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PRIDE IN PRACTICING RELIGION

Dr Shariffa Carlo      

One of the biggest thing that hurts us, that allows us to fall into the trap of the ignorant ages mentality when it comes to being a woman is that we have forgotten about a major element of Islam that allows us and strengthens us in being good practicing Muslims. I want to talk about pride. But, dont get me wrong. I am not going to say what most people say when they talk about arrogance. Usually, when this topic is discussed, you will get verses and Ahaadeeth, which condemn arrogance. I am here to tell you to have pride. I am going to tell you that pride is good. I am going to tell you, that you need to let your chests expand with pride till they are ready to burst. Confused? Dont be. I dont mean pride as in looking down upon people. Because this pride was forbidden.

Narrated Hadhrat Abdullah bin Masood: Allahs Apostle (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) observed: He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of arrogance shall not enter Paradise. A person (amongst his hearers) said: Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should be fine. The Holy Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) remarked: Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves grace. Arrogance is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people. (Saheeh Muslim)

I dont mean pride in the conceited, hurtful sense. I mean pride in recognising and acting like what you are - the best nation ever raised by Allah, for Allah says:
You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong, and believe in Allah; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them (some) are believers and most of them are transgressors. (3:110)

(And) lo! those who believe and do good works are the best of created beings. (98:7)

We are the highest of creations. We were created in the best stature and will remain so, so long as we do what we must to obey Allah. Allah says:

Surely We created man of the best stature; Then we reduced him to the lowest of the low; except those who believe and do righteous deeds: for they shall have a reward unfailing. (95:4-6)

We, the Muslims, are the best nation created. We are to lead the inhabitant of this world to Paradise. The companions of the Holy Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) recognised this. They embraced it, and it is for this reason that they were able to attract the non-believers and propagate Islam across the world. They did not cower in the corners, afraid to declare their faith in front of non-believers. They could not sit back only because of the fear of hardships from pagans. They were strong. They were confident, and they wore their pride in their religion like a badge of honour.

An excellent example of this was Hadhrat Abu Zarr Ghifari. He accepted Islam at a time when the Muslims were weak and persecuted. Yet, instead of hiding his religion, he announced it for all to know.

In his own words: ...After that I stayed with the Holy Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) in Makkah and he taught me Islam and taught me to read the Holy Quraan. Then he said to me, Dont tell anyone in Makkah about your acceptance of Islam. I fear that they will kill you. By Him in whose hands is my soul, I shall not leave Makkah until I go to the Masjid al Haraam and proclaim the call of Truth in the midst of the Quraish, vowed Hadhrat Abu Zarr.

The Holy Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) remained silent. He went to the mosque. The Quraish were sitting there. He went in their midst and called out at the top of his voice, O people of Quraish, I testify that there is no God but Allah and Muhammad (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) is the Messenger of Allah.He said his words had an immediate effect on them. They jumped up and said, Get this one who has left his religion. They bounced on him and began to beat him mercilessly. They clearly meant to kill him. But Abbas ibne Abdul Muttalib, the uncle of the Prophet, who had not accepted Islam till then, recognised him.

He bent over and protected him from them. He told them: Woe to you! Would you kill a man from the Ghifaar tribe and your caravans must pass through their territory? They then released him.

This companion could not hide his religion, even at the risk of his own life. Even though it was an unwise thing to do, and the Holy Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) remained silent on hearing his intention to pronounce the testimony of faith in the midst of the Makkans (although he did not forbid it), this man felt a compulsion to let the people know that he had accepted Islam.

This is a sign of the pride, which is permitted. And it was the incautious act, not the pride that the Holy Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) had disapproved.

We are supposed to be proud of our religion. We are not supposed to hide it unless we feel fear for our lives, as the Muslims did while they were being persecuted in Makkah. But once they had the strength to defend themselves, they announced it far and wide, for all to hear.

