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Friday, March 27, 2009

Seeking the Inner Muslim

Dr. Abdullah Hakim Quick

Surely all Praises are due to Allah, we praise Him, seek His assistance, and
ask His forgiveness. And we seek refuge in Allah from the evil of ourselves
and the wickedness of our deeds. Verily whomever Allah guides there is none
to take him astray; and whomever Allah allows to stray, there is none to
guide. I bear witness that there is nothing worthy of worship but Allah, He
is one and has no partners; and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant
and last Messenger. May Allah send His choicest blessing and Peace to
Muhammad, his companions, family and all those who call to his way and
establish the Sunnah till the Day of Judgment. As to what follows:

Muslims are finding themselves under great pressure today. From all sides,
and in various forms, subtle and blatant, attacks are being launched against
Muslim individuals, families and communities. Pressure is being applied to
our eyes with the scanty summer fashions and rash of indecency on the
television and in the movies. In Canada, women have been given the legal
right to walk around topless in public places. Already, women can be seen
mowing their lawns, sunbathing, or strolling down the street without any
blouse, bra or shirt. Pressure is being applied to our ears by the constant
swearing, backbiting, and scandal that we are confronted with daily.
Pressure is being applied to our hands by the unavailability of jobs or
loans and the growing availability of interest, mortgages, and gambling.
Attacks in the media against Islam are on the increase. Muslims are blamed
for slavery, wife assault, terrorism, female circumcision, ignorance and
animosity to civilization. Recently, the Yahud in Israel have drawn pictures
of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as a pig and posted them on Muslim homes and
businesses.

Many Believers feel that their back is against the wall and the whole earth
is closing in on them. They do not see any escape or relief in the next dew
decades. A1lah tells us in the Blessed Qur'an: "And whoever keeps his duty
to Allah, Allah will make a way out for him and provide for him from where
he knows not. And whoever depends on Allah, Allah is sufficient for him.
Surely Allah will achieve His purpose. He has made a limit for all things. "
(65:3)

Even the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself, who was the best of humanity, and
his Companions, who were the best generation, were severely tested. For
thirteen long years, the Muslims were tortured in Makkah, driven out of
their homes and even killed. They were afflicted with diseases and
malnutrition. One day, the Prophet (pbuh) was passing the family of Yassir
(ra) who were known for their piety and their submission to the will of
Allah. They were being savagely beaten and tortured. Allah had not given the
Muslims the right to fight back, so the Prophet could only ease their burden
by revealing to them a special part of His mercy. The Prophet said:
"Patience, family of Yassir, your promised abode is Paradise."

The pain and suffering of the Makkan period forged a tight relationship
between the Muslims and purified their relationship with Allah. If a person
had accepted Islam for fame, glory, wealth or position, he would soon turn
back on his heels. Arrogance, pride, envy and racism were eliminated and the
Muslims came to see each other as being closer and more important than their
own families. We should remember their struggle as we endure today's trails
and tribulations.

Muslims throughout the planet are in a state of siege. Some find themselves
in a hot war where the fire of the military is all around them. Others find
themselves in a war of ideas where the bullets are propaganda and insults.
Sometimes the effects of psychological warfare are more devastating than
military warfare for they can last for more than a generation.

In the wake of this crisis, people are making critical choices about Islam.
Many are choosing to accept Islam, for despite the negative attacks, they
realize that Islam is the only way out of the present corruption and
tyranny. Islam is the only organized way of life that can categorically
oppose homosexuality, racism and secularism. Only the Qur'an and Sunnah have
cohesive arguments and a moral system that can be applied in conjunction
with science, politics, business and every day life. Other people are asking
themselves, "Should I practice Islam completely or should I continue being
Muslim in name or by culture?" They see Islamic practice in today's society
as swimming against a tidal wave. So they justify selling pork, liquor,
gambling tickets or committing adultery as part of modern life. They fail to
recognize that "Harem" is for everybody and for all times.

