Music: Forbidden in Islam?

The topic of music is one that is much discussed among Muslims, especially the youth. The web is full of humongous articles outlining the tiniest details of which instruments are allowed (if any), and the forums are full of questions regarding music. At a time when we should be focusing on matters like education, justice, and human rights; we’re still stuck at an almost laughable issue: Whether it is permissible for a Muslim to listen to music or not? But let’s not digress; and get to the heart of the matter.

In traditional Islamic thought, it is widely believed that music is forbidden in Islam as it is considered a mere waste of time that may have negative effects on the listener, and thus deter people from practicing Islam. The Hadith contain contradictory rulings on the subject of music, with some allowing it and others forbidding it. Hence, both the proponents and opponents of music justify their position by quoting Hadith that support their viewpoint.

To judge whether a thing is forbidden in Islam from a contradictory secondary source would not be a very wise choice. Let us then explore this topic from the Quran, as it acts as a Furqan (Criterion) over any other secondary source.

But before we do that, I feel it is vital for the reader to understand that things are neither positive, nor negative; they’re neutral in nature. It is how you use it that deems it beneficial or detrimental. A knife, for example, is a neutral object. Just because a knife could be used to harm another being does not mean that we should ban it and forego its positive uses.

With that being said, the same idea applies to music. Music that encourages positivity is a very useful means to uplift your mood, and motivate you. It is nourishment for the soul and counts among the many blessings of God to us humans. However, music that promotes negativity such as promiscuousness and lewdness should simply be avoided, just as you would avoid any other detrimental thing. After all, the whole point of Islam is to make responsible decisions in life. Is it not?

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Coming to the Quran, it does not specifically refer to music in its discourse. What that means is that this is an unimportant subject, for which you get to make the judgment call based on reason and experience. However, although the majority of conventional scholars on Islam quote two verses to justify the prohibition on music, a careful reading of the Quran serves to dismiss this. Let us then analyze these two verses:

 

“Tempt and allure them with your voice such of them as you can. You may prompt them into armed conflicts, have a share in their resources and children, and give them (false) promises. And whatever Satan promises them is but meant to delude the mind.” Quran, 17:64

I find that the reasoning that goes behind prohibiting music is very simplistic indeed; for it demonizes music, as a whole, based on some songs that encourage immorality. Not staying true to the Quran holistically, traditional scholars would have you believe that the voice of Shaitan used to tempt, and allure you refers to music. Again, what about the music that promotes justice, equality, and peace? The argument falls flat on the face.

As a matter of fact, this “voice” is clearly defined in the last chapter of the Quran:

 

“(I seek refuge) From the evil of the sneaking whisperer who whispers (evil) in the hearts of people.” Quran, 114:4-5

The Shaitan deludes you in only one way: evil inclinations and suggestions that suddenly prompt up within yourself, acting counter to your nature. This is how it misleads us, and gives us “false promises of hope.”

 

Among the people, there are those who uphold baseless narratives (Lahwal Hadith), and thus divert others from the path of God without knowledge, and take it in vain. These have incurred a shameful retribution. Quran, 31:6

However you define and interpret “Hadith”, the purpose it plays is that it diverts people from the path of God – this is the defining phrase. This actually cements my point that good music, which in no way diverts you from godly virtues, is perfectly suitable and does not fall into the category of “baseless Hadith”.

 

A piece of advice:

And do not utter falsehoods by letting your tongues determine [at your own discretion], “This is lawful and that is forbidden”, thus attributing your own lying inventions to God: for, behold, they who attribute their own lying inventions to God will never prosper. Quran, 16:116

Conclusion

Forbidding things that are not explicitly referred to in the Quran is an act that is severely condemned by God as it leads to the misuse of religion to enslave people in the name of Islam by the “holy men.” It is revealing to observe that the scholars who forbid music in the name of Islam suddenly deem singing and *some* instruments to be permissible when it comes to religious songs, songs that overly praise Prophet Mohammad (which is risky business). Eh, double standards? Where is the consistency in approach that one would expect from a scholar?

It becomes highly problematic when additional laws and regulations are added on top of the word of God, as this leads to the complication of Islam and thus deters Muslims from practicing it. It’s not like the masses have adhered to this supposed commandment of God to not indulge in music, rather what it may do is that it may give a Muslim, who enjoys music, the impression of not being a “good Muslim”. Once you’ve established this, you have no incentive left to guard yourself from the things that are actually forbidden in the Quran, and may end up right in the midst of them.

Oh, the painful irony of it all.

