Currents, News

Squatter camps are not forgotten during Ramadan

4 min read

Life in a squatter camp has its challenges but for the Muslims in Thembehlihle squatter camp becomes a little easier with benefactors providing a daily meal to break their fast.

The Thembehlihle squatter camp was established  over a decade ago however  access to basic necessities such as water, shelter, security, and housing still a mirage.

A report in CII news explained that the the squater camp is located on the foot the settlement is a wealthy Lenasia suburb which has a huge population of Muslims, very few Muslims from this affluent suburb have set foot in the camp to spend time with the needy Muslims.

This is despite a significant number of Muslim populations at the squatter camp mainly of Malawian origin.

The Muslims living in this camp also face challanges on a daily basis – with many of them being foreginers they receive their share of  recurring xenophobic attacks.

Not forgotten

Despite the challenges becoming more in Ramadan, one man remembers them each Ramadan by providing iftar on a daily basis.

The Lenasia resident who has stayed anonymous has said that he has been feeding Thembelihle Muslims during the fasting month since 1997.

“I have been doing this for the past 19 years for the pleasure of Allah at the same time assisting my fellow Muslims opportunity to have a decent meal,” he said, pointing out that for all the years he has never faltered

“I approach 30 ladies in Lenasia who prepare the food for the whole month and Alhamdulillah we have never missed a single iftaar in Ramadan,” he added.

In Islam feeding a fasting person has a great reward and this benefactor has that in mind and chose a place that many Muslims dread to find themselves in.

“Many of the Muslims living here find it tough so we try to organise something for them during Ramadan,” he said.

Iftaar with a difference

The masjid becomes a hive of activity as the time to iftar approaches. The masjid itself is a colourful structure which is unfamiliar in such territory.

Within minutes the masjid is packed to the brim as the worshippers wait to end their day of fasting, with dates and oranges. The masjid which has electricity can be in an oldest squatter camp but the iftaar provided is fiver star.

“There are poor people who can’t afford proper food to eat even iftaar they are struggling. We thank our brother who brings food here every year,” said Sheikh Saleh who has been the resident of the squatter camp for 11 years.

Iftaar meal is provided every day in Thembelihle

Another Muslim resident in Thembelihle Jannat Chikaba who has been in the area for the last 17 years said his first Ramadan in the area was unbearable as a few Muslims were staying in the area.

“The people now are more understanding about Ramadan, the first time they didn’t understand what fasting really entailed,” said Chikaba.

He said many local South Africans at the camp who witness them during fasting think they are doing it to get food from Indian Muslims.

“It’s not like that we are fasting because of Allah’s command. They think Ramadan is time to receive something but we try to convince them that fasting is to get rewards from Allah,” he added.

Full Qur’aan taraweh in the shacks

The imaam of the masjid Abdurasheed Atwabi who studied at Malawi Islamic Centre where he completed his hifz said the five years he has spent at the squatter camp masjid has been a learning curve.

Abdurasheed Atwabi is the imam of the mosque and said that that the five years he has spent there has been a major learning curve.

“You learn more from the people as you get to help them where they can’t afford and to teach Islam to the kids,” said Atwabi.

“For them (the congregation) waking up and coming here (masjid) at a place that has no electricity and spending greater part of the night standing in prayers has been tough for them but with Allah’s grace they are managing, the masjid is always full,” he said.

The daily struggles at Thembelihle squatter camp might be bigger, but Allah has a way of shielding the believers. At least the Muslims in the area have subtracted some of their major worries in Ramadan and can focus on Allah’s worship in the blessed month.

Resource: World Bulletin, July 15, 2015

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