Category Archives: enCave

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Be more moderate

Peace,

without tooting my own horn it seems to come easy to me to at least come across as relatively moderate, maybe I am really just good at censoring the extreme dark side of my being which may or may not exist, God knows. Moderation is an ambiguous word, what does it actually mean?

According to the merriam-webster dictionary it is:

  1. avoiding extremes of behavior or expression
  2. tending toward the mean or average amount or dimension
  3. professing or characterized by political or social beliefs that are not extreme
  4. limited in scope or effect
  5. not expensive
  6. of a color :  of medium lightness and medium chroma

Moderation is a word which, as can be derived from its definition, is dependent on the existing of two extremes, a scope or scale from which one can deduce what the mean, average or moderate is. Still it often lies in the eye of the beholder to judge what the extremes are and where the mid point lies.

Islam, as a way of life, places a lot of importance on moderation, in the Quran Allah (swt.) describes us as the nation of the middle.

“Thus, We have made you a justly balanced community that you will be witnesses over the people and the Messenger will be a witness over you.” [Quran 2:143]

Moderation in all things and balance is something we have striven towards for centuries, it is innate. Over 17 times a day we as Muslims ask God to guide us to the straight path, the path from which the Prophet (saw.) informed us devils in whatever form would try to swerve us from calling us to their paths left and right.

Ibn Mas’ud reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, drew a line with his hand and he said, “This is the straight path of Allah.” Then the Prophet drew lines to the right and left and he said, “These are other paths and there are no other paths but that a devil is upon it calling to its way.” Then the Prophet recited the verse, “Verily, this is the straight path, so follow it and do not follow other paths.” (6:153)

The Arabic language holds a number of words which can be translated to mean moderation or balance one in particular is Al-wasitiyyah. The Arabic dictionary, Lisan al Arab by Ibn Manzur defines it such that:

Every praiseworthy characteristic has two blameworthy poles. Generosity is the middle between miserliness and extravagance. Courage is the middle between cowardice and recklessness. Humanity has been commanded to avoid every such blameworthy trait.[Lisan al-Arab 15/209]

‘Adl is often also translated as moderation, but has the primary meaning of justice. Literally meaning to divide in exactly two equal parts so that there is no disparity between them, thereby creating balance between the rights of two parties for example.

“And the heaven He raised and imposed the balance. That you not transgress within the balance. And establish weight in justice and do not make deficient the balance.”
[Quran 55:7-9]

The ayah above shows how justice is tied in with balance, just as Allah (swt.) created balance in the world, He demands from us to establish balance and justice in our interactions with the world.

Like all things however that is difficult, it is easier to seek revenge than justice. It is easier to eat junk food, than to eat a balanced diet. It is easier to seclude ourselves than to intermingle and deal with society. That balance in life. That work, social, spiritual life balance is what we all seek and what I still constantly fight with despite my outward appearance of moderation and the companions of the Prophet (saw.) also had to learn that.

 “You have a duty to your Lord, you have a duty to your body, and you have a duty to your family, so you should give each one its rights.” [Bukhari: Sahih]

Therefore let’s try to be more moderate and balanced and just in everything we do. May Allah (swt.) make it easy for us.

#bemore

Courage to be different

Peace!

We are different, that is a fact of life. You and I, are different. The way we look, the way we were brought up, our experiences, our likes and dislikes, our beliefs and opinions are different.

Yes, there may be quite a lot of similarities between you and me, we may have been friends for the past 15 years, you might have grown up in the same city as me, our parents may have similar backgrounds and may indeed be friends, we may have gone to the same Qur’an school when we were kids, and I may have moved to the same country as you did, you may even be interested in a lot of the same things that I am too or you may be my blood sibling and still we are different. You aren’t me and I’m not you and that is perfect, we may learn a lot from each other. God created us, you and I, to be different.

