Hypocrites Will Be Hit Hard!

Nayyara Rahman observes, as per Quran, hypocrites will be in the lowest pit of hell. How seriously do we take this admonition?

“And in conclusion, respected teachers and fellow students, let me stress once more that speaking ill of others is the most scandalous devilry, the greatest of sins.” With this, the school’s star orator ended her sermon on the vice of spiteful talk, to be followed with a burst of applause and a shield for her ‘sincere, passionate speech’. Later that day, the speaker was discovered deeply indulged in discussion once more. In a voice loud and clear enough to revive even the dead, she was denouncing an unpopular classmate with rumours and lies that could only lightly be described as ‘malicious’.

When the school’s annual magazine finally came out, one of the most praised and highly spoken of articles was one regarding the evils of smoking. Indeed, it was comprehensive, clear and ardent. The catch? A kid, who had been consistently smoking for three years and was responsible for applying much of the peer pressure that caused other classmates to start puffing, had written it.

Do these people sound familiar? Are they the reminders of our own preach-but-do not-practice policy? Maybe, probably, as a matter of fact, and quite definitely. The hypocrisy in our society is just about as common and blatant as the colour yellow during Basant.

As if peers are not enough, some of our role models and mentors have taken it upon themselves to set examples as well. Some teachers tend to rather eloquently state the importance of honesty, hard work and cleanliness. Unfortunately, these are more often than not the same people who encourage students to memorize MCQs, help them cheat during exams and litter the staff-room.

Acquiring knowledge and ethics is easy. Believing in them and applying them is the hard part. And that is where most of us fail. ‘Equality’ seems to be the mantra on every politician’s lips. But look around you: do you find any leader who is honest, fair and considers his servants and subordinates to be on the same footing as himself?

The Prophet Muhammad (sa) said: “A hypocrite (Munafiq) is a person who observes the prayer and fast in Ramadan, but when he speaks, he speaks untruth. When he makes a promise, he never keeps it, and when something is entrusted to him, he misuses it.” (Bukhari)

Allah has described these double-faced Munafiqeen in the Quran: “When they meet those who believe, they say: ‘We believe,’ but when they are alone with their Evil Ones, they say: ‘We are really with you. We were only jesting.’” (Al-Baqarah 2:14)

Allah has also explained what lies in store for the hypocrites on the Day of Judgement in comparison to the true followers of Islam: “One day will the hypocrites – men and women – say to the believers: ‘Wait for us! Let us borrow (a light) from your light!’ It will be said: ‘Turn back to your rear! Then seek a light (where you can)!’ So a wall will be put up between them, with a gate therein. Within it will be mercy throughout, and without it, all alongside, will be (wrath) and punishment!’ (Al-Hadid 57:13)

So the choice is simply in our own hands. Would we like to give out sermons and set standards for others while we can get away with murder, or do we have the honesty and courage to tread the same path that we exhort people around us to follow?

Blessed Repentance – A True Story

repentanceNayyara Rahman tells the true story of a girl who rebuilt her life

Deliverance comes in unusual ways, and to unusual people. On the surface, nobody would think of her as unfortunate. Being born to a Muslim father and a Christian mother not only exposed her to different cultures, but different lives.

When her Lebonese family moved to Australia, she fit right in. For although she was half-Muslim, the girl was quite unscrupulous about how she dressed, dined, and generally lived her life. The Quran was more of an ornament than anything else in the household, the prayer mat just another piece of tapestry.

Upon reaching adulthood, she never missed her childhood innocence. In fact, she was eager to lose it, and soon did. Purity was a distant thought, as it sometimes is when you are young and beautiful. Her list of admirers grew, especially after she became the cover girl for an illicit magazine. For someone whose sole purpose in life was to be happy, she was doing very well indeed. But, something was still gnawing at her. Soon she found out what it was.

As she was channel surfing at a friend’s house one day, an unusual program caught her eye. It was about Chastity. She felt that the words were directed towards her. After all, every day of her life consisted of the evils being talked about: immodesty, fornication, and an overwhelming lust for this world. She thought about the Fire that was so real, and shivered.

