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New Muslim Series: After Shahadah

By the grace and mercy of Allah, my mother accepted Islam last year in April. After having made du’a for this for my entire existence, I can safely classify that as the best day of my life. By the next day, the news of her conversion had spread throughout the community. My mom had just taken her shahādah, was not yet wearing ḥijāb, and was still adjusting to such a huge change, when a nice Bengali auntie in niqāb took it upon herself to give my mom her first and most important advice (sarcasm intended). She approached my mom and said in a thick accent “Sister, what is your name?” My mom responded, “Tara…” The auntie asked her, “No, no….I mean your new name.” So my mom says “Uhhh…I’m going to keep my name.” The woman looks troubled and then proclaims, “No, no, I must now give you a nice Islamic name. I have re-named you………Fatima.”

We’ve all seen it happen time and time again…There’s a crowd gathered in the masjid. The Imam goes up to the microphone and happily shares the news that someone would like to publicly accept Islam. Everyone gets out their camera phones, the women flood into the main hall, and the more often than not nervous new Muslim approaches the microphone to repeat the shahādah in a language completely unknown to them. The moment they finish their proclamation, the foundation of the building shakes with the sound of hundreds of excited Muslims screaming “Allāhu Akbar!” at the top of their lungs. The new Muslim is then showered with more hugs and kisses they have likely ever received in the span of their life, and voila: we have a new member of the Muslim community. Everyone goes home feeling elated and inspired, but far too often that is the last time they will think of that new Muslim, now alone somewhere driving home from the masjid.

We are living in a time where Muslims are no longer living in the shadows, and people are flooding to Islam without ever having been given “organized da‘wah.” This fact is one that needs to be accepted by every masjid and every Muslim community in the West. We no longer have the luxury of remaining unprepared and unorganized in the field of New Muslim Support. With da‘wah coming to our doorsteps, the least we can do is have a system in place to teach, mentor, and support our new Muslim brothers and sisters.

The Need for New Muslim Support Systems

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When a person accepts Islam, aside from the peace and contentment they gain from submitting to Allah’s way, they are also diving headfirst into an entire new lifestyle and belief system. Shahādah is only the first step of the journey, and what follows it is not always an easy path. Firstly, a new Muslim must learn the basic beliefs and actions of being a Muslim. Additionally they must learn how to make wuḍū’ and pray properly, eventually learning the prayer in Arabic. As they have just stepped into a new faith, they will often have multitudes of questions regarding a variety of Islamic issues. On top of this, they are most likely dealing with one or more of the following issues: Problems with family, being kicked out of their residence, drinking or drug issues, poverty, work related challenges, or any number of other things.

As the icing on the cake, many also have to deal with drama from the Muslim community itself. Common issues include being pressured to change everything about their life overnight, being judged for not yet wearing ḥijāb or dressing properly, accusations of being a spy because of their non-Arab/desi heritage, and many other issues. A story from my local community displays this all too well: A brother had recently taken his shahādah, and soon after, he came to his first Friday prayer. A man in the masjid heard this new Muslim brother praying in English and approached him saying, “You’re going to Hell if you pray like this.”

New Muslims need mentors to teach them, support them, and guide them through their new journey as a Muslim. When they have someone that has warned them about these issues and is constantly helping them, teaching them, and answering questions, they feel supported and confident that they have someone to go back to. The lack of such a person, however, will leave the new Muslim feeling isolated and unaware. Attempting to go through any combination of these issues alone without any support is often the reason why many new Muslims end up leaving Islam. In recognizing and highlighting these issues, the need for New Muslim Support Systems becomes blatantly clear.

In 2009, a group of brothers and sisters at the Islamic Institute of Orange County (IIOC) sat down to define the scope of the newly created Dawah and Outreach Committee. It didn’t make logical sense to give da‘wah, bring people into Islam, and then have no system in place to take care of the new Muslims. So it was decided the responsible thing to do was to create a New Muslim Support Group (NMSG) before planning any da‘wah endeavors. Under the leadership of Br. Khalid Mansour, we began working to develop this system. Yet as we looked to other communities hoping to benefit from their examples, we were shocked to find that roughly 95% of masājid in the U.S. had absolutely no system in place for new Muslims. Realizing what a magnanimous void existed, the team at IIOC developed and continues to update and improve the NMSG: a model that can be implemented in any community.

How to Start a New Muslim Support Group in Your Community

Firstly, what exactly is a New Muslim Support Group? It’s a “buddy system” with a set curriculum and set protocols for interaction. It is an organized way of ensuring that when someone walks into the masjid and accepts Islam, you already have a trained mentor lined up who will be assigned to the new Muslim. The mentor will then be their main person of contact and will take them through the curriculum, teaching them the basics of Islam, how to make wuḍū’, how to pray, etc.

Here is what you will need:

1.  Get your local Imam or Community Leader involved and aware: This will help get the community in tune with issues facing new Muslims and how to act appropriately (And how to not act like “Your new name is Fatima” lady or “You’re going to Hell” guy).

2.  A highly dedicated and organized leader: This person will be managing the entire NMSG and therefore must be professional, responsive, and altruistic.

3.  Curriculum for new Muslims: IIOC has created a comprehensive curriculum geared towards a new Muslim who is starting from scratch. In the form of a small booklet, the curriculum will take them through all the basics of Islam and everything they need to know. It even includes quizzes to test their understanding of the material. IIOC hopes to make this curriculum available online in the next few months. I will be posting a follow up article once it is up inshaAllah.

4.  A volunteer training presentation: This is also something that IIOC will be making available online in the very near future inshā’Allāh. Until then, this presentation should include training on how volunteers (aka mentors) should deal with the new Muslim they are assigned to.

5.  Team of trained mentors: These volunteers should have gone through the training presentation and should be familiar with the curriculum they will be teaching their assigned new Muslim. Volunteers must be professional, responsive, and recognize that they cannot fall short in dealing with people’s lives and faith.

6.  Know your community resources: At times, there may be new Muslims who have special circumstances and may need extra help besides mentorship. Rather than being caught off guard, it is best to have information on your local resources ready ahead of time. You should be aware of resources for: Financial assistance, housing assistance, shelters, clothing for sisters who may need ḥijābs/modest clothing, rehabilitation centers for drugs and alcohol, job finding assistance, counselors, and anything else you think may be needed.

With the help of Allah, once those points are in place, you are well on your way to having an established New Muslim Support Group in your community.

After all is said and done, imagine the countless rewards that can be gained by teaching a new Muslim the basics of Islam. If you teach a new Muslim how to pray, perhaps you will gain the reward of every ṣalāh they perform and every ṣalāh their children perform, etc.

