Saturday, June 8, 2013

Muslims of Mauritius: Challenges Ahead

Mauritius is an island-state situated in the Indian Ocean with a population of over a million,  belonging to numerous ethnic/religious/linguistic groups, including the Hindus, Christians and Muslims. After centuries of colonial mercantile interests that caused and brought about waves of immigration from South Asia and elsewhere, the country today has the Hindus as the largest ethno-linguistic and religious group while the Muslims (at around 2,00,000) constitute a minority with around 17 per cent of the national population. With the attainment of independence from Britain in 1968, the country adopted a secular and democratic Constitutional framework and all social groups, thus, enjoy full freedom of worship and performance of religious rites and rituals. As the dominant community, the Hindus, however, continue to occupy important political and administrative positions and enjoys certain other privileges. On the contrary, the minority Muslim community remains to be on the social periphery with many grievances yet to be addressed.

In his Friday Sermon of June 07, 2013 the Khalifatullah Hadhrat Munir Ahmad Azim Sahib (atba) of Mauritius has called attention to the several problems and legitimate grievances of the Muslims of Mauritius, including on the twisted Hajj policy of the Mauritius Government. The spiritual pilgrimage to Makkah (in Saudi Arabia) for the performance of Hajj is one of the fundamental religious obligations of Muslims, wherever they are. In our times, thanks to improvement in transportation linkages and communication facilities, millions of Muslims engage in the preparation (of a life time) to make that august journey to Makkah. The Saudi Arabian Government has thus been constrained to delimit the number of believers assembling at the Holy City at this most important period of time due to logistical and accommodation/space- related concerns. Thus, countries have been allotted Hajj-quota (limiting the number of persons who will get visa to perform the Hajj in a specific year) and the opportunities to receive the visa are limited.

In the case of Mauritius, it is observed that influence-peddlers and other vested interests exercise undue influence to bear on who gets the recommendation for Hajj visa under the national quota. The politician-ministers tilt the scales in favour of their own cronies and other elite sections, leading to the unjust deprival of the opportunity to perform the Hajj to common Muslims who may be saving all through their lives for the purpose. Thus, year after the year, the same set of people-who are highly connected and politically influential- manage to get the visa and go for the Hajj, though it is not mandatory to perform Hajj more than once. On the contrary, most poor Muslims who may save for many years to go and perform the Hajj may not be able to get even the visa. The political leadership in the country essentially seeks to manipulate and exploit the divisions within the minority Muslim community and has virtually ignored or put on cold storage the important concerns of the Muslim community, including the need for an embassy in Saudi Arabia, which would facilitate the negotiations for an increase in the Hajj quota as well as in seeking trading and other labour market opportunities.     

Even at the risk of being labelled “communal”, one may have to warn that both secularism and democracy in Mauritius are under threat from racist vultures in its body politic, feels the Khalifatullah (atba). When the minority Muslim community’s religious rights- to go on pilgrimage to Makkah for Hajj- and their social, administrative and economic progress within the country are being thwarted surreptitiously, it points to the presence of communalism on the body politic, points out the Khalifatullah (atba). Further, the Sermon provides illuminating guidance to the Muslims to come out of their predicament by paying attention to their community identity and the responsibilities of solidarity being conveyed through the Divine Messages available in their midst.

Read the Extracts from the Friday Sermon:   

Hajj forms part of the 5 pillars of Islam and it is obligatory upon a Muslim who has the means, to go perform Hajj at least once in his lifetime, Insha-Allah. Muslims, Understand this well: If you have already gone to perform Hajj, then let another one who has not yet got the opportunity to go for Hajj to accomplish this obligatory duty. Be aware that our beloved prophet Muhammad (pbuh) has performed Hajj only once in his lifetime. Therefore, it is obligatory at least once in a lifetime of one has the financial means and physical capacity. But on the other hand, the Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) has advised to perform more often – as it is possible according to our means – the small Hajj, that is, the Umra. Allah forgives our sins from one Umra to another Umra.

Believers must understand the present condition we are facing in Mecca, then, it is advisable (that if you have already gone for the Hajj), to let someone else who has never gone for Hajj to accomplish it. Forget the adage: “First come, First serve”. On the contrary, one must preserve an Islamic mentality. It is in these kinds of situations that we must show our spirit of brotherhood. Another point that needs to be raised is the limited quota on visas for Hajj. In this situation it is advisable not to take children to Hajj for it is not yet obligatory upon them, and thus, the place can then go to someone who deserves to go. Let the visa be attributed to him.

