Category Archives: motivational

how did it come to this?

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I seek refuge in Allah from satan the accursed.

In the name of Allah. Most Compassionate Most Merciful.

 

Recently, I attended an all-ladies event, where I met two sisters who were basically (South Asian) Muslims turned atheist.  I was curious about how and why they chose to renounce their faith, and so engaged them in a conversation.  Their reasoning was somewhat typical of anyone who had renounced their faith.  What they understood through repeated observation of their role models about Islam was that women were inferior to men, that husbands’ rough treatment towards their wives was sanctioned in Islam, and basically other hypocritical aspects of Muslims that has nothing to do in reality with Islam, the Quran, and the Prophet pbuh.

I told them that I respected their right to choose their own life path and beliefs, but also explained how all the negative aspects that they disliked were not really part of Islam and that people who do them are going against the Quran and true sunnah.  “If it’s not really in Islam, then why do so many people do those things?” Their question left me without words as I myself wondered:  So why DO so many Muslims do things that are against reason and the spirit of Islam?

I began thinking that somewhere along the line our ummah did some things really wrong when two girls born into a Muslim family could grow up to hate their faith (and religion as a whole) so much.  I know what you are thinking. Please don’t blame the Taliban or Wahabis and think that the Muslims in the West are somehow so much better.  We’re not!  Let me further illustrate how far away from Islam our lives have really gotten.

One of those sisters in the conversation was married to a white man, also an atheist, but who she expressed as a very kind, loving, and helpful life partner.  She told all the Muslim women in our gathering how her husband often has dinner ready if he gets home from work before him, doesn’t wait for her to clean up, helps with all chores, and allows her the necessary freedom to live and choose as she wills.  So she painted a picture of an overall happy and stable marriage.  Her disclosing all this information, left a twinge of envy in all the Muslim women’s eyes.  It was as if I could hear everyone’s thoughts of, “I wish MY husband was that helpful or was that considerate to just do things and willingly try to make my life easier.”

Then to make this an even more embarrassing situation for the practicing Muslim women in the room, the sisters described how they were now “training” their dad to be more polite and caring with their mother.  They told us how they tell him to say “thank you” when she does something for him, in effect, making him realize that she did him a favor and that she is in no way there to simply serve him.  They also told of incidences when they told him to calm down and use civil words when he disagreed with any of the members in the family instead of going on rants.  They went as far as telling him to not ask their mother for a glass of water if he was standing right by the sink, advising him to instead take out a glass from the cupboard and get his own water.  How sad is it that two atheist daughters are teaching their Muslim father how to be a better husband? Please be honest with yourself, because whether you are a Muslim man or woman, you know that their father’s behavior and attitude is very typical and representative of most Muslim men, most of whom feel entitled to being catered to, but at the same time don’t feel a hint of guilt for giving back little or nothing positive to their wives.

So how ashamed should we be, when as Muslims have the excellent example of the Prophet pbuh as a kind, loving, open, and helpful husband, and yet our men are mostly trying to dominate the relationship, and twisting scripture to turn their wives into virtual slaves.  Why is it that Muslim men hold their wives to exceptionally high standards, and yet compare themselves to the most abusive and misogynistic personalities in society, grading themselves very high as a result.

How often did the Prophet’s (pbuh) wives bother and annoy him?  Often! And how often did the Prophet pbuh yell, insult, or hit his wives? Never!  How often did he force them to do something against their wills, whether it was related to their domestic, social, or religious life?  Never!  When he was home with any of his wives, how often did he help with the chores and show affection to his wives? Always!  I hope you’re getting the picture here.  For the  married men reading this post, how well do you fare when you compare yourself to this very basic picture of our beloved Prophet pbuh?  To avoid bias, it is best to let your wife grade you on these aspects.  Unfortunately, most of the Muslim men would either horribly fail in comparison to the Prphet’s (pbuh) qualities as a husband, or do very poorly.