I will leave you with a story of a new Muslim sister from the IIOC community. The sister accepted Islam, and for an entire year she went to different masājid, never finding the support she needed. Almost every experience she had at a masjid left her feeling rejected by the community. She knew that Islam was true but she was becoming increasingly depressed. Alḥamdulillāh, after some time she stumbled across the New Muslim Support Group at IIOC and was assigned a mentor who gave her the support she needed and invested time and effort into her. She was able to work through the issues in her life, began wearing ḥijāb, and is now happily married to a Muslim man. After searching for her dīn for a long time, at the end of the day it was just a matter of someone being there for her.

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Nadya Aweinat is a Batman loving tajweed geek who spends her days hiking, learning and teaching Qur'an, and enjoying the year round superb weather of Southern California. By the mercy of Allah, she recently completed her memorization of the Qur'an and is working on completing a degree in Speech Pathology.

46 Comments

46 Comments

  1. Avatar

    TheColdTruth

    March 1, 2012 at 11:15 AM

    Let me tell you why Muslims are like this.We are so GD insulated, and we leach off of other countries, yet look at their people with contempt. We need a little assimilation, and I think it would be done best with a cold hard boot to each of our asses, to show us we are not the chosen people.

     

  2. Avatar

    Yasmin

    March 1, 2012 at 12:11 PM

    Jazakallah khair for this very important post!

  3. Avatar

    Jeremiah

    March 1, 2012 at 1:27 PM

    Taleef Collective in the Bay Area (and now Chicago) are doing a great job with this, mashallah.

    • Avatar

      Muhammad

      March 1, 2012 at 9:15 PM

      Agreed, Taleef is doing some awesome work mA, and the MECCA center in NYC addresses many of the same issues. So as far as the void is concerned, there are a few exceptions, but generally speaking, it’s true that not many similar programs exist. It’s nice to see that this one aims to be reproducible in multiple locations 

  4. Avatar

    Zamzam Bayian

    March 1, 2012 at 1:46 PM

     

    Jazak Allah khaira. Wonderful article.

    Your article reminded me of the obstacles faced by converts to Islam.
    They really encounter them even if they live in a Muslim community. I have met
    many converts to Islam where I live, Saudi Arabia, and their problems almost
    the same as the ones you mentioned. One convert whom I know changed her name to
    an Islamic name – as people like to call. However, many people are still
    calling her by her old name. Sometimes, I feel that though she changed her
    name, she is more comfortable with her old name, and even I think she misses
    it. But, maybe she did so because she felt that changing the name was a
    necessary step in her new life, or maybe this idea was told to her non-verbally
    by her Muslim fellows. Anyway, the points you mentioned in your article deserve
    serious care by Muslims. Jazak Allah khaira.  

    • Avatar

      miteypen

      March 7, 2012 at 10:00 AM

      I can relate to what you wrote about changing your name. I chose not to change mine when I converted, but I kind of miss the opportunity to take on a new identity as a new Muslim. Of course you do that anyway, but a new name seems to be a symbolic act and makes the change complete.

      This is a complex topic and needs to be explored more in convert circles.

  5. Avatar

    Umm Ousama

    March 2, 2012 at 3:17 AM

    Assalamu alaikum,

    I suggest that you contact the New Muslim Centre in East London, UK. They have a good support system. Here is the website:

    http://www.eastlondonmosque.org.uk/services/New%20Muslims%20Advice%20&%20Support 

    You can also contact Brother Usamah at info@eastlondonmosque.org.uk . His wife is also involved in the Sisters’ area. 

    • Avatar

      Nadya

      March 2, 2012 at 3:36 AM

      JazakiAllahu khairan for the resource! 

  6. Avatar

    Nadya

    March 2, 2012 at 3:28 AM

    Wa alaikum assalam,

    I checked out the website and the program looks awesome mashaAllah!! 

    You should definitely touch bases with the IIOC team and inshaAllah both programs can benefit from each other.

    Wa iyyakum!

  7. Avatar

    Nadya

    March 2, 2012 at 3:34 AM

    Very good point!

  8. Avatar

    Umm Noor

    March 2, 2012 at 9:38 AM

    Thank you for this article.
    Just on the name change fixation….I’m not sure why the entire ummah that came to islam – from china to indonesia to south asia to africa to bosnia and beyond — all the converts changed their name to “muhammad” or “ali” etc. and now all their descendants sport these names. But now if a western convert changes his or her name it is viewed with pity as if they were brainwashed or duped. 

    • Avatar

      Umm Noor

      March 2, 2012 at 9:46 AM

      What i wished to say is, it can be yet another way to make us feel incompetent in our decisions, we have to be separately marked as “not quite there yet”, or that everyone should know that we are “Western” so that it is a little asterisk beside our identity, and finally that we have to answer for very simple things that are taken for granted for the entire ummah. I’m not saying force anyone, but it has gotten to the opposite extreme where you are viewed as very stupid if you change your name to Abdurahman or Zainab.

      • Avatar

        Umm Ousama

        March 2, 2012 at 10:04 AM

        The problem of the author is not of a person changing her name, it is of the person being asked to change her name as soon as he/she becomes Muslim. Actually, the first thing a person should ask is to take that person and teach her Salaat in a gentle way. Is there any evidence that all converts changed their names? Some have to change their names because of shirk issue but my guess would be that many of them started to name their children after the names of the early Muslims. Wa Allahu a’lam.

        • Avatar

          Umm Noor

          March 2, 2012 at 10:43 AM

          Thank you. My point is that this issue has taken a life of its own. People have become very strong in their views that no converts should change their names, and that even their kids should have western sounding, rather than traditionally Islamic, names. 

          Many years after our shahadahs this is a main discussion point that we have to revisit over and over again. It – and others like it – become a poor substitute for developing real friendships and a real sense of community, when over the course of years and years our relationships with other people continually circle back to why or why you didn’t change your name, why do you choose to wear such and such garment rather than jeans, why do you cook ethnic food (does that mean you hate America now?) and other many similar “convert” topics.I’m using this as an example of the issues we have to face in the community, and the many different perspectives and feelings we have. I’m not making a case against the author; rather, I’m using the author’s excellent points as a springboard to opening up the discussion and sharing my experiences as a convert. I guess another, subtler, layer is that the convert experience doesn’t end after a couple of years — it might change, but there are always challenges. That should be factored into these programs. Also, converts and 2nd generation of converts should be brought in as mentors and start to develop their own programs, agendas and plans for the broader community, just as immigrant muslims do.

