.بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
Today I’d started watching a video about a publicised discussion that has taken place between Dr. Jordan Peterson, and Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. Both are respected ‘public intellectuals’.
Dr. Jordan Peterson arguably specialises in speaking about the value of adhering to such things as routine; having and complying with consistent and defined values; attempting to ‘decode’ aspects of this… oft-mystifying human experience, in order to make otherwise great-anxiety-inducing confusions and ambiguities more manageable and ‘meaningful’.
Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, I think, specialises in… the same thing. And: rooted in the upright, Purely Monotheistic, Way/Path/Religion that Ibraheem (AS), Abraham, followed. ‘مِلَّةُ إِبْرَاهِيْمَ’, to use a Qur’anic expression.
At one point, I think Dr. Jordan Peterson says that he wants to try to find a way to be ‘Christian and Jewish and Muslim at the same time‘. And Shaykh Hamza Yusuf essentially says: if that is what you’re looking for, then… be Muslim.
Another Muslim academic, who is known as ‘Blogging Theology’ online (Paul Williams) has remarked that, when it comes to Christianity and its connection with Islam: modern-day ‘Christianity’ is a ‘religion’ about Isa (AS), Jesus. Whereas: Islam is the religion of Jesus (AS). i.e. the Path that he had followed had been this: submission to the One and Only True God Worthy of Worship.
And then, I think Shaykh Hamza Yusuf says, in terms of Judaism: Islam is almost like… a universalised Judaism. True religion not solely reserved for the descendants of a particular man, but acceptable, embraceable, by anybody whose heart Allah Chooses to open up to this perfected religion.
I have a friend called ز who had embraced مِلَّةُ إِبْرَاهِيْمَ (the upright, Purely Monotheistic, Way of Ibraheem (AS)), Islam, last year. Recently she had attended a Ghusl workshop: a demonstration (not using actual soulless bodies) of how we are to be washed, and prepared for burial, after our souls depart from here, this immediate world: Dunya.
And in these moments, we can be reminded of reality: that’s how we return to our Lord, alone. The inevitable, death, can really be Sent to us at any time. What if it were to be, for us: later today? Are we ready?
After having viewed that video about the recorded conversation between Shaykh Hamza Yusuf and Dr. Jordan Peterson: I’d happened upon a video about… pretty privilege. I’d kind of considered also watching this one too: it seemed interesting. And, genuinely:
My hand had ‘slipped’ a bit, and I ended up watching it. Meant to be.
The speaker in the video talks about this phenomenon: that people who are viewed as being more physically attractive, can be, and often are… treated better. Get free things, free help, positive attentions. This relates to a general area of conversation that one of my relatives and I seem to often talk about with one another [the relative in question is: my dad’s first cousin, who is actually just a year older than me. So she’s my aunt, but according to the English way of describing familial connections: apparently, she’s my ‘cousin’ too. And: she’s also… my friend. Cousins are a special type of friend, since you find you cannot run away from one another].
We’d started talking about such things as makeup, and physical covering. And all of it had made me think about things all over again. Like: why?
Why choose to follow مِلَّةُ إِبْرَاهِيْمَ?
Why ‘give up’ certain things, for certain other ones, which some others may not immediately be able to comprehend, from their own current world-views?
There is much, in this Dunya, that can momentarily satisfy the ego: ‘naturally’, our egos want those ‘positive feelings’. But they are just momentary, and fleeting. What does one ‘give up on’, once accepting Islam as his/her Way of Life? And:
What do we gain? [Every. Thing.]
Certainly, there are people who had lived lives in which they had the alleged ‘perks’ that come with such ways of living. Free drinks, ‘glamour’, glitter. Many, upon actually reaching, and having, these very things:
Actually have felt very lost, empty, and alone, while being immersed in such things. And, once they accept Islam as their path, their way of living: things change.
Like… Sonny Bill Williams, to draw on a famous example. A New Zealand athlete who had embraced Islam, and had then taught it to his children. Previously, he said he’d “chased girls, drank alcohol and it only gave me emptiness”. A lot of the stuff that we are not allowed to do, within Islam, are pertaining to: sexual immorality. Drugs and alcohol. What we say and do: try to do good, and avoid evil.
An article about Sonny Bill Williams: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/rugby-league/50406738
Contentment. It’s… coming home, after a long day. Of existential anxieties, depressions, and the rest. The things you don’t really always tell people about. But a lot of these things are, whether secretly or openly, experienced by fellow human beings. Even if, on the ‘outside’, they seem the most wealthy, most ‘successful’, most…
Every single thing about existence, and about you: your Creator Knows.
According to the above article, the New Zealand athlete had said:
“Look, I chased girls. I drank alcohol, spent lavishly and thought I was someone that I wasn’t. I lived that life and, in my experience, what did it give me? Hollowness and emptiness in my heart.”
Whereas, now, after having accepted this Path:
He says, “Alhamduli Llah (thanking God) means everything,
“Drinking a glass of water – Alhamduli Llah. Having an opportunity to speak to you – Alhamduli Llah. Seeing my wife and kids – Alhamduli Llah. I always have my Creator in the front of my mind.”
For more such stories, of people who, in Dunya terms, maybe, ‘had it all’, but who only found the Truth when they had accepted Islam:
I’d recommend ‘The Deen Show’, on YouTube. The University of YouTube. What a place of learning.
