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Category: Nafs (Page 2 of 4)

Keyboard warriors

The keyboard warriors are doing battle, clashing on all frontiers. With rage they tap ever faster on keyboards of glass and plastic, outdoing their opponents with snippets of sentiment, oblivious to the weight of their words. All is fair in love and war, they believe, unconscious of the cautious wisdom of old that sought to restrain the tongue from its visceral temper.

With unrestrained brutality, their opponents will be vanquished, indignation seething through their veins. It is a battle that must be won, right now, right there on a tiny screen, for all to see and witness. It is a battle that must be won at all costs, no expenses spared — work may suffer, a prayer might be missed, real life companions might sit neglected — all must wait, for in the heat of war, everybody must know of the rightness of the warrior, and every other view, opinion or passing thought must be defeated.

He who forsakes argument, even when he is right: a sunnah unheard. Speak good or remain silent: another sunnah ignored. Be just even against your own selves: a command unpracticed. He does not utter a sentence except that an angel is near him ready to record it: an observation unobserved. The most excellent are those from whose tongue and hands other Muslims are safe: the best of advice unheeded.

Isn’t it strange that war is so easy and peace so difficult, because peace just requires everyone to do nothing, while war requires them to do so much? Peace costs nothing, while war costs all.

On physical battlefields great armaments are fired, lives squandered, money dissolved, emotions crushed, innocents obliterated, passions heightened, humanity aborted.

On virtual battlefields words are weapons, emotions are bullets, anger bombs, but in the rage of the battle it is the soul of the attacking combatant that dies; it is his heart which shrivels up, his ego inflated. Incline to peace remains unrecalled. On this battlefield his words must reign victorious, and all others must be vanquished.

And so the battle rages on. Into the night and the following day. These words can never be exhausted. There is still so much more to say.

The way of truth

To me, it is remarkable that the progeny of a community which invested so heavily in the sciences of verification and authenticity to preserve the teachings of our religion will nowadays forward and repost every piece of unverified nonsense, malicious junk and political propaganda that appears before us on a slab of glass, without a second’s thought.

In the age of the internet everything and nothing is true. Whatever serves a purpose will be true for the moment. A lie become insignificant; it is all part of the push for truth.

We have forgotten, or are ignorant of, a verse of guidance: “And do not mix the truth with falsehood or conceal the truth while you know it.” –Quran 2:42.

But as we have discovered, it has always been so. Political machinations will trump even the sacred if it serves the agendas of the greedy and untruthful. Cruel and corrupt men often set us upon a path of their own design, heedless of the demands of truth, goodness and light.

We must resist. We must return to the way of truth. That is the true rebellion of our age.

Disappear

We disappear, pretending to head for the hills, secretly hoping that somebody will miss us, or wonder what happened to us, or ask after us, until it becomes patently clear that nobody gives a damn. So all of a sudden we reappear, prancing around like clowns, yelling, “Here I am. Here I am. I’m back, and I have so much more to say.” But still nobody gives a damn. “Go, leave us,” comes the collective retort. And at last, perhaps, the ego will finally mope away, humbled, without constantly wondering what everybody thinks. Without the perpetual refrain, “Me, me, me.” Disappear.

Don’t be surprised

If you hold everyone in contempt, don’t be surprised if everyone holds you in contempt too. If you can see no good in those around you, don’t be surprised if those around you see no good in you. If you have concluded that you are always right and everybody else is always wrong, don’t be surprised if people always turn away repulsed.

Be grateful for the blessing of you Lord and walk humbly on the earth with patience.

Be grateful

Oh soul, God dislikes contemptuous bitterness. Overlook the shortcomings of others. Have mercy on your companions. Display true gratitude for the blessings showered upon you. Put away your repugnant scorn. Faith is goodness, love and light. Be as those “who walk on the earth in humility, and when the ignorant address them, they say, Peace!”

Timid aversion

I think I am too English to embrace public displays of piety — a tasbih always in hand, salutations always on the tongue, eyes glazed over, intoxicated by the presence of the One.

But I know it is wrong of me. Theirs is a faith more courageous than mine, more willing to be seen in the world. God alone knows what hearts contain; only He knows our intentions. As to us mere mortals: our mission is to think the best of our companions.

I regret that when I meet the outwardly pious one, my initial feelings are of aversion. But that is a disease of my heart. And so the inward mutterings begin. “He is better than you,” I tell myself, recalling my many sins. “He doesn’t care what people think,” I whisper, remembering my shy and timid faith. “His character and actions speak volumes,” I remind myself, “while yours are just like dust.”

Faith comes in many forms, revealing itself in many ways. I regret that I have become so judgemental and so intolerant, when it is my words, thoughts and deeds which fall so short. May the One purify our hearts and grant us the best of character.

Less

I listened patiently and quietly as they talked and talked for minutes on end, but when I finally opened my mouth to speak, I could not even finish my sentence. Momentarily I was irritated, until I thought to myself: training for my ego. A gift, when you think about it. Speak good or remain silent. Diminish your self-regard. Minimise your inflated self-importance. Refocus your centre from I to the One. Yes, a gift from above, when you really think about it.

Stuck

I wilfully ran into a labyrinth of my own design and now I can’t find my way out.

New Rituals

I have grown weary of these technologies which have become our everything. They have put in place new daily rituals, more sacred than prayer. This plate of glass, these intricate pixels: they have become the first thing I see in the morning, the last thing at night. At nine o’clock, ten, twelve, half-past three. And when sleepless at night it is there. Connected, but desolate within. I enjoy the interactions with others, the sharing of thoughts, virtual smiles, news, new friends – and old. Without it there is loneliness. Yet to be alone is a battle cry: to disconnect, to withdraw, to walk away. To seek refuge in recitations in a quiet place. To rediscover a good book gathering dust. This plate of glass and aluminium has supplanted an ordinary life, leaving migraines and regret in its wake. In truth, I wish there was a delete key for what I have become.

Inner idols

I have built another of those vast and complex and intricate edifices, which tower high above me. Now I must tear it down for the good of my soul, but it pains me. Yesterday I called in demolition, but halted deconstruction half way through. These towers of ego and desire are a work of art. But a yoke around my neck. The good within regrets engineering these great carbuncles, but soon the bad within will regret the act of dismemberment, and even now petitions me, “Stop!” Once more I have invested everything in this edifice. But either it falls, or I fall. These are the choices we set for ourselves. It is not a question of knowing what to do: that is easy. It is having the resolve to break every last brick, to walk away for good, to remove its foundations completely. It is the resolve to tear up the architect’s plans, to smash the intricate carvings, to bring it to nothing. It is the courage to write off an investment for the sake of one better than it. It is the courage to pull back from the brink. “Return” whispers my heart, but inside a war is raging. These are the battles of the soul. These are the inner idols.

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