Tag Archives: Sunnah

I’m Not Running Away But…

Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

I’ve been going through a period of introspection lately, as I often do, every few months or year or two but this time it’s been much deeper and broader in scope than anything I’ve probably done since I said my Shahadah nearly 16 (lunar) years ago and indeed has lasted months not the days or weeks it has before.

Normally I pause, I reflect, maybe do a bit of research and ask people I trust around me and I correct my course slightly but still moving onward and upward again in the same direction more or less but this time it I find myself unable to move on again, I am frozen in place, and think I must choose a different path to what I’ve been on before.

Do they not think deeply about themselves? Allah has created not the heavens and the earth, and all that is between them, except with truth and for an appointed term. And indeed many of mankind deny the Meeting with their Lord.
Quran translation, Surah Ar-Rum, 8:8

I’ve come to realise the image of myself I have in my head, which in some ways is a reflection of what others think of me in the community and that I’ve taken their word for is not actually true. It is not me as I know me truly or a accurate reflection of how I feel in my interactions with others and I am not being honest with them, or my family or myself to continue this lie, and it is a lie in part at least.

Until now I thought myself in some ways a deep thinker, an activist, a Da’ee, a caller to the truth, the community reformer, even if only on a very modest scale but the truth is I am far from these things, I barely have mastery of my own household and it’s development or reform, or indeed of myself which is where the heart of this problem I think comes from.

Like many other reverts, almost since I said my Shahadah I’ve been pushed into this role, and that’s not to blame others, I’ve relished it,  and ran with it from the beginning, and the mistake of faking becoming this thing I am not, of fooling myself is my own way.

This has really hit home this ramadhan and especially last night at a community iftar meal, when I was speaking to an elderly brother who I know thinks a great deal of the work I do in the community. We spoke about family, and also homeschooling and he made mention how it must be good for the kids to benefit from a father who is able to teach them so much in terms of the deen and life.

I had to be truthful, tell him straight up this is not me, I do a little, but barely anything in terms of my kids Islamic education, or indeed other educational needs other than offering words of advice as any father would, that such lessons are taken up by my wife, my children’s devoted mother who has in her efforts to become a better home-schooler educated herself in ways I have not over the years.

This conversation, though brief prayed upon me all night, stopped me sleeping even the little hours I had to sleep, though the migraine which came in the middle which jammed the on-switch on my brain probably didn’t help, but this discussion played over and over in my mind summed up neatly my thoughts through many wakeful nights these past few months.

I know my own weaknesses, I cannot allow the assumptions of others that I am someone good or great at what I do to hide the truth, at least to myself that I am not that person they think I am. Allah knows the truth, I know the truth and I am not really helping anyone, least of all myself to continue to pretend otherwise.

In the past I’ve fooled myself I would change, become this person as time went on as I lived it, but looking back to my recent past this has just not happened, and I think for the past few years I’ve known this and hidden it deep within myself.

“It is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.”
– Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation V-VII

I am only child in the fields I dabble in, fundamentally lacking in anything more than basic knowledge and so unable to enact change in anyway like the effectiveness I wish I could achieve.

My self development over the years has been severely lacking, forget learning arabic I am still struggling with reading the Quran fluently after 16 years of Islam and though languages is the one major area of learning I struggle with, I’ve allowed this difficulty to stop me even trying in anything like a meaningful way.

This Ramadhan has been the first time in years I have regularly prayed my sunnah prayers, rather than just the fard ones, my practice and knowledge is severely lacking yet the classes, the access to knowledge and skills was out there, I allowed myself to be distracted by being busy, but in an ineffectual manner.

In other fields I have a cursory understanding and knowledge, and being the one eyed man I’ve allowed myself to be setup as a ruler or at least and adviser among the blind when I know I can be, and should be far more.

In every aspect of my life I am falling short, deeni and other education, health and fitness, character and moral fibre, family and home, community and social life, career and wealth.

I am spread thin, running from area to area, helping this person or that project at an individual or small scale yes, but failing to build systems which could help enact change on the level on which it needs to take place.

It’s not enough, I cannot help others this way, or myself. I need to withdraw, reeducate myself, strengthen my being, redefine who I am internally and then have that reflected externally, so I become the man I know I could be, which others now wrongly think I am.

If I don’t the alternative is to know I ultimately fail in life. Myself, my family, my community and ultimately Allah who has the parameters of my being and how far I could truly go if only I pushed myself as I should and who knows how short I fall in reaching those limits.

