The annual Al Ihsaan Award is presented by the MSA Union, and aimed at acknowledging excellence in all aspects of life and to recognize work being done by Muslim youth. The award is intended to inspire more youth to become active citizens in society, thus, increasing social awareness. Candidates must have shown a significant impact in making a difference in the community and society at large, and were evaluated on various levels including Tarbiyyah, leadership, academics and humanitarian involvement as well their inspiration to others. About 2 months ago, MSA Union opened nominations and asked people if they knew someone who inspires them, takes leadership in the community and is a great role model to others. Below are the profiles of the top 5 finalists who were shortlisted for the award (in no particular order). The winner of this year's Al Ihsaan Award is Sizwe Mpofu Walsh. We congratulate Sizwe on this achievement, and we pray that Allah blesses each of our finalists in all their endeavours, blesses them with the best in both worlds, and rewards them for their immense efforts, Ameen. May you always be inspired, and inspire!
Ismail is currently in the process of completing a Master’s degree in mechanical engineering, focusing on motorsport applications, at WITS University. He was drawn towards the field of engineering as he felt it gave him a platform to add value to society by improving the lives of fellow South Africans whilst working in a discipline which had held his interest from a young age. He enjoys spending his time as a tutor and occasional lecturer to first year students, sharing his passion for engineering with them. He is also the manager of the university Musallah and the treasurer of the MSA, in addition to his academic pursuits.
Ismail grew up in Lenasia and completed his schooling career at Lenasia Muslim School. From early on, he had to learn to overcome many challenges . Being diagnosed with epilepsy, severe asthma and alopecia at the age of four meant he had to manage many serious health issues along with the social stigma that is sometimes accompanied by illness. Through reflection, he came to understand that these difficulties were sent from Allah and that Allah does not burden any soul more than he can bear. This has only helped him to become more motivated to fulfill his role as a servant of Allah.
His message to the Muslim youth is to work your hardest to complete any task you're faced with in the best manner that you can, no matter how small and insignificant the task may be . When faced with a situation which is unfamiliar, you will lose nothing by simply asking for help, but you can definitely gain a great deal! Often you learn the most from people and places where you never expected to learn anything at all. Never give up trying . And most importantly ask Allah for guidance and assistance in all your affairs.
Muhammad Zakaria Suleman
"Muhammad Zakaria Suleman graduated with an LLB from the University of KwaZulu Natal and is currently a legal researcher at SECTION27. His primary focus of research is access to health care services, disability rights and children's rights.
He is a member of the Golden key Honours Society, and currently serves as Fellow and Honourary Executive member of the Students for Law and Social Justice National Committee. He has presented his research internationally and focuses his interests locally.
Using the realities of the day, he escapes his nights into poetry. Creating worlds that could exist had we taken the time out to ponder over the true potential we have.
When we believe in our dreams; When we realise that we are the only ones that can see them; visualise them; and articulate them. It is only then can we translate them to others. Once we translate them, it is then through dialogue that inevitable change occurs."
I am an Occupational Therapist by profession. I work with children doing hands-on therapy and programme development but I am also currently creating a project on inclusive education, which I am very excited about. This project involves developing a programme that enables and provides opportunities to children with disabilities in rural communities to participate in play groups. Opportunities like this one, is not only the basic human right of a child but also contributes to breaking the cycle of poverty in a community. Children with disabilities will be given equal access to opportunities such as learning through play and they will therefore be more successful in school and in the long term this individual will have a greater chance at getting job and be able to contribute to building a healthier society and an integrated community.
When I am not working, I enjoy travelling, attending halqahs and other interesting talks on religion and spirituality but mostly, I’m happiest when I’m hanging out with my family and friends. I treasure them because I know without their inspiration and support; I wouldn’t have enough faith to follow my dreams. I also love being outdoors in the sun and running!
Since last year, after I returned from a visit to Gaza on a project for youth called Games to Gaza, I began running marathons with the Palestinian flag advocating for the Freedom of Palestine. I’ve also expanded on this by running for different causes such as ‘running against women and child abuse’. I do believe in all people having the potential to do incredible things and so I am part of a Mentorship programme to assist youth from underprivileged backgrounds to realize, visualize and live their dreams.
Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh (Winner of Al Ihsaan Award 2013)
Sizwe Mpofu-Walsh graduated in 2012 with an Honours degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from UCT. In 2013, he will read for the Mphil in International Relations at the University of Oxford as a recipient of the First Rand Laurie Dipennaar Scholarship. He served as the president of the UCT Students’ Representative Council (SRC) in 2010 and received the Vice Chancellor’s Award for “outstanding contribution to the University”.
He interned in the office of the late Congressman Donald M. Payne on the South Africa-Washington internship programme in 2011. In 2013, he was selected as one of the Mail and Guardian’s top 200 young South Africans. He is cofounder of Grow2Lead, a youth leadership training company established in 2008 which has rolled out programs to over 6000 young South Africans, released a hip-hop album in 2006 that was nominated for a KORA All-African music Award, and is a founding member of InkuluFreeHeid: a youth led social movement created to deepen South African democracy.
Zaakir Ahmed Mayet
My name is Zaakir Ahmed Mayet, residing in Johannesburg and I have completed my LLB at the University of Witwatersrand. I am currently completing my articles of clerkship. I am the Chairman of the NPO – Media Review Network which aims to dispel myths surrounding Islam , combat Islamophobia in the media as well as defend other causes of justice. It truly is a humbling experience to have been nominated for such a prestigious award.
However, this award is not about an individual but rather how we, the Youth as a collective can address the issues facing the Ummah. The Muslim world is being torn apart by foreign occupations and internal strife. As our mothers become widows, our children become orphans and our brothers become martyrs, the obligations on the Youth to defend the Deen, our brethren and to become a source of leadership has never been greater. Our greatest strength lies in our ability to Unite, set aside all differences and rally behind our Declaration of Faith. As Youth, we are compelled to seek Justice, be it in combating poverty, ending wars and occupation, freeing our brethren in unlawful captivity or enriching the moral fabric of society. All our answers can be found in the Holy Quraan and the example set by our beloved Prophet Mohammed SAW which serve as guiding stars in these troubled and turbulent times. May we as the Youth always be guided by the principles of Truth, Justice and Unity and may the Almighty accept all our efforts Insha Allah.