 

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Stop Monopolizing Allah!

Amidst the mournful incident of MH 370, it was reported recently that the Malaysian Islamic Propagation Organisation (Pekida) was willing to suffer a bloodbath for Islam and the country, including defending the word “Allah”.

Bloodbath – right. Thanks for using such a non-violent term to represent Islam. We really needed that! Ironically, the biggest enemies of Islam are not people outside of Islam, rather the very prominent representatives of Islam who, for some reason, never fail to bring shame to us all. So, cheers to the new round!

Let me assure you, as long as we have organizations like Pekida around, you can be sure that Islam will remain a laughing stock for the masses. And, why shouldn’t they? When Muslim leaders come out with such insane stuff, how can we expect any better?

Instead of using their prominent position to their benefit in bringing a positive light to Islam, they’d rather prefer wasting other people’s time by focusing on the most ridiculous and silliest of things. Today, they want non-Muslims to refrain from using the word Allah. Tomorrow, who knows? I mean, we’ve digressed to a point where we now want a copyright on “Allah”. Shameful, to say the least!

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Islam is not an Arabic religion
Muslims make a big mistake by mixing Arabic culture with Islam. Many believe that it was Prophet Mohammad who brought Islam, but this can’t be further away from what the Quran says. The truth of the matter is that Islam is not a recent, 7th century Arabic religion. It is the same religion that was revealed to all prophets:

He has ordained for you all, the same System of Life that He enjoined upon Noah – And We have revealed to you (O Prophet!) the same message as We enjoined upon Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: “Establish the Divine System of Life and make no sects in it (do not be divided). Quran, 42:13

Prophet Mohammad said: And I have followed the religion of my fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Quran, 12:38

Having established that, it is obvious that Prophets throughout the times referred to God in their own respective languages. Hence, Allah is not a proper noun for the “God of Muslims.” It simply means “The God” in Arabic. Since the Quran is in Arabic, it refers to the Supreme Being as Allah. Similarly, if it was in any other language, it would refer to Him by the equivalent word for God in that very language.

From a Quranic point of view, one can observe that Allah is not the name of a unique God that Muslims believe in, rather it is an all encompassing term for the Supreme Being regardless of the faith one subscribes to. Christians, Jews, and other religious group are seen as using the word Allah to denote God in the Quran, and never has this been contested in any verse (5:17, 5:18, 5:72, 5:73). To give you a few examples:

Surely those who acknowledge (this divine book); and those who are Jewish, and the Christians, and the Sabians, whomever of them acknowledges Allah and the Last Day (Accountability) and does acts of reform; they will have their reward with their Lord, with no fear over them, nor will they grieve. Quran, 2:62

If we are to assume that believing in Allah equates to believing in Islam, then the first phrase of the verse loses purpose. After all, the gist of the verse is that no matter your religion, as long as you believe in God and continually reform yourself, you could expect reward.

A similar case is presented in the following verses

“And they claim, ‘None will enter Paradise unless he is a Jew or a Christian.’ This is nothing but their wishful thinking. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful.”Quran, 2:111

“Nay, whoever submits his whole being to Allah, and he is a doer of good to humanity, his reward is with his Lord. Then, no fear shall come upon them nor shall they grieve.” Quran, 2:112

Hence, it is clear that Allah is used to denote God in Arabic as a noun, and not a proper noun.

God does not have a fixed name

Say, “Call upon God (Allah), or call upon the Almighty (Rahman): By whatever name you call upon Him, to Him belongs the best names and attributes of perfection…” Quran, 17:110

 

Conclusion
Did the members of Pekida never read the Quran for themselves? This is not something that requires intensive research, as it is blatantly obvious! So, what kinds of people are representing Islam in Malaysia? As always, the authority lies in the wrong hands.

Muslims, I sincerely urge you to start focusing on the big picture – things that really matter. It is high time we transcend petty arguments, and get involved in educating ourselves about the Quran and others around us to clear such misconceptions that certain individuals impose upon Islam.

Allah is not a trademark that Muslims own, and neither do Muslims own the Arabic language. It is about time we realize that.

 

This article was also featured in The Malaysian Insider, The Malay Mail Online, and ARY News.

 

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“Salih”: One Of The Least Understood Attributes Of A Muslim

You open up a traditional translation of the Quran, and you will find that it would usually translate characteristics of believers such as “Saliheen” (For ex. 2:62) and “Muttaqeen” (For ex. 2:2) as “Righteous people”. My problem with “righteous” is that it is too bland – too generic. Righteousness is a broad term. What aspect of righteousness, I would ask?