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another…” [Qur’an 48:13]

Still, as a child you don’t really set out to think about what makes you different from everyone else, you just want to have fun like all the other kids do too. I grew up as a black Muslim in Germany, a minority in a minority.

My whole class knew that I was a Muslim, I didn’t hide it and my being black was not something I could really hide. They knew when I was fasting and what Ramadan was, I showed them how we pray during a visit to the mosque, I chose to play a Nasheed (Religious Song) when we gave a small presentation on our favourite music and gave a presentation about a river that was the namesake of the country my mother was born in and my father had roots in. My mother would make sure to tell my best friends mother not to feed me any meat when I stayed over at their little farm during the summer and we’d play Zelda, Mario Party or tag the whole day.

I have been quite privileged in the way that I have been brought up, that my parents are both academics/professionals and knowledgeable in the religion, for me to grow to be comfortable in my being different and still I sometimes hesitate. Hesitate, to speak out and take a stand, to break the silence. In such a moment of hesitation and inaction, I might as well have been dead.

 “Sometimes I feel like my city is a graveyard.“  
[Suli Breaks]

In his video The Graveyard, Suli Breaks expresses how we might as well be the walking dead, as we sacrifice our happiness for our salaries. The imagery of a city as a Graveyard is powerful, signifying the death of society, stagnation and truly painful silence permeating through each crook and cranny of the ruins of our city.

While the rows of gravestones tell the stories of those that have passed, their voices have died. Their words however still reach us, because they refused to be silenced. Still, we too often choose to ignore them, when empathy is lost, xenophobia rises, injustice and aggression is left unopposed, problems swept under the rug and conversations stifled. Resulting in exclusion and segregation or expression.

Expression in a hostile environment however requires a lot of courage. Courage to break the silence, to express yourself and stand up for yourself, your rights, your thoughts, your aspirations, your dreams and those of others around you. By being different and confident with yourself, the image that you project of yourself will invigorate the dead around you and inspire them to help break down the wall of silence.

Being humble, ascetic and conscious doesn’t mean staying silent at all times. It means choosing the right time to be silent and when to speak up and so while the Prophet (saw.) said:

“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak good things or keep silent.” [Muslim: Sahih]

The hadith often becoming our go-to narration to tell someone to shut up. Keeping silent, here is predicated on not actually having anything good to say, that is to engage in speech which we would regret later. When acts of injustice are however carried out, that is when our silence makes us complicit as Dr. Martin Luther King said:

“He who passively accepts evil is as much involved in it as he who helps to perpetrate it. He who accepts evil without protesting against it is really cooperating with it.” [Stride Toward Freedom: The Montgomery Story]

We need to speak up. The Qur’an also says:

“Allah does not like the public mention of evil except by one who has been wronged. And ever is Allah Hearing and Knowing.” [Quran 4:148]

In our journey to emulate the noble characteristics that Allah (swt.) describes Himself with, we also have to listen and yes we have to be silent at times to get to know and fully understand the situation of those who are oppressed to be able to express it.

Will we face opposition? Yes, absolutely we will, but we will face hate whether we speak out about our grievances or not, whether we integrate or assimilate or not. Experiences of racism, xenophobia and of injustice of whatever kind whether from our teachers and classmates,  or even parents can shatter self-confidence and scratch at our self-esteem, our sense of self-worth and our self body-image.

That is why it is so important that one, we have the courage to be different and proud of it and second, to know that we are not the only ones alive in this graveyard that there are others that are different too, who are not just stuck in the work/eat/sleep cycle and are trying to break down that wall with you. While our expression alone may at times cause us to be isolated within the status quo, it needs the courage of the one, to shatter the silence of the many.

 

#bemore

Be more courageous

Peace be with you!

Malcolm X once famously said, “If you don’t stand up for something, you’ll fall for anything.” Finding the courage however to do that is hard. It is hard to stand up for that something you believe in, to put yourself behind an idea. An idea that may cost you your livelihood, your job, your financial security, your family, friends and indeed your life.

