We Remain Hopeful | An Eid Message

A version of this piece appeared in The Post newspaper on Sunday, 7 April 2024.


Muslims are soon going to mark the end of Ramadan with the spiritual festival of Eid-ul-Fitr. Ramadan is a month-long spiritual season for the cultivation self-restraint, virtue and mercy.


On the Day of Eid, a sense of accomplishment prompts great joy. The celebration of Eid reflects hope in the forgiving nature of the Creator whose generosity is sought when believers exert themselves in worship, through fasting, devotions and prayer, as every Ramadan entails.


A believer’s hope emanates from the faith that after fulfilling a Divine Command, the Creator will recognise the efforts of self-denial, and overlook the shortcomings of our imperfect selves. Nevertheless, the believers’ hope is contained by a degree of fear that we might have fallen short of expectation.


For humanity, today, nothing screams falling short of expectation as in our collective failure to stop the reality of the tragedy that has unfolded in Gaza. For over six months, we have witnessed how millions of defenceless Palestinians are being subjected to collective punishment, on a genocidal scale.


It has been a Ramadan like no other, in Gaza. Images of emaciated bodies of children due to a man-made famine, the apocalyptic-looking wastelands of the besieged Palestinian territory, and the still-climbing humanitarian toll, have rendered commentators run out of words with which to describe the realities on the ground.


The War on Gaza has shown that we remain a species with an incredible capacity of viciousness, inflicting dehumanizing and horrendous crimes against fellow humans. Yet, we should remain hopeful that freedom shall overcome oppression, peace will come with justice, and that a dawn of a new day is preceded by the darkest hour of the night.


At home, our domestic challenges have been well-enumerated. Reports and experiences of violent crimes, unemployment and a deterioration in standards of service-delivery are accentuated by stark socio-economic inequities. Yet, solutions to these daunting socio-political realities are within us, if we keep a positive outlook and the determination to overcome.


As we go to the polls in May, we remain hopeful that as a nation, our capacity to overcome tests shall bring us back again to the moorings of accountability, compassion and duty, starting with the election of worthy leaders and a renewed commitment, from all of us as ordinary citizens, to build a better tomorrow.


To hope is to pray. We therefore remain hopeful on the day of Eid that we become models of virtue and goodness, in the mode of the spirit of Ramadan. Let us start from our localities, which have to be made cleaner, safer and secure. Let us express our faith as a way of life which does not end with personal righteousness and salvation, but also fosters justice, peace, and equity.


Ebrahim I Bham (Moulana)

Moulana Bham is the secretary general of the Jamiatul Ulama South Africa, in Johannesburg, and also the imam of one of the largest Muslim congregations in Gauteng at Hamidia Masjid, Newtown.