Posted on Feb 26, 2020
Rohingya. Syria. Palestine. Kashmir/India. China. Climate change. Coronavirus. The world.
Unless you completely cut yourself off from news, social media or any outside communication, it’s hard to ignore the strife and worry encircling the world. Headlines talk about the threat of a coronavirus pandemic, glaciers melting in the Arctic, Muslim persecution in India, ongoing devastation in Syria, decades of occupation of Palestinians, Uyghur Muslims rounded into detention camps in China, persecution of Rohingya Muslims and on and on and on.
There are very real stakes and human lives on the line. So many things feel like a turning point, and if we don’t fight back, stand up for those being pushed down and fundamentally change our ways, then what will the future be? I'm reminded of hadith #34 from Imam Nawawi’s 40 Hadiths, Narration & Commentary:
On the authority of Abu Sa’eed al-Khudree (ra) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say,
“Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart – and that is the weakest of faith.” - [Muslim]
The month of Rajab has started, one of the four holiest months in the Islamic calendar. It is a time for Muslims to lean in, more than ever, into their worship and their actions on behalf of the Ummah and the goodness of humanity at large. It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (saw) said:
“Rajab is the month of repentance for my Community, so repent to Allah much.”
I find myself overwhelmed of late by the pain, hurt and suffering all around me. There is joy, love and happiness as well, but it’s hard to hold onto that when others are suffering. I want to get involved in a multitude of causes, help as many people as possible, give to every cause that comes my way. But, I also need to be there for my children, balance my physical and mental health, support my autistic son and play the long game in life. Sometimes I find myself giving up even before I get started. That’s not what I want. I want radical love, radical hope and radical prayers.
Too often we underestimate the power of our prayers and convictions. We may get tired of hearing the words, “sending prayers,” or “thoughts and prayers,” when we are looking for actionable ways to make a difference. Truth be told – we should stretch ourselves, push ourselves to do more. No one said this life was supposed to be one of convenience and comfort. It’s not.
Find that one thing (or few things) that is paining you the most and invest your time in ways to help from where you are, whether that be donating time or money, reaching out to elected officials, changing our consumption habits, or a myriad of other activities depending on where you want to spend your time.
But, don’t underestimate the power of du'a. If every one of us gave in to the feeling of helplessness, we’d never get anywhere. But imagine if we all leaned in, and did something, anything, no matter how little. As the aforementioned hadith tells us, if we are unable to combat evil with our actions or our words, we can condemn it in our hearts with our prayers. Yes, that is the weakest of faith. But, it is still faith.
Consider the following du’as and ayahs of the Quran:
Rabbanaaa Aatinaa Fiddunyaa H’asanata Wa Fil Aakhirati H’asanata Wa Qinaa A’d’aaban Naar
“Our Lord! Give us in this world that which is good and in the Hereafter that which is good, and save us from the torment of the Fire!” -Surah Al-Baqarah - 2:201
Take comfort in this line from Surah Taha (20:46):
"Do not be afraid. I am with you all the time, listening and seeing."
Consider this passage from Surah At Taubah (9:40)
If you do not aid the Prophet - Allah has already aided him when those who disbelieved had driven him out [of Makkah] as one of two, when they were in the cave and he said to his companion, "Do not grieve; indeed Allah is with us." And Allah sent down his tranquility upon him and supported him with angels you did not see and made the word of those who disbelieved the lowest, while the word of Allah – that is the highest. And Allah is Exalted in Might and Wise.
Recite whatever du’a or Quranic ayahs speak to you, so much that they become an endless loop in your mind. For it is only with radical prayers, love, hope and actions that we can, Insha’Allah, create a better path forward.