South Africa – With almost two billion followers globally, Islam is one of the biggest and fastest growing religions in the world. Every year more people, like Taariq Uwais Malinga, a revert, fall in love with and embrace Islam.
Before Malinga embraced Islam he and his entire family were Catholics who attended church every Sunday religiously. Malinga felt something was missing. An incident helped him decide the road he was on wasn’t for him.
“One specific day during a church service we were all carrying candles and I got distracted. I was wearing a blueish jacket and as I was looking around, the candle fell and the jacket caught fire. I was looking like some devil child and that was the last time I was in church. I felt so embarrassed. From there I started looking for my own places where I could do my service.”
Malinga visited other churches. And every time he was singled out to the entire congregation as a new member and welcomed. This introduction did not sit well with him and was one of the reasons he decided not to return to church.
The inspiration to learn Islam
Malinga found out about Islam. While looking for a specific address. He stumbled upon a lady who directed him to a nearby mosque. Malinga feels it was on this day he found his purpose in life.
“I found something similar to the address I was looking for and a lady told me it wasn’t the right address but go to the nearest mosque and the Imaam will guide you to the correct place. I went to the mosque and got the moulana, who recently passed away. The moulana gladly assisted me. It was like a 45-minute walk and he happily walked with me through this journey. Twenty years later here I am.”
While Malinga’s journey has had its ups and downs, Malinga has enjoyed every bit of it.
“Honestly speaking the journey has been amazing even though there have been challenges. One thing I learnt while I was in madressah is how can a human being be able to memorise the entire Quraan when we can’t even do mathematics in school? So how is this going to be possible? How am I going to absorb this knowledge? That is one of the things I said I want to do. I want to be one of the kids. It has been an amazing journey becoming a hafiz and the journey has just kept on opening more and more doors. There have been challenges but I’m mostly focused on the beauty of the journey.”
The challenges along his journey
There are different challenges when one becomes a Muslim. For most new Muslims family acceptance is one of the toughest challenges. For Malinga, it was vital for his grandmother to accept him and she did.
“My grandmother was such a lovely woman. She was really welcoming to anything as long as it was about trying to find God or trying to get to God. I think she was very accepting. I remember I came home and told here I am a Muslim and my name is Taariq … From Thando, which means love, to Taariq. Taariq means a person who looks for something and finds it. They all accepted it … My grandmother was one of those people that meant everything to me and as long as she accepted, I was fine. The rest of the family members, who ever said what, I wasn’t really paying attention to that.”
Another of his challenges was what came after madressah. Trying to find a place to fit in within the community when the lifestyle is so different. The places around him, the way people speak and even the dress code.
“Six months later madressah closes and you have to come home to these very same people and the lifestyle they are leading is completely different. Not by your house but the community. There are taverns on every corner, the dress codes, the way they speak to each other. All those kinds of things. Basically, you struggle to fit it. I think that’s one of the challenges young Muslims or anyone who just recently embraced Islam faces. Six months later or a year later you are trying to find out should I go to the suburb where I’ll be accepted as Muslim by everyone or should I continue being here in the location? Where people will say you lost your culture or you are a lost cause? That’s one of the biggest challenges I went through.”
Finding his place in his community as well as deciding what to do was a challenge he had to overcome. Before becoming a Muslim, Malinga was known for his soothing voice. Many people would call him to sing songs for them. It was because of this he decided to become a Nasheed artist after being introduced to various artists including Zayn Malik.
Calling people to Islam
Growing up, there were a few shops that were owned by Muslims about five kilometres from Malinga. However, there was no preaching of Islam taking place there. It was more of a business. This is something that needs to change for Malinga.
“In order for us to draw the people to Islam, the best way is to be an example yourself. You got to portray the Deen of Allah (SWT) in a way that people fall in love with it. The second thing is that we should have more programs on social media that speak in the language they understand. If you want to draw people, you’ve got to use the same language they understand … It’s easier for people to relate.”