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Harmony Among Muslims And People of Other Faiths: Historical Examples | Part 1

Part 1 | Part 2

In studying history and the phases of peace and conflict, one is quickly exposed to the common arguments about norms and exceptions. One opinion holds that peace is the norm throughout history and that war is the exception, and this position is ardently supported by peace studies programs worldwide. On the other hand, opposing opinion posits that war has been the norm throughout history and peace was the exception, using evidence of conflicts and wars that have been documented and studied.

Ultimately, as human beings we must ask ourselves if we truly want to establish harmony globally, and what obstacles, if any, are present and require clear resolutions. In order to achieve local and global harmony, one must study the circumstances and dynamics of intra- and intergroup co-existence in recorded history. As a pre-requisite and continuous condition, however, the involved parties pursuing harmony must be sincere, motivated, united, and efficient. Thus, regardless of one’s opinion about the norms and exceptions throughout history, there are striking precedents that illustrate to the modern reader how harmony was established among various ideological and political groups, and that harmony is, in fact, a documented reality and an achievable one at that. Following are four important examples from history that illustrate harmony among three religious groups: Jews, Christians, and Muslims. 

The Tribe of Banu Najrān

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During the era of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), a delegation arrived from the tribe of Banu Najrān in order to meet and ask questions of the Prophet, as his message had spread far and wide in the region. The people of Najrān, supported financially by the Byzantine ruler, sent a delegation to Madīnah, and they were received in the mosque of the Prophet ﷺ, where they prayed to the east. Many issues were raised and a variety of questions were asked over the course of several hours. When they discussed the nature of God, the Prophet ﷺ recited Sūrat al-Ikhlās (chapter 112 in the Quran) in which God says: “Say: He is Allah, the One. Allah, the Eternal, the Absolute. He begets not nor was He begotten.  And there is none comparable unto Him.”[1]

Some members of the Najrān delegation were moved by the meaning of the recitation, while others disagreed as they believed that Jesus is the begotten son of God, and himself divine. On the following day, verses related to Jesus were revealed to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ and he recited them to the Najrān delegation:

“The nature of Jesus, in the sight of God, is the same as Adam, whom He created from dust and said to him, ‘Be,’ and he was. This is the truth from your Lord. Be not, therefore, one of the doubters. Should anyone argue with you about him after what has been given to you of true knowledge, say to them, ‘Let us summon our children and your children, our women and your women, and ourselves and yourselves. Let us then all pray humbly and invoke the curse of God on the liars.”[2]

Most of the Najrān delegation could not accept that Jesus was merely a mortal man and a prophet; yet,  God, Himself, challenged them with the above verses. The delegation initially agreed to meet for the challenge, but they feared the anger and curse of God, so they decided to decline. Nevertheless, the delegation requested a peace treaty and Prophet Muhammad ﷺ agreed by the following day. Based only on their short time with the Prophet, they promised to accept the terms of the peace treaty without question, as they had seen fairness and honesty in the character of the Prophet ﷺ.

The following excerpts of the peace treaty are relevant to our modern times and a reminder of pluralistic harmony and co-existence:

“Najrān has the protection of God and the pledges of Muhammad, the Prophet, to protect their lives, faith, land, property, those who are absent and those who are present, and their clan and allies. The Najrān need not change anything of their past customs. No right of theirs or their religion shall be altered. No bishop, monk or church guard shall be removed from his position.”

The treaty continues: “Whatever they have is theirs, no matter how big or small. They are not held in suspicion and they shall suffer no vengeance killing. They are not required to be mobilized and no army shall trespass on their land. If any of them requests that any right of his should be given to him, justice shall be administered among them. He who takes usury on past loans is not under my protection. No person in Najrān is answerable for an injustice committed by another…[3]

The above treaty provided autonomy with regard to political administration, cultural tradition, and religious beliefs, for not only Christians but any non-Muslim citizen living in Muslim lands. This example is just one of many, including the well-known Madīnah Charter. For centuries, many just Muslim rulers adhered to the principles and guidelines contained in the treaty when dealing with non-Muslims in local and distant lands.

