Hate is Blind
Hate is just as blind as love, if not more. Many of us, at one point or another, have disliked another human being to a sinful degree. Our heart, normally soft and forbearing, constricts in rancor against them. Naturally, there are usually justifications for our hatefulness, and in reality the reasons probably warrant some level of aversion.
Often I am asked to sit in mediation between estranged couples, emotionally charged fathers and sons, feuding relatives, distrustful neighbors or disputing former business partners. On one such occasion a seemingly outwardly devout gentleman leaned over and said, “Shaykh, if I die before you, please lead my janāzah and make sincere du‘ā’ for me. Also I give this as a wasiyya, if Omar (the man he is in dispute with) comes to pray at my funeral, I want you to kick him out of the masjid and tell him that I do not need his prayers.”
The seed of hate begins to sprout in the depth of the heart and, without intervention, the seed takes root and rises out of the heart into a thicket of anger, mistrust, gossip, fear, separation and condescension.
Barakah and Taqwa
With Allah’s barakah – divine gracious blessing – all that seems broken can be fixed. Those cut off can be reunited. No one is beyond redemption and no error is beyond resolving.
Anger can be quelled, disputes can be settled and hate can be turned to tolerance and eventually, God willing, love.
Barakah – a gracious blessing is the beneficent force from Allah that flows through the physical and spiritual spheres as prosperity, protection, and fulfillment.
Barakah is the attachment of Divine goodness to a thing, so that if it occurs in something little, it increases it, and if it occurs in something great it preserves it and benefits it. It is blessings that arrive from where none was anticipated.
It is the continuity of spiritual presence and revelation that begins with Allah and flows through that and those closest to Allah. Allah is the sole source of barakah and He alone has the power to grant or withhold it.
Barakah symbolizes the connection between Allah and His servants, through His direct and intentional blessing of those that are most reflective of Him and His orders. Baraka is not a state, it is a flow of blessings and grace that is attained in life through Taqwa – an ever-growing God-Consciousness.
It is that very same Taqwa that punctuates our Ramadan. It is the attainment of Taqwa as an outcome of the blessed month of Ramadan that establishes the barakah resulting in the emancipation from Hellfire, redemption from our sins, and release from lustful inclination and salvation from our inequity.
It is this barakah that reconnects distant hearts, heals broken relationships and transforms spite into goodwill and discord into harmony.
The month of Ramadan comes with an ascending, three tier self-development framework:
At the first tier, the abstinence from food, drink and spousal relations instills an appreciation for what we normally take for granted.
At the second level is the fasting of the limbs from sinful indulgences and impulses, such as the eyes that are lowered, the tongue that is more reserved, and the hands that are restricted. It is here that the words of the Prophet come to heart:
Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is fasting he should neither indulge in obscene language nor should he raise his voice in anger. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say: “I am fasting!” (Muslim)
He also said in a hadith reported by al-Bukhari:
Whosoever does not abandon false speech and the acting upon it, Allah is not in need of him leaving off his food and drink.”
The third and most elevated level of abstinence in Ramadan is that of the heart. The aim is to restrain the heart from all the distractions that distance one from Allah and His messenger.
The heart is integral to a complete fast. By its virtue a believer can grow closer to Allah and in it is the root of faith. From it, correct actions are predicated on its sincerity and intention, and most importantly, love – for Allah and His Creation exists in the heart.
It is through this process of Taqwa and sincere love, that barakah arrives. As the beginning of Ramadan would approach the Prophet would say to the companions,
Ramadan has come to you. (It is) a month of Barakah, in which Allah covers you with blessing, for He sends down Mercy, decreases sins and answers prayers. In it, Allah looks at your competition (in good deeds), and boasts about you to His angels. So show Allah goodness from yourselves, for the unfortunate one is he who is deprived in (this month) of the mercy of Allah, the Mighty, the Exalted.” [Narrated by Tabarani – Accepted]
Where is the barakah?
So I begin to wonder, as should you, about the absence of barakah from our homes, mosques and community?
How come it remains so hard, in the blessed month, to find enough compassion in our heart to overlook the faults of others?
Why is it so hard to apologize to a spouse and seek reconnection with those worth keeping in our life and with whom we share a home and family?
How is it that we sincerely call out to Allah for His mercy, during His sacred month of mercy, yet we are unwilling to treat those around us with benevolence?
How is it that we beg sincerely for forgiveness, yet we audaciously remain unwilling to pardon those who have wronged us?
For how long will our arrogance and desire for worldly gain cut us off from our kith and kin?
How is it the Prophet can forgive and provide amnesty and a path to redemption for those who committed atrocities against him and the early believers, while our own blood relatives at times are given no hope to ever recover from their sinful error?
Since when is sternness considered leadership and harshness associated with “religiousness”?
How can a husband and wife, fasting all day from food and drink, indulge in vulgar abuse of one another at the close of the day?
How is it that the Prophet teaches not to boycott a person for more than three days, and a brother can be out all day at work and feel apprehensive at the thought of returning home to a disgruntled partner who will give him the silent treatment over a petty squabble that has extended into weeks of dreary, isolating depression?
How is it that our mosques are segmented along juristic schools of thought, that intrinsically allow difference, but dim hearts translate the Fiqh into disunity and Moon-fighting.
At a time when we all search for Allah’s divine love, where has the love of Allah that binds us all, gone?
Stay tuned for part 2 to learn the 5 steps to finding love in Ramadan.