Let’s be honest: Do you really believe in the Day of Judgment?

Over the years, belief has become a problematic word for me. Religious people are too fixated on scoring brownie points with God by exhausting all their efforts into believing this and believing that, all the while, failing to utilize that belief into something productive that makes them grow. It seems to me that people have made religion into a document that supposedly leads them to heaven just by signing on it (proclaiming they believe in it). What a shameful way to belittle God, this is!

The Quran, like any other book, is not to be “believed”, rather it is a self-help book that needs to be internalized so that the reader may evolve as a person. Quoting 14:1, “A book we have revealed to you so that you may bring people out of darkness towards light.” This, of course, can only be achieved when you act on it.

Belief, you could say then, is only the initial step of a ladder that ultimately leads towards it’s implementation: Necessary to take, however not as an end in itself; rather as a means to an end. Therefore, it is only reasonable to say, a belief that doesn’t translate into action is hollow, worthless, and a downright mockery of the self. This, I constantly remind myself, is an act of hypocrisy. And, most abominable in the sight of God is that you say what you do not do. (Quran, 61:3)

One of the fundamental teachings of the Quran is to acknowledge the Day of Judgment. But, why? Not many of us ask that question. When I started reading the Quran, my approach was to believe everything I read, without questioning. After all, how could I question God? However, as I went deeper into the Quran, I realized that doubt is an essential part of faith and spirituality. It is only when you question, does the wisdom behind every commandment reveals itself.

So when I questioned the point behind there being a Day of Judgment, I realized that if internalized from the core of your being, this belief molds people into responsible citizens who make decisions not on impulse, but by weighing and analyzing the pros and cons of it. People who realize that they are accountable for all their actions would never even think of wronging somebody else in the least. This, if adopted as a whole, would lead to Islam: a peaceful world.

Governments, too, try to replicate this model in order to ensure law and order in society. However, this still leaves room for people to commit injustices and indecencies in their private spaces, as well as public spaces through corruption. But there is no corruption in the court of God, is what some of us forget. It is a just system that judges you on behalf of your actions, not your beliefs. Hence, acknowledging the Day of Judgment should not be the focus. The focus, rather, should be on tuning our actions to the point where they act as a witness to our belief.

However, it is truly unfortunate and perplexing to see that so many Muslims, despite “believing” in the Day of Accountability, reject accountability in spirit. Through fabricated stories outside of the Quran, it is widely believed that Mohammad (salutes and respect to him) would intercede on behalf of every Muslim. Pause there. Before you react, imagine a judicial system where criminals could receive amnesty, just because they were “favorites” of the Judge. Would you call that justice? Surely, not! Then, what picture have we painted of God?

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And so it is, if you were to ask any Muslim whether he acknowledges a Day of Judgment, he would swiftly respond in the affirmative. “Of course, I do!” Yet, on the contrary, these very Muslims, though not all, don’t think twice before committing injustices and obscenities. Is that not a huge contradiction? The question that must be asked is, if you really believe in judgment, how is it that your actions don’t reflect it?

A million dollar question!

Are we not missing the point?

 

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To Sleep, Or Not To Sleep – That Is The Question

The hardest thing about entering an unknown territory is taking the first step. I suppose, that explains why people find it more convenient to believe whatever the society teaches them. Researching and thinking for yourself is an arduous task, but it pays. And boy, does it pay well? It completely changes your perspective on things, and you no longer see things the way other people do.

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This has it’s advantages and disadvantages, as do all things. The biggest advantage is that seeking truth liberates you. It is finding the key to your lock, and releasing yourself from the prison of blind following. Who likes slavery, anyways? But, the disadvantage is that due to your eccentric views, you are likely to be threatened and mocked by others. The majority will never like you for the person you have become. How can they? Difference of opinion is a threat to their well established norms! So, you will have to endure some alienation from the society. But then, you yourself would not want to be a part of such a society which is blissfully asleep.

 

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The important thing is the realization that you are now awake. Awake from a dream which everyone else believes to be true. And when you see everyone else around you sleeping, you have an urge to wake them up. To show them how refreshing it is on the other side. You do not want a wage, or reward from them. You only want to benefit them.

 

 

 

 

 

But, what do they do? They think you’re crazy and ask you to go back to sleep. That if you don’t, you are surely captivated by the devil and have no right to live.This is exactly what happened with every futuristic person. The prophets, the revolutionaries, the activists – they are the fortunate people who happened to break away from the shackles, surpassing the illusionary life, but also the unfortunate people who were abused, threatened, and killed.

