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Day of Silence is April 16th – Muslims Speak Up

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By Hena Zuberi

The Day of Silence, which is sponsored by the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN), fast approaches. This year it will take place in most public schools on April 16, 2010. On this day, “hundreds of thousands” of students plan on participating (Day of Silence website) in thousands of public high schools and increasing numbers of middle schools, which will allow students to remain silent throughout an entire day even during instructional time to promote GLSEN’s socio-political goals and its controversial, unproven, and destructive theories on the nature and morality of homosexuality. (American Family Association) GLSEN’s stance is against bullying of gay students and the silence they suffer not an all encompassing ‘bullying’ that is inclusive of students who suffer because they are called terrorist, refugee scum, or wog.

Elementary schools are next. In East London, to celebrate Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender History Month, primary school students watched a special adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet renamed Romeo and Julian. Stories covered in the lessons at George Tomlinson School included a fairytale about a prince who turns down three princesses before falling in love with one of their brothers and the tale of Roy and Silo – two male penguins who fall in love. (Guardian)

We as parents cannot remain passive about this. Even if you are not a parent and especially if you are a youth group leader, you need to make the parents in your life aware of this issue. Many parents are not aware of this movement or think that it will not affect their child. This lax attitude leads to us holding our heads when it is too late.

I’ll tell you how this attitude personally affected me. I attended an all-women liberal arts college in Wellesley, Massachusetts. During our first year orientation, we gathered in the common room where mats were laid out of us. A senior from the Gay and Lesbian Association (GALA) asked us to lie down on the mat and close our eyes. Scared to death, at 17 fresh off the plane from Lahore, Pakistan, I had no clue what they expected from us. It wasn’t anything promiscuous, God forbid. They just asked us to close our eyes and imagine a world where daddies were only married to daddies and mommies were married to mommies and if I was a little girl in that world, who liked the little boy across the street but I couldn’t because mommies could only marry mommies. Very innocent, the words.

Those words stuck with me and I still remember them after 17 years. “Once you have the vocabulary to talk with young children about homosexuality, it becomes very easy,” says Dr. Justin Richardson, a Harvard-educated psychiatrist and director of Columbia University’s Center for Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Mental Health. Richardson says educators need to aid the pre-homosexual child with a supportive school environment, paving the way for his later coming out. He claims that a child’s sexual orientation is determined very early in life around four years of age, so why not prepare the pre-homosexual child for the inevitable? This quote by Dr. Richardson came from a talk he delivered ten years ago at a teachers’ conference. This agenda is at work in our public school system and the fitnah has created is real.

Also in my student orientation, I heard a young, black woman talk about her life as a poor, black, gay teenager. I met many intelligent women who were kind and gentle and gay. I remember being admonished by several housemates for thinking that homosexuality was a mental abnormality akin to physical abnormalities. I was figuratively ‘hypnotised’ into believing that it was natural for 10% of the human race to be homosexual believing that they could not control themselves. That December, when I went to visit my parents over winter break, my sister snapped me out of my brainwashed state. She said ‘Apa! Listen to yourself.’

In psychology, the study of brainwashing, often referred to as thought reform, falls into the sphere of “social influence.” According to Julia Layton, author of How Brainwashing Works, “social influence happens every minute of every day. It’s the collection of ways in which people can change other people’s attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. For instance, the compliance method aims to produce a change in a person’s behavior and is not concerned with his attitudes or beliefs. It’s the “Just do it” approach. Persuasion, on the other hand, aims for a change in attitude, or “Do it because it’ll make you feel accepted/good/happy/healthy/successful.”

The education method (which is called the “propaganda method” when you don’t believe in what’s being taught) goes for the social-influence goal, trying to affect a change in the person’s beliefs, along the
lines of “Do it because you know it’s the right thing to do.” Brainwashing is a severe form of social influence that combines all of these approaches to cause changes in an individual’s way of thinking without that person’s consent and often against his will.

I was 17; away from home but brimming with the confidence that children raised in a Muslim country exude. Now, imagine your middle schooler or your teen. Her politically correct classmates surround her; she doesn’t know what to say when her best honor society buddy starts exhibiting ‘homosexual’ traits. Imagine being a student whose religion teaches her that homosexuality is a sin being in that environment. Being judged by their peers because they did not remain silent in support. If you disagree with homosexuality you are called a bigot or a homophobe. Imagine your teachers and mentors who instruct you from 8 in the morning to 3 in the afternoon, framing their lessons around Day of Silence. The adolescent culture is liberal, and adolescents desire to fit in. The vast majority of conservative teens does not feel comfortable vocally opposing their culture and will not do so. We as adults, often don’t have the guts to speak up against homosexuality, let alone teenagers.

Alan Chambers, a gay man that has overcome unwanted homosexual desires, started a family, and is the author of Leaving Homosexuality says: “The Day of Silence leads to a slanted discussion about homosexuality…because students are being bombarded from every side on the issue of homosexuality…seemingly the only voices that are allowed or respected in the public school system are those from a pro-gay side. It’s important for everyone to have a voice on this issue and for every opinion to be expressed. If one side is going to be expressed, then the other should be as well.”

As a Muslim, I sympathize with others who suffer discrimination and denounce any violence in the name of ‘disapproval’ but agree with following stance:

“Day of Silence participants claim they seek to end discrimination. There is, however, a problem with the way “discrimination” is defined in public discourse today. Groups like GLSEN believe that statements of moral conviction with which they disagree constitute prejudice or discrimination. While relentlessly promoting this view, administrators are never asked to provide evidence for the dubious presuppositions on which such claims of discrimination are based. They are never asked to provide evidence for the arguable claim that homosexuality is equivalent to race; or that disapproval of homosexual conduct is equivalent to racism; or that homosexual impulses are biologically determined; or that the presence of biological influences in shaping desire renders a behavior automatically moral. Parents should demand justification for those claims. If we allow schools to define discrimination so expansively as to prohibit all statements of moral conviction, character development will be compromised and freedom of speech rights will be trampled. And if administrators continue to define discrimination in such a way as to preclude only some statements of moral conviction, they violate their pedagogical commitment to intellectual diversity and render the classroom a place of indoctrination.”

Think of your 15-year-old cousin, who can’t have girlfriend because it is against our deen that is teased at school, called a pansy and wonders whether he is. We need to talk about this and tell our children that Allah loves them and if they are having these feelings then they need spiritual help. Not shun them and turn them over to the wolves, force them out of the folds of Islam. I am not suggesting someone can ‘turn’ your kid gay or not. That is not my concern here.

Some parents worry that taking a stance will adversely affect their children’s grades. What kind of Muslims are we raising? “Cowardly conformists” or those who follow the footsteps of the Sahabah? We need
to teach them to stand up for their beliefs even if they have to sacrifice something. If the teacher does punish them in some way this is unethical and the parents should take it to the school administration. “O you who believe! Ward off from yourselves and your families a Fire (Hell) whose fuel is men and stones, over which are (appointed) angels stern (and) severe, who disobey not, (from executing) the commands they receive from Allah, but do that which they are commanded.” [Quran At-Tahrim 66:6]

Most of the following material is from a website sponsored by Pro-Family groups calling for national support for Day of Silence Walkout. (www.doswalkout.net) Unfortunately Muslim organizations, media
groups and masjids have shied away from supporting this cause. So spread the word on your masjid lists, Muslim websites, etc.

Parents must actively oppose this hijacking of the classroom for political purposes. You can help de-politicize the learning environment, which is paid for by our tax dollars, by calling your child out of school if your child’s school allows students to remain silent during instructional time on the Day of Silence. Brother Kevin Johnson asks, “Why would we want sexual orientation of any type to be taught to our young children? Isn’t that something that is personal and should be dealt with at home by the parents whenever they see fit? After all, the school system’s job is to educate children, not to raise them, that’s the job of the parent.”

If students will be permitted to remain silent, parents can express their opposition most effectively by removing their children from schools on the Day of Silence and sending letters of explanation to their administrators, their children’s teachers, and all school board members. One reason this is effective is that most school districts lose money for each student absence. School administrators err when they allow the classroom to be disrupted and politicized by granting students permission to remain silent throughout an entire day.

Day of Silence – What Should Parents Do?

1. Call your local schools and ask whether they permit students or teachers to remain silent in the classroom on the “Day of Silence.” IMPORTANT: Do not ask any administrator, school board member, or teacher if the school sponsors, endorses, or supports DOS. Schools do not technically sponsor the Day of Silence. Technically, it is students, often students in the gay-straight alliance, who sponsor it. Many administrators will tell you that they do not sponsor the DOS when, in fact, they do permit students and sometimes even teachers to remain silent during instructional time. Also ask administrators whether they permit teachers to create lesson plans to accommodate student silence.

2. Find out what date the event is planned for your school. (The national date in 2010 is April 16, but some schools observe DOS on a different date).

