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Who are you going to call?

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We didn’t quite have the Sunday Open Thread ready, so we thought you would enjoy the 2nd part by Tariq. Feel free to use previous Sunday thread (link here) to add any new topics. -Editor

Part 1: What Do You See?

[posted by abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed]
Innalhamdolillah, wa bismillah, was salamu alaykum.

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Instant re-cap: “millions of white dots, distracted by black dots, Hajj ruined! (naudhobillah)” Remember?

A lot of dots, alhamdolillah.

The story resumes right where it left off — me, terrified (on the inside, but stoic on the outside) that I might be haunted by black dots.

Haunted by black dots? Is this some kind of Jinn-Hajj story?” Audhobillah!

I mean haunted the way a mistake you make once (or many times) might sneak up on you even after you try to leave it. While there are some mistakes a person can tell you about once, and you never repeat them, alhamdolillah, those are not usually the kind of mistakes that can ruin your Hajj or your life. May Allah strengthen me and all of you, and every Muslim, in our resolve to improve our ibadat and character for His sake. And may He accept all my repentance and yours. And may He be pleased with you and me. Ameen.

Shaykh Muhammad had said that the black dot in the midst of millions of white dots might ruin my Hajj if I let it.

And I did not know how to save myself.

So I was scared.

Alhamdolillah, it’s okay. :) As I recall, what came next was also scary.

Shaykh Muhammad asked each of us to think about the one thing we would most hate to have happen during the next few weeks (we had seventeen days, alhamdolillah, in the Haramain). The thing that, if it would happen, we would surely lose control of our emotions.

“It will happen.” (He was not smiling.)

He continued, “Hajj is a test. And this thing that would make you lose control, I guarantee that if it could upset you, it will happen on this trip. You will be tested.” (I was not smiling either.)

Whatever people think might be their personal disaster: the bus getting lost, lines for the toilet, food issues, or even something like losing your seat on the bus or losing your luggage — he said we had to realize that the reward of Hajj is so great because every person is challenged.

Being patient when everything is going smoothly is not a challenge. Compared to the generations that came before us, our challenges may not seem like much, but the sad fact is that many Hujjaaj will sacrifice their ajr over something like a bus driver who took the wrong turn. Or a meal that was cold instead of hot.

And my Hajj was in danger from black dots.

If the story had stopped when we realized the presence of millions of white dots that go unappreciated all around us, or if the story had stopped right here… I would have been lost, wAllaho’Alim.

Did you think I was getting ready to make you wait for “part 3”? Maybe you need to look for more white dots. ;)

Shaykh Muhammad asked us all, “What will you do when someone wants to talk to you about a black dot? When someone wants to complain to you? They want you to agree with them, but if you say something bad, it may destroy your Hajj, so what are you going to do?”

“You put on a big smile,” and mashaAllah, he had a huge smile on his face. :)

“And you start, ‘Lubbaik, Allahumma, lubbaik. Lubbaika, laa sharika laka, lubbaik. Innalhamda, wan-naymata, laka wal mulk, laa sharika lak.'”

Shaykh Muhammad told us, “You can’t risk your Hajj trying to talk someone else out of his frustration because if he is stubborn, he may start abusing you, or you may lose your temper with him for not acting better — and then you’ve both lost!

So, whenever someone comes up to you and starts complaining, give him a big smile, and start making the talbiyah. He’s only going to have two choices. Either he can stop complaining and join you — which means you’ve earned the ajr of encouraging what is good and discouraging what was bad! Or he’s going to be frustrated with you, too, and leave — and that’s his problem.”

Alhamdolillah, I was traveling with my parents, so I was the third of three. On every bus ride, the seat next to mine was empty. And one particular brother from our Hajj group almost always took that seat. He’s a good person, mashaAllah. But somehow I always found myself answering him with my own big smile plus talbiyah.

How did I do? Allah Knows, but I received a hint in the Abu Dhabi airport on our way back from Hajj. My bus-buddy told me I was the nicest person he had ever met, and he was glad he had made Hajj with me. I am still surprised to this day (other people on my bus would ask me to lower the volume of my talbiyah). So I asked him why he had said that. He told me I never complained even once during the trip. :D

We cannot exactly make talbiyah every day of our lives, even if it feels really good. :) Could you just imagine it, though? Like in New York or London: busy Muslim commuters, walking through crowded streets, focusing on white dots by constantly making talbiyah with wide, happy smiles on their faces?

But wouldn’t you want every day of your life to feel like you had just successfully completed Hajj?

To me the key is in the talbiyah itself: Lubbaik, Allahumma, lubbaik. Allah is the One on Whom you call. (If you are haunted by quotes from history, TV, movies — treat them all like black dots, and just call on Allah.)

