On a regular basis I assist women whose husbands have died or who has divorced them. They visit my office because their water or electricity has been cut or the municipality has sent intimidating final notices and these women do not know what to do. After a decade in the Social Welfare Department of the Muslim Judicial Council and 15 years in local government I consider the under education of females as one of the greatest threat to the future well-being of the Muslim Ummah in Cape Town. I consider those who discourage the holistic education of womenfolk as a nemesis of this community.
Recently a woman approached my office with a substantial (R100 000) municipal debt. Her husband died a few years earlier. While the husband was in the process of dying, his wife was assured by his family that they would financially care for her and the children as her husband was beloved by them.
After a few years the wife, because of witlessness kept on passing the municipal accounts to members of the late husband’s family. Unknown to her, the accounts were never paid. When the municipality eventually cut the water, the mother with four children realized her dilemma.
At my office the women was tearful as she never had a formal job and her only son who was supporting the family wanted to marry and move on to live his life. While the women praised her late husband, she could not explain why his family had made deceitful assurances. She kept repeating that she never knew they were that type of people until now.
Since the women had no qualification or work experience I was left wondering who is responsible for maintaining this family financially? Although I was able to help her with an arrangement or the deletion of the account through the installation of a water meter, that was truly the least of her problems.
Perhaps the words of the author Martha Beck reflect this woman’s situation best.
“Emotional discomfort, when accepted, raises, crests and falls in a series of waves. Each wave washes a part of us away and deposits treasures we never imagined. Out goes naiveté, in comes wisdom; out goes anger, in comes discernment; out goes despair, in comes kindness. No one would call it easy, but the rhythm of emotional pain that we learn to tolerate is natural, constructive and expansive. The pain leaves you healthier than it found you.”
After thirty years of marriage this fifty something women with children was financially on her own. Her only son was anxious to move on but could not as he was his mother’s only financial support.
Those of us who have daughter must think carefully. Those who discourage the holistic education of females must bear the consequences of their words. Even though Allah Almighty is our divine source of provisions and hope we all have to paddle our own canoe down the river of life. By providing our children, male and females with skills or qualification, life may be easier. In the end Allah knows best.
Cllr Yagyah Adams
Cape Muslim Congress