Each secretary responsible for the spiritual education in his mosque must educate those who usually go the mosque. If we are suffering today, this is because the Muslim community has not gotten enough spiritual education and have not been sufficiently formed in his religion (Islam). When the end shall approach, ignorance shall become more widespread. Are we not living these times? Today the Mauritian Muslims are facing many problems to get a visa to go and perform Hajj, and every year one notice that it is the same people who go for Hajj just because they are the protégées of ministers. As for those who have saved for many years to get the opportunity to go for Hajj, they do not get the visa to go.

If Mauritius is going through these hard times to get a good quota of visas for Hajj, this is because we do not have an embassy in Saudi Arabia. And it is a fact that there are thousands of Mauritians to go there each year (yet no embassy). For a single month (April), there were a thousand Mauritians there for Umra. In such countries where people don’t even go (or do not often go), we have embassies there. It is to such extent that this government despise Muslims. Our money is good to fill in the treasury of Air Mauritius.

The Minister, Arvin Boolell knows very well this suffering of the Muslims, how they have saved cent by cent so that they may one day perform Hajj, to accomplish the fifth pillar of Islam. Yet, they are deprived of visas. Only 700 persons receive visas. He knows the suffering of us not having an embassy in Saudi Arabia (yet he does nothing). Each time the Opposition has questioned him on the subject, about the opening of an embassy in Arabia, he has dodged the question. It is now years he is avoiding the subject, that he is studying the probabilities.

The two mandates of this government is expiring and yet the conditions of the Muslims are not getting better (Muslims are still suffering). The state funds are being spent in vain outcomes all year round, such as concerts but when the question of pilgrimage is brought forward, instead of facilitating the lives of its people, this government says that it does not have money. And we know how an embassy in Saudi Arabia would have opened many avenues in the labour market and other sectors in Mauritius. Africa is already a poor country; embassies in those African countries shall be in vain. It is only a strategy for these Misters, for their own benefits.

There are four Muslim ministers in this government, useless ones! They are doing nothing for the Ummah, to debate in favour of the Muslim brothers and sisters so that they may go and accomplish the fifth pillar of Islam, that is, the Hajj. Their contribution in this field is null, and they are only looking out for more wealth, dignity, honour and power that they are getting in this world. This is no concern to them if others are crushing under their feet the teachings of Islam; this does not affect them. And if they ever raise their voice on the question, then the Prime Minister will tell them to resign. The time has come for the Muslims to open their eyes and be aware of the treatments meted out by the government to us. You Muslims, fight among you, divide and treat your brothers and sisters as non-Muslims, boycott and do not unite, and then look how these people seize this opportunity to crush the Ummah of Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh).

Observe this in the different sectors of the government, or in any ministry, be it concerning promotion or otherwise, they are crushing the Muslims and are restricting them from getting promotions. Instead, there are incompetent people who are place at the top, and now look how this country is drowning. It is nearly a year since the hawkers are being harassed in all places, and thus they are unable to feed their families. Their goods are being seized and they are beaten and put in police vans like thieves, to abase them. Most of them are Muslims. Even if they do not get a job in government, they do not mind for they have their own business. Is there any of those Muslim ministers or PPS (Parliamentary Private Secretary) in the government who is fighting for them, so that they may get a place where they can work in peace? If Muslims were united, were one, and if we had not been fighting and consolidated and if we had hold fast to the Holy Quran and not let ourselves be divided, then nobody could have harmed us.

The Muslims here (in Mauritius) are being crushed; many among us have made lots of sacrifices to go perform Hajj and have not obtained visa. There are other Muslims who are in favour of Mr. the Minister to obtain grandeur and they become arrogant and proud. Dr. Farad Aumeer has been politically nominated and does not deserve the place he received. Nowadays people are talking about him in a negative way due to his arrogance. He does not deserve the position he is now occupying and on top of that he is crushing the Muslims who have registered themselves more than a year ago for the Hajj – He is listening to his Guru Minister, and people are thus criticising him, and no chairman (in charge of Hajj) before him received so many criticisms. He should have logically left this position on his own, and the more he stays in this seat, the more his reputation is being soiled. He should have maintained with dignity his career as a doctor and he should have done his work and dedicate himself to Islam. The question is why does he (Mr. Farad Aumeer) not leave this chairman position? 

By the grace of Allah, we have a lot of answers for the type of people like Mr. Farad Aumeer. Our beloved prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh) predicted that when the end of times shall come, there shall be more ignorant people (in the field of the religion of Islam) who shall come at the head of institutions (the Islamic state). And today, what do we see?

It is the ignorant in the matters of religion (Islam) who are at the head of the Islamic states and the Ummah is suffering. You shall be astonished to hear some so-called Ulama say: “We will give our full support to Dr. Farad Aumeer, who is doing a great job as chairman of the ICC (Islamic Cultural Centre).” And concerning Mr. Farad Aumeer’s management of the Islamic Cultural Centre, these same Ulama are criticizing him on the issue. Which is which? This is pure hypocrisy.

