Treating The Activist’s Burnout
I wrote this with a heavy heart after reading about the refugees dying trying to escape their homes that turned into war-zones; attempting to start new lives in Europe but dying in the Mediterranean. May Allah rectify their affairs, ameen.
Are you feeling extremely distressed? Has the exposure to the series of atrocities (domestic and international) for the past few months caused a great emotional strain on you? Are you beginning to feel hopeless, like there is no way out with the large-scale regional instabilities in our world? My brother/sister, you might be experiencing Activist Burnout.
Activist Burnout is a condition one develops after being emotionally-invested in injustice(s) for an unbearable duration of time. A personal example would be me during the Rabaa Massacre of July 2013. Watching Egyptian civilians get shot by their own military on live twitter coverage for peacefully protesting for the reinstatement of their democratically-elected president really broke my heart. Already emotionally drained from the unstable incidents in Palestine, Iraq and Syria at the time just put me into a depressive state of mind. I was tired of furiously typing against Zionists, Pro-Assad and Sisi supporters. I began to realize that I was losing significant hours of sleep watching and reading freelance news on the issues. I even began losing my appetite because my mind was so occupied on the incidents I was exposing myself to.
It was bad, and after reminiscing discussions on these situations with other socially-conscious friends of mine, I realized how pessimistic we all were. “The Ummah is useless!” “Look at how these ‘so-called Muslim nations’ sit idle in the face of their brothers and sisters suffering in the Levant!” “There is nothing that can be done to save our people…”
And that’s when you have to snap out of it.
“Indeed Allah is over all things competent.”
This reality is mentioned in the Qur’an so many times, and I really think that it is in times of activist burnout, where we need to remember this reality the most. To believe that the fate of the ummah is inevitably bleak, is to set a limit in Allah ﷻ’s capabilities, authobillah. Did Allah ﷻ not save the Kaaba from what it seemed to be its “inevitable” destruction with a swarm of birds carrying pebbles of hard clay on the Year of the Elephant? DId Allah ﷻ not save the Ummah at the Battle of Badr, when the 313 Muslims faced 1000 Meccan aggressors? Did Allah ﷻ not guide you in a world filled with misguidance? Allah ﷻ is in complete control of all affairs brothers and sisters. It is only mandatory upon us to worship and serve Him. That means even though we’re living in a system where 99% of the wealth is controlled by 1% of the people — us, the 99% will still be out on the street making sure our brothers and sisters have some food in their stomachs, some clothes on their backs. That also means that despite the ongoing conflicts around the world escalating worse and worse — us, the fortunate that live peaceful in our dwellings should raise funds for humanitarian organizations that are actively helping victims of these conflicts. But when you do these acts of kindness, remind yourself that you’re doing this for Allah ﷻ’s sake and that your efforts will never be the cause to a positive result; Allah’s sole decree is. With that mentality, you don’t exactly become relieved with the way the world is; you cope and accept the reality that the world is not always stable.
To conclude this brief reminder, I am not trying to pacify the masses’ anger at the political atmosphere we’re living in with spirituality. I am not one of those brothers that tell people that the reason Palestine is not liberated right now is because we can not wake up for Fajr. As a Muslim, I do encourage that we work on ourselves before we try and work on the world. Nevertheless, I won’t discredit people trying to make genuine progress in our world. They are doing great work, and if something great develops from their efforts — know that it was Allah ﷻ that decreed so. That is all I am trying to express in shaa Allah.
Allah knows best, and solely in Allah ﷻ we seek assistance.
The Perfume Seller
In the name of Allah, the Lord and Giver of Mercy.
First and foremost, I pray that this article reaches you in the best state of affairs, ameen! To begin, a reminder that life is temporary — and the best reminder to that fact is death. When all is said and done, your worldly possessions won’t accompany you in your graves, neither will the friends and followers on your social media pages; the only thing that will accompany you is your deeds, and if you’re a wise believer you will also have a righteous legacy that’s profit will continue to provide you with ease even when you’ve departed. So how are we living our lives? The best of us are those who think and prepare for death. The best of us are those who pray salah like it may be our last time praying. The best of us are those who remind one another of these matters with genuine concern for our communities. May Allah (SWT) guide us to that one and only straight path of guidance, ameen.
I would like to mention two key sayings of our beloved Prophet (ﷺ) that set the scene on the rest of the article.
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “The example of a good companion (who sits with you) in comparison with a bad one, is like that of the musk (perfume) seller and the blacksmith’s bellows (or furnace); from the first you would either buy musk or enjoy its good smell while the bellows would either burn your clothes or your house, or you get a bad nasty smell thereof.” (Sahih Bukhari, Narrated by Abu Musa [R])
I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) saying, “Man follows his friend’s religion, you should be careful who you take for friends”.
