*This opinion and analysis article was first published on 21 October 2018.
Don’t get me wrong. I don’t hate Muslims. As a matter of fact, I don’t hate anybody at all.
But there are some Muslims that are so judgmental of others, it’s deeply concerning. They judge you on what you post on social media, what you like and what you do, among other things, without actually trying to find out who you really are or what you really stand for.
You don’t know me… You know my public profile, but besides those that are close to me, nobody knows who I really am and what I am like in person.
While I may not be the perfect embodiment of a Muslim or possibly not the most qualified to write about being the subject of thousands of people’s guise and attention, given the fact that I was in radio and a personality amongst the Indian and Muslim communities, it does come with a huge price.
The perils of being famous does take its toll and I didn’t realise this until I decided to thrust myself into the profession that I love so much…Journalism.
Before joining radio, or Islamic radio, I was and still am an ordinary and normal person, doing everyday things. I must admit, I grew up watching TV, going to movies, playing video games, listening to music and doing everything else a normal person or teenager would do. This is something that had been ingrained in me for a very long time.
When I joined Islamic radio, obviously adjustments had to be made. However, while these changes were being implemented, I couldn’t change my character, that’s the person I am, that’s the person I was and the person that I will remain.
So while I confine myself to the laws, rules and regulations of Islam, being judged on what other people perceive me to be is just something that is not acceptable and is very hurtful.
There are a number of issues that plague the Muslim world and communities around the globe. One being the whole Jamal Khashoggi saga, which I don’t intend going into because this post is not a political piece.
The Halaal Haraam issue, the attending of functions that are not so called “Halaal enough”, listening to music and taking pictures are some of the topics that have been thrown in my face by Muslims. Those that claim to be holier than though, but have a closet full of skeletons.
While I understand that I am an ambassador for a Muslim organisation, what I sometimes do in my personal capacity is reflected upon the entire radio station. Naturally, because you are seen as an extension of the brand, but a line has to be drawn at a point.
Some might say this comes with the territory and I agree. But what really angers me is the duplicity and the hypocrisy of some Muslims.
Now you’ll assume that this blog post is an attack on Muslims. This is far from the truth. I am not attacking anybody. I am merely stating what society’s norms have instilled upon everybody including Muslims themselves.
So, you want to criticize me, embarrass my wife and me on social media, attack my children at school telling them: “your father is like this and like that” for eating out at a restaurant at say for example Monte Casino. But you yourself are there, possibly eating in the same restaurant, taking a photo of me. So why is it good for you to be there, but not good for me?
Above all, you took the photo of me, posted it on social media and other various platforms like WhatsApp including sending it to my superiors with a caption that reads: “Check Faizel Patel out at Monte Casino gambling.” But that’s not the truth. Why are you lying? And you call yourself a Muslim? I was there to have supper. I could’ve gone anywhere else, but I decided to go there. What’s the problem with that? The restaurant is certified halaal. What’s the problem?
This is something that is becoming an intrusive invasion of my life when I am with my family. And while many people won’t understand, it’s not easy being in the spotlight. I cannot go to the toilet without being photographed or being reported on. It’s frustrating and I hate the lengths people go to, to sneak a pic and share it to put me in a bad light.
Everybody loves the spotlight, the fame, the recognition, the so called “celebrity status”, but it can be a perilous position to be in. Why are people so judgmental?
A few years back and I am in no way worried and justifying, because I don’t really care of who likes me or who doesn’t on social media or in reality. I wasn’t put on this earth to please people, but rather to please God and He is the Judge of Judges.
But the fact is, if you judge me before you give me a hearing, than that’s something I cannot accept and I am going to use an example, because this clearly illustrates the extent that some people would go to, to believe preconceived perceptions about me.
As someone who loves and breathes technology, I was an avid follower of one tech journalist on social media. I am not going to mention names, because it doesn’t really matter who it is, because the point is, learn the truth before you judge.
I have to admit, she is phenomenal at what she does. She’s educational and I’ve learnt a lot. But in the last year or so, I’ve realised that she blocked me on Twitter and I couldn’t understand the reason why. Now don’t get me wrong. I don’t mind being blocked. It happens all the time with me even blocking some people myself.
So, I began the elaborate process of finding out why I was blocked. Because that’s what journalists are supposed to do right? To find out the truth, to investigate what actually happened.
When I found out that I was blocked because I supposedly said that: “women are not supposed to be in the technology field, or tech reporters or journalists,” I was shocked. When did I say this? I don’t recall ever uttering this nonsense or posting it on social media.
