Shaykh Waleed Basyouni shared a gem he learned from his skydiving experience. Before he jumped out of the plane, his instructor said to him, (paraphrasing) “Imagine you’re standing in front of your friends boasting about your skydiving experience. Ask yourself, how you would feel if you jumped and landed successfully? And then ask yourself, how would you feel if you didn’t jump and this plane landed?”
There is little doubt that when you land you’d feel regret for not taking advantage of the opportunity. Even though, I don’t like to go on the majority of roller coasters and rides at amusement parks, I try to force myself to ride them with my friends because every time I decline to take the ride, and I wait at the bottom for those in my group to return, I do feel a sense of regret.
Sh. Waleed advised that when we fear or are hesitating to take an action that we should ask ourselves these two questions. This gem was worth the entire weekend seminar for me and there were so many other gems derived from the lives of the scholars of Islam.
There are a few issues I’ve been turning over in my mind so after the istikhara prayer, asking myself these questions helped push me through the mental barriers of fear and hesitation so that I could take meaningful action.
“Religious” Muslims often sabotage their own projects and leadership efforts by using the excuse that they fear riya (showing off) and want their deeds to be purely for the sake of Allah. But the truth is that this thought is itself a form of riya and no one benefits from our inaction. How many of us shut off our deepest hopes and dreams before they even start by using the fear of riya excuse?
If you saw someone driving at full-speed toward a cliff, you wouldn’t just watch contentedly from the shoulder waiting for them to crash and burn. You’d try to help them. I was sitting next to a sister and her cup of almonds fell off the table and instinctively I reached out my hand to try to catch the cup before it spilled. I didn’t fight the impulse or pull my hand away wondering if I or anyone else would think I was showing off. But in other actions, which are of much greater benefit so many of us are comfortable sitting on the sidelines not taking any action using our riya excuse as permission for inaction.
And while we are not taking action, we cede the sphere to other voices who may not share the same moral compass. I remember Sh. Waleed Basyouni mentioning how it’s important for pious Muslims to get involved in society. If the good people all stay at home, hiding behind this or that tradition, we shouldn’t complain when the worst of people are put in positions of power and authority over us.
My fear is not of the critic trying to drag me back down to their level of inaction by questioning my intentions or by name-calling. My fear is that I will be asked on the Day of Judgment why I didn’t do more, why I didn’t live up to my full potential with the blessings I was given. Those who can do and those who cannot make excuses and criticize you.
So will you be one to take action?
Marianne Williamson: Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.
I haven’t posed in the Gem Board category for a long time because I’ve been posting them to my Facebook and Twitter accounts, time to begin once again because wordpress is much easier to search. Reflecting on some conversations, once you’ve decided on a course of action, don’t let others bully you into changing your mind by their name-dropping or reference to non-binding fatawa.
“The heart of a believer lies between two fingers of the Merciful.” [Muslim, Ahmad, Tirmidhi]
“Do what in your heart you believe to be right. You’ll be criticized anyway.”
”Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma — which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”
“The believer is not a person who hurts others with words, or curses, or swears, or is foul-mouthed.” [Bukhari]
“Whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day, let his speak good or remain silent.” [Bukhari]
If Imam Bukhari knew a narrator of hadeeth was a liar or untrustworthy, he would be shy and never say so-and-so is a liar but rather he would simply say, “Don’t write his hadeeth or do not narrate anything from him.” However, some other scholars might say of the same person that Bukhari mentioned that “this person is the greatest liar from mankind.”
The son of Imam Ahmed asked his father, why he did not use stronger language against the innovators in his time and he replied:
“O my son, have your ever heard your father say anything bad about anyone?”
Such a beautiful methodology and manner that is lost in our time, where the louder, brasher, more vulgar and obscene is praised and wins the argument as we can see from the shameful displays at the current healthcare reform townhall meetings and in the coarsening of our public discourse.
Gem: People can wake up to receive phone calls from other human beings but can contentedly sleep soundly through the call from Allah azza wa jal, the Most High, when he calls us to pray the night prayer and/or the obligatory fajr dawn prayer.
I have never really had too much trouble in waking up early in the mornings. Amongst my earliest memories, are that of my father waking up early in the middle of the night to continue grading his students’ blue book essays. He would make himself some tea or coffee and if I woke up as well he would put some hot chocolate for me to drink in my pink bunny rabbit bottle before I returned to bed.
I had a newspaper route that I shared with my siblings for years from 3rd grade to 8th grade. We had to wake up 7 days a week, 365 days a year at 4:30am, through the blistering cold snowy winters and the hot summer months in upstate New York. Talk about training and discipline.
I was a bit of a news junkie back in middle school and high school and I would get up in the middle of the night to listen to the local public radio station, which played the BBC, Deutsche Welle, and a French broadcaster so that I could listen to good international reporting to find out what was happening in the world.
After the blessings of Allah, I suppose that all three of these things were good training because after my acceptance of Islam, I did not find it difficult to wake up for the fajr salaah.