Muslims: Who, Us?

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Reading a rather creepy fictitious story recently, an underlying idea really hit home: keep fighting wrong not only for victory but because it is the right thing to do. Whether or not you win is irrelevant; the important thing is that you try –” Allah will reward you for that. And, try I am once again inspired to do, not only because I think it is the right thing to do, but because Islam tells me so.

It has been a long, long time since I last sat down to write something. Why? Maybe I’ve caught the sleeping bug that, despite time, remains a virulent strain infecting Muslims wherever they may be around the world. Of course, I can’t just simply shrug off any sense of responsibility by claiming that to be the sole cause. I have been busy with the doings of everyday life. Studies, work, family, you get it. Naturally, I’m speaking about everyday life as in of an average person, not that average Palestinian who cringes at the roar of Apaches overhead, or the average Iraqi who strives to comprehend what sort of sovereignty his country has been handed by the occupation forces amid the chaotic aftermath of the invasion. I wasn’t busy thinking about what my siblings will have to eat for dinner apart from contaminated water like some young boy in Africa or like that little girl in Afghanistan who holds her mommy’s hand while walking from person to person, begging for some money. No, my world isn’t as sinister and for that, I thank Allah.

My thoughts are too jumbled up to convey in words. One moment, I’m contemplating one thing, and the other, I’m talking about something totally different. Yet, one common theme reverberates in all my musings –” this world is a difficult place to live in. Take, for instance, the gap between the rich and the poor. While the former, in effect, throws money down the drain, the latter literally scrapes the ground for something to eat. What about our simple religion? Revealed to be a guidance for mankind in basic terms, we now fight each other over petty issues, verbally and practically, each professing to be the guided sect promised Paradise. What about the “one” Muslim Ummah we were supposed to be? Well, now, we seem content to use self-congratulatory labels such as moderate, peace-loving and loyal citizens, while deriding others of our fellow followers in faith as extremists, fanatics, Islamists, terrorists and deviants. What about the world’s natural resources? Well, approximately 70% of them are right under the noses of Muslims, but seems like we can’t notice or do anything about those coming to steal them from us; in fact, we even wrap it and hand it to them with a smile, whilst all Muslim countries are some of the most underdeveloped nations in the world.

If I was saying this instead of writing, you would have heard my scream of exasperation by now. Yes, I am an impatient person, but even then, have I done anything sizeable to make a difference? In answer, I can only hang my head in shame.

Important dates have come and gone. I sat numbly and just didn’t know what to write. After all, what could I say to wake up a billion Muslims after all that has already happened? I mean, what are mere words compared to real-life images and experiences of war, poverty, humiliation and destruction. What is left to suffer? We are already going through the worst of times and we are still the same apathetic people. Our hearts are rock-hard and our souls have withered away. We are not Muslims, in the real sense of the word. We cannot declare to follow Islam, because we are not worth it.

Each day brings with it even worse news concerning our Ummah. Suffering Muslims have simply become statistics and numbers, even to us. A fifty dead here, a hundred injured there, and life goes on for us just the same. Rarely have we stopped for a moment and just thought about those people, prayed for them or mourned them. We have too much to lose if we show an ounce of sympathy towards those in conditions poorer than ours. Bury those images, block their cries –” we cannot afford to miss our fun. Why should we destroy ourselves over someone else’s problem? Why must we sacrifice our lifestyle for these other people? Isn’t that our mentality nowadays?

From that same story, as unlikely a source as it may be, I grasped another perhaps unintended message that clicked: do not lose sight of the right mission despite your own self-centered desires. Is that not the message of Islam? Only when we become truly reflective of that golden principle will we merit being called Muslims.

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