So I am not running away, not exactly. I cannot stop everything which I have been doing, the need is too great and others are not yet willing to pick up those burdens but I am over the coming months going to be withdrawing from some activities where I can, taking up less new projects, freeing up the time I need, the space I need to grow and learn and become who I know I need to be.

I need my space each month, my time away in the cave of Hira, relaxation and reflection and not to be so busy with life and activism that I am stuck in being the role rather than becoming the man who can truly fulfill it as it needs to be filled.

For those worried about such things, I am not burned out, far from it, I am more determined than ever but I know continuing the way I have been for so long would ultimately lead me to that end, I’ve seen enough activists fall over the years to see the warning signs in myself and to take steps to avoid them if Allah wills it.

Writing is also something which I have neglected and I’ll probably be blogging more over this time also, I find I need to vent, and find the truth in what psychologists say, that far from thinking before we speak, instead giving word to my innermost thoughts helps me clarify what is true and good for me and others. I need to hear the words, or see them written to see the truth in them or not.

It is my sincere hope, that if Allah wills it, I can come back in a few years as a better man,  someone people can genuinely look up to but I am not willing to keep living right now as someone I am not and if not at least I will have tried.

Assalaamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuhu,

Gingerbeardman

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The Marriage Of A Noble Qurayshi Woman To A Slave

‘Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab (ra) encouraged the people to perform marriages with different tribes, so that love would develop amongst the people. Therefore, a slave went to a man from the Quraysh and asked him to marry his sister to him, which the latter refused.

‘Umar went to that man and asked him, “Why did you not marry your sister to him? He is a talented and pious individual. You should seek the opinion of your sister; if she accepts the proposal then you should marry her to him.

The man from the Quraysh accepted the advice of ‘Umar and went to his sister to ask her opinion. She agreed to the marriage and the married his sister to the slave.

[Al-Murtadaa, by An-Nadawee, p. 106]

‘Ad Deen an Naseeha’

And when they are called to [the words of] Allah and His Messenger to judge between them, at once a party of them turns aside [in refusal].
But if the right is theirs, they come to him in prompt obedience.
Quran translation, Surah an-Nur, 24:48-49

Assalaamu Alaykum,

How many of us are the type of people described in the two verses above?

That when are in the wrong, we have every excuse for ourselves, no no no it’s this and that reason, you don’t understand, it’s all the other persons fault, etc etc.

So when someone comes to us with trying to show us the correct path from the Quran and Sunnah whether the wronged party or someone giving us sincere advice we turn away.

But when the evidence from the Quran and sunnah is on our side, oh now things are different.

Now, it’s “ad deen an naseeha” now we ask how can the other person turn away from the Quran and sunnah, what is wrong with them, what sort of sinful person are they to reject our ‘daleel’ do they even have any emaan?

These verses actually describe a trait of the munafiq, how lightly we take this danger in our lives that we could fall into nifaq and be raised in that state on the day of judgement.

This is a reminder very much to myself as well as others, we are all sinful and weak at times. Better to admit it and try to fix up, we shouldn’t try to wriggle our way out of things because even if that works for a time with the people around us, it will not work with the Rabbil ‘alamin.

Assalaamu Alaykum,

Gingerbeardman

Dr Bilal Philips – Practicing Islam in Modern Society

“There is no such thing as modern Islam, liberal Islam, Islam is Islam.”

A brilliant talk by Dr Bilal Philips on how in reality, the problems faced by the Muslims today are the same as those faced by the Muslims in the past, that the answers to our problems are in the Quran and the Sunnah, just as they have always been.

One of the best speeches from one of the best speakers out there, who has not compromised on the message in all his years calling to Allah, unlike so many other du’at in the English language.

Musa Millington – Hamza Yusuf in a nutshell and racism

Link to original post by Musa Millington – Hamza Yusuf in a nutshell and racism

Well in a nutshell in case we forgot:

Hamza Yusuf is a Sufi, Ashari, promoter of Shirk (Qaseedah Burdah) and Bid’ah in the West who said that the most sacred place on earth is the grave of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم). He is also an extreme Muqallid of the Maliki madhab and associates with the likes of Habeeb Jifri; who calls to the worship of graves and shrines and the likes of them. That should be enough for us to be outraged, to distance ourselves from him and to warn others from his misguidance.

His comments regarding the struggles of African Americans also shows his extreme ignorance regarding the political, social and economic history of the United States as it relates to African descendants. Making foolhardy and rash statements that satisfy the white political oligarchy as well as many Muslim American immigrants who wish not to associate with the lower echelons of American society is not from the Sunnah. Rather the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) addressed it head on without any room for interpretation.