Just as God has several attributes, each attribute revealing a specific characteristic; similarly there are also numerous attributes of a Muslim. These diverse attributes are provided in the Quran to act as a checklist for those who seek to live by the Quran as a moral code on life. For ex: Muttaqeen, Mohsineen, Musalleen, Mufliheen, Musliheen etc.

For this post, I’d like to focus on the attribute of being a “Salih”.

A concordance of the word Salih reveals that it means to reform/amend. This attribute is of such vital importance, that it is used 100+ times in the Quran! “Those who believed (aamanu) and do acts of reformation (amallan Salihan)” is a very repetitive phrase in the Quran. As I said, brushing it off as “righteous” robs itself off the defining characteristic that God wants us to develop and fails to do justice to these words, linguistically.

As an exercise, try substituting righteousness in place of Sa-la-ha in the following verses. It just doesn’t fit:

So We responded to him, and We gave to him Yahya, and amended (Aslahna) for him his wife. Indeed, they used to hasten to good deeds and supplicate Us in hope and fear, and they were to Us humbly submissive. Quran 21:90

If one sees gross injustice or bias on the part of a testator, and takes corrective action (Aslaha) to restore justice to the will, he commits no sin. GOD is Forgiver, Most Merciful. Quran 2:182

 

Therefore, Saliheen are the reformers who set things right.  Reformation is a vital part of faith as faith should never be static. This is because anything that doesn’t grow is dead. If I have the same outlook on the world 10 years from now, I have failed to utilize the time to help me grow as a person. Muslims are encouraged to continually make reforms in their beliefs, whenever better information presents itself. That alone should make us more humble and compassionate towards each other, as the “I know it all” mindset gets suppressed.

In a broader sense, Saliheen also strive for reform in their community. Musa and Ibrahim (Salutes and respect to them) are prime examples of this. We have come to the point where we believe Islam to be a set of rituals only. All the while, the core message of the Quran which is all about activism and reformation gets ignored and sidetracked.

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God likes reformers, not zealots.

I leave you with one of my favorite verses:

Surely, those who believe and do acts of reformation, the Almighty will shower them with love and affection. Quran 19:96

*Concordance of Salih as used in the Quran: http://corpus.quran.com/qurandictionary.jsp?q=SlH#(2:62:14)

Blasphemy And Apostasy Laws: Islam or Hislam?

In January 2011, the governor of Punjab, Salman Taseer, was gunned down by one of his own security guards over a controversial move — opposing the blasphemy law in Pakistan. Although thousands of Pakistanis condemned this by attending his funeral and showing support on social media, religious fanatics hailed his murderer as a hero, recently naming a mosque after him.

As a Muslim, I stand firmly against blasphemy laws. My faith demands that I do so, for it repeatedly asks me to stand for justice and fight oppression.

The Quran shows us that even though God’s prophets were mocked and threatened, they never killed their accusers for hurting their “religious sentiments.” In fact, the Quran opposes any laws that restrain freedom of speech or would have someone killed over differences in belief. Rather, Quran 73:10 says, “Be patient over what they say, and leave them graciously.”

So how did these blasphemy and apostasy laws come to be associated with Islam?

The blasphemy and apostasy laws are found in the Hadeeth, sayings attributed to Prophet Mohammad, which were compiled two-three centuries after his death. Muslims know that no Hadeeth should contradict the Quran if they are to be accepted, given their subjective nature and reliance on the Quran for authenticity.

But early scholars intentionally overlooked this to protect the interests of clergymen and political leaders. These oppressive laws allow them to exercise complete control over people, punishing anyone who threatens their position by declaring them apostates — enemies of Islam. To so many clergymen, religion is nothing but a means to gain power and control people. To keep out competition and force their monopoly, they invent laws in the name of God so “consumers” have no choice but to keep buying their “product.” Or else, face persecution.

Religious leaders like Tahir-ul-Qadri, a staunch proponent of blasphemy laws, rule people by fear. Add to that the fact that the average Muslim is unaware of the Quran’s teachings, which makes them likely to believe whatever the clergy tells them about Islam. Of these leaders, the Qur’an asks us to be weary: “O You who have believed! A great many religious leaders: rabbis, priests, monks, Mullahs, yogis, and mystics devour the wealth of people in falsehood, and bar them from the path of God” (Quran 9:34).

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So what exactly does the Quran say about blasphemy and apostasy?

