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Monday, November 4, 2013

Moving Past Adversities: #2 Mean Muslim Girls (and women)

  I receive a lot letters from readers of every age about the depth of sisterhood depicted among the characters in Covered Pearls crew in my novel, The Size of a Mustard Seed. Alhamduleelah, it seems that Jameelah and her friends left a really good impression on readers around the world and that many of you were inspired by the closeness that the sisters demonstrated in the book. But, I've said it a thousands now that the CPs were 100% fictional. However, Alhamduleelah, I was blessed to grow up in a Muslim community with some really good companions. I know how great a ni'mah from Allah it is to have good companions around you and I also know how severe of a test it is from Allah to not have them as well.

And what really has intrigued me is how many young sisters have confided in me that they don't have good, nice, and loyal companions in their communities. In fact, many of you have told me that there is just too much harshness, judgments, backbiting , and meanness within our sisterhood.

 So let me me say this from the jump: I think ill behavior is a sin that most of us have fallen into at one time or another in our lives. We're human, we're females and we have bad days, or seasons even when we are just in a real ugly funk and it permeates everything we touch. Daughters snap at mothers, mothers bark at their children (and husbands, too!) We roll eyes, we don't give our undivided attention to those talking to us, we fail to return phones calls or emails, we forget to invite sisters to functions, we look folk up and down when they walk by without giving the salams (here's where the real funkiness comes in), we call sisters by derogatory names, we tell their business to others (other sisters and our husbands too) without permission, we make snap judgments about their level of deen (or lack thereof) based on something  superficial like their clothing or their family and all of it is mean, ugly, low, and unbecoming of sisters.

No matter your reason - and I know many can give a million reasons to validate and explain the circumstances in which you behaved in this manner. It's not important though. Once you have hurt another person, especially your own sister in faith with your ill behavior, you have already spoiled your actions.

In the Qur'an, Allah says (what means) "It is part of the Mercy of Allah that thou dost deal gently with them.  Were thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah's) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast taken a decision, put thy trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him).  (The Noble Quran, 3:159)"

When we behave harsh, ill, mean, arrogantly with our sisters, they will turn away from us. And we don't want to turn our sisters away from us or worst, this beautiful, merciful, blessed way of life called Al Islam. We want our sisters and indeed, all of humanity to see us and the good that Allah has blessed us with and want to BE with us: Muslims.

Point #1: Being mean hurts you
Point #2: And it hurts others as well.
Point #3: Being mean can be accomplished in many ways (check your intentions before you speak or act)
Point #4: Being mean and harming people is not from Islam

So how can we move past this adversity? Before I share with you my S.C.S (simple common sense) tips, let's take a moment to reflect on the what our beloved prophet Muhammad  (sallallahu alyhi wa sallam) has said about this issue:

A'isha reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Allah is kind and loves kindness and gives for gentleness what he does not give for harshness nor for anything else." [Muslim]

 Anas reported that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, "Make things easy for people and do not make them difficult. Give good news to people and do not frighten them away." [Agreed upon]
 Jarir ibn 'Abdullah said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, say, 'Whoever is deprived of kindness is deprived of all good.'" [Muslim]

 Now, this issue has two sides, right? There are those who might be on the receiving end of M.M.Gs (mean Muslim girls) and of course we have the M.M.Gs all together. But there are commonalities between both groups. Did it ever occur to you that the M.M.Gs could have once been on the receiving end or in a situation in their life where Allah prevented them from having any friends at all. Again, we are Muslim girls and women and we are humans with life experiences that really affect us. If we don't learn to process our experiences of hurt, depression, pain and anger appropriately, sooner or later those emotions will find a way to break out! So let's jump into the S.C.S's:

#1 Work on being a sister to every sister you meet. Allah, in His speech that many of us know, has instructed us (with what means): The believers, men and women, are Awliyaa’ (helpers, supporters, friends, protectors) of one another; they enjoin (on the people) Al‑Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam orders one to do), and forbid (people) from Al‑Munkar (i.e. polytheism and disbelief of all kinds, and all that Islam has forbidden); they perform As-Salaah (Iqaamat-as-Salaah), and give the Zakaah, and obey Allaah and His Messenger. Allaah will have His Mercy on them. Surely, Allaah is All-Mighty, All-Wise
[al-Tawbah 9:71]

Be a sister! Give the salams and truly mean every part of that dua! Smile, shake hands and give the same amount of positive energy that you want to receive in return. Allah promises that He will have mercy on us, Alhamduleelah, so do your part to make sure that you receive it by behaving in the manners with the people that Allah loves.

