Salaam Alaikum and howdy all. Today is Jumuah, the day of the congregational prayer. All over the world, Muslim men, and many Muslim women as well, will be preparing for the prayer, or have already gone depending on what part of the world they are in. Pretty breathtaking when you think about, everyone turning to face Makkah in this way.
I finished some paperwork and was thinking about this as I browsed my Facebook newsfeed. So much crazy bad news out there. The US presidential election madness is sending thousands of Americans to Google to inquire “How do I emigrate to Canada?”, and “Can I volunteer for the Mars mission?”, or “Can I volunteer Donald Drumpf for the Mars mission?”. It’s enough to send you into a spiral of depression so deep that you can’t find your way out with a flashlight and a quart of Ben & Jerry’s.
That’s why I’m here to remind you that it will all work out in the end. Muslims, come a little closer. Let me tell you a secret: much of humankind stinks. Even a lot of the Muslim humans. Prophet Muhammad, may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him, once opined “People are like a hundred camels amongst which you hardly find one fit to ride.”. (al Bukhari and others). He was talking about people in general and not excepting Muslims from that condemnation.
Remember this when you see the hordes of racist, inbred, low information supporters at a Drumpf rally. Remember this when you hear a bunch of Muslim men saying it’s perfectly fine to smack their women around to keep them in line. Remember this when you are frustrated because you cannot get your coworker to understand that it is totally not okay to toss a bacon bit from her salad onto your desk and run away giggling.
Remember that it is not our task to save this world. Allah created this world as a place of striving and testing. Think of it like the Titanic. We are passengers on a ship whose fate is to sink. It is not our job to try and keep it afloat, but rather to man the lifeboats and scoop up as many people as possible to save them from being lost to the depths. To carry this rather weak analogy further, there are people who will literally swim away from you and prefer to drown, and there are those who will try to pull you out of your lifeboat so you can go down with them. There are Bad People out there. Don’t let them make you lose focus on your mission.
Your first mission is to save yourself from the fire. Another analogy: If there is an emergency on a plane, the oxygen masks drop down from the ceiling. If you are a parent traveling with a child, you are instructed to put your own mask on first before you put on the child’s. Why? Because if you pass out you are no good to anyone. So securing the state of your own soul is your first and most important responsibility.
You do this by learning your Islam from authentic sources, striving to live as a Muslim and doing your best to avoid major sins and repenting promptly from any mistakes that you make. You work on your manners and make sure you are not bothering, annoying, or oppressing anyone else. Then you work on your family, your close circles, and then on out in concentric rings like a rock of righteousness thrown into a pond of purpose. Oh, wow, that was an awful simile, wasn’t it? Sorry about that, I got carried away. But you know what I mean. Taking care of yourself is part of doing your job.
You will have a hard time. Before you even get to the part about sharing Islam with non-Muslims, you will have to wade through a crowd of Muslims who do not know their deen. You think an Islamophobic redneck with a “No Imagrants!” sign protesting outside of the Islamic center is stubborn? Try to tell an ignorant Muslim guy that Islam does not allow him to smack his wife or take her paycheck because he doesn’t want to work because he is busy with “dawah”.
It’s hard, it’s frustrating, but that’s okay. It’s, as the Cambpells soup commercial says, real real life. You know what you do? You carry on. You live your life, you learn, you teach, you share, and since you don’t know which one of these people will wake up and heed the message you are trying to teach, you keep doing it even in the face of resistance. The woman who makes fun of your hijab may finally get the message and see the beauty in it. The most virulent racist may have an epiphany and be guided to a better way. The parent who could never understand why you converted may find peace with it.
Just don’t give up and don’t despair. Allah guides whom He will. He has control over everything. So while He keeps sustaining the universe, you do your job for the relatively brief time you are here. Teach children. Plant trees. Help domestic violence victims. Start coat drives. Help someone learn how to budget without credit cards. Volunteer at a hospice.
Don’t worry if you don’t see results with other people. Don’t worry if you feel hopelessly outnumbered. In this world, those who strive to please Allah are a minority; the open secret is, this world is not our world. It is our prison:
Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “The world is a prison for the believer and a paradise for the unbeliever. Sahih Muslim 2956
Keep striving and live the best, happiest, most satisfying life that you can while striving to please Allah and prepare for the next world. Try to drag as many people to Jannah with you, but recognize that their fate is with Allah and your job is only to convey the message. It’s their job to listen and act on it, and you can’t force anyone to do that.