Many times I read status updates and tweets from people that feel like pure gold, and then once in a while you find a goldmine. Once such goldmine is Ustadh Abu Eesa.
Following him on Social media and listening to his lectures has been a great experience, the way he presents his thoughts in a clear, concise, concrete manner is amazing Masha’Allah. On occasion he shares long status updates like the very latest one which I am going to share with you in just a moment, that although is primarily for a Muslim audience but Insha’Allah others will also benefit from it.
There are people who stand up for a cause they feel close to, want to change something, improve the world, Masha’Allah, very noble indeed but when others don’t join them in or don’t follow their way of standing up for the cause, they get sore. Now this is what basically Abu Eesa’s latest status update is all about.
I’d like to give some sincere (long!) advice first to myself, and then secondly to the Muslim activists of today.
This would usually be very straightforward to normal people in normal times, but the problem is that practising Muslims have become worryingly emotional, in no doubt emotional times. The reason this is calamitous is because practising Muslims are meant to be the stable, objective and mature voices that non-practising and/or excitable/immature Muslims are meant to seek understanding from in times of confusion.
Again this is a reminder to myself before anyone else. And the fact that I have to keep repeating this is only so that it becomes easier to swallow iA for those who might need it most. See, these folks get very angry if we don’t repeatedly refer something to ourselves publicly and again and again. Such is life. And of course, I am not free of emotions and no doubt this is most applicable to me too in light of all I have said and done.
It is actually very dangerous when working for a cause – such as currently, getting Moazzam Begg off ridiculous terrorism charges etc, or long-term, reducing the plight of the Palestinians, or those which we don’t do enough, procuring more rights for Asian modern-day slaves in the Gulf countries – that you believe only *your* method for change is the correct one. That you believe only what *you* are doing is righteous. That you believe anyone else who isn’t doing what you’re doing, is wrong, or to be criticised, humiliated or condemned.
This is Islamically unacceptable. Anyone with a modicum of Shar‘i knowledge would not make this claim. That is why you don’t ever hear such statements from scholars or those blessed with intellect and experience. Why? Because none of these actions that people want from you in support of their cause are things which Allah sent down, or obligated upon His creation, or His Messenger (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam) commanded to, or the Companions reached consensus on. Their legal status is that unless they contain something prohibited, they are *allowed* (mubāḥ) and potentially recommended based upon agreement, and possibly even obligatory based upon evidences which must be furnished by the claimant on a case-by-case basis.
You’ll rarely hear an ‘Ālim say, “Why did YOU not retweet/FB/attend/record a video/protest/lobby/poster the town/write about this? Aha! Your silence is DEAFENING! Not got permission from your paymaster/love the dunya too much/only help your mates/support your nation only/adore your kids too much/blah blah ad infinitum!??” but you *will* hear the naïve and ignorant repeat this again and again.
Rather, these are all permissible means which are based upon the general benefit that they achieve. They are not to be forced upon people! You do *not* have the right to make imtiḥān (determine a person’s state) of the people on such matters subḥānallāh. You are going to use the matters of politics and subjective opinions, to hold the people accountable?! To force them in to that which Allah and His Messenger doesn’t force them? A-fattān anta? Are you seriously putting the people to trial like this? Allah and His Messenger are free of you.
Reminder the believers of their obligations by all means, but how few proper reminders do we see today! And that is a reminder to myself too, yes I know! Guilty as charged!
Stop putting believers on the spot in this fashion, when Allah doesn’t. “Why are you not protesting for Palestine today!?” “Why are you not part of the Twitter Storm?!” “Why isn’t your Facebook cover photo the Raba’a sign?!” “Why isn’t your cover photo the Syrian flag?” “Why did you not retweet XYZ?!”
Stop forcing people to do things according to *your* opinion for *your* sake, and not for Allah’s.
Stop trying to embarrass people for doing the ḥalāl which they normally do from laughing, smiling, joking, studying, working, chilling, whatever. All which Allah has allowed for them. All which is still allowed for them even if the world is burning down. All which is still allowed for them even if you are hurting and crying for whatever reason. All which you and everyone on this planet does *day and night* whilst somewhere someone every second around the world is horribly oppressed or murdered or persecuted. All of which we are collectively responsible in the general sense, and others in the specific sense as per the principles of Sharī‘ah, in different ways and means and methods.
We are allowed to differ on these matters. Allah and His Messenger have allowed it. So who are you to close the doors and force people through yours? Some prefer certain avenues, others don’t. Some are busy, some aren’t. Some believe you, some don’t. This is not Qur’ān. This is not Ḥadīth. This is politics. This is the area of discussion and debate, not that of certainty and creed. Some prefer political lobbying, others see it as a waste of time. Others prefer protesting and demos, others don’t and never will. Some want a huge celebrity endorsement, others want to keep celebrities out of it. Some want to get scholars involved, others want to protect them for other things. Some want to action alert everything, others prefer to choose their fights more judiciously. Some want to put out every fire, others are busy developing better fire-proof material. Some prefer aid convoys in their charity work, others prefer outsourcing the work entirely. Some prefer to blog, others prefer to write mainstream. Some like petitions to change someone’s minds, others like “donations” to them to change their minds. Some prefer to quality focus on key individuals, others want to address the masses as per their time constraints. Some prefer donating money, others like donating their time and skills instead. Some believe in long-term strategy, others prefer short-term populist wins. Some like hashtag X, others prefer hashtag Y. Some adore Facebook, others think the Sun shines only out of Twitter’s backside. Indeed *some* think all social media is but a backside.
