Islamic Voice A Monthly English Magazine

SAFAR
- RABI-UL-AWWAL 
1425 H
APRIL
2004
Volume 17-0
4 No : 208
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Muslim Perspectives


A Muslim's Identity

A Muslim's Identity

Islam came to establish only one relationship which binds men together and that is through the belief in "The One Allah" and all other forms of relationships have no significance if it is not within the boundary of Islam

By Yousuf

Today's Muslim is put under the spotlight and has been critically scrutinized not only by the non-Muslim communities' worldwide but also from fractions within our own community. There has been a lot of emphasis on trying to define ourselves, our identity and in a larger sense our relationship with the Almighty Allah. These are very important concepts as any misinterpretation and doubts may seriously affect our faith for which we will be answerable to Allah on the Day of Judgement.

Webster's dictionary defines identity as "the condition or state of being a specific person and recognizable as such." A man's identity is defined by his view of himself in relationship to the community in which he resides. In this aspect, relationships with fellow members of the community play a vital role in defining one self and his position in society.

In the pre-islamic society, as prevalent even in the present day, a man's identity is primarily shaped by the family he/she is born in, who he/she is marries and the children that he/she parent's. Let us examine the importance of these close relationships in the light of the Quraan. Islam gave a new concept of values and standards to mankind . The Quraan states, "You will not find the people who believe in God and the Hereafter taking as allies the enemies of God and His Prophet, whether they be their fathers or sons or brothers or fellow tribesmen." (58:22) By this one decree Allah redefined the entire social structure.

Looking into the Quran as the source of reference, the most fundamental, strong and sacred of all relationships, father and son, is examined, when the great deluge starts and Allah instructs Prophet Noah (PBUH) to give a final call to all to board the Ark. Here boarding the arc meant submission to the message of Prophet Noah (PBUH) and acceptance in existence of Allah. Prophet Noah's (PBUH) son fails to heed the advice and runs towards the hills for cover. Prophet Noah (PBUH) being a father prays to Allah to save his son as any father would, this prayer of a helpless father and the subsequent reply of Allah are highlighted in the Quraan, "And Noah called upon his Lord and said, 'O my Lord, surely my son is of my family, and thy promise is true, and thou art the Justest of Judges'. He said, 'O Noah, he is not of thy family, as his conduct is unrighteous; so do not ask of me that of which thou hast no knowledge. I give thee the counsel not to act like the ignorant.' Noah said, 'O my Lord, I seek refuge with Thee lest I ask Thee for that of which I have no knowledge, and unless Thou forgive me and have mercy on me, I shall be lost'". (11:45-46) TheProphet Ibrahim(PBUH) denounces his father who was the chief priest of the tribe because he did not belief in the "One God, Allah" and refused to give up idolatry. : "I am leaving you and those whom you invoke besides Allah. I will call upon my Rabb and I am sure my prayers to my Rabb will not be ignored." (19:48)

How does marriage change one's identity? The Quraan gives us an example in the wives of Prophet's Lot(PBUH) and Noah (PBUH). They were disobedient to their husband and hence to Allah and again here Allah warns that they will not be spared of the wrath from Him for their disobedience merely because their husband were the Prophets. "Allah has set an example to the unbelievers in the wife of Nüh (Noah) and the wife of Lüt (Lot). They were married to two of Our righteous servants, but they betrayed them. In no way could their husbands protect them from Allah. Both of them were told: "Enter the fire, along with those who enter." (66:10) On the other hand, we have a great example in the form of the wife of the Pharaoh who was righteous and sensitive to her husband’s atrocities. "And God gives as an example to those who believe the wife of Pharaoh. Behold, she said, 'My Lord, build for me in nearness to Thee a mansion in heaven, and save me from Pharaoh and his doings, and save me from those who do wrong.'" (66:11) Though she could not stop or fight the oppression inflected by her husband she knew in her heart that he was wrong and had accepted the existence of Allah. Allah in turns cites her as an example for the believer that Allah will reward or punish depending on the individual deeds and not merely on the basis of being related to some one.

By these examples, we have recognized one fact that Islam came to establish only one relationship which binds men together and that is through the belief in "The One Allah" and all other forms of relationships have no significance if it is not within the boundary of Islam. Again this example of Brotherhood through Islam can be seen in the lives of Prophet Mohammad and the Sahabis especially that between the Muhajeer and Ansar in Madinah after Hijiri. Muslims in which included Arabs and non-Arabs were brothers. Suhaib from Rome and Bilal from Abyssinia and Salman from Persia were all brothers in Islam. There was no tribal partisanship among them. They left everything that was dear to them, to form a brotherhood, through the belief in Allah. Allah himself was pleased with them, praises them and promises then Jannah in their life itself. "You will not find any people who believe in God and the Last Day loving those who fight God and His Messenger, even though they be their fathers or their sons, or their brothers, or their kindred. These are the people on whose hearts God has imprinted faith and strengthened them with a spirit from Himself. And He will admit them to Gardens beneath which rivers flow, to dwell therein. God will be well-pleased with them and they with Him. They are the party of God; truly the party of God will prosper." (58:22).

Truly, what we are going through in the present era is a period of intense trial where our identity itself is threatened. But we must realize that this is a way that Allah wants to test our steadfastness. As the quraan states, "Do you think that you will enter Paradise without any trials while you have known the examples of those who passed away before you? They were afflicted with suffering and adversity and were so violently shaken up that even the Rasool and the believers with him cried out: "When will Allah's help come?" Then they were comforted with the words, Be aware! Allah's help is ever close (2:214).

The writer can be reached at truth@islamicvoice.com.

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