My point is, that why is it that an ex-Muslim is happier being an atheist? When Islam came to free women and declared them independent persons capable of reasoning, arguing, and making their own choices, then why is it that there are so many of us using our beautiful and fair Islam to control women’s life choices and disregarding and suppressing their right to express their thoughts, creativity, and desire to contribute positively to society and humanity?  The Quran is filled with talk of mutual love, mutual understanding, and mutual decisions when describing marital relationships. Then why do people perpetuate the idea that somehow only husbands make the decisions in the family, and that for better or for worse, wives must quietly oblige to their men’s decisions no matter how contrary to reason or distasteful they may be?   When the Quran states openly that there is no compulsion in religion, then why do we spread the poison of telling men they can force their children to pray, that they can force their daughters to cover, and they can force their wives to obey?

All these are contrary to both faith and reason, because the whole purpose of salaah, is taqwa, and so what purpose is your child’s forced prayers when they go through the mechanics without feeling anything in their hearts?  The whole purpose of modesty in dress is to be conscious of God, so what purpose is your daughter’s hijab if she feels nothing but isolation from mainstream society?  And the main reason why Allah SWT made marriage, is so that both the husband and wife find peace and love through one another, so what use is that marriage when it only brings happiness to the man for being in control, and a lot of misery and bitterness to the woman for being treated so often like a brainless robot?  If there is even a slight similarity some of the times between you, the Muslim husband and my description of the typical Muslim husband of modern times, then have enough decency and God-consciousness to take the necessary steps to rectify your attitude and actions.  That will be most noble and “manly” of you, because I really wanted to hide my face in shame on account of your hardened hearts after I talked to those two sisters who renounced their faith.

We all must acknowledge and follow the true words of Allah SWT, Who is Just and Loving, and Who expects BOTH men and women to be partners in building strong families and prosperous societies, built upon mutual love, understanding and respect.

 

 

 

 

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The Pursuit of Paradise

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I seek refuge in Allah, from satan the accursed.

In the name of Allah Most Compassionate, Most Merciful.

 

Man’s heart is full of hopes and desires.  From the time he is a small babe till the time he lays in his death bed, breathing his last breaths, man strives for paradise.  Although true paradise can only be given to those blessed by God Almighty, and only after this life is over and audited, the fact that we are all internally wired (by God) to seek paradise is clear for everyone to observe.

If you are looking for proof of paradise, you need not buy expensive telescopes to scan the heavens, nor fat textbooks detailing the interpretations of religious texts on this subject.  All you need is your sound mind and a few moments of silence to reflect upon your nature as a human being.

Think.  What do you secretly and sometimes even openly desire?  What does every human being desire in life?  It does not matter if you lived during the earliest human history, the ice age, the medieval age, or modern times. It also does not matter if you are a man, woman, young, middle aged, old, modern, traditional, liberal, religious, agnostic, or any other label.  Every human being that has ever lived, is living, and will ever come to live will always want the same: paradise.

So what is this paradise we all want so badly?  It is the need to be surrounded by beauty in our surroundings, in ourselves, and in our spouse.  It is the desire to be cocooned in unparalleled comforts and luxuries.  It is that dream to simply lounge, holding out our glass for the perfectly dressed server to refill it with a refreshing drink.  Everyone wants eternal youth coupled with perfect health.  Perhaps the most compelling evidence for paradise is our deep desire to live a worry free life forever, which is only possible in paradise, the best gift to mankind from God.  We all prefer to ditch our chores and work to hang out with our loved ones at feasts, hearing only the sound of friendly chatter and our collective laughter, basking in our merry mood and peaceful ambience.

Indeed we all want and work for paradise.  We also crave recognition and respect, which is what every dweller of paradise is promised.   Some of us decide to build our paradise right here, right now.  But the paradise we build for ourselves in this world and the one God has built for us in the next is incomparable.  The problem gets worse when we become consumed with filling our worldly lives with all the delights of our version of paradise without taking care of our spiritual needs, or worst of all, by robbing or short changing others of their rights and properties.  We forget that this life is the bridge to our next life, and so, this bridge will lead us to our rightful destination when the time comes to face the fruits of our actions.

 

Those of us who strive for the unseen paradise of God through our daily thoughts, words, and actions, will be in much better position to receive our Master’s mercy and blessing of eternal youth, beauty, peace, luxury, and happiness in comparison to those of us whose sole aim in life is to achieve the paradise of this world.  In this life, we must balance our need for luxury with our need for spiritual growth if we are to ever have any hope of achieving the eternal paradise of the Loving One.

The day I met Pharaoh

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I seek refuge in God from satan the accursed.

In the name of God Most Compassionate Most Merciful.

