Days before his death, a young Durban man who fought with rebel forces in Syria, penned a moving letter to SA Muslims outlining his reasons for leaving – and even dying for the cause, writes Ismail Suder
News of two young men – one from Durban and the other from Port Elizabeth – who were “martyred” recently while fighting with Syrian rebel forces against Assad’s regime has prompted leading social cohesion advocate and activist, Yusuf Abramjee, to speak out, saying “we as South African have no business to fight abroad”.
Al Qalam is aware of the names of the two young men in their 20’s who come from prominent families. Their death, likely by Syrian or Russian air and ground attack, was discussed on WhatsApp group chats.
One group chat message gave one of the men’s pseudonyms as “Abu-Dujana”.
“The brother was one of a kind, he loved Jihad and wanted to join the mujahedeen long ago, truly amazing, beautiful brother, the best manners and innocent charm and characteristics.”
Only days after he was killed, Abu-Dujana, purportedly wrote a moving message to South African Muslims in which he detailed why he was prepared to fight against the brutal Syrian regime – and to even die for the cause.
An excerpt the letter read: “My intention in writing (about) my experience is to try and raise the morale of the Ummah, we feel we are weak and have no power. But we are wrong, we have the greatest power with us. “Guard (the commands) of Allah Ta’ala and He will guard you. Guard the commands of Allah Ta’ala and He will be at your side!”
“If we are true in our claim that we want to help this Ummah then we have to follow this claim with action. The conditions of the Muslims in Syria and in other parts of the world are not hidden to you. I ask you, If Jihad is not an obligation now, then when will it be?”
He also had a message to Muslim leadership in the country.
“To the respected Ulamaa in South Africa, be from amongst our leaders and not from those who sit back or condemn the noble work of Jihaad.
To the Muslims in general, do all you can to help the Ummah, especially in Syria. Help by utilising your voices, your wealth and yourselves. And know that to fight here is not a fight for Syria but a defence for the entire Ummah.
“May Allah accept us and protect the Ummah and give victory to the mujahedeen. Do not forget us in your duas – Abu Dujanah al Afriki, Idlib, Northern Syria.”
But, Abramjee, in his address to a group of over 200 women at a fundraising breakfast at Fairlands, Port Elizabeth this week, spoke out: “We as South Africans have no business to go and fight abroad. Our laws also prohibit it. I am happy many Muslim leaders agree it is not ‘Jihad’.”
He called on South African youth not to be indoctrinated. “Let’s rather focus our energies and efforts on humanitarian needs and make a difference by assisting the victims of the war.”
Abramjee said the #SAveSyria initiative by #OperationSA raised almost R14m in under two months.
The donations were distributed to seven charities. “We will ensure that every rand donated goes to those in need and not for salaries, commissions, travel costs, etc.
“You are showing you care. You are correctly focusing on the educational needs of the refugee children. Let’s continue to support those in need,” Abramjee told the guests.
Abramjee said suffering in Syria was of “epic proportions and we must continue to assist when and where we can”.
“Representatives from several SA charities have travelled to the region to assist with humanitarian efforts. Please continue to assist,” he added.
Abramjee said the Turkish based IHH Humanitarian organization was building the world’s largest orphanage in the border town of Reyhanli. Over 1100 children will be accommodated when it is officially opened in a few weeks. “The harsh winter conditions have delayed building work.
He said South African NGO’s including the Al Imdaad Foundation and Jamiatul Ulama SA have donated towards the modern facility.
He said a recent national cake sale by women’s groups raised R1,3-million. “This will be used for a Trauma Support Centre run by the IHH. Rape victims are being treated here.”
He pointed out that “people from across religious and cultural backgrounds donated towards #SAveSyria. It showed what we achieve if we stand united. This is what Ubuntu is about.”
Abramjee said the Syrian regime “had to be also strongly condemned for killing innocent civilians. They are murderers and our government must take a stand and condemn them.”
“Killing innocent people, be it by the Syrian regime, ISIS or any other group is unacceptable. We must all say NO to violence,” Abramjee added.