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MuslimKidsMatter | When Parents Go to Hajj

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When Parents Go to Hajj…

by Nur Kose, Nura F, and Safiyyah Ghori

with additional content from Sabriya Zaman, Samiyah Ali Khan, and Sakinah F.

Every year, millions of Muslims around the world gather to Mecca for Hajj.  Many men and women complete the sacred rituals that Muslims have been doing for hundreds, even thousands of years.  During Hajj season, people around the world watch the daily tawaafs around the ka’bah on TV and on the Internet, observing the Hajjis fulfill the pilgrimage of a lifetime.  People wonder about the Hajjis’ stories, their trips, how long their journeys will be, and how they feel in such a sacred place.  What many observers don’t realize or consider, however, are the stories of the children left behind at home.

Some girls have collaborated together and have compiled some stories and experiences of Hajjis’ kids on the homefront.  Kids from all around the United States share what it was like for them to be at home while their parents were off at Hajj.

Parent Replacements

Finding someone to take the place of one’s parents can be a difficult job.  Most parents rely on other family members to take care of their young ones, whether at their own homes or at their family members’ houses. Upon talking with various children whose parents went off to Hajj within the past few years, we realized that mostly, grandparents come to take the place of parents.  One family of kids, however, stayed without any adults at all except for a college student who was living with them at the time.  Fatimah, a then two-year-old, went to stay with her aunt, uncle, and cousins in another state when her parents traveled to Hajj last year.  Her grandmother came along, as well, to help take care of her.

Challenges the Kids Faced

Nura and her siblings from Texas initially thought that three weeks without their parents would be lots of fun. They looked forward to no restrictions and doing as they pleased.  However, as they soon came to realize, life without their parents would be a lot more than simply all fun and games. Even with the knowledge that a college student was staying in her parents’ room upstairs, Nura felt like she and her siblings did most of the work. The college student stayed upstairs most of the time, making a lot of peculiar sounds that the kids preferred not to investigate.

Kids who are generally accustomed to everyday routine and habits they formed living with their parents must learn to adjust to new caretakers and possibly a new environment.  If their caretaker is someone they know well, it is easier for the kids to adjust. Often, however, many kids have not been separated from their parents before and may have separation anxiety, especially when they are young.

Even for older kids and teens, being without parents is difficult. Arranging rides to get to different masjid events and even Eid prayer can be a challenge. Kids quickly realize that, even with a capable caretaker, life without parents, even for a short amount of time, can be really difficult.

Sabriya from Pennsylvania found it very difficult to be without her parents when they went to Hajj a few years ago.  “I missed my parents so, so much. There isn’t only one thing that I missed about them, I missed everything about them, their whole essence!”  Besides simply missing her parents, Sabriya also faced a few other challenges.  “I don’t know why, but I felt like if my grandparents were to pick me up [from school], they would get lost in my school! Thankfully though, my grandpa knew where he was going and successfully found me.”  Sabriya also felt bad about asking friends over to her house because she didn’t want to make extra work for her grandmother.

Challenges the Caretakers Faced

Caretakers take on a huge responsibility when they agree to take care of kids for such a long period of time.  Substituting as one’s parents can be very difficult, especially for someone who hasn’t taken care of younger children for years.  Additionally, caretakers are often not fully accustomed to the kids’ daily habits and although they try their best, some children just don’t feel at home. Toddlers and younger children are especially difficult because they often become cranky when they are upset without their parents.

Many toddlers do not understand why their parents are gone and feel abandoned for a while as well.  Although she had lots of cousins to play with her when her parents went to Hajj, two-year-old Fatimah was very confused when she didn’t see her parents anywhere.  Even after she realized they had left, she assumed they would be returning the next day.  “When it was time to sleep, she spent half the night crying for her mom,” Fatimah’s oldest cousin Nur remembers.  “The next day, although she was her cheerful self again, playing and having fun with the rest of us, it was evident that she expected her parents to be back right away.  We couldn’t really explain the entire state of things, she being only two.  Being the busy family we were, the doorbell rang a few times that day.  Some people came to visit my grandmother while others came to drop something off.  Every time the doorbell rang, Fatimah’s eyes lit up, she stopped whatever she was doing and excitedly ran towards the front door, exclaiming, “Mama!  Baba!”  We felt so bad for her every time she realized it was someone else, her entire body drooping with disappointment and her eyes ready to overflow with tears any moment.”  To distract her from the temporary loss of her parents, they often relied on paint and play-dough which were the causes of many messes over the next few days.

Not all kids whose parents went to Hajj had as many caretakers as Fatimah had.  Nur remembers how her family divided up the challenge of taking care of the toddler.  “Each of us had our role, official or unofficial in taking care of Fatimah. Fatimah quickly became a prize student in our homeschool and all the kids took turns teaching her. My mom and grandmother fed her. My sister and I helped dress her every morning and evening. I gave her a shower every few days.  And my mom, grandmother, and I embarked on a difficult task, that of potty training her.”

Eid Without Parents

Having Eid without their parents is also very upsetting for many kids. For many, it is their first Eid without their parents and exceptionally difficult to enjoy.  In fact, this is often the most difficult aspect of the entire Hajj experience for the kids left at home.  Samiyah, a teenaged girl in Delaware remarks that because her grandmother couldn’t drive her to Eid prayer, she and her brother had to go to school on Eid day.  “Me and my brother were stuck going to school on EID! No Eid prayer, no parties, and no gifts whatsoever. But my grandmother being the best grandmother ever got us pizza and donuts as a surprise.”  Nura, a teenager in Texas claims there was nothing very enjoyable about her Eid day. “Eid day wasn’t very exciting either, because we spent most of the time at home with a friend of my brother’s, and a house we did nothing at but eat.”

For other families, Eid was still enjoyable even with parents off at Hajj.  Fatimah got to enjoy tons of Eid gifts from all of her cousins and had lots of fun going to many Eid parties.  Twelve-year-old Sabriya missed her parents but was still able to enjoy Eid.  “I woke up and I wanted to say Eid Mubarak to my parents, but they weren’t there. They were at Hajj. I knew that I should not be sad [because] of their absence, but happy that they were doing the special, life changing pilgrimage. So I put on a happy face and went to Eid prayer with my family. Honestly, I forgot I was so sad after a while because, come on! It’s Eid!”  Sabriya had lots of fun visiting friends and family.

