Tag Archives: #bemore

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

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

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

Self-Confidence and Anxiety: Lessons drawn

Salam Alaykum.

“Allahu Akbar, Allahu Akbar”, my voice crows. Behind me sit 200 people, listening to my shaky voice. Noticing my leg, as it trembles almost giving away. My hands as they give away my nervousness, clammy. In Ramadan I was asked to lead a part of the Taraweeh prayer, everyone of us over 16 took 2 Rakat. As my turn came, I acted as if I didn’t notice, didn’t feel the stares nor the calling of my name until I felt a light tapping on my leg. My heart racing, feeling light-headed, sick even I stood up. In my last year of college, I was asked by the last years Islamic Society president to take over. Every khutba (Sermon), every Prayer I lead was a repeat, it felt like a never ending upward hill climb. I thought by the end of it I’d be used to it, I was looking forward to that. I’m still fighting with it.

Dr. Ivan Joseph, a Football coach at the University of Ryerson said, at a TEDx conference, about self-confidence, that it is a skill. A skill that can be trained and honed through a lot of repetition or more so persistence.  He noted J.K Rowling as an example, whose first draft was refused by 12 publishers until it was accepted. He mentioned that one of his athletes a goalie now playing in Europe set his target at 350 repeats a day for 8 months until he could catch it. Or as Malcolm Gladwell said in his book the Outliers “In fact, by the age of twenty, the elite performers (violinists) had each totalled ten thousand hours of practice.” The basis for the 10,000 hours rule to be an expert.

In all the stories of the Messengers as. (peace be upon them) you’ll find repetition and persistence as was God’s will. It required a lot of confidence in them selves and in Allah swt. to face the obstacles that we could not have imagined for ourselves. These however are supposed to guide us in our life, we are to take lessons out of these for our daily life.

Imagine that your society, your people, your family turned on you. Noah as. {peace be upon him) is a perfect example. This amazing personality called people to guidance for 950 years and only a handful of people listened to what he had to say. He preached, called, invited, warned, gave them the good news, night and day, as the Quran tells us. He did this all the time, around the clock. Even with all the effort that he put in calling them to the Guidance they refused to listen, would stick their fingers in their ears, would cover the heads with their garments to avoid having to see him, to avoid making eye contact. What would such a rejection for centuries, from people he knew from birth, watched grow up and up to their death, do to a person who didn’t have self-confidence and full confidence in Allah swt.?

What must have been the emotional state of Joseph as. who was abandoned by his brothers, then sold as a slave and thrown into prison until eventually becoming the governor to the king, if he didn’t have confidence in Allah. One particular part of the Seerah of the Prophet saw. came to mind. As he saw. received the Message for the first time he was afraid, he didn’t know what to think. He thought that God swt. was punishing him. This story highlights for me, in this context, the importance of positive reinforcement. As he saw. ran to his house calling for Khadijah ra. to cover him up, and he began explaining what had happened to him. Khadijah ra. began listing all of his good qualities and the good things that he had done for the people that called him As-Sadiq Al-Amin, to assure him of his standing with God. She believed in him instantly.

Moses as. was to speak out against the Pharaoh who was not only the leader of probably the biggest kingdom on earth at the time, but also killed thousands of babies for fear of an opponent. Moses was to oppose this ruler, and he had a speech impediment on top of that magnanimous challenge, and was even insulted by Pharaoh because of this speech defect, but it is him as. who is called Kalemullah the one who conversed with Allah swt. All of these Prophets as. have in common a confidence in Allah and in themselves of carrying out whatever Allah swt. willed.

An article I read a couple of days ago brought me to the attention of the hypocrisy that I and probably many have. We feel that what we have to say is of non-importance, the we are boring and at the same time we think that everyone would judge us, that everyone is watching our every step, looking to call us out as hypocrites, as being as non important as we feel. I started this post with an account of a year ago at Jumuah, I was certain that everyone noticed my voice shaking, that they noticed my trembling and they probably did, but so what? No one came up to me and said “you know how you were trembling and your voice kept changing, while giving the Adhan, that was hilarious.” I did not have to face Pharaoh. Numb yourself to the thinking, that everyone is out to get you.

