Nouman Ali Khan: Persevere with Patience

o-PROPHET-MUHAMMAD-facebookIn regard to the recent crisis in France, I came across a talk by Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan, in which he discusses the correct reaction a Muslim should have to such incidents. I found the video very profound and thought provoking, something that I believe every Muslim should hear. Therefore, I am typing it out it here to be able to share it with others:

“Anybody, who seriously studies the Quran knows that Allah (swt) records on multiple occasions, how prophets were insulted, made fun of and rejected in the most obscene ways. And how even the prophets themselves felt the pain of those disbelievers making fun of them.

Prophet Nuh complains about how people found him disgusting – they would plug their ears with their fingers and walk away from him; they would pull their clothes back as a show of insult to him. Our Prophet (sa) is no exception. This Quran that honors our Prophet (sa) also records the most hurtful words that were said about him – the Prophet (sa) would have to recite these words , thus reminding himself of the pain every time. For example: Sahir (magician), Majnoon (insane), Kazzab (a perpetual liar) – so many accusations were made against our Prophet (sa), all of which are recorded in the Quran. With this, Allah (swt) wants us to remember an important fact: although the prophets are the most noble of Allah’s (swt) creation, at the same time, they are the people, who will face the worst kind of insults, the worst kind of ridicule. But what is our reaction supposed to be like?

If anybody would be angry and overwhelmed with rage, when the Prophet is insulted, I would argue it would be his companions. Their faith cannot even be compared to yours and mine. But how come they don’t react the way we do? How come they never had any ‘protest’? How come they were not going out for yelling and screaming in rage? Because they understood that the Quran didn’t just come to give them a love for the Prophet (sa) but also to ‘guide’ that love and teach them, how to respond to these kinds of insults. How is it that we don’t know that the Prophet (sa) himself is told:

“And leave Me Alone to deal with the beliers (those who deny My Verses, etc.), and those who are in possession of good things of life. And give them respite for a little while.” (Az-Muzzamil 73:10)

Be patient over whatever they say. I am fascinated by this Ayah. Because the word ‘مَا’ means ‘whatever’ – ‘whatever’ they say. Not whatever they have said, but whatever they might even come up with. And the form of the word in the Arabic suggests ‘what they may have said in the past, in the present and even in the future till this day.’

The Prophet’s (sa) policy is to be patient himself. Where does the Quran justify such our anger? And even if our anger is justified, the one thing we should feel towards those, who hate us and make hateful speech towards us, is sorrow. We should feel sorry for these people. They can’t hurt the Prophet (sa). They can’t take away his honor. It was given from the sky. It was given by Allah (sa). Nothing on earth can take it away. No article, no cartoon, no film, no speaker and no hate speech – no form of art can take away the dignity of our Prophet (sa). All these their efforts are futile and wasteful attempts to undermine the message of Islam.

Do think also about the following: when we react in such emotional manner and engage in senseless violence, don’t we also misrepresent Islam? Aren’t we doing exactly what the enemies of Islam want? The only thing that makes me angry is the anger at our own selves, that we don’t understand the policy of the Quran about responding to insults:

“Repel evil with that which is better. We are Best-Acquainted with the things they utter.” (Al-Mu’minoon 23:96)

“The good deed and the evil deed cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better (i.e. Allah ordered the faithful believers to be patient at the time of anger, and to excuse those who treat them badly), then verily! he, between whom and you there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend.” (Fussilat 41:34)

Respond with that which is best.

There also are some people, who think that this policy was only for the early times of Islam – the Mekkan time of the Prophet (sa), when he was supposed to be passive. But when he migrated to Madinah, battles began: Badr, Uhud, Ahzaab, Tabook, etc. Thus, according to claims of such people, the passivity policy was changed to that of action. Let’s look at Surah Aal-e-Imran, the battle of Uhud – what does Allah (saw) say to us?

