Thursday, March 13, 2008

Revert Observation

I find that most of the reverts I know (most not all) want to follow a more traditional form of Islam. They don't have the cultural baggage that brings them one way or the other. Sometimes this causes problems with born Muslims because they see these reverts as being too strict. I can see their point of view, but perhaps if they look at it from another way, it will make more sense. A revert is someone who has been guided by Allah to accept Islam. They were not born that way. They have researched Islam and found it to be true. Its a huge step for some. So it only makes sense that they don't hold back when it comes to following the letter of the religion. A born Muslim may have been influenced by family or community their entire life, and perhaps even take it for granted.

I'm not saying that a born Muslim is not good, in fact I envy them a bit because they have had Islam all of their lives. I've learned quite a bit from my born Muslim brothers and sisters.

My classes at the masjid are a mix of born Muslims and reverts. Its always nice to listen to the questions that come from both angles. Questions from reverts can remind the born Muslims of the individual struggles that one goes through when converting religion. Questions from the born Muslims can be more in depth and can also show how things are seen from the point of view of someone who has been immersed in the religion for a longer period of time.

As a revert, I feel that now that Allah has shown me the straight path, that it is my obligation to follow it the best I can. Some may not agree with me on the choices and decisions I make, but I try to take my direction from people I trust, and from Quran and Sunnah.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Learning While Commuting!

Just about everyday I try to listen to a lecture or parts of a lecture on my way too and from work.

The most recent lecture I heard was Kamal El Mekki's Holiday Season - An Islamic perspective. In this hour long lecture, Kamal El Mekki goes over in detail all aspects of why we should not celebrate holidays other than the 2 Eids. One of the interesting points he made was that when Islam had the upper hand, meaning when it was in the height of its success and power, non Muslims wanted to emulate us. For example when Muslims first came into Spain, the young Spanish men started to dress like Muslims and act like Muslims even though they were Christian. The same can be said for today when Islam does not have the upper hand. Young Muslims have taken to imitating and emulating the Western norms in the world. The biggest export from the west to Muslim countries is popular culture. Music, films, fashions. This all leads us to see why Muslims of today celebrate things like Thanksgiving, Valentines day, Mothers day etc.

Later on in the lecture this hadith was brought up:

Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him) said: "The Prophet sallahu allahi wa salam came to Madeenah and the people of Madeenah had, in Jaahileeyah two days for play and amusment10. So the Prophet (SAW) said: 'I came to you and you had, in Jaahileeyah two days for play and amusement. Indeed Allaah has replaced them for you by that which is better than them: The dav of Nahr (Slaughteung) and the day of Fitr (Breaking fast).'

I think that this is the best hadith to really show that no other holidays or celebrations are necessary. It shows that it does not matter if it is a secular holiday or not. As Muslims we don't celebrate anything but the 2 Eids. It makes it quite simple. There is no arguing about origins of celebrations or holidays because all of that does not matter.

If we are going to explore why Muslims want to celebrate other holidays we can go back to the first point that I wrote about. It seems to be in human nature to want to emulate those who appear stronger. At first I thought this was only for American Muslims or reverts that were having trouble leaving behind their past, but that is not the case. I've heard of born Muslims in Egypt congratulating the Christian neighbors on Christmas and making them cookies? As Muslims we should be honored that Allah Subhannah wa Ta'Allah has given us two days of celebration and keep them as our only days. Sometimes it hard for people to give up things from the past or from their culture or surroundings. Reverts will feel left out of family events, or feel obligated to go to them. Born Muslims may just want to fit in with the modern world.

Every day we recite Al Fatihah in our salat at least 17 times. In the last few ayats we ask Allah to guide us to the straight path. The path of those who have earned your grace. Not of those who have earned his anger, or gone astray. When we celebrate the holidays of non Muslims, we are going astray. Allah knows best.