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Why Our Prayers for Gaza May Not Be Answered

The hands are up, the tears flow and the “Ameens!” vibrate around the room. “Oh Allah, save the people of Gaza! Oh Allah help them! Oh Allah protect them!” the imam continues to beseech fervently. This was a scene played out in practically every mosque in the world this Ramadan. And last Ramadan. And the Ramadan before that.

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And yet, when we get home and turn on the TV – more deaths, more heartbreak and more injustice. Every single time. In fact, each time – things seem to be getting worse.

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So what is going on? How come our duaas are not answered?

There is a possibility that we are being impatient and that maybe Allah is accepting our duaas and fervent prayers, but He is doing so in ways that we cannot see or understand. Maybe Allah is helping us and the situation would have been so much worse otherwise. Perhaps.

Or maybe, just maybe – He is not answering our prayers because there is something fundamentally wrong with us. The thought should chill us to the bone. Here are a few reasons why this might be the case:

1. Personal hypocrisy

The Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) made mention of a man who is constantly in journeys and has dishevelled hair and dusty appearance (due to constant journeys for performing acts of righteousness such as Hajj, Umra, seeking knowledge etc.) and he raises his hands towards the sky saying “O my Rabb. O my Rabb”. But his food is from haraam. His drink is from haraam. His clothes are from haraam. He is nourished from haraam. How can it (his prayer) be accepted?” [Sahih Muslim]

It is impossible to know how many of us are guilty of wilfully neglecting the commands of Allah when it comes to our personal lives. How many of us make no effort to avoid interest? How many of us do not take care to ensure that our income is halaal? How many of us consistently choose to do the opposite of what Allah has ordered us to do whether it be how we eat, dress or conduct ourselves as spouses, parents or friends? The point is not for us to judge each other, but truly Allah does judge and His judgement is clear – if we disobey Him, then we shouldn’t expect His help when we ask for it.

allahdeclareswaronriba1

2. Financial hypocrisy

The Muslim community across the world raises money for Gaza and we should be justifiably proud of our fundraising efforts – especially Muslims in the West who are amongst the most generous of faith groups. But after we’ve given ourselves a pat on the back, let us put our fundraising in context.

The entire aid budget to Gaza last year was less than the amount spent building one mega skyscraper in a Muslim city. It was less than the amount spent on impotency drugs by just one Muslim country. It was less than the amount spent by just one Muslim buying just one football club. I could go on and on, but you get the point. Although our mouths might say that we care about Gaza immensely, our (collective) wallets say something slightly different.

gaza aid1

3. Social hypocrisy

The Muslim community is supposed to be a beacon of justice, hope and divine guidance for the world, but if anyone were to look at us, what would they see? They would find the many of the most corrupt nations in the world. They would find racism, nationalism, bribery, sectarianism, illiteracy, honour killing, drug production and consumption.

Given half a chance, many Muslims would prefer to live in the West than in their own lands. Although the above is a generalisation, there is enough truth there for us to know that our house needs putting in order.

most corrupt

4. Political hypocrisy

There are people who are making duaa and shedding tears for Gaza who exactly a year ago were cheering as their national army mowed down thousands of men, women and children in the streets simply for being of a different political ideology. There are people who are rallying for Gaza who are also concurrently supporting the slaughter of tens of thousands of Muslims simply because the person doing the slaughtering is from their sect. There are those who are decrying the inhumane siege on Gaza who actively support their government when they turn away a persecuted Muslim minority from their borders.

egysyrbang

Abraham Lincoln once said, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.” When a sizeable part of the Muslim world decides that the life of their fellow Muslim (in fact, their fellow human beings) comes secondary to their political agenda… then why should Allah listen to the duaas of such a people?

Wow… that’s depressing

Reading the above may make you feel deflated and hopeless. It should not. Why? Because acknowledging that there is something wrong with us is the first step towards doing something about it. Otherwise we are doomed to repeat our mistakes again and again until the lesson is learnt. Trials and tribulations are meant to be a cleansing, but only if we realise that we actually are stained by hypocrisy in the first place.

“Verily Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.”

[Quran 13:11]

The crisis in Gaza has shown that despite all our problems, there is still much good left in us. We still feel the pain of our brothers and sisters and it disturbs our peace. Some of us are spreading awareness on social media. Others are organising boycotts and protest marches. Still others are raising money. If we can channel this positive energy into rectifying these forms of hypocrisy and reforming ourselves, then our families, then our communities and then the Ummah as a whole – we may actually be able to bring about the change we seek.

Not only will we free Gaza… we may just end up freeing ourselves too.

kaba-door-from-below

“…Do not despair of the mercy of Allah.” [Quran 39:53]

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Dr. Muhammad Wajid Akhter - Doctor, Medical Tutor (Social Media, History & Medicine) - Islamic Historian - Founder of, and current board member to Charity Week for Orphans and needy children. www.charityweek.com - Council member, British Islamic Medical Association

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Avatar

    sayyadi

    August 9, 2014 at 2:10 AM

    All hope is not lost as greatness of this write up re-invigorate me. Thanks

  2. Avatar

    Khadija

    August 9, 2014 at 6:21 AM

    I couldn’t agree more. It is time we engage in serious introspection and start rectifying ourselves instead of always pointing fingers at everyone but ourselves. Well written and much needed.