For the record the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Upon you is to hear and obey even if it is an Ethiopian slave as if his head is (dark) like a raisin.”

Some foolish orientalists have interpreted this statement as one of racism. However, this is how he chose to address the Arabs as they disliked those of African descent. So he demonstrated that one’s skin colour was not a deficiency.

He also said to Abu Dharr when he called Bilaal the son of a black woman: “Did you find deficiency in him because of his mother. Verily you are a man who has Jaahileeyah (pre-islamic ignorance).”

He also said as narrated in Adab Al Mufrad by Imam Al Bukhari: “Whoever takes pride in his ancestry then let him bite unto the private part of his father.”

He also said: “There is no preference of an Arab over a non Arab or a white over a black…”

Hence, unlike the soft and tamed responses of many Muslims toward Hamza’s remarks (and racism in general) the Prophetic methodology was to take this matter head on in the face of those who have racism within their hearts. He also said as narrated in Saheeh Muslim:

“Three things from Jaahileeyah (pre-islamic ignorance) would remain in my Ummah. Taking pride in one’s lineage, cursing those of others and Niyahah (screaming and ripping off clothes at the death of someone).”

Hence, the one who is racist is not only ignorant but has an aspect of pre-islamic ignorance. The phrase Jahileeyah affected the companions so much that the great Sahabee, Abu Dharr, upon hearing the statement of the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) went to Bilaal, put his head to Bilaal’s feet, apologized and asked Bilaal to stamp on his head.

But to Hamza racism is just another sign of ignorance which in itself proves the extent of his ignorance regarding Islam’s stance on racism.

And for the information of those out there who don’t know there were many Africans (yes black people) who played a very important role in early Islam. Just to name a few:

Bilaal Al Habashi, the first Mu’addhin.

Summayah the first matyr of Islaam

Najashi, the king of Ethiopia and his priests.

Mahajja the first matyr of Badr.

Bareerah who was freed by ‘Aisha.

Umm Barakah the first one who nursed the Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم) after his mother died.

Aslam the servant of ‘Umar Ibn Khattab.

Zaid Ibn Aslam who was one of the narrators of Muwatta’

Sa’eed Ibn Jubair who was seen as the most knowledgeable of the Tabi’een.

‘Ataa Ibn Rabaah who was a scholar of Tafseer.

Usama Ibn Zaid who led Muslim armies at 17 years old after the death of the Prophet.

Wahshi who killed Musailamah Al Kaddhab.

Naafi’ the servant of Ibn ‘Umar who brought to us the two recitations of Qaaloon and Warsh.

And there are many more who I didn’t mention and are found in a book called the raising of the status of Africans (Arabs used to refer to all Africans as Ethiopians) by Imam As Suyooti.

The Sahabah didn’t see race as an issue. Africans, as is observed by the list I wrote here, were prominent in the intellectual, political and social development of the early Islam. The likes of this took place with Malcolm X in the 1960s who by Allah’s will made Islam a household name and even presented it as a solution to America’s racial problems!

It is disturbing to see that in 2016, almost 50 years after the assassination of brother Malcolm that immigrant Muslim Americans have compressed themselves into a bubble wherein they boisterously applaud their ambivalence and nonchalance regarding the struggles of those who were pivotal in the development and existence of Islam in the U.S.

Sadly enough, amidst this ambivalence and nonchalance all and sundry cry foul when Trump is selected!

SMH!

#RIS2016

Shaking Hands With Both Hands

shaking-hands2

There is nothing wrong with shaking hands by holding the other person’s hand with both your hands. Al-Bukhaari authored a chapter on shaking hands and gave it the title “Holding both hands.”
Ibn Battaal said: “Holding both hands when shaking hands is a praiseworthy form of exaggerating handshakes which the scholars recommended.”

~ Muhammad Saalih Al-Munajjid

Form vs Function – Unrealistic Body Images of Men in the Modern Media

basmillah

O children of Adam, take your adornment at every masjid, and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess.
Quran translation, Surah al-A’raf, 7:31

Assalaamu Alaykum brothers and sisters,

We’re all used to hearing about an unrealistic body image being promoted for women in the modern world and yes this is a terrible problem, leading to depression, anxiety, eating disorders (over as well as under eating) and suicides among many, including our young (and sometimes not so young) sisters. We cannot deny how huge an issue this has become but are we not guilty as a society of the same when it comes to men?

bodytalk-male-bodybuilder-sTHE UNACHIEVABLE MALE BODY IMAGE

Given these same eating disorders are now affecting males, as well as physiological problems relating to health and fitness I think it’s fair to state now that modern media, social media, artwork and overall society is promoting just as an unhealthy body image of men as  they’ve done in the past with women. Body images which are just as unreachable as those female equivalents that are now so widely recognized as so damaging on the minds and bodies of women that we see some city authorities wanting to ban from the public space so should we not recognize the dangers to men also?

