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  • Writer's pictureNadia Momple'

You forgot about our Imams...

Updated: Oct 20, 2021


“No other job on this Earth is more rewarding in the eyes of Allah than that of an Imam (leaders). He works 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at the behest of the community who comes knocking at his door during the early morning hours and late in the evenings. The Imam is the most underpaid profession in the Muslim Community, yet, like the rest of us, he must see to the household expenses whilst raising a family as well.”

By choosing to marry a #revert, being my father, my mother knew that we would have various #religious influences in our lives. So as opposed to teaching us intolerance and slandering other religions, she drove strong #Islamic beliefs in our home, and sent my siblings and I to #Madrassah from an early age (all while promoting that we learn about all other religions and the #beauty each holds - #ignorance was frowned upon in our home). I remember almost every lesson either from my mother, my father or my #Ustadah/#Imam, which instilled stronger views on the beauty of #Islam. Very early on I realised, through very few unspoken words, that the #Imams and the #Ustadahs were very important to me as a Muslim. My family ensured that we understood how important #contributing to the #Mosque/#Masjid was – this was not #negotiable and as an adult I now understand why. The rule was clear, if you are by the #financial means, you had to always #donate what you could afford to your mosque/masjid. A large portion of our Imams income rely on our donations(and still most Imaams' put that very income back into the #community).

Coming from both the “#slums” and the “#suburbs” in #Johannesburg, and attending #Madressah in both areas, it became more apparent to me that yes, our Imam’s are there for the love of the #Deen and ensuring that Islam is taught and preserved, but my upbringing also reinforced my duty to them as a #muslim/#muslimah. What a selfless job they serve in our communities while expecting nothing in return. However, even with knowing that, it was beautiful to witness that our communities acknowledged it and took care of what I see as the “Pioneers/Champions” of Islam.

In a different sense, my father came from an #Anglican Christian family, his brother, an Anglican Priest (one of my #favourite and most #insightful human beings). My uncle is one of those unsung hero’s that fought in the #Apartheid and spent months in #Palestine fighting for the freedom of #Palestinians. There again, I’ve seen the beauty of a community coming together to take care of their religious leader and their #appreciation of him was beautiful to see.

Fast forward 10 years later and I find myself in my grandmothers home town, beautiful #Cape #Town, and excited because the Muslim community is a lot larger than #Johannesburg. In the journey that Karama Jinaza Cover has taken me on, I found myself fortunate enough to meet with a number of these selfless individuals (our Imam’s and Ustadah’s). My visits to them was not only for guidance but to have Karama Jinaza Cover(KJC) #collaborate with the mosques, which most were excited to work with as it would secure a source of income that will contribute to helping them and their Mosque’s survive. Their love for their communities, the roles they play in the community and their insurmountable sacrifices gave me goosebumps. When we spoke about income I was shocked, because in a Muslim community as large as what we see here in Cape Town, to learn that some Imam’s earn less than a #SASSA grant shocked me.

While being told their challenges, their biggest concern was not the gaping hole I seen in one of their shoes, not that he recently lost a vehicle that one Imaam was using for charitable work, but rather that he could no longer make #breyani on Friday for the less fortunate - that immediately made me emotional. My emotions were not only stemmed from his selflessness but more shame because I WAS PART OF THE PROBLEM. My #Zakaat travels thousands of kilometres yet I and many of you forget about the very men who will name our children, the women and men who will teach Islam to us and our children, lead our families in prayer and one day lead our #Jinaza #Salaah. There are just too many middle to high income Muslims in Cape Town for this to be the case and unfortunately, there is no other way of putting it – WE ARE FAILING OUR IMAMS and in turn our communities and then ourselves – but its never too late to fix it.

This issue bugged me that evening and I prayed about it. The next morning I listened to the Voice of the Cape, and realised #Allah was working 😊. Moulana Hashim Cassim was on the Voice of the Cape, speaking about this amazing initiative. Its called the Imaam Ta’awun Programme.

The plight is to support Imams to build a better community. The Programme aims to:

  1. Provide a living salary to Imams from areas in and around the Western Cape where the respected regional Masjid committee does not have the resources to provide a monthly salary to the Imam

  2. A medical aid (Hospital Plan).

  3. UIF

  4. Providing financial stability for the Imam so he may focus completely on servicing his community in which he is employed and therefore providing an added benefit to that community.

You can watch the below video for more about the programme by clicking on this link

I felt less helpless and this initiative gave me a lease, this was a way for me to contribute to the greater good in our community.

“The #Imamat #Ta’awun #Programme will not only financially #stabilise Imams but also go a long way in benefiting the communities as the Imam can focus completely on his commitment to serving and assisting set community,” said #SANZAF Western Cape Regional Manager, Shafiek Barendse. “We urge the community and business owners to contribute to this worthy project as we believe the benefits of this programme are significant as we aim for a long-term sustainable initiative,” he added.

You can contact 021 447 0297 for more information or you can donate now by following the below link on the South African National Zakah Fund.

My plea is that we all start donating, even if it's just an R10. Together we can fix this serious problem, every small bit counts.

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