, by DR. FIRDAUS KAMALODEEN
It’s amazing how Allah works. Of late I have been worrying about the way some of us Muslims write. Our writing styles; the content of what we write; the themes we select; the global appeal and implications of our writing; the confrontational approach we sometimes seem to adopt – these are all issues that we need to carefully examine when it comes to the kind of writing Muslims do. And then the grand question of all, the one that most people simply do not seem to want to consider: What are you doing and why?
SO MUCH TALK AND YET SO LITTLE TO SAY
It would appear that everybody has something to say – in fact, plenty to say. And yet, to put it bluntly, they have practically nothing to say. We have a saying in the construction business that not everyone who picks up a hammer is a carpenter and not everyone who picks up a trowel is a mason. But everyone who these days picks up a pen, or goes on a computer, suddenly becomes a writer, a commentator an author. Never mind whether what they are saying makes sense or not, and whether there is a point to it or not.
If you have a pen, then just write. And if you have a voice then just speak. I think there is a Hadith that says to the effect that if you have nothing good to say then it is better to stay quiet.
Allahu Akbar. Rasulallah salllahu alaihi wasallam, addressed this issue, oh, 1400 years ago. What a man!
AN ORGANISING PERSPECTIVE
The question has to be ‘write about what?’ And ‘speak about what?’ Don’t you think so?
That means whatever we do or don’t do should proceed from an overall organizing perspective and move toward an overall compelling objective.
For a Muslim the right perspective must be why you are here in this world in the first place. If we are to make the world a better place – paraphrase of Khalifatullah fil-Ard – then our very thoughts and ideas, our attitudes and our actions must be consistent with this.
ALL SUNNAH AND VERY LITTLE FARD
Muslims are an amazing people, Allah bless them. It seems that they wanted a religion so they invented one. And yet they called it Islam. At least their actions tell you that.
It is now the month of Dhul Hijjah. Congratulations to all on this beautiful month of Dhul Hijjah. May Allah make it easy for you to do your Qurbani and may he accept it.
But it is amazing how the Muslims (the good ones at that) are falling over one another to get information about the first 10 days of Dhul Hijjah and what they should do or not do during this time.
The interesting thing is that these are Sunnah acts, and far be it from me to devalue the importance of these things or negatively comment on them. But, Allahu Akbar, what about the Fard part of our life?
How come we aren’t falling over and lining up to find out what we need to do to make this world a better place? Or about taking the Qur’an to every home and heart? Or about inviting others to Islam? Or about reaching out and doing good to a whole list of people that Allah enumerated in the Qur’an?
MAKING HAJJ FOR THE NTH TIME
I have heard some people who are making the Hajj for the fourth or fifth time claiming how fortunate they have been that Allah has blessed them to be making the Hajj again and again and again – one more extra time.
But when it comes to a sponsorship of a radio programme that has a global reach, a programme unlike any, a programme that’s committed to saying good things and clarifying things about Islam, Muslims and the World – a Da’wah programme in every sense of the word – people are not interested. How do you explain that? Allah bless them.
THE CRY OF LABBAIK
I am not complaining. These are Allah’s chosen people. Muslims I mean.
But if we want to show gratitude to Allah, shouldn’t we do the primary things first, the things that we are required to do, and then do whatever else, all the recommended and optional things after that?
Hajj is about Labaik Allahumma Labaik, is that not so? So does the cry of Labbaik – and the mindset that must go with it – end with Hajj or does it start with Hajj? How do we leave out the primary things that we are required to do and then say Labaik Allah?
If you were to continuously fail to take care of your primary duties at work, you fail to deliver the report, you fail to teach the students, you fail to get the project done and so on, but then you say to your employer at the company’s annual retreat, “I am here for you. Your wish is my command. I will wash your car and feed your dog and get you your newspaper, and massage your back,” what would your employer’s response be?
I know what I would say if I were that employer. I would say: “Oh really?” and a few other things too. After that I am not sure we would be employed for long, for not doing our work, by any employer.
But Allah – Allahu Akbar! – we have no hesitation in handing him our priority list and saying to him this is how we plan to operate. May Allah forgive us.
COUNTING OUR BLESSINGS
But Muslims’ chief preoccupation seems to be counting blessings. That’s what we seem to do best as all of us strive mightily toward the goal of entering Jannah. But in our rush to enter Paradise, we seem to be forgetting a minor detail right here on earth: the duty that Allah placed on our shoulders to take care of his earth, our home.
When it comes to that, most of us are absent without leave. So much is wrong with the people of the world. So many things need to be addressed and corrected. Humanity is in peril. As Dr. Pasha noted in his Plantation series of speeches that the earth is burning.
The world is heating up – scientists are now forecasting a greater than 2°C increase in global temperatures. Hunger, deprivation and poverty across the world are on the rise, even as freedoms and food production decline.
Crime is a rising global problem and diseases are crippling so many everywhere. But where, O where, are the Muslims? What are our issues? All we seem to be concerned with is to pile up enough blessings to enter Paradise when we die.
REAL MUSLIM CHALLENGE
Our real challenge is addressing the world’s contemporary issues in a manner that is not only incisive but also results-oriented. We need to get to the core of the problems and build from there onwards.
We cannot stop with scratching the surface and dealing with superfluous issues which are in themselves symptomatic of the real malaise that confronts us as a people. Take for example the issue of Salaam. The world needs Allah’s Salaam. The world cannot and does not exist without it. Don’t we get it?
So Salaam needs to be understood and repeated as many times as required until we get it.
In mathematics we speak about something as an independent variable ‘tending’ to something, say zero or infinity, then the dependent variable which is a function of the independent variable, tending to something too. Sorry about the technicalities, but if human life is so constructed and lived as to tend to Salaam, then the world becomes a place of Salaam – safe, secure, comfortable, peaceful, loving, at ease, in harmony.
At least that’s the math of it if Allah wants it.
A WORLD BUILT BY FOUR WORDS
What a wonderful place such a world would be indeed. In ‘Four Words that Changed the World’, Dr Pasha gave a beautiful definition or description of what the world would be like when people’s lives are truly influenced and guided by these four words: Laa Ilaaha Illaa Allah. Allahu Akbar. What kind of world would such a world be: a world shaped by the four words of “No God but God?”
But while those are the real issues which occupy so many others in the world, yet the Muslims want a “religion” – say this and recite this, and pay this and do that, and you will be absolved, even as you ignore the cries and pain of the world, the cries and pain of Allah’s world.
As Dr Pasha in a speech in Bamboo said that a Muslim is one who feels the pain of others. A Muslim is one who truly and genuinely cares about the world.
So, Allahu Akbar, how do I face Allah to give an account about my time in this world when I show no care or concern about what happens to Allah’s world and to those who live in it?