  3. Avatar

    blvnjc

    August 9, 2014 at 7:29 AM

    Lincoln was quoting Jesus. Mark 3:25 “If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

  4. Avatar

    S. N. Smith (@smithottawa)

    August 9, 2014 at 8:35 AM

    What a awful and mean-spirited article!!!!

  5. Avatar

    Tadar Wazir

    August 9, 2014 at 9:53 AM

    Your article is very well stated.

    I just did a long dissertation and hit the wrong button and it disappeared. I’m not a computer techy so I will cut this one short and make it to the point.

    We just came through the month of Ramadhan in which we were to re-mold our total self so that we would be in a better position to be Allah’s representative agents to His creation, but, it appears that many of us just went without food and drink from Dawn until Dusk.

    Allah says that The Glorious Qur’an gives the best explanation of what He is saying. And in it He tells us in Al-An-am, 6 after naming a list of 18 prophets/messengers/speaking of some of their relatives He tells us to follow/copy the guidance fa-be-ha-da-ya-hu-muq-ta-de that they received from Him. Several times Allah tells us to ask the people of prior revelations about whatever so that we can get clarification and get more info on Allah’s unchanging sunnah. Most of us act as if we are allergic to seeking out His truth there, and we give flimsy excuses for not delving into their scripture. The truth has only one Source and serves only one purpose and when we have our ruh in tune with Allah’s Ruh nothing and no one can stop us.

    Allah tells us repeatedly in The Glorious Qur’an that it is for those who think, use their reason, and it is to be pondered. And with this frame of mind one is to study history, so that one will be able to see, know, and better understand Allah’s Sunnah, and ahadith. Allah asks us a few times in The Glorious Qur’an in which hadith after this will you believe in?

    In these surahs one has to read many ayat in order to connect the dots to see what Allah is saying when He tells us in Al-Anbiyaa’, 21 and Al-Mu’minuun, 23 that from Nuh (Noah) (a.) – Muhammad (s.) that all of the prophets and all of their followers are ONE UMMAH and that He is our LORD. Immediately after this statement in both surahs He tells us that men cause the divisions. This can only be done by The Shaitan coming from the right, as a hypocrite. And he is effective due to the fact that most people are not sincere in their Deen/its practices, and refuse to read for understanding. That was the very first revelation to Rasulullah “Iqra” Read in the name of your LORD Who Created!

    When reading The Glorious Qur’an one must read it knowing that each ayah (verse) is a sign. Then one must know what a sign is meant for. To get Allah’s message from The Glorious Qur’an one must understand that the stories, etc. within it may be talking about others but it is also speaking about the reader/listener, and the situation and environment of the reader/listener also. It’s up to the sincere, thinking reader/listener to ponder the signs and figure out how they relate to the stories in all respects, then to extract the principles from the stories that are relevant and usable in the reader’s/listener’s environment and time.

    Allah let’s us know in a prioritized manner how we are to approach Him in order to get His response to our dua, it is in the Bible and all of it is in The Glorious Qur’an but not in the sequential prioritization that one finds in 2 Paralipomenon (Chronicles) 7:12-14-22, the passage in the middle contains the text, the rest of it is its context. The text 14 states in the “New Catholic Edition of the Holy Bible” of August 1, 1957 (I use it due to the Coptic, Catholic, and Arabic Bibles were the ones in vogue during the lifetime of Muhammad (s.)) 14 “and my people, upon whom my name is called, being converted, shall make supplication to me, and seek out my face, and do penance for their most wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins and will heal their land. Other bibles word it a little different but one must first humble ones self, and this is stated after problems are faced by His servants.

    In the teachings of both faith families of Ibrahim (a.) Allah causes us to have problems so that we will stop, what we are doing the way that we are doing it, do an “all concerned and involved in whatever, at the moment action” introspection to see where one and or those involved needs to tighten up, pray, seek His face, and change from one’s individual and communal wicked ways, then He gives the victory or sought after blessing(s).

    Allah lets us know that all of the people of prior revelations are not alike and that some of them are believers, and that it is a sin to murder or kill a believer, even by accident. And Allah lets us know what one must do when one is responsible for murdering or killing a believer. In Al-Maa’edah, 5:40-48/49-50 Allah lets us know that we are all on paths that lead to Him and each of us have our distinct Way to follow to get to Him, and that we are to strive in all good things as if in a race to get to Him. Also read Aali-‘Imraan, 3:110-115?

    Let me quit before I give a khutbah.

    • Avatar

      Amina

      August 12, 2014 at 9:35 AM

      Someone should call for salah because you done gave a khutba, masha’Allah, you did. And a very good one, might I add. May Allah bless you.