That incident in Ramadan a year ago, was disabling, I felt horrible about my reaction it had never gotten so bad before. I let myself get lost in anxiety. In such situations it may help to fight it with logic. Anxiety is illogical, it is the fear of something that has not entered and most likely will not enter. Box it in, think about all the “what ifs” and work backwards. Think of instances where you have done something successfully, this has worked often during Parkour. Fall back on your achievements in times of hardship. Find positive reinforcement, whether it is from people or as Dr. Joseph did, write a letter to yourself in a time of happiness to regain confidence. But most importantly fall back to God, know that He will not leave you alone, that with every hardship there is ease.

By the end of my term as President of the ISOC, I was indeed getting used to giving talks. My limbs did not tremble as much, as it did at the beginning but with the end of College I was not put into situations as often where I had to give talks, presentations etc. so I began to fall back somewhat. Robert Kelsey, author of  “What’s Stopping You?” in a video series on confidence, said that it may always stay with you but it is something you learn to overcome. Always put yourself out there, start small, step by step. Advice to talk to cashiers or waiters are often given, they have to be nice to you and are most likely bored. Sheikh Omar Suleiman once mentioned that he asked a cashier how her day was, and she was over the moon that he’d ask, that she had a terrible day, her boyfriend broke up with her etc. wanting to get that off her chest and having no one to talk to.

Do not add to the negativity about yourself that other people are giving you for free. Surround yourself with positivity, Muhammad Ali would shout “I am the greatest”. No one except the One, will believe in you unless you do. God in His absolute Mercy will never abandon you, even if you have abandoned yourself. Every breath that we take is a chance He gave us to return to Him. Having Confidence in Allah and trusting in what Allah swt. has ordained for us enhances confidence in ourselves. We have to recognise when things are in our capacity to change and when things are in the Hands of Allah alone.

It was We who created you: will you not believe? Consider [the semen] that you eject? Do you create it yourself, or are We the Creator? We have ordained death to be among you. Nothing could stop Us if We intended to change you and recreate you in a way unknown to you. You have learned how you were first created; will you not reflect? Consider the seeds you sow in the ground – If We wished, We could turn your harvest into chaff and leave you to wail, We are burdened with debt; we are bereft. Consider the water you drink. Was it you who brought it down from the rain-cloud or We? If We wanted, We could make it bitter: will you not be thankful? Consider the fire you kindle. Is it you who makes the wood for it to grow or We? We made it a reminder, and useful to those who kindle it, so [Prophet] glorify the name of your Lord, the Supreme.” [Qur’an 56:57-74]

As usual this is intended as a reminder for me first and foremost

wa Salam,

Abdur-Rahman

Silence

Salam Alaykum,

the problem with me is that I over think situations, maybe my being introverted adds to that. I think out conversations in my head, the way they might turn, what I may say and how I may respond. Even with all that planning in my head, I never manage to say what I want to, either it comes out all jumbled trying to keep up with what I’m thinking or the moment has passed.

It is my fear that I would be quiet, that I would be silent in the face of injustice. Fearful that I would not be able to fulfil the commandment  of God. To be with the righteous and stand up against those treated unjustly, even if those that are doing the oppressing are of our kin of our friends. This month is all about confidence, the first post on confidence with regards to God. Knowing that whatever God has in His hands is better than whatever we may have in ours. The second post about confidence regarding the Religion, being confident about being a Muslim. Not being self-depreciating and not internalising the hate that is thrown at us daily.  To stand up and teach our community of our values. The next post will be about self-confidence, about not being fearful of speaking up. The challenge is not necessarily to speak more but to speak when it is right and to speak for what is right.

Not being silent, when someone is being abused whether that is verbally or physically. To defend with words, fully formed words. I am not the most eloquent, I am not an orator and I don’t need to be, but what I do need to be is being able to speak up, when it is needed. To stand up for justice and stop being silent in the face of injustice. What I need to do is is implement the injunction of Allah in my life. I want to be loved by Allah swt. [Surah Maidah: 42]

O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted.

[Surah An-Nisa: 135]

Wa Salam,
Abdur-Rahman

Confidence with regards to the Deen

Salam Alaykum,

in an age where people are fed false or inaccurate information through all kinds of media forms it is difficult to decide what is true out there in the sea of misinformation. From the food that we eat, that may or may not contain horse meat to the clothing, that may or may not be manufactured by a small Bangladeshi boy or girl for less than a dollar. We can not be hundred percent certain of what is truly happening behind the scenes as everyone is trying to sell us something. The more important it is for us to hold tight to our values, as people get more and more driven by profit and what seems to best for themselves, regardless of anyone else.

