Connect with us

Quran and Sunnah

Seek Knowledge as Far as China… Really?

Abu Reem

Published

Everyone loves a catchy phrase, especially one that sends us off to the Asian tiger, China. Considering that there isn’t really any knowledge to get for English-speaking folks, either Islamic or secular in nature, perhaps China isn’t the greatest destination? (Excuse the tongue-in-cheek comment)

If there is one so-claimed hadith (Prophetic saying) that has gotten extensive coinage, I have to say it is this one. And though the message of seeking knowledge is consistent with the Prophetic teachings, unfortunately this hadith is likely not Prophetic. It is also somewhat amusing that some of the leading opponents of hadith still love to quote this one… I would call this an ironic form of poetic justice, because it really says a lot about how much these opponents actually know about the sciences of hadith!

Kudos to Hood, who has provided us with this short summarized takhrij (verification) of this not-so-Prophetic-saying.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Abu Reem is one of the founders of MuslimMatters, Inc. His identity is shaped by his religion (Islam), place of birth (Pakistan), and nationality (American). By education, he is a ChemE, topped off with an MBA from Wharton. He has been involved with Texas Dawah, Clear Lake Islamic Center and MSA. His interests include politics, cricket, and media interactions. Career-wise, Abu Reem is in management in the oil & gas industry (but one who still appreciates the "green revolution").

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Avatar

    sonia

    March 11, 2007 at 9:34 PM

    I’m so disappointed!

    • Avatar

      Jeff

      March 26, 2015 at 7:52 AM

      What is wrong in leaving home ( Hijrat) for sake of knowledge. Knowledge is key to social, political, moral, ethical etc. Development of civilizations. Why MUSLIMS came to the USA?

    • Avatar

      robin

      March 9, 2016 at 2:42 PM

      you have to consider, in that time, China was great. they had the massive armada and vast trading network

  2. Avatar

    Ilm Seeker

    March 12, 2007 at 8:52 PM

    Mashallah, awesome blog! Keep it up inshallah.

    For those disappointed, follow up with a better, authentic hadith: Whoever travels in the path of knowledge, Allah will make it easy for them to walk the path to paradise.

  3. Avatar

    Ilm Seeker

    March 12, 2007 at 8:54 PM

    Some of the benefits and blessings of seeking knowledge can be found here, from a class by shaykh Yasir Qadhi: http://www.ilmfruits.com/blessings-of-knowledge/

  4. Avatar

    Philomantis

    March 18, 2007 at 3:46 PM

    Some of the “heavy hitters” amongst classical Hadîth scholars have declared this Hadîth weak, but al-Mizzî who compiled Tahthîb al-Kamâl fî Asmâ’ ar-Rijâl, who is by far the “heaviest hitter” of the scholars of grading narrators has called for caution to be exercised with this Hadîth. He has stated, “Perhaps, its status is rectified to Hasan on account of its wide circulation, ” reasoning that an outright forgery wouldn’t have reached such wide circulation amongst the Muslims.

    Likewise, al-Munâwî cites al-Dhahabî’s Talkhîs wherein he claims that it has numerous weak chains, but some are sound. However, I looked in al-Dhahabî’s Talkhîs Kîtâb al-Mawdû`ât and found that the part cited by al-Munâwî was absent. The fact that a classical work cites another classical work and that citation is no longer extant in the copies we have today is an unfortunately common evidence of the scores of “redactions” that “editors” have exercised upon these books of knowledge.

    One must understand that a Hadîth being Da`îf is not enough to say definitively that it is “not Prophetic”. Imâm Ahmad’s school necessitates appealing to Da`îf narrations (under strict prerequisites) before the application of Qîyâs (deduction), and this was one of the defining differences in his approach to jurisprudence as opposed to the approach of his beloved and respected contemporary Imâm ash-Shâfi`î.

    It would be safer and more wise to say that this Hadîth is correct in its meaning, but many scholars have declared it weak and Allah knows best.

    • Avatar

      Parvez

      June 15, 2019 at 10:28 AM

      the additional statement of “going to china” is declared as maudu’ (fabricated) by Imam Ibn Hibban, Ibn al- Jauzi, al-Sakhawi and other scholars of hadith.

      [Al-Da’ifah, no. 416]

      Also Imam al-Bazzaar (d. 292), Ibn Hibbaan (d. 354), and Ibn Adi (d. 364), who lived during the classical era, have unauthenticated the Hadeeth

  5. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    March 19, 2007 at 1:20 AM

    from br. hood’s blog:

    Philomantis,
    The only one far greater than all of us mentioned on this page is our Beloved Messenger – May God shed his grace on him – and he is deserving of only the best being related about him and from him.

    After looking your comments at muslimmatters, and additionally that which was mentioned in the link provided by Ibn Ajibah, this is what is seeming to me:

    1- This addition of “seek knowledge as far as China” was as I mentioned above only narrated by “al-Hasan ibn Atiyyah from Abu Atikah Tarif ibn Salman from Anas from the Prophet…”.

    That said this particular chain of the hadith, which begins with “seeking knowledge is an obligation…” and ending with the reference to china is extremely weak, in fact as mentioned before several of the narrators were accused of fabrication.

    This type of narration cannot be supported by way of Isnad, even though its meanings could be substantiated through the generalities of the Quran and Sunnah. An example of this would be the hadith “My Lord taught me character and did so perfectly…” which is weak in isnad but is supported by the texts of the Quran and Sunnah. It is incorrect to narrate it as a direct statement of the Prophet, attributing it to him directly.

    So the first part of the hadith “seeking knowledge..” is supported in meaning by the numerous other narrations, while there is nothing of substance to support in any of the other narrations concerning china. which leads me to my nest point…

    2- Al-Mizzi’s statement was concerning the first part of the hadith, which is narrated from Anas from several different chains. This applying to the portion “talabu l-ilmi faraDatin ala kulli muslim…” seems most likely in that most (if not all) other authors that related al-Mizzi’s statement applied it to the narrations that begin with this phrase, yet do not contain the reference to China in the end (for ex. al-zarkashi and al-kattani apply his statement to this portion, not the china reference).

    Therefore this portion of the hadith is supported by the other narrations. This however has no bearing on the latter part about china. Hajj Gibril mentions this himself in the above link, although the manner in which he does so may be misleading to a non-specialist or someone not exposed to the science of takhrij.

    3- Hajj Gibril – May Allah guide him to what is best in this life and the next – states that his hadith is mashur, being a hadith with 5 to 9 narrators at each level of the chain.

    Upon cursory examination of the asa_ni_d containing the reference to china, there seems to be less than five at several levels of the chain back to anas, al-Bayhaqi says of this hadith that it is “shibhu mashur” (i.e. sort of) and therefore it is likely that the scholars who referred to this hadith as Mashur possibily meant the other meaning of mashur, i.e. that this is a popular hadith and is well known by the people. al-Sakhawi and al-’Ajluni including this in their books would support this, in that his book is an examination of hadith which are popular but may or may not be authentic.