I checked my timelines, Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram using the necessary tools and never came across such post. After an intensive investigation, I discovered that someone else with the same Twitter handle as mine “Faizel Patel” was posting news stories, comments and accusations against other fellow tweeps, journalists and people about the Islamic ethos that they are supposed to confine themselves to. They posted unverified events, news, and other information with the malicious intent to create the perception that it was me.
This infuriated me, because as journalists, we always verify before we post or write stories by speaking to official sources and spokespeople including editing the details of the piece.
So what I did was, and this was disheartening because what was being preconceived to be posted by me wasn’t the truth and yet I was blocked. I have to stress, I don’t care about being blocked and I don’t care if the person that blocked me reads this, you are welcome to do what you want. But I was blocked for something that didn’t even have anything to do with me.
So, I wrote to Twitter, explained to them the incident that I am in the media fraternity, mainstream and Islamic and that this is what had transpired and they verified my account.
Now, the thing is, even after being a verified Twitter user and engaging the person on email and in person trying to explain that this is what happened. This person, didn’t want to hear anything at all. I think that’s grossly unfair, because this person judged me on what they deemed to be a post on social media by me. Instead what they did is relay my intentions to share the matter to someone else indicating that I was actually harassing them. Can you believe this garbage? I burst out laughing. What has the world come to?
This is the extent that people go to, to sometimes tarnish my name or judge me based on the whims and fancies of others.
I can’t even recall the number of times that I was attacked on social media and while it used to irk me, it now really doesn’t faze me at all. Now and again I will post something on Facebook if I really had a bad day, but I am working through that and hopefully I will develop an even thicker skin to deal with such issues.
Coming to the issues of Muslims being hypocrites and sometimes duplicitous, and I said I wouldn’t touch on this but… Let take the Khashoggi issue and I am not speaking about the politics of it. I’ve seen a post recently that’s calling for the boycott of Hajj and Umrah by Muslims in South Africa because of the Khashoggi incident.
So, let’s ask this question. South Africa already has a growing waiting list of people wanting to go for Hajj and Umrah. Our hajj quota is only about 3,500 and we are always begging for more people to go, hoping for an increase in the numbers.
It’s everybody’s desire to go for Hajj and Umrah and yet, while we are striving for the increase in the quota’s you calling for a boycott because of what Saudi Arabia did? Have you forgotten at whose invitation you are embarking on this journey of a lifetime? Have you not looked at the bigger picture that you want to go for Hajj, you want to go for Umrah to fulfil your 5th pillar of Islam? I don’t want to speak about what the Saudi’s did, because that’s not the issue I am writing about.
It’s the issue of being a hypocrite. The same people who are calling for a boycott, that are criticising the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, are the same people that are standing first in line for Hajj and Umrah visas, are the same people that are arguing and fighting with the South African Hajj and Umrah Council (Sahuc) saying they are not doing a good enough job to get extra quotas, or Hajj is too expensive. It’s these Muslims that are the hypocrites.
It’s these people that fly Saudi Arabian Airlines flight for Hajj and Umrah, want to stay in top hotels, eat the best food in Makkah and Medina, smile at the Saudi guards in Masjid-un-Nabawi to get extra time to pass on more salutations to our beloved Muhammad (PBUH). It’s these people that make use of all the facilities and services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that makes your stay pleasant and enjoyable and your Hajj and Umrah easier. It’s you that push and prod in the Haram to get to the first line so you can meet Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al Sudais or the other Medina and Makkah Imams. Have you forgotten they are Saudi’s? You leave Saudi Arabia bearing gifts. You want the best right? and you get the best the Saudi’s have to offer, yet you are totally ungrateful. Why? Why are you being hypocritical?
You get the best, yet you criticize the Saudi’s, you speak bad about them but you are the first one standing and even sleeping outside the Saudi Embassy for a visa for you and your family to go for Hajj and Umrah.
While I understand that Hajj is an invitation from Allah, you need to be fair. You can’t fence sit.
So don’t tell me about what I should write about or not write about, because while you yourself criticize some of the issues I write about, you are also the first one to embrace certain benefits that come with certain people that might be associated with that issue.
Let me further illustrate the hypocrisy of some Muslims. Last year I got into hot water for taking a photo with a good friend of mine. But that’s not all it.
You know the irony of me getting into trouble for taking what they called an “inappropriate photo” is the fact that the people who reported it, are the same people, in long kurthas, with long beards, toppi’s who were all scrambling on stage trying to get close to Human Settlements Minister, now International Relations Minister Lindiwe Sisulu and sneak a pic. I know, because they handed me their mobile phones to take the photos, with arms around the Minister. They condemn, but do the same. What a hypocritical world we live in, a sad reality of the characters of some people.
