Monthly Archives: October 2010

Protector or Predator?

Real men are protectors of women, not predators of women! While scouring the web, I came across this news. The article shows a clip of an Israeli soldier belly dancing around a female prisoner, blindfolded and bound against the wall, illustrative of the occupiers’ sick mentality.

When I read the story by Al Jazeera I was infuriated. By God, I wanted to rip the soldier’s heart out. In the video, I saw a coward and a courageous person. I will leave you to decide on who is who. Islam is in dire need of real men. We are in need of ar-Rijal.

I would like to remind everyone of the story of the Caliph named al-Mu’tasim, ruler of the Abassid empire from 833-842, successor to al-Ma’mun and Harun ar-Rashid, an excellent example of ar-Rijal.

Once a Muslim woman was being teased by Jews in the Jewish quarter of what was then Byzantium bordering the Muslim empire. The Jews pulled at her hijab and mocked her in a most ignoble manner.

She cried and wrote to the Caliph addressing him in her letter, “Ya Mu’tasimah!” (an emotional plea) and told him of what had happened. When the Caliph heard of this news, he was so outraged he dropped the cup of water he was drinking.

Immediately, Caliph Mu’tasim wrote back to the Roman Emperor of Byzantium, saying:

“Ya kalb ar-Rum! (Oh you Roman dog!) I have an army of men that stretch from where I stand (Baghdad) to where you stand (Constantinople), who love to fight and die as much as your men love to live.”

This was the honor that Muslims once had, which I pray we will have once again. One of our sisters was mocked in the market and the Muslim ruler was willing to protect her dignity with his entire army.

By today’s standards, a simple teasing may seem trivial. Women are assaulted on the streets every day, and you would not see the President waging war against the enemy. But the magnanimous Caliph was not going to let this slip.

Such was the value of Muslim women in that day. Precious and venerated. May Allah give us leaders with that kind of valor and chivalry. Because real men are protectors of women, not predators of women.

Letter to The Leader

The following is a letter that was written by Hasan al-Basri to the Caliph ‘Umar ibn Abdul Azeez.

“When ‘Umar ibn ‘Abd al-’Aziz assumed the caliphate, he wrote to al-Hasan ibn Abi al-Hasan al-Basri asking him to write to him and describe the just ruler. Al-Hasan, may God have mercy on him, wrote:

“Be it known to you, O Commander of the Faithful, that God instituted the just ruler to be the redress of every wrong-doer, the discipline of every unfair person, the correction of every corrupt man, the strength of every weak one, the justice of every wronged being, and the refuge of every fightened individual.

The just ruler, O Commander of the Faithful, is like a shepherd who is tender towards his camels and kind to them; he takes them to the best pastures, prevents them from going to dangerous places, defends them against wild beasts, and protects them from the harms of the heat and the cold.

The just ruler, O Commander of the Faithful, is like a father who feels compassion for his children, works hard for them when young and teaches them as they grow older, earns for them during his lifetimes, and saves for them after his death.

The just ruler, O Commander of the Faithful, is like a tender mother who is dutiful and kind to her baby, who bears him and gives him birth unwillingly, who brings him up as a child, staying up at night when he does, and being quiet when he is at rest; she suckles him for a time and then weans him, she rejoices when he is healthy and is saddened when he is in pain.

The just ruler, O Commander of the Faithful, is the guardian of orphans and treasurer of the poor, educating the young among them and providing for the older ones.

The just ruler, O Commander of the Faithful, is like the heart among the other body organs: they are healthy if the heart is healthy, and sick when the heart is sick.

The just ruler, O Commander of the Faithful, is the one who stands between God and his servants; he listens to what God says and conveys it to them, he looks to God and makes them look too; he is led by God and he leads them. Therefore, O Commander of the Faithful, in relation to the realm given to you by God, may He be exalted and magnified, do not be like a servant whose master entrusted him with his wealth and dependents, but who wasted the wealth and drove away the dependents like tramps, thus impoverishing his master’s family and frittering away his wealth.

Be it known to you, O Commander of the Faithful, that God has prescribed punishments to act as deterrents to wicked deeds and vile acts. So if these deeds and acts are committed by those responsible for implementing the punishments, what will happen? God has prescribed punishment as a means to better living for His servants. So if the one who should be doing justice to them kills them, what will happen? And remember death and what follows it, O Commander of the Faithful, when you will have no adherents and no supporters to help you against it; so provide for it and for the great terror that follows it.

Be it known to you, O Commander of the Faithful, that you have a home other than the one you are in now. In it you will abide for a long time. Your loved ones will abandon you and leave you in it all alone. Provide for it that which will remain with you. “On the day when a man flees his brother, and from his mother and father, and from his wife and his sons.” (Q. 80:34-36)

Remember, O Commander of the Faithful, “…when what is in the tombs is resurrected, and what is in the breasts is gathered” (Q. 100:9-10), secrets will become manifest, and the Book “…leaving out nothing small or great but has recorded it” (Q. 18-49).