3. Inform the school of your intention to keep your children home on that date and explain why. Download the sample letter from lordsfavor.wordpress.com or from doswalkout.net

4. Explain to your children why you’re taking a stand:

a. What does Islam say about homosexuality.

b. No matter what factors may influence homosexual feelings, freely chosen homosexual behavior is immoral and should be resisted.

c. Homosexuality is not equivalent to race.

d. Disapproval of homosexuality is not equivalent to racism; nor is it hatred; nor is it bullying; nor does it constitute an incitement to violence. It is permissible and ethical to express disapproval of homosexuality. Just because someone may feel bad when hearing that someone disapproves of homosexuality does not mean that disapproval is cruel or wrong.

e. No school should support a view of homosexuality that is unproven and controversial, and that is physically, emotionally, and spiritually destructive to individuals and society.

f. No school should allow instructional time to be politicized.

g. Reiterate that the kids be civil or kind to anyone who exhibits homosexual behavior and make sincere dua for them. It is against the Muslim manners to participate in bullying or calling anyone names that hurt.

50 Comments

50 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Saadullah

    April 15, 2010 at 12:46 AM

    Interesting read, I would like to learn more about what Islam has to say about homosexuality.

  2. Avatar

    Dawud Israel

    April 15, 2010 at 12:46 AM

    Most priests give respect to Muslims for being up front and frank about homosexuality. Much respect sister. Keep at it! *fist bump*

    Islam emphasizes agency, homosexuality is not something they are purportedly powerless against. The case of biological determinism on homosexuality is FAR from solid. Conformity is NOT what these socially conscious campaigns should be directed towards. Shoving this stuff down our throats is awful They need to preserve the option to choose tradition over the endless experiments they have going on.

    In some Canadian universities, the funding for LGBTQ2 (no idea what those stand for) goes towards purchasing sex-toys…believe it or not.

  3. Avatar

    fatima

    April 15, 2010 at 1:54 AM

    kudos to you for saying something about this. thank you! I agree with the points you make on how we often overlook the need to voice our disapproval out of fear of being labeled as discriminatory, as haters and as bigots. I feel that this speaks volumes of how we’re being brainwashed into accepting this as a norm, that the sin that caused Allah to eradicate the people of Sodom from the earth is really not that big of a deal at all, and that anyone who thinks otherwise is an intolerant villain. It truly is a sign of the times, and in today’s society where messages that homosexuality is okay are pummeled into our faces, it is so important that we don’t lose sight of the truth and properly educate our children about Islam’s stance on this. Thank you again for writing this and for sharing your thoughts, JazakAllah Khayr!

  4. Avatar

    Umm Bilqis

    April 15, 2010 at 2:17 AM

    Parents should withdraw their children from these brain washing institutions and either support Private Islamic schools or homeschool which is inexpensive.
    Read John Taylor Gatto for a better understanding of public Schools:

    http://www.edflix.org/gatto.htm

    Step One:
    Hizb shaitan decries the imposition of morality.
    Step two:
    Hizb shaitan promotes the imposition of immorality.

    • Avatar

      Yaqeen needed

      April 15, 2010 at 10:11 AM

      Great way to put it

      Desensitization. Parents will be queried on the Day of Judgment as regards their children. Lets be prepared

      Period.

    • Avatar

      Ummezaynub

      April 16, 2010 at 3:17 PM

      I agree that would be the ideal situation Umm Bilquis, but the reality is that majority of Muslims kids attend public schools. 100% of my youth group kids attend public schools and this is what prompted me to write this. One of my students says
      “I know my school participates this day and wasn’t really sure how to show that I was “against” it”

      Look at how LGB are everywhere, in TV shows, in stores, very in your face. Its not ‘unacceptable’ anymore. The image of a gay woman has changed in the past few years from manly looking woman to gorgeous starlets. These kids idolize Lindsay Lohan and Angelina Jolie who proudly claim their homo/bi sexuality. They think- if its acceptable for them then there must be nothing wrong with it. We need to equip our youth with knowledge, with techniques to counter them. Parents need to get involved in the schools and make sure our voice is heard.

      • Avatar

        Umm Bilqis

        April 16, 2010 at 4:43 PM

        Umme Zaynab,
        Assalamu alikum,
        I agree with you, however the solution can be a 3 pronged approach,
        1)Equip the kids on how to handle these issues.
        2)Have the parents begin to join like minded parents (including those with faiths that do not want this issue foisted on their children) in order to voice their concerns and put a stop to this particular program.
        3) Have a somewhat longer term focus on educating the Muslim community about the homeschool option and about supporting/promoting affordable private schools.
        The final solution and the best in my opinion is hijrah( For those who are able to) because after studying these problems I came to the understanding that not only are these problems not going away but with time they will get worst unfortunately.
        Thanks to a concerted attack on principles and the promotion of situational ethics and a morality that is relative.
        I believe it is imperative for the community to mobilize and discuss these issues especially for those who have no option but to stay in the west.
        As “Yaqeen needed” highlighted this is only one of the issues confronting those who attend Public schools.
        By the way, John Taylor Gatto’s book is called the.” Underground History of American Education”, and it explains the history and reasons for the formation of the Public school system in the U.S . More importantly, the problems that confront those who wish to reform Public Schools.
        He concludes that reforming that system is close to impossible.
        John Taylor Gatto is a long term ex-teacher and winner of awards of excellence in teaching.
        If you ever get a chance, please read this book it is available at his website for free.

        http://www.johntaylorgatto.com/chapters/

        • Avatar

          Ummezaynub

          April 22, 2010 at 6:21 PM

          Thanks for posting that Umm Bilquis- I have read some of his work in ‘Educating your child in Modern Times’ with Hamza Yousuf & Dorothy Sayers.

          Homeschooling frightens people; they start thinking extremist, on the fringes of society, hippies, loony. I am just plain scared that I won’t be the best teacher for my children.
          Will I be organized enough? My husband is concerned that our kids won’t be able to compete with kids attending schools. Both of us attended top notched colleges, so he expects that from our children.

          InshaAllah, I plan to take a baby step, I’m going to start my eldest next year- I can’t swim until I step into the water. I spend 2-3 hours with her going over homework, tests, stuff she didn’t ‘get’ in a class filled with 32 kids. So I might as well make the commitment and get her out of the system.

          At least a million American home school their kids. Its not common knowledge that ‘accomplished’ people like Sally Ride & Sandra Day O’ Connor were home schooled. Not that these are my role models but it may sway some: Will Smith and John Travolta home school their kids.

          • Avatar

            Umm Bilqis

            April 27, 2010 at 12:16 AM

            Assalamu alikum Umme Zaynab, I am sorry I just saw this comment.
            Masha’Allah congratulations,
            Remember you can also use tutors if you are tired or not so confident in some subjects.
            P.S In addition, there are some really good homeschool materials available .

          • Avatar

            Umm Bilqis

            April 27, 2010 at 12:44 AM

            Assalamu aliakum, Sister Ummezaynub, I just saw your comment.
            Masha’Allah Congratulations.
            Homeschooling is a wonderful adventure, make sure you have some kind of support network.
            Check out if you have any Muslim homeschoolers in our area. For field trip purposes .
            Also check if any of your muslim neighbours or those who go to the masjid are able to teach one subject to your kids whilst you teach another to theirs. The kids will have their hands full, and will enjoy the companionship.
            If you are tired or not quite confident in a subject you can get a tutor.
            Some of the books that homeschoolers use are much better than the materials used in public schools.
            Also, check out if your Imaam can hold classes for homeschoolers 2 times a week during the day Seerah, Quran and Arabic.

  5. Avatar

    bint amin

    April 15, 2010 at 3:16 AM

    Salaam

    The brainwashing part is soo true. I went to a girls secondary school and I remember in my first year – the stance towards lesbians- they were bullied and hated. They were classified as wierd and in P.E the girls would be cautious whilst getting changed. However when it got to my final year (6 yrs later) in the same school, the position had changed- a lot more people admitted they were lesbians/bisexuals and in general people stopped speaking out against them and became more sympathetic.

    I still remember clearly a bisexual friend of mine said to me “I wish I wasn’t this way, but I was born like this!” She was one of the popular bisexuals and it was because of her popularity a lot of others “came out of the closet”

    Even now when contacting an old friend from school, she always updates me on all the girls who have become lesbians! And one of them was the girl who used to make fun of the other lesbians!

    So definitely attitude has changed, and the shocking thing is that its changing so fast. This is definitely going to be an issue for our future children and we shouldn’t turn a blind eye to it.

    • Avatar

      SA

      April 15, 2010 at 11:03 PM

      So true!!Growing up in the Middle East I didn’t even know gays and lesbians existed.But then I moved to North America and well it was an eye opener.The weirdest part was seeing some of my “very Muslim” friends who were brought up here saying a person is born gay/lesbian.

      I hope someone on MuslimMatters writes an article on how one should deal with a child who is gay/lesbian and how we as Muslims should communicate/acknowledge a gay/lesbian.

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  7. Avatar

    Sally

    April 15, 2010 at 6:52 AM

    Great article! I was surprised to find more individuals of this orientation in my incoming class than Muslims in the entire school. I treat everyone with respect and mind my own business. If anyone asked me though, i would be quick to explain Islam’s position on homosexuality. I have noticed the omnipresent emotional appeal of the LGBT through these campaigns and the “we have rights too.” May Allah protect us. Individually it is crucial to educate young muslims about sexuality and Islam’s stance on forbidding evil and promoting good.

