Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Random ramblings

one of the biggest problems of our society is anger, impatience and the habit of engaging in unproductive and useless arguments. No doubt, healthy arguments do exist and they do have a positive impact on the society overall but unfortunately we, as a society or even as a group of individuals do not engage in such arguments. We are so caught up in the trivialities of life that we overlook the major issues. While talking from just the religious perspective, we tend to argue over issues like whether we should pray 8 rakat of taraveeh (Ramadan prayer) or 12 or 20. Or we tend to indulge in long and fruitless discussions about how high our hands should be while saying the takbeer in Salah or  how low the arms should be folded while in Qiyam during prayer. Yes these things are important but there are things bigger than this which need our individual and collective attention. We, as a nation are humiliated and crushed  today not because we are not loyal to our worships in the form of Salah, Fasting,Zakat ,Hajj but because we have failed to adopt the Islamic spirit within us.In the eyes of the rest of the world we are a nation of diverse thoughts and ideas with absolutely no consensus on religious matters and hence we fall prey to their criticism and sarcasm. Divided into a zillion sects, each faction is fighting for its own personal gain and the victory of Islam has been sidestepped and pushed to the lowest level in priority rankings.
Unfortunately, in a nation where the Ulemas should be leading and educating the masses, they themselves are engrossed in petty arguments and tussles amongst themselves.We need to realize that the the purpose is not just to learn Islam but it is actually to adopt Islam in our daily lives and use it to solve problems, implement its teachings to solve societal issues etc.
It is believed that memorizing the Quran and learning it's meaning and then passing it on to others is the need of the day and infact the purpose of this life. No it's not. Islam teaches us to be intellectual muslims and that level of intellect can be attained only if we APPLY the knowledge of Quran to solve the problems of our society today. What good is knowlege if it does not solve problems? And Alhumdulilah Islam is the one religion that offers a solution to every possible problem a man can face on this earth.
Rather than using Islam as an outlet to vent out all our emotions, we need to utilize this blessing so that we may rise as a nation and Ummah. Today, Islam is seen as a religion of self destruction and extremism on the international forum. Among the muslims themselves, Islam is taken as an emotional platform where muslims are looking for a reason to flare up and create an havoc on an international level. How easy it is for the disbelievers to control our emotions. they make danish cartoons of our Holy Prophet pbuh and we create an emotional turmoil in the entire muslim world. We lead protests, make slogans, call for strikes, go on hunger strikes and even create violence in our own city making innocent muslim brothers suffer losses for something the non believers did thousands of miles away. and then we have the nerve to complain that we have become the laughing stock on the international platform. What we fail to realize is that protests and violence is not going to convince the non believers of the beauty of our religion or the integrity and dignity of the personality of our dear Prophet pbuh, rather its our actions, our attitudes and our deeds that may win their hearts and will pull them towards the study of this religion which preaches of harmony and peace even in the face of opposition. If all religious factions unite into one under the flag of One Islam, if we all adopt islam in our lives, the entire world will look up to us and admire our religion, our Prophets, our beliefs and our mode of worships.

We may pray 5 times a day with punctuality and regularity but then we indulge in practices that definitely do NOT define a Momin. For instance, selling sub standard goods, deceiving customers and clients, lying , not fulfilling promises and committments etc. have become an integral part of our life. Islam is not only about having a prostration mark on our forehead or a head-covering on our head. No, it's much more than that. A believer is not only recognized by how he dresses and carries himself  but more importantly, a believer is recognized by his day to day dealings. Lies, deceit, corrupt dealings, dishonest transactions etc have become a trait of our society and yet we still label ourselves as Momins and believers. We need to look beyond the petty issues , we need to focus on factors which are eating up our society, our moral values, our ethics.
isnt it a form of arrogance to not be able to stand being corrected? We like to believe that we are always right, whatever we say or do is perfect. Anyone who finds fault with us or dares to disagree is at the receiving end of either a silent treatment or a verbal abuse (mild or aggressive). why are we so insecure? why dont we have the patience to listen to the other and gain benefit from his input. If only we could mellow our ego and learn to listen more and talk less, we could achieve self improvement in no time. As Nouman Ali khan emphasized the point that the very first and foremost relation we need to work on is with our own selves. We need to analyse where we go wrong,  where do we spend our idle time,  how do we interact with the rest of the society, with our family and our near ones, what do we do when we are alone when we feel no one is watching. we have sufficient time to point our fingers at others and emphasize their flaws but in the process we fail to realize that not focusing on our own flaws is the biggest flaw of all.

"People of Substance" by Nouman Ali Khan

The event 'People of Substance' , held at Marriot, Karachi on 1st April 2012, had Nouman Ali Khan speaking live from U.S. This post primarily summarizes the major pointers he talked about in this session.
The talk started with the discussion that what makes a person call someone religious and pious. Is it their Hijaab or the length of their beard or is it something else? How were the companions of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) recognized as being religious? Would a person passing by look at their beards and remark that they must be extremely religious? No, it was definitely something else . So what was it?
  • Nouman Ali khan answered that a believer is recognized by his ethics, his moral values, actions, commitment to justice. The companions were the people who had the most amazing  moral values, they were just in all their dealings and honest in their talks.
  • The next step is for a believer to admit to his weaknesses and problems and this does not apply on an individual level only but is applicable for the entire muslim ummah. Hazrat Adam was led  astray by Iblis and as a result Hazrat Adam disobeyed the command of Allah. But he accepted his mistake , admitted to the problem and repented. Accepting the mistake is half the solution itself.

