Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself (Part 2)


Part I | Part II

“Look at her!” the Auntie shrieked, pointing to the girl making wudhu (ablutions) at the nearby sink. “She is using so much water!” Turning to the girl she said, “Don’t you know, Prophet Muhammad ﷺ taught us we shouldn’t waste water, even if we are by a river? Look at how much water you are wasting!” Burning with embarrassment, the girl meekly finished up, quietly put on her hijab and left.

In an attempt to guide others to the Qur’an and Sunnah (prophetic way), we often do the exact opposite. Instead of following the Prophetic model of calling to Allah, we follow the subtle arrogance in our hearts in guise of calling others to piety. We ridicule, belittle and insult another with the noble aim of giving advice so that the person can truly be on the right path – our path – of an obviously more righteous lifestyle.

When was the last time you learned something when someone was yelling at you – in front of others – about your deficiencies, your obviously sinful intentions (since clearly other people can read your heart) and your un-Sunnah and un-Qur’anic actions?

There is a difference of opinion on issues such as eating zabiha (Islamically slaughtered) or non-zabiha meat and celebrating non-religious holidays. However, there is no difference of opinion on the importance, the necessity and vitality of preserving the honor and dignity of a fellow brother or sister and maintaining the unity of our Ummah.

Check this:

Once, a man joined the congregational prayer with the companions of the Prophet ﷺ. While in prayer, another man sneezed. The man said to him, “May God have mercy upon you.” Still in prayer, the people started staring him down so he responded, “Why are you looking at me like that?” At this, they started hitting their thighs, trying to get him to realize to keep silent during prayer. Afterwards, the Prophet ﷺ approached him. Let’s look at what the man reported was said to him, “When God’s Messenger ﷺ finished his prayer, he neither punished, rebuked, nor expressed displeasure with me. He just said to me: ‘It is not permissible to say any ordinary talk during prayer; it consists of God’s praise and glorification and reciting the Qur’an’.” (Muslim)

Subhan Allah (glory be to God), we’re such weak sauce; we resort to staring people down and trying to keep them in check by any means possible. But look at the Prophet ﷺ! Unlike the parent who’s had the last straw or the teacher who just can’t handle it any more, the Prophet ﷺ didn’t beat the man down verbally or psychologically; rather, he empowered him by giving him drops of knowledge and thus allowing the man to self-reflect, learn, and confidently improve.

On another occasion, a man came into the masjid of the Prophet ﷺ, found a place to handle business and started urinating. The homeboys of the Prophet ﷺ – very much like us today – were outraged at his offensive action. They started reproaching him while he was relieving himself, shouting, “Stop it! Stop it!”

I mean, what could be worse than urinating inside the masjid?! But what did the Prophet ﷺ do? Did he tweet the man’s mistake? Did he write about it on his wall? Did he start shouting at him publicly, or go to him directly and make him feel like a fool?

The Prophet ﷺ said, “Do not interrupt him; leave him alone.” So the Companions held back. When the man had finished, the Prophet, the Messenger of Mercy, peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, calmly called the man over and said to him (notice: he didn’t divert the matter by chastising him for possibly having an earring or wearing tight pants, he just simply taught him), “Inside these mosques it is not appropriate to do anything like urinating or defecating; they are only for remembering Allah, praying and reading Qur’an,” (or the Prophet ﷺ said words to that effect). Then, after instructing a bucket of water to be poured over the urinated area, the Messenger of Mercy ﷺ said, “Verily, you were sent only to make matters easy, and you were not sent to make matters difficult” (Ahmad).

Realize that when we come to someone, outraged by some “sin” they are committing, something which in our mind is nothing less than haram, evil, wrong, messed up and straight hypocritical, with the plan to help them recognize how outlandishly far they are from the “true path,” we could understand that perhaps it’s really us who are committing the bigger sin.

By exposing another, causing them to feel ridiculed, embarrassed and dishonored, our “piety” is perhaps self-inflicted and our methodology of da`wah could be far off from following the very Qur’an and Sunnah which we are calling a “soul in need of guidance” towards.

The Qur’an instructs us to, Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and good instruction, and argue with them in a way that is best. Indeed, your Lord is most knowing of who has strayed from His way, and He is most knowing of who is [rightly] guided. (16:125).

How can we be of those who invite to Allah with wisdom and beautiful speech? We first have to know Who we are calling towards.

1) Come to know Allah through having a consistent relationship with the Qur’an.
a. To know Allah, perhaps start with reading a fixed amount, possibly just five ayaat (verses) a day, in a language we understand, to insha’Allah help revamp our relationship with Him ‘azza wa jall. Also, suggested book reading: The Way to the Qur’an by Khurram Murad.

