By Al Qalam Reporter
When Islamic students come from far afield to learn the technique of Comparative Religion and Dawah at the Islamic Propagation Centre International (IPCI) in Durban, you know it has to be special.
Founded by the legendary Shaykh Ahmed Deedat, the Comparative Religion and Dawah Leadership programme is now its 5th year – and turning out da’ees who are making a difference in their regions.
Eleven students from such countries as Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, the United States of America and Saudia Arabia have spent nine days learning the techniques of Dawah, so it was a momentous occasion when the Da’ees graduated last Saturday and received their certificates.
The Da’ees who come from varied backgrounds told Al Qalam the reasons for doing the intensive course.
Saudi citizen, Marwa Helmi teaches English at the Islamic Education Foundation in Jeddah. She said her major task was to get her students to change their mindset – from yearning for western trappings to adopting a Muslim lifestyle.
She said that over the years, the intensity among young people was to “Go to America.” This idea has been growing to such an extent, that almost all youngsters with whom she comes into contact prefer living a western lifestyle.
She said she has now been equipped with skills, which she could use, especially with the youth, Muslim and non-Muslims to spread Islam. “I have been empowered not only to spread Islam but also to defend my religion. I have acquired the knowledge, which will enable me to be more progressive and be able to answer critics who try and ﬁnd fault with Islam.
Yusuf and Mahreerah Gassiep of Cape Town enrolled for a Dawah Leadership Programme to help ﬁght “the toughest battle of our lives.”
Yusuf is the Imam of the Town Centre Mosque in Mitchells Plain and Mahreerah is the principal at the Dar Ahlil Quran School.
Their battle is to draw back to Islam an ever-growing number of young sisters who are marrying outside the community and are abandoning Islam. To make matters worse, families are cutting oﬀ their contact with these women who are virtually forced to live an alternate lifestyle.
The leadership course has taught them how to handle the burning issues diﬀerently.
“To establish a strong bond and then to educate them about Islam and wean them back with the truth,” he said.
Mahreerah said that there was an urgent need to deal with these issues – and that it was not a simple matter, especially since these women do not have the education or the support.
Civil engineer, Dr Mohamed Al Haj Hussein of Jeddah came with his wife to study the work done by Sheik Ahmed.”
“I am surprised by the extent of freedom Muslims have in this country. What you have here cannot be found in England, the United States or anywhere in Europe. Women walk freely around wearing hijabs. “As Muslims we are safe. My wife is with me on this trip and she marvels each time that she goes out that she is not subjected to a body attack,” he said.
He said that his experience was that South Africans regardless of their religious aﬃliations seem to work together.
Samuel Shropshire, Director of Muslim Voice for Peace and Reconciliation in the United States was born a Christian and spent a number of years studying at various theological schools in the United States.
From 1978 to 1983, he attended the California Graduate School of Theology. He was appointed United States director of Christian Solidarity International from 1983 and 1989 when he championed the cause of religious objectors who were persecuted in a number of countries.
“I lobbied governments on behalf of Muslims, Christians and Jews,” he said. Then in 1912, he was sent to Saudi Arabia to work on a translation of the Quran into American English.
It was his introduction to Islam. After six months of intense study, he reverted to Islam. “My life was changed and learnt that the hateful things that was being said about Muslims were not true. I must thank my mother who always told me that I should follow the religion of Abraham,” he said.