 

I still remember the day I met Pharaoh.  My husband and I were visiting Cairo, Egypt in March of 2007.  We got to the Egyptian Museum really early that morning, our cameras ready.   The guards finally opened the heavy wrought iron gates, and we walked in quickly with a stream of fellow, eager tourists.  But to our dismay, we were told that no cameras or cell phones were allowed inside, and so got busted at the security check, and were forced to place them in a safe after our failed attempt to secretly smuggle them in our pockets.

 

We roamed around the museum, astounded by the wealth of ancient treasures lining each hallway.  We saw paintings, artifacts, and relics.  But the grandeur of all the artifacts combined paled in front of the one small room that housed the most famous pharaohs of ancient Egypt.  The rest of the museum was brimming with tourists and visitors, but this room was sectioned off, and required an extra payment for visitation.  It was in a quiet corner of the building, and to our surprise, had very few visitors at the same time as us.

 

Walking into the dimly lit and uncomfortably small room, I saw the row of clear glass cases holding the delicate remains of what were once the most powerful rulers of the world.  I immediately began to search for the Quranic pharaoh, the one who had made the life our our great Prophets Musa AS and Haroon AS very difficult.  My husband pointed to his coffin and I walked up to it, opening my eyes as wide as I could to fully take in all the details of his remains.

 

Strangely, there was nothing really great or intimidating about his remains.  He was a small, shriveled up creature, his eyes, that once looked upon prophet Musa AS with contempt, sealed forever.   His skeletal nose and mouth almost pointed upwards, not in arrogance, but in agony, as though his damned soul, full of torment, cried out from the depths of hell.  The first thought that came to mind was the chilling verse in the Quran:

“But this day We save thee in thy body that thou mayst be a portent for those after thee. Lo! most of mankind are heedless of Our portents.” (10:92)

 

This verse is chilling because Allah SWT did indeed save Pharaoh’s body, but his body was misplaced, and was not found and identified until the late nineteenth century, and I got to be one of the few people to see his body in person.  So there must have been a reason for why I was brought thousands of miles away to meet this man.  There was indeed a lesson for me in that moment, as I stood there gawking at his frail and bony remains.  I saw first hand a man who believed everything his ego dictated, who fed it what ever it demanded, until his ego grew so big that it suffocated his soul and as a result, snuffed out the remaining flicker of light from his existence.  Pharaoh was an example of a man who crossed all boundaries of sanity, drowning not just in water, but also in the delusion of self-glorification.  His story has a bitter end, one where he decides to raise the white flag of defeat a little too late, as wave upon wave obeys the One real God, the Almighty, the Avenger, the Humiliator, and pounds his flesh and bones until his soul, utterly humbled and defeated, crawls on its knees away from this world into the realm of divine justice.  Imagine that.  A man who once had the world in the palm of his hands, gone in an instant.

 

But we have to be careful when reflecting on this story, because we are not immune to such delusions of grandeur.  There is a pharaoh in all of us, pushing and shouting at us to let it out.  It is that voice inside that muddles what would have been otherwise a pure intention.  It is that persistent nagger inside that tells you to make sure everyone can see you, can hear you, and most importantly, everyone adores you.  Your inner pharaoh finds the simplicity of respect and dignity boring and tasteless, and instead commands your mind and body to put together a spectacle that will dazzle the world until everyone is drunk with your name on their lips.

 

So let’s keep that pharaoh locked up where it belongs, and instead, fall down in humble prostration in front of our Maker, because He is also our Maintainer.  Every breath that comes out of our mouths, and every thought that we comprehend, analyze, and respond to, is all because of His loving mercy, all because of His perfect design.  Even as I write this post, I must bow down to the Most High because it is His inspiration that has allowed me to commit to my duty of reminding others about the straight path, and I am just one in millions, all of whom are reminding others of good in their own way.

slander: humiliating famous human beings

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I seek refuge in God from satan the accursed.

In the name of God, Most compassionat Most Merciful.

 

Every time I line up at the checkout lanes in the grocery stores, all I see are magazines selling gossip or slander.  Every week brings fresh accusations against the rich, famous, and powerful.    The most scandalous and thus, most lucrative stories are usually related to someone’s alleged case of infidelity, a secretly fathered child, or someone caught on camera with their clothes off.

