Bimillah irrahman irraheem
In the name of Allah,
Most Merciful and Compassionate
A couple of my dear, revert sisters recently mentioned how, after they took the blessed Shahada, they found that the Muslim community closed their hearts to them. Hearing this not only broke my heart but, it made me feel ashamed and embarrassed as a born Muslima.
This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard or read similar stories from brothers or sisters coming into Islam. It is so painful to hear that these brothers and sisters who have sacrificed everything they knew; the families they were born into, their culture, their society, the food they ate and were brought up on, many even changing their name and style of clothing, crossing the language barriers— going through such massive changes— each with its own accompanying challenges, and yet still they are not accepted.
As born Muslims we cannot even comprehend the level of sacrifice needed to turn your back on everything that defines you. Some have even endured shunning from the societies of their birth, while others have had to contend with physical violence.
These are brothers and sisters who have obviously seen the true beauty of Islam— a truth that touches their very souls— and they have followed it, disregarding the challenges and difficulties it brings. They have, no doubt dreamt of coming into a society that will accept them with open arms, for they are now Muslims just like them. They believe in the same ONE true Creator, Allah (swt), and His messenger (pbuh). I’m sure they dream of having families; longing to belong and become part of the Muslim Ummah.
Unfortunately, more often than not they are treated as strangers, and with suspicion.
Where has the hospitality of the Madinites gone?
When the Holy Prophet (pbuh) and his companions entered Madinah for the first time, the people of Madinah not only sang songs of welcome but opened their hearts to the point of offering homes, money, livestock and most importantly the hands of their daughters in marriage to these total strangers!
Think of it! We spend years praying for the right suitor to come along for our daughters. We gather dowries, dreaming of the big event. The people of Madinah felt extremely blessed to give their daughters into marriage to God fearing people, asking for nothing in return. Their generosity was second to none! Though they know of the Prophet and his message, and they may have even placed their trust in the Prophet himself. But to trust in his blessed companions enough to give their daughter’s hand in marriage? This was another matter!
Could they trust in the true intentions of these strangers? And yet, they fell in love with the message of Islam and placed their trust in Allah (swt), without even knowing the depth of what the Prophet Muhammed (pbuh) preached. This is faith–true Iman—Subhan’llah!
As Muslims where do we stand today? We find pride in being born into this beautiful faith and yet, we are the furthest from it. We have become materialistic, full of greed and hypocrisy. Many are saying, as an ummah, we have lost our way.
The way of the Prophet (pbuh), (as taught by our blessed teacher Emil Ihsan Torabi), is the Way of Excellence. It is excellence in Adhab, which is to say, excellence in manners and conduct. This is true Islam; not the outer practices and words of dhikr that role off the tongue like beads, while the hearts are dead to the real essence and soul of the faith!
The people of Arabia with all their flaws were a people of great hospitality and generosity. Meanwhile, today we strain to even offer a smile or a salaam without wondering what’s in it for us?
There is a hadith that states:
The one who enjoys a full meal whilst he’s neighbour is starving has NO faith in Islam… Choose for others what you choose for yourself
Who are our neighbours? Are they only the people living right next door to us? Are not our neighbours also the people living in our streets, living in our area, living in our city, living in our country, and even those living past our borders?
In truth we are all neighbours of one another, and if we could see past the differences that divide us; if we could see each other as neighbours, life here on earth would begin to look more like a paradise than a living hell.
The rights of neighbours, as commanded by Allah (swt) dictates the opening and generosity of our hearts to the extent that such neighbours almost become your inheritors!
Allah (tabarak ta’ala), granted our neighbours 11 rights:
1) If asked you must give help and assistance
2) You must grant relief
3) Your must lend money if your neighbour needs a loan
4) Do not block their air by raising your homes higher than theirs without permission
5) Do not harass your neighbours
6) Share your food with your neighbours
7) Visit them when they are unwell
8) You must attend their funeral and help with burial
9) If they commit a sin, you must keep confidence
10) Exchange gifts with your neighbours
11) Support, empathise and act in compassion if calamity befalls them
The Qur’an enjoins us:
Serve Allah and ascribe no partner to Him. Do good to your parents, to near of kin, to orphans, and to the needy, and to the neighbour who is of kin and to the neighbour who is a stranger, and to the companion by your side, and to the wayfarer, and to those whom your right hands possess. Allah does not love the arrogant and the boastful, (Qur’an 4:36).
When a member of our community is in need, it is our duty to reach out and offer help, no matter how little. Even a few words of support can alleviate stress and anxiety and bring hope and peace to someone’s heart. This is true Islam, without which Islam is but a name and a shell without an essence and a soul.
Our brothers and sisters entering Islam for the first time are not only our neighbours. They are our brethren! They are pure like a new born baby, and full of divine light. Let us welcome them with open arms and open hearts so we may benefit also from the clarity of their vision and see Islam in new light. Let us learn from them and take in a deep breath of fresh air; air so desperately needed by those of us who have lost the ability to see through such fresh eyes.
These new brethren need our help and support in order to assimilate and become part of the Islamic society. They don’t ask for anything more than compassion and mercy of their fellow man. May Allah Almighty grant us the ability to always choose LOVE; to be love; to be the tools for good in all areas of life.
Even if you can’t see your way to do it for them, do it for our children! Our children today are severely lacking in this essential element of the deen. There is no hope for them if we don’t get back to the basics of our faith and become the ummah we were born to be.
Let us demonstrate this faith to our children with these new brethren as our shining example. Let us demonstrate what a giving culture and selfless society we muslims have inherited!
Haqq Lailaha Illalahu Muhammur Rasool Allah