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Post Two - Book Review and a Lesson from The Autobiography of Malcom X

Written by Safa, 7th June 2015

 

“Don't be in a hurry to condemn because he doesn't do what you do or think as you think or as fast. There was a time when you didn't know what you know today." Malcolm X

 

There are many things about this book which make it worth reading: the riveting plotline, the complexity of the characters and the sense of humour, for example. The fact that the events in this book actually took place only makes it more compelling because it gives valuable insight into what it was like to be an African American in the late 20th century. You’ll find yourself intrigued by the way they lived, the way they thought, what was important to them, and comparing today’s society with the society of a few decades ago.


What struck me most about this book, however, was Malcolm X himself – not as a leader, but as a person. His moral strength is admirable. Again and again, he makes mistakes; again and again, he does not hesitate in abandoning a way of life when he realises how wrong it is. This is made only more incredible when you consider that he was a public figure – he constantly risked being mocked for a complete about-turn in his views, but he simply refused to have the arrogance to continue on a path simply because he was afraid of looking ridiculous. Later on, he risked even more by changing his views, as speaking out against the Nation of Islam endangered his life. One often thinks of Malcolm X as intense, loud, formidable, but I think the most striking thing about his character was his humility. He never shrank from admitting he was wrong.


I recently read a booklet penned by Yusuf Islam, entitled “Why I Play Guitar”. He describes how, after realising that the money he had earned from his music career might not be lawfully earned money in Islam, he was immediately determined not to spend it. Instead, he separated this money from the rest of his income and gave it all to charity. Perhaps one might describe this as too meticulous – after all, he could not be sinful for something he had done before accepting Islam – but I couldn’t help admiring the way he immediately abandoned something he thought was wrong. It would have been easy to say that there was no harm in the money, or that actions were defined by intention and his intention was pure. It would have been especially easy to do so when you consider that nobody was monitoring his private income, so nobody would have noticed if he’d kept the money. But, like Malcolm X, he decided he’d rather take the right path than the easy path.


I hope that these stories of strong iman will inspire you as much as they have inspired me.

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Post One - Bismillahir-Rahman-ir-Raheem

Written by Safa, 1st April 2015

 

“Take benefit of five before five: your youth before your old age, your health before your sickness, your wealth before your poverty, your free-time before your preoccupation, and your life before your death.”


There are many inspiring stories about the youth among the Sahabah and how they filled their days and nights with worshipful activity and remembrance of Allah. Their good deeds are made more admirable by being the deeds of those so young – we are stunned by tales of 14 year olds who were eager to defend Islam, of 10 year olds who memorised the whole Quran, of a youth who were eloquent in their da’wah and generous in their goodness. It seems an impossible task to ever aspire to the amount of benefit they reaped from their youth, health, wealth, free time and their entire lives.


I read an article recently about the small ways in which we can reap benefit from these five before five. The fruit of our deeds may not be felt across many countries or down through hundreds of years of Muslims, but Insha’Allah, they will still be useful to ourselves and those around us. Here are a few tips for how to make use of our lives:


•    It is daunting to consider memorising the Qur’an when we have work, studies, family etc. already taking up so much time. However, if we memorise two ayat a day – or even just one! – we will benefit from this much. You could even do this with a friend to encourage you both to memorise the ayat every day. A couple of ayat per day would mean over seven hundred by the end of the year, Insha’Allah. (A variation on this could be learning a hadith or a du’a per day as well.)


•    A lot of the time we waste is because, when bored or procrastinating, we find ourselves browsing the Internet aimlessly. After long hours spent on the Internet, I often have nothing to show for it – I watched videos, scrolled through blogs, and found funny quotes, but none of these things were useful or satisfying. When you want to find something interesting to read or watch, why not watch Islamic videos or read Islamic articles to increase your knowledge about the deen? I have heard so many people say they wish they knew more about Islam, but they never have time to enrol in a course or attend a lecture – if we used the Internet to gain knowledge instead of waste time, we could easily solve this problem.


•    Maybe you don’t feel that you can have as much influence as the Sahabah, but you can try to get involved in school, university, or the local community. There are many activities for young people in mosques and community centres and you can even start a society or club. It is amazing how much difference it makes if a group of people meet up once a fortnight to discuss Islam and remember Allah, and you will gain reward for encouraging others to make use of their youth as well.


•    As for taking benefit from health before sickness, the article I read mentioned fasting as a good way to start. Days on which it is recommended to fast include the ‘three white days’ – the days in the middle of a lunar month and Mondays and Thursdays. Fasting purifies our souls, protects us from committing sins and increases our piety. Again, if you fast with a friend, it will encourage you both to keep up the habit, and it is pleasant to have iftar with someone else.


•    Sometimes it feels like we are only giving our time if we are giving it to the community or to our local mosque. We can also give time to our families – helping a sibling with homework or a parent with housework, or even just spending time with them. The Prophet Muhammad (SAW) placed a great emphasis on giving time to one’s family and maintaining the ties of kinship.


•    The Internet makes it easy to get involved with the Muslim community – there are hundreds of websites, blogs and online forums where you can talk to young Muslims about Islam. You could even start your own blog and post articles and videos which encourage other Muslims to think about Islam.


•    Another way to make use of time and health is to pray sunnah. Maybe you could start with praying Sunnah with just one or two of the prayers and eventually begin to pray all of them. This is a very good habit to form when we are young and its benefits are endless, Al-Hamdulillah.


These are just seven ways in which you can take benefit from five before five, and I’m sure you can think of many more. We do not have start with big deeds: the Prophet (SAW) said: “Do not regard any good deed as insignificant.” Insha’Allah, if your intentions are sincere, you will find reward in small acts of goodness in this life and the next.
 

 


 

 

 

 
 

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