Saturday, December 1, 2012

Life and Religion: The why, the how and the what


We learned from management gurus that companies which manage a business based on 'why' tend to excel more than those driven by 'how' and 'what'. When customers can appreciate why you are in business; when your team is aware why certain things need to be done; they would support your products and you better. But a big majority of businesses out there get their customers from selling what they have or selling services based on how things can be done.

If we observe and ponder on life and religion, we can similarly conclude that the majority of people are also focused on the 'what': what I have; what I don't have; what I want; what he/she has which I don't, so on and so forth. A smaller majority of people are inclined to how things are e.g. how a perfect hijab should be worn; how a Muslim should dress; how he/she looks; how he/she behaves etc. Only a small population of the believers truly understand and live based on the 'why'.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani, at a conference in Toronto in 2010, talked about the best of women in Islamic history being remembered not because of their outward appearance i.e. the way they wore hijab, the way they dressed, that they did not use makeup etc. They were in fact remembered because of their contribution to the deen. Saidatina Khadijah Al-Kubra radhiallahu anha is remembered as the first person to have accepted Islam, how successful a business woman she was and the significant role she played as the Prophet's first wife. Saidatina Aishah radhiallahu anha to this day is remembered for her intelligence and for having narrated plenty of hadith.

Shaykh Faraz Rabbani said when we see a woman who does not have the right kind of hijab according to our definition, or a woman who is badly dressed, or a man who does not grow a beard, or even when we see a woman who is half naked, we should not think ill of them. We are not God. We don't know what is in their hearts. We don't know if they are with Allah. We know not how they will end up. We don't know the reality of matters.

So how are we supposed to look at others, not only at Muslims but all the creations? We should look with the eyes or mercy. By showing a sincere concern and wishing well for them. And not looking at them with a judgmental look. Religion is mercy. One who lacks mercy, lacks religion. 

The shaykh said: We should go beyond the forms. Our action is a lifeless form, a lifeless body. Our prayer is like an empty shell. It has no meaning without sincerity. Activism in religion is good but it has no meaning without sincerity. 'What is sincerity', the shaykh asked.  It is about seeking to meet Allah by performing acts, not just any acts but righteous deeds, while not associating Him with another being. It is about acting in the right way for the right reasons [the why]. Allah does not judge a person or action based on forms rather at a person's heart and the sincerity of his/her actions. There has to be 'a seeking of Allah' in your actions. Otherwise, it would be as described in Surah Al-Kahf, it would be like dust - meaningless.

To summarize in our own words: Allah does not look at the what and the how, He looks at the why. And the why is none other than Allah. 

Listen to the full recording of Shaykh Faraz Rabbani's talk at:
Seeker's Guidance

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