  6. Avatar

    M

    August 9, 2014 at 1:16 PM

    Along with the the suffering of Muslims, why is there no discussion of the suffering of non-Muslims at the hands of Muslims. The plight of of Yazidis & Christians in Iraq, the rise of ISIS- these are issues you are willfully neglecting to talk about.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdIEm1s6yhY

    Why are your prayers for Gaza not being answered? Perhaps because you do not care about the plight of all of humanity and minorities, choosing to focus on just a subset (who you deem Muslims or Sunnis specifically, and thus worthy of your attention). There are so many articles dedicated to Gaza, compare this cause celebre to issues which aren’t so ‘sexy’ for your readers: what’s happening in the Central African Republic, the treatment of (Muslim) servants at the hands of other Muslims in Saudi, the discrimination against non-Muslims in Malaysia etc.

    If one had to rank the amount of coverage they get on blogs like Muslim matters, and the degree of passion they evoke (in the form of protests and Twitter activism), it would probably look like this:
    Muslim Arabs first, followed by Muslim brown people and then black Muslims, followed by Abrahamic minorities, followed by other minority religions, and then last but not least, the persecution of atheists & agnostics by Muslims.
    Why else would there be far, far more coverage of the Palestinian cause then what is happening to your fellow Muslims in Africa, or the treatment of domestic workers in Saudi, or the killing of Christians at the hands of Muslims from Iraq to Indonesia? I swear I have read far more on Muslim sites about European hijab bans rather than the killing of minorities by non-Muslims. Why is that?

    Perhaps this blindness and willingness to overlook the plight of many non-Muslim people (also Muslim on Muslim violence), is why your prayers about Gaza are not answered.

    • Avatar

      Shams

      August 9, 2014 at 5:08 PM

      I understand the argument put forth by M and it is a serious concern – the oppression suffered by non-Muslims and the little attention it gets. But the accusation of the article is slightly unfair as the writer mentions social hyprocrisy and corruption within certain Muslim countries as major flaw that needs reforming. So in fact your call for attention is answered by this article, moreover, this article gives a broader scope of the state of society and the ‘weak spots’ that needs targeting and that is oft-forgotten. If anything, this is the most constructive of articles I have read in a while on societal reform – Islamic or non-Islamic related. I send much gratitude to writer and that Allah knows best, InshAllah may we be guided onto the right path.

    • Avatar

      the real M

      August 9, 2014 at 5:47 PM

      Somebody took my alphabet :(

      I think the points you mentioned above fall under the social and political hypocrisy.

    • Avatar

      p4rv3zkh4n

      August 9, 2014 at 7:06 PM

      lets not forget that even the western media put a lot more emphasis on the gaza crisis….

    • Avatar

      Yasmine

      August 10, 2014 at 11:22 PM

      The Prophet said, “Wish for your brother (and sister) what you wish for yourself”

      The muslims know this hadeeth, but they dont implement it

      And yes, many muslims (from the middle east especially) are racist, but they just cant see it in themselves. We have too big of an ego.

    • Avatar

      Hyde

      August 12, 2014 at 11:41 AM

      Atheists get state funerals in some Muslim countries. Also as you are a liberal women, how dare you forget the plight of the homosexuals, and transsexuals and all those ?

    • Avatar

      Kareem

      August 13, 2014 at 8:44 PM

      You make a valid point M. But sometimes you have to prioritize conflicts that have produced greater repercussions from a historical and present standpoint. Some people will claim that the root problem of the abysmal state of the Middle East is the Palestinian/Israeli problem. I’m not saying that this is true. But there is some truth to it. There have always been players seeking to fragment and corrupt the Middle East. Israel plays a big role in it. So, you have to step back a bit in time. If you think all these conflicts started 3 weeks ago, then yes, your point would be undeniable. Perhaps, some writers are simply trying to tackle one conflict. You can’t tackle everything. And why should they cover everything! Why don’t you cover what they don’t?? They’re people, like me and you, writing in their little free time. Maybe they take it for granted that any muslim reading their post already KNOWS that the actions of ISIS are condemnable and don’t represent Islam, and know that the killing of innocent people everywhere is against Islam.
      But let’s be real. It’s hard enough getting Muslims to care about one conflict. It took decades before this amount of support and awareness was raised for Palestine…. is it realistic to expect all of us to suddenly start protesting every atrocity on the face of the earth? I mean, come on… let’s be real. That would drain everyone and nothing would happen.

      And as a final reminder to all of us, let’s not criticize the other people’s good work. Saying, “what about this… and what about that…” is criticism. The writers are not robots, and have no obligation to cover anything whatsoever. Let’s just be grateful for the effort they make in their free time.

  7. Avatar

    Ahmed Waris Al Majid

    August 10, 2014 at 1:54 AM

    https://www.facebook.com/notes/ahmed-waris-al-majid/muslim-unity/10152124717131784/
    I made the same argument.
    Why should we be rewarded for our disobedience?

