by NONTOBEKO AISHA MKHWANAZI
‘OUR journey began in the year 2000, when the late Moulana Shaikh Nazim Adil al-Haqqani (who was a world leader of the Naqshbandi order) remarked at a masjid in Cape Town, that he is in Africa. And he asked: where are African Muslims? There were no African Muslims present in the masjid. He advised later: ‘The African people’s hearts are open for Islam!’ It was when we embarked on dawah missions that we discovered that while some of us can afford to put a plate of food in the table there are some people who go to bed with an empty stomach and as Muslims, we then saw a need to lend a helping hand in impoverished communities,’ related Shaikh Shamiel da Costa of the Naqshbandi Muhammadi Order of South Africa (NMSA).
He related this during the handover of the Hyundai H1 to the NMSA by the South African Muslim Charitable Trust (SAMCT) on September 28, 2021. Established in 2008, the SAMCT continues to be instrumental in assisting organisations with significant donations towards poverty alleviation, empowerment, community upliftment and sustainability programmes.
‘SAMCT was established to provide funding, services and other resources for the improvement of the lives of the vulnerable, deprived and disadvantaged. It has successfully delivered significant assistance solutions throughout the country, irrespective of race or religion and work to support needy organisations in the fields of health, poverty alleviation, education and socio-economic development,’ said SAMCT representative, Faried Boltman.
During the handover, he also highlighted the financial hardships of organisations that hinder their ability to assist the needy. ‘Charitable organisations, such as the Naqshbandi Muhammadi Order of South Africa (NMSA), do incredible work with tight budgets which they receive through fundraising, grants and donations. With such tenuous income streams, such organisations simply lack the financial clout to meet large capital expenditure outlays, such as would be required to purchase a vehicle. This is unfortunate because good and effective transport is key to most charitable organisations being able to reach those who need their assistance,’ admitted Boltman. According to him, the vehicle will significantly improve the extent of the organisation’s dawah and feeding scheme outreach endeavours in impoverished areas across the region.
‘Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NMSA has since focused primarily on the feeding schemes in different parts of Africa. Many people in impoverished communities have lost their jobs or have seen drastic reductions in their income. People are desperate. They are hungry. They need our help or will face starvation and it is through this that we are inspired to not only help but to give hope,’ claimed Shaikh Shamiel.
Within the first 18 months of the pandemic, NMSA has provided those in need with over 4,1 million meals through their 60 food kitchens in South Africa and Malawi. ‘Such good works require the dedication of a large team of selfless individuals intent on making the lives of the disadvantaged better. For this, those who give of their time to the NMSA are to be roundly applauded. Unfortunately, though, their work comes at a cost; and that cost is transport. Many use their own vehicles at their own expense to regularly journey out to fulfil the organisation’s dawah programme, taking the message of Islam to underprivileged and often destitute communities, as well as providing hands-on assistance to such communities,’ noted Boltman.
He stressed that the expansion of the Naqshbandi’s humanitarian activities and a shortage of vehicles to undertake its outreach initiatives had left volunteers battling to keep up with the demand for feeding programmes in impoverished areas, given the grip the pandemic had in the region, and SAMCT was pleased to lend a helping hand to NMSA.
Shaikh Shamiel expressed gratitude to the SAMCT for believing in NMSA, adding that he hopes that Allah will reward SAMCT for their remarkable work. He also highlighted that NMSA will continue assisting impoverished communities because being a Muslim is not only limited to praying and dhikr but it is also about being able to lend a helping hand to those in need.
‘Providing those who are in need with food is not just about feeding them but it’s about giving them hope. Often there is this misconception that when you are providing food to the needy, you need to distribute it without even conversing or even smiling. This is not what Prophet Muhammad (SAW) did. Some people even take Shahadah through being treated with dignity when given a plate of food. Lending a helping hand is part of every Muslim’s good deeds and it can be dawah when done with a good intention for the sake of Allah,’ concluded Shaikh Shamiel.