بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
All praise is due to Allah, Who alone raises and lowers, expands and constricts, honors and humiliates, benefits and allows harm. May the best benedictions and peace be upon His beloved messenger, who was sent to show what it means to be truly human, on the individual, family, community and national stage (may the best benedictions and peace be upon him). To proceed:
We live in a time when the slogans of our nation (the U.S.) have turned the very meanings of things on their heads. Good has become evil and evil good. Virtues have been made vices and vices virtues. The medicine of the nation, of humanity, is seen as the disease and the disease is pushed as the medicine. This however is not new for our nation. This is similar to the situation Frederick Douglass found in the nineteenth century, to which he spoke about on the fifth of July 1852 in a speech entitled, “What to the Slaves is the Fourth of July?” His words, I feel, represent the reality of our nation today and so we will use some of them as our foundation for this post.
In this speech, Frederick Douglass said, “Fellow Citizens, I am not wanting in respect for the fathers of this republic. The signers of the Declaration of Independence were brave men. They were great men, too – great enough to give frame to a great age. It does not often happen to a nation to raise, at one time, such a number of truly great men…they loved their country better than their own private interests; and, though it is not the highest form of human excellence, all will concede that it is a rare virtue, and that when it is exhibited it ought to command respect…they were peace men but they preferred revolution to peaceful submission to bondage. They were quiet men, but they did not shrink away from agitation against oppression. They showed forbearance, but they knew its limits. They believed in order , but not in the order of tyranny. With them, nothing was not settled that was not right. With them, Justice, liberty and humanity were “final”, not slavery and oppression. You may well charisma the memory of such men. They were great in their day and generation. Their solid manhood stands out the more we contrast it with these degenerate times.
“…At a time like this, scorching irony, not convincing argument, is needed. O! Had I the ability, and could reach the nation’s ear, I would, today, pour out a fiery stream of biting ridicule, blasting reproach, withering sarcasm, and stern rebuke. For it is not light that is needed but fire; it is not a gentle shower, but thunder. We need the storm, the whirlwind and earthquake. The feeling of the nation must be quickened; the conscious of the nation must be roused; the propriety of the nation must be startled; the hypocrisy of the nation must be exposed; and its crimes against God and man must be proclaimed and denounced.
“…Your boasted liberty, an unholy license; our national greatness, swelling vanity; your sounds of rejoicing are empty and heartless; your denunciation of tyrants, brass fronted impudence; your shouts of liberty and equality, hollow mockery; your prayers and hymns, your sermons and thanksgivings, with all your religious parade and solemnity, are, to him, mere bombast, fraud, deception, impiety, and hypocrisy. There is not a nation on earth guilty of practices more shocking and bloody than are the people of the United States, at this very hour.
“…Fellow citizens, I will not enlarge further on your national inconsistencies…It destroys your moral power abroad; it corrupts your politicians at home. It saps the foundation of religion; it makes your name a hissing and a byword to a mocking earth. It is the antagonistic force in your government; the only thing that seriously disturbs and endangers your Union. It fetters your progress; it is the enemy of improvement; the deadly foe of education; it fosters pride; it breeds insolence; it promotes vice; it shelters crime; it is a curse to the earth that supports it; and yet you cling to it as if it were the sheet anchor of all your hopes. Oh! Be warned! Be warned!”
These powerful words are a reality we live with today. If matters are not the same, they have surely worsened. His words are a fiery reality that do not need to be added to, rather, what I want to mention here is a way back. The way back to a healthy physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual state for our selves as individuals, for our families living in the west, for our communities and our nation as a whole. This medicine is not just for the believers, though it is from our literature, it is for all humanity.
When the prophet Muhammad (may peace and blessings be upon him) received the first revelation, he feared some ill may have touched him. He went seeking comfort from his wife and what she said to him offers us the keys to healing our humanity. Our mother Khadijah (may Allah be pleased with her) said to him, “By no means! I swear by God that He would never shame you. You join family ties, you speak the truth, you bear people’s burdens, you help the destitute, you entertain guests and you mitigate the pains and grief suffered for the sake of truth.”
Why was she certain God would not allow harm to come to him? Because he kept family ties, yet what is the state of the family in the west today, our families? Because he spoke the truth, but how many of us even attempt truthfulness – in word and deed? Because he helped others, bearing and relieving their burdens, yet how many are overly concerned with their own lot in the rat race? He entertained guests but today we live virtual lives, not even knowing our neighbors. He aided those who stood for truth, yet how many of us even take time to care?
And all of this was before prophethood. Now we have the guidance. What then is our excuses?
It does not take massive action but action is required. This is a time in which we are in great need of solid manhood; a time where we need to live according to the motto of my own state, Maryland, “Manly deeds and womanly words.” We need to be people who do not just believe but join with that faith, upright action.
And success is with Allah alone.