Ripples over the Mandela Reflection

Alhamdulliulah I was recently published in the Young Muslim Digest, an Islamic monthly magazine, published out of Bangalore for the last three decades. The article was written after Nelson Mandela’s death and might seem a bit dated. Anyway, the article can be found on YMD’s Website and has also been reproduced in full here.

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It has been very interesting to see the reactions over the last few days, over the death of Nelson Mandela, the South African icon of the struggle against Apartheid and Colonialism. There has been a clamour across the social media universe, honouring and eulogising the dead man. There are two aspects of this that are interesting to me personally.

One is the general trend of Social Media Herd-Mentality and the other being the Muslim response about the same. Herd Mentality can be described as how people are influenced by their peers to adopt certain behaviours, follow trends, and/ or purchase items. The social media seems to be the biggest grazing ground for the lot. When deaths such as Mandela’s happen, it is hard to discern whether the sympathy is heartfelt or just an attempt to be among the ‘in-crowd.’ Or maybe it isn’t so hard, but then, who’s counting the statuses.

Marc Maron, the comedian had a quote about the social media effect in his memoir, Attempting Normal, which is quite telling about the emotional state of social media users. He says that the social media culture feeds into our inner-child’s need to be emotionally sated. The user attempts to fulfil his need to be loved and cared through the trickles of likes and comments that follow the status updates. As cynical as it may sound, moments like these make me a believer.

Very few people would truly understand what it meant to be Mandela. A man who built his own prison which he was to live in for 27 years on Robben Island, who, upon his release, saw it better to forgive his oppressors, is not someone you appreciate through a single status update or two.

The internet and the real world is creaking with the weight of sanitised messages from politicians and leaders alike, who purposely gloss over the fact that many of Mandela’s views would not hold much currency today. After all, he was taken off the US Global Terrorist list only in 1998.

Many of the world leaders, who offer their condolences today, reflect on Mandela’s exceptional courage to not only survive jail, but also lead a nation after his release. Yet, they seem to be quite happy to forget that, under their own watch, there are tens of illegally held detainees often with no charges and usually with no trials. Actually, the detainees – made out as terrorists today to suit the needs of the establishment, and probably made heroes tomorrow if the people and media see it fit – have more in common with Mandela than their leaders.

A real tribute to the likes of Mandela cannot be encapsulated in a statement or two. He spent a lifetime fighting for justice and our closing our eyes to the very injustice he spoke and fought against is an insult to his memory.

The issues of apartheid and social inequality were neither caused by aliens nor have they ended. They were, in fact, human problems, caused by humans and have taken very different, yet distinct, forms for those who see through it. No amount of social messages can hide this fact; yet, a decent-sized friend/ follower list on Facebook or Twitter can surely distract a person from this truth.

Patience and perseverance in attaining the objective of truth and establishing a society of justice was taught to us by our Prophet (saws). If he was the true paragon of the struggle, then the likes of Mandela are also examples. Truth and justice are not the monopoly of a religion or region but are values of universal hope for the human race.

Thus, for those who seem to be in awe of Mandela, yet know nothing about him save a few titbits gleaned from the cyberworld, it would be best if they, at least, read a book about him, learn about his struggle and maybe implement an aspect or two into their own lives, struggling for justice in their own way.

While an attention-seeking post on the social media might bring you momentary benefits, the struggle for the betterment of society itself could bring benefits above and beyond imagination, if Allah (swt) sees it fit.

This brings me to the second point of the article which is the Muslim response – or, rather, the responses – on the net. For everywhere you go, there seems to be a view about it among the internet Jama’ath. Without doubt, Mandela was a great man who achieved a lot in this dunya. That Allah (swt) made his name ubiquitous seems a fitting reward for his efforts.

The question that seems to trouble many though, is his state in the Hereafter (Akhira). On the one hand, there is a trend of wishing RIP (see Herd-Mentality above) and, on the other, a strong statement of his ineligibility for attaining the mercy of Allah (swt) and the castigation of the former or even of anybody appreciating him.

Islam is the religion of the middle path and we judge by what is apparent. The most fitting of examples is of Abu Talib who, in spite of his devotion to the Prophet (saw), was not released from the punishment of the Fire, even as revealed by the Prophet (saw) himself. As for the fate of one already dead, since we have no means of revelation after our Prophet (saw), it is impossible to say which way he, or she, is going. The matter of faith, though, is clear enough: Muslims are not allowed to pray for the forgiveness of those who died in denial of Allah’s Oneness and, therefore, to be on the safer side, it would be better to avoid statements of similar import.

At the same time, an individual’s final resting place is a matter for Allah (swt) to decide, and taking up His role in this act of determination would be blameworthy. Thus, it would be fitting for a believer to concern himself with his own Akhira and not be bothered about that of a person already dead and gone. If that person happens to be someone like Mandela though, then, maybe, he can take a few lessons in how to conduct his Dunya.

