A journey

It may be that there is some naivety in my Islam, it may be that these are my Meccan years, it may be that I am just a literalist. Still, I take these words to heart:

Abu Musa said, “I said, ‘Messenger of Allah, whose Islam is best?’ He said, ‘The one from whose tongue and hands the Muslims are safe.’”

Many – more learned that I – mock this simple faith of mine. Conditions are placed upon those words: the tongue is loosened for those perceived to be heretics. Before the accusing finger is pointed towards the Salafis, let us be honest and recognise that this tendency exists in many a group. I have just read an article by a self-defined traditionalist whose words were remarkably similar to those of the commentator who did not think much of my call for unity. Each is convinced that they alone have grasped the true interpretation of Islam, and so all without may be classed as deviants, who then fall outside that realm where we are commanded fair speech and forbidden name-calling. Disappointment. That’s the word that comes to mind so frequently. People of knowledge from whose tongues we are not safe. Perhaps this is just the naivety of my Islam, perhaps I am a literalist.

No doubt this is part of the reason I made that resolve – mentioned in my last post – this weekend. I plan – if Allah wills – to learn Arabic now, so that one day I may kneel at the feet of the people of isnad and ijaza: clearly I cannot take this deen from anonymous essays and public web logs. Only then will I know whether I am truly naive or an idealist instead. But for the time being, until I get there, you will just have to bare with me as I hang on to the words of our blessed Prophet, peace be upon him, as I read them in English translations available to me (fear not: the Muwatta, Riyad as-Salihin and Al-Adab al-Mufrad lie within my grasp). So this simple faith remains, with my literal readings of “speak good or remain silent”, “your mother, your mother, your mother”, “the one from whose tongue”, “this brotherhood of yours”…

A stranger wrote some words for me yesterday that struck a chord:

For myself, my journey began on these reflections.. though blessed with a family and community of Muslims, something was lacking.. the frequent quarrels, petty back talking, etc i witnessed between Muslims and even at the masajid made it obvious that something was missing… and soon i was on a search for something greater… and that was the “Prophetic Character”, as i realised that truly that was the foundation of Islam.

Yes indeed. This is what I seek too: the Prophetic Character. This stranger went on:

So my search began to find the scholars who called to Allah with the display of the Prophetic character, following the footsteps of the noble prophet (peace be upon him) building solid communities based on firm and pure hearts.. who went on to call the masses to the deen with the precious light that emitted from the very inner fibres of their beings…

For me the journey will be long for language is not my strong point: only Allah knows whether I will grasp that foreign tongue and unfamiliar alphabet. But it is a journey I realise I must undertake, for though my knowledge now is little, already I well know the gems of the Prophetic Character in those few words I have learned from their renderings into the English language. This is a journey I must undertake myself. It is my heart and my soul that seeks redemption after all. So I realise that I must go myself to seek knowledge. I have done the bare minimum for the past five years, but my soul tells me that this is not enough. I do not wish to become a scholar or a sheikh. I merely wish to redeem my soul, to put the confusion behind me, to live as our blessed Prophet taught us to. Nothing more than that.

I only want to live a good life and perhaps, if Allah wills, embody however faintly the light of Islam.

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