VOC’s first Ahlan Wasahlan project kicked off with a special programme welcoming and embracing reverts (new muslims) at Al Jaamia Masjid in Claremont on Sunday. From before Asr, local musallees, many of them students at the masjid’s revert classes, began streaming for the afternoon programme. The annual campaign sees VOC staff and volunteers visit four underprivileged communities in Ramadan in a communal effort of Quranic recitation and iftar. Al Jaamia masjid was particularly targeted because of the many reverts who frequent the classes of Shaykh Riyaad Walls. The khatam and thikr was broadcasted by live on VOC.
“Allah (S.W.T) says for everything that is dull the heart needs to be polished. Our heart is softened after we have fasted. If we see the poor we have empathy for them. For those who cannot afford a decent iftar we need to put our hands in our pockets and give to the poor. We need to urge the healing of the poor,” says Sheikh Abdul Ragmaan.
“Let us be the people who urge the feeling of the poor and urge their suffering. We as people display love and compassion making us one body. If one feels pain the other feels pain. Let’s assist in relieving the suffering of the poor and let them know that they are not alone. This program was dedicated to reverts today and sympathising with them as it can be very lonely being a new Muslim. We want them to know that they are not alone.”
Malika Salie, who converted to Islam in 2004, says her relationship with her Creator only grew in 2007 when she got divorced. Malick had converted when she got married. Life as a revert can be lonely, says Salie, as there are not many people who can relate.
“It’s lonely as a revert especially during Ramadan. This initiative is amazing as it encourages people to embrace all walks of life and to have iftar together,” says Salie.
Tahirah Jayes, a former journalist converted to Islam when she was exposed to Middle Eastern politics. She recalls being enlightened by the Islamic lifestyle.
“I was enlightened by the humanity of Islamic people. The way they live and the way they treat others,” says Jayes.
For Jayes, reverts have few places to turn to particularly in Ramadan.
“It can be lonely as a revert and especially in Ramadan as there is nowhere to go,” says James.”
VOC has again partnered with humanitarian NGO Gift of the Givers for the 16th outreach programme. At iftar time, musallees kneeled on the floor of the masjid to enjoy iftar plates filled with an assortment of savouries, soup and breyani made by Gift of the Givers.
“There is not much planning for us as everything happens on the day of the event,” says VOC marketing Sukayna Johaardien.
Before the iftar, the jamaah followed by Sheikh Abdul Ragmaan performed a khatam and thikr while people rejoiced in the recitation of the Quran. Each member of the masjid was handed an English translated Quran.
“We know it is the month of the Quran and therefore we gather people together to recite the Quran. The community comes to the mosque and they are given their own Quran and therefore we can complete a khatam in one hour,” said Ahlan Wasahlan co-ordinator Prof Ebrahim Arnold.
“We have an outreach programme where we go out to the disadvantaged communities. This is the first time we are doing a revert community,” adds Johaardien.
“This is our little gift to the community, the gift of Islam.”
There are three main purposes for the outreach programme: to have people reciting Quran together, to share a communal iftar and to feed the poor. The aim with the first outreach was to allow reverts to experience the recitation of the Quran.
“We want to go into the impoverished areas and create relationships with the mosques in that areas to bring Islam to the community and assist alleviate poverty,” says Arnold. VOC