  8. Avatar

    Shirene

    August 10, 2014 at 4:33 AM

    Pls read the article Timeline of the #Rothchilds writtten by Andrew Hitchcock. internet. http:// http://www.iamthewitness.com/DarylBradfordSmith_Rothschild.htm. It will give you an understanding of what is happening on a global scale. I find your post very condescending.it does not do our beloved Nabi saw method of spreading Islam any justice. We need hope and aspirations. Perhaps you could have worded your article in a more positive way. None of us can claim to be competely and uttterley free from sin. Yet we are encouraged to ask Him what we need Allah has His own plan and time. Maybe Gaza is a way to unite all muslims. I have found that Palestinians are the most generous, forgiving, kind and courageous people. Every Gazan household, I am told has a hafeth al Quran. When you truly get to know them warts and all you are inspired to be a better muslim. Allah have mercy on us, forgive and guide us enshallah

  9. Avatar

    Saf

    August 10, 2014 at 10:56 PM

    AllahuSubhanahuWataala has mentioned the Measure in the Noble Quran. When observed closely, in order to get one’s worth of goods on one side, we have to add weight/load on the other side. Justice too works so.When one is willing to give equal justice to the ‘other’, there is hope of get your worth of it on your side. When ISlamic Relief says 1/3 of its charities come from Non-muslims, and muslims do not even tip at non-muslim restaurants, our myopic view of justice for the UMmah is fatally flawed.Forgiveness is when u can show mercy on ur enemy,charity is when u can give to a stranger,not just who are in ur community,courage is when u speak up for a victim against ur own communities,when one cares for only oneself, there is a element of selfishness there,not to say that it is bad, but it not good either.And knowing that difference is the real tazkiyah

  10. WAJiD

    WAJiD

    August 11, 2014 at 7:32 PM

    To “M”

    I used Gaza as an example because that is the most prominent issue in the mind of the people who were likely to breading this article at the moment. It does not mean that there is any less compassion for the suffering of others, wherever they may be and whatever faith that they may come from. And yes, this applies even if that suffering is caused by Muslims. In fact, especially if it is carried out by Muslims.

    My heart aches for each and every one and the depth of pain cannot be measured in articles or in words. So I ask you never again to doubt our basic humanity based on such arbitrary indicators.

    Sincerely
    MWA

    • Avatar

      ZAI

      August 11, 2014 at 10:58 PM

      Br. Wajid,
      Would agree that “M” ‘s assumptions about Muslim sympathies cast too wide of a net and are
      too generalized. Would also say that attacking specific articles or authors are a type of
      “shame grenade”, which considering that despotic or aggressor regimes/groups(both Muslim and non)
      use this very method to deflect or detract from issues, is probably an unsound premise on which to
      base a point of principle. However “M” does raise a good question for Muslim ORGANIZATIONS
      or WEBSITES…that heads of these organizations or editors should probably reflect on and examine.

      There IS a major disproportionality among many Muslims when it comes to dealing with these issues.
      When there are 8 articles on Palestine within two weeks…and tumbleweeds along with the occasional
      article rolling by on Rohingya’s, Kurds, Baluchis,CAR, Non-Muslims in various Muslim majority countries(Pakistan
      for example where their situation is horrid on a CONSISTENT basis)…etc., etc. it does start to seem
      that we practice favortism or have insincere political considerations (i.e. We don’t want
      to upset demographically or monetarily advantaged groups within the ummah).

      To be clear: I am not faulting individual authors or individual articles here. Nor am I saying we SHOULDN’T
      be rallying for the Palestinians as vociferously as we are…we should be, and should do even more. The problem
      is not doing as MUCH for the others in as visible a manner. Furthermore, not saying only Muslims are guilty of this. All people and groups tend to focus energies on what is more closely dear to them and lobbies/interests factor everywhere….the lopsided bias in favor of Israel in the US is the perfect example.

      We cannot deny “M” ‘s main point though. Is a reality and harms our various causes if we’re seen as insincere or inconsistent. Perception matters…and in fact the unscrupulous opponents, like Israeli propagandists, love to point this out to make us seem like hypocrites. Is that helping Palestinians or any Muslim cause?

      As “M” mentions, it is not confined to the Muslim:non-Muslim paradigm either…also includes disadvantaged Muslim
      minorities. I am neither Arab nor South Asian…and I can tell you from personal experience how things are discussed away from the majority bubble: relative minorities
      within the Ummah feel very strongly that their issues are not taken seriously. Can ask any Baluchi or Afghan who have waited in vain for the ummah to criticize Pakistan’s government/military, Kurds who have waited forever to hear
      any criticism of Arab or Turkish nationalists and those governments, Bangladeshi or other south asian poor people
      who hear crickets regarding the sub-human treatment they receive in the Gulf, Black Muslims in Sudan who sat in stunned silence as Arab League and OIC defended or stayed quiet about Omar Bashir. It breeds resentment man…when these people hear “Palestine”, many of them will respond “Where were you for US?”…To their credit, most of them have not responded that way yet…but only out of love for Allah, Rasul and basic humanity bro…however the resentment is there. There is a Baluchi in Quetta right now asking where the ummah is.