STRUGGLING WITH DEMOTIVATION

This unachievable male body image was something which disheartened me recently as I’ve looked into getting back to a more healthy state. I just knew I am never going to be thin nor will I ever be the right shaped human to get that V upper-body figure most men crave.

I’m a human being, and as I read article after article on health and fitness it affects me on some level seeing the accompanying images (most likely photo-shopped),  a body image I’ll never achieve no matter how long or how often I worked out or did sports.

This was something which can be a huge downer and as I read others blogs and online material I know it is something which can make many, men and women, want to give up almost before they start. I think if it was not for the fact I know I’m failing in my Islamic obligations by being so out of shape I’d have been far more tempted to give up myself by now after just a few weeks or eating more sensibly and a wee bit of regular exercise.

Narrated by A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) who said: “The first calamity for this nation after the Prophet’s death is fullness of their stomachs; when their stomachs became full, they became obese and their hearts weakened and their desires became wild.”
Sahih al Bukhari

Thinking about all of this brought my wandering and desperate thoughts back to my favourite part of the Quran, a couple of verses I come back to again and again when faced with difficulty in life.

Do think the people that they will be left because they say, “We believe” and they will not be tested?
And indeed, We tested those who (were) before them. And Allah will surely make evident those who (are) truthful and He will surely make evident the liars.
Quran translation, Surah al-‘Ankabut, 29:2-3

So I knew I just had to keep going, even with the occasional slips, and disheartening as it is get to the best I can be and in every instance of being tested we have difficulties, and I find if you keep looking at a problem from different angles you’ll find a way through the problem.

AN EPIPHANY THROUGH FACEBOOK

So I kept walking as I do when I want to think, or just to relax and still this problem would trouble me, I couldn’t think of a way through until one day on opening facebook in the morning the following image came up.

form-vs-function

I looked, and looked again and it hit me that the 1st image on the left, that is something I can never achieve, but the 2nd image, the one of the right, yes I could see myself looking like that after plenty of work.

Guidance from Allaah comes sometimes in the strangest places, one conversation, one quote, one meme or picture can change our perception for us, Allah opens up our minds and allows us to view things from a different perspective.

As I continued to think about the problem I realized there is no one ideal body shape, or even just a few different body images, each difficult or almost impossible to achieve for myself and most others. Instead each of us has our own ideal size and strengths we can work towards.

As I read more about this  topic I realized more and more the ‘healthy’ body image given to us is actually unhealthy, and almost impossible to achieve hence why men are now increasingly resorting to plastic surgery to get that ‘perfect’ muscle structure implanted into their bodies.

You may be small, wiry, you’ll also never achieve that V upper body, but maybe you’ll run marathons one day which I’ll likely never do. You may be large like myself and aim to be strong and healthy in a different way. Each is good, none is wrong, none are ideal for everyone, each of us needs to tailor our health and fitness to best suit the hand we’ve been dealt.

Though the Sahabah all sought to be healthy, as taught in the Quran and by our beloved Nabi Muhammad ibn Abdullah (Sallallahu alayhi wa salam), they were a differing bunch of people as we all are today.

Some thin like Abu Bakr As-Siddiq (may Allah be pleased with him), some large like Umar ibn Al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), some tall and some short, differing looks, differing physiques, they strove and struggled just as we do today and by living a moderate life according to the guidance given to them and us they achieved a balance in such matters of health and fitness as they sought balance and a moderate path in all areas of life.

So for myself I know I need to keep working hard, striving for the sake of Allah and know Allah doesn’t measure me against others but against myself, knowing what I am personally capable of doing.

My health didn’t get so bad in just a matter of weeks, it took years of neglect and it will take many more months and years to get back to something approaching acceptable and I have to accept that and keep going.

For those of you in the same boat as me, all need to remember it’s not just a physical battle we’ve got going on here, but a mental, emotional, even spiritual battle as well to get ourselves and keep ourselves in the best possible health and I think we need to put to one side and maybe ignore many of the things we see around us, instead aiming for a body image which is personal to us, the best each of us can be.

Assalaamu Alaykum,

Gingerbeardman