Quite frankly, blasphemy and apostasy laws are themselves blasphemous to the teachings of the Qur’an. Not in the traditional sense, but because they violate the very instructions the scripture gives regarding freedom of belief.

Regarding apostasy, in Quran 2:256 God says, “There is no compulsion in matters of faith. The right way is now distinct from the wrong way. Anyone who denounces false authorities and becomes at peace with God has grasped the strongest bond; one that never breaks. God is Hearer, Knower.”

In a similar vein, verse 109:6 instructs adherents to end a debate by saying: “To you, your belief system. And to me, mine.”

If all that isn’t convincing enough, Quran 10:99 should seal the deal: “If your Lord willed, all who are on earth, would have believed (by not providing free will). Would you then, compel people to become believers?”

When it comes to blasphemy, I often hear some version of, “Hold on. If someone mocks my religion, it prompts me to act violently. You see, it makes me very emotional.”

But this statement only shows an ignorance of the Quran, which says in verse 6:68, “When you see them engaged in vain discourse about Our verses, turn away from them unless they engage in a different subject. If Satan ever makes you forget (i.e. your mind gets engrossed in their discourse,) then as soon as you recollect, no longer sit in the company of the people who confound the truth with falsehood.”

Here, Muslims are instructed to engage with these people if they change the topic. Certainly that means we’re not to have enmity towards them, let alone kill them!

And, again, Quran 28:55 instructs, “Whenever they (believers) hear vain talk of ridicule, they withdraw from it decently and say, ‘“To us our deeds and to you yours; Peace be upon you, we do not seek to join the ignorant.”

Those verses are practically shouting freedom of expression at the top of their lungs! Islam is a very progressive path to God, one in which differences in opinions and beliefs are accepted, not punished (Quran 39:18). On the other hand, blasphemy and apostasy laws lead to negative misconceptions about Islam being an oppressive faith.

But what are we Muslims to do? By not voicing our disapproval, we stand for these anti-Quranic laws and call them Islam. Is that not like setting your own house on fire? There is not a single verse that encourages Muslims to act violently toward those who leave Islam, or even mock the Quran. After all, shouldn’t truth be able to defend itself on its own merit? What good is a forced belief?

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We can even take it a step further by noting how rejecters treated the prophets.

Of Prophet Nooh: “They said, ‘If you do not desist, O Noah, you will surely be of those who are stoned’” (Quran 26:116).

Prophet Ibrahim’s father said, ”Do you dislike my gods, O Abraham? If you cease not, I will certainly cause you to be stoned to death! Now get away from me for good” (Quran 19:46). Similarly, the priesthood said of Ibrahim, “Burn him alive and uphold your gods if you are going to take any action” (Quran 21:68).

Regarding Prophet Musa, “[Pharaoh] said, ‘If you take a god/authority other than me, I will surely place you among those imprisoned’” (Quran 26:29). To Musa’s followers, Pharaoh also said, “I will surely cut off your hands and your feet on opposite sides, and I will surely crucify you all” (Quran 26:49).”

These verses should reveal to us a different perspective: all prophets were seen as blasphemers and apostates to the prevalent religion of their time. To condone the oppressive laws of religious leaders today is to support ill treatment of the prophets. After all, you would’ve done the same!

And that’s the most ironic part. If a messenger were to come today, these clergymen and their ardent followers would utter the same threats to him. They have fabricated their own laws in the name of God, so when you ask them to reform, they either consider you a blasphemer or an apostate and have a fatwa issued to kill you.  That’s the scary thing about truth: it doesn’t warrant aggression but is always met with it.

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This is not a matter of interpretation, as some would call it. The Quran condemns forced belief in numerous verses. Rather, this is a matter of giving preference to the Hadeeth over the Quran to justify bigotry and extremism in the name of Islam. Having said that, it’s up to you whether you want to rethink your stance or keep blindly following what you have been taught — whether you want to follow Islam or Hislam. Because unlike misguided religious fanatics, sincere believers never force their beliefs on others.

What’s the Golden Rule, again? “Any secondary source on Islam that goes against the Quran should be rejected.”

Often said, but seldom followed.

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Can Praying For The Deceased Make A Difference?

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It is common practice among Muslims and other faiths alike to hold ceremonies in which relatives come together to pray for forgiveness for someone who has passed away. There are “Quran Khawanis” in which it is allegedly believed that reading the Quran would somehow benefit the deceased. People go so far in this dogma that they send someone else on behalf of the deceased for pilgrimage, in the hopes that the reward may be given to the deceased person. From an empathetic point of view, I understand. I really do. There are withdrawal symptoms in play and it may give a sense of satisfaction to pray or do whatever you can to “help”. However, I am sad to break the bitter truth to you: it doesn’t make any difference.

