Thursday, July 19, 2012

In the Footsteps of the Prophet: How Muslims should Contribute to the World by Prof Tariq Ramadhan

Assalamualaikum and greetings everyone!

Last Monday, I had the privilege to listen to a talk given by Prof Tariq Ramadhan. I was really excited! Quite often I read notes written by him on Facebook; thanks to my friends who were studying in United Kingdom for sharing them on their walls. I really love his thoughts and opinions. I too had visited his blog once before to get to know him better but well, it was in French. But now there are translations in English!

Prof Tariq was brought to Malaysia by the Islamic Renaissance Front and this talk titled "In the Footsteps of the Prophet: How Muslims should Contribute to the World by Prof Tariq Ramadhan" that I had attended in International Islamic University Malaysia was organized by One Heart Creative Solution. You know, I never thought that I can see him with my own eyes and listen to his lectures but alhamdulillah, another dream came true :)

Anyway, I will be writing what Prof Tariq had talked about in this post.

First and foremost, Prof Tariq speaks about the quality of faith that we Muslims have today. Muslims now are vast in number; but sadly, our impact in this world is close to none.

Why is this so?

Based on what Prof Tariq had said, I have summed up two reasons behind this reality:
1) We do not know about ALLAH's love
2) We do not follow the teachings and examples of our Prophet s.a.w (peace be upon him)

The first time that we know ALLAH, we only know HIM as The Punisher. We were thought what is halal (permissible), what is haram (not permissible) and that ALLAH sees only our mistakes. We were really scared of HIM. This method of upbringing is dead wrong. Instead, we must imbue this concept:

ALLAH does not see our mistakes, but he sees our intention.

That is, HE is welcoming our intentions. This is according to the Hadith narrated by Al-Bukhari and Muslim:

"Ihsan is to worship God as though you see Him, and if you cannot see Him, then indeed He sees you."   
We also need to remind ourselves that Islam was sent down to humankind as a rahmah from ALLAH. This is also why we have to emphasize on ALLAH's love and not HIS punishments:

"We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures." (Al-Anbiya':107)

Next, we must make Rasulullah s.a.w as our model of example. This is made clear in the following verse:

"Say: 'If ye do love Allah, Follow me: Allah will love you and forgive you your sins: For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.'" (Ali-Imran:31) 

Thus, at the end of the day, what we must really do is to love ALLAH and have ALLAH to love us.

Our relationship with ALLAH is a love story (Prof Tariq Ramadhan)

So now, how do we follow the Prophet? Before that question was answered, Prof Tariq insisted that we must know these two qualities that Rasulullah saw possesses:
1) Truthful
2) Trustworthy; even before he becomes the Prophet
You see, Rasulullah saw is always consistent with what he says. That is, he does what he says. He walks the talk. Thus, we too must walk the talk.

"O ye who believe! Why say ye that which ye do not? Grievously odious is it in the sight of Allah that ye say that which ye do not." (As-Saff:2-3)

But in reality, we are not perfect right? I'm sure that each and every one of us are contradictory; at least once in our lives. We are all hypocrites. Or are we?

Prof Tariq told us what a hypocrite is. A hypocrite is someone who is happy with his or herself even though he or she is always being contradictory. He or she is someone who thinks that he or she is perfect and doesn't need improvements at all. In retrospect, sincerity is always struggling to correct his or her own contradictions. He or she always tries hard to walk the talk; always try to improve his or herself.  

Now that we are clear pertaining to the above matter, Prof Tariq answered the question that he had posed. The important matters that we must know in order to follow his footsteps can be summed up as:
1) Principles
2) Steps
3) Consistency
4) Objectives

First and foremost, we must change the way we look at things. 
With regards to the Prophet s.a.w, we should observe for example, what Rasulullah s.a.w did first when he had received the revelation of ALLAH through the angel Gabriel. Rasulullah s.a.w had went and see his wife. This shows how Rasulullah s.a.w had placed importance on women when during that time, the Arab cultures looked down on women. See how Rasulullah s.a.w. respects Ali who was a teenager. There is so much things that we should observe and learn from our  Prophet. Therefore, we can conclude that no way we can get close to ALLAH if we do not care about our wife, kids and other people as what Rasulullah s.a.w shown us.

Prof Tariq also invites us to see the nature carefully and contemplate the signs of ALLAH. He too said that it is important for us to teach our children to observe the nature for the nature has a deep relationship with ALLAH. 