Now, she knew. The best way to understand Allah’s Mercy is to know that all you have to do is ask, and He gives. Once she had made up her mind to reform, guidance followed soon after. She left her boyfriend. The girl who never grew tired of tank tops began to see the beauty of the Hijab. Someone who prided herself on being the darling of fashion magazines began to appreciate the Quran’s Eloquence. Drugs and drink were shoved away to make room for fasting and prayer.

At last the gnawing stopped. Her days were now periods of peace – a very welcome change from the rowdy clamour she had left behind. She had never known such contentment, and she believed that life did not get any better than this. That is when fate stepped in again.

Allah has a way of testing His Faithfuls, and He tested her too. She had not been feeling well for some time. At an examination at the local hospital, she was diagnosed with a brain tumour. However, she was not afraid. After all, her life belonged to Him. He had much more of a right over it than she did.

Nevertheless, the surgery took place. The result was gloomy. She died soon after, at the tender age of twenty-two. It all happened in the course of three weeks. Her reversion to Islam up until her death.

However, her brief attempt to reconstruct her life did not go in vain. There is so much we can learn from her: For one thing, we must remember Allah helps those who work hard towards self-improvement. It is never too late to change, and no goodness, no matter how small, goes unseen by Him.

Above all, remember, that there is no such thing as a ‘long life’ for those of us who understand what it is. Should not we make the most of whatever time we do have left?

Shaping Eternity

Nayyara Rahman writes, a teacher affects eternity and there is no telling when his or her influence stops

Our ninth grade teacher once told us during a lesson that, “A teacher is the one whose wisdom and guidance fills your time on this Earth with inspiration and contentment and makes the afterlife a place of eternal rest.”

At that time, there was a unanimous “hmmm” and we went back to our class work, but her words had sowed the seed. We often talked about the teacher-student relationship long after we passed out of school. And, although our opinions often change, there are a few things most of us agree upon.

For most of us, teachers have been role models and a source of inspiration. Textbook material is just a sliver of all that they teach us. Where would we be if our teachers had not spent precious classroom time telling us the importance of honesty, integrity, and dignity?

Because one’s relationship with a teacher happens to be an intellectual one, there is a great deal of mental intimacy involved too. We trust our teachers with ideas we would be embarrassed to express in public. There is an unspoken understanding of confidence and appreciation.

Many of us believe that we are the only ones sweating it out in schoolrooms. Conversely, most teachers I have had, had a policy of solving timed papers themselves before testing their students with it. Very often, they have gone to great pains to supply us with the latest developments in their subjects.

However, the real trouble begins when a teacher’s teaching style is not compatible to the student’s learning style. As they say, “In teaching it is the method and not the content that is the message… the drawing out, not the pumping in.”

With a bizarre concept of freedom of choice, students today also assess their teachers quite critically. They paint a specific picture of their mentor in their minds. It works like a computer identification seeking the right password. The minutest mismatch can deny the teachers, access to a student’s attention, respect and loyalty.

Sellar and Yeatman once quoted, “For every person wishing to teach there are thirty not wanting to be taught.” Very often, I wonder how teachers bear us. (No offence to particularly sprightly occupants of the classroom). Only Herculean efforts let them tolerate us when we ardently display our limited collection of some very distorted facts.

The bond between a student and education in earlier times was unique. Imam Su’bah said, “If I ever saw someone running in the streets of the village I would only think one of two things: He was either crazy or a student of Hadeeth!” Today we might do that for the premier of a movie of course.

Times have changed drastically. Students today treat their teachers as if they are going 10-pin bowling with them and they were not sure they want their teacher’s company. Whatever happened to deference? A thing of the past, I guess.

John Sutherland, a professor of English literature observes, “Now teaching is ‘sold’. Students ‘buy’ it. They are, in short, customers in a marketplace. Higher education, thanks to fees is ‘customerized’. This means the traditional relationship between lecturer and student has been irrevocably eroded.”

Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition. No matter how smart we may be, we cannot treat our teachers disdainfully. It is poor in taste, and reflective of a loser. It would be nice of us if we at least valued and respected them for who they are. Time only tells how teachers influence eternity.