The Suit of Armor

Throughout Islamic history, there have been clear-cut examples of justice being rendered in an unbiased manner in cases of a Muslim violating the rights of a non-Muslim under an Islamic authority. The issue of justice is raised here due to its significant positive impact on achieving harmony locally and globally, for any political document claiming to value justice is only brought to reality when it is tested in times of conflict. One exemplification of justice is the following incident:

A man named Ṭaʿimah stole a suit of armor from Qatādah, his neighbor. Qatādah had hidden the armor inside a sack of flour so when Ṭaʿimah took it, the flour leaked out of the sack through a hole, and flour fell from the armor, leaving a trail up to his house. Ṭaʿimah then left the armor in the care of a Jewish man named Zaid b. Samīn, who kept it in his house. When the people searched for the stolen armor, they followed the trail of flour to Ṭaʿimah’s house but did not find it there.  When confronted, he swore to them he had not taken it and knew nothing about it.  The people who were supporting Qatādah also swore that they had seen Ṭaʿimah breaking into Qatādah’s house at night, and had subsequently followed the tell-tale trail of flour, which had led them to his house.  Nevertheless, after hearing Ṭaʿimah swearing he was innocent, they left him alone and looked for further clues, finally finding a thinner trail of flour leading to the house of Zaid, and so arrested him.

The Jewish man told them that Ṭaʿimah had left the armor with him, and some Jewish witnesses confirmed his statement.  The tribe to which Ṭaʿimah belonged sent some of their men to Prophet Muhammad ﷺ to present his side of the story, and asked them to defend him against the accusation.  The delegation told the Prophet, “If you do not defend our clansman, Ṭaʿimah, he will lose his reputation and be punished severely, and the Jewish man will go free.”  The Prophet ﷺ was persuaded to believe the delegation’s side of the story and was about to punish the Jewish man when God revealed the following Qur’anic verses to vindicate the Jewish man:[4]

“Indeed, We have revealed to you, [O Muhammad], the Book in truth so you may judge between the people by that which God has shown you.  And do not be an advocate for the deceitful.  And seek forgiveness of God.  Indeed, God is ever Forgiving and Merciful.  And do not argue on behalf of those who deceive themselves.  Indeed, God loves not one who is a habitually sinful deceiver.  They conceal [their evil intentions and deeds] from the people, but they cannot conceal [them] from God, and He is in their midst when they plot by night in words that He does not approve.  And God ever is encompassing of what they do.  Lo! You argue on their behalf in [this] worldly life – but who will argue with God for them on the Day of Resurrection, or who will be their defender?”[5]

The Conquest of Jerusalem

It is well established that ʿUmar ibn al-Khaṭṭāb, the second caliph, during the opening of Jerusalem in the year 637, issued a decree to the people of the city that they would be protected in their places of worship.  At the time, the authority presiding over Jerusalem was the renowned Patriarch Sophronius, a representative of the Byzantine government. During the battle, a countless multitude of Muslims had surrounded Jerusalem, but Sophronius refused to surrender the holy city except to ʿUmar in person.

ʿUmar, who was situated in Madīnah, heard about the condition of Sophronius, and he set out with a companion on just one donkey. By the time of their arrival, it was not easy for those who had never seen ʿUmar to distinguish him from his servant, due to his humble dress and modest character. Sophronius was greatly impressed by this and gave ʿUmar a tour of the city, which included the famous Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

When the time for prayer came, ʿUmar indicated that he needed to pray, and Sophronius invited him to pray inside the church. However, ʿUmar adamantly refused and he insisted that if he prayed in the church, Muslims in later times would use his behavior as an excuse to convert it into a mosque, and this would essentially deprive Christians of one of their holiest sites. ʿUmar prayed near by the famous church and the Muslims ended up building a mosque at the site fifty-five years later. The Mosque of ʿUmar stands to this day, across the road from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

After the peaceful surrender of Jerusalem, Jews, who had been banned from Jerusalem for over five centuries, were finally been given permission to worship and reside in Jerusalem with complete religious freedom. ʿUmar gave a speech that became known for centuries later and promoted an unparalleled treaty of coexistence and religious tolerance.[6] The treaty, referred to as ʿUmar’s Assurance, became a recognized standard for relations between Muslims and Christians throughout the Byzantine Empire and eventually throughout the world. It established the rights of minorities and promoted tolerance to a great degree, and the concept of forced conversion to Christianity in the Byzantine Empire was no longer a respected or sanctioned act, following the speech of ʿUmar.