“You shall certainly be tried and tested in your wealth and properties and in your personal selves, and you shall certainly hear much that will grieve you from those who received the Scripture before you (Jews and Christians) and from those who ascribe partners to Allah…” (Aal-e-Imran 3:186)

You will absolutely hear hurtful words from those, who were given the book before you, and from the people, who commit shirk (associate partners with Allah) and blasphemy with God. You will hear hurtful speech ‘absolutely’ coming from them. These kinds of things are a manifestation – a proof that Allah (swt) prepared us mentally for that. And in the very same Ayah, Allah (swt) himself tells us, what our reactions should be like:

“…but if you persevere patiently, and become Al-Muttaqun (the pious – see V.2:2) then verily, that will be a determining factor in all affairs, and that is from the great matters, [which you must hold on with all your efforts].” (Aal-e-Imran 3:186)

If you can be patient and maintain the consciousness of Allah (swt), then that is the most noble of the deeds and the highest of accomplishments that you can achieve. That is supposed to be the reaction of Muslims.

I would like to end with the following: at school, bullies tease the kid that they know gets teased and shows a reaction. The more we react, the more we encourage others to pursue even more hateful speech. We have to learn to respond in mature, civil and higher discourse – the way the Quran, the Sunnah and the legacy of our Prophet (sa) tells us.

I pray that this message reaches all of my young brothers and sisters, who are feeling the sadness, the rage because of this incident. And I do hope that we can turn that rage into something positive.”

I pray that this beautiful reminder from Ustadh enables us to reflect upon this matter and help us adopt the correct way for representing our religion. If there are people who with their actions dishonour Islam, it is our duty to carry the name of our religion so well that its beautiful teachings should be reflected in our personalities. May Allah (swt) give us the wisdom to bear such incidents with patience and to be able to repel the bad with good.

Pearls of Peace – An extract from Surah Anfal

Akoya_pearlQualities of a believer

Right in the beginning of this Surah, Allah (swt) describes the qualities of a true believer. He says, “The believers are only those who, when Allah is mentioned, feel a fear in their hearts and when His Verses (this Quran) are recited unto them, they (i.e. the Verses) increase their Faith; and they put their trust in their Lord (Alone).” (Al-Anfal 8:2) May Allah (swt) strengthen our Iman. Ameen.

These are those who say, “I have tried my best. Rest is all in the Hands of Allah (swt).” And they are content with that. Their other qualities are: “Who perform As-Salat (Iqamat-as-Salat) and spend out of that We have provided them.” (Al-Anfal 8:3) We need to check ourselves. Do we have these qualities within us? If yes, then Allah (swt) says, “It is they who are the believers in truth. For them are grades of dignity with their Lord, and Forgiveness and a generous provision (Paradise).” (Al-Anfal 8:4) May He grant us Paradise and bless us with all the qualities of the true believers. Ameen.

Honouring claims and contracts

He then says, “O you who believe! Obey Allah and His Messenger, and turn not away from him (i.e. Messenger Muhammad (sa)) while you are hearing. And be not like those who say: We have heard, but they hear not.” (Al-Anfal 8: 20-21) Several times during the day, we recite Surah Al-Fatihah, and beseech Allah (swt) to show us the right path. When the right path is shown to us, we turn away. Allah (swt) says when the message has reached you; when you have been informed what is right and what is wrong, then do not turn away. Do not become of those who claim we are the followers of Muhammad (sa). But when a command of Allah (swt) comes, they cannot be bothered to act upon it.

Once again we are reminded about the virtue of honouring contracts, Allah (swt) says, “O you who have believed, do not betray Allah and the Messenger or betray your trusts while you know (the consequence).” (Al-Anfal 8:27) Marriage is a contract similar to business contract. By being Muslim, you naturally become an ambassador of Islam. Do not bring a bad repute to Islam because of your behaviour. Many people do not want to engage with the Muslims because of their deceit and clandestine behaviour.

Stay honest with entrusted responsibilities

“O you who believe! Betray not Allah and His Messenger, nor betray knowingly your Amanat (things entrusted to you, and all the duties which Allah has ordained for you).” (Al-Anfal 8:28) Your wealth and children are a test from Allah (swt). He can take them away whenever He desires. They are not yours; you have only been entrusted with their responsibility. He may never bless you with wealth and children; He may bless you with wealth but not give children; He may bless you with children but deprive you of wealth or He may give them both to you and then take them away during your lifetime or after you are gone. This is a great reminder to not get attached to that which in reality belongs to Allah (swt). He can snatch it any moment.

