I am walking down Queen Street (can never remember the new street names) in Durban one day towards the IPCI. I need some new Dawah material and anyway I enjoy going to the IPCI sometimes just to browse through the books or just to chat to my friends Areeb Islam and Abdul Qadir about Dawah. Then out of no where...an old man comes up to me and greets me. (No, this is not a crime story)
Old Man: As Salaamu Alaikum
Me: Wa Alaikum Salaam
Old Man: Are you Sunni or Tablighi? (To people outside SA, in our country Sunni means Barelwi and Tablighi means Deobandi)
At first I was a bit taken by the abrupt question..and the lack of options. I paused for a while and thought about the answer. Now personally during my search for the truth I have been through a lot of groups and after being labelled a Sunni Tablighi Deobandi Sufi Wahabi Salafi Khariji Jihadi Maududi Ikhwani and Modernist, I had given up on labels.
Me: I'm a Muslim
Old Man: You must be Sunni or Tablighi
At this point I considered telling him I'm Shia, just to see his reaction but in Islam we are not allowed to lie, even if joking so I didn't
Me: Nope, I'm just a Muslim
Old Man: Ok, why do you people say Nabi (SAW) had a shadow, he was Nur not Bashr!(translation: He was a light, not a human)
I stopped to think, who is you people? Muslims? so I asked:
Me: Who is you people?
Old Man: Tablighis
Me: But I said I am not a Tablighi, anyway how do you know he had no shadow?
Old Man: It comes in the Kitab!
The Kitab! Wow! If he was Tablighi, I knew he would be talking about Fazaail-E-Amaal but since I'm guessing he was Sunni, I had no idea what the kitab was! I wanted to give him a long lecture about authenticity and verifying sources and that not all kitabs are authentic but decided against it and said:
Me: Can I see the Kitab and check the authenticity of the Hadith?
Old Man: Sure, I'll get you a copy.
The old man then walks away without even taking down my name, phone number or address (Thank Allah!), leaving me wondering was it necessary to ask me all that, and how the hell is he going to get me a copy if he does not know who I am or how to contact me.
With those thoughts in my head I continued walking towards the IPCI, now a bit reluctant to do dawah, imagining someone taking their Shahadah, then the old man walks up to them:
Old Man: Masha Allah, I see you a Hanafi now, but are you Sunni or Tablighi?
New convert to himself: Hanafi? Sunni? Tablighi? What have I gotten myself into?
Welcome to South Africa!