Long Separation

Children find it very hard to adjust to life without their parents in what seems like the longest weeks of their lives. The average amount of time parents leave their kids when they go to Hajj is around three weeks.  One couple, however, went for an entire month, while another was gone for a shorter time period of two weeks. Whatever the length, kids will think even one day without their parents is strange.  The first few days are usually the toughest for all parties involved.

More Responsibility

Older siblings often have to take on much more responsibility when their parents are gone, even with substitute caretakers.  As Safiyyah and her sisters from Maryland soon came to realize, they would have to get themselves ready for school while their grandparents took care of their energetic younger brothers.  “The plan was that my grandparents would come to our house and take care of us for those three weeks. As we later learned, this meant that we had to get up and make sure everyone was ready for school on time without any prompting. We also had to make sure that all of our homework was done on time and that we prayed on time without being told.”  Safiyyah also quickly realized that she and her siblings would often have to entertain themselves without the usual daily events their parents would take them to.  With six siblings in the house, finding activities to occupy everyone at home was a challenge.

As the eldest sister of her family, Samiyah realized that she would have more responsibilities than usual during her parents’ absence.  “I had a few extra chores to do around the house, more than usual which definitely wasn’t something I enjoyed.”  She also wasn’t able to go anywhere except school during the entire month her parents were gone.

Nura’s older sister was in charge of making sure the lights were on outside at night, and the doors were locked. She had to make sure everyone did their jobs of washing dishes, cleaning the house, and cooking. It was her responsibility to call people for rides. From her experience, she says, “We rely on our parents for so many things, but you don’t realize how much responsibility it is until you experience it yourself.”

Positive Memories

Although staying at home when parents go off to Hajj poses many challenges for the kids, there are many positive experiences that the kids get to enjoy, even with their parents across the country. Nura from Texas invited one of her friends over for a baking day once. Another time, she went for Jumuah on the Friday after Eid and hung out at the masjid’s playground with her siblings and the college student she stayed with.  They all were so hungry that they decided to have ice cream at the only ice cream place in town. They couldn’t go home because their usual ride was at work. Nura was so desperately hungry that she actually took a piece of wrapped cheese she discovered on the grass and ate it. It was actually worth it! When the ride came, Nura went shopping with her siblings, and since it was October at the time, Halloween candy was all over the place. Nura’s younger brother suggested buying a bag of candy, and since no parents were around to set off tirades about cavities and prices, the bag of candy was purchased! They remembered these memorable random experiences even months later. Nura tells of another hilarious memory she experienced in her parents’ absence.

“An event I must not forget while my parents were at Hajj was one of the enjoyable things about being without them. It was a normal (well, not really normal) Saturday afternoon. I have no idea what we were doing, but my younger brother brought everyone’s attention to a black widow spider that had been hanging around the shoe place for a while. We decided to kill it. First we sprayed it with something to freeze it on the wall, and then we trapped it there with a yogurt container. One of us slid a piece of paper under the container. Then we put all that jazz into a giant Ziploc bag…[W]e were screaming the whole time, and wondering why the college student upstairs was paying no attention to us. The Ziploc bag somehow ended up outside. That was one of the memorable things about those three weeks without my parents, and I still wonder how the college student did not hear us. ”

Samiyah and her siblings enjoyed positive memories, as well, as they bonded with their grandmother more than they ever had before, particularly on Eid day when they enjoyed pizza and doughnuts together.  Safiyyah and her siblings had a lot of fun at the airport while dropping their parents off.  “It was very cool to see all the planes and people who were going to different parts of the world.”

Connecting with Parents

It’s not so easy to connect with people from overseas, but there’s always a way to greet one’s parents at Hajj and ask them how everything is going. Nura video chatted with her parents two times while they were gone, and called them on Eid day.  They were doing great, but sounded awfully tired and looked even worse. However, by the stories told by her mother much later, Nura could tell her mother had a great time with the humorous, silly, and awesome members of her Hajji group.

Because of the time difference, other kids were not always able to communicate often with their parents.  Fatimah was only able to talk to her parents on the phone once.  And then she was too shy to say much.  When the rest of the family video chatted with her parents, Fatimah was usually asleep.

After Parents’ Return

Once parents return from Hajj, everything doesn’t go back to normal right away.  There is lots of fun, of course, reuniting with each other, getting gifts from Mecca and celebrating Eid again a few days late.  However, readjusting to the everyday life before Hajj can also be difficult, especially for younger kids who had gotten used to new adjustments and habits.  When their parents come back, young children often act rebellious as payback for their parents’ absence. They may also take time to warm up again.

After the Hajj experience, younger kids can ironically get even more attached to their parents than before, making sure not to let their parents out of their sight again.  When two-year-old Fatimah’s parents returned from Hajj, she was careful to stay close to her mom always after that.  The next time she visited her aunt, uncle, and cousins in Delaware, she started crying when her mother was in the other room.  When her dad and uncle went out for a few hours, she assumed that they had gone to Hajj and said, “Baba went to Hajj!”

Two young girls whose parents performed Hajj last year found it strange and frightening to live without their parents, and found it harder to warm up to their mother again once she returned. Two of Safiyyah’s younger brothers wouldn’t leave their parents even to go to the bathroom. The older children weren’t able to simply give up their responsibilities once their parents returned.  After the long Hajj experience, Hajjis are usually jetlagged and tired.  Many develop illnesses and have to rest before resuming care of their children.  During the time after her parents’ return, Nura and her siblings continued to do the work they had been doing before because their parents were sick.  Fatimah’s parents were also sick when they returned from Hajj, and they were not able to continue potty-training her.

Learning about their parents’ experiences, however, is lots of fun.  Safiyyah marveled at her parents’ descriptions of their Hajj.  “They talk about the crowds and how everything stops at salah time and how amazing it is to hear the athan in the streets.”  All of this makes Safiyyah eager to perform Hajj, as well.

When Nura went to pick up her parents from the airport, it was wonderful and strange at the same time. At home, the kids helped their parents unpack, and discovered lots of strange and unique souvenirs, like two enormous bottles of ZamZam water, little packages of dates, and strange-but-delicious Arab sweets. Among the gifts Nura’s parents brought were beautiful abayas with matching hijabs, fancy thawbs, and hats to go with them.