They did not back down in the face of hardship. They spread the religion. They took the Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam)s announcements to Kings and peasants alike. They were proud of their religion because they knew - without any doubt what so ever - that Islam was and is the truth.

They knew that only by accepting Islam could people be saved. They knew that it was through them that this religion would survive and thrive, and they knew if they neglected their duty that Allah would bring a better people for this duty.

So, they took up their duty. That is why they are the best nation from among the Muslims. So, what has happened to us? Where is our pride in Allah and His religion? Where is our desire to sacrifice anything to get people in the folds of Islam?

So many of us are so ashamed of our religion that we change ourselves, to blend in. We all know a Sameer who has become Sam or a Mohammad who calls himself Mo. We all know the woman who name the headscarf as Hijab: wearing the western style jeans, a long shirt and the obligatory headpiece. What is wrong with us? Do we need to look and sound and act like those around us. Why? The kaafirs have a saying, Imitation is the highest form of flattery. What does this mean? It means that by imitating someone, you are essentially saying that they are better - even in that small aspect.

You would never give up the best for the worst. You trade upwards. So, why are we constantly trading downwards and accepting the ways of the kafirs? Unless, we believe that their way is better (May Allah forbid us from this horrible belief!) Imitation is a sign of defeat. Imitation is a sign of inferiority. Imitation is a sign of no faith in what you have. We are the best nation ever raised. These people should be copying us, not us them. And they know it.

One day, a Muslim sister, covered in a Hijab in real Islamic way, was on the shuttle at the university where she was studying. She saw a young non-Muslim woman who boarded the bus, wearing a skirt so short, it left nothing to the imagination. She sat across from the covered Muslim sister. The sister looked up and noticed that the young non-Muslim woman was staring at her, and shaking her head. She apparently disapproved of her dress. No matter. If she had not believed that hers was the superior way, she might have felt embarrased or humiliated. But it seemed that she knew, believed and accepted that Islam is the right way, because instead of pulling back, she looked right at the young non-Muslim woman with a look of severe disapproval.

She then looked to the womans exposed legs and ticked while shaking her head. The non-Muslim woman responded by tugging at the bottom of her skirt, like she was trying to cover her legs more. She felt the shame and humiliation of her exposure.

This woman recognised her inferior status and reacted accordingly, because the Muslim woman did not back down or allow the non-Muslim woman to make her feel inferior. This is the way we should all act.

How many times do the Muslim women take off the Hijab because of the pressures of society? How many times have you heard: I cant get a job; I cant handle the stares: I cant cope with the pressures of life if I cover? Or worse yet, We need to blend in to this society. We so not need to blend, and we do not need to compromise. When we do so, we call our defeat ourselves by avoiding the the help and Nusrah of Allah.

We need to become trail-blazers, leaders, the example for others. SubhaanAllah! We are the best nation. Our way is the only way to salvation. Never forget that. The Holy Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) forbid us from imitating the kaafirs. Not only that, in many Ahaadeeth, he commanded us to purposely be different. He commanded us to be the opposites - the one who does what is opposite to the non-Muslims acts.

Narrated Hadhrat Abu Hurairah: Allahs Messenger (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) said: Trim closely the moustache, and grow the beard, do mukhaalifah of (do not resemble with) the fire-worshippers. (Saheeh Muslim)

Also, the Holy Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) warned us that in imitating the bad one, we are like them. (I will take only the pertinent part of the Hadeeth): Narrated Hadhrat Umme Salamah about the evil Ameer: Allahs Messenger (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) said: ... But one who approves of their bad deeds and imitates them is spiritually ruined... (Saheeh Muslim)

This last Hadeeth talks of the bad Muslim. So what does this say about the kuffaar? We are not to imitate the kaafir. We are to purposely be different. How can we do this? I know one sister who took the idea of being mukhaalifah to the extent that on thanksgiving - a day of feasting and overindulging - she fasted. I know of others who simply refuse to compromise their faith and practices, which is the least we must do.