    All in all the hadith seems to be extremely weak.

    And Allah knows best.

  6. Avatar

    Haitham Hamdan

    March 20, 2007 at 11:28 AM

    The scholarly rulings which were quoted in the original article should be sufficient to prove the weakness of this Hadeeth. Not only are we certain that the prophet PBUT did not say this statement, we are also certain that none of the Sahaba did either.

    Bother Philomantis’ reply is filled with inacurate information. For someone to think that Al-Mizzi is a “heavier hitter” than earlier scholars such as Ibn Adi, Al-Bazzaar and Ibn Hibbaan is a shame, to say the least.

    There are tens of authentic Hadeeths encouraging us to seek knowledge. There were books written to compile such Hadeeths. So we are in no need of such weak Hadeeth.

    Someone who is giving a speech on the importance of seeking knowledge could still mention this statement but without attributing it to the Prophet PBUH. He/she could say: It was said … or: a wise man once said …

    So, there is no reason to be disappointed!

    • Avatar

      kashif

      February 2, 2015 at 7:59 AM

      The reason probably for the disappointment is that those who refer to this hadith make a point that knowledge other than shariyh is also to be sought contrary to those who discard this hadith and refuse to acknowledge that anything other than shariyah is knowledge at all.

  7. Amad

    Amad

    March 20, 2007 at 3:10 PM

    jazakAllahkhair Sh. Haitham for stopping by and commenting on this.

    I’d like to introduce the Sheikh to those who don’t know him. He is the admin of the Multaqa-ahl-hadith, one of the most popular Islamic forums in Arabic on the net, with many students of knowledge and many transcripts (see this post). He is a Masters Student in at the American Islamic University (AIU).

  8. Avatar

    Philomantis

    March 23, 2007 at 2:04 PM

    Haitham Hamdan, jazâkullâhû khayr(an) for your response, but I’m afraid you’ve resorted to a bit of “my daddy is bigger than your daddy”. To call my opinion that al-Mizzî is one of the “heaviest hitters” in grading Hadîth narrators “a shame” is in itself ad hominem in nature and just plain untenable. His work on Rijâl is sufficient testimony to this. Also, how can 4 paragraphs be “filled with inacurate (sic) information”? Certainly, its not too lengthy for you to cite examples, is it? Please elaborate, if we could be so honored to read from you on this.

    Finally, we are not “certain” that the Prophet (sallallâhû `alayhî wa sallam) did not say this and for you to make such a statement is not consistent with the modus operandi of Hadîth scholarship…unless you can quote a single Muhaddith of repute from the classical era of Islamic scholarship who said, “The Prophet (sallallâhû `alayhî wa sallam) did not say this for an absolute fact”.

    w-Allâhu a`lam. was-salâm

  9. Avatar

    ِAbu Bakr

    March 23, 2007 at 7:26 PM

    – ” اطلبوا العلم ولو بالصين ”
    قال ابن عراق : (قال ابن حبان : حديث باطل لا أصل له ) .
    وقال ابن الجوزي في الموضوعات: بعد أن رواه بسنده (هذا حديث لا يصح عن رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم…)

    http://www.ahlalhdeeth.com/vb/showthread.php?t=17984

  10. Avatar

    Philomantis

    March 23, 2007 at 7:56 PM

    لا يصح عن رسول الله (صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم) يعني أسانيدها ليست بصحيحة كما قيل عن كلّ أحاديث دون الأحاديث الصحيحة…والله تبارك وتعالى أعلم

  11. Avatar

    Philomantis

    March 23, 2007 at 8:02 PM

    I also want to make even more clear regarding what I quoted in English from al-Mizzî. His comments regarding the Hadîth’s wide circulation being a testimony in its favor appears to be speculation on his part. This can be seen from the language he used:

    ربما يصل بمجموعها إلى الحسن

    The fact that he started his sentence with “rubbamâ” meaning “perhaps” is an indication that he was speculating. I didn’t want anyone glossing over the “Perhaps” in my previous translation as this is a very important part of it.

    w-Allâhû A`lam

  12. Avatar

    Haitham Hamdan

    March 24, 2007 at 6:06 PM

    Dear brother Philomantis,

    You said in #4: “al-Mizzî … is by far the heaviest hitter …”.

    But when you referenced this statement in #8, you said: “al-Mizzî is one of the heaviest hitters”.

    The difference between the two statements is clear. You can not be trusted in referencing your own quotations!

    I take great issue with your first statement, and still consider it shameful!

    Another contradiction is that you asked me to “quote a single Muhaddith of repute from the classical era of Islamic scholarship”.

    It is strange that someone like you says this. You believe that al-Mizzi, who lived nowhere near the classical era (d. 742), is “by far the heaviest hitter”!

    Heavier than al-Bazzaar (d. 292), Ibn Hibbaan (d. 354), and Ibn Adi (d. 364), who lived during the classical era, and all three unauthenticated the Hadeeth.

    There are other problems in your posts with regards to: the contributions of Imam al-Mizzi, the relationship between Ilm al-Rijaal and the authentication of a Hadeeth, Imam Ahmad’s school … etc.

    I’m sorry to say that your thinking process is not yet scientific enough to be a good student of Hadeeth!

    Wallahu A’lam.

  13. Avatar

    philomantis

    March 26, 2007 at 1:09 PM

    Haitham, I find it very unfortunate that you find it necessary to behave this way, but it is, alas, of no surprise to me at all. If, in fact, I believe that al-Mizzî is the greatest scholar in the area of `Ilm ar-Rijâl this is hardly something “shameful”! You have not addressed a single point, but only said there are “problems” without citing a single one.

    If you want to discuss this matter like in a mature manner by addressing the evidences then I would enjoy such a discussion. Brother Hood has done this eloquently and thoroughly and it is a testimony to the fact that he is of another league altogether (وفقه الله).

    I make it a policy not to sully myself with pejorative laden disputation so I’ll have to leave discussion with you and wish you well. was-salâm

  14. Avatar

    Moiez

    March 27, 2007 at 9:26 AM

    Where is the Hadith?

  15. Avatar

    nuqtah

    March 28, 2007 at 6:58 AM

    Jzak Allahu khair sidi philomantis for maintaining proper decorum!

  16. Avatar

    Abu h

    March 28, 2007 at 7:44 AM

    I think Brother haitham only say that brother philomontos’s statement about Mizzi is shameful in the sense of hadith literature, not attacking him personaly.

    And Brother haitham also provided some proofs, because Brother philomontis forgot the classical scholars, and used later scholars for his argument, in this sense.

    Also, what was arabic translation for what Brother abu bakr said?

  17. ibnabeeomar

    ibnabeeomar

    March 28, 2007 at 8:31 AM

    “what was arabic translation for what Brother abu bakr said?”

    to summarize:

    ibn hibbaan said the hadith is baatil, and ibn al-jawzi mentioned this hadith in al-mawdoo’at (ie book of fabricated hadiths) and said that this hadith is not authentically related from the prophet (saw)..