#2 Be honest! If today or this whole week is not what's good with you, let sisters know upfront in a light-hearted way! "Sis, I'm running low on energy today, but I wanted to drop into your event to support you/ drop off this dish/ sit and listen to the class/see the people/ give a donation -etc  whatever it is, be specific and don't let your sisters think that your issue is with them. No mean mugging or rolling eyes or being inattentive to your sisters. If you feel that bad, stay home and send them a text, email or give or phone call. If you are low, but not empty, go see your sisters, but only stay for a short time. Smile, give the salams, be HONEST, and then leave. Because honestly if you have negatives vibes, you don't need to spread that sort of energy to others. 

#3 Don't block your blessings! If you have a clique/bffs/posse/homies/sissy poos - that's all good and it could even be a wonderful ni'mah from Allah, if you have been blessed with good friends. Make dua for them and treasure them, but know that Allah is Ar Razzaq! If He gave you two, He can give three, four or 20. Don't close yourself off to meeting and getting to know other sisters in your community because you don't know what Allah has out there for you. Some sister in another country, could be destined to become your greatest ally, but you won't know or receive that, if you are so caught up in the exclusivity of your small circle of friends.  Furthermore, diversity is beautiful. Connecting to sisters who have different skills, experiences and knowledge than you, builds you up and allows to fully appreciate Allah's bounties in your life

#4 Speak up and against M.M.G's behaviors! Iman is not only a statement on our tongues, it is a belief in our heart and an action with the limbs. The nabi sallallahu alyhi wa sallam said, "A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim. He neither oppresses him nor humiliates him nor looks down upon him. The piety is here, (and while saying so) he pointed towards his chest thrice. It is a serious evil for a Muslim that he should look down upon his brother Muslim. All things of a Muslim are inviolable for his brother in faith: his blood, his wealth and his honour.   (The book of Muslim, Book 32, Number 6219)"

We have to address negativity in positive ways in order to produce more positive energy to displace the negativity. So it's not all right to dishonor sisters displaying M.M.G's behaviors publicly (on Twitter, Facebook, a blog, or to other Muslims).  The simple fact is that even in the face of adversity, dear sisters, we have to still hold fast to that which is better: love, patience, loyalty, prayer, and dua! Allah will provide for us, as long as we keep our duty to Him. 

Abu Hamzah Anas bin Malik, radiyallahu 'anhu, who was the servant of the Messenger of Allah, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, reported that the Prophet, sallallahu 'alayhi wasallam, said:
"None of you truly believes (in Allah and in His religion) until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself"
[Al-Bukhari & Muslim]

So yes, speak up against M.M.G's behaviors in a masjid newsletter article on the merits of kindness, by inviting those sisters to your home for tea or ice cream, creating  volunteer opportunities for you all to participate in,  a skating party, a picnic, a Qur'an class or a halaqa! You can even speak to them individually and privately about how the behavior you witnessed made you feel. Ask them if they want to talk about the situation and see if you both can figure out a solution. If they don't want to talk about the issue, that's okay too! Let them know that you care for them and that you are there for them when ever they are ready to talk. And then go to number #5

#5 Keep them in prayer!  We all understand well that Allah is the giver of all that is good for us. But sometimes our younger ones forget that ibtilaat or tests and difficulty comes from Allah as well. So who is better to turn to seek ease, clarity, and happiness than to Allah? Alhamduleelah, Allah is Kind and He is Able to grant our prayers so use your prayers to pray for others as well! Pray for the good to be put in our communities, in our sisterhood, in our brotherhood, in our families, in our friendships and in our enemies, too! And try to make dua at the best of times for sisters by using their names. Be specific with your issues with them and ask Allah to remove the hardships and replace it with ease. 

 So here are my 5 Simple Common Sense Tips for moving pasting adversity when dealing with Mean Muslim Girls (and women). I know there are tons more, so feel free to share your tips with me in the comments.  Hopefully, I will get a chance to revisit this topic again before the year ends because there's more issues that I wanted to touch on, that I didn't get a chance to.  May Allah make us better than we are and give us the best character! If you get a chance to try the tips out, please share your findings with me!

"..Be mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. Get to know Allah in prosperity and He will know you in adversity. Know that what has passed you by was not going to befall you; and that what has befallen you was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief with affliction, and ease with hardship."

Next topic: It's a thin line between love & hate (A mother's tale with good days and bad days)