    • Avatar

      Ummezaynub

      April 16, 2010 at 3:52 PM

      Talk to the teens you know- esp if you are daiee. Doesn’t have to be a formal teaching setting, anywhere, family gatherings, iftars, parties etc. Some times they get so turned off or become in awe of our hijabs and beards, they think we will judge them. But they need to connect you never know when you will affect them.
      We survived Prop 8 here in California- the kids couldn’t understand why we didn’t think its ok. An open dialogue dispelled so many misconceptions. So when your kids come home today and they did attend school- TALK to them about this, its an opportune time. Ask them why were people wearing duct tape, what they felt like when people were quiet in the hallway? Discuss Nuh (AS) struggle with them. May Allah help us.

      • Avatar

        ummezaynub

        April 16, 2010 at 8:37 PM

        ))sorry LUT (AS) typing while feeding a two year old ;)

  8. Avatar

    Yousuf

    April 15, 2010 at 9:44 AM

    Masha Allah, Nicely expressed. Amr bil maaruf and nahi an-il munkar. I used to think that if I would just do the good and not forbid against evil, I would be ok. But I realize that not forbidding the evil would slowly have an effect on me and make it acceptable to me.

    Jazak Allahu khair for this reminder.

  9. Avatar

    mama A to Z

    April 15, 2010 at 1:10 PM

    good stuff– masjids shy away from this because people don’t want to mention the word “gay” or “homosexual” (towba, towba, towba….) it’s easier to pretend like these issues don’t exist. I think more and more people are having wavering thoughts or confused ideas about this and hesitate to condemn homosexuality openly.

    FYI, there’s a blog specifically for Muslims addressing the issue of acknowledging homosexuality as wrong and yet acknowledging that there are people struggling with their feelings who need help: http://gaymuslims.org.

  10. Avatar

    Sayf

    April 15, 2010 at 1:11 PM

    “To you your religion, and to me mine (109:6)”

    Without having to go into an elaborate discussion on the science behind this stuff (because I do believe there’s a ton of stuff that has to do with it that we’re missing i.e. sexual desensitization) I think we just simply need to inform people that such things are strictly contrary to our Deen. That way, you make sure people realize it is actually a religious idea being pushed. Of course, we are tolerant of others having different beliefs, but if they’re going to preach those beliefs in public schools, well that’s different. If they have the right to preach gayness is moral on one side of the classroom that would give me the right to preach the story of Lot (alayhi salam) on the other side.

  11. Avatar

    Yaqeen needed

    April 15, 2010 at 7:19 PM

    Another perspective – what are pros and cons of getting our children educated in these and other parts of the education system way out of muslim control?

    Does the education system ultimately make our children more Aljannah motivated? Or less
    Do the education system ultimately make our children avoid being Hell bound?
    Do the education system ultimately make our children and ourselves to be correct aqidah-insulated? Or aqidah-annihilated with a slow time release mechanism?
    Are there no alternatives though this may demand more sacrifices individually and collectively?

    The homosexuality is cool indoctrination process should be seen as just one of the evils that are nicely packaged and designed . If we succeed in avoiding this one evil, how about the others

    Remember we should save ourselves and children from the Fire fuelled by stones and guarded by stern uncompromising angels. These angels don’t and cannot sell out

  12. Avatar

    Abu Ibrahim

    April 16, 2010 at 1:03 AM

    I’m so glad I don’t live in NYC anymore. As much as I miss where I grew up, I’m sure this crazy “day of silence” would have been supported wholeheartedly in that liberal cesspool.

    This is just all the more reason to continue keeping my kids out of public school. Looks like we’ll be homeschooling for a while, Inshallah.

  13. Avatar

    MD Bro

    April 16, 2010 at 2:01 PM

    I’ll talk double

  14. Avatar

    Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

    April 16, 2010 at 2:10 PM

    I tend to think of myself as Islamically aware and educated, but I admit I have had some slight confusion on this issue. In reading your piece, I realize that I have suffered from some degree of brainwashing as well. So this was a real reality check. Thank you.

  15. Avatar

    Torq

    April 16, 2010 at 5:55 PM

    I am reminded of what the Prophet Lut (AS) said to his people:
    “Is there not among you a single upright man?” 11:78

    It is dumbfounding the number of people who accept this. The only reason this sickness has become somewhat accepted, or tolerated, is it has spread. The power of the “status quo”. But it is what it is, a psychological illness.

    Incest today is where homsexuality was 50 years ago. A few sporadic cases that make it on the news where people argue “there is nothing wrong with it” – and they had an operation so no kids would result.

    But all in all, it makes perfect sense. When you remove God from the picture, your morals will shift slowly but surely as the sand dunes of the desert. And you can always ask “why is this wrong?”. It is simply a matter of enough people approving before the mighty status quo sets the new right and wrong

  16. Avatar

    Saadullah

    April 17, 2010 at 2:41 AM

    Every religion, including Islam has changed to meet the needs of society and stood the test of time. Those factions that held on and refused to question themselves gradually faded into nonexistence. Society, culture, technology all evolve, and so does religion.

    There is an obvious myopia or bias on this forum, and I acknowledge and respect your belief. But I ask you this: before imposing these values onto others and judging them, did you had a look in the mirror? Do you really want the world to be a reflection of you?

    The fact of the matter is that homosexuals are people. They can not be denigrated and dehumanized JUST on the basis of their sexual orientation. Egalitarianism is the true spirit of the Quran, let us not forget that what we worship has been passed onto us by people.

    Islam will need to adopt, and WILL adopt.

    • Avatar

      Umm Bilqis

      April 17, 2010 at 3:39 AM

      The Godless, Secular order attempts to usurp Allah taala’s power and legislations.
      They corrupt everything from the seeds we eat to the minds and bodies of entire societies.
      The process of unravelling the social order is marching on.
      There is splendor and harmony in gender relations as promoted and preserved by the Quraan and the Sunnah.
      The corruptors can continue in their efforts to overturn the Social order.
      Alhamdullilah Islam will always preserve and stop this anarchy and disintegration of societies.

      • Avatar

        Saadullah

        April 17, 2010 at 5:32 AM

        With all due respect, Allah’s legislations have come into effect after the rationalization and deliberation of men. These pious men and Ulama have been the guiding forces in tough times when the Ummah is challenged but what we face now is a lack of leadership. Instead what we are doing is cornering ourselves and resisting while we could embrace the world for what it is. Secularism may not be the solution but Pluralism is, its the only way we can sustain ourselves from further conflict and loss of human lives. Live and let live.

      • Avatar

        Wael - IslamicAnswers.com

        April 17, 2010 at 3:41 PM

        Beautiful comment, Umm Bilqis.

    • Avatar

      Farah

      April 17, 2010 at 11:55 PM

      see. here you are right. islam needs to adapt, not adopt. i’m a teen. i can’t stand the whole gay lesbian thing. it is messed up, wrong, and it is most deffinitely a mental illness. but we can’t just become radicals and keep kids from going to public school and such. we need to inform kids about this issue. also inform schools on how it is almost as if they are messing with religion. we all know religion is a forbidden topic for schools to discuss, i believe that this is a smarter approach. or make one universal day to be silent not for just gay people (ugh.) but for all those who are oppressed and discriminated.

      • Avatar

        Umm Bilqis

        April 18, 2010 at 12:54 AM

        Dear Farah, it is not radical to withdraw children from public school.
        However we do have a right not to have someone elses morality or rather immorality foisted on our children.
        Our values and principles come from our religion, and schooling and education should not attempt to undermine or usurp this role.
        To reiterate, the security of the hearts of our children is as essential as the security of their bodies,if not more so.

    • Avatar

      Ummezaynub

      April 22, 2010 at 7:12 PM

      Salaams,
      Au contraire, Brother Saadullah. All nations have perished who have left Islam. I apologize if in any way I conveyed that I want all people to be a reflection of my flawed self.

      We vilify the act not out of hatred towards them but because Allah in His Majesty hates the act. You are right, they are human, the best of creation made by Allah to live as He wants us to. Read the struggles of so many Muslim brothers who are fighting against their nafs to stay within the commands of Allah in the link Mama A to Z posted, gaymuslims.org. Only Allah knows how much He loves them.

      What I am asking for the freedom to call a sin a sin. They are sinning just as we sin by lying or cheating. We have to believe that Allah is Rahman and can forgive anything except shirk as long as we repent.

      Tolerance does not mean support and , leave it to the parents to talk about it. If I can not say God’s name in my kids’ school- believe me their teachers remind me every time I am in their class, then why talk about sexual preference which is such a private topic. It is not the job of the school to raise our children. They try to equate to race- as one of my African American students said- “Its a choice, and all to often this choice seems to change for the kids around me every week. I can’t get up one morning and decide ‘hey! I feel like being black today”

  17. Avatar

    Ify Okoye

    April 17, 2010 at 5:44 AM

    It seems rather disingenuous to claim that schools are politicizing an issue or indoctrinating students simply because an idea which one may disagree with is being promoted. All schools (public, private, home) have a mission and core values statements/beliefs and if one does not agree with that mission statement or core values then one should not attend such institutions because obviously the school will seek to push that message through its curriculum onto its faculty and students.

