“Indeed God holds the Heavens and the Earth from falling apart. And if they should fall apart; there is none who can sustain them except for Him. Indeed he is forbearing and oft forgiving,” (Al-Quran 35:41) read the stunningly beautiful Arabic calligraphy at the center of the magnificently decorated main dome of the Nizamiya Masjid complex in Midrand, Johannesburg. The place was beaming with energy as hundreds of faithful, including families and children, opened their day long fast. Minutes earlier a beautiful rendition of the call to prayer rang through the evening sky to mark the end of the 4th day of fasting in this blessed month of Ramadan. Afterwards a delightful meal was followed by our group sitting in a circle inside the Masjid to learn more about the place, space, and faith tradition. Once we were done taking photographs we were encouraged to try a special, hot beverage, called Sa’lip. It was delicious! Faith communities played an important role in bringing apartheid to an end. Have faith?
Faith, ushered in the day for us at a beautiful church called St. John The Evangelist United Church in Sandton, Johannesburg. During the service we were invited to share a little about ourselves and in turn were greeted with meaningful blessings. The pastor who led the service made us laugh consistently. He possessed a great sense of humor and in his lighthearted way implored through gesture to clutch our bags close in Johannesburg! “That is our reality!” he exclaimed. At the conclusion of the service our group was invited for hot tea after which a short discussion on reconciliation that added depth to our perspective through witness to history and wisdom from experience. “The Truth and Reconciliation may have prevented a civil war…people were stocking up their cupboards thinking a war was coming. The war never came”. Have faith?
This night the gentleman who sat next to me at dinner calmly shared, “we suffered a lot [under apartheid]”. Then he repeated it…if you were in the city, you had to find an early transport out because exactly at nine o’clock you could be arrested. Even if you were waiting in line at the bank, the police would still pick you out [of the line] and arrest you. We suffered a lot”, He had a warm, peaceful, and joyful aura. This was just one human being moving forward after the horrors of apartheid. Have faith?
Dr. Isam Vaid
Muslim Religious Life Scholar
Emory University, Office of Spiritual and Religious Life