Life-cycle of a Believer

If you have 10 minutes take a look at this as well

|-| Fajr |-|

As-salamu `alaykum wa rahmatullah

Surah al-‘Asr is a fascinating chapter in the Qur’an because despite it being the second shortest chapter, it sort of sets the details/blueprint and encompasses the cycle of a believer’s life. Think about it:

“By Time.
Indeed, Mankind is in loss.
Except those who believe and do good deeds, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to patience.” [al-‘Asr]

A person’s lifeTime seems to follow a certain pattern: We are all in loss and in danger of losing our Hereafter – except for the believer. But when belief enters your heart, you naturally start doing deeds of righteousness. But then belief can’t stay suppressed in your heart and so you advise others and enjoin goodness – more importantly, you stand up for the Truth. And the moment you stand up for the Truth in this world, is the moment you will…

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Charming the Money Snake

Often times in our community we hear the following

“If I was richer I would definitely contribute to this project or that cause!!!

The money I have is just enough for me to get by!!

One day InshaAllah I well be self sufficient enough to spend more in the Cause of Allah SWT

and so on and so forth
Then we some how console ourselves by saying the day I have enough money I will surely give it here and there for the sake of Allah SWT.

How much is enough and who decides this?

SubhanAllah our Prophet SAW admonished us by saying “Save yourselves even if by the skin of the date”. Yet we fool ourselves in this materialistic/consumerist society that one day we will have enough money to spend in Allah’s SWT way after we have spent on ourselves.

Just yesterday one of the brothers I know reminded me that

He ﷺ said, “By Allah I don’t fear for you poverty, but I fear that the world would be abundant for you as it has been for those before you, so you compete for it as they have competed for it, so it destroys you as it has destroyed them.” (Agreed upon)

Reflect!

On the Path of Knowledge

— Written by a good friend

We frequently use Abdur Rahman ibn ‘Awf (RA) and Uthman ibn Affan (RA) as examples to state that “there is nothing wrong with being rich, it’s how you spend the wealth”. This is true but it’s a “premature” conclusion.

Imam Ghazali writes on the topic of “Love of wealth”:
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Know that the likeness of wealth is that of a snake in which there is both poison and medicine, as we have said. Whoever does not know the incantation for the snake and seizes one in his hand will be destroyed. It is for this reason that is not proper for someone to say: “Amongst the companions, there were some who were rich, such as Abdur Rahman bin Awf and the likes of him. Therefore, there is no fault in being rich.” This is as though a child, seeing a magician who takes a…

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Fasting on Ashura

Fasting on the day of Ashura or the 10th Muharram along with the day preceding or succeeding it is a recommended Sunnah as recorded in a number of authentic Ahadith.

Please attempt to fast on these two days – 9th and 10th or the 10th and 11th of Muharram to gain immense reward.

The collection of ahadith regarding this day has been collected here

A response to The Hindu’s article

I wrote this letter to the Editor in response to the opinion piece titled, ‘Seeking Allah in the Midlands’ published on May 24th.

Sir,

I’m writing this in response to a recent article, written by Hasan Suroor, titled ‘Seeking Allah in the Midlands’ published on May 24th. The article starts out with the author exposing his inherent bias against Islam. While he rightly states that there is a perception problem, he states that it is a fact that ‘ more Islamic a society, the more misogynist the society is’. The author is then surprised that Islam still fascinates women, educated and independents ones no less. For me the tone of the article seemed as if the author was struggling to reconcile fact on the ground with his own preconceived notions that he claims to be are facts.
I say this because he himself goes on to provide evidence for the complete opposite. He cites research by CIS and New Muslim Project, Leicester  suggesting women are independently researching and then accepting Islam. Anecdotal evidences from the research suggest that women are leaving behind their liberal tendencies to follow islam as a way of life.He then goes to speak about problems that converts have coping after conversion based on the research.
I would definitely acknowledge as a Muslim that the services offered to converts in terms of physical, mental and spiritual help are not as nearly well developed as one would hope for. People leaving their faiths and coming to new ones are vulnerable to the changes associated with the process and need more support from the existing community. In a Islamophobic atmosphere, the challenges are more acute than for any other religion in general. The west has an added problem because the muslim population is largely made up off immigrants and hence it is very difficult for converts to discern what is Islamic and what is cultural. Yet the fact that more people are coming to Islam are a clarion call to muslims to develop better systems to cope with seekers, in a world where people are looking for solace in any form.
I do not want to reply to inaccuracies in the article (Lauren Booth, cited in the article has already done so on her blog) but would like to point out that such a negative tone in the article doesn’t go well with The Hindu’s high standards of journalism. An opinion piece is after all opinion yet when opinions are propounded as facts without so much as a shred of evidence and then the opposite is highlighted seems to me to be poor standards of journalism. I am a regular reader of The Hindu and would definitely like to see the author provide further evidence to support his statements or reword the article to reflect the same.

Best Regards

Haroon