So we've reached the end of the Gregorian calendar year (yes, I know the Islamic New Year was in September!) . May be it isn't important to you or maybe it is, but the way bills, school, banks, and just about everything in the West and the East are set-up, December 31st is about closure. During the last 365 days we've all have seen many blessings and many trials, too. As Muslims, we know no matter what, we have to remain hopeful and praise Allah for all that He has given us. But I think any time you complete something, it's time for reflection. You have to take some inventory of yourself and honestly decide what worked, what failed miserably, and what's left for you to work on. Do ya'll do that? I think more Muslim communities need to come together and share in these types of reflections in order to plan how to more forward, enshallah. Now, even if your community doesn't have town hall meetings set-up, maybe you can get together with your sisters or your brothers and discuss the positives and the negatives. Positives are easy to come up with so I will leave that to your group to do that work. Here is small list of ten things, I pray and hope, we as Muslims can leave in 2017:
2. Iftar Microaggressions at masajid: During Ramadhan the masajid are filled. This is a blessing that Allah brings His servants together to worship Him alone. It should be a time of remembrance, reflection, and camaraderie. We are all guests of Allah in His house. But too often, too often Muslims gather and can't get it right. Brothers, if you can't shake another brother's hand because he is a few shade darker than you - stay home! Sisters, if you got to side eye every sister coming in the building before deciding to return the salams - stay home. If you, your grandmother, grandfather or uncles and them got issues eating or standing next to folks that ain't from your tribe - stay home! You don't own the masajid and if you can't get over yourself, keep yourself and your issues away from other Muslims - stay away from the community iftar. You don't know if your illness will poison another believer. You don't know if someone has their own illness that they are fighting to hold back! Don't take those microaggressions into 2018. Throw them away for good.
3. "But the shaykh said": Which shaykh? Read me carefully now, I am not denouncing our beloved shayuk in the least! Rather, I am calling for their proper due and respect of our learned. If you cant't recall who said what, when,why or from where the reference comes from -- abort that thought until you can properly cite it! Often times your message will be better understood with a aya or one hadeeth. It's not necessary to throw out names of scholars in every sentence to win a debate. Also, recognize that every Muslim may not follow or have even heard of the scholar that you revere. That shouldn't start a fight or dissension either. Knowledge shouldn't cause us to be haughty or harsh. Leave the shaykh said disagreements in 2017.
4. Arguments on Social media about the old hot topics: It's just not a good idea. People get angry and feelings get hurt. There's never a resolution found on social media. Recognize that people are passionate about certain topics. Find your people and stick with them if you must discuss those topics so at least you can feel right in your group. The name calling and putting others down publicly isn't a good look as Muslim. Don't let shaytan get you riled up over something you can't control. Keep scrolling and keep those arguments in 2017.
5. Poor Leadership in our communities: Without naming any names, unfortunately there were a couple of scandals involving Muslim leaders in different cities. People were saddened and hurt and rightfully so. But we are part of the problem as well. We love a charismatic speaker who can deliver a dynamic khutbah, who can raise funds for the building fund, and who can bolster the numbers in the community. However, how well do we vet our leaders? Do we care about the backgrounds of those pushed to the front or are we just concerned about they can do? How many sisters are on the boards of these masajid to interject questions that speak to the needs and protection of Muslimat? Some times poor leadership is unavoidable. Some times we get what we got because we invited them in! Let's leave poor leadership in 2017 and demand more accountability in 2018.
6. Excuses: Advancement, Education, Sadaqa, Volunteering, Attendance at activities in the community - "Nah, nope, I can't! I don't want to help with that!" If that's your answer to every single thing someone asks you to do in your own community, you might have an issue. It could be something happened years ago and you have never healed from it or you don't like working or being around certain personalities in your community (see next point). Or it could be that you are really that busy. I understand. We all have our own problems and challenges to overcome. But we need the Muslim community to support the Muslim community! Know that we need you! If you can't give your money to a project, try to give your time. If you can't give your time to the community, try to give a resource. It doesn't have to be money all the time, but we need Muslims involved and engaged. We have to leave the ready-made excuses in 2017. Let's make 2018 the year of yes!