An additional strange part about reuniting with one’s parents occurs after the dads shave their heads.  When Nura video-chatted her parents, she was surprised to see her dad’s shiny bald head. Her first reaction was, “Whoa” and then it became, “Oh yeah, I forgot you’re supposed to shave your head.” Still, throughout the whole video chat, she could not take her eyes off her dad’s head. Later, at a girls’ halaqa gathering, Nura remembers telling her friends, “My dad is, like, totally bald.”

Lessons Learned

Kids left behind when their parents are off to Hajj usually learn important life lessons.  After such a big event and long absence from their parents, they realize the importance of their parents.  Many kids also learn how to be a lot more independent and to take care of themselves more than they had before.

Since she was supposedly freer without her parents around, Nura left her Algebra I alone for just a while. She soon realized the hard way that she should not have left those days alone, and ended up finishing her Algebra I near the end of May. That was not fun, considering Algebra I was really challenging for her!

Nura also came to appreciate her parents more after the experience.  “Life wasn’t very exciting without Mom and Dad. I had nothing to blog about in their absence, except for their absence. That Eid was the first one I’d ever spent without Mom and Dad. I’m not hoping for an Eid like that again. Obviously, this experience was Allah showing me how important my parents are.”

Samiyah learned that she “could be more independent and didn’t need my parents around all of the time.”

Advice to Other Kids

Many of the kids had their own pieces of advice to give to others whose parents will be going off to Hajj in the near future.

“When your parents leave, you are so overwhelmed with boredom that even interesting, fun things become dull and gray and all you even want to do most of the time is sleep and wish your parents were home,” Safiyyah says.  “I was really bored while my parents were gone. I didn’t think I would be, but I was, and it was terrible!” Nura says. Samiyah from Delaware agrees.  “My advice to kids whose parents are at Hajj is that they shouldn’t think about their parents all the time…Another thing that makes it better is having someone who’s the next best thing after your parents around to keep an eye on you and your siblings.”

The unspoken advice of toddlers is definitely to keep an eye on your parents all the time.  Otherwise, they might just decide to escape from you for a few weeks…

 

Have your parents gone to Hajj before?  What was it like for you?  Tell us by commenting below!

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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.

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Amel

    November 24, 2014 at 7:51 AM

    As-salamu Alaykum,
    Thank you for writing this article. As a parent, I really enjoyed reading it. I hope all parents will read this article and consider their children’s feelings and unspoken needs while they are away for any reason.

  2. Avatar

    Umm Hadi

    November 30, 2014 at 11:44 AM

    Masha Allah, May Allah accept and reward you immensely. Well written.

  3. Avatar

    Mahnoor

    February 21, 2016 at 8:58 PM

    My parents are planning to go to hajj next year, so this a great piece of advice for me.

  4. Avatar

    zuwaynab

    August 12, 2016 at 7:05 AM

    If kids are going with you on Hajj/Umrah and you are completely clueless what to pack and what not to, this list can help in shaa Allah.

    http://ayeina.com/packing-checklist-for-hajj-umrah-with-kids/

  5. Avatar

    S

    September 11, 2017 at 12:35 AM

    I don’t think a farz should be done at the expense of your child..especially when they are so young. I think young children need their mother and father..a carer..even a grandma wouldn’t be able to replace them…i think parents going to haj should go for the minimum time…and go when the kids are old ….

  6. Avatar

    K

    August 3, 2019 at 5:19 AM

    I just said bye to my parents at the airport. My grandparents are looking after me. But it will still be hard without them.

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The American Muslim Reaction To The Death Of Kobe Bryant

Kobe Muslims
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By Dr. Osman Umarji & Sh Mohammed Faqih

A memorial was attended by thousands of fans earlier today (2/24) to remember the life of Kobe Bryant. Kobe was tragically killed in a helicopter crash near Los Angeles on January 26th, along with his daughter, Gianna, and seven other passengers (John, Keri, and Alyssa Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah and Payton Chester, and Ara Zobayan). The news came as a shock to many people from all over the world, as Kobe was an international celebrity. The Muslim community in the United States was also shocked by his unexpected death. Friday sermons touched on the topic of his death, as his sudden passing weighed on the minds of congregants. Youth events were specifically held to help the youth process his death and learn the Islamic perspective on death and grieving.

One may wonder why the death of Kobe got so much attention from the Muslim community, whereas countless other deaths of non-Muslim celebrities and Muslims have typically received substantially less attention. Here are a few reasons that may explain why his death received more attention and had such an impact. First, Kobe’s death was an absolute shock to people. He died at a relatively young age of 41, at least according to our cultural standards. For the past 20+ years, his basketball career had been observed in an era where sports had become a 24/7 industry. Even when he was not playing, people were following the details of his personal life, business ventures, and much more through television, radio, podcasts, and social media. He was incredibly successful in his basketball career, having spent his entire career with the Lakers and winning five championships, which brought tremendous joy and happiness to Laker fans everywhere (and agony to fans of other teams). Thus, an entire generation had practically watched him grow up from a teenager to a world champion to a father of four girls, and the numerous memories people had about his life likely made them feel incredibly close to him. These memories of watching Kobe deliver game-winning shots and holding up trophies were often created in the presence of friends and family, making them more personal and emotional. We say all of this not to glorify anyone, but simply to explain why his persona was so grand, even amongst a broader media culture of celebrity obsession.

This aforementioned context may have been missing to some religious educators who were neither basketball fans nor aware of the memories people had of Kobe. Many Imams, khateebs, and youth educators expressed confusion at how community members were reacting to his death and coping in ways they felt were unnecessary and inappropriate. They were further surprised that the advice they gave on the topic failed to resonate with some members of the community. 

With a desire to better understand the community reaction to Kobe’s death, we administered a 14 question online survey to measure the reactions and coping mechanisms of Muslims to the death of Kobe. Our intention was to provide information to religious educators and extract lessons based on actual beliefs and behaviors of the American Muslim community. The survey was deployed two weeks after his death and was shared via social media. The rapid response to this survey was astounding. Within two days, we received nearly 340 responses. We believe this speaks to the relevance of the topic and the strong emotions that Kobe’s death has elicited. We discuss the results of our survey data below.

Who Responded?