(At-Tirmidhi & Abu Dawud, Narrated by Abu Hurairah [R])
There’s not a lot of things that are better than a good friend. Over the years, by definition of a “good friend” has become very simple — a good friend is an individual that accompanies you and looks for your best interest at all times. Good friends are gems in social circles. But to break it down further for Muslim youth, a good friend is someone who keeps you in the remembrance of Allah (SWT) at all times. Even when you are doing something entertaining such as sports, video games, or shopping — they even make those activities beneficial. They’re not necessarily randomly lecturing you about Islam, but they’re just enlightened young individuals that make shukr (gratitude for Allah) contagious, ma shaa Allah. That is what Rasulullah (ﷺ) was talking about, when introducing the concept of the perfume seller. That special brother or sister in your friend circle that brings the conversation back to the remembrance of Allah (SWT) without being all “self-righteous” about it.
Growing up at the masjid, I spent my time with fellow young brothers that remind one another about Allah (SWT) and the important things in life. And honestly, that’s really a true gift from Allah (SWT). When fellow colleagues see eye to eye with us on religious matters, and as a group, we both desire solely what’s best for one another — that’s brotherhood. On the other side of things, we also have brothers and sisters in our communities acting recklessly, and we fall into a common yet incorrect mentality of looking down upon them. Can I be real with you all? There was most definitely a time where most of us started out as good kids doing positive things — it is the environment and society that we live in that nurtures us but inherently — we are moral beings alhamdulilah! Anyways, we look down upon these young brothers and sisters, with no sense of empathy. We don’t know what made them the way they are, nor do we know the good that they do in private. Therefore, rather than focusing on their current *apparent* situation — if you think you have what it takes, try and help them be better! Maybe they’re with the wrong crowd, and need to be around people that remind them of Allah (SWT) — be that reminding friend!
Believe it or not, something I am beginning to notice is, a lot of us are not inclusive. When we see young brothers and sisters that annoy us, we instantly alienate them in unison. Just imagine that for a second, one individual annoys you and all of a sudden your whole group of like 8 friends push away the individual — imagine that impact. As Muslims we need to think comprehensively — rather than avoid people who act in manners we do not appreciate, we should think about working on one another and transforming them into better individuals. People make mistakes, and the good friend doesn’t exclude these people but rather allow them to walk out of a conversation with them with a beneficial lesson to reflect on. My dear Imam always tells me, “I love it when I see you make mistakes, because I can discipline you then and there.” Another teacher of mine refers to mistakes as “learning experiences”, he reminds me all the time that a mistake is an unsuccessful experience you didn’t learn from. So, if you see someone who’s walking towards a trivial path — take that step and do something about it — with ikhlas (sincerity) and empathy!
I don’t know if this is a phenomena in every Muslim community in America but, where I am from — the young Muslim brothers are basketball fanatics ma shaa Allah. Literally, all we do here is play basketball, even during Ramadan. Alhamdulilah, playing sports with the right intentions can become a form of worship! If you play basketball, to stay in shape because Allah (SWT) provided us all with a trust which is our bodies — that’s a form of worship, Allahu Akbar. But on the other hand, if we’re playing basketball but missing Isha and Taraweeh and Salaatul Witr — maybe there needs to be a moment of re-evaluation. Our masajid, our Muslim institutions provide us with these facilities to accommodate young Muslims to enjoy themselves while being accompanied by the blessing of the masjid. The masjid is not simply a place of worship, but a place of community. Let us not abuse our community’s generosity by neglecting our prayers for basketball! Anyways, these youth that play basketball but neglect their prayers tend to be the target of judging by other youth who think they’re more righteous than them. What we don’t realize is, when ridiculing people who are struggling with their worship and faith — we are not helping the situation. On the contrary, we are pushing them away from the masajid, and causing them to develop resentment for those who practice. These are the matters we need to reflect on and work towards rectifying!
I would like to wrap things up by quoting Allah the Most High in Surah Al-Hashr when He says,
“There is no comparison between the inhabitants of the Fire and the inhabitants of Paradise— and the inhabitants of Paradise are the successful ones (59:20).”
I would like us to really reflect on this verse of the Qur’an. Allah (SWT) is reminding us all that there is a profound and distinct difference between those who go to Hell versus those who go to Paradise — they are not equals, at all. Most definitely their ways of living are not the same. Sure, the inhabitants of Paradise sinned, they may have erred but you know what makes them different from those who are the ultimate failures? They repented from their ways, they humbled themselves and relied solely upon God.
