The Jamaat-al-Muslimeen will commemorate this year’s anniversary of the 1990 attempted coup by praying, fasting and feeding the poor, its leader Imam Sadiq Al Razi has said.
Speaking to Guardian Media in a brief telephone interview yesterday, Al Razi said the Jamaat will not use the day to “dabble in politics,” as had been done in previous years.
Instead, Al Razi said this year, the Jamaat will be focused on a spiritual direction.
This is Al Razi’s first year as the leader of the Jamaat, following the death of former Imam Yasin Abu Bakr on October 21, days after his 80th birthday.
Jamaal Shabazz, the official press spokesman for the Jamaat, also said yesterday that the anniversary of the attempted coup is usually a time of introspection for those who were involved.
“Usually, it’s a time where brothers and sisters who are still alive from the experience do a lot of personal reflection,” Shabazz said.
Shabazz said Abu Bakr was more than a leader to the Jamaat.
“Abu Bakr has been a father, a big brother, and at times a guide, so in moments like these you think about him and a lot of the brothers and sisters who died and moved on and the overall contribution they have made both to the Jamaat and the society as a whole,” he said.
Shabazz said Abu Bakr was always an advocate for the “poor and the needy and the poor and oppressed.”
On July 27, 1990, Abu Bakr led the Jamaat into an attempted overthrow of the then-National Alliance for Reconstruction government, which included storming the Parliament building and taking then-prime minister ANR Robinson and others hostage.
Both Al Razi and Shabazz participated in the attempted coup.
“On a personal level, when I see what is happening today in the communities, it makes me feel a sense of inactivity. I, on a personal level, need to consider against the backdrop of 1990, how can I positively affect this darkness that is happening in the community. It is worrying,” Shabazz said.
“The young people in the struggles before were so united and idealistic and now they have become very divided and full of self-hate,” he added.
Shabazz said his mind is occupied daily with considering how he can contribute to righting this situation.
“Do I engage in political action? Do I engage in radical action? Or do I take no action at all? And how would my lord judge me for the choices that I make going forward,” he said.
“I want to make a personal effort for what is happening on the streets, where men are misleading themselves and the young people to commit acts of violence against each other. All conscious-minded people must see a need to make an intervention to stop this mayhem,” Shabazz added.
“We like to quote from the scriptures and talk about the sacrifices of Jesus, but when it comes for us to take action to cause meaningful change in the community, everybody is afraid to be crucified.”
However, Shabazz said the mayhem and the imbalances in society cannot continue unabated.
He highlighted Jesus feeding the multitude with five loaves and two fish as an example of how change can be effected.
“The lesson we get out of it for the politicians is that the people felt that whatever little they had to eat, Jesus, peace be upon him, distributed it in an equitable manner and people have a way of respecting justice,” he said.
Shabazz said his message to politicians on both the Government and Opposition benches is for them to “take a page out of the book of the prophet Jesus, peace be upon him.”