Farid Esack is among the conspicuous Muslim liberators against apartheid in South Africa. His sermons are a call to action to all social groups. Farid uses the Quran instruction to guide the Muslim community on ethics and conduct. Farid is a South African Muslim that has extensive experience in the application of a progressive vision to the racial and social problems in the native country. The rejection of Muslims drives Esack to embrace other religious association and social groups in the county. The rise of Islam as a philosophy will transform the Muslim community begins with the Iranian revolution in 1979 that leads to intense debate from the contemporary Muslim (Esack, 2011). Farid reiterates a liberal and a progressive trend to specify the quest for the South African Islam with a commitment to the poor. The end of apartheid in South Africa follows an exceptional unity in the fight against an oppressive regime from various groups in the country. Muslims in South Africa stand in harmony with other religious groups against injustices (Esack, 2011). The conflict in the interpretation of the Quran leads to the adaptation of the Christian-originated-Liberation Theology as the Muslims search for an accommodative religion. Farid works with other colleagues to realize and develop an Islamic theology of liberation.
Farid Esack is Muslim South African born in 1959 in the region of Wyngerg, Cape Town (Rizvi, 2003). In the 1960s, his family faces the issue of eviction since the Apartheid regime demarcates their residence as “white suburbs.” As homeless family without a father, Farid behaved as scavengers to survive. The option to survive in the harsh political environment included involvement of gangs and religion. Farid began his education by learning the Islamic traditions (Rizvi, 2003). He later joined the Tablighi Jama’ah revivalist group and became the chairperson of the National Youth Action. His involvement in politics led him to join the South Africans Black Scholar Association to assist in the mobilization of apartheid in the black schools. As a racical Muslim, Farid was against capitalism, Western imperialism, and apartheid.
At the age of seventeen, Farid travels to Karachi, Pakistan in the 1970s to pursue the traditional Islamic program that covers Quran, Urdu, and Arabic (Esack, 2011). During his eight-year stay in Karachi, he manages to encounter some of the influential Muslim scholars of the day such as Hasan Hanafi of Egypt, Fazlur Rahman of Pakistan, Ali Shari’ati of Iran, and Mahammad Arkoun of France. These people play an instrumental in his search of liberation theology. Some of the theologians of the Latin American liberation influence his search as they encounter similar situations of injustice in their territories.
At Karachi, Farid has the exposure of extremist Muslim views such as the Taliban and Bin Laden ideology. Islamic extremist ideology enables him to have notions of religion as he reacts to fundamentalist of other religions. Farid encounters dogmatism as relates with people from other cultures and religious groups. Collaborating with other cultures led Farid realization of the importance of respect and the commonality of people to ensure a better life for all humanity.
Farid establishes hermeneutical methodology to interpret the Quran to guide the contemporary Muslims in South Africa as they come to terms with their current political and economic situations as they adduce crucial lessons in the Quran (Esack, 2013).
The interpretation of the Quran will work to engage other faiths and stir them to action in the quest for equity to uplift the marginalized and the poor through divine revelation. According to Farid, the text in the Quran promotes a unified moral conscious and has a social mission. These acts as a weapon to stand firm against oppression in the apartheid government as the progressive Islamist remained in solidarity to condemn a system that refutes the concept of moral consciousness and unity.
Farid is a firm believer of the development of liberation theology that has the viability of an alternative hermeneutic approach as highlighted in the Quran passages. The dialectical link puts an emphasis on the praxis as the ultimate source of doctrinal orientation. The establishing link between the text in the Quran and the context presents no issue to the Muslim community (Esack, 2013).
Farid is a Muslim theologian of liberation who applies the text historicity to embed the prophetic time and the specificity. Farid maintains on the universal text that becomes relevant to bind the contemporary Muslims. Muslim do not have a direct revelation they can build their knowledge on the text as they understand it. The understanding has a binding of specificity to the historical condition. Farid fuses the horizon of a present-day South African Muslim that lives within the constraints of injustices such as capitalism and patriarchy with the doctrinal truths in the Quran that depict oppression and rejection. Farid proposes a heuristic biased approach while providing that those under oppression have hermeneutic privileges. The hermeneutic perspective enables him to focus on the issue of Sexism while he argues that the Quran does not portray discrimination against the woman. Farid argues the case equally for the poor and dejected people in the Islamic world (Esack, 2013). Farid voices a limited view on the liberal and progressive Islam.
Upon completing his studies in Karachi, Farid returned to South Africa as trained Muslim cleric. He became the leader of the National Executive of the Muslim Youth Movement as well as the coordinator of COI. He was instrumental in the Muslim struggle against apartheid. He worked in collaboration of the late Hassan Solomon and Rassol who is the present-day South African ambassador to the United States (Esack, 2013). He called on the Muslim society the UDF that consist of secular political organization that rally against apartheid. He rallied against Sexism and the late President Mandela appointed him as the head of Commission for Gender Equality.
