Originally published by CII Broadcasting
After being impressed but what Senegalese Muslims were doing in South Africa despite their small numbers in the country, Sheikh Jafar Metedadi Magombo thought it was high time he also embarked on this spiritual and worthy cause.
He has been in South Africa for over thirty years coming to the country when apartheid was at its peak but what he saw was inspiring and had to share this idea with some colleagues. His experience working at various masjids as an Imam and daee was to put in utilization.
He shared his inspiration with some Muslim scholars from his home country, Malawi, who were involved in religious work in South Africa, and this meeting gave birth to a dawah organisation that has become a household name in some parts of Durban.
Started in 1999, Firqatud Dawah’s undertaking was to spread Islam among non Muslims mainly in KwaZulu Natal. Their inspiration was drawn from Senegalese Muslims in South Africa who are a small community but had done amazing work when it came to Islamic work.
“We considered the number of Senegalese and Malawians Muslims in South Africa we realised they were in hundreds and we were thousands. So from that consideration we decided to start Firqatudawah,” he said.
Bringing to Islam to the people
One of the Firqatud Dawah core goals was to propagate Islam to the local community. The organisation began spearheading some initiatives that brought people to Islam. What started as a small project later hatched into a meaningful endeavour resulting in a big Islamic centre being built in Kwa Makuta.
The dawah to non Muslims started at personal level when some of the Sheikhs, married local women who later converted to Islam. The establishment of the centre which offers both Islamic and secular educations became a spring board in the reach of Islam among the locals. To date more than 200 have embraced Islam since its inception.
The administrator at Firqatud Dawah, Sheikh Musa Muhammad Telela, said the organisation has crafted diverse mechanisms to spread Islam among the locals in the communities they operate from. He said the results were remarkable.
“There are various ways we use in doing dawah to the communities. We have appointments and engage with them but many of them come to us willingly at a younger age. It is easier to get them when they are young because they will grow up in Islam,” said Ntelela.
Knitting the community
Not only are new Muslims taught about the basics of Islam, but they are also equipped with essential skills for livelihood. From the organisation’s early days, the founders introduced sewing courses for ladies to help them fend for their families and do away with dependence syndrome.
Ntelela said a number of women who graduated have now embarked on their personal projects, but many sitting at home as they have no capital to buy their own machines. He said even the centre has been crippled by lack of machinery and on the verge of getting news ones.
“The problem is that sometimes when they finish they don’t have the tools so they disappear, some of them tell us what they are doing while others have to work elsewhere,” he said.
Running but struggling
With activities ranging from dawah, feeding schemes, food distribution and madressah, the lots of monies need to be injected in for the fluid operation of the organisation. But the founder, Sheikh Jafar told Cii News that it hasn’t been that easy.
He explained that just like many organisations they have been encountering problems and mainly financial challenges. He said the challenges have been huge, but through Allah’s will they have kept pushing forward going.
“We need somebody out there to come to our rescue for the sake of Allah. Finance has been our biggest challenge. We have programmes for women’s sewing classes and madressah are running but we are struggling,” he said.
Sheikh Jafar and his team has been in the thick when the deadly xenophobic attacks broke out in Durban. They were assisting other organisations in the repatriation of Malawians affected. One of the team members travelled with the victims to Malawi and had been in a series of meeting with government officials briefing them on xenophobic attacks in South Africa.