Exactly that however is what Allah (swt.) asks of us, as  He (swt.) records the advice that our Prophet Luqman (as.) gave to his son in the Qur’an.

“O my son establish prayer, enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong and be patient over what befalls you. Indeed all that is of the matter requiring determination (courage)”

[Quran 31:17]

Remember that trepidation you felt, when you established the prayer in a public place? That fear-excitement cocktail of adrenaline rushing through your body, the creeping thoughts of what the passerby might think?

As you stand up for the prayer wherever you are, you stand up for Allah, for your right to exercise your Belief. This fundamental act, will give you the courage to stand up for what is right, for truth and justice and against what is wrong.

Courage according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary is “the mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty.” Courage comes from the heart, quite literally, the word coeur in French meaning heart from the Latin Cor.

Our heart is in constant flux, it continuously pumps blood in and out and on a spiritual, metaphysical level it also keeps changing. Khushoo, Taqwa, Iman, our intentions all of these according to our tradition are within our heart and increase and decrease constantly with the situations that we are faced with daily.

As in the story of Moses (as.) when his mother was about to see him again for the first time, since letting go of him to save him from the infanticide of Pharaoh’s oppressive regime. She was about to call out to him and thereby put him and herself in danger of being killed, Allah (swt.) describes her heart in that moment as Fuad. Fuad is a heart, that if taken literally is on fire, overwhelmed with emotions ( of love, anger, fear, grief, stress, excitement etc.). In that moment only God was able to stop her calling out to him, by strengthening her heart to its normal state, Qalb.

However, in our daily lives we will also be confronted with situations where our hearts turn into Fuad and we will have to choose whether we act on what our Fuad tells us, or what would be the right thing to do in that situation, because Allah (swt.) will asks us about our choices in that moment.

“Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart (Fuad)- about all those [one] will be questioned.”

[Quran 17:36]

Courage, is acting righteously despite the emotions that grip our heart. It inspires us as Ibn Al-Qayyim (rah.) said,“ to have a sense of self-esteem, to emphasize high and noble manners and to make it a part of our natural disposition. It also encourages us to exert ourselves to be generous, which is in essence, true courage and it leads to strong will and self-determination. It encourages us to distance ourselves from our ardent lowly desires, to control our anger, and to be forbearing, because by such, we can control our temper, take it by its reins and curb our violent and destructive behaviour, just as the Prophet (saw.) said: “The strong believer is not the one who can wrestle his opponent to the ground, but rather the strong one is the one who can control himself when he gets angry.”

This is genuine courage and it is the sole trait that the slave utilizes to conquer his opponent.

Courage, is standing up to an oppressive system, a tyrant, husband, parents, family member, friends, strangers and the hardest of all yourself, despite the fear, despite the quite possible repercussions, and being patient with those repercussions, that befall you.

Plucking up the courage needed is hard, I know. How often have I stayed silent when I should have said something or tried to ignore those less fortunate than me. It is however something that can be trained by testing and expanding our boundaries.

Where and what are your boundaries? Is a lack of knowledge the reason you did not speak up? Then educate yourself on how to intervene, take part in Bystander education programs, such as the Intervention Initiative. Is it your physical ability? Then start your journey in getting more active. Put yourself in situations that require a certain degree of courage often, such as prayer in public or standing up for your siblings and it will get easier to be courageous and to be confident doing so.

Finally remember that Allah (swt.) is in control of our hearts, He is the changer of our hearts, and so as the Prophet (saw.) prayed “O Changer of the hearts, make my heart firm upon Your religion”, pray for Him to grant us courage in all of our affairs.

Be more courageous, because in a time where hijabs are being ripped off of our sisters, where women are being sexually harassed left, right and center,  where racism and xenophobia is normalised in our society, we can not stay silent in the face of injustice anymore.

Peace.