    I grew up in a conservative community which had more liberal school districts and we always witnessed some back-and-forth between the two forces. Conservative Christian groups were able to get most popular radio stations banned from school buses and were always pushing for the school mascot to be changed from the “blue devil” and for creationism to be taught alongside evolution amongst other issues. I haven’t forgotten the huge placards of aborted fetuses some conservative protesters held up along the sidewalks as the school buses passed with elementary through high school students, although it wasn’t particularly good dawah on their part and turned most people off even if they agreed with their message.

    • Avatar

      Ummezaynub

      April 22, 2010 at 7:39 PM

      Wasalaam Ify,
      Are you saying that they shouldn’t have pushed for those reforms or they should have done it a
      more constructive way?

      Interesting feedback from kids in our youth group; those that attended public school with very large, affluent Jewish & Asian concentration accounted that there was not much support nor was there a big hoopla. But those that attended school in more homogeneous, less privileged neighborhoods said in some cases up to 90% of class time was used up.

      From sample call out letter:

      “The administration errs when it allows the classroom to be disrupted and politicized by granting students permission to remain silent throughout an entire day. The protesters have a captive audience, many of whom disagree with and are made uncomfortable by the politicization of their classroom. How many political protests will the school allow, and who decides which political issue will be permitted to disrupt the educational process?

      Day of Silence participants have a First Amendment right to wear t-shirts, and if other extracurricular clubs put up posters and set up tables from which to distribute materials, “gay-straight alliances” have that right also. The Day of Silence participants go further, however, by exploiting the instructional time of every student in every class for an entire day in the service of their philosophical beliefs and partisan political purposes. Their silence, and in some cases, the silence of their teachers, transform the activities of the day.”

      • Avatar

        Ify Okoye

        April 26, 2010 at 2:05 PM

        I’m saying much of this protest including the sample letter you highlighted appears disingenuous. Schools and instruction time is always politicized or pushes an agenda. So when we choose to engage we should do so with wisdom.

  18. Avatar

    Mezba

    April 17, 2010 at 8:35 AM

    Have never heard of this day here in Canada.

    I remember all the anger some felt when the book “I have two mommies” (or something to that effect) was introduced in classes.

    Why? It’s just a book. Read it, write a report on it and be done with it.

    Muslims who can be easily brain washed or indoctrinated should really think why is it so.

  19. Avatar

    Umm Bilqis

    April 17, 2010 at 9:46 AM

    Mezba kids can get easily influenced.
    Saadullah the wonderous thing about Islam is it is the religion of the submitters.
    Islam= Submission
    Muslims are Submitters to the will of the Creator.
    As they say in my home,” we did not bring these laws from our back pockets.”
    This Means we are following the will of the Creator, we are following the Holy Quraan and the Sunnah of Our beloved Prophet Sallahu alaihi Wasallam.
    I encourage you to read the story of Prophet Lot..

  20. Avatar

    Abez

    April 17, 2010 at 5:17 PM

    Hooray for homeschooling? :)

    • Avatar

      Umm Bilqis

      April 18, 2010 at 12:34 AM

      Assalmu alaikum sister Abez,
      Homeschool or to provide/ support a Private Islamic school.
      Please note that security for the heart from fasad is just as important as physical security if not more so.
      Here is a link and excerpt for a lady called Charlotte Iserbyt who was an senior policy Advisor at the U.S department of education.
      This essay is called,” The Devil’s Seven Prong Fork”.

      “Prong Seven is UN control of education lifelong under the umbrella of the school district (community re-education). The late Professor Benjamin Bloom, an internationalist closely associated with UNESCO, and the father of The Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, in which all teachers have been trained, said in his book All Our Children Learning: “The purpose of education and the schools is to change the thoughts, feelings and actions of students.” The UN and the tax-exempt foundations have created a socialist America through Skinnerian/Pavlovian behavior modification programs (animal training which bypasses the brain) and the radical change from academics to the communist/fascist polytechnical (lifelong school- to- work job quota system) being implemented today under the controversial No Child Left Behind/ No American Left Alone Act.”

      http://www.deliberatedumbingdown.com/pages/articles/Devils_Seven_Prong_Fork.html

      • Avatar

        someone

        April 18, 2010 at 11:38 PM

        fear mongering much????

        • Avatar

          Umm Bilqis

          April 19, 2010 at 3:11 AM

          lol “Someone”.
          Direct order, “go back to sleep!”

  21. Avatar

    Jessica

    July 19, 2010 at 1:04 PM

    I don’t understand—Muslim girls should be allowed to express their beliefs by wearing hijabs in classrooms, even if it offends those who believe hijabs are degrading to women, but children are not allowed to express pro-equality beliefs by remaining silent for a day?

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      March 24, 2011 at 12:44 PM

      So wear a T shirt that proclaim your belief, why do whole classes have to be framed around this?
      You would probably not like it if I asked your daughter to wear hijab in school to support bullying against Muslims would you? and if she didn’t wear one because it is against her ‘feminist’ convictions and she refuses, would you like her to be called a bigot and Islamophobe?

  22. Avatar

    Ahmed

    October 29, 2010 at 10:30 AM

    It is often said that: “When one suffers from prejudice and discrimination, that is when one learns not to pre-judge and discriminate against others.”

    Muslims nowadays are facing a whole lot of unjust bigotry and discrimination from various quarters. But it amazes me to see that even then, muslims can continue to promote bigotry and discrimination against other minority groups – which in this instance, the homosexual community.

    It is not that difficult to understand the gay community. Just walk up to another gay person and ask he or she why he or she is gay. Another way is to ask yourself. Ask yourself: Why are you straight? When did you choose to be straight?

    The answer is obvious. Nobody chooses to be gay, just as nobody chooses to be straight.

    Why then is the muslim community continue to demonize and terrorize the gay community just “because the book says so”.

    There is so far not one shred of valid argument why one can say that homosexuality is wrong. On the other hand, there are plenty of scientific evidence documenting the occurrence of homosexuality in the animal kingdom, pointing out that homosexuality is but a part of the normal spectrum of human sexuality.

    Do you really think that gay sex is more fun than straight sex? Gosh, if you think so, then you might actually be gay. But the more important point is, why would anyone choose to suffer and have their life threatened, just in order to be gay? The answer is pretty simple. It is simply not a choice.

    It is also not a pathology because homosexuality most definitely does not ruin lives. How does lives get ruined by homosexuality? Lives get ruined, young people get killed because of homophobia. Homophobia is a pathology.

  23. Avatar

    Michael

    March 18, 2011 at 2:30 AM

    This from a group of people who follow the example of the Prophet Muhammad-edited . And you disapprove of a day in support of an end to childhood bullying based on perceived sexual orientation? Makes perfect sense.

    • Hena Zuberi

      Hena Zuberi

      March 24, 2011 at 12:36 PM

      If this day was for childhood bullying across the board it would be a different scenario. Aren’t kids bullied because of race, religion, ethnicity, language, body size, speech impairments, physical development. And the kids celebrating this day, bullying kids who do not want to celebrate this date, excommunicating them, harassing them, calling them names, refutes the very purpose that this day supposedly stands for.

  24. Avatar

    Leilani

    April 20, 2011 at 4:34 PM

    …This confuses me. Gay youth are committing suicide and winding up homeless left and right. it is an epidemic. I can understand not agreeing with homosexual behavior, but to be offended by a day devoted to recognizing that gay youth are suffering in silence, out of fear, is an overreaction. To say that a day of silence, to recognize the epidemic of homophobia in this country and commemorate the lost lives of bullied homosexual youth, is offensive to Muslims is going well overboard.

  25. Avatar

    Leilani

    April 25, 2011 at 2:17 PM

    After discussing this article with someone else, I think it should be removed from Muslim Matters. I’m not saying this in order to curb the free flow of discussion. I really don’t think this article has anything to do with Islam. It’s just not appropriate. That kind of article belongs in a personal blog, or a blog campaigning against Day of Silence. Or even just an anti-gay blog. I’m sure there are many more writers who could create more deserving articles about Islam and homosexuality to be on this site.

    I learned nothing about Islam from this article. All I learned was that the writer did not want her child to observe a day of silence, to raise awareness of the isolation LGBT youth face as a result of bullying, because she thought it was equivalent to brainwashing her kid to believe it is okay to be gay.

    This is not about agreeing or disagreeing with the content of the story. I just don’t think it fits into the theme of this site.

  26. Avatar

    Sam

    May 8, 2016 at 12:07 PM

    But the thing is, most public schools don’t force this day on students. It’s a matter of choice. Remember, its not only Islam that’s against this. Other groups also view this matter differently, so its not like everyone is silent on this day. In my experience, I had some friends who chose to participate while majority of the other students and I did not. Nobody was bullied or made fun of not partaking. Perhaps it matters what type of school you go to, but coming from a person who has attended almost 3 different public high schools(all very diverse and liberal environments), Day of Silence isn’t like a day of brainwashing students or forcing them with this viewpoint. It’s a matter of choice…not all public schools have some agenda to “brainwash” students.

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#Life

Advice To Students Starting A New School Year

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I remember driving to college orientation over the summer with my father, may Allah have mercy on him. I was going to be going to school out of state, and at the age of eighteen, this was the first time that I would be living away from home. 

