So, What’s It Like Being a White Muslim, Anyway?

The truth will always be put down in a world that has been taken by evil. The basic and simple fact is that everything that ultimately leads to the liberation of souls will always be fought. History has given us insight into the persecution suffered by various generations who were called to truth and the way of Allah. What most non-Muslims fail to understand is the simple fact that all a Muslim desires, is nothing of this world but the hereafter. We may face challenges but as Allah has promised, “there is never a problem without a solution”. Assalamu Alaiykum.

KINDNESS

Kindness is an act or the state of being kind, being marked by good and charitable behaviour, pleasant disposition and concern for others. It is known as a virtue and recognised as a value in many cultures and religions. Research has shown that acts of kindness does not only benefit receivers of the kind act, but also the giver, as a result of the release of neurotransmitters responsible for feeling of contentment and relaxation when such acts are committed- (Wikipedia).

In Islam, there are many Surahs of Allah’s kindness to mankind. The Prophet (SAW) also enjoined all Muslims to be kind towards all of Allah’s creation. These are contained in Hadiths and they touch every aspect of human activity.

It is also of immense value to note that Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was a pure manifestation of kindness and compassion. He was the perfect example of kindness and compassion. He showed kindness to all he came across, Muslims and non-Muslims, and treated everyone with the same degree of kindness. His acts of kindness not only encompassed human beings but he was also kind and compassionate to animals as well. He was compassionate to children and considered them a gift from Allah (SWT). He would offer the first date of the season to the youngest child and would say this would bring barakat to the dates.

As Muslims, we are enjoined to always follow the teachings and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW). We are also enjoined to extend kindness towards ourselves and the creatures of Allah (SWT). This is the greatest goal of Islam. It is this goal that determines the position of one before Allah (SWT) in this world and the hereafter. It is also what determines the position of man among his fellow human beings.

Kindness to oneself and other creatures
Prophet Muhammad (SAW) said, “Allah (SWT) has ordained kindness on everything. When you kill (an animal), kill (it) kindly and when you slaughter (an animal), slaughter (it) kindly. Let anyone of you sharpen his knife and let him give rest to his slaughtered animal.”

The Prophet’s statement has two significant meanings. On the first part, it gives us the clear understanding that on everything created by Allah (SWT), kindness has been ordained. This shows that kindness has been ordained on mankind and therefore, each individual is to be kind to oneself and all mankind. The first step of being kind to oneself is to accept and acknowledge that there is no god except Allah (SWT) and to ascribe no partner to Him (this is the greatest kindness to oneself). Then, we must strive to obey His commands and distance ourselves from sin and things that are forbidden for He says, in Qur’an 6:120, “Leave (O mankind, all kinds of) sin, open and secret. Verily, those who commit sin will get due recompense for that which they used to commit.” Also, to be kind to ourselves, we must strive to perform our obligatory acts in the perfect form.

On the second part, the statement clearly tells us how to act with regards to the creatures of Allah (SWT). The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) instructs that kindness be shown to animals when we kill or slaughter them. They are not to be treated unjustly or harshly.

Kindness to spouses
We are also enjoined to be kind to our spouses. Allah (SWT) has tasked us to be kind to them. He says, in Qur’an 30:21, “And among His signs is this, that He has created for you wives from among yourselves, that you may find repose in them, and He has put between you affection and mercy. Verily, in that are indeed signs for a people who reflect. Also, in Qur’an 4:19, He says, “O you who believe! You are forbidden to inherit women against their will, and you should not treat them with harshness, that you may take away part of the dowry you have given them, unless they commit open illegal sexual intercourse. And live with them honourably. If you dislike them, it may be that you dislike a thing and Allah brings through it a great deal of good.”

A Hadith also goes to say, “The most perfect of the believers is the best of you in character, and the best of you are those among you who are best to their wives.” (Tirmidhi)

Kindness to parents, relatives, neighbours, orphans and the less privileged.
Allah (SWT) ordains that kindness be shown to our parents, relatives, neighbours, the poor, orphans, the weak and the distressed. Being kind to them entails being generous to them and refrain from harming them in any way through our actions or words. The most comprehensive verse on kindness in the Qur’an is An- Nisa 36. Allah (SWT) says, “Worship Allah and join none with Him in worship and do good to parents, kinfolk (relatives), orphans, Al- Masakin (the poor), the neighbour who is near of kin, the neighbour who is a stranger, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet), and those (slaves) who your right hands possess. Verily, Allah does not like such as are proud and boastful.”