Even when I report on technology, it’s a problem. The hypocrisy of some Muslims clearly evident.
It seems the holier than though “technology is haraam” police are quick to say that writing about and using technology is haram, yet are hypocrites using technology to tell me about it…Tweeting, Facebooking, WhatApping and Instagraming.
Enough about that. Also, what has happened to the Ummah? What has happened? I am lost for words to describe the level of degradation that the Muslim ummah has slipped into. We have become so disunited, that it’s absolutely shocking.
At a lecture at the Nurul Islam Masjid in April ahead of Workers Day on 1 May, Ml Sulaimaan Ravat explained about the character of some Muslims.
Being brutally honest in the hard hitting and eye opening lecture, Ml Ravat reiterated that there is a desperate need for some Muslim employers to treat other Muslims and even their employees better.
“They are on their knees cleaning the toilets in our home and our wrongful behavior is passed onto the next generation. Sometimes your hair stands on end, when you see how small children in a home talk to the domestics who are old enough to be their grandparents. Where did they learn that from? Do we think we will only account in front of Allah for Salaah, Zakaah, Hajj and Saum? We will have to account for in front of Allah in terms of how we treated these human beings, even if they are not Muslims.”
Ml Ravat also exposed the shocking racist behavior of some Muslims.
“There are many womenfolk in our homes, elderly’s, our mothers and grandmothers, who are very pious, they burn holes in the musallah, and they read more Qur’an than even the ulama and the hufadh. They are more punctual with their salaah than all of the men. But they have racist tendencies and they ill-treat the domestics because they are of different skin colour.”
I know I am going to be criticised for this blog post because calling some Muslims hypocrites and duplicitous is not something that should be written about right? Why? Do we want to sweep the bad traits Muslims have slipped to under the carpet? We have to face the fact, some Muslims have become monsters. It’s scary and you have to be afraid, be very afraid.
Over the past few weeks, renowned Islamic scholar Mufti Ismail Menk has posted some wise anecdotes on social media and sometimes I thought these posts were solely directed at me. While it was just a general post, it resonates so much that I’ve been going through with the certain segments of the Muslim community.
In one post on Twitter Mufti Menk says: “Everyone will have their opinion about you; who you are and what you stand for. None of these opinions matter because the Almighty is the only one who knows the real you. Work hard at being the best possible version of yourself. Don’t be distracted.”
In another post he says: “Think well of others and see what it does to your heart. Each time you hear something bad about someone, don’t spread it, give him the benefit of the doubt. Put yourself in his position. Protect yourself from worrisome thoughts that disturb your mind. Keep the peace!”
But it’s this post by Mufti Menk that I hope resonates with some Muslim people that have really impeded my life and make it their concerted mission to destroy my image not sparing a thought for what it would do to my family or me. Whether it’s out of jealousy or spite, who knows. Mufti Menk says: “Look down upon the sin & not the sinner. The fact is we all sin. Every single one of us. Stop thinking you’re above everyone else. Don’t treat others like they are insignificant. A person who is down today can climb up tomorrow. Only the Almighty knows what the future holds!”
These are such pertinent points and lessons for all of us. Let us learn from this and I know that while I can preach and preach, write, go on air or even speak to people on social media, WhatsApp, Twitter, while I hope it’ll make a difference, I feel it won’t, unless people are willing to change, are willing to engage.
I am a journalist, but first and foremost I am a Muslim. In your eyes, I may be a bad person or do not conform to your version or as some might say even to the sharia rulings, I don’t think that you are qualified enough or have the right to judge me based on what you perceive to be the so called truth.
Are you challenging the Judge of Judges? The Master of the Day of Judgment? Because until He judges me, and shows me that I have done wrong, you are not in a position to tell me what to do.
There are so many other issues I would like to write about, some of which are really sad like some Muslims using other Muslims to pursue their hidden agenda’s to execute a decision they were not man enough to enact.
Everyone was created equal in the eyes of God. It brings me to George Orwell’s book ‘Animal Farm’ Moral dilemmas decay society…”All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others. This line highlights the epitome of our society…Very sad indeed. If only we could live up to the example that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has set out for us, we would be a nation with polished and shining hearts.
May Allah guide us all onto the straight path and unite Muslims across the world.
Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the article belong solely to the author. Since the first publication of this article, certain aspects of author’s employer, organization, committee or other group or individual may have changed.