Emulate the Prophet Muhammad sull Allaho alayhi wa sallam, and keep the dhikr of Allah on your lips. It’s amazing to me how easily you can avoid saying something unpleasant. Have you ever said to someone in anger, “Alhamdolillah, you ____________.” I think it would literally tie your tongue. I’m not even sure it is possible to say something in anger if the first words out of your mouth are “alhamdolillah.”

“Innalhamdolillah,” might let you launch a tirade, though, so keep a smile on your face, too. ;)

Finally, many people will look at you funny if you do not add “alaa kulli haal.” Maybe those people never read the story of the king whose vizier always said “alhamdolillah.” Have you? ;)

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Bismillah walhamdolillah. May Allah accept my repentance and yours. I am an attorney, a stepfather, a husband, a son, and a Muslim. Studying Islam is a means, reflecting what I have learned is a must, and to Allah is the inevitable return. If you would like my help, know that Allah is the source of all aid. If you would like to contact me, try tariqnisarahmed at Gmail, LinkedIn, Twitter, or add me as a friend on Facebook.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. ayesha

    February 22, 2009 at 2:20 PM

    jazakallahukhairan…..barakallahu feek!!

  2. Pingback: What do you see? | MuslimMatters.org

  3. UmmeAmmaarah

    February 22, 2009 at 8:21 PM

    Assalamu-alaikum wa rehmatullaahi wa barakaatuhu……..

    “We cannot exactly make talbiyah every day of our lives, even if it feels really good. Could you just imagine it, though? Like in New York or London: busy Muslim commuters, walking through crowded streets, focusing on white dots by constantly making talbiyah with wide, happy smiles on their faces?”

    I’m in love with this image…. I can just imagine how soul-uplifting it would be if u could walk down Wall Street/take the train, and u could hear this melodious humming of the Talbiyah…….may Allah make it come true in our lifetimes…….

  4. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    February 22, 2009 at 11:06 PM

    bismillah. @UmmeAmmaarah — i agree. it could be the best Hajj-season PSA ever: “notice anything different lately?” [cut from one example to the next of the scene i described] “Muslims all over the world…” [ad ends with a URL like this:] goingforhajj.com and the site is about the #1 thing you need to go for Hajj: “say and believe in ‘la ilaha illAllah.'”

    some day inshaAllah.

  5. Muslim Investor

    February 23, 2009 at 5:01 PM

    Barak Allahu Feek. These have been great posts and certainly great lessons to be learned. Thanks for the reminder. :)

  6. Ayesha Fatima

    February 23, 2009 at 6:56 PM

    Asak wr wb brother,

    Jazakumallahu khairaa for sharing this. Did Hajj change you completely? Did you remember Ibrahim as ,Hajera as , Ismail as and Muhammed saws ? How did you feel while standing and doing dua at Muzdalifah?

    salaam.

  7. abu abdAllah Tariq Ahmed

    February 24, 2009 at 5:18 PM

    bismillah.

    @investor — wa feeka, and you’re welcome. :)

    @ayesha — wa eeyaki. wAllaho’Alim, sister. for me that first question is very tough, almost like being asked, “are you a mu’min?” i pray that Allah accepted my Hajj, and one of the signs of an accepted Hajj is the positive changes in the one who goes. i can tell you without doubt that Hajj, from the moment i prayed for the opportunity to go until i returned to my home, Hajj was a process of changing the course of my life.

    one realization i had during Hajj was that i had been blessed (like any of the Hujjaaj, inshaAllah) with the forgiveness of my sins — but i had not been transformed into an angel. i was just as capable of sin, just as human, just as susceptible to the traps with which shaytan had waylaid me. alhamdolillah, that caused me to pray sincerely to Allah that i would give up anything and anyone for His sake. that i would change myself to please Him, and i asked for His help in that.

    and i have seen that improvement in me has been gradual. given how little accurate knowledge i had about Islam before Hajj, Allah’s Mercy manifested to me in how He brought me to study, even whom He caused me to study with. with knowledge and experience i have periodically reaffirmed the supplication i made, and periodically reassessed how much more i need to change.

    that may seem like a long answer to what you may have intended to be a simple question, but i am grateful for what Allah has given me. and i know that going to Hajj did not flick a switch and instantly make me the person who writes this message now. rather, it made me the person who was constantly willing to improve the character of his submission by abandoning every premise that he would learn was not from Allah and His Messenger, not from the sunnah, not from the example of the best generations.

    and i am humbled by the distance i have come because i have a long way to go. and inshaAllah, i hope that Allah will only continue to guide me to better than what i am. and that He will give me His Mercy and reprieve on the Day of Judgment. and i pray for that for every Muslim.

  8. Umm Ismael

    March 1, 2009 at 9:37 AM

    Asslam u alaikum wr wb
    JazakALLAH for this beautiful reminder. Alas, I pray that everyone going for Hajj is reminded of this. I thought “i knew” before i went but i actually did not. Alongside the issues of fiqh, this should be taught as part of the curriculum.

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