In the Name of Allah, most Compassionate, most Merciful
By Sharrifa Carlo
One of the biggest things that hurts us, that allows us to fall into the trap of the Western mentality when it comes to being a woman is that we have forgotten about a major element of Islam that allows us and strengthens us in being good practicing Muslimahs. I want to talk about pride. But, don't get me wrong. I am not going to say what most people say when they talk about pride. Usually, when this topic is discussed, you will get hadiths and verses which condemn pride. I am here to tell you to have pride. I am going to tell you that pride is good. I am going to tell you, that you need to let your chests expand with pride till they are ready to burst. Confused? Don't be. I don't mean pride as in looking down upon people. Because this pride was forbidden.
Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas'ud:
The Apostle of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) observed: He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise. A person (amongst his hearers) said: Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should be fine. He (the Prophet) remarked: Verily, Allah is Graceful and He loves Grace. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people. Sahih Muslim: Book 1, Number 0164.
I don't mean pride in the conceited, hurtful sense. I mean pride as in recognizing and acting like what you are -- the best nation ever raised by Allah.
For Allah says,
You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah; and if the followers of the Book had believed it would have been better for them; of them (some) are believers and most of them are transgressors. (3:110)
(And) lo! those who believe and do good works are the best of created beings. (98:7)
We are the highest of creation. We were created in the best stature and will remain so, so long as we do what we must to obey Allah. Allah says,
Surely We created man of the best stature; Then we reduced him to the lowest of the low; Except such as believe and do righteous deeds: For they shall have a reward unfailing. (95:4-6)
We, the Muslims, are the best nation created. We are the leaders of this world. The companions of rasool Allah recognized this. They embraced it, and it is for this reason that they were able to defeat the non-believers and conquer so much of the world. they did not cower in the corners, afraid to declare their faith. They did not sit back and allow themselves to be humiliated except when it was a command from Allah and/or His messenger that they do so. They were strong. They were confident, and they wore their pride in their deen like a badge of honor.
An excellent example of this was Abu Dharr al-Ghifari. He accepted Islam at a time when the Muslims were weak and persecuted. Yet, instead of hiding his religion, he announced it for all to know. In his own words,
"...After that I stayed with the Prophet in Makkah and he taught me Islam and taught me to read the Quran. Then he said to me, 'Don't tell anyone in Makkah about your acceptance of Islam. I fear that they will kill you."
"By Him in whose hands is my soul, I shall not leave Makkah until I go to the Sacred Mosque and proclaim the call of Truth in the midst of the Quraysh," vowed Abu Dharr.
The Prophet remained silent. I went to the Mosque. The Quraysh were sitting and talking. I went in their midst and called out at the top of my voice, "O people of Quraysh, I testify that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the messenger of Allah."
My words had an immediate effect on them. They jumped up and said, 'Get this one who has left his religion.' They pounced on me and began to beat me mercilessly. They clearly meant to kill me. But Abbas ibn Abdulmuttalib, the uncle of the Prophet, recognized me. He bent over and protected me from them. He told them:
"Woe to you! Would you kill a man from the Ghifar tribe and your caravans must pass through their territory?" They then released me..." (ISL Software).
This companion had so much pride in his religion, that he could do nothing better than to announce it for all to hear, even at the risk of his life. Even though it was an unwise thing to do, and the prophet had disliked the act (he did not forbid it though), this man felt a compulsion to let the people know that he had accepted Islam. This is a sign of true pride. And it was the foolish act, not the pride that the Prophet, May Allah's Peace and Blessings be upon him, had disapproved. We are supposed to be proud of our religion. We are not supposed to hide it unless we feel fear for our lives, as the Muslims did while they were being persecuted in Makka, but once they had the strength to defend themselves, they announced it far and wide, for all to hear. They did not back down in the face of hardship. They spread the religion. They took the Prophet's announcements to Kings and peasants alike. They were proud of their religion because they knew - without any doubt what so ever - that Islam was and is the truth. They knew that only by accepting Islam could people be saved. They knew that it was through them that this deen would survive and thrive, and they knew if they neglected their duty that Allah would bring a better people for this duty. So, they embraced their duty. That is why they are the best nation from among the Muslims. So, what has happened to us? Where is our pride in Allah and His religion? Where is our desire to do anything it takes to make this religion supreme?
