Thunderous silence

Lameeze Birch, Lentegeur

When will we as a community stop silently accepting when bad things happen.

As a whole the residents of Lentegeur face numerous challenges on a daily basis – from domestic violence to drug addiction and unemployment to limited resources for our young. This brings me to the crux of this letter. With great sadness and just a bit of disappointment and a whole lot of anger we have to let go of another resource that was used within our community to provide for our young inhabitants as well as women of this and the greater Mitchell’s Plain community.

The old Zakaah fund premises – so well known to Mitchell’s Plain residents – situated on the corner of Merrydale Avenue and Erica Street, upstairs at the BP garage, which later became the first “mosque” on the Merrydale side of Lentegeur, Beitul Shukr, which has served as the home of the afternoon madressa classes for children as far as New Woodlands and the greater Lentegeur area, is to be no more.

This building is soon to be the new premises for a Turkish religious school, this very premises that in the mornings housed a school for nearly a hundred women, young and old, the mothers and future mothers of our society following the path of deen and memorisation of the Qur’an and again on the afternoons, hundreds of children every day to instruct them in their religion.

Is there any difference in the ibaadah that was being inculcated to what is going to be taught by the incoming occupants? Is ours, as a coloured Muslim community less significant?

As we were always under the impression that the premises were allocated for religious purposes for the people of Mitchell’s Plain in honour of the esteemed original owner, may the Almighty place him highly in Jannah, this has come as a great shock to those of us who know of the impending change.

I understand that the prerogative remains that of the owner, but then why hijack the people of this area in such a manner.

Does one’s word in an undertaking no longer count as your integrity?

Are we lesser beings, is it a given that we can be treated so disrespectfully and be deemed so insignificant that without due consideration a decision with such a profound impact can just be so nonchalantly made? And to what end, are the new tenants in anyway going to render any service to this community?

Will they be involved in the development of young minds, the educating of young women, the enrichment of the spiritual wellbeing of our future?

In closing, to the owner/s of this premises, know that you have broken a trust, you have reneged on an undertaking and disappointed a community that has loyally supported your and your family’s business.

You have weighed your options and deemed the opportunities that can be created by your new inhabitants up against the gratefulness of these students of deen and the scale has tipped in what to you is the more favourable of the two.

I pray that the impact and consequence of your callous decision will not be too dire on both the people you have failed and yourself in both dunya and aghira.

I further pray the Almighty will guide you rightly.