Tuesday 28 June 2011

A change of attitude

Ironic Attitudes

After reading this post on Prophetic Examples in the Quran yesterday, which I found incredibly moving,  I reflected on some of the attitudes that I have come across on the discussion threads on Facebook (FB) in various FB groups.

Some of the statements I have seen have contained sarcastic sneers, rudeness, attacks on others, general negativity and disrespect, arrogance and arguing for the sake of arguing. It would probably be dishonest of me to say that I have never contributed to this myself in some way.

Compare that to how the prophets are portrayed in the Quran, their actions, and what they said, summarised in the post I mentioned above which has a non-exhaustive list of realistic, noble and achievable qualities and traits of humans which can be found in the Quran, with references.

In 9:114 Ibrahim is described as la-awwāhun ḥalīmun

وما كان استغفار ابرهيم لابيه الا عن موعدة وعدها اياه فلما تبين له انه عدو لله تبرا منه ان ابرهيم لاوه حليم

In 64:14 The ones who āmanū are told that if they taʿfū, wataṣfaḥū and wataghfirū even with the ones who oppose them, then Allah will be ghafūrun, raḥīmun,

يايها الذين ءامنوا ان من ازوجكم واولدكم عدوا لكم فاحذروهم وان تعفوا وتصفحوا وتغفروا فان الله غفور رحيم

Less desirable behaviour can be seen in 23:46, where behaviour such as fa-is’takbarū is ascribed to Firawn’s chiefs, and they are described as a qawman ʿālīna

الى فرعون وملايه فاستكبروا وكانوا قوما عالين

I  believe it is our duty to invite to God, and God’s Words, stand up for the truth and try to eliminate falsehood. Among the FB groups who are already firm in their belief that the Qur’an is the only source of Divine Guidance, I really see potential for our attitudes to improve.  Let’s think about what chances are going to waste here in this short life. Don’t we have a great facility for uniting and working together as a team with a common goal? A wonderful chance to strive in the way of God to practise islam as prescribed by the Qur’an? A fantastic opportunity to lead by example to show the world a more inspiring picture of islam in action?

“Preaching to the choir” is an interesting expression. It refers to the pointlessness of a preacher attempting to convert those who, by their presence in church, have already demonstrated their faith. This seems to be the case sometimes in the groups. Often, too, there is infighting and bickering about the personal beliefs of people who have already come to accept God and His Words.

Of course, no two people are going to think and believe the exact same things or interpret the Qur’an in Arabic or a different language in the exact same way. It seems to me that to find common ground we can agree on is emphasised in 29:46,  wa-ilāhunā  wa-ilāhukum wāḥidun

ولا تجدلوا اهل الكتب الا بالتى هى احسن الا الذين ظلموا منهم وقولوا ءامنا بالذى انزل الينا وانزل اليكم والهنا والهكم وحد ونحن له مسلمون

As people, humans, with feelings and emotions, if we are attacked enough, it is inevitable that we become defensive and lash out ourselves. 16:125-126 is similar to 29:46 with a reminder that if we are ṣabartum then it is better.

ادع الى سبيل ربك بالحكمة والموعظة الحسنة وجدلهم بالتى هى احسن ان ربك هو اعلم بمن ضل عن سبيله وهو اعلم بالمهتدين

وان عاقبتم فعاقبوا بمثل ما عوقبتم به ولىن صبرتم لهو خير للصبرين

14:24-27 gives us an example of good words and bad words. It seems to me the good words always lead to something more productive than the negativity and destruction of the bad words. Surely it goes without saying, a comfortable atmosphere, one filled with energy, passion and positivity is more inviting than a dark room of pettiness, retorts, sneers and snide comments. Which room would you rather be in?

الم تر كيف ضرب الله مثلا كلمة طيبة كشجرة طيبة اصلها ثابت وفرعها فى السماء

توتى اكلها كل حين باذن ربها ويضرب الله الامثال للناس لعلهم يتذكرون

ومثل كلمة خبيثة كشجرة خبيثة اجتثت من فوق الارض ما لها من قرار

يثبت الله الذين ءامنوا بالقول الثابت فى الحيوة الدنيا وفى الءاخرة ويضل الله الظلمين ويفعل الله ما يشاء

I used to be in some Traditional Islam FB groups for new converts (being a convert myself) – and the general attitude of the discussions there was remarkably humble, where the atmosphere would be spoilt on occasion only by someone’s good intention of “forbidding evil” that made a claim about something being “Haraam”, due to it being mentioned as prohibited in the Ahadith collections, and not from the Quran. Credit where it is due, after any heated discussions, I often saw a lot of sincerity, apologies and retractions and reconciliation.

It can be very difficult to remain calm, when your point of view is not appreciated by the other, in a debate or a discussion. No-one is perfect, and we all have our own limitations. I think it is difficult for strangers to be on the same wavelength. It’s easy to get off to a bad start if the first time you meet there is a clash or a conflict. Do you ever find that if you put things into perspective, it turns out that you have more in common with the person you are debating with than you might have at first recognised? Imagine you had met this person in real life; say they are a neighbour on your street, or in your apartment building, someone with a family and kids, someone with a mum and dad and grandparents and they shop at the same supermarket as you. You’d help them with their shopping if they were struggling. You’d push their car if it broke down.  You’d hold the door open for them. You’d chat with them while waiting in line at the Post Office, about things you had in common. You’d lend them some garden tools. You’d send a card or fruit basket if they got sick. Wouldn’t you?

We are an online community. We might never physically meet each other in real life. But I’d like to think together we could be spiritually very close.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we really could let our own egos let go of their pride. We don’t have to be right all of the time; even being right is subject to interpretation. Can’t we just have pleasant civilised discussions, backed up by our proof, then end it by agreeing to disagree, so that we can then focus on the bigger picture, and look after each other and hold firmly to the Rope of God ?

3:103 – 3:104

واعتصموا بحبل الله جميعا ولا تفرقوا واذكروا نعمت الله عليكم اذ كنتم اعداء فالف بين قلوبكم فاصبحتم بنعمته اخونا وكنتم على شفا حفرة من النار فانقذكم منها كذلك يبين الله لكم ءايته لعلكم تهتدون

ولتكن منكم امة يدعون الى الخير ويامرون بالمعروف وينهون عن المنكر واولئك هم المفلحون

Read more at quranistvoices.wordpress.com

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