      If this is how relative minorities among Muslims feel, what are non-Muslims gonna feel like?
      The perception they hold is that we don’t give a d*mn whatsoever or probably even support convert/pay/die, kill the apostate, don’t build churches or whatever….that we’re just “strategically” choosing silence rather than draw attention. That’s the perception man…and we have done a lousy job combating it or showing it
      to be false on a mass scale. Then if they show up as refugees in the West and become anti-Muslim bigots, we’re
      gonna cry “Islamophobe” or cast France as the enemy of freedom because it banned niqab? We look like
      outright hypocrites….and lest anyone point out the Western government, media or some of the populations hypocrisy, yeah EXACTLY…which is exactly why we
      criticize it and call it out. We cannot control their hypocrisy though…can only control what WE do…and we’re doing
      a DISMAL job of it all and ironically empowering their hypocrisy.

      Again, reiterate…think “M” chose the wrong target(writer of article) and place (individual article)…Also
      wrong to assume what people’s intentions are. He is NOT wrong though about the overall situation and
      the effect that perception has at the structural level though…Is definitely something for our community leaders, editors, etc. to think about.

      • Avatar

        M

        August 11, 2014 at 11:27 PM

        For Wajid:
        “I used Gaza as an example because that is the most prominent issue in the mind of the people who were likely to breading [sic] this article at the moment.”

        And why is that? That’s my point exactly. Out of all the suffering and atrocities in the world, including the arguably greater suffering by some people, this is the most prominent issue in the minds of people reading this blog. I wonder if there is also a racial tinge to that?

        ZAI gets it. And I acknowledge, perhaps I should not attack individual authors, but I do want you Wajid, and other authors and most importantly the editors to ask themselves, are some lives inherently more worthy than others?

        Also, M is a she. Not sure why you think I’m a man.

      • Aly Balagamwala

        Aly Balagamwala

        August 12, 2014 at 2:49 AM

        Dear M and Zai

        There should definitely be articles on these issues. Since most of our writers are volunteers, we do not hand out assignments of topics. Thus, they write on topics that they choose. We are looking to expand our author base and we also take guest submissions. Maybe you an help us crowdsource on these topics. http://muslimmatters.org/submissions/ is the URL for submissions.

        Best Regards
        Aly

      • Avatar

        Hyde

        August 12, 2014 at 11:40 AM

        Hear! Hear! There is very little or none criticism at all when it comes to Pakistan since most of the writers are Pakistani on this website (how can one call oneself a Pakistani when they live in the West ? For the last time Pakistani is a nationality, not a race, not an ethnicity). Saudi Rabbi, that holier than thou hypocrisy and future atheist country also gets a free pass.

  11. Avatar

    Shujau

    August 12, 2014 at 5:28 AM

    Death is not a penalty. Its a path to our creator. We should not be worried about death, We should worry about what happens after death.

    • Avatar

      Bilkis

      August 15, 2014 at 5:29 AM

      I am worried about death as well as after death. At least, when death come to us, it should find us somewhere, preferably, with our family members beside us. Dying of women and children from Israel bombing with bodies beyond recognition, is certainly something to worry about.

  12. Avatar

    Amouto

    August 13, 2014 at 3:56 PM

    Isis are not muslims.

  13. Pingback: WHY OUR PRAYERS FOR GAZA MAY NOT BE ANSWERED | PASS THE KNOWLEDGE (LIGHT & LIFE)

  14. Avatar

    Bilkis

    August 15, 2014 at 5:42 AM

    Yes, this is very sad and depressing; and I feel hopeless and deflated. I have prayed and prayed and given donations just like the millions of others, but the problem is rather getting worse. Sometimes I say it will never end, it just the part of the events that marks the end of the world.

  15. Pingback: Why Our Prayers for Gaza May Not Be Answered | Forum for Peaceful Coexistence, Sri Lanka

  16. Avatar

    David Khan

    December 12, 2014 at 8:22 PM

    This is ridiculous. I dont think your “Allah” is so spiteful that he takes whatever sins or mistakes one has created and boasts it as the misery for someone else. I thought Allah was meant to shower unconditional love… what is this hypocrisy

  17. Pingback: 14 Top Articles of 2014 - MuslimMatters.org

  18. Avatar

    Ahmad Shumayal

    June 30, 2016 at 4:33 PM

    Is the Masjid Aqsa currently we know it as being in Jerusalem, the one mentioned in the Quran where Allah even says its blessed? Then why isn’t it as protected and secure as the Masjid Haram and Madina. There has been no non muslims army or conqueror here, not even the mighty British and other europeans who could colonize everything else. Clearly Allah is safeguarding only the Kaaba.

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Aqeedah and Fiqh

Prosperity Islam And The Coronavirus Problem

Hadith: “Hasten to perform good deeds before seven events: Are you waiting for poverty that makes you forgetful? Or wealth that burdens you? Or a debilitating disease or senility? Or an unexpected death or the False Messiah? Or is it evil in the unseen you are waiting for? Or the Hour itself? The Hour will be bitter and terrible.

Islam encompasses all of human experience. We believe in the good and bad from divine decree. The ‘problem of evil’ is not a Muslim dilemma because the abode of this world is a test, and the next life is the abode of recompense. Those who do evil in this world may enjoy comfortable and pleasurable lives. Pious Muslims on the other hand may live in immense suffering and oppression.

One’s state with Allah is not known through worldly position.

