Tag Archives: adab

Satan The Humble: A Story

Earlier today I came across a Christian man shouting into the face of a Muslim sister. At first I wasn’t sure what to do, but the sister was accompanied by her husband who was able to manage the situation quite well.

I calmly encouraged the Christian to walk away and to talk with me instead. At first he was a little bit hesitant, but this one interaction led to what was perhaps the strangest conversation I’ve ever had. The Christian man was clearly angry, agitated, and upset. As I was walking with him, we both quickly realised that we were Trinidadian (from the same country) and we spoke a little about our shared heritage. I thought we were making progress until his next sentence:

You’re stupid.

I have to admit that this caught me off guard, but I didn’t insult him in return, they are not our teachers in this regard. This would turn out to be an impactful action that led to a good end, keep it in mind as the story continues. Apparently I was stupid because I’m a Muslim. I’ve been called worse before so this was tame in comparison.

He decided that he wanted some coffee so I offered to buy a cup for him and so we began our brief journey to the nearby McCafe. Along the way he asked me why I believed in Islam and why I rejected the ‘truth’ about Christ. I simply let him know that I’ve studied both Islam and Christianity and that I simply find Islam to be more coherent, consistent and considerate than Christianity. He didn’t like this answer, but it was a truthful one. I mentioned that I couldn’t believe in the Bible because of its lack of preservation. He tried to argue that I likely hadn’t read the Bible, so in response I gave a few examples of the surviving New Testament papyri which contained variants affecting his beliefs, specifically that the papyrus containing the earliest text of ‘Doubting’ Thomas’ “my Lord and my God,” was lacunose. He quickly shifted topics to the ‘Qur’ān having 27 versions’. I shut down that argument pretty quickly and he seemed happy to move on from it.

Finally we got the coffee and sat down for an hour long conversation. On multiple occasions he referred to me as “a dumb Muslim”, “a stupid person”, “Satanic/ Satan”, “demonic”, etc. I’m old enough to know that when someone insults you in this way they’re looking for you to validate their perception of us as being angry, hateful people. He was trying to provoke me into confirming his prejudice. Yet, I simply smiled and ignored it. Over time, he stopped the insults. He tried to claim that the Qur’ān stated that Muslims should kill all non-believers, I asked for a reference, he quickly tried to Google an answer but he couldn’t find any verse that made any such claim. One by one his arguments fell apart.

He mentioned that the Qur’ān isn’t in chronological order therefore it can’t be understood, I pointed out that it wasn’t a Greco-Roman bios (like the Gospels), so it didn’t need to be in chronological order, much like the Psalms in the Bible. His next argument was that Muslims want Islam to be the dominant religion, I responded that everyone wants their ideology to be adopted by the masses, nothing is wrong with that. He followed up by saying that only Islam is bad as an ideology because of the violence Muslims commit. I responded by referencing Zechariah, chapters 12 to 14, where forced worship, torture and mass genocide is what happens to non-Christians when his version of Jesus returns, so it would be more rational for me to be afraid of his faith than he should be of mines.

Our conversation was quickly coming to an end, but I had him read for me 2 Corinthians 6:14 to 2 Corinthians 7:1

Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? 15 What harmony is there between Christ and Belial[a]? Or what does a believer have in common with an unbeliever? 16 What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said:

“I will live with them
and walk among them,
and I will be their God,
and they will be my people.”[b]

17 Therefore,

“Come out from them
and be separate,
says the Lord.
Touch no unclean thing,
and I will receive you.”[c]

18 And,

“I will be a Father to you,
and you will be my sons and daughters,
says the Lord Almighty.”[d]

7 Therefore, since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

He didn’t want to read these passages out loud, in fact he tried on multiple occasions to avoid discussing it. I stuck to my course and kept returning to these few verses. I remarked at him, look at the derogatory way in which it refers to ‘unbelievers’, look at how it says we’re unclean, that we can’t be touched, that we must be segregated! He didn’t enjoy this at all, his demeanor had changed, he was no longer boisterous. He had lost his gusto. He then tried one last argument, that it’s only Muslims that force their faith on others. Somehow this ended up with him wanting me to touch the cross he was wearing, I made it clear that I didn’t want to touch an idol. So he proceeded to touch me with the cross. I don’t think it hit him, the irony of the situation, until I pointed it out. I had expressed that I didn’t want to touch it and yet he forced it upon me. Once the realisation hit (that he was forcing his beliefs on me), we decided to end the conversation and he promised to be in contact with me.