All belongs to Allah (swt)

When an attachment is snatched away, a person loses his peace of mind and contentment. He complains and grieves for his loss. He utters ungrateful words. And when that happens his Iman begins to diminish. May Allah (swt) strengthen us and help us accept that we will suffer loss in this world.

Taqwa – The key to right decisions

In life, we are faced with miscellaneous decision-making. We wish we had a counsellor that we could consult with; Allah (swt) says, “O you who believe! If you obey and fear Allah, He will grant you Furqan (a criterion to judge between right and wrong, or Makhraj, i.e. making a way for you to get out from every difficulty), and will expiate for you your sins, and forgive you, and Allah is the Owner of the Great Bounty.” (Al-Anfal 8:29) What do we learn from this? The only thing required to make the right decision is Taqwa. If we are conscious of Allah (swt), He will grant us the ability to distinguish between right and wrong. Insha’Allah.

It’s either my way or the highway

This brings us to another important matter – in fact a great Fitnah of our times. Everyone is disagreeing with the other. The ideology is: if you do not follow my belief, then you have clearly gone astray. This continuous fighting has divided the Ummah immensely. Many people don’t come near the religion because they cannot understand who is right and who has deviated. Allah (swt) says, “And obey Allah and His Messenger, and do not dispute (with one another) lest you lose courage and your strength depart, and be patient. Surely, Allah is with those who are As-Sabirin (the patient ones, etc.)” (Al-Anfal 8:46)

The enemies are rejoicing as the Muslims fight among themselves. Let us reflect on our behaviour, be forgiving and reduce the distances between the Ummah.

We notice that in the Quran, the reminders for prayer and obligatory charity are frequently mentioned. It is because reminders benefit the believers. Each time we are reminded, we learn something new.

Consistency is the key

Allah (swt) loves those acts of worship which are done consistently. Doing them strengthens our Iman. And abandoning them can have serious implications on our heart’s condition. If you are content with worshipping and obeying Allah (swt), then you are among those who have understood their purpose in life; and know where they are heading to.

Test or punishment?

As Allah (swt) says in verse 53 of Surah Al-Anfal that He will not change a favour which He has bestowed upon His people; unless they change what was given to them. When that happens, then people deserve the gifts to be taken away. Having said that, we should remember that sometimes taking away of the favours is a test, instead of a punishment. How can one distinguish between a test and a punishment? Your heart’s condition will tell you. If your heart remains content and you say “Alhamdulillah” even in adversity, then Allah (swt) intends to increase your status by this test. On the other hand, if a calamity distances you from Allah (swt), then it could be His punishment. May Allah (swt) forgive and protect us. Ameen.

How can we nurture contentment in our hearts?

Let go of disputes and disagreements and forgive people. Look at what Allah (swt) says about confrontation with enemies, “But if they incline to peace, you also incline to it, and (put your) trust in Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower.” (Al-Anfal 8:61) Allah (swt) is asking us to make peace with the enemies if they give up fighting too.

Opt for a ceasefire; this initiative will bring you peace

If there’s someone who has had an estranged relationship with you, and he now wants to mend it, then hasten to make peace with him. It is a sign of a good believer that he is the first one to apologize and forgive. Keep forgiving others and keep your heart calm. You might want to deal with that person differently, but do forgive them. “And if they intend to deceive you, then verily, Allah is All-Sufficient for you. He it is Who has supported you with His Help and with the believers.” (Al-Anfal 8:62)

If they deceive you after making peace, then make Dua for them instead. Because Dua has the power to alter conditions. And in this we have the best example of Prophet (sa). When two greatest enemies of Islam were creating hurdles for him, he made Dua for the softness of their hearts so that either of the two would come and work for Islam. Reflect on this Dua.

Truly Muhammad (sa) was the mercy for mankind. Within moments we hear Umar ibn Al- Khattab (ra) has embraced Islam. Subhan’Allah! See the power of Dua? One of the mightiest opponents of Islam became one of the strongest proponents of Islam. A seemingly impossible situation was made possible. May Allah (swt) grant us all the strength that Umar (ra) was blessed with. Ameen. Continue making Dua and you will witness the fruit.

(Adapted from Mufti Ismail Menk’s “Pearls of Peace” series, Cape Town, Ramadan 2013. The lecture can be listened to at this link.)