Category Archives: CaveInscriptions

Eid Reflections 2017

Peace,

Eid Mubarak! Kul ‘am wa antum bi kheir.

The darkness of the night is broken by the dawn, Ramadan for me is that dawn. A new start. The year over we amass baggage. We are hurt or hurt others and ourselves whether physically, emotionally or spiritually. Experience situations that test us to our core, test our goodness, our faith and resolve. Ramadan is that time of the year for me to refocus and recharge, for me to learn and grow and most importantly improve my relationship with God. Ramadan has ended and Eid celebrations are nearing their end, so what have I made of it?

Well, I am a work in progress, nothing told me that more than this month and having both my parents independent of each other (my father visiting for Eid) “tell” me to grow up and find a job within a couple of hours of each other. I have a weakness for knowledge but lack the wisdom to act on it, letting it sit instead in stacks of notebooks. I worry about how much of what I have gained in knowledge this Ramadan I will actually implement this year. Whether I will be able to persevere in the face of the struggles around me and within me.

During the time of the Prophet (saw.) battles taking place in Ramadan were about the inner battle as much as the outer. Similarly, it is about the inner battle against our Nafs (Self) as much if not more so than the outer battle of just giving up food and drink. However, that does not mean that we neglect the outer battle.

As the Prophet (saw.) said:

A strong believer is better and is more lovable to Allah than a weak believer, and there is good in everyone…

This hadith can be understood to mean both spiritual and physical strength. Ramadan has also for many, quite rightly so I think, become a month of eating clean and increasing fitness, as the self is ruined by three things, too much eating, too much talking and too much sleeping and Ramadan destroys all three of those.

On spirituality, Shaykh Omar Suleiman in his Faith Revival series this Ramadan explained that faith are the 6 articles of faith and testifying with the tongue, conviction in the heart and actions with the limbs. A friend of mine who was going through some hardships and knew some of what I was going through, asked me once why some people who do not believe seem to do so well while people who do suffer so much. I wasn’t able to answer, not because I didn’t know that one had nothing to do with the other or as Sh. Suleiman said: “If this world meant as much as the wing of a mosquito to God He would not let a disbeliever have a sip of water from it.” I wasn’t able to answer, because I myself lacked the conviction to act on it.

Supplications (Dua’) aren’t necessarily there to change the reality around us, but to change the reality within us. Our baggage, our loss, our hurt, the difficulties we face are tests of our faith and resolve, are we going to let these crush us or are we going to cry out to God and persevere? Faith isn’t static, it ebbs and flows, we have days and nights where our connection with God is soo intense and days where we struggle to even just pray. The Prophet (saw.) warned us of  waking up in the morning with faith and going to sleep losing it in the evening. The companions never felt themselves safe from falling into hypocrisy even though they were promised paradise because they understood their weaknesses as humans. Doubts are natural, but we always try to achieve faith with certainty and conviction.

As Ibn Masud (ra.) said:

Yaqeen (Certainty) is full Iman.

Which, as explained in the Faith revival series, is done amongst other things by fortifying yourself intellectually and spiritually. That is by learning as much as possible, thereby filling the cracks in understanding of the religion (and the world) and by growing spiritually through experiences so that we know that true fulfillment is felt through faith, that the strongest love is felt for those we love for the sake of Allah (swt.) for example.

The goal is to achieve certainty so that as Ali ra. said:

If I was to see heaven I would not want it as much as I would right now, and if I were to see the hellfire I would not want to stay out of it more than I would now.

 

Indeed a work in progress, this year I intend to work on as my University’s charter says “making knowledge work”, on my faith, on my diligence and work ethic and yes to those who know me in real life my availability too!

O Guardian of faith and its people, allow us to be bound to Islam until we meet you with it. O Allah we ask you for everlasting faith, true certainty and beneficial knowledge. Our Lord do not let our hearts slip after you have guided us and bestow on us from your Mercy.

Wa Salam,

Abdur-Rahman

Once upon a Time

Unfinished.

Once upon a time
Like any true storyteller
I too will start with that line
Because whence or thence doesn’t matter
Because “You know in 900 years
Of time and space”
From the Doctor’s mouth one hears
“I’ve never met anyone who wasn’t important”
Because we are important
Every single one of us has a story, yet to be told
So whether you’re a hobbit of the Shire chosen to be the Bearer of the One Ring
Or the Britons true King
Tell me your story
And I’ll tell you mine

 

There, Somewhere, below

 

There, somewhere, below
Layers upon layers of snow
Somewhere in this blizzard
Where seeing is hard
Somewhere, where the wind howls
Where wolves prowl
Somewhere,
There it can be found
Frozen and bound
My heart in shackles
Lost after many battles
Found and freed, to beat once again
Loud and strong, free from pain
There it was, somewhere
Under layers upon layers of snow
Below, somewhere, there.

The moderate Muslim

Peace,

the word Muslim is heavily politicised and racialized. Calling yourself a Muslim in a post 9/11 world, makes life difficult to say the least. Academics, Governments, Institutions, Think Tanks as well as the general non-Muslim public all give the label a meaning, which serves their particular interests.

Such as the terms “moderate Muslim”, “good Muslim” or “modern Muslim”, describing those who fit a certain profile, everyone who then doesn’t conform is a “bad Muslim” or a “puritanical extremist”.  This phraseology is colonial in nature  it has been used by orientalist scholars to describe those who collaborated with colonial rule, it’s been used in describing Dr. Martin Luther King as the good, peaceful black activist and Malcolm X as the bad, radical black activist.

This classical form of divide and conquer is used to play us off against each other. Muslims that engage in that narrative of good vs. bad should remember that people who hate you don’t care about what you call yourself, in the words of Pamela Geller: “What’s the difference? Today’s moderate is tomorrow’s mass murderer.

Part of that same good vs. bad narrative is also that the solution to extremism is following a certain branch of Islam. The UK government plays on this with its PREVENT Agenda funding those Muslim organisations that fits their profile to further their idea of what a good Muslim looks like and who one is and who isn’t. The moniker “moderate Muslim” also carries the implication that the moderate Muslim isn’t a real Muslim that those who read the scriptures and really believe in all of what it says are necessarily radical extremists. We don’t talk about moderate Christians, moderate Hindus or Buddhists for example in our day to day conversations.

Moderation however is indeed an important factor in the religion, but we need to get rid of the moderate/extreme Muslim binary in our language to categorise people who seemingly fit a certain profile. I have met people of all kinds of sects, religions and people of no religion who display arrogance and close mindedness and we see, hear and read of mankind as a whole committing violence and atrocities. We see violence everywhere and from everyone, sometimes for seemingly good reasons, sometimes for bad, sometimes for banal reasons and sometimes for very complex reasons that are often just glossed over in the mainstream media.

Life is a crucible. I do believe that people are inherently good, that we are born on the Fitrah, the God given natural inclination to do and be good. It is our environment, our experiences and trials in life, that changes the way we act. We do however have the capacity as humans to choose what we do. As Muslims we believe that this life is a test, a test of how we respond to the trials and tribulations we are faced with and what choices we take and that is where moderation comes into play.

#bemore