So many of us are so ashamed of our religion that we change ourselves, to blend in. We all know a Samer who has become Sam or a Mohammad who calls himself Mo. We all know the woman who wears a Western Hijab: jeans, a long shirt and the obligatory headpiece. What is wrong with us? We need to look and sound and act like those around us. Why? The kafirs have a saying, "Imitation is the highest form of flattery." What does this mean? It means that by imitating someone, you are essentially saying that they are better -- even in that small aspect.
You would never give up the best for the worst. You trade upwards. So, why are we constantly trading downwards and accepting the ways of the kafirs? Unless, we believe that their way is better (MAY ALLAH FORBID US FROM THIS HORRIBLE BELIEF!) Imitation is a sign of defeat. Imitation is a sign of inferiority. Imitation is a sign of no faith in what you have. We are the best nation ever raised. These people should be copying us, not us them. And they know it.
One day, a covered Muslim sister was on the shuttle at the university where she was studying. This young American woman boarded the bus. She was wearing a skirt so short, it left nothing to the imagination. She sat across from the muhajiba sister. The sister looked up and noticed that the American woman was staring at her, and shaking her head. She apparently disapproved of her dress. No matter. If she had not believed that hers was the superior way, she might have felt embarrassed or humiliated. But it seemed that she knew, believed and accepted that Islam is the right way, because instead of pulling back, she looked right at the non- Muslim American woman with a look of severe disapproval. She then looked to the woman's exposed legs and tisked while shaking her head. The American woman responded by tugging at the bottom of her skirt, like she was trying to cover her legs more. The American woman felt the shame and humiliation of her exposure. This woman recognized her inferior status and reacted accordingly, because the Muslim woman did not back down or allow the non-Muslim to make her feel inferior. This is the way we should all act.
How many times do Muslim women take off the hijab because of the pressures of society. How many times have you heard: "I can't get a job; I can't handle the stares: I can't cope with the pressures of life in America if I cover." Or worse yet, "We need to blend in to this society." We so not need to blend, and we do not need to compromise. When we do so, we admit defeat. We need to become trail-blazers, leaders, the example for others. Subhana Allah! We are the BEST NATION. Our way is the only way to salvation. Never forget that. The Prophet forbid us from imitating the kafirs. Not only that, in many hadiths, he commanded us to purposely be different. He commanded us to be mukhalifa (The one who does the opposite):
The Messenger of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: Trim closely the moustache, and grow the beard, be mukhalifa (be not like) the fire-worshippers. Sahih Muslim: Book 2, Number 0501:
Also, the Prophet warned us that in imitating the bad one, we are like them. (I will take only the pertinent part of the hadith):
Narrated Umm Salamah about the evil Amir:
The Messenger of Allah (peace_be_upon_him) said: ... But one who approves of their bad deeds and imitates them is spiritually ruined... Sahih Muslim: Book 19, Number 4569.
This last hadith talks of the bad Muslim. So what does this say about the kafiruun? We are not to imitate the kafir. We are to purposely be different. How can we do this? I know one sister who took the idea of being mukhalifa to the extent that on Thanksgiving, a day of feasting and overindulging, she fasted. I know of others who simply refuse to compromise their faith and practices, which is the least we MUST do. At the very least, we should not dress like them, talk like them, celebrate like them or take on their practices. I can't tell you how many times I have been asked why I do not wear a wedding ring. I have to answer, because it is not only not a Muslim custom, it is the custom of the Christians. I have to teach them that:
"Since the earliest times, the giving or exchanging of rings cemented any contract. Amongst early Christians, the thumb and the first two fingers typified the trinity, and the husband placed the ring on his wife's finger in the treefold holy name. Some authorities believe that the third finger of the left hand was connected by nerve or artery with the heart, hence it was chosen for this purpose." (The State Newspaper- Columbia, South Carolina)
Brothers and sisters, ignorance is not an excuse when we make no effort to learn the truth. We are in a kafir country, it is our duty and obligation to seek this type of knowledge so that we can avoid misguidance. So simply not knowing is not acceptable. The one who does not know how to pray will not be forgiven for it if he made no effort to learn how to pray. We are not held accountable for that which has not reached us yet, but we always have to be making an effort to seek out the knowledge.