The participants were quite diverse in terms of age. Most participants were between the ages of 26 to 34 (n=124) and 35 to 44 (n=103). 65% were male (n=221) and 35% were female (n=119). Participants were very diverse in their attitudes towards the Lakers and Kobe. Nearly 23% considered themselves absolute Laker fans, whereas 28% were not fans of the Lakers at all. Approximately 26.5% followed Kobe’s career a lot and 22% followed his career quite a bit. In terms of religiosity, 47.5% considered themselves to be very religious, 45% somewhat religious, and 7% a little religious.

We find it important to highlight that nearly half of the sample followed his career while also self-reporting high levels of religiosity. Being a basketball and Kobe fan and being religious were not mutually exclusive. 

What were peoples’ immediate feelings and reactions upon hearing about Kobe’s death?

Participants expressed a variety of emotions and reactions upon hearing about his death. The most common reactions were shock (74%), sadness (59%), and not believing it was true (46%). Many participants also reported crying (15%), feeling nothing (13%), and feeling numb (12%). Less frequently experienced were feelings of sickness (3%) and anger (5%). Participants were also asked whether the news of Kobe’s death disrupted their day in any way. Nearly a third reported that their day was not disrupted at all (32%), another third reported that their day was a little disrupted (35%), and a third reported their day was either quite a bit or completely disrupted (33%).

How did people cope with his death?

Participants were asked about how they coped with his death. The most common methods of coping were thinking about one’s mortality (68%), watching old videos and pictures (50%), praying for his family (44%). Participants also reported communicating with friends and people on social media (36%) and communicating with friends on the phone (32%). Other coping mechanisms included making a personal tribute, such as a social media post (19%), deciding to improve oneself (22%), and attending a community event about Kobe (5%). Lastly, and perhaps most interestingly, more than a quarter of participants reported making dua for Kobe himself (26%).

As coping with death is a topic that has been mentioned in sufficient detail in the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him), we were especially interested in the ways in which participants felt religion informed their own coping. As already explained, approximately 44% made dua for his family and 26% made dua for Kobe. Therefore, we asked participants “If Kobe had followed your religion, would you grieve or cope differently?” 21% responded that they would not cope any differently had Kobe been Muslim, 52% said they would cope differently, and 27% said they might cope differently. We further asked, “Did you find comfort in your religion’s perspectives on death and coping”, and 92% said yes, 4% said no, and less than 2% said they did not know Islam’s perspective. 

Correlates of Reactions and Coping Mechanisms

While the previous results described the participants in our sample and frequencies of experiencing particular emotions and coping strategies, we wanted to better understand what factors predicted these reactions and coping mechanisms. More specifically, we were curious to understand how religiosity, age, and gender influenced these behaviors? We ran three different sets of analyses to answer these questions (see the appendix for detailed results).

In our first of regression analyses, we investigated the predictors of the immediate reactions to the death of Kobe and how disrupting his death was to one’s day. The key findings were:

  • The more people reported following Kobe’s career, the more likely they were to cry, be sad, feel numb, feel sick, could not believe he died, feel anger, and report their day as being more disrupted.
  • Being a woman substantially increased the odds of crying, being sad, feeling numb, sick, not believing that he died, and reporting their day as more disrupted. This was particularly surprising as women reported following his career far less than men.
  • Increased self-reported religiosity decreased the likelihood of crying, feeling numb, anger, and having one’s day disrupted. However, religiosity was unrelated to feeling sad, sick, and not believing he died.
  • Older people were less likely to cry and more willing to accept he had died.

For our second set of analyses, we wanted to understand what predicted six different coping behaviors (dua for Kobe, dua for his family, reflect over one’s mortality, make a personal tribute, attend a community event, and watch videos). The key findings were:

  • The more people followed his career, the more likely they were to make a personal tribute, watch videos, attend an event, and make dua for him and for his family.
  • Being a woman increased the likelihood of making dua for him and his family, but not of any other coping mechanisms.
  • Increased self-reported religiosity reduced the likelihood of making dua for him, making a personal tribute for him, or attending an event. Religiosity also increased the odds of thinking about one’s own mortality.

Discussion of the Results

There are many topics worthy of discussion based on the findings of this survey. As one participant commented, “I saw so many social media posts from Muslims saying RIP, eulogizing Kobe, speaking to him (“you’ll be missed, you were the best”), and saying his death was “too soon”, “untimely”, and “not fair.” I wish we could have more education on how to react to such news and why it matters.” Other folks felt the opposite, with one saying, “All people die. I am among the group who don’t understand why a non-Muslim celebrity entertainer’s death is so significant for the Muslim community.” We hope to answer these concerns.

First, Kobe’s death clearly affected the participants in this sample, who we believe represent more than a small segment of the American Muslim population. Men and women of all ages reported strong immediate reactions and coping in various ways. We believe this is important to highlight, as many people may have assumed that it was only the young males who were affected by Kobe’s death. Another interesting finding was that many people reported coping by watching old clips of Kobe. We suspect that the memories people had of Kobe were likely created in the presence of friends and family and that people felt nostalgic about their own lives watching his old highlights. Regardless of the exact reasons why his death was impactful, which may include difficult conversations about our culture of celebrity worship and the role of the media and marketing agencies making superstars’ personalities larger-than-life, these emotions and coping mechanisms are real and need to be understood to both educate and guide our community. Although the death of countless orphans, refugees, and innocent people all over the world warrant our empathy, the truth is that we will likely grieve more for people with whom we have some personal connection with, although people may have never met him. This sentiment was captured in the comment of one young male adult, who said, “Kobe taught me mamba mentality. He showed the whole world what true hard work looks like. That is why I was sad because I felt like a mentor had passed away.” 

With this acknowledgment that the pain people felt was real, we want to discuss the Islamic view of specific ways of coping for a non-Muslim, especially making dua for a deceased non-Muslim. We feel this is especially important, as both the data and many of the comments addressed this topic. From the data side, we found more than 1 in 4 Muslims made dua for him and more than half saying they would grieve differently had he been Muslim. As for the comments, many people, especially those who considered themselves very religious, echoed the same principle: Had he been Muslim, then we could have prayed janaza for him and made dua for him. Another convert sister, who hardly followed Kobe or the Lakers expressed, “I know my religion is the truth, but not being able to pray for a deceased non-Muslim is a hard concept, especially as a convert with all my blood family not being known Muslims.” Most people understood that Islam does not permit making dua for the forgiveness of deceased non-Muslim. In fact, there is scholarly consensus on this issue, as stated by Ibn Taymiya and Nawawi. We want to add that this was also an issue faced by the Prophet Muhammad and his companions, many of whose parents and loved ones died outside the fold of Islam. Abu Huraira reported in an authentic narration that the Prophet visited his mother’s grave and wept, and everyone there wept with him. Then, the Prophet said, “I sought my Lord’s permission to seek forgiveness for her, but He did not permit me. Then, I sought permission to visit her grave and He permitted me to visit her grave.[1] We hope this clarifies the matter to those who may have been misinformed and gives strength to those who struggled with this issue. 

