Shaban / Ramadan 1423 H
Volume 15-11 No : 191
Camps \ Workshops
How far have we strayed from this Sunnah of the Prophet?
By Muhammad Al Shareef
There weren’t too many mountains where I grew up, but when I was young visiting Egypt, many of the buildings did not have elevators. And some of those buildings were up to nine or ten floors high. So if one wanted to make it to the top (the relatives always lived on the 8th floor), one could never take it one step at a time. One had to gather their garment, take a deep breath, close their eyes, and charge up ... two and three steps in one bound. (I know you must be breathing hard just thinking about it.) In Surah Balad, Allah teaches us about the mountain pass that must be climbed in our lives. And this way of climbing that I’ve just described is very close to how Allah wants us to overcome this mountain pass -hard and strong! But wait ... what mountain pass?
Allah explains it: [(The mountain pass) is the freeing of a slave / Or feeding on a day of severe hunger / an orphan of near relationship / or a needy person (grasping the dirt) in misery / And then being among those who believed and advised one another to Sabr (patience) and advised one another to Rahmah (compassion) / Those are the companions of the right] Surah Balad. When we look at the institutions that ‘care’ about the welfare of society, we seldom see Muslim-run shelters for the homeless. We seldom find Muslim-run soup kitchens for the hungry of our society. Dear brothers and sisters, caring about our society is not meant to be a public relations stunt. It is from the core of our Deen, a core message that is repeated throughout the Qur’an. And it is the way and example of our Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh)- an example which he left for us to emulate. Taking responsibility of our society is one of the important messages of Islam!
Consider the following verses: In Surah Haaqah, Allah couples the disbelief of the Kaafir with the fact that he does not encourage the feeding of the poor: [Indeed, he did not believe in Allah, the Most Great / Nor did he encourage the feeding of the poor.] (verses 33,34). Shaykh Idrees, was once commenting on these verses. He mentioned that these verses were all revealed in Makkah and then he asked, “How many Muslims were in Makkah at that time? Only handful of them. These verses were not directed to Muslims taking care of Muslims exclusively. They were directed to Muslims taking responsibility for the entire society!” When the Prophet received the first revelation from Allah, he raced home shivering in fear. Hazrath Khadijah(R.A.) consoled him, covered him as he wished, and listened as he spoke of his fright. Listen carefully to what she said to our Prophet: “Allah will never disgrace you. You unite your relatives and you bear the burden of the weak (of our society). You help the poor and the needy, you are honourable to all guests and you bear harm in the path of truthfulness.” This was the character of the Prophet before and after becoming a Messenger of Allah. Growing up in the prairies of Canada, there was almost no location a Muslim could buy meat and chicken slaughtered in the name of Allah. So my father would go out to the farm and bring back a freezer full of chicken to sell to the community. My father may not recall this, but one brother became Muslim in our area and he related this to me. He said, “When I embraced Islam, the entire community kept telling me about what (they thought) was the most important thing in Islam: to eat Halal Chicken. Everyone kept lecturing me about it and then they would leave. Your father was the only one who actually took me outside and gave me some Halal meat to take home to my family. I never forgot that.” What have we sincerely done as a collective community for these Americans? I’m not speaking of workshop lectures here and there. What have we done to help them and to show them - in action, not in empty words - the mercy that Islam teaches us? The upper class of Makkah once found Allah’s Messenger with the poor and weak of the society. Notice that these were the ones who stood at his side, he did not brush them away in his Daw’ah. There sat Bilal, Suhayb, Ammar, and Ibn Masood, (May Allah be pleased with them ). Abu Jahl said to him, “O Muhammad, if you wish for us to sit with you then you must first expel from your presence such slaves!” Then Allah revealed the verses ... [And do not expel those who call upon their Lord morning and afternoon, seeking His countenance. Not upon you is anything of their account and not upon them is anything of your account. So were you to expel them, you would then be of the wrongdoers.] Surah Anam.
Let us not allow ourselves to believe that we do not have enough Muslims to carry out our mission. It is narrated that a man came to Allah’s Messenger and complained of a heavy heart. Allah’s Messenger said to him, “Wipe the head of the orphan and feed the poor.” The Ulema of the past understood this message of Islam. When Alee ibn Al-Husayn died, those who were washing his body found themselves staring at his back’s deep bruises. They inquired about this and were told, “Not too many knew, but he would go out in the middle of the night, carrying flour on his back. He would stop at the doors of the needy in Madinah and feed them”. Feed the hungry so that Allah will feed us on a day when we will be in most need of His mercy. Growing up in North America, in our Sunday school, there was a Hadith that caught the attention of our class. It was the Hadith of the men who came to Hazrath Aisha, asking her about the character of Allah’s Messenger. She said concisely, “His character was the Qur’an.” Myself and others in our class did not understand this Hadith. We thought, how could Surahs like Surah Lahab be the character of the Prophet? After the Tafseer course we’ve been teaching, I have slowly come to realise why we could not understand Aisha’s statement. It was because we did not understand the Qur’an.
Today I am going to make a bold proposal to those who are involved in Da’wah. It is a proposal that we re-model our Dawah efforts sincerely - for the sake of Allah - help the society that we live in. Let us help the hungry and the homeless,
Those who want to join the defence forces on the sea, join the Navy. But those who want to work on the commercial ships, take up a career in Merchant Navy. Such people live on ships on seas. They see water everywhere and nothing else for weeks together. They get to see several cities and countries whenever ships berth at the shores.
Merchant Navy is a challenging career. One has to often lead a life of isolation, away from the near and dear ones. Family reunions come after long intervals.
Those who wish to join the Merchant Navy, should take up courses in Nautical Science. They offer branches such as Marine Engineering and Navy Commission course. By doing these, one can get appointed as Navigating Officer or Marine Engineer. Navigating Officer is designated as “Master of the Ship” while the topmost posting as Marine Engineer is “Chief Engineer of the Ship”. Navigating officers conduct the operations of the ship in the sea, supervise the loading and unloading of the merchandise and look after the safety of the ship. Marine Engineers take care of the engines. Following courses could be taken up by those who want to pursue a career in Merchant Navy:
B.Sc in Nautical Science
Navy Commission Course is offered at T. S. Chankya, New Mumbai, duration: three years.
This offers both theory and practicals. The students are trained in operating the ship, safety, loading and unloading of the goods, on-sea communication, safety measures, piloting of ships through the rocky seas etc.
This is a four-year course conducted by Marine Engineering Research Institute (MERI), Kolkata.
This deals with the machinery aspects of the ships and provides intensive training in running powerhouse, study and practicals at jetties, physical training, swimming, photography etc. It takes care of several co-curricular activities.
Students who have passed the 12th standard exam with physics, chemistry, and mathematics can appear for a joint entrance exam along with entrance exams for the IITs. Following this, the selected candidates have to undergo an interview, counselling and health test.
These courses will enable you to begin a successful career in Merchant Navy. For more details contact:
Director General of Shipping, Jahaz Bhavan, W. H. Marg, Ballard Estate, Mumbai-400038
T. S. Chankya Karve, Nerul, Navi Mumbai-400706
Marine Engineering and Research Institute Tatatola Road, Kolkata-700088