But how do we cling to our values and ethics, when they are unknown to a large majority of us? Imam Abu Hanifah rah. had his students watch him buying and selling he didn’t just teach them the fiqh the jurisprudence of trade but also the ethics of a Muslim Businessman. We have many Muslim Businessmen and women around but do they know anything about Islamic ethics? Or have they also been swept along the capitalist tide towards profit. We have forgotten what it means to be ethical. Where as we actually have more than before have the opportunity to show what Islam has to offer in the work place and in our normal interactions.

We have to become role model no one is perfect and no one asks you to be perfect but we have to make an effort, to take a step and Allah swt. will compensate it. In the last post in this series I talked about having confidence in Allah swt.

In this Post I want to discuss having confidence in our Deen, in Islam. In a post 9/11 world we have become reactionary from issue to issue, event to event. We need to get out of this mind set and be pro-active, we have been hijacked of our confidence in Islam. In knowing that Islam is true, in knowing that Islam contains solutions for our social problems. Whatever Problem we may have today, it’s been dealt with before maybe in a lesser extent but it will most likely have been dealt with once already. Whether it is the problem of Alcohol in Society, from abusive Partners and Parents, to drunk driving or Gambling or Promiscuity etc.

To be Confident that we have the solution if we were to search for it, is a condition of being pro-active. Otherwise we internalise the hate that is thrown at us daily, we begin to hate ourselves and Islam and the Muslims. We are there I think, I see youth my age drifting away not knowing the beauty of Islam, given in to outside voices. Not given enough information to work it out for themselves. Because their parents did not have the confidence and the knowledge to give them the information to satisfy their thirst, to give them the confidence in the Deen.

We have to inform ourselves. Let’s stop listening what others have to say about the Deen, read the Qur’an yourself. Know the Qur’an better than you know your favourite book. This is how we become confident, how we may speak up against those who try to vilify us and those who try to speak in our name. Sheikh Ahmed Deedat, was famous for speaking out in our name. He reprimanded us in a lecture of how “emasculated”, apologetic and self-depreciating we have become.

Let’s stop here, and learn about the Qur’an, the Seerah as well as knowledge from all other sectors. In Islam we do not divide between secular and religious knowledge, (in my opinion) it is knowledge if it brings you closer to Allah swt. and information if it doesn’t. Learn of other Religions and cultures and be assured and confident that Islam provides the best for you.

Wa Salam,

Abdur-Rahman

 

Confidence with regards to Allah

Salam Alaykum,

In our daily life, we should internalise that Allah swt. will not wrong us. That we have to trust Allah swt. with every fibre of our being. It is He who is the Ever-watchful (Ar-Raqib), the All-seeing (Al-Basir) and the All-knowing (Al-Alim). He is also the Most Compassionate (Ar-Rahim), the Most Forbearing (Al-Halim) and the Loving (Al-Wadud).  He knows us better that we know ourselves, He knows our deepest secrets, our anxieties and fears. Our few good deeds and our mountains of sins, and still He gives us chance after chance, day after day, to come back to Him, to repent. He will not do us wrong. We need to have full confidence in Him, He swt. is our Creator, He knows what is good for us, He knows our past and what our future holds for us.

Friedrich Nietzsche famously said, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and there is a lot of truth in that. Every single situation in this life is a test on the way you handle it. The way we handle grief, anger, bliss for example. Do we lash out when we are angry and forget God when we are in bliss? Do we sink into depression or do we take control of our situation and make the best of it, while continuing to thank God for the blessings that He has granted us in that moment of grief and sadness.

In the Qur’an Allah, the Almighty tells us “And whoever relies upon Allah then He is sufficient for Him.” To rely on Allah, to put your full trust in Him, to have tawakkul in Allah swt. is of utmost  importance to any believer. Ibn Atillah rah. states that: “Relieve yourself of worry after you have planned; do not concern yourself with what Allah has undertaken on your behalf.” Tawakkul means to be firm in our heart. In everything we do, to trust that whatever happens is the will of Allah and is good for us, whether it is apparent to us or not. There is a difference however between tawakkul and tawaakul.

