Category Archives: Visions from the Sidewalk

Fruitless Knowledge

I was wondering today, how little, in our search for ‘ilm,’ we appreciate what we’ve learned already. Many times the nuances of information sometimes overshadow the mountain loads of meaning behind just a few words of our Beloved Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم .

The same words we’ve memorized so long ago, sitting in the banks of our memories, when uttered once, stir the hearts of others. I wonder what the condition is of the one who parts his lips to share the words of the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم, shaking the souls of others, while leaving the speaker with no effect. Or the one who recites beautifully, squeezing tears out of dry eyes, yet reflecting little past the domination of their tongues.

A man who never used to pray, walked into the Masjid one day.

He never prayed, but thought on this friday, “Let me just go to Jummuah and see what’s there.”

When he walked in, he heard the Imam say,

“There are two words, easy on the tongues, but heavy on the scales on the Day of Judgement, and are beloved by Ar-Rahman: subahanallah wa bihamdihi subahanallahil adheem”

The man who never used to pray was awestruck by this comment and remained for the rest of the khutbah.

After the salah, he went straight to the Imam and asked him if ‘those words’ were true.

The Imam, befuddled by the question, asked which ‘words,’ in particular, since the khutbah had many words in it.

The man said, “You know, something like, ‘habeebatan, khafeefatan, Ar-Rahman…'” (“two beloveds, two lights, The Ever-Merciful”).

The Imam responded affirmatively and said, “Ah yes, from the hadith of the Prophet PBUH, he said…..”

The man who never prayed, interrupted and asked him, “These were the words of the Prophet ?!”

The Imam confirmed, but then was interrupted again by the man…

“Are you sure, these were the words of the Prophet ?!”

The man just couldn’t believe that these beautiful words came from the Prophet PBUH, he was in utter disbelief.

After another confirmation, and reconfirmation, again the man, standing shaken, asked once again,

“The Prophet Muhammad PBUH ?!”

The Imam, now awed at the man’s disbelief could only answer once more, as he had before…yes.

That night, the man who never used to pray, went home and gathered his family.

He then asked them,

“Have you heard…?  …that there are two words….that are light on the tongues….and heavy on the scales…and are beloved to Ar-Rahman? 

They are: subahanallah wa bihamdihi, wa subahanallahil adheem!”

After that moment, the man resolved himself, and his family, to take up the five daily prayers….religiously, in the truest sense. 

The man who never used to pray, went on to inform his entire family, asking each of them, “have you heard…that there are two words….that are light on the tongues….heavy on the scales…and are beloved to Ar-Rahman? 

They are: subahanallah wa bihamdihi, wa subahanallahil adheem!”

That man then asked everyone he worked with, “have you heard…that there are two words….that are light on the tongues….heavy on the scales…and are beloved to Ar-Rahman? 

They are: subahanallah wa bihamdihi, wa subahanallahil adheem!”

In every street, in every path, at every gathering, at any chance, the man, who never used to pray, asked the people, “have you heard…that there are two words….that are light on the tongues….heavy on the scales…and are beloved to Ar-Rahman? 

They are: subahanallah wa bihamdihi, wa subahanallahil adheem!”

…This man, had no idea that these few gatherings would be the last of his life, and so when he was on his final death bed, and the agonies of death overtook him, as he was going in and out of consciousness…his loved ones surrounded him.

When he awoke, he would have his last moments with his family, only to faint back into the final stages of his death.

The doctor came in and lifted his hand to feel the pulse on his wrist. 

As he did so, the man who never used to pray, awoke again, this time, to see a strange face, a man who who he had never met before in his life. 

So he asked the doctor,

“have you heard…that there are two words….” 

…and so, this Caller to Ar-Rahman was taken by the Ever-Merciful.

 

I’ve heard this hadith a few years ago, I took from it what I did, and the man took what he did.

 

May Allah have mercy on the Muslims and allow us to be effected by the words of the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and the Quran, as true believers should.

May Allah protect us from fruitless knowledge, an unaware heart, and duas that are not responded to. Ameen.

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What a difference a day makes

Inna lillahi wa inna elayhi raji’un.

To Allah we belong and to Him we return.