On our way back to the street, he actually said I was very ‘humble’, that I didn’t shout at him or insult him in return, he confessed that my reactions to him were puzzling. In fact, he specifically mentioned that it’s likely I am Satanic because of how good my behavior was as a non-Christian, especially given the heated situation underwhich we met. As we were about to part ways, he walked up to his Christian buddies from Christ Forgiveness Ministries and made a comment about me, what he said I couldn’t hear but when he returned to me, I was in the company of the sister he initially was shouting at. Surprisingly he came with a smile and said that I was his ‘buddy’ who was very ‘humble’ and pleasant to talk with.

It’s amazing what good adab can do. Da’wah isn’t only about explaining what we as Muslims believe but it’s also about our behavior, mannerisms and etiquette:

“Invite ˹all˺ to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and kind advice, and only debate with them in the best manner. Surely your Lord ˹alone˺ knows best who has strayed from His Way and who is ˹rightly˺ guided.” – Qur’ān 16:125 (translation: The Clear Quran, by Dr. Mustafa Khattab).

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and Allah knows best.

Islam: The Path of Appreciation and Thanks in Brotherhood

Human relations is perhaps one of the most difficult and treacherous roads in navigating this life of ours. Man is easy to offend, difficult to please, stubborn to forget. There is a truth which Satan the accursed has spoken, whether one chooses to believe in him or not, it is a truth that can be seen and understood by every man, he says:

ثُمَّ لَآتِيَنَّهُم مِّن بَيْنِ أَيْدِيهِمْ وَمِنْ خَلْفِهِمْ وَعَنْ أَيْمَانِهِمْ وَعَن شَمَائِلِهِمْ ۖ وَلَا تَجِدُ أَكْثَرَهُمْ شَاكِرِينَ

“Then I will come to them from before them and from behind them and on their right and on their left, and You will not find most of them grateful [to You].” – Qur’aan 7:17.

It is true that most men are not grateful to God, or that higher power they ascribe to, what some men today call the Universe. Some call it karma, what goes around comes around, an ironic if not cynical cycle of self debasement without realization. Whatever it is that men ascribe to, by and large they are difficult to please and are generally ungrateful to themselves, others and that which they worship or hold to be the power which holds the worlds together. One of the most successful books of the 20th century focused on this very topic, human relations and navigating them. Written in 1937, Dale Carnegie’s “How to Win Friends and Influence People” focused a great deal on advising men in this regard. It is regarded as a must read, and quotes from some of history’s most famous personalities on acquiring the skills needed to establish meaningful friendships and practising empathy towards our fellow man. In reading the book, it mentions:

Lincoln once began a letter saying: ‘Everybody likes a compliment.’ William James said: ‘The deepest principle in human nature is the craving to be appreciated.’ He didn’t speak, mind you, of the ‘wish’ or the ‘desire’ or the ‘longing’ to be appreciated. He said the ‘craving’ to be appreciated.

The book goes on to mention:

I have among my clippings a story that I know never happened, but it illustrates a truth, so I’ll repeat it:

According to this silly story, a farm woman, at the end of a heavy day’s work, set before her menfolks a heaping pile of hay. And when they indignantly demanded whether she had gone crazy, she replied: ‘Why, how did I know that you’d notice? I’ve been cooking for you men for the last twenty years and in all that time I ain’t heard no word to let me know you wasn’t just eating hay.’

When a study was made a few years ago on runaway wives, what do you think was discovered to be the main reason wives ran away? It was ‘lack of appreciation.’ And I’d bet that a similar study made of runaway husbands would come out the same way. We often take our spouses so much for granted that we never let them know how we appreciate them.

A member of one of our classes told of a request made by his wife. She and a group of other women in her church were involved in a self-improvement programme. She asked her husband to help her by listing six things he believed she could do to help her become a better wife. He reported to the class: ‘I was surprised by such a request. Frankly, it would have been easy for me to list six things I would like to change about her – my heavens, she could have listed a thousand things she would like to change about me – but I didn’t. I said to her, “Let me think about it and give you an answer in the morning.”

“The next morning I got up very early and called the florist and had them send six red roses to my wife with a note saying: ‘I can’t think of six things I would like to change about you. I love you the way you are.’

“When I arrived at home that evening, who do you think greeted me at the door: That’s right, my wife! She was almost in tears. Needless to say, I was extremely glad I had not criticised her as she had requested.

“The following Sunday at church, after she had reported the results of her assignment, several women with whom she had been studying came up to me and said, “That was the most considerate thing I have ever heard.” It was then I realised the power of appreciation.’