  18. Avatar

    ِAbu Bakr

    March 28, 2007 at 3:38 PM

    Al-Mizzi’s work is primarily a compilation of the statements of the earlier Imams of Rijal. These Imams, amongst whom are ibn ‘Adi, ibn Hibban, and many others such as al-Bukhari, Abu Hatim, and Abu Zur’ah did not merely compile the statements of scholars concerning the narrators to reach a conclusion as to his status. They compiled the narrations of each narrator and compared their narrations with the narrations of their peers to distinguish mistakes from correct narrations.

    To illustrate, Imam Yahya b. Ma’in gathered the hadiths of Hammad b. Salamah, one of the important classical narrators from 18 different routes. Upon being asked the reason for doing so, he said, “I found mistakes in the narrations of Hammad so I wanted to distinguish his mistakes from the mistakes of his students.”

    This is something very difficult for later scholars, if for no other reason, because they did not have access to the sheer volume of narrations that the earlier scholars did. This, by far, makes them the “heaviest hitters” in the field of Rijal.

  19. Avatar

    Husam

    May 29, 2007 at 1:51 AM

    Wahhabis have it in their best interest to exclude China, since they want everyone to gain knowledge in Najd. Everything has to center around Saudi Arabia, otherwise it _must_ be a fake hadith! lol

  20. Avatar

    ibn abi 'Abdirrahman

    July 15, 2007 at 6:58 AM

    Brother Husam,

    your statement makes no sense at all. Many past and contemporary Salafi scholars are from ASh Shaam and not An Najd. Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Taimiyyah, Al Albaani and many more are all from Ash Shaam.

  21. Pingback: Authenticity of ‘Seek knowledge even as far as China’ « Islam in China

  22. Avatar

    R.S

    November 6, 2007 at 6:26 PM

    Why is it that the best hadiths are always considered weak while the stupid ones which doesn’t make any sense considered authentic. hmm..

  23. Avatar

    Abu Bakr

    November 6, 2007 at 6:44 PM

    If it is an authentic hadith, then please tell us its isnad and which major works of hadith it is reported

  24. Avatar

    Ismail sini

    November 13, 2007 at 4:50 PM

    It was said that sahaba Saad ibn waqqas was buried in China.I guess someone will doubte this.Whether you can verify this,if you can find results in Shaykh Ibn Ibn Taimiyyah’s works,it would be highly appreciated.But if you really can find the results in the works of Al Albaani,maybe most chinese muslim would be doubtful.

  25. Avatar

    TuhfaSino

    June 17, 2008 at 5:41 PM

    Interesting!

    Maybe we should focus on the reason for the widespread of this narration (I won’t call it hadith) and learn something from it.

    It basically contained the essential ingredients of a viral campaign: to show off.

    So, Chinese Muslims use this narration to their advantage, and non-Chinese Muslims use it too to show off that Islam is inclusive.

    Also, China as a destination of knowledge and civilization is another good point to make this narration spread. Just like quoting, hey do you know our prophet (SAW) said, “Seek knowledge even in Harvard or Oxford.”

    So, brothers and sisters, as with many other discussions about religion or politics, try to be nice and save your opponent face.

    IMHO, most of the people who quote this narration don’t want to declare it as unauthentic, (maybe it’s not as much as asking a priest to say trinity is wrong, but more like retracting the thing they showed off for years)… suddenly they are no longer cool, suddenly their PR slogan is attacked… Again, I’m not talking about scholars, I’m talking about regular people who blindly copy/pasting their favorite opinion just because that fits their comfort zone.

    As for authenticity: Was the word “China” or “Seen” known to Arabs at the time of the Prophet (SAW)? Check some old maps and you will be surprised.

    May Allah reward all of you and gather us again in Jannah

    Your Chinese brother who of the opinion that we shouldn’t attribute this narration to the Prophet (SAW) when we have so much doubts

  26. Avatar

    Sharif

    June 18, 2008 at 12:04 AM

    It doesn’t even sound like a hadith of the prophet (saw).

  27. Avatar

    Suhail

    June 18, 2008 at 12:46 PM

    what is this have to do with chinese and non chinese muslims. It has only to do with the authenticity of this narration.

  28. Pingback: Islam in China » Blog Archive » Authenticity of China Hadith

  29. Avatar

    Dr. Imam Khan Makhtum

    May 26, 2010 at 6:11 AM

    THREE HADITH ON CHINA, INDIA, TURKEY

    Ancient China and India were respectively known to the Arabs as As-Sin and Al-Hind respectively, with whom they had trade connection both on land and sea-routes, mainly on silk-routes. There were sea-silk routes too.
    About the need to go to China even, to educate is a genuine hadith and it is much popular among the Arabs and Persians to abouth this hadith of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and they really believe it is shahi/genuine hadith. Look:

    Mohd. Sharif Khan, 1986, Islamic Education, New Delhi: Ashish Publishing House, page, 15- quoted the hadith on the authority/ reference of Ibn Adi (925 AD) and Abul Fazl Baihaqi that :

    “Obtain Knowlwdge even if in China”
    (Ibn Adi & Behaqi).

    It will be a great disservice if you, in lack of knowledge and research, try to discredit this hadith. Prophet (pbuh) only stressed on secular education, which is much essential to know the Holy Quran in letter and spirit. Some Anogo-American, and European authours try to discredit this hadith, thus trying to belittle the all round achievement of early Chinese education. We also find a hadith that “Heaven smells from the East (India?)”.

    Another Hadith: “Learn the language of the Turks, for they will have a long reign” (Muhammad al-Kashghari, 940 AD).
    (see the “Bulletin of the School of African and Oriental Studies”, University of London London, vol XLI, part
    1, 1986, page 69).

    see the Seljuk Turk who arose out of Abbasid Empire/Baghdad of the Turks in c. 1056 AD from whom the Ottoman Empire (1299-1924 AD) sprung up which ruled much of SE Europe, N. Africa, Arabia, ex-Ummayad and ex-Abbasid domains.

    Don’t be surprised by such Hadith. The Rashidi Khalifs ruled in 632-661 AD only, Ummayad in 661-750 only and Abbasid in 750-1258 AD only. Take the single example, Ottoman/Usman Empire that ruled for more than 600 years, when Musatafa Kamal Pasha abolished the Caliphate in 1924. Even today, Turkish role in Islamic Affairs is paramount. Its Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was recently conferred the Arab Nobel Prize for Service to Islam by king Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Even OIC General Secretary is Ecmeleddin Ishanoglu, a Turk. How true the latter Hadith is which the Prophet spelt out in his lifetime!!!!!

