Ramadan is Over! But Character Training Goes on!
Are We Being Brand Ambassadors of Allah?
Today are the days of brands. We love to buy only branded stuff. Muslims have also been branded and bombarded in media as terrorists and fundamentalists. Let us each one of us on this day of ‘Eid’ take an oath and declare to rebrand ourselves as trust worthy, honest, generous, forgiving, caring, compassionate, and thankful. We are responsible and accountable about how we represent ourselves as brand ambassadors of Allah and the Prophet (Pbuh).
Dr.A.W. Sadathullah Khan
Ramadan, the blessed month of spiritual training helped us to connect to the spirit of Allah, purifying the heart of all vices and taking control over the desires of the external senses and mind. When the external faculties take control, we become the slave of the nafs e Ammarah which urges towards the evil desires ( Ego centered materialistic, independent, arrogant attitude, worldly, selfish desires), leading to destruction, and causing us to disconnect from the inner spirit. During this one month, when in the state of fasting, we were in absolute control over the desires of the external faculties and in command to exercise all external actions at will (that is being aware and conscious) .The external faculties are the tools and a means to reach our destination to fulfill Allah’s purpose on Earth. We are spiritual Beings in Human Form. Duniya is a means to reach our final destination in the hereafter and not an end in itself.
Be the Slave of Allah
First and the primary step for every human being is to submit the external faculties to be the slave of Allah (Abdullah) to qualify ONESELF to the position of khalifahtullah, that is to represent Allah here in order to fulfill His purpose for which He has sent us into this world. When we qualify we become a means to fulfill His desires and one way is by manifesting His attributes.
The Asmaul Husna (99 Attributes) are an infrastructure for human behaviour (Akhlaq). The Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) has said “Adopt in yourself the akhlaq of Allah” The only way to do this is to study His attributes; to be able to understand, imbibe, make them part of ourselves and manifest them.
It is narrated that Allah says : “You have your desire and I have My Desire, If you surrender Yourself to My Desire, I shall fulfill your desire. If you oppose (deny) My Desire, I shall tire you of fulfilling your desire and ultimately what is to happen is of My Desire.”
This training of taking control of the external faculties which we have under gone is not for one month only, but for all year long (24×7). It should be a way of life of being God conscious for all our external actions moment to moment.
Allah states:”he who shall have done an atom’s weight of good, shall see it then and he who shall have done an atom’s weight of evil, shall see it then.” (99:7-8)
It is unfortunate that majority of us revert back to be the slaves of the desires of our external faculties. We scum to the deceptions of Satan, hence we find no internal changes and this is reflected on our external behaviour, actions and attitudes.
Allah states “Have you seen him who takes his own lust (vain desires) as his ilah (god), and Allah knowing (him as such), left him astray, and sealed his hearing and his heart, and put a cover on his sight. Who then will guide him after Allah? Will you not then remember?” (45:23)
“And if they do not respond to you (Muhammed), then know that they only follow their own lusts. And who is more astray than one who follows his own lust, without guidance from Allah? Verily! Allah guides not the people who are disobedient.”(28:50)
Another Routine Ritual
Fasting has become another routine ritual to undergo year after year with sentimental feeling of elation of satisfaction to the ego that it has done something worth, missing the purpose for which the Creator had imposed on us, to inculcate piety (Taqwa), inner purification through surrendering the ego and connecting to His spirit.
Taqwa (Inner purity- God Consciousness) frees oneself from external judgments, opinions, comparisons, expectations, discriminations, attitude of superiority, inferiority and to be in the state of inner Peace, tranquility and contentment (Qalb e Saleem). Being in the state of submission to the Will of Allah, our perception, our view becomes pure and we see reality as it is, free of prejudice, accept everyone as they are, nothing to change and unconditionally loving everyone for the sake of Allah, seeing and treating every human being as human being.
Allah states: “Indeed he succeeds who purifies his own self, and indeed he fails who corrupts his own self.” (91-9-10)
“The Prophet (Pbuh) frequently used to say in his supplication: “Oh Allah! Grant me the sense of piety and purify my soul as You are the best to purify it, You are its Guardian and its Master…” (Reported by Imams Muslim and Ahmad)
Seeing human being as human beings: A Way of Life
One of the fundamentals of Islam is equality which means to see and treat all human beings as human beings irrespective of cast, creed, religion or nation. Humanity as one family (Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam).
In his final sermon the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) said: “There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor for a non-Arab over an Arab. Neither is the white superior over the black, nor is the black superior over the white — except by piety.”
Quran speaks of human equality in the following terms: “O mankind, We have created you from a single male and a female and have made you into nations and tribes for you to know one another. Truly, the noblest of you with God is the most pious. Truly, God is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (49:13)
Once we surrender unconditionally and go beyond our logic, reason and the rational faculty (ego) we shift from the doing domain to the being domain. Our identity shifts to the ‘Being’, being who when I am doing what I am doing? External actions are a function of who I am inside. What you sow you reap.