          • Avatar

            Nadya

            March 2, 2012 at 3:11 PM

            Assalamu alaikum Umm Noor,

            JazakiAllahu khairan for your comments.

            You made some really good points in your last comment. Firstly that the convert experience does not necessarily end after a couple of years, and secondly that more established converts should be reached out to in order to gain their experiences and input…For who better would know what a convert is going through than someone who has gone through it themselves. Great points mashaAllah. 

            As for your comments on name changing, I personally have not experienced what you are talking about but perhaps you have. Like Umm Ousama (may Allah reward her) mentioned, for someone who wants to change their name there’s absolutely no problem with that, and I don’t think that anyone would view them as “brainwashed” or “duped”. The issue arises when they are told that a) They have to change their name, b) That they should change their name right away now that they are Muslim, or c) That it is even better to change their name. In the time of the Prophet (SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam), the only time when a “convert”, a companion of the Prophet (SallAllahu alayhi wa sallam) would change their name is when it had a bad or un Islamic meaning. 

            I know converts who have changed their names because they felt more connected with the Muslim community that way and that’s fine. I also know converts who keep their names whether for personal reasons, family reasons, or even dawah reasons! I personally think it’s SO cool when you meet someone named Sally or Jennifer or Albert and they are Muslim. I think it’s an excellent display that anyone regardless of their race or background can be Muslim and it shows how diverse the Muslim community is. 

            My apologies, this comment is like an article in and of itself. 

          • Avatar

            Umm Noor

            March 2, 2012 at 8:55 PM

            Jazaki Allahu khairan. Yes, I agree with your points about name changing, and also adding that there are developing (in my experience) very hardened views on this (on both sides). For me it has become somewhat of the “moon sighting” issue for converts and those who are interesting in helping converts…I hope we educate people on their options that you describe so well, educate non-converts that they can respect the choices converts make without having them defend their name choices (either way), and then move on with other topics. 

          • Hena Zuberi

            Hena Zuberi

            March 2, 2012 at 9:44 PM

            Sister if you ever want to share your experiences in an article- we always encourage guest posts

  9. Avatar

    Nfbe

    March 2, 2012 at 1:44 PM

    Alhumdulilah for your efforts. You could not be more on point with this.  The community at Masjid As Sabur in Sacramento started a similar effort in 2011. We have put together a 7 week group format curriculum to educate and support new Muslims.  We don”t have a mentoring component yet which I think is a great idea.  I look forward to you posting your curriculum. 

    • Avatar

      Nadya

      March 2, 2012 at 3:13 PM

      That’s great to hear mashaAllah!

      InshaAllah it will be up soon!

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  11. Avatar

    RCHOUDH

    March 4, 2012 at 1:09 AM

    Mash’allah excellent article! I look forward to seeing the curriculum and volunteer training program that IIOC will post online soon Insha’Allah. This would be greatly helpful to masajid run by immigrant Muslim communities, which I feel are least prepared to handle the issues faced by new Muslims in the West. And the bit about the wrong ways some Muslims approach new ones (and those close to believing but not quite there yet) regarding Deen reminded me of a painful story I once read.
    A young mother interested in Islam once attended a prayer gathering at a masjid; throughout the salah her child was being disruptive because the masjid had no babysitting services for children. After salah an angry Muslim woman approached the young mother (who hadn’t converted yet but was close to doing so) and told her next time she should leave her child someplace else before coming to the masjid. Needless to say that was the last time this mother was ever seen at that masjid.  

    • Avatar

      RCHOUDH

      March 4, 2012 at 1:12 AM

      Just wanted to clarify that by immigrant community masajid, I meant the ones where most of the attendees (and masjid staff) are very recent immigrants and so they may not know English very well and understand the issues/problems faced by Muslims outside of their own communities. I realize there are also masajid run by 2nd gen communities but those aren’t the ones I’m referring to here.

      • Avatar

        Nadya

        March 4, 2012 at 1:51 AM

        JazakAllahu khairan for your comment. Yes, your story is another example of one of those unfortunate situations. 

        Like Dreamlife mentioned in an above comment…Some of these stories and issues don’t even have to do with the person being a new Muslim (or someone interested in Islam)…Really, many times, all it comes down to is decency, understanding, respect, and compassion that Muslims need to learn to have towards each other. 

        May Allah help us and our communities to always improve and may Allah help us grow in the areas that we are lacking in. 

        • Avatar

          RCHOUDH

          March 4, 2012 at 2:48 AM

          Ameen to your du’a sister.

  12. Avatar

    Nadya

    March 6, 2012 at 1:07 AM

    That’s awesome mashaAllah may Allah bless and increase your work!

  13. Avatar

    Muslimah

    March 9, 2012 at 9:38 PM

    mashaAllah what an amazing idea and joint effort!
    jazakaAllah khair for sharing this so that other communities could also implement such a model! 

    • Avatar

      Nadya

      March 11, 2012 at 10:07 PM

      Wa iyyaki :)

  14. Avatar

    Tara

    March 11, 2012 at 10:18 PM

    MashaAllah Nadya this is a great article. 

    By the way this is Tara, Nadya’s mom, not Fatima

    Honestly, when this situation happened, I was very well informed for a new Muslim. I actually already knew that changing your name was not a necessary component of becoming a Muslim. Having been well taught by my daughters, my first thought when she said that (which by the way I kept to myself) was…WHERE’S THE DALEEL?!?

    But, I just smiled…

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  19. Avatar

    Working Dawah

    September 7, 2012 at 1:37 PM

    Asalaamu wa alaykuum, masha Allah. may the masjids in america learn from this example insha Allah. please contact me @ working dawah on facebook with more good news like this insha Allah.

  20. Avatar

    bachita

    September 16, 2012 at 4:09 AM

    I hate muslim

  21. Avatar

    bashir ahmed

    October 5, 2012 at 11:28 AM

    i agree and jazakalah sheikh

  22. Avatar

    denise

    November 27, 2012 at 11:52 AM

    Im newto islam im in need for a female to teach me about islam i live in atlantic city nj

    • Avatar

      sadiya

      December 3, 2013 at 7:54 AM

      this comment was from a long time ago so i dont know if u got the help u needed, but if u didnt then u can write to me at sadiyamerchant1@gmail.com

  23. Avatar

    Naja muhammad

    February 20, 2013 at 11:20 PM

    I am a perfect example of this, I am a new sahadah and I have no support I live in Philadelphia and it feels like the more I reach out the more I feel rejected. I can contacted many of the local muslim prayer centers asking to speak to the head sister asking if anyone could donate a few abaya and kimars to me because I can not afford them at all I have two young boys and I am a single mom and my family turned there back against me because I have converted to Islamic and did not choose to stay a Christian so I can not turn to them for help but when I called the local prayer centers the just turned me down, all I want to do is dress like the Muslim I am proud to be I want to go to the prayer centers to over my salaats on Fridays but I do not want to be disrespectful and come with no abaya or prayer abaya and Kemar on. I really feel alone and don’t know what to do, I often get scared to salaam out in public due to the fact I am not dress as a Muslim sister. The one time I tried the Muslims sister did not salaam me back.