Regarding the issue of making dua for the family of the deceased, this is considered permissible and noble action, as it shows compassion and empathy for others. However, what seems even more vital and valuable, is that we learn from the death of Kobe to make dua for non-Muslims that we care for while they are alive. This includes making dua for their health, well-being, and most importantly their guidance. This is the best expression of love that we can offer to those who do not share our faith and the best way for us to show our appreciation for whatever we have benefited from them.

Another adaptive and Islamic way of coping that was commonly practiced was to reflect over one’s own mortality. What is astounding to us about Kobe’s death was that the night before he died he was in the news because LeBron James had just passed him for third place on the NBA all-time scoring list. Kobe had called LeBron to congratulate him that same evening. The following morning Kobe’s helicopter crashed. This moment should be a gut-check to us all about the fragile nature of life and remind us that our time on this earth is unknown. Abdullah Ibn ‘Umar used to say, If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening. Take advantage of your health before your sickness, and take advantage of your life before your death.”[2] 

Although sports superstars like Kobe almost seem invincible because of their ability to conquer the moment in the games they play, his death should be a reminder that this life is not a game. We do not know when, where, or how we will die. O Allah, let us live in a state of Islam and let us die in a state of Islam. That is the greatest success. 

Appendix:

[1] Related by Muslim, Ahmad, and Abu Dawud.

[2] Related by Bukhari

[3] https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/27/sports/kobe-bryant-fans.html

Author Bios:

Dr. Osman Umarji received his B.S in Electrical Engineering from UC Irvine. After working as an engineer for many years, he went to study Islam at Al-Azhar University. He has a PhD in Educational Psychology from UC Irvine and currently works at Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research as the Director of Survey Research and Evaluation. He is an adjunct professor in the School of Education at UC Irvine. He recently published The King, the Queen, and the Hoopoe Bird, a novel on the life of Prophet Sulaiman, in order to contribute to the production of culturally relevant educational material for Muslim youth in the West. 

Shaikh Mohammed Faqih completed a B.A. in Islamic Studies from the Institute of Islamic and Arabic Sciences in America in Fairfax, VA, and graduated in Quran Memorization and Recitation from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Previously, he held the position of Imam at the Islamic Community Center of Laurel in Laurel, MD, the Islamic Center of San Diego in San Diego, CA, and Islamic Institute of Orange County, CA. He is currently the Imam at the Memphis Islamic Center.

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Lessons And Reflections On The Death Of Kobe Bryant | Mufti Abdullah Nana

Kobe lessons
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On January 26, 2020, Kobe Bryant tragically passed away from this world after his helicopter crashed. The news of his death sent shockwaves around the world and millions expressed their grief and shared their condolences. His death and his legacy struck a chord with countless people who shared interesting personal stories about Kobe, what he meant to them, how much he inspired them, and the positive change that he generated. 

Kobe’s death saddened me. Despite knowing and preaching about the fleeting nature of life, his death shocked me. I have followed his career and am a fan. Not only that, Kobe was the same age as me, born only 40 days before me. We were both from the graduating high school class of 1996. 

I grew up playing recreational basketball from a young age. I ended up going in a different direction in my own life, but have been an avid sports fan for much of my life.

Many prominent people also shared their thoughts on how much Kobe meant to them and how he inspired them. My objective in writing this article is not to pass a legal ruling on the permissibility of following sports, mourning the death of non-Muslims, taking non-Muslims as role models, or advising Muslims to stop loving Kobe and cut off their connection with sports and Kobe Bryant completely. Instead, I wish to share some reflections and lessons from Kobe’s legacy that we can positively apply to our own lives. A believer is always looking to learn from others, from current events, and past events, and then derive wisdom and lessons from them.

Mamba Mentality And Muslims

There is much that we can learn from Kobe Bryant and his quest to be the best version of himself. He called this the ‘Mamba Mentality.’ 

Mamba Mentality: Honesty, Detachment, Optimism, Passion and Fearlessness. The Mamba Mentality is a mindset for constant self-improvement in the pursuit of your highest potential in life.

Kobe wished to inspire others to adopt his ‘mamba mentality’ in all aspects of life and to be great in whatever they do in life. “The most important thing is to try and inspire people so that they can be great [at] whatever they want to do.” 

He explains, “The Mamba Mentality is a mindset that extends way beyond basketball or sports. It’s simple, if you have a goal or a dream, you need to apply the mamba mentality to achieve it. Everything worth achieving needs total focus and dedication.” Click To Tweet

As Muslims, sports fans, and especially fans of Kobe Bryant, we can derive many positive lessons from Kobe’s legacy and apply them in our lives to become better Muslims and better human beings. In this article, I will be discussing four specific lessons: 

  1. Following our positive dreams and sacrificing to achieve them
  2. Adopting Kobe’s work ethic and dedication in our lives 
  3. Adopting role models and mentors in our religion
  4. Inspiring others and having a positive impact on the life of others

Following our positive dreams and sacrificing to achieve them

You all know the jingle: “Sometimes I dream that he is me. Can’t you see that’s how I dream to be?”

Kobe not only dreamt to be like Mike, he consistently challenged himself to change his game to achieve this dream. 

He explains, “…we all have dreams. But once you go through the process of trying to make those dreams a reality, you hit obstacles. And I think unfortunately because of pressure or anxiety or responsibilities.. you kind of give up on those dreams and somewhere along the line, you lose that imagination. I think it’s important that you never lose that. You have to keep that. That’s the most important thing, I never gave up my dream.” Holding on to your dream and not giving up is extremely difficult to do and requires perseverance and great dedication. 

Every young person has dreams and plans for what they want to do when they grow up and what they want to become. Although some of these dreams are not realistic or productive (my daughter is not going to become a unicorn), many dreams are positive and serve an important function in helping others, serving Islam, or providing a means of livelihood. Our country is based on the American dream, and we hear countless inspirational stories of those who followed their dreams and achieved the impossible. 