How do we bring about change in our conditions and enable those who are
undecided about practicing Islam to see the light of Allah's guidance. The
Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was reported to have said, "Islam began as a
stranger and will return to being a stranger so glad tidings (or a certain
huge tree in Paradise) is for those who are strange. They asked, "O
Messenger of Allah" Who are the strangers?" He replied, "Those who rectify
(themselves and others) when the people are corrupt." (Al-Tabarani: Sahih)

Muslims who have been blessed to revert to Islam or to practice Islam in the
full sense have a great responsibility. The Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was
"Uswatun Hasanah" (a fine example) of the practical application of Islam. He
not only talked about Islam but he lived it in all spheres of his life. In
order for us to make this critical change, we need to re-analyze our Islamic
theory and practice. Great emphasis has been placed upon "ibadat" or the
ritual aspects of Islam. Now we need to focus on Muamalat or inter-personal
relationships. How many times do we hear about a Muslim who prays and fasts
but he is untrustworthy, or a Muslim who wears Islamic clothing yet cheats
in business! We need to look at the "Inner Muslim" and bring this
personality to the surface.

In Islamic history there were many illustrious scholars who searched for the
inner aspects of Islam yet were also versed in Shari'ah. With so much
falsehood being presented today as scholarship, it is important for us to
find those scholars who were balanced and respected by all. Imam Yahya ibn
Sharaf ibn Murri ibn Hasan an-Nawawi was in this category. He was born in
the village of Nawa in 1233 CE and in his early years rose to be a
recognized scholar for his knowledge of Hadith and his piety. He recognized
that the Prophet (pbuh) was visited by the Angel Jibril and asked about
Islam and Iman. He was also questioned about Ihsan (righteousness). The
Prophet's response was that "Ihsan is to worship Allah as though you see Him
and if you cannot do this, then worship Him as though He sees you." So
Jibril asked about the inner Muslim, the conscience or the essence of the
person. Muslims today need to look into themselves and find that inner
person. We need to ask ourselves, "Why do we pray, fast, give Zakat or go to
Hajj? Are they done for Allah or for the people's attention and pleasure?"

Imam An-Nawawi laid down five principles for Ihsan which we need to study
and implement into our lives. He also gave us an action plan as to how to
attain them.

1. Fearing Allah in the secret and the open. This is attained through
scrupulousness and being upright. The Prophet (pbuh) once said to one of his
companions, "Say, I believe in Allah, and then be upright." We need to
constantly look at ourselves and examine our intentions for doing what we
do.

2. Living according to the Sunnah in word and deed. This state can be
attained through caution and good character. Remember that the Prophet has
informed us, "Haste is from the Shaitan." Putting Islam into our character
will force us to implement the guidance instead of just spouting it from our
mouths.

3. Indifference to whether others accept or reject us. This state can be
attained through patience and entrusting our affairs with Allah. We need to
stop looking around us and being afraid of whether society accepts us or
whether people will be angry at our Islam. If we are right with Allah, then
there is nothing to fear!

4. Satisfaction with Allah, the Most High, in scarcity and plenty. This
state can be attained through contentment with what one has and submission
to the Will of Allah.

5. Turning to Allah in happiness and affliction. This state can be attained
through having gratitude to Allah in happiness and taking refuge in Him in
affection.

May Allah give us the benefit of the scholarship and striving of this humble
yet profound thinker and may Allah help us to embody the words and warnings
of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who left us in an authentic hadith reported
in Al-Tirmidhi: "Two characteristics are not found together in a hypocrite:
good manners and understanding of religion (fiqh fi-Din)."

May Allah protect the weak and oppressed of the Ummah of Muhammad (pbuh) and
give us the strength to be shining examples of this clear way of life.
Surely Allah is the Off-forgiving and He has power over all affairs.

____________

"Indeed, there is a station higher than [both sabr and] ridâ, and that is to
show shukr (gratitude) to Allâh for the affliction, since this is the cause
of receiving excellence and bounties." [40]

- Shaykhul-Islâm Ibn Taymiyyah

"Call your souls to account before you are called to account and weigh your
deeds before you are weighed; for it will make the accountability easier for
you tomorrow if you call your selves to account today"
Umar Ibn Al-Khattaab RadiAllahu'anhu

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