Cii News | 10 Shawaal 1436/27 July 2015

Moulana Abed Khan, a scholar of Islam based in Verulam and Executive Member of Jamiatul Ulama Kwazulu Natal, recently had the opportunity of spending the month of Ramadan in Santiago, the capital of the South American state of Chile. The month-long sojourn was an eye-opener with many highlights, as Moulana explained to Cii Radio’s Ulama in Focus recently:

I always had a desire to go to South America and experience Islam in that region. We always hear of some incredible and strange report-backs from there: So many Lebanese in Brazil, so many Palestinians, so many Syrians. I wanted to see for myself, and I wanted to do some Khidmah of Deen.

A group of South African Ulama have started incredible efforts in South America – they may not see the fruit of these efforts in their lifetimes, but we are already seeing developments that are a source of great joy and satisfaction.

There are Masaajid, Musallas, Muslims- some of them who have lineages that trace back to Nabi SAW and the Sahabah RA, and were previously wandering – are coming back to Deen. Immigrant Muslims who had inter-married and lost Islam in the process are also on the return path, with their new families.

They say Chile is the last country in the world, to the West and down to the South Pole. What is most gratifying, is that in a place like this as well, Allah SWT is being remembered.

The biggest challenge for Islam on this continent is the diverse spread of the Muslim population – Muslims are scattered everywhere and it is difficult to establish one central Masjid or meeting point.

For this Ramadan specifically, a flat was rented in Santiago, to serve as a Musallah. This itself was historic: In the history of Chile, the complete Qur’aan was never recited in Tarawih in Sanatiago. Previously, Muslims from Santiago would have to travel for 15-20km daily to find a Masjid where Tarawih would be performed. Some had never performed Tarawih in their lives.

This Musallah where we performed Tarawih was in a building that overlooked important landmarks in Santiago like the Presidential palace and Ministry of Justice. We can only be pleased that Allah SWT is also being remembered in such a location, as was the desire of Nabi SAW for the Word of Allah SWT to reach far and wide.

The congregation was made up of mainly Pakistanis and Arabs. As this was Chile, we could not expect huge numbers – we used to have approximately 15 Musallees, but by Chilean standards, this was excellent.

The Khatm of Quraan here was a very emotional episode. At the Markaz outside Santiago, a very senior Tableegh member, originally from Pakistan, approached us after Salaah with tears in his eyes and said this was the first time in the history of Chile – perhaps South America – that there were 12 Hufaadh in a single Saff performing Salaah, at least 7 of them were also Ulama.

People were really overwhelmed. I had never experienced something similar to this in my life before. On the 27th night, after I had made Salaam following the Khatam, the Masjid broke out into a roar. I was actually afraid that something unfortunate had happened, but I soon realised that this was the Musallee’s way of appreciating the Qur’aan Khatam that had just happened. They also had brought flowers which were then scattered over the entire Masjid.

Regardless of whether this is an Islamic or cultural practice, what I seek to illustrate is how they appreciated listening to the Qur’aan. This was the talk all over the city during Ramadan: This is the first time the Qur’aan is being completed in Santiago.

During our stay, Alhamdulillah, we held many programmes. I would conduct a daily program after Fajr, for approximately 15 minutes. We had to come down to the level of the common man to break the ice. We also had many Islamic QnA sessions. After Asr, we would read from the Ahadeeth Virtues of Actions(Fadhaail A’maal) and Virtues of Ramadan(Fadhaail Ramadaan). Furthermore, we would conduct basic lessons and demonstrations on practical Salaah for the Musallees daily after Maghrib.

I shall narrate something incredible that we encountered, barely 1 week after the flat was rented and established as a Musallah, we heard a knock on the door at an odd hour.

When we opened, you will not believe it, there were Christian missionaries standing there to meet us. News of the Musallah had not even reached every Muslim in Santiago, but the missionaries had already got wind of it. They approached us with literature in Arabic inviting to their creed. (If this is the effort they are making for darkness, you can imagine what we need to do).

We further met a man of Palestinian origin, who was not even aware that it was Ramadan, and offered us coffee at several instances during our conversation.

Taking a cue from her husband’s behaviour, a local Chilean lady who was married to a Muslim even requested us to pray that she does not become a Muslim.

These may seem like negative experiences, but I believe we should derive from them the positive:

How important is it not for us, to be good Muslims, not just in the Masjid, but practical Muslims.

I would like to salute the South African Ulama who have made these remote countries on the South American continent their home. The scale of their achievements may be slow, but the progress is great.

Many of these Ulama now are extremely fluent in Spanish. They have gained mastery in the language, and even converse better than the locals.

They went there with a noble objective in mind – If we go there with worldly motives, it will not work. A mission like this demands all-out sacrifice.

One’s accompanying family members also have to be on the same wavelength i.e. the relocation is for the service of Deen, and that is the objective.

Alhamdulillah, these Ulama have laid solid foundations. It is not easy, there is a lot of Mujahidah involved – but Insha Allah, their rewards will be equally great