    • Avatar

      zimyana

      April 18, 2014 at 6:30 AM

      salam sister Naja,
      felt so bad after reading this n I wish to contact you in any way . even through facebook is fine. my mail is ximyana@gmail.com . im not sure if you are in a better place o not right now as this post is over an year back. id like to help you in any way i can.

  24. Avatar

    adm

    April 22, 2013 at 10:07 AM

    asalam alaikum
    well the above posts are interesting. I live in a muslim community but there is no support network available. I have been struggling to find a muslim wife despite living in a muslim community. I asked the imam to help me find a wife and he recommended dating websites and mixed matching events. Now Im someone who doesn’t do these things and it doesn’t take a genius to figure out wether its right or wrong.

    non muslim girls have asked me out on dates and for relationships, but you see as a muslim practising male, i can only last so long with support or help.

    what do I do? do i date an honest jewish girl who works with me, or do i wait for a miracle form people and a community which is so self centred, that nothing happens

    can anyone help or advise me, where and how can i meet a revert muslim female for marriage
    would be appreciated

    email address, secretservice27@googlemail.com

    kind regards

  25. Avatar

    muhammad hamza

    January 13, 2014 at 11:56 AM

    i am converted muslim and i am in deep crises after accept islam some one help me. contact me on hamzakkkhan@yahoo.com

  26. Avatar

    Ms.Stone

    October 5, 2014 at 8:47 PM

    This is a GREAT article!! I was blessed to be connected with a “mentor” at my masjid :) however, there’s no actual mentor program available. I just happened to get referred to this kind sister by knowing someone else. Still, as a convert attending the masjid now for several months with regularity, I’m still struggling with a sense of not being welcome. There’s really nothing in place to welcome converts which is sad. I think we often show up for the first time at a masjid nervous but full of hopes and find that no one will offer a “salaam.” I wonder if Muslims understand how difficult it can be for converts. Not only are we new to the Deen and learning a LOT… many of us lose friends, even family who turn their backs when we convert, leaving us very alone. Sisters also struggle with newness of covering. This is combined with pressure from the community who would judge a sister for not covering yet, but aren’t taking the initiative to gently teach her the benefits or reasons, or even provide her with a scarf or modest clothes. These times can be confusing even depressing! if we had someone to hold our hand and walk with us a while, how wonderful that would be!!!!!

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  28. Avatar

    Ghada

    February 29, 2016 at 5:45 AM

    Assalamu Alaikom

    So how can we have a look at your curriculum?

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#Islam

Identity Scholarship: Ideological Assabiya And Double Standards

The Prophet helped the Arabs overcome their asabiya (tribalism) and enter a new defining bond of Islam. The criterion for right and wrong was no longer clan membership, but rooted in the religion of Islam. Muslims were instructed to defend the truth, command good, and forbid evil regardless of tribal affiliation. Asabiya does not just relate to kin-based tribes.  One of the resurging traces of jahilya affecting our discourse is ideological tribalism. In ideological tribalism, we hold double standards between our tribe and other tribes, and overlook fallacies in our group that we would not for other groups. Just as we protect an idea that represents our identity, when a personality reflects our group identity, there is a personal reason to defend the personality. It then becomes instinctual then to double-down in discussions even when wrong to show group strength, which at this point is a survival mechanism and not a true dialectic. Abandoning a quest for truth and succumbing to an in-group vs. out-group dichotomy leaves us to defend falsehood and dislike truth. Refusing to accept truth is one way the Prophet described arrogance. 

Group belonging

One of the main drivers of identity scholarship is group belonging. When we focus on defending our group rather than principles which extend beyond group delineations we prove false our claims of wanting the truth.  The burden of moral responsibility is not offset by finding someone to follow [1]. Charismatic leaders have an ability to tap into latent desires of individuals and awaken in them the desire to be part of something greater than themselves. Their own identities are often validated by following the charismatic figure, and they then work hard to preserve the group as they would to preserve their own selves.

According to Ann Ruth Willner, charismatic authority “derives from the capacity of a particular person to arouse and maintain belief in himself or herself as the source of legitimacy. Willner says that the charismatic leadership relationship has four characteristics:

  1. The leader is perceived by the followers as somehow superhuman.
  2. The followers blindly believe the leader’s statements.
  3. The followers unconditionally comply with the leader’s directives for action.
  4. The followers give the leader unqualified emotional commitment.
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Charismatic leadership satisfies our desire to be part of something bigger, and paradoxically, to hand all power over to someone else can make us feel more powerful because we think that person is the best version of ourselves. We feel that we have gained ‘agency by proxy.’ We have also dumped all responsibility for decisions onto the leader- what Erich Fromm, the scholar of Nazism, called an ‘escape from freedom.’ When we are in a charismatic leadership relationship, our sense of self-worth attaches attached to the identity of the leader, so that we take personally any criticism of that leader, and have as much difficulty admitting flaws or errors on the leader’s parts as we do on our own. Because we see the leader as us, and we see us as good, we simply can’t believe that he or she might do bad things” (59) [2].

Charismatic leadership is emotional and works on desires. This type of leadership has no relation to truth. It exists and persists due to feelings, hence contradictions, double-standards, and outright hypocrisy aren’t issues for those in the relationship. Even when the leader confidently behaves irresponsibly, followers do not think less of him. What is inconsistent and irresponsible for an out-group observer is charming to members of the in-group.

As Miller points out: 

Followers don’t expect charismatic leaders to be responsible for what they say, nor to behave responsibly; their irresponsible behavior is part of their power. Their use of hyperbole and tendency to be unfiltered in speech are taken to signify their passionate commitment to the in-group (60).

