrat leading us in a session based on an artistic expression of the ‘Asma al Husna. Once again, the Youth ‘Itikaf proved to be a thoroughly enriching, enjoyable and educating experience. It provided the necessary platform for the youth to discuss pertinent social issues, engage in fruitful discourse and to express our concerns. Overall, it was an astounding success and a key step towards achieving social justice.