The time has come for you, Dr. Farad Aumeer to leave this position, when your head is still high (and not as an humiliated figure) because the anger of the Ummah shall descend upon you as an avalanche in the coming days. There is no restricting that anger of the Ummah. What, drawing lots to choose who and who shall proceed for Hajj? Where are we going? When there is no captain, especially a captain chosen by Allah, then the ship is bound to sink.

All Muslim brothers and sisters have learnt that the visa for Hajj is free and this has been confirmed. The Hajj Minister, Bandar Al-Hajjar has made the following declaration during a Forum at the King Abdul Aziz University: “Saudi Arabia does not charge any fee for Hajj and Umra visas and other state services provided to pilgrims. The money they pay goes to private Tawafa organization for services such as food, accommodation and transportation.”

Why then the payment of Rs. 3000 for an Umra visa? Why fixing the price to three thousand rupees? Those who shall listen or read this sermon made today in Mauritius, there shall some who shall take Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam as being communal. By the grace of Allah, we do not worry about this thought because our food, drink, honour, life and death are not found in their hands. I must stress on the fact that our opponents have always use this as a means against us. But we are not communal; on the contrary, we are defending the Ummah of the noble prophet Hazrat Muhammad (pbuh). Those who say that against us, they are themselves the communal ones in this country, and we see this also around the entire world, how they are crushing Islam. I can say according to my analysis and observations that with each day that passes by in this country, or in this world, we see that it is the minorities who are being crushed, especially the Muslim Community.

It is a vain venture to talk on the Muslim ministers or secretaries at the top in the government. Their agenda is different from the initial one with which the Muslim Community sent them with. Later we understood how they used this slogan of defending the Ummah only to get some votes. Afterwards, the Ummah becomes orphan of a “VOICE” which shall defend its rights and make its voice be heard. Nowadays, each community is uniting its strength so that it may not be trampled upon. Each community (religion) is being defended by its representative in the government. Like we say in Mauritius, literally speaking, “Each monkey protects its mountain.” (Meaning to say that each one protects his own/those like him/those belonging to the same religions or religious denominations).

But unfortunately, we Muslims do not have a voice speaking in favour of Islam, and our rights to accomplish the fifth pillar of Islam and to obtain promotions in our respective fields on account of our competences, be it in the public or private sector. Why all this is happening? Ponder over it, Oh Muslims! This is because we are divided, and harbour hatred against our own selves (Muslims), fighting each other and saying that such and such brothers and sisters are not Muslims, as if we hold the patent to judge the faith of others in our hands. Therefore, this kind of division has brought us to a weak state and thus the “Voice of Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam” has decided to make itself heard because the communities in majority have seized the state’s apparatuses. This is a danger zone for the others (minority).

Loom what is happening to the Muslims in Burma and Sri Lanka. Muslims in Mauritius must be proactive. Nearly all Hindu politicians are controlled by Hindu associations. And recently, you heard how the President of the Sanathan Dharma Temples Federation, Somduth Daltaman said that he has 500,000 people behind him, and that all state apparatuses are in his hands. He conducted press conferences to criticise the catholic priests and the way things are going, if that racist blood keeps on pumping hard, then it is not long before a racial strife strikes the country. Therefore, if tomorrow the Hindu extremists come into power in this country, and nothing is impossible in this regard the way things are moving.

“Voice of Jamaat Ul Sahih Al Islam” shall not further the divergences which exist in the Muslim Community. For us, a Muslim is a brother. His honour and blood is sacred. We shall raise our voice on all matters which touches the acquired rights of the communities of this country (the minority) and all matters dealing with the crushing of the Ummah. If Muslim brothers and sisters wish to give a helping hand in this noble work, you are all welcome. Hand in hand, like one same body, same children of one same mother, we come forward to defend the honour, value and dignity of our beloved prophet (pbuh), Islam and the Holy Quran, Insha-Allah.

Has the time not come for the believers to have their hearts incline towards the message of Allah and the truth which has come? Do not show arrogance with that which Allah the Almighty has provided you with. Allah the Almighty does not love the proud and arrogant. Oh brothers and sisters, Oh those who believe, fear Allah and have faith in His Messenger. Allah the Almighty shall give you two shares of His grace and He shall give you a light so that you may walk with His help, and He shall forgive you. Allah is verily All-Forgiving and Merciful. Ameen, Summa Ameen.

It is Allah who has sent you His Representative (Khalifatullah) with clear revelations, to remove you from darkness and to guide you to light. Allah is truly gentle towards you and He is Merciful. Insha-Allah, I pray that Allah the Almighty opens each heart and make this message penetrate it, and that you become great believers and dedicate your time in the path of Allah till your last breath, Insha-Allah, Ameen.