We talked about a lot of things, and nothing in particular but one of the stories he shared stayed with me. There was an Imam who had a close circle of students and one of them became absent for an extended period. Upon that student’s return, the Imam asked him where he had been, to which the student replied, 

“Egypt!” The imam said to him, “well how was Egypt!” 

The student replied, “Egypt is where knowledge resides.” 

The Imam responded, “You’ve spoken the truth.” 

Sometime later, the imam had another student who also was absent and upon his return, the Imam asked him where he had gone to which the student replied, “Egypt!” The imam said to him, “Well, how was Egypt?”

The student said, “Egypt is nothing but amusement and play!” 

The Imam responded, ‘You’ve spoken the truth!” 

There were students who had witnessed both conversations and asked the Imam later why he had borne witness to the truth of two antithetical statements to which the imam replied,

“They both found what they were looking for.” 

I got the message. University could be a place of incredible learning, engagement with ideas, and can push you and challenge you in the best of ways. It can also be a non-stop party. A blur of heedlessness and hedonism that will bring about remorse and regret for that individual in the Dunya and Akhira. 

I think back to that car ride fondly, and I appreciate the predicament of parting advice. A person who will be bidding farewell to someone so dear to them and wanting to give them something powerful that they can hold onto or wisdom that will guide them. Many students in the past weeks have been receiving similar parting advice from their families, and so in this article I wanted to share one of the advice of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that he gave to a companion that he loved so much. 

عَنْ أَبِي ذَرٍّ جُنْدَبِ بْنِ جُنَادَةَ، وَأَبِي عَبْدِ الرَّحْمَنِ مُعَاذِ بْنِ جَبَلٍ رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمَا، عَنْ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه و سلم قَالَ: “اتَّقِ اللَّهَ حَيْثُمَا كُنْت، وَأَتْبِعْ السَّيِّئَةَ الْحَسَنَةَ تَمْحُهَا، وَخَالِقْ النَّاسَ بِخُلُقٍ حَسَنٍ”

رَوَاهُ التِّرْمِذِيُّ [رقم:1987] وَقَالَ: حَدِيثٌ حَسَنٌ، وَفِي بَعْضِ النُّسَخِ: حَسَنٌ صَحِيحٌ. 

On the authority of Abu Dharr Jundub ibn Junadah, and Abu Abdur-Rahman Muadh bin Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him), that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) said

“Have Taqwa of Allah wherever you are, and follow a bad deed with a good deed it will erase it, and treat people with good character.” (Tirmidhi)

The advice is comprised of three components

  1. Fear Allah wherever you are 
  2. Follow a bad deed with a good deed it will erase it 
  3. Treat people with good character 

Have Taqwa of Allah wherever you are 

Taqwa is the crown of the believer. And it is the best thing that a person can carry with them on the journey of this life, and the journey to meet their Lord. Allah says, 

“And take provision, and the best provision is Taqwa.” 

عَنْ أَبِي هُرَيْرَةَ، قَالَ سُئِلَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم عَنْ أَكْثَرِ مَا يُدْخِلُ النَّاسَ الْجَنَّةَ فَقَالَ ‏”‏ تَقْوَى اللَّهِ وَحُسْنُ الْخُلُقِ ‏”‏ ‏

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) was asked as to what admits people into Paradise the most and he said, “Taqwa and good character.” (Tirmidhi) 

And so what is Taqwa?

Talq ibn Habeeb gave a beautiful definition and description of Taqwa when he said, 

“Taqwa is to act in obedience to Allah, upon a light from Allah, seeking the reward of Allah. And it is to avoid the disobedience of Allah, upon a light from Allah, fearing the punishment of Allah.” 

And so he describes taqwa as having three components; the action, the source for that action, and the motivation for that action.”

To act in the obedience of Allah..

To do the things that Allah commands you to do and to stay away from what Allah prohibits you from doing 

Upon a light from Allah..

The source for the action or inaction must come from revelation, a light from Allah. And this should stir us to seek knowledge so that our actions are onem guided by a light from Allah. You’ve made it to University, you are bright, gifted, intelligent and committed to education.  Do not let be the one thing that you remain uneducated about be your religion. 

Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) says, 

يَعْلَمُونَ ظَاهِراً مِّنَ ٱلْحَيَاةِ ٱلدُّنْيَا وَهُمْ عَنِ ٱلآخِرَةِ هُمْ غَافِلُونَ

They know what is apparent of the worldly life, but they, of the Hereafter, are unaware. (Al-Room v. 7) 

The prophet (S) said, “Allah hates every expert in the Dunya who is ignorant of the hereafter.” (Saheeh Al-Jaami’)

Make sure that you carve out time to attend halaqas on campus, seek out teachers and mentors who will guide you in learning about your religion even as you are pursuing your secular studies..

Seeking the reward of Allah..

The third component of Taqwa is the motivation:  that these actions that are being performed and that are sourced authentically in revelation must be performed for the sake of Allah, seeking His reward, and not for any other audience. That they not be done for shares, or likes or retweets. That a person does what they do of worship, that they abstain from what they abstain from of sin, seeking the reward of Allah and fearing His punishment. 

Fear Allah wherever you are..

Meaning in public and in private, online or offline, and when in the company of the righteous as well as when in the company of the wicked, in all circumstances a person must be mindful of the presence of Allah..

 عَنْ ثَوْبَانَ عَنِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله عليه وسلم أَنَّهُ قَالَ : ( لأَعْلَمَنَّ أَقْوَامًا مِنْ أُمَّتِي يَأْتُونَ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ بِحَسَنَاتٍ أَمْثَالِ جِبَالِ تِهَامَةَ بِيضًا فَيَجْعَلُهَا اللَّهُ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ هَبَاءً مَنْثُورًا ) قَالَ ثَوْبَانُ : يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صِفْهُمْ لَنَا ، جَلِّهِمْ لَنَا أَنْ لاَ نَكُونَ مِنْهُمْ وَنَحْنُ لاَ نَعْلَمُ ، قَالَ : ( أَمَا إِنَّهُمْ إِخْوَانُكُمْ وَمِنْ جِلْدَتِكُمْ وَيَأْخُذُونَ مِنَ اللَّيْلِ كَمَا تَأْخُذُونَ وَلَكِنَّهُمْ أَقْوَامٌ إِذَا خَلَوْا بِمَحَارِمِ اللَّهِ انْتَهَكُوهَا

It was narrated from Thawban that the Prophet ﷺ said:

“I certainly know people of my nation who will come on the Day of Resurrection with good deeds like the mountains of Tihaamah, but Allah will make them like scattered dust.” Thawban said: “O Messenger of Allah, describe them to us and tell us more, so that we will not become of them unknowingly.” He said: “They are your brothers and from your race, worshipping at night as you do, but they are people who, when they are alone with what Allah has prohibited, they violate it.” 

This hadeeth is a warning for the person who is quick, eager and ready to violate the limits of Allah as soon as the door is locked, or the curtains or drawn, or as soon as they have arrived in a new place where no one knows them. We will sin, but let our sins be sins of weakness or lapses of taqwa and not sins of predetermination and design. There is a big difference between someone who sins in a moment’s temptation and the one who is planning to sin for hours, days or weeks! 

And follow a good deed with a bad deed it will erase it..

When we fall, as we must inevitably due to our being human, the prophet (S) instructed us to follow a sin with a good deed to erase it. 

Commit a sin, give charity. 

Commit a sin, perform wudhu as beautifully as you can and pray two rak’ahs. 

Commit a sin, seek Allah’s forgiveness and repent…

Our sins should not suffocate us from doing good deeds, they should fuel us to doing good deeds. 

Allah says,

وَأَقِمِ ٱلصَّلاَةَ طَرَفَيِ ٱلنَّهَارِ وَزُلَفاً مِّنَ ٱلَّيْلِ إِنَّ ٱلْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ ٱلسَّـيِّئَاتِ ذٰلِكَ ذِكْرَىٰ لِلذَّاكِرِينَ

And establish prayer at the two ends of the day and at the approach of the night. Indeed, good deeds do away with misdeeds. That is a reminder for those who remember. (Surat Hood v. 114) 

A man from the Ansar was alone with a woman and he did everything with her short of fornication. In remorse, he went to the prophet (S) and confessed to him. Umar said to the man, “Allah had concealed your sins, why didn’t you conceal it yourself!” The prophet (S) however was silent.

The man eventually left and the prophet (S) had a messenger go to him to recite the aforementioned verse.  A man said, “Oh Messenger of Allah is it for him alone?”

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “No for all people.” 

And so for all people, sin plus good deed equals the sin is erased. That is a formula to be inscribed in our hearts for the rest of our lives.

Al-Hassan Al-Basri, the master preacher of the Tabi’een was asked,

“Should one of us not be ashamed of our Lord, we seek forgiveness from our Lord and then return to sin, and then seek forgiveness and then return!” 

He said,

“Shaytan would love to conquer you with that (notion), do not grow tired of seeking forgiveness”

But know that these sins that are erased by good deeds are the minor sins, as for the major sins they require repentance for the many verses in which Allah threatens punishment for those who commit major sins if they do not repent, and so repentance is a condition for the erasing of the effect of major sins. 