 

The thing is that up until very recently, I was under the illusion that because celebrities are rich and famous, they are somehow fair targets for public humiliation, and that their lives are open to all of us for criticism.  But the truth is far from that, because celebrities are simply human beings.  It almost seems like the big men and women behind the media outlets have conspired to sever or lower our connection to God Almighty by purposely publishing such stories to get us to belittle our fellow human beings.  After all, there is a natural pull from these kinds of stories.  They stroke our egos, which then says, “Look at this scum bag! I would never do something so disgusting.”  It makes us look down on others, and arrogance invades our thoughts, often without us even realizing.

 

I remember when the Tiger Woods infidelity story flashed all over media outlets.  It had intense magnetic power to it.  I, myself, watched the man, appear before television and give a public apology for his behavior, expressing his regret for hurting his wife. But was it really necessary to interview and then post text messages and photographs of the women allegedly involved with him?  If the answer is yes, then every such man and woman should be exposed through media, and forced to apologize publicly.

 

Over and over again we see a multitude of celebrities come out on talk shows and give very public apologies for their indiscretions, or at times, deny allegations made against them.  But they don’t need to do that, unless their acts were committed in the public sphere with the fans or spectators present.   What does it matter  to you or me if Russell Crowe told off someone, why Alec Baldwin left that angry phone message for his daughter, or whether or not Justin Bieber, a young teen, really fathered a child out of wedlock.  It is really none of our business.  None of these stories have anything to do with the accused people’s work, which is how we know them.

 

God Almighty has ordered us to treat everyone with dignity and respect.  Accusing men and women of adultery, fornication, or lewdness in a way to destroy their reputations is a punishable mistake.  Just because such acts are normalized and trivialized by most people does not make them so.  We have to understand that God has given us free will, and is the Most Merciful, so He does not usually punish us right away for our shortcomings.  But because He hides most of our our faults and does not always call us to account for our sins in this life, including slander, we start to bask in a false sense of security.

 

We need to wake up and see our actions for what they are.  We all know that gossip and back biting are wrong, but we need to include everyone in that, not just our circle of family and friends.   I don’t know any celebrity personally, and neither have I ever really interacted with any, so what right do I have to talk about their life choices.  Isn’t that an even bigger reason to not talk about celebrities?

 

If you really want to discuss how engaging in a certain behavior is wrong, then you simply discuss the topic without associating real persons with that immoral behavior.  It is a well known fact that when our beloved Prophet pbuh used to see a person do something wrong, he never used to put that person on the spot when sitting with a big gathering.   Rather, his aim was to stop immorality, and so he hid the person’s identity and would say things like, “some people do such and such and that is not right.”   In this manner, he protected others’ dignity, and was able to communicate the main message of adhering to good morals.

 

Sadly, if the people behind those gossip columns and news segments really cared about morality, they would not be in business.  Their entire purpose is to defame and dehumanize celebrities, picking on their weaknesses and sending out an army of sneaky photographers who then violate their privacy.  It would be wise if they did some soul searching and firstly stopped spying on other people’s private lives, and secondly, if they still like to pick on the ills of society’s rich, then at least leave out the identities of the people and focus on the actual acts that are wrong.  At the same time, a lot of responsibility falls upon us, the public, to speak out against such stories when published, because we need to do our part by stop watching such shows, stop buying such magazines, and most importantly, stop discussing such stories in a sensational way to send the right message to the owners of such establishments.

 

It is a HUGE breach of morality to depict another person as a sexual deviant or any other negative label, regardless of how much truth there is in our conviction.  The point is not so much that it has to be true, but rather, that every human being deserves to be treated with dignity and that their reputation be protected.  If you have to talk about another person, regardless of whether they are famous or not, it is always best to cover up their faults and speak of their good qualities.

 

 

And why did ye not, when ye heard it, say :”It is not right of us to speak of this: Glory to Thee (our Lord)! this is a most serious slander!” (24:16)

The Quest for Humility

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Many years ago, I felt inspired after reading verses in the Quran that encouraged humility, and prayed to Allah SWT to make me humble.  In my mind, I thought that perhaps I would wake up one day in the near future as a humble person.  But I had no idea that what I had really signed up for, was basically a hardcore thrashing of my ego.