  30. Pingback: Where is Islam in Islamic Republic of Pakistan? - Page 27

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

#Current Affairs

Racism And The Plagues of Egypt – Coronavirus And Racism: America’s Two Pandemics

Dr Amina Darwish, Guest Contributor

Published

Introduction

The fight against anti-Blackness has once again hit the global stage, and American Muslims have a central role to play in the movement of racial justice. The spiritual history of America is a history of Black Muslim voices. Mansa Abubakari, a West African King, landed in South America almost 200 years before Columbus began the massacre of the indigenous population.[1] The biggest migration of Muslims to America was the slave ships where scholars fought to teach Islam to their enslaved communities. Modern Islamophobic attacks such as the Muslim Ban of 2016 are not just Islamophobic, but also deeply racist because it denies the humanity of the previous generations of Muslims. Black Muslims have carried the mantle of preserving Islam in America and have fought for racial justice for last four centuries. The immigrant Muslims who arrived during the last 50 years were a direct result of the civil rights movement that allowed immigration from Muslim majority countries. The fight for racial justice is a Muslim fight. We owe it to the generations of Muslims before us to continue their work.

The 400 years of struggle for racial justice in America can be compared to the Children of Israel’s fight for emancipation from Pharaoh’s Egypt 3000 years ago during which the country was hit by a number of plagues. Sheikh Mendes and Imam Dawud Walid have recently referenced the story of Prophet Musa (peace be upon him), whose demand to Pharaoh to, “Let my people go[2]” is well known in many religious circles fighting for racial equality in America. [3] The Quran discusses of the plagues of Egypt in the story of Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) in Surah Al-A’raf. “So We sent upon them the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood as distinct signs, but they were arrogant and were a criminal people.” [7;133] The plagues of Egypt are similar to the current coronavirus pandemic in that they made systemic oppression clear for all to see. The goal here is to explain the relationship between the coronavirus and racism epidemics.

First, the name of the surah will be discussed. Then, the story of Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) will be put into context with the story of the other prophets mentioned in the surah. The events leading up to the Plagues of Egypt are explained and compared to the current American pandemics. Finally, there are recommendations for how to make our community spaces antiracist. A few Black scholars have been quoted throughout as to elevate their voices, and to provide some much-needed groundwork for readers who might be unfamiliar with these great American Muslim scholars. For further reading, Dr. Kayla Renée Wheeler compiled a far more exhaustive list of Black Muslim narratives in the BlackIslamSyllabus.

Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

To put this verse into perspective we must first reflect on Surah A’raf as a whole, and I encourage everyone to read and contemplate the surah in depth. The A’raf, mentioned in ayah 46, are an elevated place on the Day of Judgement where people of no consequence get stuck. They watch as others are sorted towards Heaven or Hell. The people of the A’raf are not evil, but they also would not leave their comfort zones to actually commit to righteousness. Their comments to the people of Paradise and the people of the Fire are mentioned in the Surah, but do not earn a response because they are then, as they are now, people of no consequence.

The surah begins by telling Prophet Mohamed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) to not feel distressed by forcing people out of their comfort zones, and warns of previous peoples who were destroyed as they slept in their heedlessness. And how many cities have We destroyed, and Our punishment came to them at night or while they were sleeping at noon. [7;4] We cannot go back to the previous norm when Black people were suffering alone, while non-Black people could comfortably enjoy their lives whilst ignoring—and even benefiting from a system built on—the suffering of their Black brothers and sisters. A critical mass of people must refuse the continued oppression and the suffering of others for the current system to change. American Muslims should do more than give lip service to their Black brothers and sisters.

Anti-Blackness in Human History

The first prophet mentioned in the surah is our father Adam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), whose name indicates his dark black skin. And We have certainly created you, [O Mankind], and given you [human] form. Then We said to the angels, “Prostrate to Adam”, so they prostrated, except for Iblees. He was not of those who prostrated. [7;11] [Allah] said, “What prevented you from prostrating when I commanded you?” [Satan] said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from mud.” [7;12] Satan hated our father Adam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) for the form Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gave him, which included dark black skin. Anti-Blackness is as old as humanity itself. Dr. Bilal Ware has spoken extensively about the satanic nature of racism. Claims of superiority based on a birthright are rampant throughout human history. Egyptians claimed superiority over the Children of Israel based on where they were from centuries before. Jahili[1] Meccan society claimed superiority based on lineage. The American system claims superiority based on proximity to whiteness. These are characteristics determined at birth and are beyond any human being’s control. Such claims of superiority are counter to the Islamic ethos that sets the value of individuals based on their relationship with God alone. And [mention] when your Lord took from the children of Adam – from their loins – their descendants and made them testify of themselves, [saying to them], “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Yes, we have testified.” [This] – lest you should say on the day of Resurrection, “Indeed, we were of this unaware.” [7:172] Many other prophets and their specific fights against the oppressive power structures are referenced in the surah, which illustrates the continuity of the struggle between the children of Adam and Satan.

A series of prophets (peace be upon them] are briefly discussed with striking similarities in the messages they delivered to their people. All the prophets teach their people about the Oneness of God and called them to rectify the vices that were specific to their society. The mala’a, or the elites, in each of their societies were mentioned as those who fought the prophets. They did so to maintain their chokehold on power, not because of a theological difference. The elites in Meccan society did not fight Prophet Mohamed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) until he began publicly preaching. They did not care that he prayed differently from them. They feared that his message would make them equal to people they belittled and disparaged. Similarly, it was the elites in Pharaoh’s court who demanded he increase the torment of the Children of Israel. This was a direct result of the magicians publicly declaring their belief and turning public opinion against Pharaoh’s magic, one of the pillars of his power. Similarly in America, the institutional structures of racism need to be dismantled.

Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him)

The story of Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) begins with the demand mentioned in the introduction, “so send with me the Children of Israel.” [7;105]. Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) shows Pharaoh and his elites the signs Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) has sent him with. So Moses threw his staff, and suddenly it was a serpent, manifest. [7;107] And he drew out his hand; thereupon it was white [with radiance] for the observers. [7;108] They refuse his message and demand a public contest with magicians in hopes of spinning the narrative in their favor. They fail miserably when the magicians recognize the truth and publicly declare their belief in the Lord of Prophet Haroon 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) despite Pharaoh’s threats of torture. Pharaoh said, “You believed in him before I gave you permission. Indeed, this is a conspiracy which you conspired in the city to expel therefrom its people. But you are going to know.” [7:123]

This now leads us to the discussion of the plagues, and how they came about. After that public humiliation, the elites around Pharaoh demanded that he increase the torment of the Children of Israel. [Pharaoh] said, “We will kill their sons and keep their women alive; and indeed, we are subjugators over them.” [7;127] Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a book specifically addressing how the White supremacist system feared a successful Black presidency and responded with an increased level of racism. As a spiritual response to this heightened oppression, Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) preached patience during the struggle because he knew Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) would deliver them.  The people of Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) complained about the increased pain they were now experiencing as they had been suffering for years before a messenger was sent to them. Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) asked them to develop their spiritual strength and prepare themselves for a time when they would be empowered and would need spiritual discipline. Shaykha Ieasha Prime has recently called on the ummah to be increasing its spiritual strength as they organize against anti-Blackness.

