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Forgiveness and Repentance

How often is our patience tested through daily trials? How often do we lose sight of our goal as Muslims? How often do we forgive those who hurt us?

I have been pondering upon the importance of repentance and forgiveness. We are all weak humans, when we give into the whispers of shaytan sadness takes over our souls. If such feelings are persistent, then one has not repented to Allah (swt), for Allah (swt) never turns away a repentant slave, He is Most-Forgiving.
وَٱسۡتَغۡفِرِ ٱللَّهَ‌ۖ إِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ غَفُورً۬ا رَّحِيمً۬ا
But seek the forgiveness of Allah; for Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.
سُوۡرَةُ النِّسَاء: 106

I recall getting very frustrated with some family members, the worries of life had its toll on me. My father saw that I was suffering deep inside. He sat me down and asked me why I could not let my worries go and forgive the individual who had hurt me very much, I replied "I can't forgive her, dad". My father then said something to me that has never left my mind to this day, he said:
if Allah (swt) forgives all our hideous sins, then who are we not to forgive one another?
It is of utmost importance for us to remember that no matter how hurt we feel, no matter what an individual has done to us, we must put our trust and reliance in Allah (swt), Is he not the Most-Forgiving?

For every sin we have committed, repentance and reliance on Allah alone is the key to a happy heart, a happy heart is consistently in the remembrance of Allah (swt).

Live every minute as if it is your last, seek forgiveness from Allah (swt).

Narrated Mujahid:
Abdullah bin 'Umar said, "Allah's Apostle took hold of my shoulder and said, 'Be in this world as if you were a stranger or a traveler.'" The sub-narrator added: Ibn 'Umar used to say, "If you survive till the evening, do not expect to be alive in the morning, and if you survive till the morning, do not expect to be alive in the evening, and take from your health for your sickness, and (take) from your life for your death."
(Bukhari :: Book 8 :: Volume 76 :: Hadith 425)

Allah's reason for making 'darkness' plural while leaving 'light' singular

Aboo Imraan al-Mekseekee of The Aajurroomiyyah Blog makes this interesting observation:
The word 'the light' النُّورِ (an-Noor) is singular while the word 'darkness' الظُّلُمَاتِ (ath-Thulumaat) is plural. Why is that?
Brother Aboo Imraan explains that the singularity of 'light' signifies the fact that there is one single truth (Allah's way), in contrast to the plural 'darknesses', signifying the various ways of deviation.

Reaching Muslims and turning them into Christians

A new Christian book titled Reaching Muslims aims to convert Muslims into Christians. We can do better than this.

A brother sent me news about an upcoming Christian book that wants to improve the relationship between Christians and Muslims. It is written by Nick Chatrath, a very friendly Indian man who is also a Christian evangelist. Evangelists are Christians who believe in the importance of spreading Christianity throughout the world.

In this video which is on the book's page, Mr. Chatrath makes it clear that his aim is to help Christians convert Muslims to Christianity, for example when he says that many features of his book are designed "to help you help Muslims see Jesus afresh."

Obviously we Muslims aren't very keen on seeing Jesus afresh, but this Christian effort isn't entirely negative. It certainly is better than the older (and sadly, still prevalent) doctrine of considering all Muslims savages and barbarians.* It is also better than trying to trick uneducated Muslims into converting to Christianity using fake Qurans. But still, this book shows a deep problem that both Christians and Muslims suffer from: Neither side is interested in understanding the other side unless there is an agenda involved.

Both Islam and Christianity teach the important of acceptance and forgiveness. And yet, each side often gives the other side this attitude:
If you are not like us, we are going to do everything in our power to change you into someone who is just like us. We'll learn about you, and we'll befriend you, and slowly but surely manage your thoughts so that you start to see the world just like we see it.
This attitude is extremely disrespectful toward the person receiving it. It doesn't show any acknowledgement for the fact that the other person is a human being—able to understand the world for themselves and make their own decisions. It discounts the other person's lifelong beliefs (you are wrong. We are right) without having earned the right to do so.

Religious belief is very personal, and as prophet Muhammad has taught us, nobody has the right to push it on others. I shouldn't have to say this, everyone knows that it is impolite to tell a stranger, or your neighbor
You know what you said about [insert topic here]. Well, you are wrong.
I know you are Muslim and you believe that Jesus is a prophet. But you are wrong. Jesus is actually God's child, and you must believe this because, well, we do.

Challenging people's beliefs on issues of faith is impolite. But there is an exception. Prophet Muhammad invited his closest friends and relatives to embrace Islam; after a lifetime of friendship, he had earned the right to talk to them about such personal topics. This is the only type of evangelism that doesn't offend the intelligence and dignity of its audience.

Nick Chatrath's method of evangelism, however, is offensive. It doesn't bother to do the hard work necessary to earn the right to ask others to embrace one's own religion. At best it creates a polite relationship between a Christian and a Muslim, exactly the kind of relationship in which it is very impolite to push personal beliefs on others.

What is the solution? It is to keep what is personal personal. This is a very basic, millennia-old code of conduct of civilized society, one which evangelists of both sides have so far been incapable of grasping.

[Last updated: January 17, 2011]

* We Muslims have had our own share of considering non-Muslims savages and barbarians. Thankfully today most of us have taken to heart the Quran's messages of acceptance and kindness toward non-Muslims.

Assorted Links

Hajj poem

Aerial view of Mecca at sunset
Photo source.

Every sin washed away.

Every tear passing with fear.

I repent to you today.

The one voice I struggled to hear.

Pull me closer to your care.

Hold me to my words.

My life was full of empty air

This light is all I've yearned.
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