بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
All praise is due to Allah alone, and it was He, who, out of His infinite mercy created in mankind the ability to record and transmit not only information but knowledge. May the best benedictions and peace be upon the best of creation, Muhammad, who was blessed with precise concision. To proceed:
It has been another month since my last post. This time however, it was not unintentional. I spent this time researching in order to improve the quality of my blog. One of the most popular complaints is the length of my posts. The sheer length alone seems to have made whatever I had to say, no matter how important, less attractive and hence, less readable. I have my own views surrounding this matter but we will hold those issues for another day. Because my aim is to increase the level of knowledge of the reader, offer reminders, and strengthen the confidence and understanding of the status of indigenous Muslims in America, I want to be certain that the way in which I present it will be accessible to the audience. For this reason, I have decided to refresh my approach. My intention from this week (the first week of Rabi’al Thaani 1436) forward is to post a new post every week, rather than every other week, but keeping each post to at or below a thousand words. (Approx. a third of my past posts.) I still intend to follow my same methodology of presenting a famous American voice and then giving a short Islamic commentary to it, but the excerpts as well as the comments will be much shorter. This is only in order to make it more readable, digestible and applicable for the readers. And indeed, any success in being a source of benefit is with Allah alone.
We begin this week with the quote from the essay “Self-Reliance” of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “God will not have his work made manifest by cowards. … A man is relieved and gay when he has put his heart into his work and done his best; but what he has said or done otherwise, shall give him no peace. … I do not wish to expiate, but to live. My life is not an apology, but a life. It is for itself and not for spectacle. I much prefer that it should be of a lower strain, so it be genuine and equal, than that it should be glittery and unstable. … My life should be should be unique; it should be an alms, a battle, a conquest, a medicine.
“…It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in solitude to live after our own; but the great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. … Live ever in a new day. …The force of character is cumulative. …Every true man is a cause, a country and an age. … Let a man then know his worth, and keep things under his feet.”
In this short excerpt there is still so much that can be said, but we will focus on just a couple of main points such as the need for courage in general and specific courage to be one’s self, to stand up for one’s own beliefs, in order to actually be able to do good for the sake of God. The prophets of God (peace be upon them) were excellent examples of this as it was their role to enter into their societies and call those drowning in corruption back to uprightness. Their people argued with them, persecuted them, oppressed them, and even physically fought them and yet, because of their faith and trust in their Lord, they were able to be courageous and strong. This is as Allah said in the Qur’an,
الَّذِينَ يُبَلِّغُونَ رِسَالَاتِ اللَّهِ
وَيَخْشَوْنَهُ وَلَا يَخْشَوْنَ أَحَدًا إِلَّا اللَّهَ
وَكَفَىٰ بِاللَّهِ حَسِيبًا
Those who convey the Message of Allah
and they fear Him, and fear none save Allah
And Sufficient is Allah as a Reckoner.
All of the prophets (peace be upon them) were truthful, trustworthy and upright, and they conveyed the Truth to their people. If we can come to fear Allah alone, and not fear the creation – not fear ridicule, not fear being embarrassed or being rejected, not fearing poverty or even humiliation – then we too will be able to serve God courageously, sincerely, truthfully, uprightly. As long as we fear anything of this creation, any loss of comfort, any missing out on a desire, not attaining something of title, position, authority or wealth in this lower life – as long as we fear these things the way we should only fear displeasing our Lord – we will never be truly able to follow the example of the prophets (upon them be peace). This is as Emerson said, “God will not have his work made manifest by cowards.”
It is out of fear that we live lives seeking what others have, seeking to be accepted, seeking to be liked. When we come to realize, truly realize, that we will die and everything in this world will also come to an end and ultimately we will have to stand before our Lord and answer for the choices we make – and everything we do is a choice – then we can finally begin to live our lives as “an alms, a battle, a conquest, a medicine.” Only then will we come to know our true worth and keep the things of this life under our feet while moving forward to and for our Lord.
And success is with Allah alone.