It seems that we are a people who confuse religion and private interests. We are a people who perpetuate much of what is prohibited, all while presenting ourselves as faithful and sincere believers. Take the advocacy of our premier activists on behalf of one who has confessed to having several extramarital relationships, and to engaging in virtual games of seduction with numerous others, documented before judges and backed up by photographic evidence offered by his own defence. Look how our activists phrase it: it is between him and God, and no concern of ours. These men we take as guides boldly declare that the moral authority of the one who admits to all these things remains intact. Point out this divergence from the norms of tradition and even the most fervent activist will call you an extremist. What is this activism we speak of, which does nothing to reform us of the hypocrisies within?

Blinded by labels

It used to be that if a traditionalist wished to insult you, they would call you a Wahabi. Nowadays, you are more likely to be labelled a Quranist, a bizarre slight, as peculiar as the non-Muslim’s Islamist. While I am certain that there are sects and groups that refer to themselves as Quranists, Quraniyya, Quranites and all manner of derivations, those on the receiving end of this extraordinary taunt often do no such thing. Continue reading “Blinded by labels”

The answer to everything

Islamophobia! Islamophobia! It’s the answer to everything. Everything is Islamophobia. Were it not for the fact that I know I will be held to account for my own deeds on an awesome and fearsome day, I would blame Islamophobia each time I succumb to the evil calls of my lower self. What does our Book say?

Morning prayer

Ya Allah, guide me back to the straight path. The path of those you have blessed, not those who incur your anger, or those who are astray.

With these words I start my day. A desperate, anguished prayer, recognising how far I have fallen. Never take your faith for granted. The act of uttering your testimony of faith does not transform you into a pure being, incapable of error after guidance. You have to strive on this path, otherwise it becomes mere ritual. Your prayers, five times a day, just brief pauses punctuating a life badly lived. I speak for myself, naturally, but I am sure I am not alone. Those of us who took our faith for granted and then raced headlong into sin, hoping for His infinite mercy.

Ya Allah, guide me back to the straight path.

These scales

When I look back on my life, I see that I have spent most of it in sin. But for the mercy of my Lord, my balance stands against me. However will I turn things around, I often ask myself, so late in the day with so many evil deeds weighing down so heavily on one side of my scales? Yes, it is a frequent cause of despair. True, Ibrahim said: “And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord except for those astray?” (Qur’an 15:56) — but for one oft-repeating in the same sins, over and over as the years pass by, it is difficult not to lose hope, seeing the ruin I have built for myself. So many times have I stood at these crossroads, resolving to turn my life around and reform, but alas, alas, here I am once more, with all the same regrets and remorse, as if nothing ever changed. What I would give to be faithful and pure.

Political prisoner

Yes, I believe we could be political prisoners: prisoners to the politics of community, so often browbeaten into an unthinking stupor through loyalty to a common cause, shackled by that ever-present fear: of the imminent accusations of heresy and disbelief reserved for anybody who might step out of line and think for themselves.   Continue reading “Political prisoner”

On lizard holes

How easy it is to find fault with the other. It is always our opponents that have entered the proverbial lizard hole, while we ourselves cling firm to authentic faith. Our orthodoxy is palpably correct, while the beliefs of our foes are obviously suspect. Thus do we wield in our armoury words famously attributed to the Prophet, peace be upon him, with which we trounce our opponents: Continue reading “On lizard holes”


The people of old find our bold proclamations of self-importance peculiar. What a strange thing, this annual celebration of the new orthodoxy, fostered in every nation on earth by the high priests of the age. In times past it was thought of as a chronic disease, associated with the tongue of Iblis:

He said, “I am better than him. You created me from fire and created him from clay.” — Qur’an 38:76

It is curious indeed: this self-glorification, self-exaltation, self-advancement which afflicts us. The good man is the one who is good in the sight of God, an unknown to mere mortals like us. The arrogant man confounds when dispensing advice, and rude when on the receiving end. Our belief that we are better than others is pure, unadulterated ignorance.

This bitter pride of ours is poison. The great man in the one who is great in the sight of God alone, and only He can judge. Until we stand before Him, gathered together at the end, we have no idea how we will be judged ourselves, let alone our companions on the road.

So shun this new-fangled Eid, devised to glorify the self en masse. We are but dust; no, less than an atom, or a quark. God guides whom He wills and leads astray whom He wills. Our state today could change tomorrow, or in an instant in between. So why this boastful declaration of pride, celebrating ourselves and our own? May our Lord make us humble, recognising that none of us is greater than the unknown servants of the Most Merciful, the Most High.

The hidden self

One of the first lessons most of us learn when we set out on the path is, “Actions are by intentions.” It hardly needs to be said, for that is the primary concern of most seekers: to believe sincerely, without that prevailing sense of hypocrisy that gave birth to our search in the first place. But it provides a sound foundation for the journey ahead. It is one of a handful of narrations we know by heart, always quickly recalled. Continue reading “The hidden self”