The Economic Downturn

Then Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) tested the people of Pharaoh with an economic downturn. “And We certainly seized the people of Pharaoh with years of famine and a deficiency in fruits that perhaps they would be reminded.” [7;130] These circumstances are very similar to the economic recession of 2008, and as a result of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Whenever something good would happen, the people of Pharaoh would claim credit for it, and whenever something bad happened, they would blame Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) and his people. But when good came to them, they said, “This is ours [by right].” And if a bad [condition] struck them, they saw an evil omen in Moses and those with him. Unquestionably, their fortune is with Allah, but most of them do not know. [7;131] And they said, “No matter what sign you bring us with which to bewitch us, we will not be believers in you.” [7;132] This rhetoric is very similar to the wave of nationalism that took over the world in the last few years. It is used by nationalist political leaders, who blame marginalized groups for the economic recession. However, the oppression of those marginalized communities was a preexisting condition that was exacerbated and exploited by nationalist leaders.

The Plagues

Then Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) sent them the plagues, “the flood and locusts and lice and frogs and blood” [7;133]. These were such overwhelming tests for Pharaoh. He was a man that claimed to be a god, but the True God was now sending him something that destroyed the riches he had built and could not be blamed on someone else. It revealed all of his lies. The plagues sent to Pharaoh were specific to the land of the Nile that depended on the production of agriculture and built imposing monuments. It is difficult to look grand when your fields are flooded or consumed by locusts, your water turns to blood, and you and your monuments are covered in lice and frogs. Similarly, the coronavirus pandemic exposed the faults in our health care system, the shortcoming of our food supply, the fragility of the economy, and the deep racism that is embedded into the entire system. The people who were deemed essential to work were treated as sacrificial and were forced to choose between paying for food and rent or risking exposure. They were offered empty platitudes that did not include the protective equipment they needed, increased financial compensation, or health care if they were to fall ill.

Coronavirus attacks the body’s ability to breathe, and it has been widely reported to have affected communities of color far harder than any other group. Black Americans are far more likely to have asthma due to highways going through their neighborhoods, and therefore more likely to die from Covid-19. This is a direct link to a racist system of redlining and highway construction that took away their ability to breathe. Black Americans are imprisoned at disproportionally high rates where social distancing is impossible. There are many false assumptions about the imprisoned population. The truth is that more than 90% of all cases never go to trial, and an accused person’s ability to defend themselves is almost impossible with exorbitant amounts of money. Many Muslims now claim affiliation to El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz (Malcolm X), may Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) have mercy on him. Covid-19 could be killing the next Malcolm X in prison this very moment. All that without even discussing the economic impact of coronavirus on communities of color that if left unchecked will widen the racial wealth gap. The scarcity of food and resources that were created by the plagues undoubtedly affected the Children of Israel and not just their oppressors; however, the end result of plagues was justice for the oppressed.

From Eric Garner to George Floyd, Black Americans have been fighting to breathe in America. The Arabic word nafs which is usually translated to a soul/self has the same root word as nafas, which means a breath. So, a more accurate translation of nafs is actually a breathing soul. Because of that, We decreed upon the Children of Israel that whoever kills a nafs (breathing soul) unless for a nafs or for corruption [done] in the land – it is as if he/she had slain humankind entirely. And whoever saves one – it is as if he/she had saved humankind entirely. And our messengers had certainly come to them with clear proofs. Then indeed many of them, [even] after that, throughout the land, were transgressors. [Surah Al-Ma’idah; 32] American Muslims have tended towards the medical profession as a means of fulfilling the above verse in saving people. We should be focusing the same level of energy at saving populations by fighting both the coronavirus and racism epidemics.

Naming the Oppression

The coronavirus epidemic and the recent public murders of Black Americans created a tipping point that did not exist before. Former NBA player and prolific author, Kareem Abdul Jabbar said, “it feels like hunting season is open on blacks.” The murder of George Floyd was so egregious that groups dedicated to preventing police accountability called for Derek Chauvin to be held accountable. America was force to collectively acknowledge the murder of a Black man at the hands of a police officer. Corporations who peddled in racism were issuing apologies when they saw the tide of public opinion turn. The murder of George Floyd made America look the ugliness of racism in the eye. Of course, police brutality and racism did not begin with George Floyd nor did it end with him. Many more people lost their lives at the hands of the police during the protests. For every name we know, there are countless others we do not know. Police brutality is a leading cause of death for Black men in America. Even if we do not know their names, every victim leaves behind a family to mourn their loss while knowing that the murderer not only walks free, but wears a uniform that allows him to continue to kill without consequence. May the brave young woman who took the video receive Divine reward and healing for her bravery. May the burning in the heart of every mother who lost a child be granted Divine patience and healing.

In Surah A’raf, the people of Pharaoh also acknowledged their oppression of the Children of Israel, and they vowed to stop oppressing them. And when the punishment descended upon them, they said, “O Moses, invoke for us your Lord by what He has promised you. If you [can] remove the punishment from us, we will surely believe you, and we will send with you the Children of Israel.” [7;134] We know that the people of Pharaoh reneged after the plagues were lifted. But when We removed the punishment from them until a term which they were to reach, then at once they broke their word. [7;135] So We took retribution from them, and We drowned them in the sea because they denied Our signs and were heedless of them. [7;136] Pharaoh in his arrogance witnessed all of the signs Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) gave Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) including the staff, his hand, and the plagues. He then witnessed the Red Sea split, and still he followed Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) into the sea until he was drowned. His hatred blinded him, and his racism killed him.

America is now at the same moment of realization. Of course, Black Muslims have never been unaware of racism. It is a privilege for non-Black Muslims to learn about systemic racism rather than experience it firsthand. The ability to see right from wrong is not guaranteed for us. Arrogance can blind us as it has blinded Pharaoh and his army. I will turn away from My signs those who are arrogant upon the earth without right; and if they should see every sign, they will not believe in it. And if they see the way of consciousness, they will not adopt it as a way; but if they see the way of error, they will adopt it as a way. That is because they have denied Our signs and they were heedless of them. [7;146] The ability to see the racism is a mercy from Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). May we be protected from spiritual blindness. No Muslim in America should be able to claim a lack of awareness of systemic racism any longer. No should they continue to favor their comfort zones over our love for our Black brothers and sisters and assume they will be forgiven. And they were succeeded by generations who, although they inherited the Scripture, took the fleeting gains of this lower world, saying, ‘We shall be forgiven,’ and indeed taking them again if other such gains came their way. Was a pledge not taken from them, written in the Scripture, to say nothing but the truth about God? And they have studied its contents well. For those who are mindful of God, the Hereafter is better. ‘Why do you not use your reason?’ [7;169]

Fighting the Oppression

Pharaoh claimed to be god, and White supremacy is the false god of our time. It is built into our psyches, our financial systems, and our power structures. Statues were erected to idolize those who upheld it. White supremacy is a system where lighter skin makes people smarter, more trustworthy, and more beautiful. We know this is a lie on its face, and yet it breads anti-blackness that is deeply engrained into everyday life. Fighting anti-blackness is a spiritual struggle, and we should make sincere intentions to fight it in all its forms. We must stand with the people of righteousness who fought for the abolition, civil rights, and an end to colonialist exploitation.

