Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Lost and Waiting to be Found.....

“Not all those who wander are lost.” J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

Today, I read a true story about a born Muslim sister who was brought up in accordance to western values and customs. She was searching for answers about the religion she was born into but knew very little about. She didn’t understand Islam or rather, her understanding of Islam was somewhat inaccurate. In her ignorance, she committed tons of mistakes but rather than trying to correct and guide her, her fellow Muslim brothers and sisters judged her harshly and taunted her cruelly when she questioned about Islam. Instead of giving her soft and gentle words of encouragement that she needs, she was verbally abused.
            Her story struck a chord in my heart. Despite the mistakes that she made, I couldn’t judge her at all because she made those mistakes in ignorance. Her story is just one of the few million born Muslims, whose knowledge on Islam was 'delayed'.
            The thing is, I can relate to this sister's predicament. Believe it or not, I; the person whom some had termed as ‘fanatic’, due to my strictness when it comes to religion, can utterly and completely understand how this sister feels. She feels lost and confused.
            If you noticed, that it was only after the incident on September, 11, that Islam suddenly became widespread. It was only after the tragic incident that we see the emergence of many Islamic speakers who can explain about Islam in a manner that can be easily understood and accepted by Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
            During the time when I grew up, things were different then. We didn’t have internet so finding about things was not at the touch of a button but instead our source of knowledge was purely reliance on religious teachers. Some religious teachers, unfortunately, did not like to be asked questions about the religion. Maybe they felt that they were being challenged or maybe they themselves did not know the answers to the questions that were being asked but ashamed to admit it. They would insist that we accept whatever they said without questioning because according to them, questioning would put us in danger of renouncing our religion. I, for one, had trouble accepting that without questioning.
            When I was lost and searching, I too was judged harshly for asking questions that I thought was valid. I was taunted because I was a born Muslim who didn’t know anything about her religion. I asked because I wanted to know. If my intention then was to renounce my faith, I wouldn't even bother asking! I would have just lived the life I wanted to live.
            This sister did not state that her beliefs or understanding of Islam was correct but she was merely explaining what she knew. She was actually searching for the truth. It takes a lot to muster up the courage to ask questions knowing very well that you might be judged by it. It takes a strong person to admit his or her weakness.
            If you are one of the fortunate few who have more knowledge than others, about Islam, don’t be too proud of yourself or even feel that you are better than others. Do not feel that by virtue of that extra knowledge you are safe from hell fire. That feeling is called ‘arrogance’ or ‘riya’ and that is one of the tickets to hell!

“Abdullah ibn Mas’ud reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “No one who has the weight of a mustard seed of arrogance in his heart will enter Paradise.” Someone said, “Indeed, a man loves to have beautiful clothes and shoes.” So the Prophet said, “Verily, Allah is beautiful and He loves beauty. Arrogance means rejecting the truth and looking down on people.
 Sahih Muslim

Next time, if you meet someone who is lost, do not judge them or treat them harshly. To me, there is a reason why this person is lost. I believe it is because God Al Mighty wants him or her to find answers and to find Him. Who are we to judge them? Sometimes, because of their questions, they become closer to God than we can ever dream to be.
            It has never been their intention to be ‘lost’ so do not frown upon their mistakes. No human is born perfect. Treat them with care and love and guide them as much as you can. The act of sharing with them will not diminish your own knowledge but instead you will be greatly rewarded for your kindness. 

“Sahl bin Sa`d (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Prophet (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said to `Ali (May Allah be pleased with him), "By Allah, if a single person is guided by Allah through you, it will be better for you than a whole lot of red camels.''
[Al-Bukhari and Muslim].

Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "When a man dies, his deeds come to an end except for three things: Sadaqah Jariyah (ceaseless charity); a knowledge which is beneficial, or a virtuous decendant who prays for him (for the deceased).''

            Just because a person was born a Muslim, it does not mean he or she knows everything about Islam. It could be that their parents never taught them or that their environment or surrounding was not conducive to knowing about Islam. It could also be that they were taught a different version of Islam. Whatever it is, it is our duty to help not chase them away. Be careful, by not sharing whatever knowledge on Islam that God has bestowed upon us, may land us in trouble later…

“Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "He who is asked about knowledge (of religion) and conceals it, will be bridled with a bridle of fire on the Day of Resurrection.''
[Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].

            Another thing, who said we can’t ask questions about Islam? If we want to understand more about the religion then we need to ask questions. Asking question is part of learning and learning doesn’t stop until we have drawn our last breath…….

“Anas (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "He who goes forth in search of knowledge is considered as struggling in the Cause of Allah until he returns.''

“Abud-Darda (May Allah be pleased with him) reported: The Messenger of Allah (sallallaahu ’alayhi wa sallam) said, "He who follows a path in quest of knowledge, Allah will make the path of Jannah easy to him. The angels lower their wings over the seeker of knowledge, being pleased with what he does. The inhabitants of the heavens and the earth and even the fish in the depth of the oceans seek forgiveness for him. The superiority of the learned man over the devout worshipper is like that of the full moon to the rest of the stars (i.e., in brightness). The learned are the heirs of the Prophets who bequeath neither dinar nor dirham but only that of knowledge; and he who acquires it, has in fact acquired an abundant portion.''
[Abu Dawud and At-Tirmidhi].

I sincerely believe that it is better to ask questions and get answers rather than being in state of intentional ignorance or; worse still, believe that we know it all! May God keeps us humble at all times, Ameen......

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