And treat people with good character 

And if Taqwa is the crown of the believer, then good character is the crown of Taqwa, for many people think that taqwa is to fulfill the rights of Allah without fulfilling the rights of His creation! The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) in many hadith highlights the lofty stations that a believer attains with good character, for example: 

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ، رَحِمَهَا اللَّهُ قَالَتْ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ إِنَّ الْمُؤْمِنَ لَيُدْرِكُ بِحُسْنِ خُلُقِهِ دَرَجَةَ الصَّائِمِ الْقَائِمِ

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said: By his good character a believer will attain the degree of one who prays during the night and fasts during the day. (Tirmidhi)

عَنْ أَبِي الدَّرْدَاءِ، قَالَ سَمِعْتُ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏ “‏ مَا مِنْ شَيْءٍ يُوضَعُ فِي الْمِيزَانِ أَثْقَلُ مِنْ حُسْنِ الْخُلُقِ وَإِنَّ صَاحِبَ حُسْنِ الْخُلُقِ لَيَبْلُغُ بِهِ دَرَجَةَ صَاحِبِ الصَّوْمِ وَالصَّلاَةِ 

Abu Ad-Darda narrated that the Messenger of Allah ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him)said:

“Nothing is placed on the Scale that is heavier than good character. Indeed the person with good character will have attained the rank of the person of fasting and prayer.” (Tirmidhi)

Let no one beat you to the taqwa of Allah and let no one beat you to beautiful character. 

You’ve come of age at a time in which the majority of our interactions are online, and in that world harshness and cruelty are low hanging fruit seemingly devoid of consequences. 

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “Whoever lives in the deserts becomes harsh.” (Abu Dawood) 

And social media is a desert, it is an experience where we are all alone, together. 

So choose gentleness over harshness, choose forgiveness over vindictiveness, choose truth over falsehood and protect people from your harm. 

For the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said, “I am a guarantor of a house in the highest part of Jannah for whoever makes their character good.” 

May Allah make us from them. 

Continue Reading

#Life

Challenges of Identity & Conviction: The Need to Construct an Islamic Worldview

Guests
islamic online high school
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He squirmed in his seat as his Middle East history professor–yet again–made a subtle jab about Islam, this time about the jizyah.  This professor claimed to be pro-Arab and pro-Islam and was part of a university department that touted itself for presenting history and narratives that are typically left out of the West’s Eurocentric social studies sequence. Still, she would subjectively only present an Orientalist interpretation of Islam. Ahmad* sighed. He felt bad just thinking about what all his classmates at this esteemed university thought about Islam and Muslims. He was also worried about fellow Muslims in his class who had not grown up in a practicing household-what if they believed her? He hated how she was using her position as the “sage” in the room to present her bias as absolute truth. As for himself, he knew deep down in his bones that what his professor was alleging just could not be true. His fitrah was protesting her coy smile as she knowingly agitated the few Muslims in her class of one-hundred-fifty. Yet, Ahmad had never studied such topics growing up and felt all his years of secondary education left him ill-equipped as a freshman in college. He tried to search for answers to her false accusations after class and approached her later during office hours, but she just laughed him off as a backward, orthodox Muslim who had obviously been brainwashed into believing the “fairy tale version” of Islam. 

***

Asiyah* graduated as class valedictorian of her Islamic school. She loved Biology and Physics and planned to major in Engineering at a top-notch program. While both family, friends, and peers were proud of her (some maybe even wishing they were in her shoes), they had no idea of the bitter inner struggle that was eating away at her, tearing her up from the inside out. Her crisis of faith shook her to the core and her parents were at their wits’ end. While she prayed all her prayers and even properly donned her hijab, deep down she felt……..sort of….……atheist.  Physics was her life–her complete being. She loved how the numbers just added up and everything could be empirically proven. But this led to her greatest anguish: how could certain miraculous events during the time of the Blessed Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) have occurred? How could she believe in events that were physically and scientifically impossible?  She felt like an empty body performing the rituals of Islam.

*names changed

***

An Unwelcome Surprise

Islam is a way of life. Its principles operate in every avenue of one’s life. However, English, History, Science and Mathematics are often taught as if they are beyond the scope of Islam. It is commonly assumed that moral teaching happens, or should happen, only in the Islamic Studies class. Yet, if we compare what is being taught in the Islamic Studies class with what is being taught consciously or unconsciously in other classes, an unwelcome surprise awaits us. Examining typical reading material in English classes, for example, reveals that too much of the material is actually going against Islamic norms and principles. Some of the most prominent problems with traditional English literature (which directly clash with Islamic moral and ethical principles) include: the mockery of God and religion, the promotion of rebellion against parents and traditional family values, the normalization of immoral conduct such as lying and rude behavior, and the condoning of inappropriate cross-gender interactions. Additionally, positive references about Islamic culture are either nonexistent or rare. Toxic themes of secularism, atheism, materialism, liberalism, and agnosticism are constantly bombarding our young Muslim students, thus shaping the way in which they view and interact with the world.

Corrective Lens: The Worldview of Islam

We need our children to develop an Islamic worldview, one that provides a framework for Muslims to understand their world from the perspective of the Qur’an.  It is impossible for the Islamic Studies classes alone to successfully teach Islamic behavior and nurture moral commitment unless the other classes also reflect the Islamic worldview- an outlook that emphasizes the idea that all our actions should be focused on pleasing Allah and doing good for ourselves and others. Therefore, the majority of what is taught in all academic disciplines should be based on Islamic values, aiming to improve the life of the student by promoting sublime ethical conduct. The unfortunate reality is quite the opposite: a typical child in a school in the West spends a minimum of 576 periods (16 periods of core classes/week * 4 weeks/month * 9 months) of classroom instruction annually on academic subjects that are devoid of Islam and contain minimal teaching of morality that aligns with Islamic principles. How much Islam a child learns depends on whether their parents choose Sunday school, Islamic schools, and/or other forms of supplementation to provide religious knowledge. However, rarely does that supplemental instruction undo the thousands of hours of the atheistic worldview that children soak in by the time they finish high school through the study of secular subjects. By not having an Islamic worldview and not having Muslims’ heritage and contributions to humanity infused into the teaching of academic subjects, we witness the problems experienced by the likes of Ahmad* and Asiyah*–problems that plague modern Muslim youth.

Identifying the Unlikely Suspect

This realization is perhaps the missing piece in the puzzle when it comes to our bewilderment: how are large swaths of youth from some of the kindest, sweetest, practicing Muslim families going astray and getting confused? When we shepherd our flock and find one or more of our “sheep” lost and off the beaten path, we think of the likely suspects, which include negative influences from peers, family, movies, social media, etc. We may even blame the lack of inspiring role models. We are less likely to suspect that the very literature that our children are consuming day in and day out through our well-intentioned efforts to make them “educated” and “sophisticated” could cause them to question Islam or fall into moral abyss.

Ibn ‘Umar reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “All of you are shepherds and each of you is responsible for his flock. A man is the shepherd of the people of his house and he is responsible. A woman is the shepherd of the house of her husband and she is responsible. Each of you is a shepherd and each is responsible for his flock.”

Islamic Infusion in Academic Study as a Solution

There have been efforts across the globe to infuse Islam into academic study of worldly subjects. Universities such as the International Islamic University of Malaysia(IIUM), which has a dedicated “Centre for Islamisation (CENTRIS),” is an example. At the secondary school level, most brick and mortar Islamic schools do offer Arabic, Qur’an, and Islamic studies; however, few Muslim teachers are trained in how to teach core academic subjects using principles of Islamic pedagogy.

How exactly can educators infuse an Islamic perspective into their teaching? And how can Muslim children have access to high quality education from the worldview of Islam, taught by talented and dynamic educators?

Infusing Islam & Muslim Heritage in Core Academic Subjects, According to the Experts:

  • Dr. Nadeem Memon, professor of Islamic pedagogy, states that for a pedagogy to be Islamic, it should not contradict the aims, objectives and ethics contained in revelation (Qur’an) and should closely reflect an Islamic ethos that is based on revelation, the sunnah of the Prophet(pbuh), and the intellectual and spiritual heritage of his followers. It should also effectively develop the student’s intelligence (`aql), faith (iman), morality and character (khuluq), knowledge and practice of personal religious obligations (fard ain) and knowledge, skills and physical abilities warranted by worldly responsibilities and duties (Ajem, Ramzy and Nadeem Memon, “Prophetic Pedagogy: Teaching ‘Islamically’ in our Classrooms”)
  • Dr. Susan Douglass, expert in Social Studies, promotes a panoramic study of the world by global eras–emphasizing the interdependence of nations–rather than an isolationist civilizations approach (which in Western societies focuses only on Western civilization). Such study includes Islamic history and Muslims’ contributions to humanity throughout the ages.
  • Dr. Freda Shamma, pioneer in promoting culturally inclusive and ethical literature, emphasizes that English classes should carefully select literature aligned with Islamic moral values and include works by both Western authors and those from other cultures, i.e. literature that 1-features Muslim main characters and 2- is authored by Muslims.
  • Dr. Nur Jannah Hassan at CENTRIS, stresses that Science classes should be designed to awaken the student’s mind, to inspire a complete awe of and servitude towards the Creator and Sustainer, to instill the purpose of creation, vicegerency and stewardship of the earth and its inhabitants, to enable students to decipher God’s Signs in nature and in the self, to infuse responsibility in sustaining balance and accountability, and should include Muslims’ legacy in the field.
  • Dr. Reema alNizami, specialist in Math Education, advocates that Math classes should instill creative thinking, systematic problem solving and an appreciation of balance; include a survey of Muslims’ contributions to the field; and utilize word problems that encourage charitable and ethical financial practices.