Also, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was strictly against vows of silence among relatives and said, “He who remains sour of his relative for a period longer than three nights and three days will not enter heaven.”

FORMS OF KINDNESS
Kindness is so broad it exists in many forms. These forms usually take very little of our time and effort to accomplish.

People often mistake or take kindness to mean giving out charity. Yes, charity is a form of kindness but it does not encompass kindness as a whole. There are other forms of kindness. These other forms and great acts of kindness to people include amongst many:
1. Treating people according to the teachings of Islam.
2. Being faithful and honest in our relationships and association with others.
3. Respecting and being patient with others.
4. Giving a helping hand to the weak and old.
5. Saying kind words to people and treating them in ways which we would also like to be treated.
6. A smile is also kindness. It is generally believed by many that a smile is the universal language of kindness. Its takes practically the tiniest effort to give yet it creates a tremendous effect on those it is given to.
7. Spreading the message of Allah (SWT) and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) is also an act of kindness.

VIRTUES AND BENEFITS OF KINDNESS
The virtues and benefits of kindness are too numerous to mention but it can be said that one of the main and best benefit of being kind is the feeling of contentment one experience when an act of kindness is carried out. The sense of fulfilment, accomplishment, joy, happiness and relaxation that comes with carrying out a kind act is overwhelming.

Other great virtues of kindness are illustrated in the Hadith. Some of the Hadiths are:

“Allah is not kind to him who is not kind to people” (Muslim and Bukhari)

“Those who are kind and considerate to Allah’s creatures, Allah bestows His kindness and affection on them. Show kindness to the creatures on the earth so that Allah may be kind to you.” (Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi)

Narrated Aisha (R.A): “Allah’s Messenger (SAW) said, “O Aisha! Allah loves that; one should be kind and lenient in all matters.” (Sahih Bukhari)

“Allah is kind and likes kindness in all things” (Bukhari 6601)

“He who does not thank people does not thank Allah.” (Tirmidhi)

The virtue of kindness is also shown in the Holy Qur’an, 42:43, which says, “And verily, whoever shows patience and forgives, that would truly be from the things recommended by Allah.”
Also, in Qur’an 31:17-19, Allah (SWT) says, “O my son! AqimisSalat (perform Salat), enjoin (people) for AlMaroof (Islamic monotheism and all that is good), and forbid (people) from AlMunkar (i.e. disbelief in the Oneness of Allah, polytheism of all kinds and all that is evil and bad), and bear with patience whatever befall you. Verily! These are some of the important commandments ordered by Allah with no exemption. And turn not your face away from men with pride, nor walk in insolence through the earth. Verily, Allah likes not each arrogant boaster. And be moderate (or show no insolence) in your walking, and lower your voice. Verily, the harshest of all voices is the voice (braying) of the ass.”

The benefit of kindness is also shown in Qur’an 2:195 which says, “And do good. Truly, Allah loves the good-doers.” Qur’an 5:8 also says, “O you who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah as just witnesses; and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety.”

With all these virtues and benefits of kindness, wouldn’t it be better for us if we go out of our way to perform an act of kindness for the sake of Allah (SWT)?

May Allah continue to protect us and make us amongst those that are kind. May He make us amongst those that will benefit from His kindness, compassion and mercy. Ameen.

(c) Dhulhulaifa

THE HIJAB

The Hijab is a practice in Islam that has been subject to a lot of criticism from western media and advocates of women rights. It is viewed by many(usually non-muslims) as a practice that is designed to restrict the freedom of women in Islam. Some countries, for instance France, have gone to extents of passing laws that prohibits or make it illegal to wear the Hijab in public places. These laws are clearly an infringement on the basic right to freedom of religion that each human being is entitled to. What really needs to be understood is that, every religion has its practices and they are followed because they hold a certain significance to the followers of that religion. The Hijab is a practice in Islam that clearly needs to be understood by all.