#bemore

1. Read.Me

Peace,

I love to read and can spend hours just reading whether that’s a book, I’m currently reading Angela Davis: Autobiography ( There’s a film is in production), Fanfiction (Yes, yes I do),  Blogs or articles. I often come across words spun together so well that they can inform, inspire or provoke, evoke sadness or laughter, and would like with these weekly posts to create a collection of those.

Read.Me will hopefully be a weekly reading digest published every Friday. These recommendations will be split up into English and German and will only contain those reads that actually interest me. So without further ado, a bit late, a mashup of this week’s and last week’s reads.

Lies.DE

Lies: “Die” Sharia gibt es nicht: “Wären Sie so freundlich und würden mir ein Exemplar der Scharia zukommen lassen, vorzugsweise als PDF-Datei?” |  „Der Niqab ist ein ziemlich unpraktisches Kleidungsstück, um damit eine Bank zu überfallen“ | Deutsch-iranischer Frauenfußball | Islamischer Feminismus: Die Arbeit im Stillen |  “Die Mutter deiner Sprache ist jene, die den Weg deiner Wurzeln zeichnet, dich zurückbringt und auf den fruchtbaren Boden deiner Her- und Ankunft zieht und rückleitet.” | Lost im Grundgesetz |

Read.EN

Read:  The Guardian view on UN peacekeeping: “Failures and abuses by ‘blue helmets’ show the need for coordinated improvements” | The death of neoliberalism and the crisis in western politics | The way Muslim women in France are treated is “paternalistic”. | Why we wear the burkini:  no one should be prevented from being able to enjoy the beach, the beach is a human right: “On the 24th of April 1960 125 black people on the biloxi beach were left broken and bloodied, when white vigilantes showed up with clubs and chains and tire irons while Police stood aside.” | From a Same-Sex Attracted Muslim: “Do people think they shall be left to say, “We believe” and they shall not be tried?” | Meet Generation M: the young, affluent Muslims changing the world | Angela Merkel and Marine Le Pen: one of them will shape Europe’s future | Rio Paralympics and Channel 4: telling a new story about disability |

Entry XI

As Salamu Alaykum,

it has been 2 weeks since Eid (can I still wish all of you Eid Mubarak? Bit late ain’t it? I hope and pray that you had an enriching Ramadan inshaAllah) and I am currently revising for my last resit on Friday. Much has happened in my life recently, so much in fact, that at times it can be a little overwhelming, but that is needed. Times like these are needed for reflection and self improvement. Aspects of yourself which you need to desperately work on become a lot more apparent in times of stress and distress as opposed to times of happiness.

I am reminded of the fact that Allah (swt.) does not change a person just like that, a person does not become more patient just by asking Allah to make him or her patient. No, Allah (swt.), through our asking Him, puts us in a position where our patience is severely tested, and the outcome will be the increased patience that we asked Allah for. We do not all of a sudden become closer to Allah (swt.) but need to take the first step towards Him and it is a blessing of Allah that this happens quite often when you are going through a difficult time. As Allah (swt.) says in this Ayah, we have to respond first, to act first before we are guided.

And when My servants ask you, concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me and believe in Me that they may be guided. Qur’an 2:186 ]

Just a short update from me for now, I would like to get back to regularly blogging soon, inshaAllah after my resit. I just need as my fellow blogger Ayşe wrote in her most recent blogpost a lot of motivation. Motivation is hard to get sometimes, especially when you’re going through some tough times. It definitely helps that there are so many fabulous bloggers and writers out there almost lending me their strength through their words and inspiring me to post again.

Wa Salam,

Abdur-Rahman

Ramadan has landed

2015-06-19 20.51.00-1

As Salamu Alaykum!