Such loyalty is not specific for charismatic leaders, The Minimal Group Paradigm shows that we have more empathy for our in-group even if that in-group is arbitrarily assigned, and we will act biased in their favor against an arbitrarily assigned out-group. This is a tendency against which we must actively fight to maintain clarity in thinking and fair standards in discussions. When group loyalty is prized there is a fear of opposing the group, which obliterates any chance of scholarly discourse. Questioning a position becomes akin to questioning authority and leaves the questioner ostracized and out-casted. When the out-group is pejoratively labeled, there is an additional fear of thinking like or ending up in that group. 

Identity scholarship

Rather than looking at the argument constructed and judging whether or not it is sound, identity scholarship approves or dismisses arguments based on the person making them. Arguments are then validated by personalities and not standards of scholarship.  This is a dangerous shift from reasoning and evidence to personalities. 

Identity scholarship leverages the need to belong and centers the personality over the argument. However, focusing on the strength of arguments and not the personality is especially important given that the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is applied to vocationally trained Muslims, seminal graduates, preachers, or to those who display a scholarly caliber in Islam alike. This is a sufficient crisis. The term is heavily equivocated, and should never serve to stand in place of standards of scholarship in discourse. 

Ambiguity in the term ‘scholar’ or ‘shaykh’ is exploited by groups to strengthen their influence. Not always pernicious, this is the natural progression of proselytizing via group identity. An in-group who will dismiss dissenting voices for not having studied long enough, not obtaining ijazas, will promote voices of similar or less educated Muslims when those voices are in their ‘in-group.’ Titles like ‘ustadh’ and ‘ustadha’ are quickly conferred upon those who are volunteers or proponents of the ‘in-group’ even with minimal study. Advocating for the correct paradigm is rewarded more than a knowledge based approach to issues. Giving titles to those with social capital in your in-group is also an effective way for brand expansion. For example, loosely affiliated students with avenues into the growing Muslim mental health field are often referred to as ‘ustadha.’  Also, traditionalists will often promote in-group religious figures engaging in no-risk activism like condemning already popularly condemned figures as exemplary ‘scholars and activists’ who should be followed by other activists.  

If a person has been doing this long enough they become ‘shaykh,’ and then eventually a ‘senior scholar’ with assumed wisdom and spiritual insight, worthy of deference. I am well acquainted with the unfortunate irony in traditional circles where those who push a manhaj of studying at the feet of scholars have by and large not done so beyond attending general lectures by visiting scholars.  Many do not even know Arabic, but their zeal and tenure of feel good lectures in a community primarily interested in nasheeds and tea coupled with their promoting the right figures secure for them a scholarly status by generations who venerate the theory of studying at the feet of scholars. 

Thus authority and titles are conferred by virtue of in-group allegiance. 

Slip into demagoguery

When we accept an in-group and out-group dichotomy and don’t argue fairly, we lay the foundation for demagogic discourse. As Patricia Mill-Roberts writes “If people decide to see things as a zero-sum game- the more they succeed, the more we lose, and we should rage about any call made against us, and cheer any call made against them- then democracy loses” (13). The best way to avoid this is by maintaining fair discussions and letting go of double standards. Arguments appealing to in-group or out-group positions rather than being based in fact should not be accepted regardless of which group they are coming from. Several tactics used in these types of arguments are described below. 

Creating a strawman

Falsely representing the out-group is a common tactic in demagogic discourse. One example is portraying out-group critics as only critics. The critic is frozen in time as someone who has accomplished nothing, helped no one, and as only one who sees the faults in others. The in-group then goes on to list what they have accomplished -‘albeit with some faults’- to not seem as braggarts, but insists that those faults are magnified by the arm-chair critics. 

Another example is labeling Muslims more concerned with academic preservation and development as Muslims in ivory towers. This suggests knowledge is only relevant if immediately actionable and discounts the role of theoretical knowledge in both present and future action as well as an intrinsic end.  

Even when it comes to the epitome of practical action, Allah tells the Muslims to not all go out in battle, but to have groups remain behind to study.

Condescending discrediting

One way demagoguery characterizes the out-group is by a “dithering, wavering, impaired masculinity, and weakness…”(66).  Just as Rudy Giuliani dismissed those protesting Trump’s 2016 win as “professional protestors” with nothing else to do in life, so do we dismiss dissenting voices. 

Terms like ‘keyboard warrior’ should be dropped from the vernacular of anyone who uses the internet for Islamic education. If the internet is good enough for theatrical Ramadan reminders and choreographed Islamic reflections, it should also be good enough for dissent and valid critiques.[3] We have to embrace the fact that the internet is not a pretend medium; social media posts are used in newsfeeds, are reacted to on the mimbar, and even prompt live events. If we dismiss valid criticisms made online as the act of ‘keyboard warriors’ we should also call those giving dawah online ‘studio daa’is.’  

Discrediting due to inexperience

Experience is an important element in answering questions and dealing with different scenarios, and, should rightly be considered when one is looking for a teacher, etc. However, frequently, the standards for what constitutes experience are used inconsistently. The same individuals who refer to young teachers as ‘shaykh’ or ‘mufti’ while in their in-group, dismiss ‘shaykhs’ and ‘muftis’ in the out-group of similar age and experience, arguing that a person can’t be a ‘real’ mufti because studying 7 years doesn’t make anyone a scholar. Graduating from a seminary or Islamic university will be the standard for members of an in-group to be called scholars, but the out-group will be ‘immature graduates’ who have not learned wisdom.  Wisdom itself will be defined as the avoidance of actions which challenge the in-group. Likewise an activist saying the right thing and echoing in-group talking points will be called ‘ustadh,’ but if from the ‘out-group’ dismissed as a Godless- activist’ that just hates hierarchy. 

Victimization and Victimology

Demagoguery thrives on the in-group being victimized by the out-group. It is common for religious figures to dismiss valid criticism as nothing but hate, envy, or ignorance [4]. When criticized by activists, it is common to label them as ‘anti-clerical’ activists who only have an issue with Islamic leaders because they are neo-Marxists. 

‘Neo-Marxist’ is used as a catch-all term to discredit those who disagree with the positions of some religious leaders to insinuate the disagreements are rooted in hate for hierarchy or authority thus being illegitimate. Even conservative and practicing Muslims are labeled as ‘leftists’ and ‘Godless activists’ for simple critiques. In Sufi groups, disagreeing with leadership is often said to be the result of being spiritually veiled, or the work of ‘dark forces’ and ‘shayateen’ dividing us. If we can agree that black-magic and evil-eye are real but should not be the first culprit in a failing marriage, let’s also look for practical failures when religious organizations break down before we start blaming the ‘shayateen.’  