2)   Get to know the Prophet ﷺ.
a.    The ‘walking Qur’an’ has already showed us the most effective ways to help call those we love to our Creator. The closer we feel to him ﷺ and the more we’re aware of his psychologically in-tune strategies, insha’Allah the more powerful our two cents of humble advice will be in truly helping our own selves and others turn back to Allah. Suggested reading: Muhammad, Man and Messenger by Adil Salahi.
b.    Send a plethora of blessings on the Prophet ﷺ as has been taught to us, “Whoever supplicates Allah to exalt my mention, Allah will exalt his mention ten times and remove from him ten sins and raise him ten degrees.” [Muslim]

3)   Work on purifying our hearts
a.    It’s important to advise each other on ways we can improve our relationship with Allah, our character, and our work for the betterment of society. We need to hear critical feedback (To understand just a drop of the importance of this concept, check out If I do Good, Help Me; If I do Wrong, Correct Me), but there’s an art in doing it without causing pain to the receiver. Sometimes we may be more caught up in a person’s mistakes and our lack thereof, that we allow Shaytan to deceive us into believing our advice leads others to the righteous path when in reality, we’re simply exuding an almost arrogant thought pattern. Perhaps we are more sorely in need of a good heart cleaning ourselves than giving others advice which comes off belligerent.
b.    Suggested readings and lecture: In the Early Hours by Khurram Mourad, Purification of the Soul CD series by Imam Suhaib Webb.
c.    Make istighfar (ask Allah to forgive us) constantly.

4)   Learn how to give advice
a.    Read books like the Positive Discipline series on how best to help teach others learn from mistakes, intrinsically feel motivated to improve and develop an action plan for accomplishment.

Check ourselves before we wreck ourselves. Let’s start focusing on implementing the Qur’an and Sunnah’s respectful and empowering approach when we call others to Allah and let’s remember that the very first person we need to make dawah towards is our very own selves.

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12 Comments

  1. Zaufishan says:

    Definitely a relevant piece for today’s “ego-Islam” understanding. Da`wah begins with ourselves, then to our communities, at the opportune time, with understanding. Muslims in power could take a humble lesson from this ia.

    Z.

  2. Tasfia says:

    I loved this article! I’m only sharing the following incident as a teaching tool, not to slander, FYI. However, about a month ago I went to the masjid to attend jummah followed by a janaza prayer for my friend’s grandmother. I brought her flowers to possibly cheer her up and held onto it to give to her after all the prayers. Just a little bkgd-I barely know anybody in this town bc Im in grad school, I am a practicing muslim who always wears hijab AH and stays quiet, smile, mind my own business. Ok, I’m not kidding, IMMEDIATELY following the janaza prayer, some aunty creates a scene and demands to know why in a raised voice, with fingers pointing inched from my face, why I am “acting like a Christian” by bringing flowers in front of everybody !! I started crying and it affected me badly, also nobody stood up. Allah knows I dont fas, pray, wear hijab only to “act like a Christian and be satanic.” (I guess Im still not over it), but please bros and sis- remember that acting like that can actually change people’s iman for the worse.

    • María M says:

      As salamu alaykum,

      Dear Tasfia,

      I didn´t know that giving flowers as a present was a Christian act, certainly that surprises me.

      Experience will teach you to breath deep and don´t let this kind of actions and behaviours affects you so much. You will see who is who, and first of all you will be sure of who you are.
      If you alloud me an advice, forgive her and the others, talk to Allah(swt) about it.

      Keep as soft and as sweet as your Heart is, alloud yourself to forgive and despite this kind of behaviours keep in the straight path, nobody has the power of shaking your faith. If you go to the important thing here, from the begining till the end, this is just the relationship between Allah(swt) and you.

      Thank you for sharing and for listening.

      Beslama

  3. ZAI says:

    Very well written and needed reminder.

    Tashakkur…

  4. María M says:

    As salamu alaykum,

    Thank you for this teaching and information, certainly there is always a step farther to go in learning Humility and softness of the Heart, …may Allah (swt) alloud us to follow Him in the Straight Path.

    Good bless you Sister Maryam, I needed this article.

    Beslama

  5. umm yusuf says:

    Beautiful!jazakillahukhayran.In any given scenario we forget it’s really how we behave and handle ourselves that is under scrutiny.Just like when Dawud ahs had to judge between the two litigants,one with 99 ewes and the other with one.He judged quickly and then suddenly realised the scenario was actually Allah ‘azza wa jall testing him.When we see things around us that we feel the need to speak up about,i remember Dawud ahs and think,what i do now,how i behave/react is my test-and Allah knows best.Sure is scary keeping one’s intention 100% pure.

  6. grandgenius says:

    Sister Tasfia, thank you for sharing your story – it was very poigniant… I want to remind you that her display of “faith” wasn’t really about you or your actions – that woman’s tirade was fuelled by intentions all her own.

    The other thing I want to say is that we all need to learn how to speak up for ourselves, particularly in situations like these. What’s to stop you from saying in an equally loud voice (or more softly, if you so choose) what your intentions actually are? Just like you are telling us now… I know its easy to lose your presence of mind upon feeling attacked or targeted…

    This brings me to the others who witnessed the event – I’m sure some were aware of your intentions & symapthetic – I like bringing home/giving flowers to cheer myself or someone else up – then why didn’t anyone speak up? There’s a multitude of answers to that question, I guess my point is to tell people to speak up. If you do not want to make a statement, ask a question – “O, Aunty what has made you so upset?”. The same question could have been asked of Tasfia. Then perhaps some dialogue could ensue so the two “factions” could have expressed their point of view.