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However, they at least lived a life of liberty, honor and courage. They contributed something to the world. Can we say that about ourselves? Probably not. We are too fixated on the next football game.

Who has time for all that?

Blah!

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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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Be Altruistic!

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God has given us an amazing gift in the form of life, what are we doing to give back?

Our prime purpose in this life is to give, to benefit humanity in some way. The Quran repeatedly emphasizes the importance of spending in “the way of God” to help those who are not as fortunate as we are. Nothing, I repeat, nothing is stressed more than this! When we distribute our resources with others, we perform the real act of Shukr (giving thanks!) and acknowledge the fact that everything we temporarily own, and the means through which we earned it, ultimately comes from God!

But, my concern is that we have become too focused on ourselves, even when we are giving away. I observe that most Muslims pay more charity in the month of Ramadan because it is a “blessed month”  so that they could debit as many rewards (sawab) as they can in their account. This type of mindset hinders spiritual growth, my friend. Now, don’t get me wrong. I am not implying that your service is considered null in the eyes of God or anything of that sort. I am simply asking you to tweak your paradigm a bit. 🙂

The purpose of giving is just that: giving! No more, no less. We should do good to our fellow humans simply because it is the right thing to do. It is what the soul yearns for! Expecting “rewards” for our service makes the whole process unnatural. It’s no more about benefiting others anymore, it becomes self centered. The ego comes in: “What can I get from this?”

I realized this truth some time ago, and I believe it is crucial for all of us to understand this to evolve as spiritual beings. An example would suffice: A mother is selfless. She loves her child because she feels that way, not because she wants someone to take care of her in old age. Although a good upbringing will bring comfort to her when she does get old, her intention of loving the child is not based on that. Furthermore, observe nature. It is selfless, too! A tree gives, but does not ask anything in return.  Nature is self-less, and so should we!

So, in conclusion,  don’t fret over accumulating rewards or recognition for yourself. Help someone just because they need your help, because they deserve it! In the famous words of Rumi: “When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy!”

“The example of those who spend their wealth in the cause of God is like sowing a seed that brings numerous shoots, each shoot with a hundred grains. This is how God’s Law of Recompense rewards men and women. God is Infinite, Knower.” Quran 2:261

“You will never attain exponential growth of the ‘self’ unless you open up for others the possessions you cherish. And whatever you spend, God is well Aware of it. [God, the Knower of your own ‘self’, reminds that Paradise is for those who attain self-actualization by giving. 92:18]” Quran 3:61

 

Follow The Voice Within

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If you call yourself a Muslim, but haven’t read the Quran — then the best course of action to take would be to obviously read it. No one is born into a religion just as you can’t be born into a political ideology. I can’t call myself a Communist if I haven’t researched it for myself. Bear in mind, that when you decide to identify yourself as a Muslim to other people, you decide to become an ambassador of Islam. People who aren’t familiar with Islam will usually base their opinion on it according to your actions.

However, even if you can’t get yourself to read it for some reason or the other, the least you could do is follow your conscience. Now, by conscience, I mean the inner voice which never shies away from expressing itself –The Rooh (Spirit/Soul) of God that is within us all (15:29). No one can be spiritually content if their actions are negative. As an example, don’t drink, gamble, fornicate, backbite, lie, spend lavishly, cause corruption etc. If only you happen to avoid such things, then congratulations! You have adhered to many teachings of Islam as well as all the other religions. See, every religion stresses the importance of behaving morally. That is essentially the core of them all. And we all know that you don’t need religion to teach you morals. The soul already knows what’s right and wrong. Just listen to it!

Having said that, it is of paramount importance that you read the Quran sooner than later. Why? Because then you’ll not be as gullible as most religionists usually are. Since you have no foundation of the Quran, “scholars” can basically feed you anything and attribute it to Islam and you won’t know what hit you. That’s why, some of them (if not most!) try to keep people away from reading the Quran for themselves. After all, their bread and butter depend on it! They discourage people from forming their own opinions lest they interpret it ‘wrongly’. Or, the promises of rewards that one gets by reading the Quran in a language he doesn’t even understand! How ridiculous! The Quran is a practical guide on life. The sole purpose of this book is to bring people out of darkness, towards light (14:2).   It is a book that yearns to be understood, and most importantly implemented!     

So if you don’t want to be fooled, read it. After having read the Quran, you will have developed a criterion from which you can judge whether a statement is Quranic or not. That’s where the “blasphemy law” comes in to silence those who speak truth, a law so contradictory to the message of the Quran! (You can read it about it here)

Follow your conscience, think for yourself & evolve!

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 🙂