On one hand the in-group claims they are victims, on the other they blame the out-group for having a victim mentality.  This may seem like an obvious contradiction, but as Miller explains,  

If condemnation of out-group behavior is performed by a very likable persona, then onlookers are likely to conclude that the rhetor would never engage in the behavior she or he is condemning. This maneuver is especially effective with people who believe that you can know what someone believes by listening to what values he or she claims to espouse, and with people who think you can predict behavior by listening to values talk (who believe that ‘good people- that is, people who say the right things- don’t do ‘bad’ things) (56) 

Another tactic is using terms like ‘victomology’ to belittle legitimate grievances of being wronged and falsely representing those grievances as an attitude of being a victim in life.

Being oppressed (mazlum) does not require living a tough life, being a victim in life, or being part of an oppressed group. We are told by the Prophet that delaying a payment owed while being capable of paying is oppression (Muslim). When our God given rights are transgressed upon, we are mazlum in that situation. It is not uncommon however to see Muslims want to claim their rights and express they have been wronged to be dismissed as those who love to be victims. Ironically, this is even done by organizations that describe themselves with the leftist concept of ‘safe spaces.’  

Disregarding Nuance

“Demagoguery is comfortable because it says the world is very simple, and made up of good people (us) and bad people (them)” (24). 

We must understand that if someone does not see an issue as black or white, it’s not because they are obviously corrupt, willfully ignorant, or stupid.  The word nuance itself triggers cynicism and is treated as an excuse to employ mental gymnastics to deny what is ‘obvious.’  The fact of the matter is when it comes to khilafi issues there is generally a vast scope of acceptable actions, and when it comes personal ijtihaadi matters for policy there is often no clear-cut best answer. Thus in such matters the objective is to come to a best resolution or course of action. In short, we should all take appropriate measures in our decisions to ensure the benefit outweighs the harm. Certain positions are cautioned against due to the likelihood of harm to one’s religion, but that likelihood may not serve as evidence that one has harmed his religion. As the great scholar Muhammad Awama relates in Ma’laam Irshadiya, the way of the scholars is to leave people in what they are following as long as it is correct and has a valid legal perspective [5]

Scholarly discourse

Advice from recognized experts in a field carries weight, but it should not be conflated with a scholarly argument. A common mistake is to confer authority upon an opinion outside the area of one’s authority. Scholarly works must prove themselves to be scholarly as stand-alone works. Even if a great scholar has published many scholarly works, his advice should be taken as advice. For example, Imam al-Ghazali was a great scholar, but Dear Beloved Son is not a scholarly work.  We have a malfoozaat (wisdom-sharing) tradition that is precious, but we must know where to place it in the hierarchy of Islamic knowledge. 

Islamic scholarly discourse should be evidence based, demonstrative of legal proficiency, and cater to Islamic concerns. Those engaging should share the evidence for what they say, the sources of the rulings they share, the difference between the reason for a ruling and the wisdom of a ruling [6], understand contextual fatwas,[7] and understand which rulings are based on urf and which rulings are intrinsic obligations or prohibitions. These are just some elements of Islamic scholarly discourse, and it cannot exist alongside identity scholarship. 

There should be private forums with prerequisites where scholarly discourse can take place. When these discussions move outside of their proper place other issues such as discussing weak or aberrant (shadh) fiqh opinions arise, which to an undiscriminating audience all will seem co-valid on the spectrum of differing opinions in sharia. Promoting aberrant positions caters to our cultural preferences of thinking outside the box and carries the façade of an intellectual approach to Islam. In Maharam al-Lisaan (Prohibitions of the Tongue) Muhammad Mawlud lists both mentioning the conflict between the Sahabah, and mentioning aberrant opinions as prohibitions.  This is not due to the utterance being sinful, but rather to the misconceptions it can lead to for the average Muslim if not properly addressed.  

There may be a need to dismiss open innovators and those spreading misguidance, because there is no end to the possibilities of innovation and it obfuscates what should be self-evident, and can be very difficult for even scholars to refute in ways that resonate with those affected by innovation. The double standard as previously mentioned is when lack of formal credentials is only a problem for out-groups. 

How to have productive discourse

Islamic historical discourse has its share of polemics. There are commentaries, fatwas and treatises which insult valid ijtihad and even refer to the entirety of a madhab with epithets. Some scholars were harsh and had a penchant for polemics. Transgressions into mockery and slander were not condoned, and belligerent attitudes were something scholars sought to check with reminders of adab al-ikhtilaf (the etiquettes of disagreement). While the previously mentioned certainly existed and such an approach may serve to strengthen positions of the in-group to the in-group, it does not make for productive dialogue with the out-group.

Outside of scholarly discourse, when we debate policy and Islamic positions, we need to have sincere, fact based arguments with the goal of arriving at truth. Our ability to accept truth no matter who says it shows we have transcended in-group vs. out-group tribalism and have entered the realm of sincere discourse.  Overcoming in-group tribalism and following the truth, rather than blindly following our ‘fathers’ is a central message in the Quran. 

And when it is said to them, “Follow what Allah has revealed,” they say, “Rather, we will follow that which we found our fathers doing.” Even though their fathers understood nothing, nor were they guided?  2:170 

Arguments on points should never be personal. We should train ourselves to evaluate arguments and understand that people we like can make mistakes, and people we dislike and generally disagree with may be right on certain matters. 

Don’t take cheap shots if you disagree with someone, such as pointing out a typo to insinuate incompetence. 

It’s important to leave double-standards, and to point them out when someone is employing them.  When one side is unfair or uses double standards, it encourages the opposition to act in kind, and the discussion devolves into a fight. When disagreeing with someone, never insult that person.  When a personality is attacked, the response will be defending the personality, and the entire discussion is derailed. 

Sharing a post, or article should not be seen as endorsing an individual or a post. Sometimes it’s a means of opening a discussion, other times to share beneficial points even if the entirety of what is shared is not beneficial. Furthermore, endorsing an individual in one area is not a blanket endorsement, and should never be taken as such.  The Hanafi tradition was able to benefit from legal fatwas while not accepting theology of Mu’tazilite scholars. Likewise, many of our best tafseers are from Mu’tazilite scholars. The widely studied and highly regarded Tafseer al-Baydawi is basically a reworked Mu’tazilite tafseer without the Mu’tazilite aqidah. Scholars have been able to ‘take the good and leave the harm.’ 