God, the most glorified, the most High, says in the Holy Qur’an:

“So have they not travelled through the earth, and have hearts by which to reason, and ears by which to hear? For indeed, it is not the eyes that are blinded, but blinded are the hearts which are within the breast.” [22:46] 

As I begin to make preparations for a journey a certain amount of excitement and nervousness always builds up. I love to travel, and if I had the means and opportunity would love to travel more extensively than I have been able to as of yet. There is something about travelling that puts my heart and mind at ease. For me travelling is a journey to myself, a roadmap in essence, I get to know myself better, as well as those who I travel with. As Umar (ra.) once asked a man who wanted to vouch for another, whether he really knew him, including asking whether he had travelled with him saying:

“For travelling and being away from home reveals a man’s true essence”

Ramadan landed this year on the 18th of June, I find that I share the feelings that I have for travelling with Ramadan approaching. I am thrilled every year for it to arrive, but I feel kinda nervous too. The shayateen are chained up in this month, the sins I commit during this month is mostly all me and my  nafs. This month is the opportunity to change our lives around, to come closer to God, leave bad habits and make new good ones, to improve ourselves in all aspects of our lives. Ramadan is like a training camp for the rest of the year. The Prophet (saw.) used to do more in Ramadan than in the other months of the year.

Aisha (ra.) narrated:

“The Messenger of Allah (saw.) used to strive more in worship during Ramadan than he strove in any other time of the year…” [Muslim]

The reward of worship in this month of the Quran and of fasting is multifold, as Az-Zuhri said concerning Tasbih in Ramadan: “A tasbih in Ramadan is better than a thousand Tasbihah in other than it” [At-Tirmidhi]

There are ahadith saying that if one fasts during Ramadan and in another one prays during the night (in Qiyam) out of sincerity hoping for reward from Allah, will have their sins forgiven. Ramadan is a wonderful time, but also one of hardship and strive, we are giving up food and drink and are to try to be as productive as we are outside of Ramadan if not more so, as well as the long Taraweeh prayer and especially now when the days are long and the nights so short, it can be difficult to keep a good countenance throughout the month.

Similarly travelling is full of hardships,

“When the Prophet (saw.) travelled, he would seek refuge with Allah from the hardships of travel, and the sorrows of return, from loss after plenty, from the supplication of the one who has been wronged, and from seeing some calamity befall.” [Sahih Bukhari]

In another hadith travel is described as Jihad.

“Travel for my people is Jihad in the Cause of Allah, glory be to Him.” [Abu Dawud]

No wonder Umar (ra.) said that the true essence of a person would shine through when you are travelling with them. It puts you through stress situations, sometimes you lose food and sleep and especially during the time of the Prophet (saw.), he said in a report narrated by Abu Huraira (ra.):

“Travelling is a kind of torture, as it prevents one from sleeping and eating! So when one has finished his job, he should return quickly to his family.”
[Sahih Al-Bukhari]

 What helps overcoming these hardships is being clear of the goals and intentions of your travelling and your fasting. In first line we should remember that we do everything for the sake of Allah. Even when travelling for leisure, you could make your intention to relax and rejuvenate yourself, so you can toil harder once done with your vacation. Fasting and the long Qiyam are for the sake of Allah and that is something we should constantly remind ourselves of. We’re not doing it because it is expected of us by our family or community but because we want to please Allah and gain nearness to Him with it.
It helps to remember your goals and intentions when things get particularly hard. It also helps to keep yourself focused. If you are travelling for work solely, and you need to do this or that but get distracted by the sights, refocusing on your goals and making plans of how exactly you can achieve your goal help in keeping you productive. If your goal is to read the whole Quran in Ramadan, constantly reminding yourself of it and preparing yourself and planning ahead of time helps in making that Goal a reality.
 Wa salam!
Abdur-Rahman

———–

PS: We’re over ten days into Ramadan now, Ramadan Mubarak! I have had the idea for this post for a while now, but essentially procrastinated too much. I wanted to upload this now, even though we are so far into the month already, because if I didn’t, I don’t know when I would be posting next, as I would continue to just procrastinate. So with the fear of this post not making any sense at all, I’ll send it off into the world anyway.