White supremacy in America is in a housing system that segregates people and exposes them to pollutants in their air and their water. It is in an education system that funds or defunds schools based on that segregated housing, and uses the police as an extreme punishment for a child’s infractions. It is in a judicial system that criminalizes poverty and imprisons those who cannot afford bail. It is in a prison system that forces people to work without financial compensation and is protected by the Thirteenth Amendment. Plans to fight the coronavirus pandemic were halted because communities of color were more likely to be affected in yet another disturbing attack. White supremacy is so deeply engrained that it leads some to harm themselves by bleaching their skin and burning their hair in hopes of appearing more like their oppressors. It is everywhere including our spiritual spaces.

Muslims often quote ayah 48:13 and the last sermon of Prophet Mohamed ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) with pride that the tradition stands firmly against racial injustice. While Islam itself does, Muslims often unfortunately do not. One of my community members recently shared a story about entering a masjid in hijab, and being asked if she was Muslim. What was even more egregious is that after a discussion, the family that asked concluded that because of her black skin, she was in fact NOT Muslim despite praying in a masjid. Many of the non-Black Muslims were shocked to hear this, but the truth is that I have never met a Black Muslim who did NOT have a racism in the masjid story. Ask the Black Muslims in your circle about their experiences, and the flood gates will open. You will also see the hurt and betrayal in their eyes for having to endure racism inside their places of worship. Apologize to them for not listening sooner and thank them for being willing to teach you and trust you to want to be better despite their trauma.

Call to Action

It is not enough for anyone to not be racist; we must be anti-racist. Acknowledge the anti-blackness you have internalized within yourself and have those difficult conversations with your family members. Ustadha Zaynab Ansari speaks about the pathological ideologies of how black bodies are viewed in America.  Join and support organizations like the Muslim Anti-Racism Collaborative and the Muslim Alliance of North America. Embrace a Black Muslim ethos of viewing Islam as a theology of liberation. Support Black scholars and the Black masajid. Invite them to speak not just about anti-Blackness, but on their areas of expertise in Islam, history, community development, etc. Demand that the immigrant masajid be antiracist. Black Muslims should be on the Board of Directors and on the Zakah committee to ensure the equity of those spaces. Hire a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion expert to have a difficult conversation about race in your organization. If the Black Muslims do not share their experiences of racism in the masjid, it is not because they did but happen, but because they do not trust the community to care to change it. Build that trust and build coalitions of communal healing to end the segregation of masajid into Black and immigrant masajid in the first place. The way out of the pandemic is to take care of those who are most vulnerable. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “You are given rizq sustenance based on the most vulnerable among you.” Communities who have turned the tide have done exactly that. Learning to be anti-racist is one of many steps we can take to lift the difficulty our communities are facing. We need at least be as non-discriminatory as the virus that only sees a human body.

Anyone who is not Black has benefited from the theft and subjugation of generations of Black Americans. We should not meet Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) having sided with an oppressor. The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) says, “Oppression is layers of darkness on the Day of Judgement.” We can choose to follow the prophetic path, or we can choose to let our racism destroy us. And for every nation is a [specified] term. So when their time has come, they will not remain behind an hour, nor will they precede [it]. [7;34] There will be an accounting for our society as a whole, and there will be an individual accounting. Those who follow Prophet Musa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) will enter eternal gardens and those who follow Pharaoh will enter an eternal fire. And the people of no consequence, those who choose to do nothing, will sit on the A’raf.

[1] This story is mentioned in West African oral histories

[2] “Let my people go.” (Exodus 5-1: NIV)

[3] The plagues of Egypt are discussed differently in the different Abrahamic faiths. “The Christian and Jewish traditions discuss the angel of death taking the life of the first-born son from every family in Egypt except those who left a marking on their doors so the angel of death could pass over them.”

[4] Jahili is a Quranic descriptor for Pre-Islamic Arab society. It is derived from a root word meaning ignorance.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Life

Mental Health & COVID-19: Light, Guidance, & Much Love | Part 1

Sharada Nizami, Guest Contributor

Published

Insha’Allah, you and your loved ones are safe & healthy. May Allah swt protect us all from COVID-19, Ya Hafidh, and open the way for our spiritual growth, Ya Fattah Ya Rabb. No doubt, we are living in very challenges times, and many in our community are suffering. As such, my intention for this two-part series is to provide some beneficial perspectives and practical strategies that will make your emotional journey safer & easier, insha’Allah.

And a journey it surely is. We are on a very long hike up a very steep mountain. And we have only two choices about HOW we approach this challenge: unskillfully or skillfully. If we wear flip-flops, and fail to pack water and snacks, we will have a very difficult time reaching the summit. And if we do, we will be in very bad shape. If we wear good socks, sturdy hiking boots, and our backpack is well-stocked, not only are we likely to reach the summit, but reach it in great shape. This is what I want for our beloved community, insha’Allah.

As Muslims, it is crucial to remember that the ultimate summit is the hereafter. Truly, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is our goal and pleasing Him is our aim. Truly, everything we do or fail to do here has an impact there. For many people, this haqq is much more difficult to remember and actualize when their day-to-day challenges are daunting. This is why historically and traditionally, in times of crisis, Muslims have always sought the nasiha of wise elders. Imam Muhasibi, the father of Islamic Psychology, developed this crucial, beautiful science in response to the human needs of his students. Sadly, the loss of these teachings as a widespread living tradition has contributed in large part to the widespread mental-health problems that have been plaguing our community for a very long time, which have now been exacerbated by COVID-19.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Here’s a good metaphor. The science of nutrition teaches us about our body, the properties of different foods, what to avoid to prevent disease, and the vital nutrients we MUST ingest to attain optimum physical health. Likewise, the science of mental health teaches us about our heart and mind, the impact of specific activities, what to avoid to prevent disease, and the vital psychological nutrients we MUST ingest to attain optimum mental health. Lack of knowledge about Islamic Psychology and the absence of the vital psychological nutrients have taken a huge toll on our community. The stories I hear would probably shock you. They would certainly break your heart. Especially the stories of our young people, who are my top priority. Insha’Allah, the wake-up call of COVID-19 propels us to reclaim en masse this lost part of our spiritual heritage, so we can reclaim our vitality and nobility as the Ummah of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him).

To continue with the metaphor. Working one-on-one with an experienced nutritionist is very different than reading a book about nutrition. With the former, your nutritional program is specifically tailored to your particular problems, challenges, habits, and temperament. The same is true when it comes to mental health. So I must manage your expectations honestly and honorably by saying that it is not possible for me to do in two articles for the general public what I do one-on-one in my private practice as a psychotherapist, life-coach, and spiritual mentor. Truly, there is a palpable, powerful, fitrah-based alchemy that can only happen when two human hearts link-up in real time. That said, in the same way that reading and learning about nutrition is very beneficial, so too reading and learning about mental health, especially now.