Technology Enables Access to Islamically Infused Schooling for grades 6-12

Technology has now enabled this Islamic infusion for middle schools and secondary schools to become a reality on a global scale, alhamdulillah. Legacy International Online High School, a college preparatory, online Islamic school serving grades 6-12, whose mission is “Cultivating Compassionate Global Leaders”, offers all academic subjects from the Islamic worldview. Pioneered by leading Muslim educators from around the globe with background in Islamic pedagogy and digital learning, Legacy is the first of its kind online platform that is accessible to:

  • homeschooling families seeking full-time, rigorous, Islamically infused classes
  • Public school families looking for a part-time Islamic studies or Arabic sequence
  • Islamic schools, evening programs, and Sunday schools that are short-staffed and would like to outsource certain courses from the Islamic worldview
  • Schools and entities needing training/workshops to empower Muslim educators on how to teach from the Islamic worldview

Alhamdulillah, Legacy IOHS is an accessible resource for families with children in grades 6-8 who are seeking curriculum and instruction that is Islamically infused.

Strengthening Faith & Identity in College and Beyond

For those seeking supplementary resources to address the most prevalent hot topic issues plaguing young Muslims of our times, Yaqeen Institute, whose initial publications were more targeted towards a university audience, is now working to make its research more accessible to the general public through both its Conviction Circles initiative and its short videos featuring infographics.

Another online platform, California Islamic University, offers a comprehensive course sequence which allows college students to graduate with a second degree in Islamic studies while simultaneously completing their undergraduate studies at any accredited community college or university in the United States. Qalam and AlMaghrib Institute also offer online coursework in Islamic studies.

What We Hope to Avoid

While volunteering at his son Sulayman’s* public school with ten student participants, Ibrahim* was saddened when he met a young boy named Chris*. When Chris met Ibrahim, he piped up and eagerly told Ibrahim, “my grandparents are Muslim!” Through the course of the conversation, Ibrahim realized that he knew Chris’ grandparents, a very sweet elderly couple (and currently very practicing) who had not made the Islamic worldview a priority early on in their children’s lives. A mere two generations later, Islam is completely eliminated from their family. *names changed

Our Resolve

Legacy IOHS recommends the following to Muslim families/educators and Islamic schools:

  1. Instill in our children a strong grasp of the foundational sciences of Islam, while preparing them with the necessary contemporary knowledge and skills
  2. Teach our children in their formative years to view the world (including their “secular” academic study) through the lens of Islam
  3. Follow this up with relevant motivational programs that assist them in understanding challenging issues of today and coach them on how to respond to the issues in their teenage years.

We pray that with the above, we will have fulfilled our duty in shepherding our flock in a comprehensive way, with utmost care. It is Allah’s help we seek in these challenging times:

رَبَّنَا لَا تُزِغْ قُلُوبَنَا بَعْدَ إِذْ هَدَيْتَنَا وَهَبْ لَنَا مِنْ لَدُنْكَ رَحْمَةً ۚ إِنَّكَ أَنْتَ الْوَهَّابُ

‘Our Lord, do not let our hearts deviate after You have guided us. Grant us Your mercy: You are the Ever Giving. [Qur’an 3:8]

 رَبَّنَا هَبْ لَنَا مِنْ أَزْوَاجِنَا وَذُرِّيَّاتِنَا قُرَّةَ أَعْيُنٍ وَاجْعَلْنَا لِلْمُتَّقِينَ إِمَامًا

‘Our Lord, give us joy in our spouses and offspring. Make us good examples to those who are aware of You’. [Qur’an 25:74]

يَا مُقَلِّبَ القُلُوبِ ثَبِّتْ قَلْبِيْ عَلَى دِيْنِكْ

“O turner of the hearts, keep my heart firm on your religion.”

Freda Shamma has a M.A. from the University of California, Berkeley, and an Ed.D. from the University of Cincinnati in the area of Curriculum Development. A veteran educator, she has worked with educators from the United States, South Africa and all over the Muslim world to develop integrated curricula based on an Islamic worldview that meets the needs of modern Muslim youth. She serves as Curriculum Advisor for Legacy International Online High School.

An avid student of the Islamic sciences, Zaheer Arastu earned his M.Ed from The George Washington University and completed his training in Educational Leadership from the University of Oklahoma. his experience in Islamic education spans over 15 years serving as both teacher, administrator, and dean of innovation and technology. He currently serves as the Head of School for Legacy International Online High School.

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Grit and Resilience: The Self-Help vs. Islamic Perspective

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I don’t really care about grit.

Persevering and persisting through difficulties to achieve a higher goal is awesome. High-five. We should all develop that. No one disagrees that resilience is an essential characteristic to have.

Somehow, this simple concept has ballooned into what feels like a self-help cottage industry of sorts. It has a Ted talk with tens of millions of views, podcasts, keynote speeches, a New York Times best-selling book, and finding ways to teach this in schools and workplaces.

What I do care about is critically analyzing if it is all that it’s cracked up to be (spoiler alert: I don’t think so), why the self-help industry aggressively promotes it, and how we understand it from an Islamic perspective. For me, this is about much more than just grit – it’s about understanding character development from a (mostly Americanized) secular perspective vis-a-vis the Islamic one.

The appeal of grit in a self-help context is that it provides a magic bullet that intuitively feels correct. It provides optimism. If I can master this one thing, it will unlock what I need to be successful. When I keep running into a roadblock, I can scapegoat my reason for failure – a lack of grit.

Grit encompasses several inspirational cliches – be satisfied with being unsatisfied, or love the chase as much as the capture, or that grit is falling in love and staying in love. It is to believe anyone can succeed if they work long and hard enough. In short, it is the one-word encapsulation of the ideal of the American Dream.

Self-help literature has an underlying theme of controlling what is within your control and letting go of the rest. Islamically, in general, we agree with this sentiment. We focus our actions where we are personally accountable and put our trust in Allah for what we cannot control.

The problem with this theme, specifically with grit, is that it necessitates believing the circumstances around you cannot be changed. Therefore, you must simply accept things the way that they are. Teaching people that they can overcome any situation by merely working hard enough is not only unrealistic but utterly devoid of compassion.

“The notion that kids in poverty can overcome hunger, lack of medical care, homelessness, and trauma by buckling down and persisting was always stupid and heartless, exactly what you would expect to hear from Scrooge or the Koch brothers or Betsy DeVos.” -Diane Ravitch, Forget Grit, Focus on Inequality

Focusing on the individual characteristics of grit and perseverance shifts attention away from structural or systemic issues that impact someone’s ability to succeed. The personal characteristics can be changed while structural inequalities are seen as ‘fixed.’

Alfie Kohn, in an article critical of Grit by Angela Duckworth, notes that Duckworth and her mentor while studying grit operated under a belief that,

[U]nderachievement isn’t explained by structural factors — social, economic, or even educational. Rather, they insisted it should be attributed to the students themselves and their “failure to exercise self-discipline.” The entire conceptual edifice of grit is constructed on that individualistic premise, one that remains popular for ideological reasons even though it’s been repeatedly debunked by research.

Duckworth admitted as much in an interview with EdSurge.

There was a student who introduced himself having written a critical essay about the narrative of grit. His major point was that when we talk about grit as a kind of ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps,’ personal strength, it leaves in the shadows structural poverty and racism and other things that make it impossible, frankly, for some kids to do what we would expect them to do. When he sent me that essay, of course, I wanted to know more. I joined his [dissertation] committee because I don’t know much about sociology, and I don’t know much about this criticism.

I learned a lot from him over the years. I think the lesson for me is that when someone criticizes you, when someone criticized me, the natural thing is to be defensive and to reflexively make more clear your case and why you’re right, but I’ve always learned more from just listening. When I have the courage to just say, “Well, maybe there’s a point here that I hadn’t thought of,” and in this case the Grit narrative and what Grit has become is something that he really brought to me and my awareness in a way that I was oblivious to before.

It is mind-boggling that the person who popularized this research and wrote the book on the topic simply didn’t know that there was such a thing as structural inequality. It is quite disappointing that her response essentially amounted to “That’s interesting. I’d like to learn more.”

Duckworth provides a caveat – “My theory doesn’t address these outside ­forces, nor does it include luck. It’s about the psychology of achievement, but because psychology isn’t all that matters, it’s incomplete.” This is a cop-out we see consistently in the self-help industry and elsewhere. They won’t deny that those problems exist, they simply say that’s not the current focus.

It is intellectually dishonest to promote something as a key to success while outright ignoring the structures needed to enable success. That is not the only thing the theory of grit ignores. While marketing it as a necessary characteristic, it overlooks traits like honesty and kindness.

