“If there is struggle then the results are inevitable, as with Hajar and Zam-zam by Allah’s Will. Allah will always smile on those who strive. But we should never assume that those efforts have the capacity to provide or produce anything. Zam-zam was not the direct result of Hajar’s striving. What success there is has nothing to do with us but everything to do with Allah’s Compassion and Mercy, which he dispenses according to our willingness to struggle and become the tools with which He acts.
What is noteworthy is that her struggle yields no result. She finds neither help nor any source of sustenance for her child. So why do we repeat her actions? Because it is the struggle that is important, not the result. Who are we to assume we have the capacity to ‘achieve’ anything? Our aim should be simply to strive. Thus the joy on Shamima’s face at the end of that gruelling ritual did not imply that she had found the source of life. Rather, her expression said, ‘I have struggled, I have exhausted myself because that is what I was created for, just as that is what my “Imamah” Hajar was created for. I can tell my Creator that I have striven.” ( Journey of Discovery, Na’eem Jeenah and Shamima Shaikh, p. 129)
Before moving to Jo’burg, there are two things I knew about South Africa. The first was the Houghton Masjid, and the second was a book called “Journey of Discovery: A South African Hajj” that I had read several years ago. The book follows the Hajj journey of Na’eem Jeenah and Shamima Shaikh, an extraordinary couple deeply committed to social and racial equity. When they decide to go for Hajj Shamima has already been diagnosed with cancer, and the book follows their journey of discovery together.
The book is a collection of stories and and reflections from their Hajj and addresses issues (and raises questions) about social justice and activism, love, marriage, religious rituals and symbols, spirituality and faith, gender equity, surrender, feminism, religious dogmatism and more. It is a powerful and exceptional read that challenges its reader to think about how they relate to their faith as an individual, as a family and as a community. It is an infinitely richer experience to read with others, and for this reason, the Seriously Planning bookclub met for the first time in Joburg on Sept 12th 2015 at Masjid-ul-Islam in Brixton to discuss the book and to celebrate International Literacy Day. It was a wonderful conversation and discussion circle, and re-reading the book on my own and then coming together to discuss the book with others left me with an richer and deeper understanding of the book.
Continuing the theme of South African books and authors, the next bookclub will be a discussion of “Riding the Samoosa Express by Zaheera Jina and Hasina Asvat on October 18th 2015 from 2-4pm at Industry Bakery in Greenside. To participate and confirm your attendance, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the gathering. To find the book, it is available as an Amazon Kindle Book, and available at Exclusive Books and other booksellers. Looking forward to seeing you there!