This Ramadan, change yourself — and once you change yourself, naturally you will cause positive change in others. Stay in constant remembrance in God this Ramadan!
“Whoever is not grateful to the people, he is not grateful to Allah.” (At-Tirmidhi, Narrated by Abu Hurairah [R])
Celebrate that good companion(s) in your friend circle! Here are the steps:
- Follow (@YourMuslimBro) via Instagram / Like (Your Muslim Bro) on Facebook!
- Make a status; post a picture with a caption; or make a video shouting out that great friend in your life.
- Make sure to make it public (so we can share the good ones on our page), provided with the hashtag #ThePerfumeSeller! Don’t forget to tag Your Muslim Bro on Instagram or Facebook!
DISCLAIMER: Please, celebrate your friends in real life, show them your appreciation in person! The purpose of #ThePerfumeSeller is to take some time and show people the exemplary individuals in our lives. Humankind learns best by example ma shaa Allah! Nevertheless, be someone that appreciates people without a keyboard as well — we need to be better with that!
Cleaning Month: Ramadan & Purifying One’s Heart
In the name of Allah, the Lord and Giver of Mercy.
I pray that Allah (SWT) provides me with the hikmah (wisdom) to communicate this, ameen. I think it’s timely that this post came after the previous post discussing ways to effectively spend our Ramadan this year.
Every Ramadan, we want to be better. Every year, we tell ourselves the same thing — “In shaa Allah, I am going to put x hours of my day to reading Qur’an. Every day I am going to watch an hour of Sheikh x’s lecture series on YouTube while taking notes.” And the list goes on, ma shaa Allah.We are going strong for like a day or two — next thing you know, laziness kicks in, and all we do is fast in food and drink then proceed to nap. Why is that?
The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said, “When Ramadan begins, the gates of Jannah are opened, the gates of Hell are closed, and the devils are chained. (Sahih Bukhari & Muslim)”
With the aforementioned hadith in mind, I have come to the realization that the devils being locked up during Ramadan hasn’t really hindered my tendency in shortcomings. What that reveals to me, and problem to us all is — rather than focusing on Shaytan’s absence, realize that the battle is not over — for it is our nafs (our desires) that needs to be locked up and contained.
I was taught by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda that man is composed of two entities — the nafs (our desires) and the ruh (our soul); the nafs is our animal-like side and the ruh is composed of divine light from Allah (SWT) which is similar to the angels. Depending on our habits and routines, these components of our being can overpower the other. Therefore, when you develop good habits and you dedicate yourself to self-improvement — you increase your ruh, which overpowers the nafs, which makes you more wary and in control of your behavior. Keep this in mind, if the nafs is more similar to the animal, who is not in much rational control of what it does — then realize that when we allow the nafs to be at the forefront, gradually, we will weaken our imaan to the point that we are basically submitting wholly to our desires. May Allah (SWT) protect us from this terrible mental condition, and keep us amongst the rightly guided, ameen.
So how does one go about eliminating the nafs this Ramadan? The “Proof of Islam” Imam Abu Hamid Al-Ghazali says in the Introduction of his book, The Beginning of Guidance, which I highly recommend everyone reading — that the beginning of guidance is the outward reality of God-Consciousness (Taqwa), and the ending of guidance is the inward reality of God-Consciousness. He defines taqwa as “carrying out the commands of Allah Most High and turning away from that which He has forbidden.” To summarize and to put it simply, the way to purify your heart and minimize your nafs is to do two things — live a life of obedience and avoid a life of disobedience. How does one simply do that? Keep Allah (SWT) in constant remembrance. We must make time for worship and from morning to evening! However, worship is not simply the obligatory prayers. Worship comes in the form of a healthy diet, the usage of good speech, and dressing properly! When one is making their intention to follow the tradition of the Beloved of Allah (ﷺ) and pleasing Allah (SWT); acting upon that intention is worshiping Allah, the Most Merciful! To wrap this reflection and reminder up, I would like to provide three tips of advice bi idhinillah to us all based on previous personal advice from my mentors.
Before we get into the specifics, we must realize before even ASKING to be guided, before even WORKING towards improving ourselves — we have to ask Allah sincerely for His forgiveness regarding our shortcomings. We have to make the effort to clean our records with Allah (SWT) before we can ask Him for something. We need to humble ourselves and admit our flaws to our Most Merciful Lord. From there, we can continue on the path of self-improvement.
