Fatima Meer passes away

Written by on March 13, 2010 in u

Fatima Meer passed away on March 12. A Friday. A great day for Muslims.

Struggle icon, Professor Fathima Meer; State procession at Durban Exhibition Centre: 12pm Saturday 13 March 2010, Janaza at Grey st 3pm. To Allah do we belong and to Him do we return

About Fatima Meer

stalwart, died in a Durban hospital on Friday afternoon at 81. She had been admitted to hospital a few weeks ago.

The former South African Broadcasting Corporation board member and sociologist, despite crippling banning orders, built up a reputation as a prolific academic and a powerful advocate of gender equality.

Meer survived an apparent assassination attempt by apartheid hitmen in 1977, and attacks in later years, which she blamed on the Black Consciousness Movement and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Meer was born in Durban on August 12 1928.

She attended Natal University, gaining a Masters degree in Social Sciences.

She was also the recipient of three honorary doctorates: in Philosophy from Swartmoor College in the United States in 1984; in Humane Letters from Bennet College, also in the US, in 1994; and in Social Sciences, from her alma mater in 1998.

Her books included the Trial of Andrew Zondo, an account of an executed ANC guerrilla, andHigher Than Hope, a biography of Nelson Mandela.

She was principal of what has been described as a brave but ill-fated social experiment in the 1980s, the Phambili School, where she found herself at the centre of a row over mismanagement.

She founded the Institute for Black Research at the Natal University, which raised the ire of her one-time fellow student Mangosuthu Buthelezi by publishing the first research to conclude that the IFP was destabilising Natal.

Unconventional views
She also branched into script-writing: her account of Mahatma Gandhi’s experiences in South Africa was funded by the Indian government and bought by the SABC.

A close friend of Winnie Madikizela-Mandela — with whom she was detained in 1976 and whom she believed was the innocent victim of both apartheid and dirty politics within the African National Congress — she also held some other unconventional views.

She boycotted Salman Rushdie’s abortive tour to South Africa in 1998, claiming he was a blasphemer, and returned from a 1984 trip to Iran a passionate apologist for that country’s Islamic revolution.

More recently, she became a patron of the Jubilee 2000 movement, that has campaigned for writing-off of Third-World debt.

Last year she was among 104 South Africans — including Govan Mbeki, Harry Oppenheimer and Miriam Makeba — honoured with the Order for Meritorious Service by former president Nelson Mandela.

In mid-1995 she underwent heart surgery and lost her son, Rashid — a highly regarded BBC radio journalist — in a car crash.

She underwent a triple heart bypass in 1998, and Mandela was one of the first to welcome her home.

Her husband, Ismail, is a famed lawyer and activist who, despite his age, has been one of the most energetic ANC members of the KwaZulu-Natal provincial legislature.

He was arrested and charged with treason together with Mandela and others in the early 1960s.

She has two daughters — Shehnaaz, a Land Claims Court judge, and Shamin, a social science consultant.

Shining light
Film producer Anant Singh said on Friday that Meer was a shining light and defender of women’s rights.

“Fatima Meer was one of the most exceptional women that I have ever met. We have been blessed to have had her in our lives and I am thankful for having her be a part of my life for the past 30 years,” Singh said in a statement.

“A champion of the less advantaged people of our country, she was a woman of extreme integrity and dignity. As we mourn her passing, we celebrate an amazing journey of an extraordinary daughter of South Africa.”

He expressed his sympathies and love for her family. – Sapa

source: Mail and Guardian

Some profound words from a profound woman: Late Fatima Meer during Ramadaan last year in a gathering for muslim woman by Faithworks.

“The world over, there is a misconception that women are treated as inferior in Islam, but this is entirely untrue. Islam is based on the principle of Tawhid, which simply means the unity of the one and only creator who is the guardian of the entire universe. And that places every aspect of the universe on equal footing, so equality is at the heart of Islam and there can be no question of women being in any way unequal to men. Men and women have exactly the same rights and freedoms in Islam. Tawhid goes further, it places humans, flora and fauna all on equal footing. So the world is not the property of only human beings, though they are the vice-regents of Allah, but they have equal rights to all resources. So Tawhid underlies equality and unity, not only of the creator but all his creations. There has been a lot of distortion in detailing the rights of women. We women have the obligation to read the Quran in the language we understand and through such knowledge understand ourselves as Islam intended us to.” Fatima Meer

Prof Fatima Meer (May Allah grant her peace, and paradise) was a beacon of shining light, as a women and as a human being, as a Muslim and as a South African citizen. Few are the people who can claim her passion, commitment and sacrifice for justice.

This is a note she sent to be read at a gathering of Muslim women we hosted in Ramadan last year.


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  1. Rashid Motala says:

    We mourn the passing of a family member who was a stalwart in the anti apartheid struggle and always had the time to ask about family members whenever we met.
    She will be sadly missed by family and friends.
    From God we come and unto him do we return.

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