PPS: In this post I wanted to compare Ramadan with travelling, there are ahadith mentioning both and I often feel the same emotions when they come about, of course there is no real comparison to Ramadan but there are some similarities. I’m praying that I’ll be able to travel a bit during next Ramadan and get to experience it in different settings inshaAllah.

May Allah make this Ramadan a productive one for all of us, and accept all of our worship! Amin.

 

 

 

 

*2015 Resolution*

Salam Alaykum,
2015 is here, yay! I realise I’m twelve days late, but I do have what I hope is a valid excuse.

Over the holidays I’ve been to Nigeria for the first time in ten years. The weeks of hassle, travelling to London and back multiple times to renew my German Passport and apply for a Nigerian Passport paid off, it was absolutely amazing. All praise is due to God! That is despite the fact that due to security reasons we couldn’t just leave the complex whether we were at my dad’s or at my grandmother’s. A driver would drive us wherever we wanted to while that was cool, the downside was that you’d spend hours in the Lagos traffic. Due to the same reasons I’m short on photos as well, I left my camera at home just to be safe.

For some reason the heat surprised me, I expected it, I mean I was in Egypt a year and half ago. Coming back to the UK last Friday we almost froze to death, okay okay I almost froze to death my family were cyborgs. I however just couldn’t stop shivering.
Well, that Monday I had my first exam and yeah that was fun. Having revised next to nothing in Nigeria, I was surprised how well I (felt I) actually did in 3 of the 4 exams I’ve already sat. I’ve got one exam to go and then the new semester starts on the 19th.

There is a lot I want to do and change this year, some impacting the Blog and some my self, God willing. Over the last year I’ve posted a lot on virtues in the “Be more…” series. These were a reminder for myself, and whoever else benefited of them, to instil these virtues such as gratitude, humbleness or patience in our lives.

My biggest Goal this year is to work on and instil in myself one of the virtues Benjamin Franklin set himself to become a “self-made man”. He used to carry a book with 13 charts for 13 virtues and next to each day mark down whenever he went against one of these. He basically does, as Shaykh Suhaib Webb remarks, Muhasabah daily.

Over the last few years I have been becoming lazier and lazier. I’ve delayed so many things, not even talking about how much coursework I’ve delayed doing over the year. I’ve put off things friends have requested of me, or getting back into contact with others, posting on here, with no excuse other than my chronic procrastination.
I’ve been involved in so many great things over the years that I’m absolutely grateful to have been part of. The one thing that overshadowed these experiences in some cases was not being able to do good work fast.

Industry.
Lose no time
Be always employ’d in something useful
Cut off all unnecessary actions

Industriousness is therefore my biggest goal and resolution for this year of 2015.

Dictionary Definition :

obsolete skillful, ingenious

constantly, regularly, or habitually active or occupieddiligent industrious worker

This incorporates a lot of things that I will have to take myself to task for. It is a deeply Islamic concept to not be idle and to not waste your time on earth.

Ibn ‘Abbas narrated that the Messenger of Allah (s.a.w) said:

“Two favours that many of the people squander are health and free time.” [Al-Tirmidhi | Sahih]
In the Qur’an, Allah (swt.) tells us about a man unto whom death comes he says:
“”My Lord, send me back That I might do righteousness in that which I left behind.” No! It is only a word he is saying; and behind them is a barrier until the Day they are resurrected.”  [Surat Al-Mu’minūn 99-100]

So using my time as best as I can, to plan ahead of time and make time for certain things in life that just have to be done, is my resolution so to say for this year. I pray that this year will be a good one for all of us, for humanity, for banu Adam.