Well, I mean, it is the month where the Qur’an was revealed! Wissam Sharrief puts it beautifully by saying, “The Qur’an is Allah’s Love Letter to you.” Imagine an author writing a book, and this book is a gift of love to His reader? Well, that’s how we should value the Qur’an and its Most Merciful author! Try to learn Arabic and read the Qur’an in its pure, preserved form but also, if you’re not proficient in Arabic — read to understand by reading the Qur’an translation in the language you know best. For English speakers, a recommended text would be The Qur’an (Oxford World’s Classics)
Allah says in Suratul Hashr, Ayah 21:
“If We had sent down this Qur’an upon a mountain, you would have seen it humbled and coming apart from fear of Allah . And these examples We present to the people that perhaps they will give thought.”
Bone-chilling! Reflect on that.
Develop Noble Character
None of us are perfect, we all have something to work on — some more than others. Nevertheless, Allah (SWT) cares more about effort, because we all have different trials in our lives that make us who we are. But as Muslims, we have to work on attaining characteristics that pleasing to Allah (Azza Wa Jal). Some examples could be forgiving your fellow brother/sister of a debt they owe you; keeping touch with loved ones; being lenient and empathetic with people; giving charity; the list can go on.
To conclude, I sincerely pray that we all accomplish this goal of minimizing our nafs and empowering our ruh by purifying our hearts this upcoming Ramadan. Don’t let this Ramadan be like last Ramadan, blow last Ramadan out of the waters with this Ramadan! Tell yourself, “You thought last Ramadan was life-changing? Man, wait for this one in shaa Allah!”. Be strong, be patient and most importantly — understand that you will feel the struggle. So, be conscious of Allah the Most High, seek His guidance, and stay true to your commitment of being a better Muslim brother or sister. Change the world y’all.
And Allah Knows Best, and solely in Allah do we seek aid. JazakumAllahu Khairan.
(This article is a reflection inspired by Imam Al-Ghazali’s Bidayatul Hidaya, Qur’an Intensive 2014 by Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda of Bayyinah Institute and last night’s “Towards A Nabawi Ramadan” lecture by Ustadh Nuh Saunders of the Imam Al-Ghazali Institute. If anything I said was good, indeed all praise is due to Allah, the Most Wise. If anything I said was wrong or offensive, indeed that is my own fault and I pray to Allah that I am amongst the forgiven, ameen.)
5 Ways to Effectively Spend Your Ramadan Online
In the name of Allah, the Lord and Giver of Mercy.
SubhanAllah, Ramadan is coming up pretty soon! We are passing the 2 week mark! When the Holy Month of Ramadan begins, we usually start with the intentions of making it a transformative experience. Every Muslim that observes the Ramadan, young and old, healthy and sick, rich and poor — the main objective through Ramadan is becoming a better servant of Allah (SWT). Even Muslims who may have not been the best at practicing Islam the rest of the year, they want to make a change in their lives as well, and none of us has the right to judge them for their efforts.
Nevertheless, the world that we live in, in the environment we are exposed to — we are extremely distracted from this noble objective. Not to be the bearer of bad news but, the Holiest month observed in the faith tradition of Islam is being capitalized off of by businesses and the entertainment industry! Even in our predominantly Muslim societies, such as the Middle East and the Subcontinent, did you ever notice that the BEST television shows are premiered in the month of Ramadan? Ramadan is the Month of Qur’an, Forgiveness, Mercy, Patience, Charity and Submission to Allah — but unfortunately, a lot of us who have recent and direct roots overseas have been sucked in by brand-new, action-packed, well-orchestrated dramas! This article is not here to complain and slam Muslims who are engaged in this! Not at all, this is an article addressing the issue, because it seems to have sneaked up behind us by surprise. Moreover, this article will provide the reader with several solutions on how one can productively utilize the internet, and television this Ramadan. By the Mercy of Allah, outlets such as the television and the internet have their benefits and their harms. By the permission of Allah, this article will help the reader seek out the benefits — in order to optimize their experience this upcoming Ramadan!
1.) Qur’an Weekly
Ramadan is the Month of Qur’an right? What’s a better way to spend your Ramadan committing at least 30 minutes of your day to watch our prominent scholars such as Nouman Ali Khan, Abdul Nasir Jangda, Omar Suleiman, Hussain Kamani and many more who share short, and powerful videos discussing gems in the Qur’an! I started doing this last Ramadan, and man, this project is run by some very devoted volunteers that work really hard to benefit a mass amount of us! To say this page changed my life is an understatement. As you spend your Ramadan watching their videos, please keep the volunteers and their families in your prayers! It is not easy!
