Thursday, 20 June 2019

The foundations of Muslim society

Assalamu Aleikum brothers 
Jumaa Mubarak 

Is it not remarkable that within the first ten verses of the S Baqara, at the start of the Quran, that Allah talks about the hypocrites?

It is not remarkable when you consider that He chooses to preface the Quran, and everything in it*, with His name and attribute- ArRahman- the Most Merciful. 

For we, the Children of Adam, are a social and cogent creation, that live our lives within social hierarchies and groups that determine everything about us- from what we aspire to, to what we achieve, or do not achieve, to the method of our living and eventual dying. 

That He would then want to bless us with the best and most just society, and so He starts the Quran with Baqara which is the foundation of our society. And then starts Baqara with warning us about those nefarious elements that will seek, at every turn, to undermine our society. 

Indeed of the five pillars that make the house of Islam, only the first two were revealed and made obligatory in the first thirteen years of the Prophet’s (saw) mission that was marked by Meccan persecution. 
And the prayer that we perform was then both a consolation, a means of attaining closeness, and a source of contentment and happiness in those trying times. 

Whilst we find the command to establish Salat (Prayer), that is most often heavily tied with paying the Zakah - poor due- in the Quran, were clearly revealed after the establishment of the Muslim polity. Just as were the fast of Ramadan, and the culmination of Ibrahim’s (as) religion with the purification of the Hajj. 

It is these five that determine how our society should be, and look. 

The happiness that springs from Salaat, where gratitude to the Creator preempts a gratitude to all. 
And where we are all brothers, as equal teeth on a comb- no matter our wealth or our heritage or our colour- we stand side by side. 

The need, by a rule and institution, to care for the less well off- not because of a guilty feeling, nor because of a demeaning charity- but because of a God Given right. 

And then the feelings of empathy- when you feel as they feel- and you know the hunger that they taste and the thirst that drives them to despair- that is our fast of Ramadan that enables us to give with compassion and with heart.

Imagine Allah’s grace, that He chooses for you a religion that makes us as a body - one. 
Without social division, without classes and hierarchies of wealth, without superiority or inferiority due to race or colour or heritage. 

For did not our Messenger (saw) say in his farewell sermon in front of thousands of Arabs-

“No Arab is superior to a non-Arab”. 

On the Day of Arafat, 
On the Day when that favour was fulfilled and Islam was perfected. 
On the Day that Omar (ra) wept. 

O Allah send our salutations upon the Messenger, Muhammed (saw), for he did eminently discharge his duty and we have believed in You and call him true. 

Who taught us that Islam is more than a religion, in the strict sense of the word, that seeks to build a just and true society where happiness prevails and freedom flourishes, and the believers are as one brotherhood. 

*excepting Tauba. 

What I have said here is my opinion. If it is wrong then that wrong belongs to me. 
Knowledge is sought through study and contemplation, not via lectures, nor speeches, nor this above. 

(Note: it will be an exercise of excellence on your part to find and read the verses in S Baqara that commend and command each of the five pillars of the house of Islam.)

We each harbour multiple Personalities.

Following on from the session we had about multiple personalities, it’s interesting that whilst we found it difficult to agree on certain definitions (identity, personality) some things did transpire. 

So I think that we agreed that in our youth the experience was that yes we have multiple identities and were not simply wearing different hats. 
The difference between the two is that “hat” here denotes a role that you play- and is characterised by volition, that you choose to put on that hat- whereas a change in identity happens unconsciously. 

I would say that early in life we are socialised into recognising authority, and adjusting our behaviour to fit. 

In youth when we are amongst our peers, the bounds of what was acceptable behaviour in the past are stretched, so that then we experience a dichotomy. And we become adept at knowing what is acceptable and unacceptable depending on circumstance, so much so that our character seamlessly changes when we transition circumstance between home, school and the mutual company of our peers. 

Here what appears is the start of multiple personalities or identities. 

And then as we age, we gain authority and once again the boundaries of acceptable and unacceptable behaviour change, and if we are not careful then we become adept at using our authority to the extent that we may even become sociopaths. 

This fear of authority never really leaves us, but it does get sudstituted by those we deem our betters. 

It is interesting here to quote Shakespeare, (foremost) “to thine own self be true”. 

I think that we all agreed that this sentiment is something to be tried for. 

It is interesting that Shakespeare got one of his characters to advice his audience, and us here, not to play a part- not to adjust your behaviour to satisfy your audience- but to be true to your own self first. A single identity that is true to yourself. 

And my question here is that it appears to me that in order to be true to oneself requires the acceptance of a greater authority that does not change with time, that is the Everliving, the Most Gracious?