 

Ain’t that the truth.

 

‘Eid Mubarak’ and no more Siyam.

No more waking up early to get in a few prayers before fajr.

No more meeting up at ihop with the boys to sneak in the last few bites of the day. 

No more eager fasts that leave you wondering how you actually have more energy now than before.

No more fajr wake up calls, that end with, “inshallah!!” The real type of ‘inshallah,’ meaning, ‘i-bet-i-get-there-before-you-cause-i’m-already-in-my-car’ type of ‘inshallah.’

No more planning the days around the prayer time chart that you have crumpled up in every corner of the world that you may be in during iftar time. 

No more endless dua sessions in the dark, hoping that maybe you caught a moment of khushu as you got up from bed, or got out of the car, or walked to the mailbox, or tied your shoes, or..or….or….or……no more.

No more constant dua for a writeousbumette…..or maybe thats just me. 

No more remembering others in your calls to your Lord in the hope that the Angels may say Ameen.

No more excuses to do an extra good deed, or even to smile.

No more random acts of kindness, generosity, and mercy.

No more.

 

Inna Lillahi wa Inna Elayhi Raji’un.

…and ain’t that the truth.

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Who says you don’t need wudu for al-Mawrid?!

One afternoon, as I was with a dear friend of mine, his sister reached for the ‘Mawrid,’ a dictionary. Immediately, we both jumped up to scoldingly ask her if she had wudu. Knowing it wasn’t the Quran, she apologized profusely and admitted that she was bereft of ablution. Obviously, we laughed at the situation…

…but today as I search in my dictionary, I am lost.

استطاع … to be able.

Simple enough. The light came in the darkness when I was searching for something to clarify my situation. My problem was simple enough, what is the meaning of istaTee’? I searched page after page, read through word after word. Guessed at the root, blamed its branches and wondered if I’d ever enjoy its fruits.

…then it fell, like the acorn upon chicken little, from out of sky, the sky was now falling. It had fallen on me. 

It was under طوع , ‘to obey.’ 

استطاع was from طوع. Its root was obedience. The root of ability is obedience. 

…and then the darkness was lifted.

Traveling out here, literally into the middle of the desert, trying to grasp the sharpness of the arab tongue, sometimes its easy to forget, there is no ability nor positive change, except from Allah. We strive hard, but its only from Allah that any success can be derived. 

So what prize is given to the uncooperative slave? He disobey to expect reward? Awkward in thought, but almost too real in action.

لا حول و لا قوّة الّا باللّه

‘There is no ability, nor positive change, except from Allah.’

Make dua.

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I Prefer to Take My Business Elsewhere.

I enjoy reading business books, articles about psychology, theories on economics, about the way societies and people work, and about how life works in general. I’ve taken a multitude of business training seminars, attended many lectures on the ethics of business, decision theory, and even listened to many experts speak about what “makes people tick.” Of all my experiences, of all my research, the most insightful was a report that I selected on the sole basis that it would be an enjoyable read, well, interesting at the least. It was. I didn’t put it down until I read it all. I devoured it. Back in the summer of 2005, when I worked in D.C. for one of the federal agencies, I had the good fortune to read Mr. Chandler Philips’ article on edmunds.com, “Confessions of a Car Salesman.” It’s an article written by an Edmunds.com writer, Mr. Chandler Philips,’ who goes into the wild world of auto sales in order to reveal what really goes on behind the scenes. Now, I initially started reading this thinking I would learn more about the crazy world of car sales, as I was in the market for a car at the time, however, little did I know that this would be a read much more beneficial than the objective I had originally intended.

The Hussle.

There’s the good, the bad, and the ugly….and it does get ugly. After diving into the article,—and I say ‘diving’ because once you start, you really just get enveloped by the read—you realize that the car sales world is a gigantic ocean of adventure, with perils lurking at every turn, and safety, only to be found once you leave the water.

So, the good. There’s not much to say about the good, except that, you know what you’re dealing with—most of the time. People who are trying to sell you a very expensive product, so they can get a higher cut…many times making you pay thousands more, so they can earn an extra $100, or less! But again, at least you know you’re about to go swimming.