2.) The Ramadan Tafseer Series w/ Shaykh Abdul Nasir Jangda (via MuslimMatters.org)
Personally, being blessed with studying under this brilliant teacher last summer at the Bayyinah Institute Qur’an Intensive 2014 program — this by far, is one of the biggest gifts I could share with you all on the internet. Every Ramadan, our generous and knowledgeable scholar releases a WHOLE surah of tafseer through Muslim Matters, another project established by beautiful and humble servants of the Most Merciful. This year in shaa Allah, our Shaykh will be releasing my year’s surah’s tafseer — Suratul Hajj. All I can say is, that surah made our class shake in fear with tears in our eyes and also made us smile in hope as well. A very powerful surah. In addition, as aforementioned this happens every Ramadan, meaning that there have been other surahs completely covered such as: Al-Anbiya, Ta-Ha, Maryam, and Ya-Sin! So after you’re done with Surah Al-Hajj this Ramadan, or after you are done covering another surah this Ramadan — dedicate some time in your week to cover the other surahs. Our Shaykh, along with other instructors from Bayyinah Institute have truly mastered the skill of analyzing and explaining the Qur’an. Even as regular laymen, we can truly comprehend the Qur’an thanks to their beautiful, selfless contributions! May Allah continue to accept and bless them for their efforts, ameen! Once again, in shaa Allah, look out for Suratul Hajj this Ramadan (it will be in https://www.MuslimMatters.org/tag/RamadanTafsir15).
3.) Arabic with Husna (Bayyinah TV)
Since this is the third Bayyinah plug-in I may seem biased, but hear me out — Bayyinah Institute is one of the most effective institutes when it comes to learning Qur’an. They do not simply give you Tafseer and use fancy technical terms — they want YOU to learn the Arabic grammar required to develop a long-lasting connection with the Qur’an as well. And the Introductory Video Series, “Arabic with Husna” is your best route to accomplishing this important, life-changing objective. Watch the introduction video above, and if you’re interested, subscribe to Bayyinah TV to get access to all the beautiful material that will help you develop a better understanding of the Arabic language. A better understanding of the Arabic language equates to a better understanding of the Qur’an, and a better understanding of the Qur’an is a deeper connection with the One who loves you and cares for you more than anything existent, our Most Merciful Lord, Allah (SWT).
Learn in this very cute and informative way — where Nouman Ali Khan is teaching his baby daughter Arabic, but at the same time, you are learning with Husna step-by-step the grammar of the language of the Qur’an — Arabic.
4.) Seerah of Prophet Muhammad (S) by Dr. Yasir Qadhi
You want a close connection with the Qur’an right? Well, Umm-ul Mu’mineen Aisha (RA) referred to our Beloved Prophet (S) as the Qur’an walking. Rasulullah (S) is the most beloved figure in our faith tradition, and it is highly recommended that we send salutations upon his noble being and pray for peace and blessings upon him. Dr. Yasir Qadhi, one of America’s most prominent scholars has provided us with a long, and thorough series on the Life and Times of our Beloved Master — Rasulullah (S). Another way to connect to the Qur’an, is studying the life and stories of the individual who lived the Qur’an. As Muslims, we are required to love Rasulullah (S) more than our own selves (referring to this hadith) — how can we truly love our Beloved Prophet (S) if we do not know his life? Above is a playlist of 104 videos solely dedicated to the comprehensive, detailed and biographical story of the most perfect human being that walked on the earth, sayyidna Muhammad (S).
5.) Towards A #Nabawi Ramadan
Being affiliated with the Imam Ghazali Institute, I felt obliged to plug-in the institution I love by informing you all of an upcoming seminar that will be mostly targeting young Muslims going to college! RSVP here and make sure to take good notes, we are providing you with a good roster of scholars and teachers to equip you with the tools to optimize your Ramadan experience!
To end this article, I gave you five beautiful, long-lasting tools to optimize your Ramadan this year and even the Ramadans to come in shaa Allah (may Allah allow us to observe many more, ameen!). I pray you find these materials provided to be life-changing for you and a means to our ultimate goal — Al-Jannah! May Allah make this information beneficial to us, and remember — when seeking knowledge, take notes, digest the knowledge and pray for more! Imam Al-Ghazali always encouraged his students and readers to pray for knowledge that benefits, and for a heart that’s God-conscious. What is non-beneficial knowledge? A knowledge we don’t implement, and a knowledge we don’t follow after being taught. Oh Allah make our newly acquired knowledge a witness for us on the Day of Judgment and not a witness against us, ameen. May Allah preserve you all, and please keep the Beloved of Allah (S) in your prayers — Peace and Blessings be upon him and his righteous, and noble companions! Ameen!