Co-existence in Spain

Society under Islamic rule in Spain, referred to as Al-Andalus by the Arabs, was known for its religious tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Christians and Jews, along with Muslims, held high positions in the courts and in society, and they collectively shared in the wealth of Cordoba, the capital of Al-Andalus.[7] Professor Zachary Karabell stated about that era:

“Jews tended to benefit both in Spain and the Mediterranean world. In the towns and cities, Jews found themselves in unique positions as intermediaries between Muslim-dominated Spain and the rest of the world. Having suffered severe discrimination at the hands of the Visigoths, Jewish communities under the Muslims enjoyed more freedom, affluence, and social standing than any Jewish community would until the nineteenth century.”[8]

There are countless other examples of peace and harmony between various groups, politically and religiously, ethnically and racially, and these examples should continue to be highlighted, studied, and imitated in the modern context in order to achieve world peace. Ultimately, the vast majority of mankind genuinely wants to live in peace and desires that same atmosphere of harmony for humanity worldwide. The world is exhausted from the various wars and conflicts that are ongoing, and all decent people are appalled by the horrendous humanitarian crises around the world that result from the mayhem and destructive power of war and other oppressive agendas.

The Connection

The reader may wonder why the four aforementioned examples were given at the exclusion of countless historical conflicts, and the primary response is that the one seeking harmony would do well to focus on the examples of harmony and justice that can be exemplified in the modern context through various extracted lessons.

The example of Banu Najrān highlights the importance of co-existence among groups of various beliefs, a principle without which a modern society cannot function or thrive at its fullest potential. Additionally, the treaty with Banu Najrān emphasizes to the one who knows little about Islamic history that there exist numerous models of harmony from the era of inception.

As for the second example, the concept of justice is emphasized again and again in the Qur’an and serves as one of the primary principles in Islam. If a society cannot be just, then it can never attain true harmony. Justice is one of the foundational conditions of peace on earth, and those who exemplify it in their daily lives are true ambassadors of peace.

As for the third example, ʿUmar’s Assurance serves as a reminder that in reality, whether at the brink or conclusion of conflict, there is always hope for tolerance and peace without compromising society’s freedom of religion.

Finally, the fourth example serves as a reminder that a group that is marginalized and oppressed for many centuries may be protected and preserved by another – not for any personal gain but for genuine concern and compassion. The example of the migration of Jewish refugees to Muslim lands is a reminder that: a) conflict in one region may bring about much goodness in distant communities who come to the aid of those who are burdened, b) during times of conflict, refugees fleeing their homes are oftentimes overlooked and at times oppressed to a greater degree, but those of pure hearts will find an opportunity to help protect others at the expense of political affiliations, c) tolerance and co-existence established on justice is guaranteed to bring improvement to a society, and d) one must continuously look back at the humane responses in historical times of conflict and extract modern replications to incorporate into the increasing activism of pursuing peace, social justice, and true harmony.

Many researchers and commentators point to various sources of contemporary conflict as an obstacle to harmony. These include predatory capitalism, imperialistic national ambitions, ethnocentrism and systematic racism, and ideologies misinterpreted for personal or political gains. Many groups and individuals around the world tirelessly advocate for a more just and egalitarian global power structure, for the upholding of civil and human rights and international law, and for a principled assurance of social justice for all human beings. Thus, we must maintain, as individuals, families, and nations, a realistic optimism and utilize every means to achieve local and global harmony.

To be continued…

 Part Two deals with practical suggestions that can be implemented at the individual and community levels.

 

References:

[1] Qur’an 112: 1-4.

[2] Qur’an 3: 59-61.

[3] See: al-Bayhaqi, Dalā’il an-Nubuwwah; Ibn Saʿd, at-Ṭabaqāt al-Kubra.

[4] al-Wāḥidi, Asbāb an-Nuzūl, pp. 210-211.

[5] Qur’an 4: 105-109.

[6] ʿUmar’s Assurance is documented in several variations; see: al-Yaʿqūbi, Tāreekh al-Yaʿqūbi, 2/46; Eutychius of Alexandria, Row of Jewels, 2/147; Ibn al-Jawzi, Fadhā’il al-Quds, pp. 123-124.

[7] Zachary Karabell, Peace Be Upon You (New York: Knopf, 2007), p. 69.

[8] Ibid., p. 67.

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Imam Suleiman Hani is an international lecturer and resident scholar from Michigan who currently serves as an AlMaghrib Institute instructor, a Yaqeen Institute scholar, and a graduate student at Harvard University. At the age of 14, Suleiman completed a 10-month Qur’an memorization program and began his intensive studies under numerous scholars, later earning a Master of Arts degree from the University of Jordan's College of Shari’ah, ranking first in his class. Over the past decade, he has served as an Imam and community leader in Michigan, lectured in dozens of countries, and was featured on the largest Islamic TV stations worldwide. His recent hobbies include mixed martial arts, archery, and skydiving.