At the same time, it is essential that we channel those dreams in the right direction and in light of the Islamic teachings, pursue a dream that will either positively benefit someone’s life in this world or in the hereafter. It is helpful to talk to a mentor, imam, career guidance center, or parent about our dreams and identify that dream that we wish to follow and pursue that will be most beneficial for us. It should not be doctor or bust, as is the case for many of us! 

Once we have identified that dream, profession, career, and direction in life that we wish to pursue, it will take hard work, dedication, and most importantly sacrifice to achieve that dream.

I dreamed of playing professional sports like many American youth, but unfortunately for me, my ‘NBA career’ ended before it could get started because I wasn’t that good! As plan B, around the time Kobe was already playing for the NBA, I graduated with a degree in Business Administration and was inspired to pursue another dream; going overseas to study Islam and become an Islamic scholar. 

Those years were brutal. I became sick during those seven years, was homesick and often thought of quitting and heading back home, but by the grace of Allah,  I finished my studies. Sacrifice to pursue this dream meant giving up a career in management, friends, time with family, watching my younger brothers and relatives growing up, and much more during these years. Fortunately, my family supported me through this and in 2005, I graduated as a Mufti, qualified to give fatwas in Islamic law.

Kobe further expands on the need to sacrifice in order to attain one’s dream and that this is the price of achieving one’s dream. He wrote in his book, Mamba Mentality, “If you really want to be great at something, you have to truly care about it. If you want to be great in a particular area, you have to obsess over it. A lot of people say they want to be great, but they’re not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to achieve greatness.” 

Adopting Kobe’s work ethic and dedication in our lives

Kobe describes the need for hard work and a strong work ethic in order to attain one’s dreams and greatness. “Those times when you get up early and you work hard. Those times you stay up late and you work hard. Those times when you don’t feel like working. You’re too tired. You don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream.”

“Those times when you get up early and you work hard. Those times you stay up late and you work hard. Those times when you don’t feel like working. You’re too tired. You don’t want to push yourself, but you do it anyway. That is actually the dream.”Click To Tweet

Kobe was a model for his work ethic and passion for basketball. Shaykh Suhaib Webb says, “Kobe’s drive and focus were edifying and motivating. I would watch him and think, I wish I was as passionate in my work and studies as he was towards his craft.” 

Personally, I did my best to dedicate myself entirely to my Islamic studies while overseas. I burnt the midnight oil literally and did not go to sleep in my first year of studies before midnight and never slept after fajr, trying to squeeze in a few more minutes of study. In fact, while Kobe was winning three straight NBA championships from 2000-2002, I didn’t even know because I didn’t have a computer, didn’t have a cellphone, didn’t have access to the internet, and was simply too busy. 

Laziness is the exact opposite of a strong work ethic and dedication. The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم taught us to seek protection from laziness and inability.Click To Tweet

Laziness is the exact opposite of a strong work ethic and dedication. The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم taught us to seek protection from laziness and inability.

Kobe has this to say about lazy people, “I can’t relate to lazy people. We don’t speak the same language!..” Kobe was willing to sacrifice everything dear to him to achieve greatness in basketball and to win championships. 

How would our lives be different if we were to apply Kobe’s untiring work ethic, waking up early, dedication, and relentless pursuit of perfection to our jobs, responsibilities, families, religion, and desire to learn? 

Imagine putting Mamba Mentality to work to becoming slaves of Allah.Click To Tweet

Imagine putting Mamba Mentality to work to becoming slaves of Allah. We must be ready to make similar sacrifices to become good Muslims, to enter Paradise, and to learn about our religion. 

The need for role models and mentors

Kobe Bryant used to fondly remember his mentors such as Bill Russel and how their advice inspired him. “That’s why I think it is so important to have those mentors, those north stars, who you learn from and look up to.” (Mamba Mentality) Just as we need role models and mentors in sports, we also need role models in all other aspects of life, including our religion of Islam. 

It is up to us to determine to what extent we develop a relationship with our role models, listen to their advice, follow them, and are inspired by them. The stronger our relationship, the greater the impact will be. Many of us were inspired by Kobe and took him as our role model. We had a special connection with him and felt it in our hearts when he passed away. How many of us have similar Islamic role models and mentors that we love as much, have a special bond, who we follow and remember? We need more positive Islamic role models and mentors in our lives to inspire us in our religion as Kobe inspired us in sports. 

There are many great living Muslim leaders, scholars, sports players, and heroes in the world today who are excellent role models and inspirational mentors. By the grace of Allah, I have had the opportunity to meet many of them and benefit from them. I could write a separate article on these amazing personalities

There are also many great heroes, scholars, and leaders from the past who we can follow and take as our role models. The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم is the greatest role model and mentor in history, and we should do our best to learn about his life, his example, and his way and incorporating it into our own lives. Imagine if we had such a strong bond and love for him as we did for our favorite sports players! The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم said, “Among the people from my nation who love me the most is a group who will come after me and will be ready to sacrifice their family and wealth just to be able to see me.” (Sahih Muslim) May Allah make us from among such people. Amin

The Prophet’s Companions رضي الله عنهم are also the best of role models and examples. Abdullah bin Masu’d (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “If a person is going to follow someone else and take them as their role model, then he/she should do so with those who have already deceased because indeed the living are not safe from falling prey to temptations and evil. [The deceased who are worthy of being taken as role models] are the Companions of the Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم. They were the best people of this Muslim Nation; they had the purest hearts, deepest knowledge, and had the least formalities. Allah selected them for the companionship of his Prophet and to establish his religion, so recognize their virtue, follow in their footsteps, and hold fast to as much of their good character and ways as you can, because they were definitely upon clear guidance.” 

Inspiring others and having a positive impact on the life of others

Kobe’s legacy not only includes changing our own lives while striving towards greatness in all that we do but also working on inspiring others to do the same. He says, “I think the definition of greatness is to inspire the people next to you.… Our challenge as people is to figure out how our story can impact others and motivate them in a way to create their own greatness.” 