Further, for those who say -- "That is not my intention, and deeds are by intentions." I say, your deeds are by intention, but an evil deed can not be cleaned up with a good intention. I can not steal money to give it to the mosque. Stealing is haram, as imitation is haram, and once we recognize that something is haram, we must cease immediately.
Once again, it all goes down to pride. I am proud to be a Muslim. I will not cease saying inshallah because I am talking to a kafir -- let him learn the word -- it might so him some good. I am not going to stop reading my Quran because someone will see me and think me a fanatic. I am not going to change or "mute" my hijab because I want to blend in. I have to be mukhalifa, inshallah.
Let me warn you, if you do not already know. We are Muslims, and even if we forget it, they will not. Prime example: Bosnia. The Bosnians forgot their Islam. They blended in. They would marry each other, entertain together; take each others names, and were "one" with the non-Muslims in their society. One Muslim Bosnian brother once told me, " They did not destroy the masjids. The masjids were already dead." The Muslims of Bosnia had forgotten their deen, but the minute the Kafirs had a chance -- they began to exterminate them. They killed not just the good practicing Muslim, but also the one who did not even know how to pray. They remembered. Why do we forget? But let's take this a step further. Recognize that what you do is not only affecting you. When we do things in this society, we set precedents. Not a single Muslim woman who wears hijab has not heard, "...but so and so is a Muslim, and she does not wear like that." Nor has a brother who has a beard not heard, "but so and so is a Muslim, and he shaves." We hurt each other when we abandon a part of our practice. We have to help each other, not be among those who help to oppress us.
Narrated 'Abdullah bin Umar:
Allah's Apostle said, "A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his (Muslim) brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection . " Sahih Bukhari: Volume 3, Book 43, Number 622:
We are Muslims. We have consciously recognized that Allah is the only Lord. We have accepted Muhammad as the final Messenger and Prophet. Our deen is Islam and our constitution is Quraan and Sunnah. We are the saved nation, the only true followers of the one true God. We are the best, and what we do as practicing Muslims is the only way, not just the best way to act and follow. So why must we consistently follow the non-Muslim? Where is our pride in Islam. when I see a young Muslim man in the latest gangsta fashion, talking like a kafir rapper, I cringe. when I see a young Muslim girl wearing pants instead of jilbab, my heart breaks. When I see a shaved Muslim man or an uncovered Muslim woman, I fear for our future. Our beloved Prophet warned us.
Narrated Abu Said:
The Prophet said, "You will follow the wrong ways, of your predecessors so completely and literally that if they should go into the hole of a lizard, you too will go there." We said, "O Allah's Apostle! Do you mean the Jews and the Christians?" He replied, "Whom else?" (Meaning, of course, the Jews and the Christians.) Sahih Bukhari: Volume 4, Book 56, Number 662:
Ibin Kaldun said that he knew that Al Andalus was going to fall when he saw them imitating the kuffar.
I pray that we stop doing this. I pray that Allah gives us the pride we lost. I pray He return to us the sense of superiority that we need to not just practice our deen for ourselves, but to spread it to those who need it. I pray to Allah, the Most Wise, the Most Generous that He make us all proud to be Muslim and proud to be mukhalifa.
Subhanak allaahuma wa bihamdik/Glory & praise/gratitude is to You OH Allaah, ash-hadu allaa illahaa illa Ant/I bear witness there is none that has the right to my worship but You, astaghfiruka wa a tubu Eellaik/I ask Your forgiveness and repent unto You.