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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5 Misconceptions about Islam.

Hello & Peace be with you! I want to share some of my thoughts with you on Islam. I’ve really had enough of “my religion/sect is right and yours is false” line of thinking.
  1. Allah (The God) is NOT a man in the sky. God is everywhere and is hence timeless/boundless. None can fathom His form, yet He perceives everything (Apparent or hidden – 6:103). When the Qur’an refers to his “face” (2:272), it refers to His existence as the face is covered when one dies. Beautifully presented, but taken literally by some people unfortunately. In addition, when He refers to His “hands” (36:71), it obviously denotes His strength! And that is a pretty straightforward thing to understand.
  2. Every Prophet came with the same message, and that was Islam (42:13). Islam is NOT a label or a religion of the Arabs. Rather, it is the means to achieve peace (what Islam means) in your inner self, in the society, and eventually in the Hereafter.
  3. Allah is NOT an economist who observes behaviors and patterns, and then passes laws accordingly. He is the Creator and hence knows its Creation perfectly. He knows what will work and what wouldn’t. Hence, his laws do not ever change! To think otherwise would obviously demean His Knowledge (33:62).
  4. Malaika (angels) are NOT endowed with wings! Wings denote power and speed. They are the universal forces, I believe. When Allah says: “Jibrael (Malaika) brings down the revelation to your hearts” (2:97), it is NOT an angel with wings that does so. It is only a natural phenomenon that whenever you study the book with interest and conviction, the force Jibrael brings down the revelation to you. It is automatic! Just like a pen is bound to fall if it is dropped! No “angel brings it down”. Malaika praise Allah by carrying out his commands in the universe, not by humming his Praises. He is FAR above what we attribute to Him. He does not need our Praise. He only wants us to acknowledge His existence, follow his commands (to attain peace) and stay connected with Him (Salat) for our own betterment!
  5. Salat (Prayer) is NOT necessarily a rigid bundle of rituals. It is your connection with God. So, just as there is no “set” method of eating/studying/teaching/conversing, Connection with God is also a thing which should come naturally to you. How that comes to you is none of my or anyone else’s business. If you find it in rituals, please continue to do so (without invoking anyone else of course, including the prophets). If you find it in reading the Qur’an, then that can also be considered as Salat. The prime focus should be on what derives the most connection, not mindless rituals on which people debate even today! The important thing is to establish a connection whereby one can feel His presence at all times. 2:67-71 deals with this beautifully. It is to be noted that I do not condemn rituals, just the overemphasis on them.

See, the Deen (Way of life) by Allah is very easy to implement. In a nutshell, it is to develop your inner self, help other people to the best of your abilities by opposing tyranny in the land, and being at peace with the Hereafter. That’s all! Now the problem is, no money can be made if the Deen of Allah was this simple since there would be absolutely no need of endless priests/imams. That’s where they come in and make the Deen difficult for everyone to implement (by coming out with their own books and laws) and thus making one of the worst crimes by making the Qur’an dependent on THEM (57:27). They divide people into sects and delude them into thinking that only their followers will achieve salvation. Examples are in front of you!

Now some of these concepts might be new to you, but if you’re reading this, I just want to thank you. And I want you to think about it with a clear head. Are we doing justice to the Supreme Creator by dividing into religions, and worse even, sects? And that we fight with each other that our version is the best and others are doomed for fire when we don’t even need any book to teach us about how to spend this life! It’s installed in every single one of us! We already know what is good and what is bad. The Qur’an is a reminder (Dhikr) for a reason. It reminds you of what’s already there! The only reason we might not be at peace is because of the piles of garbage that has been fed to us, unfortunately by our own family, society, and priests (knowingly or unknowingly). Hence the need of Qur’an, only to polish our souls! So break the shackles and set free! Don’t let anyone think for you and dictate YOUR life. Do it yourself! If you disagree with any of my points, fair enough! Your path should be unique since you have to walk on it. I am nobody to tell you to do this or do that. Focus on your spirituality! Walk your own path!

Finally, if you find anything useful out of this, it is only from the Lord of the Universe and I am really humbled to him for making me at peace with His book and Himself. What I condemn today, I was a part of a year ago so I know how it feels like. You can defend your imams all you want but it does not change the fact that they’re one of the biggest problems why the so called “Muslim world” is totally opposite to what its name suggests, and that is to attain peace and security.

Thank you for your time 🙂