Farid has been able to attain a measure of success during his course of seeking Liberation Theology. As the founder member of the World Conference on Religion and Peace, he has involved himself in immense scholarly work to attain a doctorate from Birmingham University. In the course of his work, he has managed to teach different universities in Europe, Indonesia, United States, and Pakistan to establish himself as a leader in Islam.
He has an international repute as a Muslim scholar and a speaker to deliberate on the issues of humanity. He has been able to serve in the Late Nelson Mandela’s government as a Commissioner for Gender Equality. He is an author who has written many Islamic books such as The Quran: A short Introduction, My Struggle, Islam and Politics, Quran Liberation and Pluralism, On Being a Muslim, and The Quran: A User’s guide. Currently, Farid is the Head of Department of Religious Studies in University of Johannesburg. He doubles up as an Associate in the centre for the Study of Democracy at the same institution.
Farid reiterates that in the face of complexities and confusion in Islam religion he is not a fundamentalist or a secularist. He works with the commitment to ensure democratization of the religious debate to provide information to the modern day South African Muslim that live in a cosmopolitan society. Farid works in joint effort with a broad range of scholars who possess commitment to overcome factors that tend to undermine human dignity. The team of academic scholars strives to help victims of religious, economic, and social exploitation.
I think Farid Esack is a renowned Muslim activist and thinker that suffer imprisonment by the Apartheid government as he fights for liberation to South Africans against an oppressive regime. I think the Apartheid imprisons Farid because he is against injustice and has commitment towards a pluralistic and democratic South Africa. I think the life journey of Farid that survives apartheid coupled with his deep Islamic upbringing and commitment to achieve liberation theology stirs him to action in the political process.
I think he has remained adamant in the quest of theology in the vast cosmopolitan, multiethnic culture in South Africa. In his journey, he is able to discover the implication of non-classism, non- sexism, and non-racism. This concept is important since it guides me to ensure that races different from my culture are not superior or lower rather we are all equal. To reiterate this opinion
Farid quips that beyond the façade of difference due to cultural diversity all humanity have an undeniable commonality. This will enable me see beyond my faith, status, tradition or culture that I possess. Life assigns this tough task to me. I think religion has the capacity of transforming humans to better people in the society.
Conversely, religion has the tentacles of ensuring our lives remain in captivity. In essence, religion serves as a source of captivity and submission while succeeding as an incentive towards liberation and self-actualization. The negative repercussion of religion turns humans to bigots that perpetuate terror attacks. The positive influence of religion is that it leads one to the realization of dialogue to understand other religions faith and tradition to benefit from spiritual satisfaction and wellness. The positive and negative effects of religion shape our lives as i draw wisdom and intellectual knowledge from other religious people to enable me discover an inclusive human.
Farid establishes the Quran as an Islamic sacred text that encompasses a liberationist and pluralistic vision. Farid supports the sacred texts with a well-thought out hermeneutical methodology to illustrate the fundamentals highlighted in the Quran. I think those concepts in the Quran are relevant in the present political and social issues in the present-day South Africa. I think the South Africa Quran hermeneutic that has the message of pluralism for liberation emanates from the commitment of Farid and other religious groups that remain in solidarity to fight the injustices of the Apartheid Government.
I think the historic setting of South African Apartheid Government has the dominance of Europeans. In essence, the nation struggles in the definition of religious and political identity in the multiethnic society. The historical account of Farid has enabled me to understand that most of the South African Muslim hails from subcontinent of India including Farid. Holland, the European colonial masters of South Africans brought with them a handful of Muslims to support labor in the country in 1795 (Esack, 2013).The subcontinent is the modern day Indonesia. The historic Muslims around Cape Town the birthplace of Farid have the commitment to preserve their religious practices and identity and ensure the construction of the first Mosque in 1798. The colonialists in South Africa are not akin to accommodate the increasing religious right of the Muslim community.
During the era of apartheid in the 1950s and the 1960s, the conservative Muslims are pro-government while the fundamentalist engage in the search of truth. Among this people is Farid who engages in deep Quran vision of pluralism and egalitarianism. The fundamental Muslim community responds in the pluralistic struggle to derive a united front. Some Muslims justify apartheid in the theological terms while the Muslim elite such as the clerics support status quo.
Esack, F. (2011). Contemporary religious thought in South Africa and the emergence of Qur'anic hermeneutical notions. Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, 2(2), 206-226.
Esack, F. (2013). Qur'anic Hermeneutics: Problems And Prospects. The Muslim World, 83(2), 118-141.
Rizvi, S. H. (2003). . By Farid Esack. Pp. 214. Oxford: Oneworld, 2002. Â£10.99.. Journal of Qur'anic Studies, 5(2), 126-129.