Today, in one of my Arabic classes, I’d also been reminded of a lovely Qasīdah (poem/song) about secret good deeds, which are kept between you and Allah . And only on the Day of Judgement, when your book of deeds is handed to you, either in your left, or right hand: will they be uncovered.
Other people did not Create you.
And our hearts cannot find Life away from the One who Had Given us life in the first place.
We’re confused and dependent beings who need such things as Guidance, Help, Protection, to be taught. Rules and regulations. Blessings.
It’s actually the other way around: that one may be encouraged to think that once you accept religion, oh no! It’s ‘restrictive’, it’s ‘saddening’, and so on. But: ask the people who have lived that life, and who have then come to Truth, and to Prayer, and to Success.
You may begin to commit time, at regular intervals in the day, to the very One who Made you. A few minutes. And, in return: He is Ash-Shakoor (the Grateful One ), and He gives you everything. Peace, and blessings, and forgiveness, and Goodness, from Him
You give someone who may be financially struggling, say: £5. And then you forget about it. Allah Remembers. It may be that He … returns you with £300, somehow, in the next week. It may be that He allows you to enter that Eternal, Gorgeous Paradise of His , in that necessary and inevitable Hereafter.
You cover your physical beauty before whom Allah has Commanded you to do so in front of: it may be that you lose some of their ‘favour’. Don’t get a free drink, don’t get extra positive attention. But everything that is good, actually good: comes from Him Alone in the first place anyway.
I think it’s the whisperings of Shaytān that may try to convince us that: good is actually ‘bad’, and vice versa.
I’d spoken to someone who attends a weekend Islamic school who’d basically been saying that some see Islam as being negatively ‘restrictive’ because of such things as: parents who take their children to the park encouraging them (their kids) to say, بسم الله, in the Name of Allah , before using the equipment there. Whereas ‘other children’ might just ‘run and play’ and do whatever.
One might seem like ‘freedom’, and the other: like ‘restriction’. But, trust me, Islam allows fun and joy. We’re also given wise ways to improve our experience. With things that we need and benefit from: like Clear Guidance, and ways to call upon our Creator , Whom we definitely need, and in Whose Hands our happiness, safety, entire lives are.
To live a life that is ‘without thinking’, and ‘untethered to Truth’, and away from Islam, and then calling that ‘fun’: it’s like, to draw upon a line from spoken word poet Boonaa Mohammed… it’s like shooting without aiming.
Like, in archery: to just randomly, whimsically, shoot arrows everywhere. ‘Yay, freedom’. Or: to have your eye on the prize, methodical and purposeful.
Or, maybe: to try to ‘have fun’ baking a cake, while choosing not to follow a recipe. Because ‘spontaneity is more ‘fun” or something. Less ‘restrictive’. ‘Live life to the ‘fullest”, ‘Live life while you’re young’. Yay!
“Hahahahahaahaha you’re following a recipe? That’s ‘lame‘! Let go of the recipe that promises you a wonderful cake. Be free! Live while you’re young! Live life on the edge.”
… Ultimately, do you end up with a delectable double-fudge chocolate cake, or do you end up with… a culinary disaster, an overly messy kitchen, and… food poisoning?
[‘Fun’ and ‘freedom’ are deeply destructive, actually, when good morals and regulations are sought to be taken out of the equation. Even if the norms of Instagram are showing you… a ‘different picture’.]
So when we commit to living lives in which Allah is rightfully Honoured and Remembered: do we ever truly ‘miss out’ on anything good? No!
Might you… appear a little ‘strange’, by consequence, to some? For, for example, refusing to shake a stranger woman’s hand, as a man, or for… wearing a Jilbāb while driving your sports car around (a reference to some of my aunts)? Yeah. Because they might be approaching things from their current world-views. But “glad tidings to the strangers”! (Hadīth, Muslim)
The ones who might be seen as… strange, who might ‘stick out’ a little, and not be so readily comprehensible by some others, on account of diligently adhering to Islam. I love that translated phrase: glad tidings. From. Your Creator
Did you know that, in Arabic, one of the words for strange is synonymous with… amazing, and wonderful?
The word is ”Ajeeb’: عجيب
I love this word. It’s like Ibraheem (AS). Committed to Truth, even when the whole society around him had denied it, and him. He didn’t follow them: he’d followed his Creator .
And Allah had Honoured him: had Chosen Ibraheem (AS) as a خليل, as a close friend!
What a noble, ennobled, man; beloved and blessed, and of whose wonderful, blessed legacy… we are a part. We’re trying to follow in his footsteps, In Shaa Allah , and to be loved and favoured by our Creator
The opposite promise is from… Shaytān. Reject Truth and things will be more ‘fun’ or something. These are lies, which only lead to loss, regret, and disaster.
Wouldn’t you rather say, بسم الله before using the (metaphorical or actual) playground equipment, and then, perhaps: find yourself guarded by Angels as a result of having brought the Name of Allah into it?
You can, of course, still have a good time, and feel joy, and have fun and experience adventure, while being Muslim. While also being under protective wings: towards what is Good, truly, and away from what is not, actually.
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يَخْشَوْنَ رَبَّهُمْ بِالْغَيْبِ لَهُمْ مَغْفِرَةٌ وَأَجْرٌ كَبِيرٌ
“Indeed, those who fear their Lord unseen will have forgiveness and great reward.”