Now, O Commander of the Faithful, while you still have time and before the arrival of the appointed hour of death and loss of hope: do not rule God’s servants as the ignorant do, and do not behave with them as oppressors do, the way domineering arrogant ones conduct themselves with those they deem to be weak, for they observe no covenant or compact of protection. Otherwise, you will end up bearing your burdens and other burdens too, and you will carry your loads and other loads too. Do not be deceived by those who enjoy what causes you misery and those who eat good things in this world of theirs, for you will then lose your good things in the Hereafter. Do not look at your power today but look rather at your power tomorrow, when you are captive in the snares of death, standing before God, may He be exalted, and in the presence of the angels, the prophets, and the apostles, when “All faces shall be humbled before the Living, Self-Subsisting One” (Q. 20:111).

O Commander of the Faithful, although I have not achieved in my sermon what earlier men of intellect have, I have not withheld advice and sympathy from you. Consider this letter of mine to you as would a healer who gives his beloved to drink bitter medicine because he hopes for the cure and good health it will bring about. Peace be upon you, O Commander of the Faithful, God’s mercy, and His blessings.”

By Abu Sa’id al-Hasan ibn Abi-l-Hasan Yasar al-Basri, 642 – 728

(p 25-26 of “The Unique Necklace: Volume 1” by Ibn ‘Abd Rabbih)

The Ink Has Dried

If there was one thing I learned from Nicki Campbell’s management lectures last semester it’s this; you don’t necessarily have to like whom you trust. Liking them helps, but it’s not a requirement for trust. This was a powerful message that really taught me a lesson in life.

She had many such inspiring lessons. Her messages were penetrating and deep, yet subtle at the same time. Deep enough that the impact it made on my life went unnoticed, and the classroom full of people around me were oblivious to that part of my life.

Sometimes people come into your life and you know right away that they were meant to be there, to serve some sort of purpose; to teach a lesson, or to help you figure out who you are or who you want to become. You never know who these people may be. A housemate, a friend, a neighbour, a lecturer, a child, a teacher or even a complete stranger, but the second you meet them, you know at that very moment that they will affect your life in some profound way.

Sometimes things happen to you at the time that may seem horrible, painful and unfair at first, but in reflection, you find that without overcoming those obstacles you would not have realized your strength, potential, will power or heart.

Nothing happens by chance or means of luck. Allah has ordained everything for us. He has laid out every day of our lives before a single day had passed. Illness, injury, love, lost moments of true greatness and sheer stupidity all occur to test the limits of our souls. They train us to be patient, and teach us to be grateful.

Without these small tests, life would be like a smoothly paved, flat road to nowhere. Safe and comfortable but dull and utterly pointless. You might have reached where you wanted to go, but would have learned nothing on reaching there. There would be a destination, but no real journey, no adventure.

As the author John Amatt puts it, “Adventure isn’t hanging on a rope off the side of a mountain. Adventure is an attitude which we must apply to every part of our lives. Facing new challenges, seizing new opportunities, testing our resources against the unknown and unpredictable and in the process discovering our own unique potential.”

People whom we meet and who affect our lives, and the successes and downfalls we experience, help to create who we are and who we become. These experiences are our daily adventures. The bad experiences are the most valuable because it is often from them that we learn the most. They are probably the most poignant and important ones.

Hurt, betrayal, loss, sadness, and failure; these are the great builders of character. Only those who have hurt and lost or have been sad and disappointed know how to truly comfort and forgive another in the same circumstances. If someone hurts you, betrays you or breaks your heart, forgive them because they have helped you learn about trust and the importance of being cautious to whom you open your heart to.

If someone loves you, love them back unconditionally, not only because they love you, but because they are teaching you to love, and open your heart and eyes to the little things. Most importantly, if you love someone tell them, for you never know what tomorrow may have in store.

Similarly, the English poet John Keats says that failure is in a sense, the highway to success. In as much as every discovery of what is false, leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error, which we shall afterward carefully avoid.

You then can’t help but realise, that there aren’t any real failures in life, only experiences. So be movers of society and challenge the status quo. Believe in yourself, for if you don’t believe in yourself, you will never be able to achieve your dreams. And learn a lesson in life each day you live.

Our days in Palmy are numbered. And so is our time left on Earth. Make every day count. Appreciate every moment and take from it, everything that you possibly can, for you may never be able to experience it again. You may not have the chance to share, talk, listen, dream, and love, teach, or enjoy this moment again.

It is amazing to witness Allah’s grand plan. When we actually get to take a step back and see the big picture, we cannot help but smile. And to secretly know that nothing happened by chance, and every part of our lives has a reason and a purpose, makes me wonder; how can this not increase us in gratitude?

How beautifully intricate Allah’s writing and pre-decree. Thanks Nicki, that was probably one of the best semesters I had. As the famous hadith states, “The pen has been lifted and the ink has dried.”