    Superb article, thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

  7. JuJubee says:

    And this is why I no longer pray at the Mosque.

  8. Veronica says:

    Salam alaikum Brothers & Sisters,

    Mashallah sister, this article was very well written and incredibly relevant to the times we are living in. And big props to brother Suhaib Webb and suhaibwebb.com for allowing the sisters to be active. We definitely need to hear and see more women becoming active in the Deen.

    Subhannallah, if you are a convert or under the age of 30 than you most definitely experienced a situation such as mentioned above. It’s amazing, when people view you as being young or new to Islam they some how feel they have the duty to “correct” your Islam. All suggesstions are welcome, but man…you don’t gotta put me on blast in front of the whole masjid.

    Honestly, I accepted Islam 8yrs ago, but I must admit that it wasn’t until recent that I became a Muslim. I’m not trying to air my “dirty laundry”, but I’m just being real. The Muslim Community really needs to understand the ramifications of their actions.

    When I first became Muslim I was filled with so much excitement and anticipation. Unfortunately, the Muslim Community took that excitement and stomped on it:

    “Oh sister, are you wearing pink? That is Haram!

    “Sister, sister! You have no socks on. Your prayer is in invalid!”

    “What, you don’t like dates? This is Haram, the Prophet use to love them. You cannot be from the people of Paradise if you do not like dates.”

    I went from loving the masjid….to hating the masjid. I found it very difficult to befriend Muslims. I always felt judged and scrutinized. I began to resent Muslims and Islam all together. Slowly I began to feel that Islam was to heavy a burden and maybe I should just give it all up.

    I would make attempts at “renewing” my faith. I would try and fill myself with knowledge…this knowledge led me to ask those so called “pious” Muslims some questions when I would hear them say things that were against the teachings of Islam….what they were teaching was not from Islam, but from their cultural influences. Subhannallah, when I would ask them for their proof than than I was automatically dismissed as being arrogant, a person of too many questions or just too American. And if your a sister….well, I could go on for days with that one.

    One time, someone said to me at the end of our discussion….”Well, Islam don’t need you!” Hmmm, that may be true, but I need Islam. Although I know much better now, I must admit that at that time…..her words hit me like a ton of bricks. I lost hope; in myself and Allah.

    Although I still considered myself Muslim; my actions said otherwise. There was always that voice though. I couldn’t escape it. It was always there serving as a reminder that who I had become; was not who I was meant to be. I felt Allah calling me all the time, but I felt that Hell was destined for me. Yet that voice always whispered, “come back to Allah, come back.”

    It’s true when they say, “if Allah loves you than he will make people love you.” Well, this couldn’t be more true than of the sister that I would like to believe saved me.

    Subhannallah, people loved her. ANd I just couldn’t figure out why. She was soft spoken, never overly social & kept to herself for the most part. Yet, her hugs were filled with sincereity. Her smiles filled with warmth. When she spoke, she spoke only with knowledge and kindness. Subhannallah, I found myself drawn to her. I wanted to sit next to her. Always rushed to pray beside her. I believe she felt my affection for her.

    I’m not sure how, but I got her email address. So one day I wrote her all what I felt and that I was ready to give up. Subhanallah, you know what her reply was? She didn’t belittle, chastise or even judge me. She told me the fact that I even felt despair was a good thing. SHe said it meant that I still cared and that this despair was a reflection of my wanting to be close to Allah.

    Can you imagine? My sorrow would be the very thing that would save me. My despair meant that I still cared and that I wasn’t hopeless. I began to weep with such an intensity that my voice became unrecognizable to me. For the first time in years I felt hope. Hope that Allah could maybe still forgive a lowly sinner such as myself.

    I wish I could say that I was a God fearing; pious Muslim from that day on, but real life is not a fairy tale. My struggle back to Allah has been one filled with mishaps, pain and tears. Yet, this time is different because I have hope. I thank Allah everyday for this sister and her words of kindness and compassion. She has become a permenant fixture in my Dua. For I always ask Allah to Bless her.

    Inshallah, people will learn that their words can either make or break a person. I just hope there words serve as a friendly reminder and not ones of damnation.

    Sorry so long…..just felt real passionate about this one.

    salam alaikum

    • Ayesha says:

      salam.. just want to give you a big hug.. .. we all struggle sis :) take care and may Allah make all things easy in our life after hardship.. wassalam

    • maryam says:

      wa alaykum as salam warahmatullahi wa baratkuh,

      subhan Allah; tears thinking about how much Allah must love you for your struggles, and yet you don’t even know what your status may truly be! :)i wish i could meet you to be close to someone who wants Allah so badly. please keep me in your duaa o striver to Allah!

      • Veronica says:

        Salam alaikum,

        Truly sister you will be in my dua’s. Your article and other like it continue to fill me with hope.

        Allah loves me? How I hope I can attain such success. And I wish I could have met you as well my dear sister. Keep up the beautiful articles and remember me in your dua’s as well.

        May Allah increase your knowledge.

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