He was a leader who built a team that worked towards greatness. And this did not just happen haphazardly. He applied the same techniques to leadership that he did to his game. He writes about his leadership style: “What I did adjust, though, was how I varied my approach from player to player. I still challenged everyone and made them uncomfortable, I just did it in a way that was tailored to them. To learn what would work and for who, I started doing homework and watched how they behaved. I learned their histories and listened to what their goals were. I learned what made them feel secure and where their greatest doubts lay. Once I understood them, I could help bring the best out of them by touching the right nerve at the right time.” Excerpt from Mamba Mentality. We too need to use wisdom and insight when calling others to Allah and to goodness, and to customize our approach to the individual for maximum benefit. 

We will receive the reward for all the good deeds done by those who we inspire, motivate, encourage, and teach. The Prophet Muhammad صلى الله عليه و سلم said, “The person who calls towards guidance will receive the reward of all those people who acted upon his calling, without decreasing the reward of the original doer himself/herself.”

As Muslims, we too need to work on leaving behind a good legacy when we leave this world which will continue to benefit us from our graves. When we die, all our good deeds will come to an end besides perpetual charity, pious children who will pray for us, or knowledge that we left behind. 

Kobe has left this world and is unable to further work towards building his legacy, while we are still very much alive and have that opportunity. Shaikh Suhaib Webb has shared a very positive lesson from Kobe’s life and death:

“As we sit saddened and frozen by the loss of Gianna and her father, let’s remember that we are, by God’s grace, alive. Let’s translate this moment into a passion and dedication to live, be better and use some of the drive Kobe modeled for us in his career, towards our faith and healing a fractured world.”

Redirecting our energies and channeling them to Islamic works

Sports play a significant role in many of our lives. Many of us are passionate about the sport we play or follow. We are attached to our favorite sports champ like Kobe Bryant and our favorite teams. Taking sports entirely out of our lives might not be a very realistic proposal. 

Scholars have written that what is required in such circumstances is not to eliminate that energy and connection from our lives completely, but to redirect it and channel it to more productive and more spiritually rewarding Islamic projects and activities: seeking knowledge, performing Salat, waking up in the middle of the night for prayer, staying fit and looking after our long-term health, and adopting Islamic role models. 

I will end with Kobe’s quote on what legacy we leave for others; “It’s the one thing you can control. You are responsible for how people remember you – or don’t. So don’t take it lightly. If you do it right, your game will live on in others.”

#Mambaout

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Messiah, A Fitnaflix Production

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Netflix released Season 1 of a new thriller series called “Messiah”. The series imagines the emergence of a character claiming to be sent by God, the Messiah, or Al-masih (messiah in Arabic) as he is referred to in the television series. 

This so-called Al-masih first emerges in Damascus at a time when ISIS is about to storm the city. He then appears in Palestine, Jordan and ultimately America. Along the way, he performs miracles and dumbfounds the Israeli and American intelligence officers charged with tracking him and figuring out who is enabling him. The season ends with a suggestion that he is truly a divine man, with the ultimate miracle of reviving the dead.

The entertainment value here is quite limited. Some stretches of the series are just flat or straight out boring, and the acting is not all that great. However, the series does create an opportunity for discussion about Muslim eschatology (the knowledge of the end of times), response to fitnah (faith testing tribulations) and Muslims portrayal in and consumption of entertainment media. 

The series shows some sophistication in the portrayal of Muslim characters relative to what people have been accustomed to with Hollywood. Characters that are situated in the Middle East are performed by actors from that region who speak authentic regional Arabic (including Levantine and North African dialects). The scenes appear authentic. While this is progress, it is limited, and the series falls into oversimplification and caters to typical stereotypes. While several Muslim characters draw the viewers’ empathy, they are not used to provide context or nuance for issues that the series touches on: ISIS, refugees, the Israeli occupation and suicide bombings. The two American Muslim characters are never really developed. In fact, all Muslim characters tend to be “flat” and one dimensional. This is in contrast, for example, to American and Israeli characters which appear multi-dimensional and complex, often dealing with personal challenges that a Western audience is likely to identify with (caring for an aging parent, mourning the loss of a spouse, balancing career and life, dealing with family separation, abortion, etc.). While Muslim characters are shown as hapless refugees, terrorists, religious followers, political activists, a university professor and student, their stories are never developed.

The show repeatedly refers to Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. There is also consistent normalization of Israeli occupation and glorification of the occupying forces.  

Islamic eschatology 

Orthodox Muslims affirm a belief in “the signs of the End of Times, including the appearance of the Antichrist, and the Descent of Jesus 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) the son of Mary 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him), from the celestial realm. We also believe in the sun’s rising from the west and the appearance of the “Beast of the Earth from its appointed place” [1]. Dr. Omar Al-Ashqar gives a detailed review of the authentic narrations regarding the signs of the end of times in his book Al-Qiyamah Al-Sughra [2]. When it comes to actual figures who will emerge in the end of times, Sunni scholars generally affirm the following:

  • Imam Mahdi, who is a just ruler who will share the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) name. 
  • The False Messiah (Antichrist), or Al-Masjih Al-Dajjal, who will be the greatest fitna to ever to afflict this Ummah. 
  • The True Messiah, Isa ibn Maryam, who returns in the end of days, kills the Antichrist and rules for 40 years and establishes justice and prosperity – close to the time of the day of judgement. 

The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) warned that the fitna of Al-Dajjal will be the most severe ever. In a hadith narrated by Ibn Majah and others, the Prophet ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) is reported to have said, “Oh people, there has not been a fitna on the face of the earth, since God dispersed the progeny of Adam, greater than the fitna of Al-Dajjal. Every prophet of God warned his people from Al-Dajjal. I am the last prophet. You are the last Ummah. He will appear amongst you no doubt!”

Al-Dajjal comes after a period of famine and drought. He will be one-eyed and will claim to be God. Believers will recognized a mark or word of disbelief on his forehead. He will perform many miracles. He will endow those who follow him with material prosperity and luxury, and those who deny him will be inflicted with deprivation and suffering. He will travel at high speeds, and  roam the whole world, except Makkah and Madinah, which he will not be able to enter. He will create a heaven and hell, command rain, the earth, animals, and resurrect the dead – all supernatural occurrences that he has been afforded as a trial and test for others. The Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) went as far as encouraging us to flee from confronting him, because it will be a test of faith like no other.

Reflections on the series and lessons to be learned

The Prophets and the righteous are not tricksters and riddlers.

The Netflix series portrays the character ‘al-masih’ as someone who speaks cryptically; it is never clear what he is teaching and why. He leads his followers on long physical journeys without telling them where they are going or why. He speaks in riddles and tortures his followers with mental gymnastics and rhetorical questions.

