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Riot Reflections…

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July 2021 will forever remain embedded in the minds of South Africans as the time when destructive civil unrest erupted and wholesale looting, anarchy and arson broke out. As we are well aware, the province of KZN was the most severely affected.

As citizens of a society where everything is integrated, and different branches and departments of the community depend and rely on each other, we found everything grinding to a halt. The blockading of highways, which are the arterial system to deliver food and essential supplies to the different localities, caused major shortages of goods. This led to a frenzy of panic buying with people frantically stockpiling goods and hoarding other basic items.

At the peak of the unrest, tensions were high and the air was charged with a sense of fear and insecurity. The atmosphere reverberated with the echoes of gunshots, and civilians either took up arms or packed bags, planning to flee. But even then, there was no way out and nowhere to run…

In essence, most people were a wreck of fear and stress, worried about what would happen. All they had was whatever they had, and they could not acquire anything more. They knew not what the next day held, and whether the situation would intensify and worsen or subside and die down. They feared looters invading the suburbs and homes and worried for their lives. However, all they could do was wait with bated breath. In this situation, of fear and panic, some people were so stressed that they were unable to even eat or sleep!

When we ponder over this unique situation that unfolded, and we reflect over the terror, fear and uncertainty that prevailed, it reminds us of another situation that we will face one day – the situation of Qiyaamah.

On the Day of Qiyaamah, the entire creation will be waiting in a state of suspense, not knowing their outcome. What they have is what they have, and they will not be able to carry out any further actions. In the case of the riots, community members banded together. However, the fear of the Day of Qiyaamah will be such that a person will even abandon his own parents, wife and children with no concern for anyone but himself.

Some people mention that the three days of the rioting felt like the longest days of their lives. However, such is the terror of the Day of Qiyaamah that for the sinners, it will seem to be fifty thousand years long!

Many people are fearful that civil unrest may erupt once again, and so they are preparing themselves and are making contingency plans. What contingency plan and preparation have we made for that day – the Day of Qiyaamah? Do we think we will manage on that terrifying day?

In the blessed hadeeth, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) has mentioned that for a (true and practicing) believer, the Day of Qiyaamah will pass so swiftly that it will seem like the brief period spent in performing a fardh salaah. (Musnad Ahmad #11717)

In another narration, Rasulullah (sallallahu ‘alaihi wasallam) mentioned that there are certain classes of people who will enjoy shade and comfort under the throne of Allah Ta‘ala on that day. In this narration, the following people are mentioned:

1. the just ruler

2. the youngster who spent his youth in the obedience of Allah Ta‘ala

3. the man whose heart was attached to the masjid

4. people who love each other purely for the pleasure of Allah Ta‘ala

5. the man who was tempted to zina by a beautiful woman, but resisted the temptation due to fearing Allah Ta‘ala

6. the person who gives charity in secret

7. the person who remembers Allah Ta‘ala in seclusion and weeps out of the fear of Allah Ta‘ala

(Saheeh Bukhaari #660)

Hence, this is the ‘contingency plan’ and ‘preparation’ – the preparation of taqwa and righteous actions – that we need to make for that terrifying day.

Whenever we think of the riots and looting, let it serve as a reminder of the Day of Qiyaamah. Let us ponder and reflect that when this period was filled with such panic and fear, then how much worse will the panic and fear of Qiyaamah be!

May Allah Ta‘ala bless us all with peace, happiness and comfort on that day, and may He admit us into Jannah without any reckoning or fear, aameen.