The Hijab, as defined by wikipedia, “is a veil that covers the head and chest, which is particularly worn by a Muslim female beyond the age of puberty in the presence of adult males. It can further refer to any head, face or body covering worn by Muslim women that conforms to a certain standard of MODESTY. It not only refers to the physical body covering, but alo embodies a metaphysical dimension, where Al-Hijab refers to ‘the veil which separates man or the world from God’. Hijab can also be used to refer to the seclusion of women from men in the public sphere. Most often, it is worn by Muslim women as a symbol of MODESTY, PRIVACY and MORALITY.”

By definition, modesty is the state or quality of being modest. It is a state in which there is a lack of vanity or there is a regard for decency of behaviour, speech, dress etc. Modesty can be translated as simplicity. Going by its definition, modesty thus, is a virtue or state that is to be sought by every human being. It is a state that is accepted and believed, by any rational being, to be a vital ingredient necessary for the growth and development of any sound and moral society.

Modesty in Islam concerns both men’s and women’s gaze, gait, garments and genitalia. The Holy Qur’an, Sura 24: 30-31, says,
“Tell the believing men to lower their gaze(from looking at forbidden things) and protect their private parts(from illegal sexual acts). That is purer for them. Verily, Allah(SWT) is All-aware of what they do. And tell the believing women to lower their gaze(from looking at forbidden things) and protect their private parts(from illegal sexual acts) and not to show of their adornment except that which is apparent(like palms, eyes etc) and to draw their veils over their bosoms and not to reveal their adornment except to their husbands, their fathers, their husbands fathers, their sons, their husbands sons, their brothers or their brothers sons, or their sisters sons, or their women, or the (female) slaves whom their right hand possess, or old male servants who lack vigour, or small children who have no sense of the shame of sex. And let them not stamp their feet so as to reveal what they hide of their adornment. And O ye believers, turn ye all together towards Allah(SWT), that ye may attain bliss.”
The Hijab therefore is for both men and women but for each, a direction or how to wear the Hijab has been given. It is a symbol of modesty for all and a way of attaining bliss and the pleasure of Allah(SWT).

The Hijab as a symbol of modesty, is therefore something to be applauded, encouraged, embraced and also something to be proud of. It should not be viewed as archaic or as a bondage or restriction to the freedom of any individual(as is the case with western cultures with regards to Muslim women). As Muslims, we embrace the Hijab with pride, honour and strive to continue upholding it as a symbol of MODESTY, PRIVACY and as a KEY to preserving the MORALITY in our society.

May Allah(SWT) continue to guide us, give us strength to stand up for truth, forgive our shortcomings and make us steadfast in seeking His pleasure. May He grant us His mercy and make Jannah our final Abode. Ameen.

(c) Dhulhulaifa

FORGIVENESS

In this journey of ours, we meet and we sometimes also leave. Friends become strangers and strangers become friends. In the middle of it all, sometimes time takes charge and sometimes trusts are betrayed.

But before anything else, we were told and taught of a power beyond our comprehension, a gateway to everything beautiful, a source to everything we desire and a mercy beyond doubt and immeasurable. We were taught that forgiveness is a gift only a relative few are blessed with. It’s the highest thing to seek and the easiest to get (from the Almighty) but the hardest to give (we humans).

What we give, we get back in return. What effort we put in, we get results equivalent. What we sow, we reap. Karma it is generally called.

Wisdom dictates that to get forgiveness, we have to ask for it while mustering the strength to give it also. There may be instances where this would seem not achievable because of the immensity of the offense but the choice has always been left to us.

As said by Roselyn Payne, “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you”. So,

  • For the frowns and aches I caused, forgive me.
  • For the moments I made you feel sad, forgive me.
  • For every regret caused by my actions, forgive me.
  • For the quiet times I didn’t keep in touch, forgive me.
  • For the times I wasn’t there when needed, forgive me.
  • To anyone who ever made me regret, I forgive you.
  • To anyone who has ever made me sad, I forgive you.
  • To anyone who has ever tested my patience, I forgive you.
  • To anyone deserving of my forgiveness, it has been granted.

Oh Allah! Forgive our shortcomings and grant us your mercy. Make us amongst those who will benefit from your abundance here and in the hereafter. Ameen.