The grit narrative lionizes this superhero type of individual who breaks through all obstacles no matter how much the deck is stacked against them. It provides a sense of false hope. Instead of knowing when to cut your losses and see a failure for what it is, espousing a grit mentality will make a person stubbornly pursue a failing endeavor. It reminds me of those singers who comically fail the first round of auditions on American Idol, are rightly ridiculed by the judges, and then emotionally tell the whole world they’re going to come out on top (and then never do).

Overconfidence, obstinance, and naive optimism are the result of grit without context or boundaries. It fosters denial and a lack of self-awareness – the consequences of which are felt when horrible leaders keep rising to the top due, in part, to their grit and perseverance.

The entire idea of the psychology of achievement completely ignores the notion of morality and ethics. Grit in a vacuum may be amoral, but that is not how the real world works. This speaks powerfully to the need to understand the application of these types of concepts through a lens of faith.

The individual focus, however, is precisely what makes something like grit a prime candidate to become a popular self-help item. Schools and corporations alike will want to push it because it focuses on the individual instead of the reality of circumstances. There is a real amount of cognitive dissonance when a corporation can tell employees to focus on developing grit while not addressing toxic employment practices that increase turnover and destroy employees physically and emotionally (see: Dying for a Paycheck by Jeffrey Pfeffer).

Circumstances matter more than ever. You’ve probably heard the story (of course, in a Ted Talk) about the famous marshmallow test at some point. This popularizes the self-help version of delayed gratification. A bunch of kids are given a marshmallow and told that if they can avoid eating it for 5 minutes, they’ll get a second one. The children are then shown hilariously trying to resist eating it. These kids were then studied as they grew older, and lo and behold, those who had the self-discipline to hold out for the 2nd marshmallow were far more successful in life than those who gave in.

A new study found that a child’s ability to hold out for the second marshmallow had nothing to do with the ability to delay gratification. As The Atlantic points out, it had much more to do with the child’s social and economic background. When a child comes from a well to do household, the promise of a second marshmallow will be fulfilled. Their parents always deliver. When someone grows up in poverty, they are more attuned to take the short term reward because the guarantee does not exist that the marshmallow would still be there later. The circumstances matter much more than the psychological studies can account for. It is far easier to display grit with an entrepreneurial venture, for example, when you have the safety net of wealthy and supportive parents.

Valerie Strauss writes in the Washington Post that grit discourse is driven by middle and upper-class parents wanting their spoiled kids to appreciate the virtues of struggling against hardship. Unfortunately, this focus on character education means that poor students suffer because less money will then be spent on teaching disadvantaged students the skills they need to be successful. Sisyphus, she notes, had plenty of grit, but it didn’t get him very far.

Strauss asks us to imagine if a toxic dump was discovered near Beverly Hills, and our response was to teach kids how to lessen the effects of toxins instead of fixing the dump.

The grit discourse does not teach that poor children deserve poverty; it teaches that poverty itself is not so bad. In fact, hardship provides the very traits required to escape hardship. This logic is as seductive as it is circular. Pulling yourself up by the bootstraps is seen as a virtuous enterprise whether practiced by Horatio Alger’s urchins or Silicon Valley’s entrepreneurs (bootstrapping is a common term in technology finance circles). And most importantly, it creates a purported path out of poverty that does not involve any sacrifice on the part of the privileged classes. -Valerie Strauss

This approach is a way to appear noble while perpetuating the status quo. It provides the illusion of upliftment while further entrenching the very systems that prevent it. We see this enacted most commonly with modern-day Silicon Valley style of philanthropy. Anand Giridharadas has an entire book dedicated to this ‘elite charade of changing the world’ entitled Winners Take All.

The media also does its fair share to push this narrative. Stories that should horrify us are passed along as inspirational stories of perseverance. It’s like celebrating a GoFundMe campaign that helps pay for surgery to save someone’s life instead of critically analyzing why healthcare is not seen as a human right in the first place.

Islamic Perspective

Islamically, we are taught to find ways to address the individual as well as the system. Characteristics like grit and delayed gratification are not bad. They’re misapplied when the bigger picture is not taken into account. In the Islamic system, for example, a person is encouraged not to beg. At the same time, there is an encouragement for those who can give to seek out those in need. A person in debt is strongly advised to pay off their debts as quickly as possible. At the same time, the lender is encouraged to be easygoing and to forgive the debt if possible.

This provides a more realistic framework for applying these concepts. A person facing difficulty should be encouraged to be resilient and find ways to bounce back. At the same time, support structures must be established to help that person.

Beyond the framework, there is a much larger issue. Grit is oriented around success. Success is unquestionably assumed to be a personal success oriented around academic achievement, career, wealth, and status. When that is the end goal, it makes it much easier to keep the focus on the individual.

The Islamic definition of success is much broader. There is the obvious idea of success in the Hereafter, but that is separate from this discussion. Even in a worldly sense, a successful person may be the one who sacrifices attending a good school, or perhaps even a dream job type of career opportunity, to spend more time with their family. The emphasis on individual success at all costs has contributed to the breakdown of essential family and community support systems.

A misapplied sense of grit furthers this when a person thinks they don’t need anyone else, and they just need to persevere. It is part of a larger body of messaging that promotes freedom and autonomy. We celebrate people who are strong and independent. Self-help tells us we can achieve anything with the right mindset.

But what happens when we fail? What happens when we find loneliness and not fulfillment, when we lack the bonds of familial solidarity, and when money does not make us whole? Then it all falls on us. It is precisely this feeling of constriction that Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), give good news to those who are steadfast, those who say, when afflicted with a calamity, ‘We belong to God and to Him we shall return.’ These will be given blessings and mercy from their Lord, and it is they who are rightly guided.” (2:155-157)

Resilience is a reflex. When a person faces hardship, they will fall back on the habits and values they have. It brings to mind the statement of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that patience is at the first strike. He taught us the mindset needed to have grit in the first place,

“Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him, and if he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him” (Muslim).

He also taught us the habits we need to ensure that we have the reflex of grit when the situation warrants it –

“Whoever would be pleased for Allah to answer him during times of hardship and difficulty, let him supplicate often during times of ease” (Tirmidhi).

The institution of the masjid as a community center provides a massive opportunity to build infrastructure to support people. Resilience, as Michael Ungar writes, is not a DIY endeavor. Communities must find ways to provide the resources a person needs to persevere. Ungar explains, “What kind of resources? The kind that get you through the inevitable crises that life throws our way. A bank of sick days. Some savings or an extended family who can take you in. Neighbours or a congregation willing to bring over a casserole, shovel your driveway or help care for your children while you are doing whatever you need to do to get through the moment. Communities with police, social workers, home-care workers, fire departments, ambulances, and food banks. Employment insurance, pension plans or financial advisers to help you through a layoff.”

Ungar summarizes the appropriate application of grit, “The science of resilience is clear: The social, political and natural environments in which we live are far more important to our health, fitness, finances and time management than our individual thoughts, feelings or behaviours. When it comes to maintaining well-being and finding success, environments matter. In fact, they may matter just as much, and likely much more, than individual thoughts, feelings or behaviours. A positive attitude may be required to take advantage of opportunities as you find them, but no amount of positive thinking on its own is going to help you survive a natural disaster, a bad workplace or childhood abuse. Change your world first by finding the relationships that nurture you, the opportunities to use your talents and the places where you experience community and governmental support and social justice. Once you have these, your world will help you succeed more than you could ever help yourself.”

The one major missing ingredient here is tawakkul (trust in Allah). One of the events in the life of the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) that epitomized grit, resilience, and perseverance was the Battle of Badr. At this occasion, the Companions said, “God is enough for us: He is the best protector.

“Those whose faith only increased when people said, ‘Fear your enemy: they have amassed a great army against you,’ and who replied, ‘God is enough for us: He is the best protector,’“ (3:173)

This is the same phrase that Ibrahim 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), while displaying the utmost level of resilience, said when he was thrown into the fire, and it was made cool.

There is a core belief in Islam about balancing between fear and hope. Scholars advise when a person feels despair, they should remind themselves of the traditions that reinforce hope in Allah’s forgiveness. When a person feels themselves sliding further and further into disobedience to Allah, then they should remind themselves of the traditions that warn against Allah’s punishment. The focus changes depending on the situation.

Grit itself is a praiseworthy characteristic

There is no doubt that it is a trait that makes people successful. The challenge comes in applying it and how we teach it. It needs a proper level of balance. Too much focus on grit as a singular predictor of success may lead to victim-blaming and false hope syndrome. Overlooking it on the other hand, enables a feeling of entitlement and a victim mentality.

One purpose of teaching grit was to help students from privileged backgrounds understand and appreciate the struggle needed to overcome difficulty. Misapplied, it can lead to overlooking systemic issues that prevent a person from succeeding even when they have grit.

Self-help literature often fails to make these types of distinctions. It fails to provide guidance for balancing adapting the advice based on circumstance. The criticisms here are not of the idea of grit, but rather the myopic way in which self-help literature promotes concepts like grit without real-world contextualization. We need to find a way to have the right proportionality of understanding individual effort, societal support, and our reliance on Allah.

Our ability to persevere, to be resilient, and to have grit, is linked directly to our relationship with Allah, and our true level of trust in Him.

To stay up to date with more articles from Omar, sign up for his email list at http://ibnabeeomar.com/newsletter

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