“I don’t think you could search America, sir, and find two men who agree on everything.” – Malcolm X

We need to uplift our intellectual level and drop disclaimers like “I don’t agree with everything in this article” or “I don’t agree with everything he said.”  It is only worth stating when you do agree with everything someone says or does.  The common disclaimers should be taken as givens and we shouldn’t capitulate to a cultural push of walking on egg-shells so no one accuses us of supporting the wrong person or idea. 

It is critical we operate under the assumption that sharing a panel with or working with an individual is not an endorsement of that individual. Likewise, working with an organization is not an endorsement of that organization. Such associations are attacked as potentially confusing to the average Muslim, but we must work towards establishing that such actions are not support. 

Here we see an ambivalent conceptualization of the ‘average Muslim’ as someone who both deserves transparency from religious scholars for their actions as well as one who is easily confused or misled by the actions of Muslim scholars. If we can accept both propositions, that a scholar’s actions are not proof, and that working with someone and sharing posts and platforms do not equate support for every particular view or stance of a person, we may set the foundation for being issue focused rather than personality focused. 

In conclusion, it is important we all hold ourselves to high standards of discourse and not support behavior or fallacies from our in-group that we would deride from an out-group. The groups themselves are inevitable and not a problem, but we have to work to overcome the natural ideological tribalism that accompanies group membership.  If we personally transcend in-group bias and reflect it in our discourse, we can overcome the pettiness and hypocrisy that stifles productive discussions. 

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Dawah and Interfaith

10 Lessons I Learned While Serving Those in Need

charity

I have spent about a decade serving the impoverished domestically and recently, abroad. I don’t work for a major charity organization, I work for my community, through grassroots efforts. It was something embedded in me while learning Islam. Before starting a charity organization, I started studying Islam with Dr. Hatem Alhaj (my mentor) and various other scholars. The more I studied, the more I wanted to implement what I was learning. What my community needed at the time was intensive charity work, as it was neglected entirely by our community. From that, I collected 10 lessons from servicing those in need. 

1. My bubble burst

One of the first things I experienced was the bursting of my bubble, a sense of realization. I, like many others, was unaware of the hardship in my own community. Yes, we know the hadith and see the events unfold on the news and social media, but when a father of three cried before me because a bag of groceries was made available for him to take home, that moment changed me. We tend to forget how little it takes, to make a huge difference in someone’s life. This experience, made me understand the following hadith of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him): “Every Muslim has to give in charity.” The people then asked: “(But what) if someone has nothing to give, what should he do?” The Prophet replied: “He should work with his hands and benefit himself and also give in charity (from what he earns).” The people further asked: “If he cannot find even that?” He replied: “He should help the needy, who appeal for help.” Then the people asked: “If he cannot do (even) that?” The Prophet said finally: “Then he should perform good deeds and keep away from evil deeds, and that will be regarded as charitable deeds.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 524. I

t is simply an obligation, due to the amount of good it generates after you do this one action. I then realized even more how beautiful Islam is for commanding this deed. 

2. Friendships were developed on good deeds

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Serving the poor is a great reward in itself. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “Save yourself from hellfire by giving even half a date-fruit in charity.” – Sahih Al-Bukhari, Volume 2, Hadith 498. But it is better done with a team, I began building a team of people with similar objectives in serving the needy. These people later became some of my closest friends, who better to keep close to you than one that serves Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) by helping the neediest in the same community you reside in. Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “A person is likely to follow the faith of his friend, so look whom you befriend.” [reported by Abu Dawood & Tirmidhee] This is turn kept me on the right path of pleasing Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Working with a team removes a lot of the burden as well and the depression that might occur seeing the saddest stories on a daily basis. Allah says in the Qur’ān, “Indeed the believers are brothers.” (49:10). Sometimes there is a misconception that you have to have a huge office or a large masjid in order to get work done. But honestly, all you need is a dedicated group of people with the right intention and things take off from there. 

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: 'If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.' - Al-Tirmidhi,Click To Tweet

3. Made me thankful

This made me thankful for whatever I had, serving the less fortunate reminded me daily to turn to Allah and ask for forgiveness and so be thankful. This kind of service also puts things into perspective. What is truly important in life? I stepped further and further away from a materialistic lifestyle and allowed me to value things that can’t be valued by money. I learned this from the poorest of people in my community, who strived daily for their family regardless of their situation — parents who did what they can to shield their children from their harsh reality. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “If you love the poor and bring them near you. . .God will bring you near Him on the Day of Resurrection.” – Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 1376. They had a quality about them, despite their poverty status. They were always some of the kindest people I have known. 

dardir

4. People want to do Good

I learned that people want to do good; they want to improve their community and society. I began to see the impact on a communal level, people were being more engaged. We were the only Muslim group helping indiscriminately in our county. Even the people we helped, gave back by volunteering at our food pantry. We have schools where small kids (under adult supervision) partake in preparing meals for the needy, local masajids, churches, and temples, high school kids from public schools, and college organizations (Muslim and nonMuslim) visit frequently from several cities in neighboring counties, cities, and states. The good spreads a lot easier and faster than evil. People want to do good, we just need more opportunities for them to join in. United we can rock this world.

“We need more light about each other. Light creates understanding, understanding creates love, love creates patience, and patience creates unity.” Malcolm X. Click To Tweet

5. Smiles

Smiles, I have seen the wealthiest smiles on the poorest people. Despite being on the brink of homelessness, when I saw them they had the best smile on their faces. This wasn’t all of them, but then I would smile back and that changed the environment we were in. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Charity is prescribed for each descendant of Adam every day the sun rises.” He was then asked: “From what do we give charity every day?” The Prophet answered: “The doors of goodness are many…enjoining good, forbidding evil, removing harm from the road, listening to the deaf, leading the blind, guiding one to the object of his need, hurrying with the strength of one’s legs to one in sorrow who is asking for help, and supporting the feeble with the strength of one’s arms–all of these are charity prescribed for you.” He also said: “Your smile for your brother is charity.” – Fiqh-us-Sunnah, Volume 3, Number 98. Smiles are truly universal.

6. It’s ok to cry

It was narrated that Abu Hurayrah raḍyAllāhu 'anhu (may Allāh be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah said: “A man who weeps for fear of Allah will not enter Hell until the milk goes back into the udder, and dust produced (when fighting) for the sake of Allah and the smoke of Hell will never coexist.” Narrated by al-Tirmidhi and al-Nasaa’i. There are situations you see that hit you hard; they fill your heart with emotions, but that never swayed my concrete belief in Allah’s wisdom. Crying before Allah, not just out of fear, but to be thankful for His Mercy upon you is a relief.