2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sindhi

    May 10, 2017 at 4:46 AM

    Whatever written in this article is not followed by Pakistanis from the partition day. This is evident and no one can deny.

  2. Avatar

    Tasnim

    April 9, 2018 at 4:28 PM

    Salaam! Very beneficial piece, maa shaa Allah tabarakallah. May I know if Part 2 (“…practical suggestions that can be implemented at the individual and community levels”) is already up? If so, it would be great if the team can also share here the link to it. :) Jazaakumullahu khayran.

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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 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.”

Guests

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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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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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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MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

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featured

I Once Spent Ramadan Semi-Quarantined, Here’s How It Went

Even though it was over 10 years ago, the memory of that Ramadan is seared into my mind.

I’d just taken my first consulting job – the kind in the movies. Hop on a plane every Monday morning and come home late every Thursday night. Except, unlike in the movies, I wasn’t off to big cities every week – I went to Louisville, Kentucky. Every week.

And because I was the junior member on the team, I didn’t get the same perks as everyone else – like a rental car. I was stuck in a hotel walking distance from our client in downtown, limited to eat at whatever restaurants were within nearby like TGI Friday’s or Panera. This was a pre-Lyft and Uber world.

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A couple of months into this routine and it was time for Ramadan. It was going to be weird, and no matter how much I prepared myself mentally, I wasn’t ready for it — Iftar alone in a hotel room. Maghrib and Isha also alone in a hotel room. Suhur was whatever I could save from dinner to eat in the morning that didn’t require refrigeration.

Most people think that with the isolation and extra time you would pass the time praying extra and reading tons of Quran. I wish that was the case. The isolation, lack of masjid, and lack of community put me into a deep funk that was hard to shake.

Flying home on the weekends would give me an energizing boost. I was able to see friends, go to the masjid, see my family. Then all of a sudden back to the other extreme for the majority of the week.

I’ve been thinking a lot about that Ramadan with the prospect of a quarantined Ramadan upon us. I wish I could say that I made the most of the situation, and toughed it out. The truth is, the reason the memory of that particular Ramadan is so vivid in my mind is because of how sad it was. It was the only time I remember not getting a huge iman boost while fasting.

We’re now facing the prospect of a “socially distanced” Ramadan. We most likely won’t experience hearing the recitation of the verses of fasting from Surah Baqarah in the days leading up to Ramadan. We’re going to miss out on seeing extended family or having iftars with our friends. Heck, some of us might even start feeling nostalgia for those Ramadan fundraisers.

All of this is on top of the general stress and anxiety of the COVID-19 crisis.

Ramadan traditionally offers us a spiritual reprieve from the rigors and hustle of our day to day lives. That may not be easy as many are facing the uncertainty of loss of income, business, or even loved ones.

So this isn’t going to be one of those Quran-time or “How to have an amazing Ramadan in quarantine!” posts. Instead, I’m going to offer some advice that might rub a few folks the wrong way.

Make this the Ramadan of good enough

How you define good enough is relative. Aim to make Ramadan better than your average day.

Stick to the basics and have your obligatory act of worship on lockdown.

Pray at least a little bit extra over what you normally do during a day. For some, that means having full-blown Taraweeh at home, especially if someone in the house is a hafiz. For others, it will mean 2 or 4 rakat extra over your normal routine.

Fill your free time with Quran and dua. Do whatever you can. I try to finish one recitation of the Quran every Ramadan, but my Ramadan in semi-quarantine was the hardest to do it in. Make sure your Quran in Ramadan is better during the month than on a normal day, but don’t set hard goals that will stress you out. We’re under enormous stress being in a crisis situation as it is. If you need a way to jump-start your relationship with the Quran, I wrote an article on 3 steps to reconnect with the Qur’an after a year of disconnect.

Your dua list during this Ramadan should follow you everywhere you go. Write it down on an index card and fold it around your phone. Take it out whenever you get a chance and pour your heart out to Allah subḥānahu wa ta'āla (glorified and exalted be He). Share your stresses, anxieties, worries, fears, and hopes with Him.

He is the Most-Merciful and Ramadan is a month of mercy. Approach the month with that in mind, and do your best.

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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.

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