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

The Quran has lots of mention of suffering in this world and the reward for the pious is constantly in the hereafter. Distance from the Quran distances us from what our Creator told us about living in His world.

Habituation to feel-good religious programs and motivational talks has left us unable to know how to be serious. The Coronavirus pandemic should be all the motivation we need for serious learning and hasten to good deeds.

New-age religion and the prosperity gospel

Modern Islamic discourse intertwines notions of sulook (spiritual wayfaring) with new-age spiritual ideas which make spiritual progression a self-centering endeavor of ‘personal development.’ Missing from this discourse is submission to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He), which entails doing what one is obliged to do- even if there is no apparent personal win. A self-centering religious perspective is antithetical to true religion, and ironically a spiritual pursuit becomes a selfish pursuit.

Within this approach, we see our practice of Islam not in terms of fulfilling obligations or understanding we must develop virtues we lack; rather we approach Islam as consumers and form identities around how we choose to be Muslim. This is visible on marriage apps where Muslims will brand themselves around how often they pray, whether or not they eat halal, and how practicing they are. Once this identity is formed, such Muslims are less likely to experience contrition and ultimately improve. The self is then a commodity on the marriage market.

When it comes to worship, for example, giving charity becomes an ‘act of kindness’ to fill the quota of selfless acts to becoming a better person. In other instances, acts of worship are articulated in worldly language, such as fasting in Ramadan being a weight-loss opportunity. One can make multiple intentions, but health benefits of fasting should not be used to articulate the primary benefit of fasting. In other instances, some opt to not pray, simply because they don’t feel spiritual enough to pray. This prioritizes feelings over servitude, but follows from a ‘self’ focused religious mentality.

Much like the prosperity Gospel, Muslims have fallen into the trap of teaching religion as a means of worldly success. While it is true that the discipline, commitment, and work ethic of religious progression can be used for material success, it is utterly false that religious status is on any parallel with material status.

Too many Sunday schools and conferences have taught generations that being a good Muslim means being the best student, having the best jobs, and then displaying the power of Islam to non-Muslims via worldly success and a character that is most compliant to rules. Not only does this type of religion cater to the prosperous and ignore those suffering, it leaves everyone ill prepared for the realities of life. It comes as a shock to many Muslims then that bad things can happen even when you work hard to live a good life. The prosperity gospel has tainted our religious teachings, and the pandemic of COVID19 is coming as a shock difficult for many to process in religious terms. There will be a crisis when bad things happen to good people if we are not in touch with our scripture and favor a teaching focused on worldly gains.

Why it leads to misunderstanding religion

Tribulations, persecution, and events that are outside of our control do not fit the popular self-help form of religion that is pervasive today. Islam means submission, and while we must avoid fatalism, we cannot delude ourselves into idolatry of the self. An Islam that focuses on our individual life journey and finding ourselves has no room for the ‘bad stuff.’ This type of religion favors well-to-do Muslims who are used to the illusion of control and the luxuries of self-improvement. Those who believe that if you are good then God will give you good things in this world will have a false belief shattered and understand the world is not the abode of recompense for the believer.

Islam means submission, and while we must avoid fatalism, we cannot delude ourselves into idolatry of the self.Click To Tweet

Tribulations may then effect faith because it questions the often subconscious teachings of prosperity gospel versions of Islam that we are in control of our own destiny, if we are good enough we will succeed. If this is the basis of a person’s faith, it can be proven “wrong” by any level of tribulation. Having one’s ‘faith’ disproven is terrifying but it should make us ask the question: “Does this mean that Islam is not true, or does this mean that my understanding and my way of living Islam are not true?”

My advice is do not avoid struggle or pain by ignoring it or practicing “patience” just thinking that you are a strong Muslim because you can conquer this pain without complaint. Running from pain and not feeling pain will catch up to us later. Learn from it. Sometimes when we are challenged, we falter. We ask why, we question, we complain, and we struggle. We don’t understand because it doesn’t fit our understanding of Islam. We need a new understanding and that understanding will only come by living through the pain and not being afraid of the questions or the emptiness.

Our faith needs to be able to encompass reality in its good and bad, not shelter us from reality because, ultimately, only God is Real.

Unlearn false teachings

Prosperity religion makes it much easier to blame the person who is suffering and for the one suffering to blame himself. As believers we take the means for a good life in this world and the next, but recognize that acceptance of good actions is only something Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) knows, and that life is unpredictable.

Favor from God is not reflected through prosperity. It is a form of idolatry to believe that you can control God or get what you want from God, and this belief cannot even stand up to a distanced tragedy.

Responding appropriately requires good habits.

Tribulations are supposed to push us towards God and remind us to take life very seriously. Even with widespread calamity and suffering, many of us still have a very self-centered way of understanding events and do not hasten to good actions.

For example, reaching old age is supposed to be an opportunity to repent, spend more time in prayer, and to expatiate for shortcomings. Old age itself is a reminder that one will soon return to his Lord.

However, we see many of today’s elders not knowing how to grow old and prepare for death. Most continue in habits such as watching television or even pick up new habits and stay glued to smart phones. This is unfortunate but natural progression to a life void of an Islamic education and edification.