"By the Sun and his (glorious) splendour. By the Moon as she follows him. By the Day as it shows up (the Sun's) glory. By the Night as it conceals it. By the Firmament and its (wonderful) structure. By the Earth and its (wide) expanse. By the Soul, and the proportion and order given to it. And its enlightenment as to its wrong and its right. Truly he succeeds that purifies it. And he fails that corrupts it!" (As-Shams:1-10)

"Soon will We show them our Signs in the (furthest) regions (of the earth), and in their own souls, until it becomes manifest to them that this is the Truth." (Fussilat: 53)
All in all, Quran is giving you a new light to change how you see things.
Understanding with your heart is humility. Understanding with your mind is arrogance. 
(Prof Tariq Ramadhan)

Next, we have to behave accordingly; that is in terms of adab and akhlaq. Prof Tariq asks us to not only observe the rules but we must act according to akhlaq. This is because Islam is not being harsh, but it is about being right. That is to do what is right. And Muslims must not do things because it is difficult, but because it's Islamic. What I understand from this is, for example when a Muslim stands up for tahajud every early morning, he or she must not do it because it is a difficult thing to do; but because it is an Islamic thing to do. 
This from my understanding, can avoid ujub (to attribute one's excellence to oneself while being oblivious of the possibility of such excellence being snatched away by Allah).

Prof Tariq then told us another 4 qualities of the Prophet that are important to be adopted by us. These are:
1) Confidence
2) Trust
3) Ambition
4) Courage

Confidence here means that we must always doubt our selves, but not doubt the Message (Islam). Instead, we must be comforted by the Message.

"They will say, "Glory to Thee! our (tie) is with Thee - as Protector - not with them." (Saba':41)

"Say: "(Allah) sufficeth me: there is no god but He: On Him is my trust,- He the Lord of the Throne (of Glory) Supreme!"" (At-Taubah:129)

We must have trust in our community; no matter how they had deviate. Although they are not perfect but, all of us are linked with one obvious secret: Rasulullah s.a.w.

Although it might seem big, we must have the ambition to change the world. No matter how big and tricky the problem is, we must not let our ambition die.

Our Prophet was courageous. We too must have that courage; especially the courage to stand up and say the truth in front of a tyrant. And tyrant here doesn't literally mean a tyrant. It means someone who has authority over you. For example: a teacher, a ruler and etc.

"The best Jihad is to speak the truth before a tyrant ruler" (Bukhari)

Hence, what is expected of us as Muslims?

First, we need to spread the message of tauhid (the oneness of God). This message can be spread through education; that is, when we are teaching Islam, we must stress on the meaning and understanding of it. Not only that, we musn't choose to ignore reality, but we must talk about them and challenge this reality. For instance, the issue on sex education.

"There is no humanity without education." (Prof Tariq Ramadhan)

Second is in terms of brotherhood. Here, what Prof Tariq meant was serving the community, regardless if he or she is a Muslim or a non Muslim when this person becomes the victim. This is because, we are doing it in the name of justice.

"We are teaching about the greatness of Islam but as Muslims, we are not so great." 
(Prof Tariq Ramadhan)

Third is the way we deal with nature and animals. We must not waste, recycle, take care of the environment and be kind to animals.

Fourth is our culture and arts. Where are our culture? What are Asian Muslims contributing in these? Where is our creativity? Pertaining to this, Prof Tariq says that we are responsible and we can make it happen. Also, we must not add any negative aspects when producing an art.
By the way, I had written a post that has a relation to this.

Prof Tariq too had left his audiences with some important reminders:
1) Learn to forgive yourself, but not in an easy way. Be full of rahmah towards yourself
2) Make do'a (prayer)
3) Be forgiving before judging
4) There is dignity in your being; even if there are indignities in your behaviour
5) It is very important to spread love in the community and love needs repetition
6) We need to connect with other people
7) Don't forget your share in this life. Celebrate this life with the right principals
    "But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on thee, the Home of the Hereafter, nor
      forget thy portion in this world: but do thou good, as Allah has been good to thee, and seek not 
      (occasions for) mischief in the land: for Allah loves not those who do mischief." (Al-Qasas:77)
8) If you want to have a good life, never forget that you are going to die

The end.

That is all folks! May it be beneficial to all of you! :)

Wait! A friend of mine on Facebook tagged me the full video of this talk. Watch and listen this video, okay?