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Perrygate: Time to rethink our responses

This piece was written as a response to the blog, titled “The Hunger Games- Ramadan Edition” written by Zahrah Perry. The blog The Perry Book has since been removed. 

OPINION by Zahrah Isaacs

I was enjoying a nice day out with my siblings and wasn’t paying much attention to my phone so when I checked it later in during the day, I was alarmed at the amount of missed calls, emails and texts I had gotten about ‪#‎GameOfThrones or ‪#‎HungerGames. Oh no, Jon Snow already died/didn’t die so what could have happened that’s worse than that? To my surprise, it was not related to the TV series at all but rather about a post by local blogger, Zahrah Perry, quite ironically, my namesake.

Firstly, I don’t know her and haven’t met her and I. Just like many other Muslims, I am in no position to judge her or her views. This post is mainly because of those texts and calls asking me what I think about it all and that ‘I should talk about this on the radio’.

Shukran that my opinion is valued but just like her opinion is her own, so is mine and yours. Also, while I already speak about issues like this on radio, I never ever use it to attack someone. Callers know that I cut calls when they use the platform for the incorrect purposes.

Nonetheless, my feelings towards this whole thing are threefold:

First, I am saddened. I am saddened that just three days into Ramadan, we are going at each other like this. I am saddened that people, (I won’t say community because it’s not all of us) are so intolerant to the views of others. I am saddened that all the comments show that many of us, Muslims included, don’t understand what Ramadan truly is about. I am no learned scholar but what I know about Islam, MY religion, is that Allah is Most Forgiving, Most Merciful so why can’t we just show a little of that in our lives if not more in Ramadan?

Secondly, and I know I might get backlash for my own past as people go searching to find out whatever there is about me to use against me, but we are all on a journey through life. Where we are in that journey is the difference. Some are more emotionally intelligent, but for others that level of intelligence is spiritually and sometimes it’s both. But at the end of the day, our minds and our experiences make us have different views on the same issue. What it ties down to is humanity and tolerance. So what if you are more spiritual than me or Jon Snow or even Zarah Perry for that matter? If your niyyah was meant to do good then is that not enough?

Lastly, I have seen, heard and know so many young people who are struggling to find out who they are. “I’m Muslim but I’m also young, South African living in a Western society, how do I make sense of it all?” Not to mention the fact that we are force fed brands and labels and a lifestyle we ought to have to be accepted. Personally, I have also been victimized and criticized and judged by people who barely even know me but because I work for a radio station, I have to be a certain way all the time because ‘wat gaan die mense sê?’

The. Struggle. Is. Real.

A quick scenario: I meet someone (without hijab) and we chat and it’s awesome and when they find out I work for a so-called Muslim radio station, I literally see their faces change. The judgement sets in and I can see the fight they have within themselves to dismiss whatever impression I had made previously because I have not lived up to what they thought of me.

I do the same (this time with hijab) and it’s assumed that I dress that way BECAUSE of my job and not out of personal choice.

It all comes down to your point of reference. It will always be different to that of the next person. What we need to learn is whether we want to accept their views and if we do, not only how we feel about it but how we react towards it.

The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) had fought against the jahiliyyah (literally, the Age of Ignorance), corrupt barbarism of pre-Islamic Arabia. Every age has its own jahiliyyah and Muslims of this century should learn from his example and the Quran and Sunnah before we write such posts let alone reply, especially during Ramadan.

I am in no way agreeing with what Zahrah has said, neither am I promoting it. The same goes for all the comments to her post as well.

There are several factors that tie into this topic debate and we should speak about them but we should do so in a way that is respectful and kind and open. This discourse needs to be constructive and should not just die out as a trend on social media.

I understand that we love our Deen and must defend it, but it’s the manner in which we are doing it that needs to be reflected on

As I conclude this piece, I make dua that we all learn how to properly engage with one another and that we can strengthen the ummah one discussion at a time and progressively move forward Insha-Allah.

Zahrah Isaacs is a producer and presenter at The Voice of the Cape. She is a blogger and is addicted to social media. Catch her on What’s Trending every day on Drivetime and every Sunday morning on Sunday Live.

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