Similarly we are seeing that Muslims do not know what to do in the midst of a global crisis. Even the elderly are spending hours reading and forwarding articles related to Covid-19 on different WhatsApp groups. This raises the question of what more is needed to wake us up. This problem is natural progression of a shallow Islamic culture that caters to affluence, prosperity, and feel-good messaging. Previous generations had practices such as doing readings of the Quran, As-Shifa of Qadi Iyad, Sahih al-Bukhari, or the Burda when afflicted with tribulations.

If we are playing video games, watching movies, or engaging in idle activities there is something very wrong with our state. We need to build good habits and be persistent regardless of how spiritual those habits feel, because as we are seeing, sudden tribulations will not just bestow upon us the ability to repent and worship. The point of being regimented in prayer and invocations is that these practices themselves draw one closer to God, and persisting when one does not feel spiritual as well as when one does is itself a milestone in religious progression.

While its scale is something we haven’t seen in our lifetime, it’s important to recognize the coronavirus pandemic as a tribulation.  The response to tribulation should be worship and repentance, and a reminder that ‘self-improvement’ should not be a path to becoming more likable or confident only, but to adorn our hearts with praiseworthy qualities and rid them of blameworthy qualities. Death can take any of us at any moment without notice, and we will be resurrected on a day where only a sound heart benefits.

Our religious education and practice should be a preparation for our afterlife first and foremost. Modeling our religious teachings in a worldly lens has left many of us unable to deal with tribulations to the point where we just feel anxiety from the possibility of suffering. This anxiety is causing people to seek therapy. It is praiseworthy for those who need to seek therapy, and noble of therapists to give the service, but my point is the need itself serves as a poignant gauge for how much our discourse has failed generations.

Benefit from Solitude

We should use solitude to our benefit, reflect more, and ponder the meanings of the Quran.  Completing courses on Seerah, Shamail, Arabic, or Fiqh would also be good uses of time. What should be left out however are motivational talks or short lectures that were given in communal events. In such gatherings, meeting in a wholesome environment is often the goal, and talks are compliments to the overall atmosphere. When that atmosphere is removed, it would be wise to use that normally allotted time for more beneficial actions. Instead of listening to webinars, which are not generally building an actual knowledge base that the previously mentioned courses would, nor is it a major act of worship like reading and reflecting upon the Quran. In other words, our inspirational talks should lead us to action, and studying is one of the highest devotional acts.

The pandemic should serve as sufficient inspiration and we need to learn how to be serious. I urge Muslims to ignore motivational and feel-good lectures that are now feel-good webinars, and focus on studying and worshipping. We should really ask if we just lack the capacity to move beyond motivational lectures if we still need motivation in the midst of a global pandemic.  The fact that after years of programming the destination is not the Quran for ‘processing events’ or studying texts for learning is symptomatic of a consciously personality oriented structure.

Muslims struggling to process a pandemic (opposed to coping with associated tragedies, such as loved ones dying or suffering) show the lack of edification feel good talks can produce.

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Coronavirus

A Doctor And A COVID19 Patient: “I will tell Allah about you.”

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By Dr Farah Farzana

I get bleeped at around 2.30am to review a patient. A Pakistani gentleman admitted with Covid19.

The lovely nurse on duty says, “He is on maximum amount of oxygen on the ward, but keeps on removing his oxygen mask and nasal cannula, very confused and is not listening to anyone.”

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I arrive as soon as I can to the ward. I stare at him through the glass doors of the closed bay, while putting on my inadequate PPE.

He looks like he is drowning, he is gasping for air, flushed and eyes bulging like someone is strangling him.

I immediately introduce myself, hold his hands and he squeezes my hand pulls it close to his chest. Starts to speak in Urdu and says he doesn’t know what is going on, he cannot understand anyone and he is so scared.

I give him my Salam and start speaking to him in Urdu. His eyes fill up with tears and hope.

I explain to him he really needs to have his oxygen mask on as we are trying to make him feel better. He tells me he is suffocating with the mask and he doesn’t like the noise. I grab his arm help him sit up in his bed.

We exercise synchronising his breathing and I put the mask and nasal cannula back on.

He asks me Doctor, am I going to die? I cannot hear the voices anymore, they don’t come to visit, everything is quiet and silent, like Allah is waiting to take me to Him. I am lost for words and tell him we are doing all we can to make him feel and get better. He tells me he has been speaking to Allah, he doesn’t care for himself just his family. I know he is scared and feels so alone. I tell him I’m here with him and am not leaving yet. I monitor his saturations and surely they come straight back up. I tell him I am going to give him medications for his temperatures and fluid in his lungs.

He agrees to take them.

He asks me why I didn’t come to see him until now, because I am his own. He says when he speaks to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) he will tell Him about me and that I am a good person and I cared for him.

I get a little choked up.

I can’t gather my thoughts before my bleep goes off again. I have to leave now though I tell him I have lots of patients who need my help. He begs me not to leave, but understands after a while and lets me go.I take off my inadequate surgical mask (PPE) before I leave the bay I look back at him to smile and he smiles back. We both wave goodbye. I can see tears rolling down his cheeks.