At the very least, we should not dress like them, talk like them, celebrate like them or take on their practices. I cant tell you how many times I have been asked why I do not wear a wedding ring. I have to answer, because it is not a Muslim custom, it is the custom of the Christians. I have to teach them that: Since the earliest times, the giving or exchanging of rings cemented any contract. Amongst early Christians, the thumb and the first two fingers typified the trinity, and the husband placed the ring on his wifes finger in the threefold holy name. Some authorities believe that the third finger of the left hand was connected by nerve or artery with the heart, hence, it was chosen for this purpose. (The State Newspaper- Columbia, South Carolina)

Brothers and sisters, ignorance is not an excuse when we make no effort to learn the Truth. When we are in a non-Muslim country, it is our duty and obligation to seek this type of knowledge, so that we can avoid misguidance.

So, simply not knowing is not acceptable. The one who does not know how to offer Salaah (prayers) will not be forgiven if he made no effort to learn how to offer Salaah (prayers). We are not held account-able for that, which has not reached us yet, but we always have to be making an effort for seeking that.

Furthermore, for those who say - That is not my intention, and deeds are by intentions. I say, your deeds are by intention, but an evil deed cannot be cleaned up with a good intention. I cannot steal money to give it to the mosque. Stealing is unlawful, as imitation is unlawful, and once we recognise that something is unlawful, we must cease immediately.

Once again, it all goes down to pride. I am proud to be a Muslim. I will not cease saying inshaaAllah, because I am talking to a non-Muslim - let him learn the word - it might be of some good for him. I am not going to stop reading my holy Book Quraan, because someone will see me and think me a fanatic. I am not going to change or mute my Hijab, because I want to blend in. I have to do mukhaalifah, inshaaAllah.

Let me warn you, if you do not already know. We are Muslims, and even if we forget it, they will not. Prime example is Bosnia. The Bosnians forgot Islam - their faith. They blended in. They would marry each other, entertain together; take each others names, and were one with the non-Muslims in their society.

One Muslim Bosnian brother once told me, They did not destroy the mosques. The mosques were already dead. The Muslims of Bosnia had forgotten their religion, but the minute the Kuffaar had a chance - they began to exterminate them. They killed not just the good practising Muslims, but also the one who did not even know how to offer Salaah. They remembered. Why do we forget? But lets take this a step further. Recognise that what you do is not only affecting you. When we do things in this society, we set precedents. Not a single Muslim woman who wears Hijab has not heard, ...but so and so is a Muslim, and she does not wear like that. Nor has a brother who has a beard not heard, but so and so is a Muslim, and he shaves. We hurt each other when we abandon a part of our practice. We have to help each other, not be among those who help to oppress us.

Narrated Hadhrat Abdullah ibne Umar: Allahs Apostle (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) said, A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection. (Saheeh Bukhari)

We are Muslims. We have consciously recognised that Allah is the only Lord. We have accepted Muhammad (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) as the final Messenger and Prophet. Our religion is Islam and our conduct is Quraan and Sunnah. We are the saved nation, the only true followers of the one True God. We are the best, and what we do as practising Muslims is the only way, not just the best way to act and follow. So, why must we consistently follow the non-Muslims? Where is our pride in Islam. When I see a young Muslim man in the latest gangsta fashion, talking like a kaafir rapper, I cringe. When I see a young Muslim girl wearing pants instead of Jilbab, my heart breaks. When I see a shaved Muslim man or an uncovered Muslim woman, I fear for our future. Our beloved Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) warned us.

Narrated Hadhrat Abu Saeed: The Holy Prophet (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam) said, You will follow the wrong ways of your predecessors so completely and literally that if they should go into the hole of a lizard, you too will go there. We said, O Allahs Apostle (SallAllaho alaihe wasallam)! Do you mean the Jews and the Christians? He replied, Whom else? (Meaning, of course, the Jews and the Christians). (Saheeh Bukhari)

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