Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Be Steadfast Like a Mirror

Philosophers have often held certain essential qualities to be ideals for what exists in the world. A mirror is something that presents qualities. It does not bring about any distortion to the essence of the person whose image it reflects.

This is why Muslim scholars encourage people to adopt the mirror’s qualities into their behavior.

Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) says, “A Muslim is the mirror for his fellow Muslim.”

In this article, I would like to highlight some of the mirror's qualities and then explore the implications of the Prophet's statement.
The Mirror…at a Glance:
A mirror presents you with your real form, without any embellishment or omission.

It does not hesitate at all in doing its job. It provides its services promptly, and immediately presents you with your reflection.

It does not take any wages for the services that it renders. It remains sincere to you by showing you how you truly appear.

A mirror shows you your actual appearance at the precise time when you stand in front of it. It erases your image as soon as you move away. This means that after your departure, it will not show your image to anyone else. Equally important, it will never reveal anyone else's image to you or expose their faults to your gaze.

Since it always shows you your current form when you stand in front of it, it never makes any comments about your previous appearance or former defects.

It judges only what you disclose to it and never delves into matters that are hidden.

It does not insult you; rather, it mobilizes you to act for your own betterment.

You can study what you see in a mirror with confidence. You can put trust your in a mirror.

If you use it once to beautify yourself, you can always come to it again and see your face in it.

In this way, we can see that a mirror holds only qualities. No deception is found in its nature. What the Prophet said – about a Muslim being like a mirror to his fellow Muslim – is logical because the teachings that he brought from Allah realize for humanity an ideal to be reflected in society. The teachings and cultural values put forth by Islam are flawless and incorruptible. This is how the light of Islam dispels darkness. It enlightens us with the light of humanity where we find peace, kindness, tranquility and non-violence.

Unfortunately, today most Muslims are facing serious problems. They suffer under dire circumstances. Yet, have you ever paused to consider why this is the case? It should be easy for us to realize that we are not cultivating the right qualities and habits. We are neither exemplary in our own conduct, nor do we present a proper example to others.

Today we feel no solidarity towards one another. Sometimes, Muslims hate Muslims and even feel happy to see their brothers and sisters plunging headlong into darkness.

How can we take pride in our identity and move forward to find the solutions for our day-to-day problems? Why are we falling short in guiding others to Islam? When we look at ourselves, do we find that our characters reflect the qualities of Islam? Or does Islam teach its followers to cultivate bad habits like cheating and telling lies? Can such a deviation from Islam on the part of its followers motivate others to embrace the faith?

In my opinion, the answers to all of these questions can only be found in the qualities that our religion, Islam, teaches us to inculcate in ourselves for the benefit of humanity. Therefore, like a mirror, if we as Muslims start off by exhibiting the qualities that Islam calls us towards, then, Allah willing, the day will not be far off when we, on our own, will be able to solve our problems.

The undeniable fact is that Islam becomes the strongest force in the world when its followers exhibit the noble and virtuous qualities that it calls us towards. Terrorists will hang their heads in shame before the qualities found in the fertile garden of authentic Islam. Today, the downtrodden Muslims should take a lesson from their ancestors in how they found success in the world through their good and virtuous qualities. This is the perspective that we need. A mirror is nothing but an ideal reflector of qualities, for in all situations, we find it competent in influencing others with what it reflects.

In brief, we Muslims should be as steadfast as a mirror and influence others by always reflecting in our conduct the best qualities and virtues for the promotion of peace on Earth.

by Tariq Sohrab Ghazipuri

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Helping Others

Doing service for humanity is one of the greatest ways we can show our devotion to Allah. All of the revealed scriptures place great emphasis on helping others. In Islam, helping others and solving their problems is not only an important virtue, it is also a profound act of worship. It is a means of righteousness that promotes peace on Earth and allows us to earn Allah's eternal reward in the Hereafter.

Allah likes it so much when we help others that He forgives us our sins for something as simple as moving some thorns out of the path where people walk.

Abû Hurayrah quotes the Prophet (peace be upon him) as saying: “A man was going on his way when he saw brambles in the path. He moved these out of the way. Allah so esteemed his virtuous act that He granted him forgiveness." [Sahih Muslim]

In another narration of the same hadîth, Abû Hurayrah relates that the Prophet said he saw a man strolling in Paradise. The deed that he had performed was to cut down and removed a tree from the path that was causing trouble to passers by.

In his commentary on this hadîth, al-Nawawi says that there is reward for any virtuous deed that provides help to others.

Scholars explain that the main lesson to draw from this hadîth is the inherent virtue of easing the distress of others in any way: “The prayers and other ritual acts of worship that we perform are fruitless unless we engage in the service of humanity.”

Allah grants His forgiveness to those who sacrifice of themselves to help the victims of misfortune. Allah does not only grant forgiveness for those who engage in such virtuous deeds, but in His infinite mercy, he makes their account easy on the Day of Judgment.

Abû Hurayrah relates that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) said: “Whoever removes one of the hardships of a believing soul, Allah will remove from him one of the distresses on the Hereafter. Whoever solves someone else's problem, Allah will make things easy for him in this world and the Hereafter… Allah is ever assisting His servant as long as that servant is helping his brother.” [Sahîh Muslim (4867)]

This hadîth shows us that the greatest form of devotion, the best way to please Allah, is to provide service to humanity. Today our world is thirsting for peace. Though there are many programs and efforts being carried out, we are falling short. Yet the solution is clear - it lies in providing service to humanity.

Before the coming of Allah’s final Messenger, the people of Mecca lived in ignorance. Their society was harsh, far removed from the values of human dignity, fraternity, love, and affection. When those same people were brought under the guidance of Prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him), their conduct alone was enough to communicate their newly realized social conscience. Islamic teachings, like those mentioned above, formed the basis of a new social reality for the Muslims.

We can see these values in the way all of the prophets conducted their lives. Through the example that Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and the other Messengers set, Allah guided the rest of humanity. Therefore, we should follow their righteous mode of conduct and live our lives accordingly. We need to study, especially, how the prophets maintained a state of peace in a prevailing atmosphere of gloom.

When Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) arrived in Madinah, he created bonds of brotherhood between the local inhabitants and the emigrants from Mecca. In this way, he encouraged them to render assistance to one another and live together in harmony. The Prophet, in his wisdom, brought two different peoples together into one combined society, who became the best generation humanity has ever witnessed. When the Jews of Madinah saw the conduct of this combined society of the emigrants and the local people, they were greatly impressed. Some of them embraced Islam after seeing the reality of the faith in practice.

Solving other peoples’ problems is a way to soften hearts and establish harmony. Sometimes a cruel man's hardness melts away when he sees some gentle soul, out of sheer kindness, help him out of his difficulties. There are abundant examples of this in our daily lives and in the life of the Prophet, but unfortunately many of us do not take heed. This is one of the reasons why there is so much sorrow in the world.

The value of helping others is a universal truth, because Allah does not ignore the person who makes sacrifices in the service of fulfilling people's needs. We as Muslims should try to cultivate the habit of giving service to humanity, seeking only Allah's pleasure and His reward in the Hereafter.

Tariq Sohrab Ghazipuri

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