God-Conscious Way of Life
Being true to oneself is being true to Allah, it is the highest value one could live with. One month fasting trains us in inculcating this value in our daily lives. No one knows except Allah that the person is fasting. He or she can say to the world that they are fasting but inside their loneliness they might drink or eat and there are no cctv cameras to find out the truth. It is Taqwa, piety and intentions holds man from taking a drop of water.
It is reported that Prophet Muhammed (Pbuh) said: “Every action of Bani Adam (Mankind) is multiplied; good deeds are multiplied between ten to seven hundred. Allah states, “except fasting for verily I will reward him (because) he abandons his shahwa (carnal desires) and food for me.” (Sahih Muslim)
One night, Umar (the second Caliph) as usual went out in disguise with his comrade Ibn Abbas. While passing by a small hutment, the Caliph heard a whispering talk between a mother and a daughter, they supply milk to the city. On that day there was an imbalance between demand and supply. The mother asks the daughter to add water, the daughter replies back that it is Caliph Umar’s order not to add water, the mother retorts back and says how will he come know in the pitch of the night. The daughter replies He may be asleep but my Lord is awake and I cannot do that act. This conversation moved Umar and went home and narrated to his son Asim and then gets him married to that poor hutment girl, the milkmaid became the daughter-in-law of the Caliph. From this union was born a daughter Umm Asim, who became in due course the mother of Umar bin Abdul Aziz. Umar bin Abdul Aziz was elected as Caliph and served for a short period during 717 – 72.
Spouses were Chosen for their Values
In the past, the spouses were chosen for their values, but in the present times it based on valuables. The context of life is changed from value based to acquiring, possessing and displaying of valuables. We find today ethical, moral values and character vanishing from the present humanity. We have created a virtue less, Godless, and man eats man society. The basic values of trust, integrity, honesty, kindness, compassion, love, patients, thankfulness and generosity is bygone era and the present value system is greed, lust, anger, ungrateful and selfishness. ‘I, ME, MYSELF’ culture with an attitude of I do not care.
Allah states: “Who created death and life that He may try you as to which of you is best in conduct; and He is the Mighty, the Forgiving.” (67:2)
He also says: “Likewise, We have sent unto you a messenger from among yourselves, who recites unto you Our revelations and purifies you, and teaches you the scripture and wisdom, and teaches you that which you did not know.” (2:151)
And indeed, you (Muhammed) are upon a noble conduct, an exemplary manner (68:4).
This great purpose is what Prophet Muhammad declared when he said: “I have only been sent to perfect good moral character.” (Musnad Ahmad )
Prophet (Pbuh) said:”Nothing weighs heavier in the balance on the Day of Judgment than good character. God hates that which is wanton and base.” (Thirmidi)
In one hadith, the Prophet (Pbuh) said: “Allah is beautiful and loves beauty, and He loves noble akhlaaq (ma’ali akhlaaq) and He hates, he despises lowly characteristics.”
Character is Missing
Today what is missing is the aklaq, (character), which is the foundation on which external success depends. We have forgotten to lay the foundation. This is one of the major cause of the Muslims’ downfall today, though we are more than 1.6 billion in number, but there is no value, dignity, respect. A virtue-less community without any contribution to the world, leading a self-centered lifestyle, not caring for others.
The Messenger of Allah (Pbuh) said: “It is near that the nations will call one another against you just as the eaters call one another to their dishes.” Somebody asked: “Is this because we will be few in numbers that day?” He said: “Nay but that day you shall be numerous, but you will be like the foam of the sea, and Allah Will Take the fear of you away from your enemies and will place weakness into your hearts.” Somebody asked: “What is this weakness?” He said: “The love of the world and the dislike of death.” (Abu Dawud)
Allah States: “O Believers, why do you preach what you do not practice?
”Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do” (61:2-3).
Today are the days of brands. We love to buy only branded stuff. Likewise, Muslims have also been branded and bombarded in media as terrorist, fundamentalist, hardcore, orthodox and what not. Let us each one of us on this day of ‘Eid’ take an oath and declare to rebrand our self as trustworthy, honest, generous, forgiving, caring, compassionate, and thankful. We are responsible and accountable how we represent ourselves as brand ambassadors of Allah and unless we take responsibility in shifting the present perspective, we will have to face the consequence and pay a huge price. We love our Prophet (Pbuh) very much and he was branded (recognized) in his time by his opponents as Al-Ameen (Trustworthy), can we the 1.6 billion Muslims uplift ourselves to be branded by the rest of humanity as Al-Ameen? It is a challenge, and if we have Iman, love of Allah and the love of Prophet ingrained in our heart this is possible and doable. Allah will love us and when Allah loves us then all the creatures of Allah will love us here and will be saved from humiliation. If we are disgraced in the sight of Allah, there will be no one to love us and will live a disgraced life. Let us say ” I am a Muslim, who I am is trustworthy”, and no matter what, I will not sell away myself to this short temporary pleasures of this glittering world at the loss of my eternal blissful life, seeking closeness to Allah. “Our Lord! Let not our hearts deviate (from the truth) after You have guided us, and grant us mercy from You. Truly, You are the Bestower.”(3:8)
(The writer is Editor, Islamic Voice and facilitator of Discover Yourself workshops, can be reached at [email protected])