Working Skillfully with Difficult Emotions

No doubt, COVID-19 has unleashed a wide range of very difficult emotions. People are struggling with tremendous anxiety, uncertainty, fear, sadness, loneliness, depression, helplessness, hopelessness, anger, frustration, confusion, grief, despair, and in some cases, a full-blown crisis of faith. So let me explain a little bit about emotions and how to work with them skillfully  

One of the foundational principles of cognitive-behavioral psychology is called ‘reframing.’

It is the process of deliberately thinking differently about our situation. Reframing it. The fact is, the lens through which we view our circumstances makes all the difference in the world insofar as how we feel. Thoughts are like the front wheels of the car and feelings are like the back wheels. We must be in the driver seat, steering intentionally. Whichever way the front wheels turn, the back wheels follow. So paying attention to our thoughts moment by moment, and making sure they are aligned with the Qur’an and Sunnah, is crucial. The mind is a like a muscle that MUST be trained through specific exercises, and our tradition is rich in the techniques for doing so. Truly, we must hit the spiritual gym regularly. The heavy lifting of muhasiba (self-reckoning) and muraqaba (mindfulness/meditation) are not optional. If these are not already a consistent part of your spiritual practice, NOW is the time to take them up. You will be so happy you did!

Here’s a good metaphor. If you are a longtime couch potato, even a flight of stairs leaves you huffing and puffing. If you are in good shape, you’re able to jog around the block easily. If you’re in great shape, you’re able to leap over the hurdles like a gazelle. For many, COVID-19 has been like asking a couch potato to run a marathon. So we need to get in the best spiritual shape possible as quickly as possible. To that end:

The Centering Exercise 

Every time you notice that you are feeling sad, anxious, fearful, angry, hopeless, helpless, impatient, frustrated, confused, or depressed, here’s what to do.  

  • Turn off your devices and put them in another room.
  • Close your door and put a “Please do not disturb.” sign on the doorknob. Lay down.
  • Close your eyes. Turn your attention to your heart. Remember the Hadith Qudsi, “Heaven and earth cannot contain me but the heart of my faithful believer is where I reside.” Truly, Allah is closer than our jugular vein. (50:16)
  • Take some slow-deep breaths. On the out-breath, silently recite “La illaha.” On the in-breath, silently recite “il Allah.” After a few minutes, notice the shift in your state. Notice the deep connection between ‘self’ and ‘breath’, not just experientially, but also etymologically. They both derive from the same Arabic root, transliterated nfs.   
  • When you are centered, mentally review what you had been thinking about that gave rise to the difficult emotions.  Then do a ‘search and replace,’ deliberately and intentionally replacing your dark thoughts with the Light of The Qur’an or Hadith. Here is one example: Search: “I’ll never get through this.” Replace: “Allah never burdens a person with more than he is well able to bear.” (2:286)

As individuals, we each have our own particular dark thoughts. NOW is the BEST time to fix them. I lovingly encourage you to get a blank journal, so that each time you do The Centering Exercise, you can make note of what you observed, what you learned about yourself. Write down each dark thought and then write down each Rx of Light from The Qur’an or Sunnah. Having a personal journal gives you a concrete means of reinforcing your new thought patterns. 

We know from our neuroscience that the human brain possesses ‘neuroplasticity’, which is the capacity to be shaped, molded, changed. As such, the more often you do The Centering Exercise, the more your thinking patterns will change. This is how Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) created us, mash’Allah! It’s really quite amazing to realize that the Qur’an we’ve been given provides Light upon Light from The Lord of The Worlds. And the Sunnah is that Light fully actualized to perfection, mash’Allah. The fact is, no matter how dark a room may be, if we light just one candle, it illuminates the space. Mash’Allah!

Parents, once you get the hang of The Centering Exercise, please please teach it to your children! Insha’Allah, make it the new normal in your household, transforming discord and upset into harmony and peace.

Say “Ameen!”

Divine Reminders

Insofar as reframing COVID-19 in the broader sense, I offer you this lens, this Divine Reminder, with much love. May it shift your state from embittered to empowered. My beloved sisters and brothers, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is our Rabb, our Teacher, and COVID-19 is the Test we’ve all been given. Every single human being on the planet. We all woke up one day, walked into the classroom of Life, and got handed a pop quiz. The purpose of which is to show us the places where we weren’t prepared. This is great! Because the trumpet is absolutely going to sound, and we surely want to be ready. As long as we’re breathing, we have time to prepare. This is great!

Say “Ameen!” 

Beloved ones, we have the incredible privilege of being students of The One Who Knows Everything, including The Future and The Unseen.  It is very bad adab to question the teaching methods of our Teacher or to complain that we don’t like the Test.

This was the fatal mistake of Bani Israel that we are reminded 17x/day not to emulate. On the contrary, what we want to be asking ourselves is: “What must I do to pass this Test with flying colors, to ace this Exam?” Our beautiful Qur’an teaches us: “Not without purpose did We create heaven and earth and all between.” (38:27)  This pandemic is not some random event. It has a divine purpose. There is deep meaning in it. 

There is also enormous rahmah in it. Our beautiful Qur’an teaches us: “…My mercy embraces everything.” (7:156) The Divine Physician has dispensed this bitter medicine to heal us. To heal the whole world from its longstanding imbalances and injustices. Surely, it is no accident, the timing of COVID-19 vis-à-vis the murder of George Floyd and the global response it has galvanized.  Surely, every human being wants to and deserves to breathe.

COVID-19 is a wake-up call for the whole world. Ours to do as students is to be fully present in each moment, to practice mindfulness (muraqaba), so we can be deeply receptive to the Lessons we are meant to learn (muhasiba). Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (13:11) Beloved ones, NOW is the time for global tawbah (repentance). As the Ummah of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), this is our Divine Assignment, individually, collectively, institutionally. 

My vision and personal commitment is that we wind up stronger and better-than-ever on the other side of this, insha’Allah. I can say this with great confidence because first and foremost, I know that COVID-19 or no COVID-19, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is not out of business! The presence of The Presence, the power of the Names & Attributes, are as robust as ever. 

We are being summoned to recognize our hubris and turn our hearts in humility toward The One Who Is In Charge, The One Who Calls The Shots, to The One Whose Decree we surrender. Humbly. Readily. Insha’Allah, NOW is the time to actualize the last part of Hadith Jibreel about qadr. The fact is, what’s happening around us is what’s happening, and this is always in the hands of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). HOW we respond to what’s happening is entirely up to us.

What I want for our community is the best possible response, the most skillful and beautiful response, the response that will be of maximum benefit here & hereafter, insha’Allah.

I can also say this with great confidence because time and again, working with Muslim refugees who have been through horrific trauma, I have seen with my own eyes how absolutely amazing human beings are. How resilient. How courageous. How creative. How capable of transforming sorrow into joy, lemons into lemonade, compost into roses. This is what I want for you, my beloved sisters and brothers.

No doubt, on any long and arduous journey, in addition to having the right equipment and supplies, having an experienced trail-guide makes all the difference. There is dangerous terrain you want to avoid, and beautiful vistas you don’t want to miss. In my experience over decades, I have observed that human beings thrive when we are given the right tools and the loving encouragement to master them.  So let me give you now some very practical guidelines to help you navigate skillfully, so you can extract from these precious days of your life what is meaningful & transformational. 