Yet, in the 7th century CE, some 1200 years before Dale’s book enlightened the educated, free, modern man; Prophet Muhammad ﷺ spoke this very advise. What Dale wrote an entire book on, quoting some of the most famous men in history, the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ spoke in one powerful sentence:

“Whoever is not grateful to the people, he is not grateful to Allah.”

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم ‏ “‏ مَنْ لَمْ يَشْكُرِ النَّاسَ لَمْ يَشْكُرِ اللَّهَ ‏” – at-Tirmidhi: Volume 4, Book 1, Hadith 1995. “Chapter on Righteousness and Maintaining Good Relations with Relatives”. 

cc-2014-islamthanks

This sublime Prophet narration is graded as authentic by the scholars of hadith. It is the mark of a great mind, a great man to elucidate the masses by enunciating the wisest of teachings in the simplest of ways. What this Prophetic narration proposes, is that gratefulness, appreciation, thanks to our fellow man is needed to establish a relationship with the Creator, the Lord of the Worlds. That is the most important relationship anyone can have, and to achieve this, one must appreciate his brothers, sisters, spouse, friends, parents – everyone. This is all that anyone has to say on the matter. An entire book is not needed. We can extract more of such beautiful teachings from among the Prophetic narrations:

“O Abu Hurairah, be cautious, and you will be the most devoted of people to Allah. Be content, and you will be the most grateful of people to Allah. Love for people what you love for yourself, and you will be a (true) believer. Be a good neighbor to your neighbors, and you will be a (true) Muslim. And laugh little, for laughing a lot deadens the heart.”

قَالَ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ ـ صلى الله عليه وسلم ـ ‏ “‏ يَا أَبَا هُرَيْرَةَ كُنْ وَرِعًا تَكُنْ أَعْبَدَ النَّاسِ وَكُنْ قَنِعًا تَكُنْ أَشْكَرَ النَّاسِ وَأَحِبَّ لِلنَّاسِ مَا تُحِبُّ لِنَفْسِكَ تَكُنْ مُؤْمِنًا وَأَحَسِنْ جِوَارَ مَنْ جَاوَرَكَ تَكُنْ مُسْلِمًا وَأَقِلَّ الضَّحِكَ فَإِنَّ كَثْرَةَ الضَّحِكِ تُمِيتُ الْقَلْبَ ‏”‏ ‏.‏ – Sunan ibn Majah, Volume 1, Book 37, Hadith 4217. “The Book of Zuhd”.

Appreciation comes in many forms, not just in mere words. The Prophetic narrations mention:

The Prophet (ﷺ) said, “A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out. Meanwhile he saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, “This dog is suffering from thirst as I did.” So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and watered it. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him. The people said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied: “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).”

‏”‏ بَيْنَا رَجُلٌ بِطَرِيقٍ، اشْتَدَّ عَلَيْهِ الْعَطَشُ فَوَجَدَ بِئْرًا فَنَزَلَ فِيهَا فَشَرِبَ، ثُمَّ خَرَجَ، فَإِذَا كَلْبٌ يَلْهَثُ يَأْكُلُ الثَّرَى مِنَ الْعَطَشِ، فَقَالَ الرَّجُلُ لَقَدْ بَلَغَ هَذَا الْكَلْبَ مِنَ الْعَطَشِ مِثْلُ الَّذِي كَانَ بَلَغَ مِنِّي، فَنَزَلَ الْبِئْرَ، فَمَلأَ خُفَّهُ مَاءً، فَسَقَى الْكَلْبَ، فَشَكَرَ اللَّهُ لَهُ، فَغَفَرَ لَهُ ‏”‏‏.‏ قَالُوا يَا رَسُولَ اللَّهِ وَإِنَّ لَنَا فِي الْبَهَائِمِ لأَجْرًا فَقَالَ ‏”‏ فِي كُلِّ ذَاتِ كَبِدٍ رَطْبَةٍ أَجْرٌ ‏”‏‏.‏ – Sahih al Bukhari, Book 46, Hadith 27. Alternatively, Sahih al-Bukhari 2466.

The Prophetic example has emphasized the importance of appreciating others in words, thought and action. If we wish to adhere to the command of God, we must adhere to the Prophetic example of Muhammad ﷺ. Whether you are a Muslim, or not, this is indispensable advice as articulated by him, or as later given by men throughout history. Either way, one can only benefit from the path of appreciation and giving thanks to others.

and Allaah knows best.