When a person dies, his account of deeds is closed. Nothing can be added or subtracted. We are judged on the Day of Judgement purely on the merit of our own actions. And it’s only fair this way, if you think about it. If the wicked people could go to heaven just because their family prayed a lot, would that be justice? Likewise, if the deceased was a good person, he would then naturally go to heaven. What would be the purpose of your prayers, then? Let’s see what the Quran has to say about this:

Every person is responsible for his own actions

That no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another – 53:38

“And that the human being can have nothing except what he has earned (good or bad) – 53:39

And that his effort is going to be seen – 53:40

And then he will be fully rewarded for it – 53:41

Whoever chooses to follow the right path, follows it but for his own good; and whoever goes astray. goes but astray to his own hurt; and no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another’s burden – 17:15

And none can carry the load of another; and even if it calls on another to bear part of its load, no other can carry any part of it, EVEN IF THEY ARE RELATED. You will only be able to warn those who are concerned towards their Lord while unseen, and they hold the contact prayer. And whoever contributes, is contributing for himself. And to God is the final destiny –  35:18

 

Even the Prophet cannot redeem guilty people

Ask forgiveness for them, [O Muhammad], or do not ask forgiveness for them. If you should ask forgiveness for them seventy times – never will Allah forgive them. That is because they covered the truth about Allah and His Messenger, and Allah does not guide the Fasiqeen – 9:80

 

 Prophets couldn’t save their own family. What makes us think that we can?

Prophet Nooh tried to save his son but was reprimanded by God very severely as he was not among the reformists. Upon this, Nooh asked for forgiveness (11:45-47).

Prophet Ibrahim sought protection for his father from God, but to no avail. (9:114)

Loot’s wife was not saved from the punishment. (11:81)

 

There is no intercession on the Day of Judgement

And fear a Day when no soul will suffice for another soul at all, nor will intercession be accepted from it, nor will compensation be taken from it, nor will they be aided – 2:48 (Also check 2:123, 2:254, 39:44, 43:86, 74:48)

Conclusion

All these points go on to prove that we are judged purely based on our actions. As I have previously mentioned in an article, prayer alone does not influence the outcome – action does.

Having said that, it just baffles me that this has become common practice in our society, especially since the Quran is crystal clear on this subject. If one would stop, and think just for a moment – one immediately realizes how illogical a practice this is. But, perhaps, this is what happens when “Muslims” stop reading the Quran and get their information from secondary sources. We were never supposed to be a dogmatic lot. You would be surprised to see the amount of emphasis the Quran puts on critical thinking, especially when it comes to matters of religion as this is where most of the exploitation is done. But it’s easily overlooked  as these “scholars” portray themselves as representatives of God. Only if we would read the book we so dearly claim to believe…

 

For those who persevere in doing good there is the ultimate good in store, and more [than that].No darkness and no ignominy will overshadow their face: it is they who are destined for paradise, therein to abide – 10:26

On the other hand, there is he who has inevitably deserved suffering (for his persistence in following false ‘authorities’). Can you save the one already committed to fire? – 39:19

 

 

 

Eid Milad Un-Nabi

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It is supposedly the birthday of Prophet Mohammad today (Sunnis and Shias celebrate it on different days). I am all for celebrating birthdays, as they are an integral part of many cultures and allow families to spend some quality time together. However, what I’m against is hypocrisy. Some of the Muslims think that celebrating birthdays is a “Bidah” (innovation) and are adamantly opposed to it. Still, they find no harm in making an exception when it comes to the birthday of the Prophet.

O you who have believed, why do you say what you do not do? 62:9

On my Facebook Feed, I am exposed to updates which portray Prophet Mohammad as the sole reason this Universe was created. This has absolutely no basis in the Quran. Now, let me remind you that Prophet Mohammad deserves no special importance compared to the the other Prophets. All the Prophets brought the same message (42:13), and so we are to treat them equally. The Quran repeatedly warns us against making distinctions between messengers:

Say: “We have believed in Allah and what has been revealed to us and what has been revealed to Ibraham and Ismael and Ishaq and Yaqoob and the Descendants and what was given to Musa and Eesa and what was given to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims for Him.” 2:136

The Messenger has believed in what was revealed to him from his Lord, and [so have] the believers. All of them have believed in Allah and His angels and His writings and His messengers, [saying], “We make no distinction between any of His messengers.” And they say, “We hear and we obey. [We seek] Your protection, our Lord, and to You is the [final] destination.” 2:285

But they who believe in Allah and His messengers and do not discriminate between any of them – to those He is going to give their rewards. And ever is Allah Forgiving and Merciful. 4:152

 

So, please, do not think of Prophet Mohammad as a pinnacle of Messengers. It is one thing to respect him, and totally another to idolize him. Did he not come to eradicate idolization? Yet, how ironic it is that on his own birthday, we deviate from his message and think that we are respecting him. Indulging in singing and listening to naats while completely oblivious to his message seems like a great disrespect to me. Don’t you think?