Practical Strategies

When it comes to protecting our physical health from the pandemic, there are certain steps we MUST take. Likewise with our mental health. As such, here are some practical strategies, culled from thousands of pages of research and decades of experience. My focus is on parents, whose job has never been more difficult. And with the new school year right around the corner, this guidance is extremely timely. 

Boundaries: Set clear boundaries regarding where and when devices can be used. This applies to everyone in the household, kids and parents alike. Parents, as your elder who loves you, I am reminding you that YOU are the CEO of your home. YOU are the policy maker. YOU are in charge. NOT your kids or their devices. So take charge!

  • No devices for kids 0-3. These guidelines are from the American Pediatric Association. 
  • No devices at the dinner table* or in the bedrooms.
  • No devices until after Fajr. Better yet, after breakfast.
  • All devices put away 1-2 hours before bedtime. Plugged in in the kitchen to recharge.
  • Limit on-line entertainment and socializing to 1 hour/day MAX.
  • Schedule tech fasts ½ day weekly, and 1-2 full days monthly, on a weekend.
  • An occasional family-time movie is fine on the weekend. Choose something meaningful, uplifting, thought-provoking, heart-opening. Pop some popcorn. Make tea. Engage in a special time afterward to really talk together about your experience. *Getting in the habit of real-time-face-to-face conversations is crucial. If you start when your kids are young, it will lay a strong foundation for their teenage years, when they desperately need wise, trustworthy, caring adults who really know how to listen from the heart.

Nature: Spending time in nature is the very best thing you can do for yourself and with your family. There are reams of data about the stress-reducing effects of being outdoors, especially in the woods. There are also reams of data about the benefits of exercise, not only for physical health, but for mental health. Given all the extra sitting everyone is doing during COVID-19, regular exercise is not optional. 

Furthermore, if your kids are schooling from home and you are working from home, everyone will surely need some breathing room, some physical and emotional space from one another, some time every day in solitude, unplugged from their devices. Spending alone-time in nature is the perfect solution. 

For family-time activities, unplug from your devices and enjoy these delightful experiences. They will engender tremendous awe (khushu’) and deepen your heart-connection with your Rabb, The One Who Created you and all the beauty around you. Subhan’Allah.

  • Take a 15-30 minute family-walk every night after dinner before homework.
  • Go hiking, biking, rollerblading, kayaking, kite-flying, or camping on the weekend.   
  • Set up bird feeders in your yard. Learn their names and identify their songs.
  • Go out nightly to look at the stars. Learn the names of the constellations.
  • Watch as many sunrises & sunsets, moonrises & moonsets as you can. 

As Muslims, our worship is guided by the natural cycles Allah put in place. The sun is our clock. It tells us when to pray. The moon is our calendar. It tells us when the new month begins. Sighting the moon is an act of worship, mash’Allah.

Divine Reminders

Our beautiful Qur’an teaches:“We will show them Our Signs (ayat) in the universe and in their own selves, until it becomes clear to them that this (the Qur’an) is the truth.” (Fussilat 41:53)

In this ayah, we are taught the two beautiful gateways into the sacred: the macrocosm of the universe, and the microcosm of the self. Both of these gateways open into the direct experience of Allah’s presence. 

As Muslims, we have been invited to spend time in this dunya in the company of The One Who is Love (al-Wadud). The One Who is Strength (al-Aziz). The One Who is Peace (as-Salaam). And on & on. What could be more beneficial during this time of crisis? Alas, calling upon our Rabb by His most Beautiful Names, with urgency & sincerity, is one of the Lessons we must learn from COVID-19.  My prayer for our community is that people do not squander the opportunity to connect in a deep, meaningful, intimate way heart-to-heart with Allah because they can’t put their phone down or turn their computer off. Insha’Allah, I will address the subject of digital addiction in the second article, as it plays a huge role when it comes to mental health issues.

Closing Du’a

Ya Habibi Ya Allah. Please grant us oceans of fortitude and mountains of strength Ya Sabur Ya Aziz. May we be dutiful beautiful students who strive with all our might in jihad al akbar to pass this test with flying colors, to ace this exam. May we, the Ummah of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), love one another like he loves us, and strengthen one another every step of the way. May we wind up stronger and better-than-ever on the other side of COVID-19, reclaiming the standard of Insan Kamil as the Index by which we measure our lives. Ya Dhal Jalali wal Ikram.

Say “Ameen!” 

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Islam

30 Khawaatir in 30 Days- A Parent’s Guide | Day 20: Come to Success

Marwa Aly, Guest Contributor

Published

Now that we have learnt about how Allah’s subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) Mercy encompasses all things, let’s now talk about coming to success.

Whenever we hear the adhan (call to prayer), there is a part where the mu’adhin (person calling the athan) calls out: “حي على الصلاة” hay ‘ala as-salaah (come to prayer). Then he says: “حي على الفلاح”- hay ‘ala al-falaah.” 

Question: Does anyone know what hay ‘ala al-falaah means?

It means ‘come to prayer, come to success.’ Is that how we usually think of success?

Question: What is your definition of success?

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Yes, sometimes we think that having a good job, a nice house, and a loving family are the measurements of our success. There may be some truth to that  for this world, but how does Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) measure our success?

Do you know that there is a surah in the Qur’an called “The Believers” (Al- Mu’minun), and that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) promises that the believers will be successful? He says:

قَدْ أَفْلَحَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ 

“Indeed, the believers have attained success” [23; 1]

Let’s dig a little deeper into the Arabic word for success: فلاح (falaah). Do you know that a derivative of that word فَلَّاح (fallaah) means a farmer? 

Question: What are some of the things that a farmer needs to do everyday?

Farmers need to fertilize their soil, plant seeds, pull out weeds, protect their plants from predators, and water their crops. Do you think that’s a lot of work? Do you think it’s easy to be a farmer? I want you to imagine a time when farmers couldn’t turn on a hose to water their plants. They completely relied on rain to irrigate their crops. So, they could do all of this hard work, but if there was a drought, their crops wouldn’t be able to survive. To be a farmer requires a deep sense of تَوَكُّل, tawakkul (reliance on Allah)

So, part of success is hard work, and a big part is also knowing that nothing happens without the will of Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). That’s why when the muadhin tells us to come to salaah (prayer) and to come to success, we respond by saying: 

لَا حَوْلَ وَلَا قُوَّةَ إِلَّا بِٱللَّٰهِ‎

“There is no power nor strength except by Allah.”

We can only come to prayer and we can only achieve success if Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) wills it. The only thing in our control is the amount of effort we exert in the process. 

So, let’s be farmers; let us try our best to plant good seeds, water them, nourish them, and pray that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), places baraka (blessings) in all of our efforts! 

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading
..

MuslimMatters NewsLetter in Your Inbox

Sign up below to get started

Trending