Saturday, December 8, 2012


I just finished read a book called “Roots” written by Alex Haley (the author of the Autobiography of Malcolm X). It's an old book, published in 1976. This book tells the story about an African man who was captured in his native village in West Africa and sold into slavery in America. It’s a distressing book because it focuses on the atrociousness of slavery, but at the same time, it’s a book which makes you realize the importance of knowing where you come from, and where your family comes from. A person’s roots plays a huge role in the development of their own identity, and this is one of the important lessons of this book.
There are actually so many important insights from this book and that’s why I decided to write about it here:
-          Firstly, in my previous post I wrote briefly about how people don’t have any value for others. Well, if I thought I knew what I was talking about then that’s nothing compared to the sufferings that people had to endure in the time of slavery. People were stolen away from their families, their lives and their culture and treated worse than animals. This is such a deep issue, the systematic and continuous devaluing of people’s lives was so intense that I could probably go on about it forever, but all I will say is that it was purely evil.
-          Secondly, the native people of different lands, were people with a culture, value system, social and religious system, and all this was replaced through oppressive regimes such as slavery and later on colonialism and imperialism. Now as a result, we have meagre traces of those rich cultures which once existed as most people are forced to “assimilate” within a Euro-American culture which is pale in comparison to the native cultures.
-          As a result so many of us do not know our own family roots and obviously this means that we cannot form solid identities and that’s why most people seem to be always in search of something.
-          Even in today’s times, people who attempt to hold on to their cultures and roots are regarded as people who are “backwards”. A “civilized nation” has somehow come to represent people who speak English, who live in cities, who work in office buildings and who basically have no connection with nature, except of course for the occasional spectator role we tend to take on. Yet the people who are regarded as “uncivilized” have this deep connection with nature. They can tell their way by the use of stars and the sun and moon (they don’t need any modern day navigation devices). They can determine things by focusing on the animals. They understand the language of nature and their communication is intricate and advanced, but still they will be regarded in all the negative terms because they don’t fit dominant ideas of civilization.
-          Finally, modern day slavery still exists, it’s all around us, it’s just that it’s disguised and made to look glamorous. Think about the soccer players who get traded and sold at will. Yes surely they get paid a lot to do what they do, but are they really “free”? What about the models or actresses who cannot afford to even eat things that they would like to, who have to look a and dress a certain way all the time, are they completely “free”? And what about the rest of us who find ourselves stuck within a system that determines what time we have to go to work, which days we have to work, how we live, how we dress (that is if we care about following fashion), how we speak, what we buy, what we watch and so on, can we say that we are really free? Or are the people who live in villages and work each day without having to worry about paying off debts or meeting deadlines or buying the latest things, actually the ones who are “free”?
- Sadly, you can easily see how events of the past have shaped the world today. So many things of today can be explained easily if we turn to the past, so the actions of our ancestors actually impacts on us directly and although many of us might regard history as something very boring, it is in effect an important key that opens so many doors of understanding.
Besides these issues, I think the thing that stuck with me from the book is that In order to understand where we are going; we need to know where we came from, this statement is made so much more profound after reading “Roots”.
So yes, I guess that even though it was distressing to read this book, and some parts really left me feeling so despondent about human beings that I was filled with anger, nonetheless, the lessons I’ve learnt are crucial and I hope that I am able to hold on to some of them.
The thing that I needed to focus on throughout the book is that Allah sees everything and although it may seem as if things have gone unseen, in fact Allah has only given people some time before they have to reckon for their deeds. In truth Allah Almighty sees and hears everything and nothing has gone unseen.
And Allah is the Knower of all things, the Greatest. Glory be to Allah !
May Allah help us all to leave behind us goodness wherever we go, and may Allah help us never to harm another person in any way at all.  
Image 1 from here
Image 2 from here


  1. Roots was really very distressful to read. But such a powerful book with a zillion of lessons.

  2. Ghadeer

    Yes it was one of those books that makes you wonder why you're continuing to read it because it seems that there is nothing favourable about it. But then at the end the purpose of it is so clear and the lessons are so profound that it makes you glad you persevered and finished the book.

    Thanks for your comment and stay well.

  3. I really want to read this book now - sounds interesting!

  4. Karima

    You should try and read it, it's very interesting although like I said distressing. But it helps you to put things in today's time into perspective. Let me know if you do read it.

  5. Salam Sister,firstly thanks to Allah for everything. I think I have seen this story covented to a tv serial show when I was young. I could still remember the story quite well. Sometimes its the surrounding and situation that can make or forces one to change and even go astray. That why we must always seek Allah's protection in whatever we do. Like you blog it makes me feel good.

  6. Nur

    Was-salaam sister and thank you for your comment. Its so true, a person's environment is very important and sometimes the environment forces people to do things that they know is wrong but because of the influence they end up doing it anyway. May Allah protect us all Inshaa-Allah and save us from giving in to pressure and going astray.

  7. I've seen the TV series. The name is Kunta Kinte. Never missed any of the episodes. I can still remember the whole family waited eagerly in front of the TV set to watch the drama. A sad one, and indeed, disturbing. But full of lessons to learn.

    How could a race consider themselves better than another just by judging on the colour of the skin? Such arrogant race still exist till this very day. They always think they are superior and thus must be respected by others. But what is more disturbing (from the story) was the betrayal of their own kind. So unacceptable...

    May we still have some love to spare for our brothers and sisters in need. May Allah protect us all from evil doings. Ameen.

    Take care dear sis. Wassalam.

  8. Ati

    I hope that you are well dear sister. Yes I agree, that its unbelievable that some people can regard themselves as superior, especially based on something they had no choice in, but it's also true that more distressing is the "betrayal of their own kind". That saddened me alot in the book as well, and I remember how Kunta could'nt believe it either. Ameen to your lovely duaa sister!

  9. I am so glad to see you writing again. Not many write as beautifully and thoughtfully as you do. I am moving to South Africa this week so iA I will still be able to access your blog from there.

    Much love xxx

  10. Sorry I just remembered you actually live in South Africa!! Of course I will be able to read your blog there.

  11. Thanks for your comment Bonnie. Its good to hear that you'll be moving to South Africa. I hope you have a wonderful stay here. Let me know where you'll be living and stay in touch.

    Take care

  12. I will be in Midrand, which is in Pretoria. I guess you know more than me. I am not really sure what province you are in

  13. Bonnie, I am in Johannesburg which is not too far from Midrand (probably about 40-45 minutes if I'm correct). Email me if you'd like to or if you need anything when you're in SA- I guess SA is very different from New Zealand but I hope that you enjoy it.

    Take care and all the best

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.