I don’t know how he will do, how he is now but I cannot stop thinking about him. I always assume positive outcome if I don’t get called back during the night to see the patient again. Plus it was such a busy night I had no time to stop to reflect, and I continued with a smile.

I speak fluent Bangla and my Urdu isn’t very good. But that night Urdu flawed so effortlessly out of my mouth without any hesitation and I was able to say exactly what I needed to him *SubhanAllah*.

My heart breaks for the minority patients, with language barriers. They are fighting this battle more alone and scared than ever.
Normally, they would rely on family members to translate for them, but given the current situation they must feel helpless.

It’s not just the suffering it’s the suffering alone that pulls on my heartstrings.

‘Indeed, to Allah we belong and to Him we shall return’
Quran 2:156

When all this is over, please remember to appreciate the little things.

  • Appreciate your freedom.
  • Appreciate all the hugs and love.
  • Appreciate your health and your health service.
  • Appreciate your families and loved ones.
  • And just be grateful to be ALIVE.
  • Stay at home. Save lives.
    #stayhome #nhs #gratitude

Courtesy: Facebook post

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#Current Affairs

COVID19: Calling The Conscientious

Violating borders, scaling every wall and traveling faster than a rumor, COVID19 is now around nearly everywhere. It has reduced nations and societies, low and mighty, to their knees, demoted all preoccupations to insignificance and is threatening to torch everyone in its path.

The imperial hubris of nations, with and without nuclear weapons has crumbled. Mighty militaries have been reduced to mere spectators. Borders are closed. Markets have tumbled. Even the gods amongst humans – rulers, monarchs, dictators, religious heads, generals, billionaires, movie stars, icons of sports and music –have been forced to recede from the limelight. Neither they are in control nor can they perform. All of them are forced to surrender by an unseen microscopic speck with an insatiable appetite to devour humankind, bit-by-bit, part by part.

A pre-COVID19 world is now a blurred memory. It was not long ago that we were a different planet and a different people. Neither hand-sanitizers nor masks were precious enough to purchase let alone hoard, or even think about. YouTube was popular but not so much for videos on how to wash hands or what to do when self-quarantined. And, shaking hands were a norm and we used to respond with a “bless you” to our neighbor’s cough or sneeze.

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That was pre-COVID19.

Places of worship are already shut down and airports, train stations and shipping ports are shutting down. Boulevards and avenues are eerily silent. Shopping malls and theaters stand abandoned.

This is post-COVID19.

Yet, there are flashes of hope and inspiration. Medical professionals and health care workers are fighting to save mankind, a patient a time. Our ill equipped and fatigued hospitals are abodes of our new heroes and true patriots. And no less are trash collectors, grocery workers, truck drivers, postal workers, fruit pickers among others whom we took for granted all along.

Covid-19 is not just the biggest story of our time, it is the only story.

Amidst a piercing cacophony of politicians’ press conferences and public interest advisories, we cannot afford to miss out the soft whispers of COVID19.

It is telling us to pay more attention to the under-estimated meaningful over the hyper-marketed mundane. Its whispers remind us to remember that we are but a mere mortal. We are reminded in the Quran that God made us from a mere speck (40:67).

Not, too long ago, we seldom had to remind ourselves that we are human. Not too long ago we could afford to be enemies of ourselves. Humans were enemies of humans, fighting and taking life of those considered ‘others’. We fostered division … “them” and “us,” “citizens” and “illegals.” COVID19 has spoken: no more. We stoked exclusion … “black, brown and white,” “conservative and liberal,” and “urban and rural.” COVID19 has spoken: no more.

In its sweeping trail of destruction, COVID19, is imploring us — harness my power to cause dread in each one of you, across borders, across genders, across races — and unite. COVID19 is challenging us: find a common cause against me. When any of you find an antidote against me, may that be a reason for your coming together, even if right now I have forced you to stay away from each other – six feet part.

COVID19 is an equal opportunity and a non-discriminating enemy, which will kill no matter how we worship, what we eat, where we live. One touch strikes all with equal precision.

Today, as we face an existential threat from a mortal molecular foe, we must remind ourselves about what matters most, our humanity and not our race and nationality.

The truth is that long before COVID19 struck us, we were sick. We spread viruses; hate and bigotry, we held thoughts of xenophobia for those who did not deserve it. We wallowed in bias and built echo chambers. COVID19 exposed all of our pre-COVID19 shortcomings.

Coronavirus will kill us for a while, but then in the end, we will overpower it. But before that happens, all the human deaths would be in vain if we don’t realize that in a world of such threats, we never needed to have been at each other’s throats.

In fear and panic, people resort to extreme behavior, it amazes us with their capacity for wisdom and kindness, or stupidity and cruelty. COVID19 is beseeching us to reclaim and regain our humanity of compassion and kindness. It is telling us to come together to fight our common battles. It is forcing us to wash our hands of all sins of our past and then lock our hearts and hands and build a world where meaning must matter more than the mundane.

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