The Bad. They have an agenda, and you have an agenda. You want to buy a car that meets your requirements at the lowest reasonable price. We can talk about “reasonable” vs “lowest” at a later post, but just let it be known that no one ever buys anything at a price “unreasonable,”—or else, they wouldn’t purchase it. Knowing this, and their past history with other clientele, the salesman’s job is to start strong at a ridiculous price, until after much wear and tear, it starts looking rather reasonable to you, the buyer. Philips’ article goes into the strategies, tactics, and plotting that goes into this, and it gets rather elaborate, if you so care to read about it. The ideal is not a win-win, but rather a dealer-win and consumer-lose mentality. Now sales is a soft art, and not all dealerships nor salespeople are the same, but the article gives much insight into the economics and psychology of the common sales trade.  

The Ugly. Everyone is your friend, until you start showing disinterest. Up until you disagree with the price,—and you will, or at least, you should—everything is peachy. You think this salesman really cares about your future purchase and getting you into the right car for you. You even start having good thoughts about how the good treatment from this salesman must be a testament against the common misconception. Until, of course, when you realize that you probably don’t want leather. Then your adab-filled-mashallah-salesman lets you know how being cheap won’t get you anywhere in life, perhaps even an attack on your manhood. The more you talk, the more ammo you give him. I mean, they would even go as low as making personal attacks, all in the name of business. You are surprised at this Jekyll and Hyde persona in front of you, not sure of what to do, tied to them due to past kindnesses, but abhorring even one more minute of being in this paradoxical situation. Chandler even goes into the tactics used to pressure customers into these high-stress zones in order to incite irrational thought, in hopes of one more sale. I told you it got ugly.

One thing you do learn, though, is that when you’ve finally had enough, the best solution to end this ridiculous encounter with the salesman, is a simple phrase, said at this moment of animosity, with the utmost of politeness: I prefer to take my business elsewhere.

I could really care less about auto sales, as a matter of fact, I’m sure you don’t even need to read Philips’ article to know the sleaze-balls, scavengers, and hungry predators that make up this profession—but I stated all this as a prelude to what some may call an outrageous claim, unsubstantiated and uncalled for, about the ‘salespeople’ of this Deen. I wonder how different the article would have been instead of becoming an undercover car salesmen, Philips, became an undercover Muslim, giving ‘dawah’ to our brothers and sisters. How much of the article would be different?

How many times have you been offered a fatwa, without asking for it, having it shoved down your throat, by that unsuspected, once-adab-filled-mashallah-brother, forcing the sale, no matter the price. “No akhi, you must fear Allah, and this is what you must do!!”

Don’t get me wrong here, I’m not dogging our brothers and sisters who give naseehah sincerely to their fellow Muslims, I’m just wondering when, as Sh. Yaser Fazaqa puts it, making a point became more important than making a friend. We too, in our zeal for the ‘sale,’ whether its to preach a better stand point on aqeedah or a more correct fiqh argument, tend to lose our clientele with our overzealous attitudes. There must be a reason why the “less practicing” fear the long beards and flowing hijabs—they don’t want to get beaten to death by the ‘haram-stick’—you know, “haram, haram, haram!!”

Not-so-random point of qawa’id (basis of Islamic thought): Every thing in this dunia (not related to ibadah, the worshipping of Allah), is halal (legal, fine and dandy). Except what Allah and His Messenger has stated as haram (illegal, sinful).

So, you’ve heard about fatwa shopping right? When people go to various scholars searching for a fatwa that fulfills the deepest desires of their hearts? Well, what about fatwa telemarketers, who, at the most inopportune time, decide to expound upon the Islamic perspective of why what you may be doing is wrong, or even mind you, how something else would be better—with no invitation. At times, these warden-like figures almost seem like they are possessing some holier-than-thou spirit, and that all that they do is righteous, and that their sole mission is to correct you. Can you imagine dealing with that day in and day out? Strangely enough, many of us don’t have to—imagine, that is.

So alas, if there was no wisdom in the beginning, let there be wisdom in the end. 

Wisdom is to say or do the right thing, at the right time, at the right place, to the right people.

Let us invite to the way of our Lord with wisdom, and beautiful preaching.

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