On the other hand, a true prophet of God offers real guidance and brings clear teachings and instructions – the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) spoke clearly to his followers, he taught them how to worship Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) alone, to be just, to uphold the ties of kinship, to look after one’s neighbour, and so on. He did not abandon them in a state of confusion to fend for themselves. Moreover, “al-masih” deceives his followers by concealing his true name (“Payam Golshiri”) and background – something a righteous person would never do, let alone a prophet.

What Netflix got right and what it got wrong

The Al-masih character initially emerges in Damascus (and the Islamic tradition mentions Isa ibn Mariam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) will descend in Damascus). However, the character is eventually revealed to hail from Iran. A number of ahadith refer to Al-Dajjal first appearing in Khurasan, which is part of modern-day Iran. He poses as a righteous person, but it is revealed that he doesn’t pray at all. He quotes religious scripture, but only to service his cryptic speeches. That Al-Dajjal would pose as a religious person would not surprise Muslims, since some hadith mention he will emerge from the remnants of the Khawarij, a heterodox group known for overzealousness and fanaticism [3]. Al-Dajjal travels the world at fast speeds, disappearing from one land and appearing in another, just as the character in the series does. 

messiah

photo credit: IMDb

However, numerous features of Dajjal would make his identity obvious to believers, not the least of which is that the word ‘disbeliever’ will be written – whether literally or metaphorically (scholars differ) – on his forehead in such a manner which even those unlettered would be able to read. Physically, Dajjal is a short man, with a deformity of his legs, and one of his eyes is likened to a “floating grape”, sightless, and “green like glass”. The Prophet is said to have focused on these physical features because they are so manifest and eliminate any confusion.

Al-Dajjal’s time overlaps with that of two other eschatological figures – Imam Mahdi and Esa ibn Maryam 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him). Imam Mahdi is prophesized to fill the world with justice and rule for seven years, after which Dajjal will emerge. While the Muslims following al-Mahdi are taking shelter in Damascus, Prophet Esa 'alayhi'l-salām (peace be upon him) will descend and eventually slay the Dajjal. Therefore, according to the Islamic eschatological tradition, things will get better before they get worse before they get better again – Imam Mahdi precedes Dajjal and Dajjal precedes Prophet Esa [2].

Safeguarding against tribulations

The best safeguard is to have sound knowledge of theology and law, and to have our iman rooted in revelation and reason. For example, the most basic understanding of Islamic theology would lead us to reject any man who claims to be God, as Al-Dajjal will claim. With basic Islamic knowledge and reasoning, we would know that Allah does not manifest in human-like form, much less one that is deformed, as Allah is the all Powerful and Perfect. Could it be that at the end of times even such essential Islamic knowledge is lacking? 

walking on water

Al-Dajjal deceives people by his miracles and supernatural abilities. Our iman should not be swayed by supernatural events and miracles. We should measure people and ideas according to their standing with the Shari’ah. We must keep our heads level and not be manipulated because we cannot explain an occurrence. 

Al-Dajjal also lures people by his miracles and by his ability to give them material prosperity, comfort and luxury. We must tie our happiness and sense of satisfaction to eternal spiritual truths, not to the comforts of this life, and be willing to give up what we have for what we believe. We should live simply and not follow into the path of excessive consumerism and materialism.  

Another important consideration is not to base our connection to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He) on another human being (except the Prophet Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). Scholars, celebrity preachers, imams and teachers are all prone to error and sin. We must use the Shariah and the Prophet Muhamamd’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) character and teaching as the filter by which we evaluate them, not the other way around. Despite his obvious deformities, the Antichrist will be a mesmerizing blinding celebrity, but whose falsehood will be uncovered by believers who make judgements based on loyalty to principle, not personality. 

Is it time to live on a remote mountain?

The clearest indication of the nearness of the Day of Judgement is the prophethood of Muhammad ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him). The Prophet likened the difference between his time and the Day of Judgement as the difference in length between the index and middle fingers. However, before we sell everything and move to a remote mountain, let’s exercise care in projecting Islamic eschatology on the political events of our times. The reality is that no one knows when these things will happen. Explaining the current phase in our history away by end of times theories or conspiracy theories, are simpleton intellectual copouts that lead our Ummah away from actively working towards its destiny. Anyone who has claimed that this event (remember Y2K) or that event is a major sign of the Day of Judgement has been wrong, so far. There were scholarly guesses in the early centuries of Muslims that expected the Hour 500 years after the Prophet’s ṣallallāhu 'alayhi wa sallam (peace and blessings of Allāh be upon him) death. Yet, here we are. No one knows.

The best you can do is stay calm and make salat!

Muslims and the entertainment media

This increased sophistication and the apparent familiarity with Islamic sources exhibited by Messiah producers should lead us to value the importance of producing accurate, authentic and polished material and content about Islam and Muslims and our community’s role as a source of information. 

It is also important for Muslims to produce works for the mass media and entertainment industries. This is no longer the era of the sole MSA Da’wah table. Sophisticated, entertaining and authentic media production is an imperative for modern Muslims.  When we don’t tell the story, someone else will. 

Make it a Netflix Night?

We may refer to it as Fitnaflix, but let’s all admit that we cannot avoid television and the entertainment industry, for better or for worse. We can however moderate, guide and channel its use. Start breaking the isolation in which many of our children and young adults consume media. Families should watch TV together and use it as an opportunity to model how we select appropriate material and to create teaching and discussion moments. Parents should know what is influencing their kids even if they don’t like it. 

Some parts of the series Messiah, despite its flaws (and an explicit sexual scene in episode 9, not to mention profanity), could be used as a teaching moment about trials and tribulations, the end of times and the importance of Muslims engaging in the entertainment industry in a principled and professional manner. 

Ed’s note: Much of the series’ content is R-rated. Besides depictions of terrorism and other mayhem, sexual activity and brief rear nudity are shown. Mature themes include abortion, adultery, infertility and alcoholism.

Works Cited

[1] T. C. o. I. Al-Tahawi, Hamza Yusuf (trans), Zaytuna Institute, 2007. 
[2] O. Al-Ashqar, Al-Qiyamah Al-Sughra, Dar Al-Nafa’is, 1991. 
[3] [Online]. Available: https://abuaminaelias.com/dailyhadithonline/2014/06/23/dajjal-emerges-khawarij/.

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