Nelson Mandela was arguably the most beloved statesman and leader of our generation. Why do so many people praise him irrespective of their political leanings? What was it about Mandela that transcended politics? This session will examine the life, times, and struggles of this South African leader that reveal, in the light of Islamic teachings, why our Prophet’s Sunnah, when practiced even by those outside of our faith, engenders love and respect in others. Mandela, for example, resorted to violent resistance only after he exhausted all non-violent means to end the oppression of his people. Even those on the far right of the political spectrum have defended his advocacy of violence. Newt Gingrich, for instance, recently wrote that Mandela was “deeply committed to a non-violent approach, until you had a South African dictatorship … which made it impossible to have anything that was purely non-violent.” Gingrich went as far as to compare Mandela to the Founding Fathers of America. What were the qualities and characteristics that made Mandela so unique and drew such approbation? More importantly, what is the role of patience, principle, purpose, forgiveness, and magnanimity in effecting change in human hearts and society?
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