وهو الذي جعل الليل والنهار خلفة لمن اراد ان يذكر او اراد شكورا
“He is the One who made the night and day to follow each other for those who would reminisce or give thanks,” (Qur’an 25:62).
Our scholars teach us that this verse reminds us to keep up with our lives, taking account of our shortcomings, working hard toward progress and showing gratitude for all that we have and are able to do. Self-Accountability in the face of perfection is what Islam is all about. In Surah al-Hashr, God commands us to piety and God-Consciousness:
يا ايها الذين امنوا اتقوا الله ولتنظر نفس ما قدمت لغد واتقوا الله ان الله خبير بما تعملون
“Dear believers, be mindful of your duty to God and let every soul pay attention as to what it puts forward for the Day of Reckoning. So be mindful of God because surely He is fully aware of all that you do,” (Qur’an 59:18).
For us, every moment of each day is a time for change. God is the only constant in all of existence. He is The Absolute Perfection. We are all flawed and in need of evolving and progressing in hopes of being closer to Him. That is why He has revealed His guidance to us; in order that we may strive to become Godly.
To assume oneself is in no need of change is pure and simple arrogance which is the root of all evil. There are two extremes in morality. The first is where one sees their practice and understanding of religiosity as the pinnacle and the only true way. These people can’t see their flaws nor can they tolerate others. The second extreme is in those who would tolerate everyone without any solid foundation of creed and worship for themselves or others. These are willing to compromise the faith to please people. Without a doubt, the truth is between the two.
وكذلك جعلناكم امة وسطا لتكونوا شهداء على الناس ويكون الرسول عليكم شهيدا
“With this revelation, We have made you a moderate nation so that you may be proper witnesses upon mankind and thus the messenger will be a witness for you on the Day of Judgment…”(Qur’an 2:143).
We should be conservative, or should I say uncompromising, in the underlying objectives and agreed upon constants of our religion. At the same time, we should be open-minded towards interpretations of our religion and the effect they have on our lives and the lives of those around us. As Imam al-Shatibi explained, we must be guided by the objectives of benefit vs. harm outlined in the sacred law. We should be liberal in tolerating others and embrace humanity with a respectful merciful attitude. This middle ground is hard to come by as most gravitate toward the two extremes one way or another because it empowers the self. The divine balance empowers none but God while humbling man to realize we are all just a small, yet significant part of something much greater than ourselves.
I’m sure you all have been keeping up with the recent news of our Saudi sisters making Jihad for their God-given right to drive. I was reading a recent article where the President of the committee for Promoting Good and Rebuking Evil, Sh. Abdul-Latif Aala al-Shaikh, as well as many other notable Saudi scholars stating publically that there is no legal basis for the prohibition. It’s simply a patriarchal cultural interpretation of the religion. It’s interesting to note that those “conservative/literalist” scholars who back this ban get very figurative and principled in order to “interpret” it from our scripture.
The response to those who were pulled over this time was different than before. The old response was either to sign an affidavit saying that you will not do this again or be detained. However, this time the affidavit required them to not drive until obtaining a license. Some Saudi political analysts speculate that this is a step toward letting them obtain a license.
I also was recently reading an important declaration from the law department at al-Azhar that we have to correct some of the terminologies in our international relations terminology i.e. Land of Islam vs. The Land of disbelief/war (dar al-Islam vs. dar al-Kufr/harb). They noted that the circumstances in which our jurists coined these terms, as well as their intended meaning, is greatly misunderstood by the casual untrained reader. The world used to be in a perpetual state of war and the nature of those empires was in most cases ruled by the religion of the emperor thus hostile to other empires/religions. The department thus cited the difference in the world situation between those ancient imperial realities to the modern day concept of sovereign nation states, in addition to the widespread modern concept of freedom and human rights. Their decree is that the whole world should generally be called land of treaty (dar al-Ahd) until one nation illegally invades another or until the government of a nation overtly violently oppresses its people.
These two examples represent a migration in ideology correcting the previous ways in favor of another more comfortable way in order for Islam to thrive. The Arabic word hijrah means “to leave”. Now we find ourselves a week into the Islamic New Year. When we look at the migration of the Prophet ﷺ (peace be upon him), we see that it was difficult, required sacrifice and yet led to a better life.
The calendar was marked because of what it represents. It is well documented that when Umar radi Allahu `anhu (may God be pleased with him) would send letters to his governors throughout the Caliphate, they started to ask about an official date. He gathered the companions of the Prophet ﷺ in consultation. Some suggested they mark the Islamic calendar year by the birth of the Prophet ﷺ, while others suggested the year he first received revelation, or the year the Muslims migrated from Makkah to Yathrib (Medina). Umar (ra) was convinced that the year of the migration was the best marker of the start of the Islamic calendar. He said that this is when God distinguished between truth and falsehood. He was talking about how the physical migration was a process that represented a much bigger migration of deeper meaning: leaving one lifestyle for another because of its potential for virtue in the service of God.
It is of the utmost importance that those who migrate with their bodies also put their mind and heart into maximizing their potential to build future generations of Muslims particularly here in the West. It is equally important for the native Muslim community to not only avoid, but to bring plausible solutions to, sin and evil. This is what the Prophet ﷺ and his companions did when they migrated to Yathrib. They completely embraced the physical and abstract meaning of migration and thus fully fulfilled their potential.
The Prophet ﷺ taught us about true faith:
ألا أُخْبِرُكُمْ بالمؤمنينَ ؟ مَنْ أَمِنَهُ الناسُ على أَمْوَالِهمْ و أنْفُسِهمْ ، و المسلمُ مَنْ سَلِمَ الناسُ من لسانِهِ و يَدِه ، و المُجَاهِدُ مَنْ جَاهَدَ نفسَهُ في طَاعَةِ اللهِ ، و المُهاجِرُ مَنْ هجرَ الخَطَايا و الذَّنُوبَ
“Shall I inform you of the true believers? They are those whom others feel safe from in their property and livelihood. The true Muslims are those whom the people are safe from their tongue and their hands. The true warrior is the one who fights against his or her desires in the obedience of God. The Migrant is the one who leaves sin and evil,” (Ahmad).
We must all individually reflect on these meanings of Islamic Migration so that we may maximize our potential for living, representing and conveying the divine message we were sent with.