  • We should have an emotional relation with Allah. and whether we have such a relation or not we can judge that when we raise our hands to pray (Dua) after Salah. If we engage in a robotic routine of Dua after every namaz then we most definitely do not have an emotional relation with Allah SWT. we need to make sincere Dua that comes direct from the heart with the awareness that it's our Lord with whom we are in communication while making the Dua.

  • After working on our relation with Allah , we need to work on our relation with our ownselves. How do we behave in our daily lives, what do we do when we are alone and no one is watching, how and where do we spend our idle time, how are we in our dealings with others, what sort of language do we use etc. All these factors need to be analyzed and our problems need to be identified.

  • After this we should work on improving our relations with our close ones - spouses, parents and children. Islam does not talk about spouses OR parents, rather it talks about parents AND spouses. Care should be taken that both parties are given their due rights and no one's rights are being neglected. Be fair in dealing with both the relations and if one is caught between both , then side with the one who is ethically and morally right rather than the one you would personally favour more i.e. be just.

  • Have an Islamic entrepreneurship inspiration by setting up a business environment based on Islamic values. A system free of deceit, corruption, lies and cheating where ethical and moral business values are encouraged and practiced. Fulfill promises and stick to committments. Nouman Ali Khan gave the example of a person in pakistan to whom he had given a contract for a certain project. The deadline went by and still the deliverables had not been received. On inquiry the person said that he had been caught up with things in his life, he went for umrah, then he had a baby etc. Nouman Ali Khan said that this is not the case of just one person. This is the dilemma of our muslim nation that we do not feel obliged to keep promises and fulfill our committments.

  • Hopelessness is severely disliked. So dont lose hope in the situation of the country or the state of Islamic affairs in the country. The fact that it's a housefull on a sunday morning for a religious lecture is a sign that the Muslim nation is still alive:).

  • We need to stop arguing over petty issues. We have much bigger problems which need the attention of the Muslim Ummah as a whole. We need to stop the endless rifts between different scholars who are engaged in activities to defame and curse the other scholars who may dare to have a different view point.

  • giving speeches is no longer the solution. In every part of this country speeches are being delivered but the time when speeches could have helped has gone by. Now the situation requires actions and not speeches. 

  • Nouman Ali khan gave the example of a friend  who was doing his Phd (or maybe it was masters) in physics. That person spent his entire life with books and now he has no idea how to carry out a normal conversation with people. Similar is the situation of our Ulemas. They spent all their times memorizing and learning the Quran is mosques and Madrassas and failed to implement the islamic teachings to the problems of the society today. They have no knowledge about the society and its problems, let alone any idea of how to solve them.  The purpose of Islam is not just to learn but also to implement the teachings to solve the problems of our lives as an individual and the society as a whole.

  • Islam is presented as something emotional. Danish cartoons of the Holy Prophet pbuh triggered protests, anger and violence throughout the entire muslim world. This reaction of the muslims makes the non-believers feel that they have our strings in their hands and can make us dance to their tune. We need to stay calm and be sound thinkers and intellectual Muslims. We need to bring them to our religion through our actions. We need to set an example that the non believers get inspired by our faith.

  • we need to become intellectual muslims and this can be achieved by taking the fundamental education of Islam seriously, acquiring education of the Quran, reading about the life of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) from multiple books, and learning the arabic language. He gave a suggestion that read one book on the seerah of the Holy Prophet (pbuh) per year. Nouman Ali khan emphasized that at least get a minor degree in sociology, psychology or political sciences . We can better understand Islam and Quran if we study humanitarian courses and combine social sciences with islam.
  • when an argument arises between husband and wife then it is completely alright to have an external mediator. Nouman Ali Khan narrated an incident of the Holy Prophet pbuh when there was an argument between him and Hazrat Aisha. They decided to have a mediator decide their case. Holy Prophet pbuh suggested a person but Hazrat Aisha refused saying that he would be biased towards the Prophet in his love for him. So Hazrat Aisha suggested Hazrat Abu Bakr and hence he was called in to mediate and resolve the argument. The moral of this was that if a man like the Holy Prophet could allow for someone to speak in the matters of him and his wife then why cant the muslims of today do it too? W fail to do this and rather engage in arguments which lead to fights and may at times have unfavourable outcomes as well.

  • Root cause of anger is not having patience (Sabr) and root cause of not having patience is thanklessness (Na Shukri). 

  • in the Q/A session a person asked "how to prepare your first wife for the second". I personally loved the answer Nouman Ali Khan gave. He said that it's not necessary that if something is allowed in Islam then it should be done and and it definitely does not mean that doing it becomes a form of worship. Flexibility of having 4 wives is allowed in Islam but that does not mean that a man does actually keep four wives. The Prophet pbuh had multiple wives but there was a reason behind every marriage. A man should focus on keeping his first wife happy and satisfied because if he cant look after the first one, what are the chances that he will prove to be ideal for the second one.  He further elaborated by stating that if one is allergic to peanuts , he avoid peanuts even though peanuts are permissible in Islam.
  • for the women Nouman Ali Khan had the suggestion that kindly stop watching dramas because they are made by a bunch of mentally disturbed people and watching such shows impact our minds as well.

P.S.   If i misunderstood any point or misquoted anywhere please feel free to correct me.