Peace,

Abdur-Rahman

Respect

As Salam Alaykum,

“Indeed, in the creation of the heavens and the earth and the alternation of the night and the day are signs for those of understanding.” [3:109]

Looking at the Universe and reflecting on its vastness, one can’t avoid feeling a certain amount of awe and respect for it. The Qur’an is a book of Ayat, which can be translated as signs. Over and over again Allah (swt.) also reminds us that there are signs in the world around us, for those of understanding. The Qur’an therefore points at the awe inspiring phenomena in nature and asks us to reflect on the Creator, His existence, His Might etc. Science and Religion within Islamic discourse does not exclude each other but go hand in hand. Okay, so taking into account the title of this post, where am I going with this?

In our “post-modern” society this awe and respect has stopped at a deep appreciation, deference even, for nature and for science, at the expense of religion. There is a deep sense of respect for science as if it has become a new religion, one that especially the New-Atheists ascribe to. On the other side as society steadily splits apart, with more and more people moving towards the right. A speck of respect and tolerance for the other, the unknown, the foreigner, the religion of the foreigner becomes increasingly non-existant.

Religions, Ideas, Ideologies do not need to be respected or so is the current prevailing view. Freedom of speech has been used as a blanket to disrespect and insult communities, the current high levels of Islamophobia have even costed Sikh communities. What about us though? Us Muslims. We who believe that the Prophet (saw.) came as a mercy to mankind. Do we show respect and tolerance as the Prophet (saw.) did to people who have different customs, the Bedouin for example who are very rough and straight forward in their behaviour. Or to those of different faith as the Prophet (saw.) did, standing up in respect to the progression of a funeral for a Jewish woman. Reminding us that despite our differences she is just another human being like we are too. Do we respect those who we call kuffar as if it were an insult? Never mind non-Muslims, how about our fellow brothers and sisters in Islam? Do we respect and love each other for the sake of Allah, despite our differences of opinion, despite our different cultures and ethnic backgrounds. Because diversity is a signs from Allah (swt):

“And of His signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth and the diversity of your languages and your colors. Indeed in that are signs for those of knowledge.” [30:21]

The problem is that we only have a textbook understanding of different faiths, cultures and world views at most. How do we build respect for each other, if we do nothing to get to know each other and be open for difference? As Allah (swt.) tells us in the Qur’an:

“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble (honoured) of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” [49:13]

Allah (swt.) could have created us all the same, how boring would our world be then? No, we are supposed to learn from our diversity, from each other. We all have been honoured, as Allah tells us in the above ayah, all human beings, indeed all beings are to be treated with respect. In creating relationships with people that are very different from you, you establish a basis for understanding and getting to know the Other.

I have been fortunate to have been able to make friends with all kinds of different people, from different (or no) faiths, cultures, ethnic backgrounds and interests. But just making friends is in some cases not enough, especially in those instances where one separates the ideology of a person with the person. It is bizarre to me how a person who has friends who are practising Muslims, can be islamophobic at the same time but it still happens. Why? Most likely because there is no actual communication happening on issues that are relevant. What is there to understand if there is no communication?

If there is no communication beyond YouTube Comments and Tweets, how are we to grow to respect each other, and in effect stitching the gaping wound in society? So that it may start to heal.

Wa Salam,
Abdur-Rahman

Being patient with what Allah has decreed

As-Salamu Alaykum,

Life is difficult, we all have something we struggle with in life. Whether that is a stubbed toe, bad exam results or a death in the family.

In his book “Don’t Be Sad”, Sheikh ‘Aidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni writes: “Whatever has befallen you was not meant to escape you, and whatever has escaped you was not meant to befall you: If this belief were to be firmly ingrained in your heart, then all hardship and difficulty would become ease and comfort. The Prophet (saw.) said: “Whoever Allah wishes good for, He inflicts him (with hardship).”

Allah (swt.) tells us in the Qur’an:

“No disaster strikes except by permission of Allah. And whoever believes in Allah – He will guide his heart. And Allah is Knowing of all things.”

