Friday, September 3, 2010

Lukewarm Muslim


I was sitting at my desk recently. I was grumpy, hungry and frustrated. My Christian colleague who is also a good friend came up to me and we spoke the next moment I was so irritated I said “Oh God!” I turned to my colleague; he was shocked and looked at me with so much disappointment. He said “you can’t say that, that’s blasphemy.” I felt guilty but I shrugged it off. Then I swore again.

He later spoke to me about faith. He said that I should not be a “lukewarm” Muslim. You cannot pick and choose in religion. When you follow a religion, you follow it to the T. I was upset, I thought to myself who is he to question my faith but I was in denial. I later spoke to him about this and agreed I was wrong. He being a staunch Christian told me that he finds Islam to be such an impressive religion. He once saw men making salaah alongside the road in the rain and though that Muslims are very dedicated. He, a Christian, then reminded me that during this holy of month of Ramadaan I should not be letting my tongue slip and I should give this month the respect it deserves.

This got me thinking, was the slip of my tongue letting my religion down? Am I a hypocrite? Just like how he thought Islam was an impressive religion due to the sight of men praying alongside the road, will he begin to doubt Islam because of my behavior? Many non-Muslims judge Islam by its followers, this should not be the case, but we are humans and it happens. Muslims also judge certain religions by its followers as well. We as Muslims should strive to display in our behavior and character the true essence of Islam. You never know whose ideas about Islam are constructed by your actions. We are Islam. I felt extremely guilty seeing that a Christian was giving me advice about Ramadaan. I also used this opportunity for dawah. I convinced him to come to the Masjid to listen to a Khutbah one day. He was more than willing to visit the Masjid. I was glad.

He now has a ruler on his desk now and has vowed to smack my hand every time my tongue slips. But this has definitely been an eye opener for me. I am going to be more careful from now on, represent my religion and even though I don’t see them, there are people out there who are watching my actions and Allah is watching me. Thank you to my Christian friend who reminded me about the small aspects of Islam that I sometimes tend to overlook.

8 comments:

  1. While I feel you are right that our actions represents our faith to others, I somehow find it silly to think that if people make small slip ups, that it would be viewed so drastically.

    Ultimately people should realise we all human, regardless of faith, and ultimately a religious person is not better than an athiest.

    People are all trying to be good for god, to benefit themselves in some next life. Why not try to be good in this world for people?

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  2. @ Anonymous - Thank you for your comment!

    I don't think all people will view "small slip ups" in such a drastic matter. The point I'm trying to make is that even "small slip ups" can be viewed as major ones by other people. Every one views things differently.

    Many may disagree - " a religious person is not better than an atheist" But I get what you are trying to say.

    I cannot speak for all people but as a Muslim, this world is merely a testing ground. This world is not forever but the hereafter is. Non-Religious people will disagree, but it all boils down to faith. Therefore everything we do in this world is to please God. Being good to other people, regardless of their faith is a way of pleasing God. Being good to nature and animals is a way of pleasing God. Putting petrol in your car and visiting the sick is a way of pleasing God. So if you want to do good to please God, it starts off by helping people etc. Ultimately God will be the one to judge your actions and not people. So I do good things for others but not because of wordy recognition but because of a divine one. This is what my religion teaches me.

    The Prophet Muhammed, may peace be upon him, said:

    "None of you will truly believe until you love for your brother what you love for yourself". (narrated by Bukhari)

    "Allah will not give mercy to anyone, except those who give mercy to other creatures." (Abdullah b. Amr: Abu Daud & Tirmidhi)

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  3. Oh goodness. These are expressions. What about all the Arabs whose every second utterance is "ya'Allah"... basically they're just saying "oh, God". Is it less offensive because it's in Arabic? Is it more admirable because it's in Arabic? Nonsense! When I'm really mad, I say Jesus. Because it makes me feel better; it makes me feel heard. I don't actually refer to Jesus in my head when I say the word. A word is a word and is empty without meaning attached. Not? :)

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  4. Personally I disagree.

    I think that is like saying "the Quran or the Bible is just a book" and we know what a fuss it caused when some muppet pastor suggested burning the Quran. Words have started wars and the words you are using are particularly sensitive.

    Wearing my Christian hat, my feelings are this: Being a Christian, I can only really base my beliefs on what the Bible tells me and it tells me that blasphemy is wrong. Period. Whether I, or anyone else agree or not doesn't really matter. That's what the book which I profess to live my life by commands me and either I choose to live according to it or not.

    With my "Be a good person" hat, my feelings are this: I have never had a situation that the only way I can express myself is by using blasphemy or a swear word. These words will always end up insulting (whether your grandmother or someone of the opposite faith) and can always be avoided.

    I think that a big part of our responsibility as people of faith is to ensure that our acts and language don't cause others to struggle and personally, if someone next to me is mouthing off about Jesus OR Allah, it doesn't sit right with me.

    Like I said though, those are just my thoughts.

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  5. @ Zu - I get what you are trying to say.

    But I believe it depends in which context the Phrase "Ya Allah" or "Oh God" is used. For example "Oh my God these people are so stupid" - I believe that's blasphemy. But if you use the term in a positive manner whereby you are calling out to God then its totally different, for example "Ya Allah I need your help."

    The manner in which I used it (that led to this post) was in a totally negative way and that's what I felt guilty about.

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  6. Yeah, agreed.

    Obviously using Gods name in prayer or serious discussion is fine. I am specifically talking about blasphemy.

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  7. But herein lies the root of the problem: when we start giving such power to words, we sow the seeds for idol worship. The Bible, the Qur'an, the Torah... these books are not Gods. We cannot become so sensitive that we start acting as if God is living inside our holy book. I think it begins to miss the point.

    I also think that GENERALLY we should be more respectful and mindful in our speech. We shouldn't swear as much as we swear: even the most conservative of us says fuck every now and then - do we think about what it means?

    I think the accusation of blasphemy is absolutely abused. Saying God, Oh God, Oh my God or whatever is not blaspheming. When you say Oh my God it's a very different word to when you say Dear God... So I fail to see how it really is disrespectful.

    What convinces me of this more than anything else is God, Gods-self. My understanding of God isn't that God is a petty teenager getting offended every time we say the God-word in another context. I don't think God gives a hell to be honest! But I know that PEOPLE definitely do... and that is why I try to curb my usage. But truly I don't think God cares.

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  8. Zuhayra, I appreciate your point of view but I think you need to get some advice on this from someone who is spiritually mature and who can clearly explain why your faith commands you to live in a specific way.

    Unfortunately, these "rules" that our faith give us are not optional. Sure, we can slip up now and again but there should be a constant effort to cut this sort of behavior out of our life for good.

    When you chose to become Muslim, this was part of the cost and like the title of this post says, we should steer away from being luke warm.

    Certain statements you make such as "We shouldn't swear AS MUCH as we swear" and "even the most conservative of us says f*ck every now and then" clearly show you are missing the point. I am a Christian but I don't and as a Muslim and with my basic understanding of Muslim law tells me that you should not either.

    The very word "profane" means "outside of the temple" in Latin.

    Would you say "fuck" in Mosque?

    I will leave you with this:

    The Prophet said: "The abuse of their tongues causes them to be thrown into the fire on their faces; the believer does not like to accuse, curse and use foul language."
    [Tirmidhi]

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