In the Name of Allah, the Most Kind, the Most Merciful.
The topic I wanted to share with you, my brothers, is very sensitive to so many of us. We, including me, have fought each other, labelled each others with various names, categorise and divided ourselves because of it. We have even declared our own brothers as being out of the fold of Islam due to it.
Before really going into deep into the subject of this small note, I would like to tell you my own story. So please bear with me, even if it is boring. The story I am going to tell you is not extraordinary but an ordinary one, one which may or may not be similar to yours.
"During my earliest childhood, I remember my mum used to take me to the local Masjid in order for me to get used to Prayers.
Needless to say, I was alike so many boys at the age of 5 or 6. You are innocent at this age, not aware of the importance and seriousness of prayers, let alone knowing the etiquettes of the Masjid!
The truth was that I did not go to the Mosque to attend prayers. I loved to play wherever I could. In fact, my imagination knew no limits, I used to run between the pillars of the Mosque believing I was a thief and an invisible cop was chasing behind me. Other times, I used to bring my car toys to play inside the mosque! Yes, you too remember those moments, don't you? As a young boy, being mischievous!
Like most of you, my mum would take me to a madrassah, even though some of us did not like to go, for the reason mentioned further.
Some of us knew, while others did not know exactly why we had to go to this madrassah, but still we did go, since mum would scold us if we did not!
We were made seated behind large desks, and an 'Ustadh/Janaab or an 'Ustadha would teach us the Urdu/Arabic alphabets. Alif, bé, té, thé... Alif, ba, ta, tha.. remember those times...?
Personally I remember mostly the scolding and punishments afflicted by my Janaab. I was made to wait in queue to receive my "gift". Just when I thought that my Janaab would give me sweets!
Afterwards I had to go to another Madrassah, as the one in my neighbourhood was closed down. I was in my colledge days, each Tuesdays and Thursday afternoon, I remember going there; my brother in law riding his motorcycle with me behind grabbing whatever I could!
I learnt few verses of the Qur'an, some commond Duahs, the manner of prayers and then the time came when I had to quit the Madrassah (with the excuse of having to take accademic tuitions, thus being too tired to spend time for my spiritual learning).
During my college days I formed many friendships, some were muslims, some were not. While I had not so many close friends, I remained friendly though to all other schoolmates."
I am going to stop the story now, to tell you the reason behind why I am relating you this boring story:
My purpose here is to make a connection with you, with this story, before really going further. It may be that some portion of this story is part of your own experience as a child.
When I was a child, I do not remember that anyone look at me, judge me, categorise me, labelled me according to my what I believe in?
If I liked Batman for instance, and a friend of mine liked Superman instead, I do not recall there was there a Circle/Group of Batman followers and a Circle/Group of Superman followers?
I did however, like you brother, played with that friend of mine, irrespective of what he believed in?
When, I grew up, brother. I went to the college, like most of you. Before making friends, I did note make it a criteria that my friend had to have the same "belief" as mine in order to "call" him my friend?
Or did you simply like him because he had a certain personality or hobbies that you liked and automatically without you realising it, you became best of friends. (For instance, you and your friend might have like to play soccer!)
Unfortunately this is not the case when I attained adulthood. I was influenced, was told not to approach certain people or fear what specific people say, even though they are my brothers.
I am talking about "Aqeedah". This same word that makes some people agitate. Notice that the moment I write the word "Aqeedah" some people reading this might immediately think:
"And here goes again.. Another kid trying to prove that HIS Aqeedah is better than ours."
I remember once, a friend of mine was driving some of his relatives from a party to their house. They were discussing about lots of things, when the discussion reached on a specific topic.
A relative of his said: "Tariq Ramadan, wants to modernise Islam! Would you believe it!"
The brother of mine (my friend) decided to share his view to this person, and said: "Personally, I believe that we should take all the good from each and everyone, irrespective if he is from such and such group, even if he is saying 99% that I do not agree with, I take with me the 1% I agree."
The relative, replied, before stepping out of my brother's car," What you have said, now you do it..."
I then contemplate on this situation and then thought to myself: "No one like being given advice to, before he witness by himself, you are doing what you advised.."
That brother of mine, from that same day, made a promise to himself to do what he advised. And indeed, by the grace of Allah, practised what he preached.
He attended various lectures from different mosques, different person of different beliefs. He had an open mind instead of the previous closed minded he had.
Talking about mind, I recall a close friend of mine, share his wisdom with me:
"One should not follow a single road, he should at least cast a glance at the other roads to see what good he can obtain from them..."
When I look at what we, in general, fight about is mainly about the details and optional aspect of this Deen.
You will agree with me brother, that we all pray to One God, we single Him out, by saying the Shahada, by offering our Salahs to Him, our belief is that He is the Only God. <-- On a side note, this is the defnition of Tawheed.
You will agree with me no the fact that we should follow the examples of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessing of Allah upon him) in every aspects of our lives, be it the prayer, doing business, at home, with friends, in the toilet, while sleeping, while talking, while using our own eyes. <-- Just to refesh our memory, this is the definition of Sunnah or Sunnat as some of us call it.
You will agree with me, that the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) used to call the Qurayshi, his own people, to Islam. He used to make Da'wah. If someone is well versed in the History of Islam, he will find that Islam has spread across the globe...to even China! The work of Da'wah was done by people, travelling miles and miles away from their homeland, only to spread the true call to Islam. <-- Just a note, the word "Tabligh" means to work to call others to Allah.
Once a brother of mine, told me to come over a Sunday morning to a conference on Da'wah. I say to myself: "Why not, it is always an opportunity for me to learn something".
The orator of the conference was talking about how this institution he works in, tries to portray our Deen, Al-Islam, in a positive manner, to the non-muslims. They even participate in gatherings, where there are several preachers of other religions.
At one point, he recount to us an incident, whereby there was a non-muslim woman in her late fifties, wanted to accept the call of Islam, but hesitated.
Upon asking the person, why such hesitance. She explain that several persons came to her, telling her to accept Islam and form part of their Jamaat and beware of the other groups.
The woman knew nothing about Islam, except she heard beautiful things. Now, she became all confused! She remained in this state for more than 20 years!
Me, you, we fight! For what? To prove I am better than you in the religion? To prove that my path is the right one, and the one you follow is the wrong one?
But what to do when a brother of mine is doing something I know is wrong. I should advise. I should advise with a smile, I should share with my brother without calling him names, without judging him beforehand. If he accepts my advise, praise Allah, if he does not accept, then I should Pray to Allah for him and make him not my enemy.
No one will criticise me, if I do not criticise others.
No one will point at me, if I do not point at others.
No one will write against me, if I do not write against others.
No one will fight me, if I do not fight against others.
...Except those people who loves to spread mischiefs in this Ummah.