A couple months after this dua, I gratefully started my one year course at teacher’s college.  I was thrilled to have been accepted from so many applicants, and began the session with optimism, expecting hard work and dedication to pay off as it had throughout my academic career.

But things did not go as I had expected.  That year was the most difficult from all my years of studies.  For starters, I found it difficult to stay focused during the theory lessons, often being spaced out and feeling irritated at the tasks assigned for group completion.  Soon after starting my practical, I got called in for a meeting with the teacher assessing my teaching performance, who told me about my host classroom teacher’s complaints about my lack of initiative and enthusiasm in the classroom.

Then came the first of the biggest blows to my ego.  Before starting three weeks of consecutive teaching in the classroom, all teaching candidates were required to submit a detailed proposal plan, outlining our objectives, lesson plans, and any worksheets we would be using.  I was horrified to receive a notice that my proposal was not up to the standards and that I would have to rewrite the entire proposal with completely new lesson plans that fit more appropriately for the students I was assigned.  I worked on it endlessly through the night, not sleeping for even a minute.  I would sometimes just freeze and have no idea what I should write next.  Slapping my head really hard several times from frustration also didn’t help at all.  It was so bad that I typed until morning and having to catch my bus, I rushed through the rest, not having time to properly complete it.  It got worse as even the revised proposal had some flaws that needed to be fixed before I could begin my long practical.

Then the practical itself was extremely difficult, as my host teacher had a lot of issues with my teaching style, especially my classroom management.  The other student teacher at my school thrived in her practical, getting rave reviews from her host teacher and the teacher formally assessing her.  I remember how one afternoon, I burst crying in front of the other student teacher when she asked me how my assessment went.  She stood there awkwardly as I bawled my eyes out, telling her how this was too difficult for me to bear.  She managed to get out a few words of encouragement before leaving for home, while I stood there rubbing the tears from my face.

That wasn’t the only time I lost my dignity by crying in front of others.  When one of my professors came in to discuss my progress in the practical, I began crying openly yet again.  I had told myself a million times beforehand that I would not cry, that I knew I wasn’t doing well so there was no surprise in what ever my prof would say to me, but soon after the prof started, I burst crying.  We were sitting in the school staff room and there was another teacher in there pretending not to know what was going on as she got up and walked near us to grab a cup of coffee.  I cried so badly that I had to cover my face from needing a tissue to wipe my runny nose.  It was very embarrassing to see the prof leave the seat to get a tissue from the nearby table to hand to me, as I was a “basket case.”

I felt humiliated and defeated as I watched myself, a grown woman, cry my eyes out in front of other professionals.  The emotional trauma and humiliation took a turn for the worse as my prof told me that if I didn’t improve my performance in the practical classroom I might have to stay extra days or weeks while the rest of the class graduated on time.  How would I face the world as a failure?  And how could someone fail the least difficult of all professional schools?  My tears flowed freely as I straight out told her that there was no way that I would stay extra days.  She left the conversation stating that it was a very possible outcome for me if I didn’t improve.  But I didn’t know what else to do.  I was trying my best and still it was nowhere near enough.  Although others in my course complained about the workload, everyone was getting by really nicely when it came to their practicals.

I didn’t know what to do so I told my family to pray for me to pass teacher’s college on time with everyone and to make it easy for me.  My parents worried for me as they had never seen me so stressed about school, asking me from time to time how my marks were, telling me that this was a weird situation because they had never had to worry about my academic performance before.   After all, I had always been a good student, getting A’s quite often.   This was a very confusing and frustrating time in my life.  I worked really hard but still sometimes ended up underachieving.

For the first time in my life, I felt empathy for those students who struggled in school.  I realized how difficult it can be for some to even just pass assignments and tests, even if they studied so hard.  And so in that year I got my wish of becoming more humble.  With the mercy of Allah SWT I was able to graduate with my class on time, but as a very changed person, a very humble person.   I didn’t see it as “my” triumph, but rather as a miracle and blessing of God.  I saw myself as a person who needed God’s help for everything in life, because everything we are good at or excel in is because of a special favor from God, and not because we are innately intelligent.  My more than sixteen years of educational experience were of no benefit to me that one year.  All that benefitted me were consistent prayers and turning towards God in humility.