Anas ra. reported, that a person asked the Prophet saw., “Should I tie my camel and have tawakkul (trust in Allah for her protection) or should I leave her untied and have tawakkul. The Prophet saw. replied, “Tie her and have Tawakkul”” [Hasan, At-Tirmidhi]

Tawaakul means that a person leaves everything up to Allah swt., to not even lift a single finger to do anything, to achieve anything in life. Thinking that, “If God wishes it, it will happen, if  not it will not.” This should not be our attitude.

Our attitude should be, that when we do something or make a decision on a matter, we have the correct intention. Then we decide or carry out this matter with full confidence relying on Allah that whatever comes out of this is the best outcome for us. Whether we initially recognise the outcome as best  for us or not.

Allah swt. wants good for us, in a hadith the Prophet saw. said, “Wonderful is the affair of the believer! His affairs in their entirety are good for him. If good befalls him, he is thankful, and that is good for him. And if harm befalls him he is patient, and that is good for him. And this (prosperous state of being) is only for the believer.”

Having this confidence that Allah swt. wished good for you and I in whatever situation we may be in, casts a blanket of calmness over our hearts. It lessens anxieties and falling to depression. We as Muslims, have a higher purpose, there is a reason why you and I were gifted with Islam. So be confident.

Wa Salam,

Abdur-Rahman

Be more Confident

Salam Alaykum,

This month of May, of exams and other torture methods, the theme of this blog will be to Be more Confident. This series is quite important to myself, I suffer of a lack of confidence sometimes, of anxieties etc. and during this month I’ll try to find out and learn about what Islam tells us and what the scholars say about Confidence, about Self-Esteem and Anxiety.

I feel this is not just a topic that is of importance to the usual audience, teenagers and young adults such as myself, but also to adults. Those adults that have a problem with asking for time off for Jumuah or the Mo’s at work not wanting to stand out as Muslims or the ones obsessed with their looks, for example. All of this due to their lack of confidence, or due to their fears of being laid off etc. Over the next few posts I will be writing about the issue of lack of confidence and self-esteem, inshaAllah. Today I’m going to, as usual try to set the scene, with some definitions on the topic.

Confidence, as merriam-webster tells us is a feeling or belief that one can do something well or succeed at something. It comes from the middle French confidence from Latin confidentias derived from confido, of which confidere is a verb form. Con- means together and fido means trust. Fido comes from the Proto-Indo-European *bʰeydʰ- meaning (to command, to persuade, to trust). Fides, the Noun also means faith and belief, reliance, confidence and trust. In Arabic, the word that can be used to denote confidence is Thiqah الثقة, self-confidence is thiqah bin Nafs الثقة بالنفس. Another word that will be discussed in more detail in this series is tawakkul تَوَكُل in Allah, having trust, reliance and being confident in Allah swt.

While discussing this it needs to be said, that we’re not talking here about being arrogant, that being confident and having self-confidence is not in conflict with also being humble.

The servants of the Lord of Mercy are those who walk humbly on the earth, and who, when aggressive people address them, reply with words of peace.

[Qur’an 25:63]

I might be inferring things into this verse but it struck me how much this also is about being confident. Yes we are told to walk on this earth humbly, meaning without “swag”, without signs of pride, which is based on some form of seeking attention. People who are confident about themselves don’t need that. They don’t take their sense of self-worth from other people. This is also according to Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan a weakness, but it is towards Allah only not towards other people. The Prophet saw. warned about a time when the Ummah will be plagued by this weakness.

When there is a chance of confrontation, we reply with confidence and with words of peace. The word Jahil is used in this (aggressive people), literally meaning someone who isn’t using their mind. Who is emotional, not thinking about what they’re saying. In these situations the best way is to act non-confrontational, whether it is actually saying Salam or words of Salam. This takes self-confidence and consideration to do correctly, to know what to say in these situations because Jahil must not only be extremely negative but as said can be referred to someone who is emotional, depressed etc.

I’ll have to cut this short here, for today. I hope you’ll find this as beneficial as I do thinking and reflecting on this topic. I apologize if this isn’t as coherent or structured I’ve got exams in a few days.

Wa Salam,

Abdur-Rahman