If you invoke them (anyone besides God), they do not hear your supplication; and if they heard, they would not respond to you. And on the Day of Resurrection they will deny your association. And none can inform you like [one] Acquainted [with all matters]. 35:14

 

In his own words, Prophet Mohammad said:
“I am not different from other  messengers, nor do I know what will be done with me or with you. I only follow that which is revealed to me, and I am not but a clear warner.” 46:9

This verse alone clears two major misconceptions:

One, that he did not consider himself as superior to other messengers. So, why should we?

Second, he did not know what would be done with you, so clearly he can’t intercede for you on your behalf. This notion is also supported by 2:48, 2:123, 2:254, 39:44, 43:86, 74:48.

 

So, if you will celebrate this day, celebrate it by pondering on the message he brought. Support his mission in propagating it. And, donate your money to a worthy cause. That seems like a befitting tribute to him!

 

A very happy Eid Milad Un-Nabi to you & your family! 🙂

Why A Helping Hand Is Always Better Than Praying Lips

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With the current crisis going on in Gaza, Iraq/Syria, and all around the world, I often hear statements like “Please make dua (prayer) for them”, or “Pray for the destruction of the oppressors”, and think to myself: “What good is a prayer without action?”

We have imams supplicating their hearts out at the weekly Friday prayer, imploring God to restore the condition of the “Muslim Ummah” and pleading God to help the Muslims. But that doesn’t seem to do anything whatsoever. The atrocities keep happening, and the “Muslim world” keeps plunging into deeper issues.

Why?

Well, let’s see! Because we’re not doing anything about it!

Prayer, as I understand it, is your self-talk with God to provide you a direction towards your goal. To act as a constant reminder, a motivator even. An example would suffice for the skeptic. Ask all your friends and family to pray that you pass an exam, but do not put any effort into studying the material. Do you reckon you will pass? No one does that, because deep down inside you are perfectly aware that it is doomed for failure. So, why persist in this dogma when it comes to the well-being of others?

As long as prayer inspires you to actually do something, or increase your empathy with those who are suffering, it can be considered useful. But in and of itself, prayer is not a magical mantra that would automatically set things aright. From a very early age, we’re brainwashed to pray for this and pray for that. Most of us are not taught activism, unfortunately! Hence, this type of mindset breeds lazy individuals who put everything in the “hands of God” in the face of oppression, greed, and tyranny.

So, what is the problem exactly? Has God stopped listening to us? Or, could it possibly be that we’ve forgotten the vital aspect that WE were supposed to be the vicegerents (Khalifa) of this earth (2:30)? Certainly, you would not ask your boss to do something that was delegated to you!

God has endowed us with body, mind, and soul. Body to be mobile, active. Mind, to ponder and come up with solutions. And Soul, to feel the pain of others. We are assigned a role to help humanity and have been given the necessary tools to collectively achieve this goal. But, what do we do in return? Ask God to intervene somehow to restore order. How ironic! And how utterly ungrateful we have become…

The prophets, our supposed role models, did not pray all day long asking God to put an end to the oppression of human beings. No, they were intelligent beings who knew that prayer without action is a mockery of the “self”. Musa (Peace be upon him) is the prime example for this. An ordinary man with practically no following whatsoever decided to face the tyrant Firaun one on one. With his utmost dedication and determination, he freed the children of Israel from the oppression of Firaun.

These are the role models we have to revive, if we are to improve the sanctity of human life. This is what we call following the example of the prophets. Following their character! And, here too, we have deviated from the right course. Instead of following their character, we try to imitate their personality by dressing up like them. But, I digress.

In conclusion, we have to stop acting as if God will take care of everything eventually. This is not our purpose as human beings. Sure, prayer is a great practice — as long as it is complemented with activism. Contribute your time, your resources, to the well-being of others. Only then will we reach self-actualization. And only then can we hope to have a clear conscience.

 

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