So when any of us ask God to give us or make something different than what we are, we have to be ready to face challenges because usually those qualities or things that we want do not come down from the heavens on a gold platter.  Rather, our desires get fulfilled through some challenge filled journey which we sometimes do not recognize as the answer to our prayers.  I for one did not see it as that until after my journey ended.  Then only was I able to connect the dots back to my original wish.

I hope that if you can take some lesson from my journey then you should reflect on your own abilities and talents and accept them as gifts from God Almighty, and know that since He gave them to you, He can take any or all of them away for short or long term, or even permanently.  There is no such quality or ability in us that is “us.”   It is a major error of judgement to internalize one’s successes and talents.  Everything is simply a loan for this lifetime to help us live the best life we possibly can and to serve those around us.

Let us take a lesson from the Holy Quran, where Allah SWT informs our beloved Prophet pbuh about the real source of his soft heartedness:

“It was by the mercy of Allah that thou wast lenient with them (O Muhammad), for if thou hadst been stern and fierce of heart they would have dispersed from round about thee…” (3:159)

The Worst Disease: Judging Others

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I seek refuge in Allah from satan the accursed.

In the name of Allah, most compassionate most merciful.

 

“Is not Allah the best of judges?” (95:8)

 

An incident from my trip to Italy during March of 2007 still affects me to this day.  My husband and I had just returned to Milan after a long train ride from Venice and were starving. We ended up in a McDonald’s restaurant, not so much for its culinary delights, but more so out of necessity as all other nearby restaurants were closed at that time of the night.  While my husband lined up at the counter to order our food, I took a seat and waited anxiously for him to return.  My eyes came upon a man who appeared to be in his early fifties, eating his food with some really poor table manners.

 

My thoughts were somewhere along the following:

“That man is really disgusting!  Look at him stuff his mouth with all those fries at one time.  Good God! And why in the world are the fries drenched in ketchup?  That is so childish.  Only kids do that kind of stuff.  I really can’t stand looking at him anymore because he is grossing me out.”

 

But for some reason, before I could turn my gaze away from him, Allah SWT opened my eyes and made me really observe him.  I noticed that the man was dressed shabbily and saw the growth of stubble on his face.  He only had a small order of fries on his table.  He also seemed a little mentally unstable, either due to intoxication, a mental illness, or a mix of both.  Guilt flooded my mind as I realized that the man was extremely hungry but could only afford to buy small fries and perhaps lathering them with ketchup helped make him feel more full than eating them plain.

 

Then my heart broke to pieces as I watched the restaurant manager walk up to him, grab him by his collar while saying something in Italian to him, and then dragged him to the door, finally giving him a firm push out the door.  I wish I had had the courage to speak with the manager about the way he handled that man.  He was after all a paying customer and I did not notice him bother anyone.  But I made excuses to myself that night, ranging from, “what if he doesn’t speak English” to, “what if he throws me out of the restaurant” to “this is none of my business, so I should just eat and then go to the hotel room and sleep.”

 

My biggest regret is about how I judged the man so harshly.  I was quick to decide that he was disgusting.  And I was quick to cringe at the sight of him pushing those fries in his mouth, not stopping to wonder why.  It scares me when I think that had it not been for Allah’s grace and mercy, I would never have considered to try to understand what made him behave that way.

 

I failed my test, but not in vain.  My mistake has taught me that we live in a very big and complex world.  There are a multitude of people whom we cross paths with and don’t even realize how different their lives are from our own.  That night, Allah SWT temporarily popped the bubble I had built around myself. I saw a person who shared this earth with me, and yet lived in a very different world.  But regardless of what world he lived in, it was wrong of me to judge him.   It taught me a lesson on the importance of compassion.  I learned that when we meet or see someone so different from ourselves that we cannot understand them, then the least we can do is respect them as a creation of God.

 

I hope that this incident inspires you to reflect on your own life and think about the time you made the mistake of judging someone too harshly or too quickly. Then push aside the cloud of guilt, and consciously decide to improve your way of viewing others.  And the first step to that is always a sincere repentance for your past errors followed by a heartfelt plea to Allah SWT to strengthen you with His loving and perfect guidance.   Maybe, if we make an effort to be caring and respectful towards those different from us, Allah SWT will bless us in return by making others compassionate and understanding towards us.

