To believe

The self-congratulating activist, revelling in his mastery of identity politics, can’t help but boast of his radical hatred of the Muslim convert — those irritating upstarts everywhere held in contempt — rallying against their pretence of belonging or their claim to the prophetic inheritance. Real Muslims are sick of Muslim converts, they remind us to great acclaim, their declarations liked, reposted and quoted all over.

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Where are you?

Where are the cool headed folk who verify the news they receive? Where are those who pause to probe when they receive alarming information via social media, which seeks to foment and stir up communal tensions? Where those whose first question is, “Is this true?” Where those who will reserve judgement until all the facts are known? Where are those who recall what is written in their Book: “Do not mix truth and falsehood!” Where are those who remember anything of their faith at all? Won’t you please stand up?

Call back

Repeatedly, my lower self calls me back to what is of no benefit at all, neither for me nor any other.

Sometimes I resist, closing that door firmly shut, recalling, “We have been here before.” Sometimes I succumb, giving in to those inner arguments: “What harm can it do?”

This is my life, over and over. Yesterday I responded to its call. This morning I petition myself: “Repent, return, reform.” This battle within never ends, it seems. These skirmishes, offensives and counter-offensives. On and on.

It’s hard to close the door on desirous things, which bubble up from the deepest recesses of the soul. They call me back. But I know I must call back too: “Not this time, o nafs! I’m seeking something higher than this.”

Jahiliyyah

Before you listen to those petitioning young Muslim women not to go to college and university, ask yourself who will benefit from that decision. I confess that it makes me angry that we have highly educated people amongst us — graduates themselves — actively discouraging young women from studying. Why? Who gains from their illiteracy? Does our community gain anything? Does society as a whole? Do they as individuals?

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Commodity

Follow those who ask no payment. Over and over, our Book repeats this refrain. Follow right guidance… the word of truth…

Yet on the contrary, we have turned guidance into a commodity to be bought and sold, marketing it with cringey videos. Guidance is yours… for a hefty fee.

Religion appears to be a lucrative enterprise for the astute businessman. But I say: don’t follow the entrepreneur offering to save your soul in exchange for a subscription.

The path is simple. You just have to take it up. “And why should I not worship He who created me and to whom you will be returned?” It’s not a commodity; it’s a way of life.

In good faith

I think without my faith, I would have struggled to deal with the emotional impact of my diagnosis. By faith, though, I don’t mean the faith community to which I belong — if anything, that is mostly unhelpful, for Muslims carry with them a lot of prejudice and cultural baggage which often makes them insensitive to the effects of a condition such as this. By faith I mean my relationship with my Creator, and the practical toolkit the faith provides in dealing with loss and hardship.

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Seeker

Religion and culture are close relatives, but they are not the same thing. Reform starts from within. It is a form of liberation, which seeks to make us the best versions of ourselves. Too often, culture imposes the opposite, demanding we serve traditions over justice, fairness or truth, even while outwardly appealing to religion as the collective identity. In the search for truth, you have to delve beneath the surface, to seek out all that has been obscured. Follow your heart.

Disappointment

In my first year at university, there was a young man from my halls of residence who used to follow me around, condescendingly addressing me as “boy” whenever he had the opportunity. His role, it seemed, was to stop me talking to a young woman who was studying exactly the same subjects as me and was in all of my lectures and tutor groups. We considered one another friends — indeed, she described me as the first friend she made at university. But that young man was having none of it, and was determined to keep me in check.

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For a good reason

Let it be that our paths crossed for a good reason all those years ago. Let it be for a good reason that I never forgot their names. Let it be for a good reason that I still remember them in my prayers. Let it be for a good reason that thoughts of them were injected into my mind this past winter. Let it be for a good reason that strange realities were uncovered this past spring. Let it be for a good reason that long-forgotten interactions inscribed an indelible imprint on my heart. May the One guide us all and rectify for us all of our affairs. Let it all be for the best of reasons.

This fraternity

At Jummah today, I couldn’t help marveling at a beautiful moment. There I was kneeling on the ground, an elderly Asian gentleman on my left and a young African man on my right, this eccentric European sandwiched between them. This is the fraternity I embraced. All the world, united in humility, joined by the One.

All that you desire

When you purify your intentions, everything you desire will be brought together for you in the right order. I have seen that myself in moments of sincerity. I have seen it materialise in ways that have truly blown my mind. Indeed, my mind continues to be blown as the years pass by, as even more of the picture unfolds. Make your intentions for the One and the One will grant all that your heart desires.

Undying timidity

There is so much I have always attributed to a strict, Christian upbringing which should probably be more correctly associated with my undying timidity. When I begin exploring past events a bit more, it occurs to me that a normal youngster would have just asserted themselves to demand whatever their heart desired. Few would have been as passive as me, forever in fear of the consequences for transgressing the norms set out by the significant adults around me.

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