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Address by Deputy President Paul Shipokosa Mashatile at the Inter-Faith IFTAAR and breaking of the fast of Ramadhaan, Gatesville Mosque, Cape Town

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As-Salaam Alaykum!
Programme Director, Mr Faizal Royker;
Our Esteemed Religious and Inter-Faith Leaders here present;
Chairpersons of the Gatesville Masjidul-Quds Mosque, Mr Sataar Parker and Mr Mohamed Abdulah;
Imaam Shegh Alexander and Imaam Yaaseen;
Retired Judge Siraj Desai;
First Deputy President of the Muslim Judicial Council, Moulana Abdul Khaliq Ebrahim Allie and the delegation of the Muslim Judicial Council;
Honourable Member of the NCOP Mohamed Dangor;
Honourable Members of Parliament present;
The wife of late Minister Dullar Omar, Mrs Friedan Omar;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen:
On behalf of the Government and people of South Africa, I would like to wish all our Muslim brothers and sisters here at home, the wider African continent and the world a blessed month of Ramadan as we join you to witness IFTAAR and breaking the fast.
Today is a day of celebration, reflection and rededication.
It is a day of celebration in the holy month of Ramadan. This is a fulfilling period of learning and meditating about the holy qualities of “piety and righteousness” as the Holy Quran demands and renewal of our fear of Allah, the Almighty, so we can be better human beings.
It is also the beginning of the celebration of Freedom Month during which we celebrate our hard-earned freedom and democracy. The older generation here will recall the difficult and challenging journey we travelled as a nation to cross the turbulent ocean of apartheid into the promising shores of democratic South Africa.
This was a continuum in a long tradition of heroic struggles by previous generations of liberators such as Abdul Burns, Dr Alan Boesak and Imam Hassan Solomon who led protest marches armed with the Bible and the Quran in hand.
I also vividly recall coming to Cape Town 40 years ago in August 1983 to attend the historic meeting of the formation of the United Democratic Front (UDF) which took place at the Rocklands Community Hall in Mitchell's Plain.
Those were difficult days, but we had something going for us: We were united and resolved to defeat a government which defied the Farewell Sermon of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) at Uranah Valley of Mount Arafat.
Whereas the Prophet had said that there is “no superiority of a white person over a black person or of a black person over a white person, except on the basis of personal piety and righteousness,” apartheid said exactly the opposite and went on to inflict untold suffering and pain on those it considered as sub-human.
Thankfully, the people of South Africa, black and white, urban and rural, men and women, young and old, rich and poor took the path of the Prophet and defied apartheid. As in the Battle of Badr, the people demonstrated that nothing could defeat a united and resolute people.
I am grateful to start this year’s freedom month in celebration of the breaking of the fast of Ramadan because it once again places the non-racial teachings of the Prophet Muhammad firmly on our country’s agenda, 40 years after the formation of a UDF which embraced his teachings at the risk of life and limb.
We should use this occasion to begin an important process of dialogue amongst each other aimed at restoring the unity of purpose which led to the victory in the Badr of antiquity and gave birth to and sustained the UDF as one of the midwives of democratic South Africa.
We must dialogue about such wide-ranging issues and topics as may include:
• jobs and job creation, crime, kidnappings, extortion, vandalising of infra-structure, visible policing and police response time to citizen calls to crime scenes;
• poor government support for small businesses especially during load shedding;
• housing and the persistent problem of backyard dwelling in our communities;
• poor public transport, and;
• the Western Cape’s proud tradition of the struggle for liberation.
I have tasked my office to engage formally with you in a solution-oriented dialogue about these and other issues. We are the first to admit that while we have made strides to change the country for the better, we have also made mistakes. We, therefore, look forward to hearing the specific concerns of the people about the government because we are genuinely committed to solving the problems of the people.
Today is also an occasion for reflection on the ethical dimension of our lives. You need to look no further than the aphorism of the Quran: “Whoever does not abandon obscene speech and evil action, Allah does not need his refraining from eating and drinking.”
This is also why this day provides us with an opportunity to rededicate and recommit ourselves to peace, human solidarity and to the values of a non-racial, non-sexist, free, democratic and prosperous society, united in its diversity as enshrined in our constitution which the UDF of which some of you were a part helped to bring about.
Ramadan brings to the fore the spirit of sharing and Ubuntu – the idea that I am because you are. We must keep this spirit alive throughout because this is who we are as a people, and we should promote this spirit in every nook and cranny of our lives.
About 10 years ago, the government-sponsored a compact of positive values. These are the values of:
• Respect for human dignity and equality;
• Promotion of the rule of law and democracy;
• Improvement of the material well-being of the people and economic Justice;
• Promotion of sound family and community values;
• Upholding honesty, integrity and loyalty;
• Promotion of harmony in cultural belief and conscience;
• Showing respect and concern for all people;
• Promotion of justice, fairness and peaceful co-existence, and;
• Protecting the environment.
We note and applaud the fact that this event is an interfaith celebration and not just an event for Muslims. You are building bridges across our different religions and communities and in so doing helping to build an inclusive South Africa that our constitution envisages.
Once more, my office as delegated by President Cyril Matamela Ramaphosa stands ready to assist where we can and must in this construction process and will be engaging with you on this and the other issues to which we have committed ourselves.
Like the warriors of the Battle of Badr and the heroic activists who gathered in Mitchell's Plain to form the UDF 40 years ago, we will succeed.
As you break the fast today, we hope your eagerness and desire to do good in our community will drive you to improve the conditions of our people. We all hope to live in a country where people are more connected to one another and work together to solve problems.
As I conclude, to generate the required warmth in humanity and displays of human solidarity, let us follow the example set by Prophet Muhammed, May Peace and Blessings Be Upon Him!, by developing truthfulness, dependability, selflessness, ethics, forgiveness, passion, love towards other people. That, for us, is a great Sunnah.
We wish you a blessed Iftaar and may the food we eat today nourish both our bodies and our souls.
Shuk-ran-ja-zee-lan (Thank you so much)