 

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace and salutations be upon him) said, “ Should you become eager to mention another’s faults, recall your own. “ (Ar-Rafi)

Courage: standing up for truth

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I seek refuge with Allah from satan the accursed.

In the Name of Allah, Most Compassionate Most Merciful

A couple of days ago, one of my non-Muslim (raised Catholic, currently agnostic) friends  posted a picture on her Facebook page with an image of two gay men about to kiss next to an image of three naked and malnourished African children with the caption reading “if the picture on the left shocks you more than the picture on the right, you need to revise your views on morality.”  Right away, I found this very problematic as I did not really see a comparison between the two situations.  The hungry children would obviously get people more upset because of their basic right to be fed and clothed being violated.  However, that does not mean that two gay men kissing is something morally sound either.  So I made comments underneath the image stating my concern with comparing the two completely different situations and added that the gay men situation is still immoral but would require a separate piece of writing from me to explain why it is wrong.

There was a back and forth discussion on that thread between the two of us in a completely respectable and civil manner despite our differing views. My friend explained to me that the gay rights issue was very important to her and her friends, and that she spoke out strongly in favor of gays even though she herself is not one.  I respected her opinion but urged her to at least read a short email I would send her to explain my reasoning behind why such a life would be immoral and against God’s law.  She agreed to read it on condition that I read her reply explaining her position in detail and I found that a fair deal and so let her know that I would type up my arguments and send them sometime later at night.

I obviously felt very energetic and motivated to carefully formulate my answer using what I know from the Quran, sunnah, and lectures by learned scholars.  But as the day went on, I started to feel a little uneasy and unsure about my decision to engage in this dialogue with my friend.  My mind started throwing the following questions at me:

  • Life was going great, so why did you have to mess it up by making controversy?
  • What makes you think you could change someone’s perspective regarding this issue, especially if that someone does not subscribe to any religion to begin with?
  • What sorts of arguments do you think you could give against homosexuality when it is a life lived by two consenting adults that does not immediately or overtly harm anyone?
  • Are you trying to be some sort of hero?  Do you really think your arguments could change anyone’s mind?

So naturally, I started to wonder if it was even a good idea to go ahead with this.  But then something else happened.  As this storm of doubt prepared to paralyze my actions,   by the grace of Allah SWT, my conscience kicked in.  Before doubt could completely envelop me, my conscience shouted the following points, slowly but firmly driving away the clouds of fear and confusion:

  • Your aim is simply to convey the message, and it is up to Allah SWT to change hearts so do not get bogged down into the dilemma of somehow bringing about the change in one sweep
  • It is your duty to stand up for truth as commanded by Allah SWT and his beloved Messenger pbuh, and so you are doing the right thing by at least speaking out against immorality
  • If you give your friend some background information about Islam as a universal and oldest faith of mankind and why we must obey God’s laws, your arguments for the immorality of homosexuality will make more sense
  • Real heroes are every day people who not only live righteously themselves, but also advise others to do so

This was the ammunition I needed to go ahead and write my short piece about Islam and why it considers homosexuality immoral.

The reason this incident inspired me to write this post is because I recognize that we all sometimes come face to face with immoral ideas or acts that may be upheld by others as good or normal.  When we are faced with such people, although we strongly feel the evil behind some of their ideas, our fear of facing potential conflict and hardship sometimes compels us to just “let it be”.  I would agree that at times it may be best to let such people be, but surely most of the times we should have the courage and skill to carefully and respectfully address such ideas and expose them for what they really are.

We want to make sure that we cover all our bases in this life so we do not get in trouble in the next.  I can see myself all happy on judgement day holding on to my bag of “personal good deeds.”  But I do not want that when I am questioned for how much I have in my bag of “warning others”, my face should turn red from humiliation as my trembling hand gropes around the light bag in hopes of bringing out something to redeem myself.  That is something we all want to avoid.

If you feel that it is difficult to speak out against immorality, know that there are actually people out there who not only support immoral and indecent lifestyles, but also form organizations to support such sinful deeds.   So if there are people openly defying God’s laws then there can be you, who is openly promoting and upholding God’s laws, as an individual, and perhaps even as someone who forms alliances with other pious and God-fearing people.  Just know that things often look scarier from the outside and once you put on your armor of God-consciousness, Allah Most High and Powerful will bless you with His light, and guide you in your noble endeavour.