Ebrahim Moosa – Cii News | 16 Safar 1436/09 December 2014
Allah SWT truly works his wonders in marvelous ways.
In the same week that we reported on the phenomenon of numerous guards at the Guantanamo Bay Detention Centre reverting to Islam due to their interactions with Muslim detainees there, a remarkable story emerges from our own shores of a sincere seeker of truth finding Islam through his study of conditions at the controversial American-run prison.
The story of Nklankla Erasmus Nkosi, now Abdullah Nkosi of Kagiso, Krugersdorp, serves as a great boon for a Muslim Ummah currently beset with innumerable vicious onslaughts, and is a reaffirmation of the Quraanic maxim that ‘perchance matters that we hate may in fact be good for us’.
From the outset, Nkosi, appeared a highly unlikely candidate to be drawn to Islam. The international relations and business management candidate schooled in Azaadville and even traversed to Malaysia for work. Some of his friends along the way were even Muslim. Yet, by and large, he maintained a negative perception of Islam and Muslims.
“I believed what I was seeing on TV. Because Muslims tend to keep to themselves, I thought of them as arrogant people,” he told Cii Radio.
No Muslim ever formally introduced Nkosi to Islam. However, research he was tasked to complete on Guantanamo Bay, in retrospect, is seen as the catalyst for his conversion.
“I was not actually looking for a religion. There was no soul-searching happening,” he says.
A purely academic exercise on Iran and the global nuclear arms race exposed him to the politics of Pakistan and Afghanistan and eventually brought to his attention conditions at the controversial American prison in Cuba. This set Nklankla’s mind into motion to seek answers for a number of pressing questions.
“(I questioned) whether it was religion that made these people commit these [alleged] crimes, or was it politics..This was where I started learning about the Deen”.
Nkosi says he was deeply touched by the commitment of the oppressed detainees to prayer in spite of their predicament.
“These men were sometimes left to defecate in their cells and deprived of food and water. You see a person who is undergoing such oppression, then comes prayer time and he does not have any water [to make wudu], (yet he makes Tayammum) and still prays. All this leads you to think there must be something special about these people,” he said.
“There is something about discovering such devoutness when you come from the position of agnosticism or unbelief. When you see a person who is so steadfast in what they believe in- he is being oppressed, he probably has not ate for two days and hasn’t had water, but come prayer time, he does what he has to under those circumstances”.
While his college study material was skewed towards offering a Western perspective on developments in the Muslim world, Nkosi said self-study exposed him to a world of alternative sources. For instance, he discovered how Americans themselves were questioning the official version of the 9/11 attacks and how Muslims were suffering acutely due to foreign occupation of their lands. All this, he says, heightened his understanding that it was, in fact, Muslims who were being unjustly villified.
His curiosity sparked, Nkosi took the internet in a big way and began exploring variant presentations of Islam on Youtube. Here he came to develop a liking of the type of knowledge disseminated by scholars such as Dr. Zakir Naik and Yusha Evans.
Still, he concedes, it was no rapid journey.
Nkosi mulled over the new information for almost two years before he took any formal steps towards becoming a Muslim.
He describes the day on which he eventually took the Shahadah as a “weird” one.
His body feeling tired, Nkosi decided not to go to work for the day. Instead, he headed off to a mosque close to his residence in Johannesburg South, made wudhu(as he had been taught previously) and prayed.
He left the mosque thereafter, but there was still no Shahadah.
Around midday, he proceeded to Azaadville and headed to its Jameah Masjid, where, after the Zuhr Salaah, he expressed his intention to embrace Islam to a local Aalim, and soon thereafter embraced the faith.
“I felt calm, and I felt welcome,” he recounted. “The reception I got was, Masha Allah, most beautiful”.
Moulana Mohammed Patel of Azaadville, who was informed by the Masjid’s Muezzin of Nkosi’s desire to revert, says he remembers the events of that fateful day most vividly.
He remembers being startled when Nkosi told him of the role his Guantanamo assignment played in his eventual decision to revert and how Nklankla(now Abdullah) spoke admiringly about the Sahabi Sayyidina Mus’ab ibn Umair RA.
The Imam of the Masjid was informed of Nkosi’s intentions and he was ushered to the front of the Masjid to take his Shahadah.
The story takes a sweet twist when the Imam informed Moulana Patel that Mullah Abdus Salaam Zaeef, formerly a senior Taliban leader who was then on a visit to South Africa, was present in the Masjid.
Zaeef had spent almost 4 years in US detention at Guantanamo Bay and, as previously reported, was witness to at least 2 guards at the facility embrace Islam at his hands.
Because of Nkosi’s unique circumstances and the role that knowledge of Guantanamo played in his reversion, Mullah Abdus Salaam was requested to officiate over his Shahadah.
Immediately thereafter, Nkosi led all the Musallees present in a heartrending Dua.
“What a wonderful Dua..He made us all tear,” recalls Moulana Patel.
“It was such a memorable occasion. It brought such joy to everybody present there that day”.
Reflecting on the incident, Abdullah agrees Mullah Abdus Salaam’s presence was truly a Godsend.
“This thing that led me into the Deen, a person who had experienced it first hand was there. I am forever grateful, Subhanallah, for Allah SWT allowing me entry into the Deen”.
Currently employed in the civil service, Abdullah acknowledged that the journey towards purification of the soul is a lengthy one. He told Cii Radio his thirst was to learn even more about Islam and perhaps study further overseas.
“I want to Insha Allah become an Aalim,” he said.
He advised non-Muslims to embrace the global brotherhood of Islam and seek knowledge as this would be liberating.
To Muslims, he emphasised the importance of good character.
“Character is the seed of your Deen. If your character is not good, if my character is not good – what is going to attract Christian and Jewish brothers and sisters into the faith. If you think you are better than anyone else, nothing you do counts. Always try to humble yourself before Allah and fellow humanity, and always try to purify your character”.
“Abdullah has been chosen, truly speaking, by Allah SWT,” reflected Moulana Patel this week. ” Allah SWT chose the appropriate moment and occasion for him as well. That alone shows his acceptance – Allah SWT has really accepted his coming into Islam. May Allah SWT give him steadfastness on his Deen, encourage him and increase him in the knowledge and practice of Islam and make him an Ambassador of Islam”.
LISTEN to Abdullah speak about his journey HERE