7. Personality Issues: People are different. Islam wasn't sent to make us all carbon copies of one another. Yes, as Muslims we should all be working on our character and putting forth our best effort to be good people. The reality is that we won't ever be exactly same people! Stop cutting Muslims off or not even giving Muslims a chance because they sound or look different than you! Even in your own family: your children, husband, and parents have different personalities than you. On your job you work and smile at all sorts of people with different looks, beliefs, ideas, and traditions than you and you manage to get through eight or more hours without all the side-eyes! In 2018 let's do our best to be sisterly and brotherly for the sake of Allah. Let's leave personality hate in 2017 and make our best effort to get to know someone new!
8. Celebrity (Busy) A'immah (read: Imams): Now, if your Imam has a theme song, all the latest social media accounts, contacts of sisters in every area code, a calendar full of booked dates out of the country, but only one Friday out of the month that he is in your city, he might be a celebrity Imam. This is touchy issue and I know intentions are important for why people do what they do. I also know having a big name Imam who travels, has 10,000 followers on YouTube and Instagram brings in resources to the Imam's host community. However, if the celebrity imam isn't bringing about any change in our communities, he got to go! I could have merged this with the poor leadership, but I felt this deserved it's own mention. Brothers gotta eat and provide for their families. I get it and I support it. You just have a choice to make. If you don't know the names and faces of the Muslims in your community or the only way your community can get in touch with you is by scheduling a SKYPE meeting, perhaps you need to step aside. It's very difficult to be a celebrity Imam and run a community. You can't mix full-time entertainment with full-time spiritual activism and social work. One focus usually will take over the other. We need dedicated A'immah in our communities invested in our people. Our youth need to be able to connect with their Imam and learn and sit with their elders. So for that reason, we gotta leave the celebrity leadership in 2017. Let's bring some real community workers into our communities in 2018 who are hungry for change and will invest their time and resources in building bridges.
9. Magnifying Sisters' Issues (while minimizing issues with brothers): When every lecture, conference, or workshop focuses on sisters' issues: how the sisters are not covering properly, why the sisters are gathering, where the sisters hang-out or go to school, if the sisters support this or that, sisters need to get married or more sisters need to do this or that - it's intentional, it's demeaning, it's called micro-aggression and it's time for it stop! Brothers and sisters, it's not your business what color a sister's hijab or jilbab or skirt is. If sisters show up to events with Muslims, think the very best that sisters are there to learn, be inspired, remember Allah and feel welcomed in Muslim spaces. Yes, we all have room to grow. But understand everyone grows differently at the speed and time Allah wills for them, so be kind and merciful. Furthermore, there's a whole lot of growth and development and learning that brothers of all ages need to be called out on as well - learn to show brothers some concern and attention through out the year too. Let's kick this habit of shaming Muslim women once and for all and bury it in 2017.
10. Sectarian Wars: What se(c)t you reppin'? What scholars you take from? What masjid you from? You take from that shaykh? You didn't go to that conference? - If these are some of the 20 questions you have to ask each and every single Muslim you meet before you decide to behave sisterly or brother, you might be reppin' a sectarian war - not Islam! We have a lot of problems in our communities and they all need our attention, but these sectarian wars just need a janazah! Let it go. Knock it off. Grow up! Get a Muslim mentor. Learn. Grow. You absolutely have every right to listen and follow what you believe is correct. Let that which is good and best in you show in your actions though. Take off the the arrogance in your speech and in your action! You are not pleasing Allah by hurting Muslims! And you can do better. Every single day at your job, at the bank, at the grocery store, at the airport -- you act right! Be good to the Muslims just like you act good with the non Muslims. Your sisters and brother are more deserving of your good treatment - even if you don't agree with them all the time! Let's break free of sectarian wars! Let's all remember to be patient with each other, to respect each other and that Allah is a Watcher over us all. Don't bring this mess into 2018. Leave it in 2017.
They say: Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith and put not in our hearts any resentment toward those who have faith. Our Lord, you are kind and merciful.
Surat al-Hashr 59:10
Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said:
With Love,لَا تَبَاغَضُوا وَلَا تَحَاسَدُوا وَلَا تَدَابَرُوا وَكُونُوا عِبَادَ اللَّهِ إِخْوَانًا وَلَا يَحِلُّ لِمُسْلِمٍ أَنْ يَهْجُرَ أَخَاهُ فَوْقَ ثَلَاثٍDo not hate each other, do not envy each other, do not turn away from each other, but rather be servants of Allah as brothers. It is not lawful for a Muslim to boycott his brother for more than three days.Source: Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 5718, Grade: Muttafaqun Alayhi
Umm Juwayriyah & Juwayriyah Ayed