[Surah At-taghabun : 11 ]

Two of the names of Allah (swt.) are Al-Muhyi and Al-Mu’mit, the Giver of life and the Bringer of death. It is Him that blessed us with the birth of a new child in our midst, but it is also His Will for a beloved to leave us. As well as everything, that is in between those two certainties.

“Every soul must taste death”, it says in the Qur’an. Not just experience death for ourselves, but as Shaykh Shafi Chowdhury said in a lecture, someone you love will die and you will have to bury them. He reminded us that Allah (swt.) is behind every single interaction, every single situation that befalls us, that this is our test. How do we act when something good or bad happens to us?

As the Prophet (saw.) said:

“How wonderful is the affair of the believer, for his affairs are all good, and this applies to no one but the believer. If something good happens to him, he is thankful for it and that is good for him. If something bad happens to him, he bears it with patience and that is good for him.” [Narrated by Muslim, 2999] 

Another narration from the Prophet (saw.) says:

The greatest reward comes with the greatest trial. When Allah loves a people He tests them. Whoever accepts that wins His pleasure but whoever is discontent with that earns His wrath.”

[ Narrated by al-Tirmidhi (2396)]

With everything that may happen whether good or bad we are asked to bear it with patience. Something good that may occur to us might not be that good after all, and something bad may in fact be good for us. Does a baby know that a vaccination will protect him or her in the long run? It will still cry no matter how much you try to explain it, it hurts. In the same way Allah (swt.) loves us more than a mother loves her baby,  He wants only good for us.

“On the Day of Resurrection people will wish that their skins had been cut with scissors in this world, when they see the reward of those who were struck with calamity.” [marfoo’ narration in Al-Tirmidhi]

So He may cause us to have distress in this world, so that He may shower us with the pleasures of the next. He may cause us pain in this world and with that erase our sins and grant us entrance to Paradise and non-imaginable rewards. In times of hardship we say, Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon. (Verily to Allah we belong and unto Him is our return) Reminding ourselves that this world is not much more than a stay under the shade of a tree.

“And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient.

Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah , and indeed to Him we will return.

Those are the ones upon whom are blessings from their Lord and mercy. And it is those who are the [rightly] guided.”

[Surah Al-Baqarah : 155-7]

Wa Salam,
Abdur-Rahman

The Call Of Duty

Do you hear the call?

It takes a high fall, to hear it

Cutting through the blots of darkness

the screen of madness.

The Outsides effects

it beckons you to forget

We muffle the call, with everything we get

Drown it out, in a sea of desires,

I mean regrets.

The bass stifles it, fires the chase

Are you listening to the music? No listen to Me!

Don’t you see, don’t you feel

I’m starving, while you fill your stomach

I lack the strength and you’re stuck

Don’t you hear the call?

Tossing and turning in your bed

Your head full of thoughts,

made out of lead

you are feeling distraught.

 The moon shining bright

shining its light on the hole in your heart

A yearning for more than you have ever experienced,

that  there is more than seems to be seen

than seems to be felt.

But you cannot reach it.

So you try to flick the hole and carry on with your life

 But don’t you hear the call?

Open your heart and open your eyes,

they were locked and sealed with ropes of steel

Open your eyes in the morning hours

its better than sleep and everything that we call ours

Seek Success.

Don’t you hear the call?

Echoing in all the market places of this world

while you are making ends meet,

making the big money,

cheating people out of their money

It tears us apart, the greed for more

Have a valley of Gold? Feel the want for more?

Don’t you hear the call?

Feel the hole tear wider

fill it with women, children and horse powers

By the way that was an insider

Inside of you, don’t you hear that call, inside of you?

The end is near

I see you have forgotten why you are here

Lost in all the world had to offer to you

You drowned me out, ignored me, scoffed at me

This may be your last chance to answer me

Submit to the Lord of the Worlds,

fill the hole,

heal yourself.

The Call of Duty