Sure, you might read the ‘Ulemā criticise peoples’ means and methods, objectives and outcomes, theories and practices, but you will not hear condemnation of the actor himself, you will not see a judgement of the intention. Do yourself a favour and follow their methodology.
Now I know many of you will be thinking that this is about me, that I am defending myself. Well, I’m sorry to shatter your dreams but I’ve got nothing to defend myself against. And I’m far too thick-skinned for that bakwas. Been there, got the t-shirt, don’t fit anymore. #truestory
I actually wrote this because some folks requested it complaining to me of the behaviour of their brothers towards them on this matter, pressurising them to do things they didn’t want to do, and also what they felt were unfair attacks on public figures (one, a journalist, who I will write about later) who for some reason are meant to be “more obligated” than anyone else on these matters.
Actually, they are, and they’re not. They *are* more obligated, but not by you. They are more obligated by Allah. And He will hold them more accountable than the masses.
And they’re not. The masses can remove people who are paid to do a job for them, or officials who represent them. But your “Imams/scholars/Dā‘īs/Ustādhs”, no. You can’t. On what authority are you doing that exactly?
And by the way, if you do actually recognise them as public “more obligated” figures, then you are also more obligated to make excuses for them. That’s istidrākan direct from the Sunnah of the Messenger (ṣallallāhu ‘alayhi wa sallam).
And can you imagine what it does to one’s own tawakkul in Allah and one’s creed if their own activism or actions is contingent on those in the public eye? People claim, “we are looking for leadership.” Wake up. This is the West. This isn’t the Khilāfah. Be your own leader and get out there and DO. Take good advice, make sure you don’t do anything ḥarām, try your very best to make it of super benefit, and DO. Don’t wait for others. Don’t wait for your “leaders”. Don’t wait for celebrities. Don’t wait for the Mahdi. Get out there and work.
Look at the Dawahman lad jazāhullāhu khayrah who went and sent a video to Russell Brand. Bloody hats off to the brother, he got my complete respect bismillāhi ma shā Allāh. Did I think it was worth doing? No. Did I like what he said in the video? Not entirely. Did I think it had a huge effect? I’m not too sure. Did it justify the silly “Yay! He RETWEETED IT! WE WON THE WAR!” reaction from hundreds of Muslims? Embarrassing. Did the Dawahman hold me or you accountable for not making that video, or not retweeting it afterwards? No. Did he do an act of ‘ibādah that day? Absagoodgraciouslutely. I think he was the best of us at that moment in his decision and he did it because he loves Moazzam as we all do, and he did it because this is a battle which he wanted to fight and fight it in *his* way. And I think his reward from Allah will be great iA, I really do.
Yes, I know people want to take pot-shots as folks like myself on these kind of matters, but that’s nothing new. I’m used to that now and have been for donkeys years. You’re not the first and you certainly won’t be the last. I accept it comes with the territory, of course it does. As the wise would say, “A Ship is safe in harbour, but that is not what ships are built for.” I can take a radd almost as good as I give one when I have the time, and so please don’t waste precious time defending my honour. The good deeds I earn from unjust haters is all I am depending on when I meet my Lord.
Of course I absolutely do choose what battles I fight. I absolutely ignore people and their requests, and their campaigns and their pressure, 100%. I only choose what I feel like. Anything you see from me or read from me or hear from me, is because it came from ME. Not because of the world and its dog. Not because of any external pressure. That I can tell you, and Allah is my witness. There are only two people that if they tell me to jump, I’ll say “how high?” Those two are my father and my teacher. Everyone else, go ahead and ask, but prepare to be disappointed and just don’t take it personal man. Just get over it.
Other than being commanded by my father or my teacher, I have my own opinions, my own views, my own preferences. Some I go public with here, others don’t hit the limelight. Some you guys cannot understand why I wouldn’t support, or perhaps *refuse* to understand why I wouldn’t support, and other things you guys just cannot understand why I would write about or bring attention to. This is ḥalāl by the permission of Allah and His Messenger. And I’m not going to let the ignorant make it obligatory upon me, but being as emotional as they are I understand that these kind of decisions cause the self-righteous to get mad. I’m sorry that it does that. If you want to learn how to rid yourself of that anger and confusion, then read and digest the above slowly and carefully. Now get back to your good work and try and convince others nicely, with adab and good evidences too that they should be doing the same as well, in the manner that you believe. But don’t go where Allah and His Messenger don’t go.
Don’t go out there doing good work that you truly believe in, and then ruin it all and end up in the negative with Allah by judging other Muslims according to your own opinions.
Conclusion: my silence is not a condemnation of what you believe in and the cause at hand. My delay is not a belittling of your pain or of the cause. My living my normal life is not treason to the plight of the oppressed. My personal prioritisation is not a criticism of yours or the Ummah’s. My failure to act is not the cause of failure in general. My own private and public decisions on everything are not a renunciation of the community’s necessities. And my actions are only judged by Allah, not you.