Sunday, February 18, 2007

I believe in The Religion of Love

I believe in The Religion of Love
Khalid Ajmain

It saddenes me to hear about muslims not possessing moral ethics (adab). I tend to ignore such accusations on us until I recently experienced a rude awakening caused by some fellow muslims.

I was at a mosque one day when suddenly, I heard someone shouting hastily to a group of people. Curious about the commotion, I rushed to see what was going on. To my astonishment, I saw an elderly muslim 'uncle' cursing and shouting at a group of Japanese tourists. It seemed that his outburst was due to the tourists being improperly attired to enter the mosque. To me, his outburst was an evident example of tarnishing the image of muslims. Although there were signboards stating the regulations for entry to the mosque, I strongly felt that caution had to be exercised in how they were dealt with. Their intentions could be as noble as to explore more about the faith and it would be unfair for us to expect that much out of them. Fortunately, the Japanese tourists responded calmly and heeded his instructions.

The Japanese people come from a vast spiritual culture and this is seems to be the main drive in their interest towards other religions. People engulfed in modern living constantly live with spiritual anixety in their hearts. Their souls long deeply for the light of faith to guide them to the righteous path. In the past, many Europeans embraced Islam upon their discovery of the heavenly Islamic architecture of ancient mosques in Morrocco, Egypt, Syria amongst other ancient cities. Many hearts sense such Divine attractions. This seemed alike to what the Japanese tourists felt, this longing to discover their own spirituality through such Divine wonders that Allah has blessed us with. It could have been the towering minaret or the magnificent interior of the prayer hall or even the melodious prayer call (adhan). Whatever reason it could be, we are nobody to judge. Their intentions are truly with Allah and it was most definitely His will for them to enter a Sacred dominion.

The Holy Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. always reacted with complete love and sincerity. Once, a bedouin walked into a mosque and urinated in the prayer hall in the presence of the Prophet s.a.w. and his companions. With extreme caution and a heart filled with tolerance the Prophet s.a.w. urged his companions not the react to what the bedouin had done and allowed the man to leave without being confronted. All this was in effort to allow the man to not retaliate from any harsh reaction and end up never setting foot in a mosque again. Our Blessed Prophet s.a.w. was a true protector of the dignity of Islam. These days we proudly claim to be members of the community (ummah) of Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. while we stain our religion's name with bad manners towards others.

The Holy Prophet s.a.w. was sent as a 'Mercy to the all worlds' (Rahmatan lil alamin). He demonstrated perfectly the manner in building bridges with other communities. His perfection in characther attracted many into embracing Islam. His humble actions alone were a source of pulling companionship from others towards him. The opposers to his message once lamented, "How could we challenge him when he has earned the title of 'The Trustworthy One' (al-Amin)?". I recall Mawlana Shaykh Hisham Kabbani mentioning to me before, "The Prophet s.a.w. gave out flowers not swords".

A Holy Companion of the Prophet s.a.w., Sayyidina Ayub al-Ansari r.a. moved to Istanbul, spreading the Holy message of Islam whilst being unable to speak a word of Turkish. Similarly, Saad ibn Abi Waqqas r.a. was sent to China without knowing how to speak Chinese. Instead, these noble followers of the Holy Prophet s.a.w. spoke the language of love, learning from his s.a.w. true example. The Sufis also played a major role into spreading Islam through love and compassion. They travelled as traders from arab continents into many parts of the world, spreading the message of Islam and transforming the lives of many. Historical sources never recorded the spread of Islam coming through swords and bloodshed. The Sufis never intended any colonization of territories nor did implement force on non-muslims. Islam spread with love from Divine Character. A true example was the Wali Songo, the Noble Council of 9 Saints who transformed the Javanese nation from Hinduism to the ritual purity of Islam.

The moment for self reflection begins today. We need to re-evaluate ourselves. Let us not look at others but at ourselves instead. We need to regain important values. We desperately need this change to fuel solutions on our moral crisis that our youth now face, the high rates of divorce, neglect of the elderly and the rapid spread of extremist ideologies. We have to rekindle the light of Spirituality (ihsan) by following the true example of the Prophet s.a.w.Our religion is based on the platform of love. The great saint Ibn 'Arabi Q.s. said “I follow the religion of love, wherever its caravan might take me,”

The Prophet s.a.w. said, “No one should look down on a gift from his neighbour, even if it is only a sheep’s trotter.” Despising is pure ignorance. So do not be a curser nor someone abusive nor someone who shouts. Anyone who curses a believer is like someone who kills him. When Jesus a.s. met a pig, he said to it, “Be saved with peace.” He was asked about that and said, “I do not want to accustom my tongue to anything except good speech.”

People are all speech,so be the best words heard.
When a thorn pierces you from them,
be the strongest shield in repelling it.
When you are like that with them,
then you, by God, are a beneficial leader.
The candle harms itselfwhile it is a
blazing light to the onlooker.
The blame which you recognizeis a blessing
in the hand a person who is deprived.
- Muhyiddin Ibn al-‘Arabi
Pic by Shahran (symbolize bridging differences)

2 comments:

saedah said...

I agree. It should be the religion of love. :-)

ihsan said...

Salaam.

I was thinking about this...and I think the elderly uncle is the one we should focus on. Did this happen on a Saturday at a very popular mosque? I heard a commotion too.

The hadith about helping your brother whether he is being oppressed or is an oppressor comes to mind. It seems easier to help the oppressed as all of us feel sympathy for him, but it is very difficult to help the oppressor.

I've seen an ang-moh woman being scolded for going into the prayer area and did not do anything about it. So I am among the guilty ones.

I didn't know what to say to the men who scolded her or to the woman who was actually calm.

Nobody it seems to me, has a solution to how we should react to non-Muslims who visit mosques. I know most of the elder folks are not comfortable with women, Muslim or non-Muslims, who enter the mosques not covered up, and at the other end are those who feel we need to be more open to the non-Muslims and young Muslims who are not properly-attired. We need to strike a balance between the two opinions, yet there's no immediate solution.

It's difficult to change the opinion of a person...especially if you are not exposed to Tasawuf. Sometimes I feel that these elder folks are too harsh...I get afraid of some of them - there was this particular woman - I thought she was fierce, but one day, she helped me out at the mosque, and I realised, the reason she was so harsh was because she wants to ensure the mosque is kept in order.

I'm not defending any harshness or anything...the Prophet (saw) is sent as a Mercy to mankind, and has set the best of examples, as per the story of the bedouin who urinated in the mosque.