7. Learning to say no

It was one of the hardest things I had to do, a lot (if not all) of the requests I received for help were extremely reasonable. I do not think anyone asked for anything outrageous. Our organization started becoming the go-to organization in our area for help, but we are one organization, with limited resources, and a few times we were restricted on when or how we could help. This is where learning to say no became a learned skill. Wedid do our best to follow up with a plan or an alternative resource.

8. It is part of raising a family and finding yourself

How so? Being involved in your community doesn’t take away from raising your family, it is part of it. I can’t watch and do nothing and expect my children to be heroes. I have to lead by example. Helping others is good for my family’s health. Many people living in our country are consumed with their busy lives. Running out the door, getting to work, driving the kids to their after school activities, spending weekends taking care of their families, etc. So people have a fear of investing hours in doing this type of work. But in reality, this work puts more blessings in your time.

One may feel they are taking time away from their family, but in reality, when one comes back home, they find more peace in their home then they left it with. By helping others, I improve the health and culture of my community, this in turn positively impacts my family.

I enjoy being a softie with my family and friends. I am a tall bearded man, and that image suited me better. I am not sure what made me softer, having kids or serving the poor. Either way, it was rewarding and defined my role and purpose in my community.

I learned that you make your own situation. You can be a spectator, or you can get in there and do the best you can to help. It gave me an opportunity to be a role model for my own children, to show them the benefit of doing good and helping when you can.

It came with a lot of humility. Soon after starting I realized that all I am is a facilitator, Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) is giving an opportunity of a lifetime to do this work, a line of work very little people get to engage in regularly. My advice to my readers, if you can serve the poor do so immediately before you get occupied or busy with life.

Helping others is good for my family’s health.Click To Tweet

9. Dawah through action

As I mentioned before I did spend time studying, and at one point developed one of the top dawah initiatives in the country (according to IERA). But the reality is, helping the less fortunate is my type of dawah, people started to associate our food pantry and helping others with Islam. As an organization with one of the most diverse groups of volunteers, people from various religious backgrounds found the environment comfortable and hospitable. I began working with people I never would have worked before if I had stuck to traditional dawah, studying, or masjid involvement, all of which are critical. This became a symbol of Islam in our community, and while serving, we became those that embodied the Quran and Sunnah. For a lot of those we served, we were the first Muslims they encountered, and Alhamdulilah for the team we have. Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) also says in the Quran: “So by mercy from Allah, [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you” (3:159). It is our actions that can turn people away or towards Islam.

10. Once you serve the needy, you do this for life

I wasn’t volunteering on occasion,— this was an unpaid job that was done regularly. I got requests and calls for emergencies daily at times. It took up hours upon hours every week. As a charity worker, I developed experience and insight in this field. I learned that this was one of the best ways I could serve Allah [swt. “They ask you (O Muhammad) what they should spend in charity. Say: ‘Whatever you spend with a good heart, give it to parents, relatives, orphans, the helpless, and travelers in need. Whatever good you do, God is aware of it.'” – The Holy Quran, 2:215

I believe the work I do with the countless people that do the same is the best work that can be done in our current political climate and globalization. My views and thoughts have evolved over the years seeing situations develop to what they are today. This gave me a comprehensive outlook on our needs as a society and allowed me to venture off and meet people top in their fields like in social activism, environmentalism, labor, etc.

I want to end with three sectors in society that Muslims prosper in and three that Muslims can improve on. We strive on individual education (noncommunal), distributing and organizing charity, and more recently being politically engaged. What we need to improve on is our environmental awareness, working with and understanding unions and labor rights, and organizing anti-war movements. 

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#Islam

Swallowing Your Pride For A Moment Is Harder Than Praying All Night | Imam Omar Suleiman

Iblees was no ordinary worshipper. He worshipped Allah for thousands of years with thousands of prayers. He ascended the ranks until he accompanied the angels with his noteworthy worship. Performing good deeds was no issue for him. He thanked Allah with his prayers, and Allah rewarded him with a lofty station in Paradise. But when Adam was created and given the station that he was, suddenly Iblees was overcome by pride. He couldn’t bear to see this new creation occupy the place that he did. And as he was commanded to prostrate to him, his pride would overcome him and doom him for eternity. Alas, swallowing his pride for one prostration of respect to Adam was more difficult to him than thousands of prostrations of worship to Allah.

In that is a cautionary lesson for us especially in moments of intense worship. When we exert ourselves in worship, we eventually start to enjoy it and seek peace in it. But sometimes we become deluded by that worship. We may define our religiosity exclusively in accordance with it, become self-righteous as a result of it, and abuse people we deem lesser in the name of it. The worst case scenario of this is what the Prophet (peace be upon him) said about one who comes on the day of judgment with all of their prayers, fasting, and charity only to have it all taken away because of an abusive tongue.

But what makes Iblees’s struggle so relevant to ours? The point of worship is to humble you to your Creator and set your affairs right with His creation in accordance with that humility. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said that whoever has an atom’s worth of pride in their heart would not enter paradise. The most obvious manifestation of that pride is rejecting the truth and belittling someone else. But other subtle manifestations of that pride include the refusal to leave off argumentation, abandon grudges, and humble yourself to the creation in pursuit of the pleasure of the Creator.

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Yaqeen

Hence a person would rather spend several Ramadan’s observing the last 10 nights in intense prayer seeking forgiveness for their sins from Allah, rather then humble themselves for a moment to one of Allah’s servants by seeking forgiveness for their transgressions against him, even if they too have a claim.

Jumah is our weekly Eid, and Monday’s and Thursday’s are our weekly semblances of Ramadan as the Prophet (s) used to fast them since our deeds are presented to Allah on those days. He said about them, “The doors of Heaven are opened every Monday and Thursday, and Allah pardons in these days every individual servant who is not a polytheist, except those who have enmity between them; Allah Says: ‘Delay them until they reconcile with each other”

In Ramadan, the doors of Heaven are opened throughout the month and the deeds ascend to Allah. But imagine if every day as your fasting, Quran recitation, etc. is presented to Allah this month, He responds to the angels to delay your pardon until you reconcile with your brother. Ramadan is the best opportunity to write that email or text message to that lost family member or friend and say “it’s not worth it to lose Allah’s forgiveness over this” and “IM SORRY.”

Compare these two statements:

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) said: “He who boycotts his brother for more than three days and dies during this period will be from the people of hellfire.”

He also said:

“I guarantee a house in the suburbs of Paradise for one who leaves arguments even if he is right.”

Swallowing your pride is bitter, while prayer is sweet. Your ego is more precious to you than your sleep. But above all, Allah’s pleasure is more precious than it all.

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