What Kind of Muslim are You?
Blog Post 24
September 24, 2019
People come in many versions. Well actually, we are all born sinless with a fitrah (our innate nature, disposition and knowledge) that seeks our Creator from Whom we come and to Whom we will return. We have divine spirit within us and that’s why we are always desiring and searching for wholeness and spiritual connection, innately aware there’s a Great Powerful Being sustaining our lives and deserving of our worship. Human beings throughout the ages have always sought Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala and realize that
this world is not the be all and end all of our existence. Belief in the afterlife where we will be judged is also innate. There our spirit, our character and our actions will be preserved and live on.
Muslims, like all people, choose the life they want to live. The choices are endless and our lives reflect our upbringing, environment, education, spirituality, personality and temperament. But ultimately, it is up to us how we go through life, what we choose to think and do, whom we care about.
Some people decide they want to live in a bubble, only concerned with their wants and needs. These people seek out pleasure and comfort, selfishly grabbing what they can before someone else does. They spend their time in leisure activities, working for promotions and money and fame, often having little interactions with people who aren’t like themselves. Their main preoccupation is themselves, usually at others’ expense. Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala says in the Holy Qur’an:
“Have you seen one who takes as his god his own desire?” (25:43)
“Know that the life of this world is play and amusement
and adornment and boasting among yourselves
and rivalry in the multiplication of wealth and children.” (57:20)
“Those are the ones who disbelieve in the signs of their Lord
and the meeting with Him. So their deeds are worthless.
So We will not assign any weight for them on the Day of Resurrection.” (18:105)
Some people decide they want to be giving. They engage in helping professions, volunteer their time and money to assist others and generously provide love and compassion to those who are in need. Their interactions may be local, national or global. Their gifts may depend on whom they deem worthy of receiving what they have to offer. Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala says in the Holy Qur’an:
“If you do deeds of charity openly, it is excellent.
But if you keep it secret and give it to the poor, it is better for you.
And He will remove from you your bad deeds.
And Allah is All-Aware of what you do.” (2:271)
“They ask you what they should spend.
Say: ‘Whatever good you spend is for parents
and the near relatives and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer.
And whatever good you do, verily, Allah is All-Aware of it.’" (2:215)
“The deeds of charity are only for the poor and the needy
and those in charge of them and those whose hearts are reconciled,
and in the freeing of the necks and for those in debt
and in the way of Allah and the wayfarer.
This is an obligation from Allah. And Allah is All-Knowing, All-Wise.” (9:60)
“[Charity is] For the poor, who are wrapped up in the way of Allah
not able to move about in the Earth.
The ignorant think that they are self-sufficient
because of their modest restraint.
You recognize them by their mark.
They do not ask the people with importunity.
And whatever good you spend,
verily Allah is All-Knowing of it.” (2:273)
“And those who spend their wealth to be seen by the people
and they do not believe in Allah and the Last Day
and whoever has the shaitan as a companion –
then evil is he as a companion.” (4:38)
Some people decide they and/or their family, ethnicity, country, etc. are superior to others and this drives their thoughts and actions. They oppress others, engaging in hate speech, theft, physical attacks and murder. Every action they take is due to their arrogant ideas that they must be on top and rule the world because others are inferior, incapable, unintelligent and backwards. Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala says in the Holy Qur’an:
“And whoever transgresses the limits of Allah,
then certainly he has oppressed his self.” (65:1)
“Surely human beings were created impatient, greedy.
When evil touches him, he’s distressed
and when good touches him, he’s withholding.” (70:19)
“The competition to increase (pile up) diverts you
until you go down to your graves.” (102:1-2)
“And do not think that Allah is unaware of what the evildoers are doing.
Only He gives them respite until a Day when the eyes will stare in it,
racing forward, their heads upraised, fixed gazes being unable to turn away,
and their hearts empty.” (14:42-43)
“O you who believe, do not take as intimates from other than yourselves.
They will not spare you any ruin.
They wish for what makes you suffer.
Indeed, the hatred is apparent from their mouths
and what they conceal in their chests is greater.
Certainly We make clear the signs for you if you use reason.” (3:118)
“O human beings! Indeed, We created you from a male and a female
and made you into nations and tribes,
so that you may know one another.
Indeed, the noblest of you near Allah is
the one who is the most conscious of Him.
Indeed, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” (49:13)
“Do you not see that Allah sends down water from the sky?
Then from it We bring forth fruits of their various colors.
And in the mountains are tracts, white and red,
of their various colors, and intensely black.
And among people and moving creatures and the cattle
are their various colors likewise.
Only those among His Servants who have knowledge fear Allah.
Indeed Allah is Exalted in Might, Oft-Forgiving.” (35:27-28)
Some people decide to live as hypocrites, joining whoever is on top when it’s beneficial. They may profess various beliefs during their lifetimes, none of which they usually totally agree with. Their ideas change with the wind. Their actions don’t match their words. They speak and act differently depending on whom they’re with. These people often can’t understand why some people don’t like them and stay away from them. Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala says in the Holy Qur’an:
“Do you not see those who take as allies
a people whom the wrath of Allah is upon?
They are not of you and not of them
and they swear to the lie while they know.” (58:14)
“The hypocrite men and the hypocrite women are like each other.
They enjoin the wrong and forbid what is right
and they close (withhold) their hands.
They forget Allah so He has forgotten them.
Indeed, the hypocrites, they are the defiantly disobedient.” (9:67)
“And they swear by Allah that indeed they are surely of you,
while they are not of you.
But they are a people that are afraid…” (9:56)
“And if you question them, certainly they will say:
‘We were only conversing and playing.’
Say: ‘Is it Allah and His signs and His Messenger
that you were mocking?’” (9:65)
“And when it is said to them, ‘Do not spread corruption in the Earth,’
they say, ‘Only we are reformers.’
Beware, indeed they themselves are the ones who spread corruption
and they do not perceive.” (2:8-12)
“When the hypocrites come to you they say,
‘We bear witness that you are surely the Messenger of Allah.’
And Allah knows that you are surely His messenger
and Allah bears witness that the hypocrites are surely liars.
They take their oaths as a cover. So they turn away from the way of Allah.
Indeed, evil is what they do." (63:1-2)
“And when the hypocrites and those in whose hearts is a disease said,
‘Allah and His Messenger promised us
nothing except a delusion!’” (33:12)
“When they meet the believers, they say, ‘We believe,’
and when they are alone with their shaitans, they say,
‘Indeed, we are with you. We are only mockers.’” (2:114)
“You are those who love them and they do not love you
and you believe in the Book – all of it.
And when they meet you, they say, ‘We believe,’
but when they are alone,
they bite their fingertips at you out of rage.
Say, ‘Die in your rage.’
Indeed, Allah is All-Knowing of what is in the chests.” (3:119)
Some people decide to live with dignity, placing all their faith in Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala and calling only on Him for help. They try to know themselves and engage in self-purification. Their words and actions are trustworthy, honourable and pleasing. They engage in activities that assist others, try to maintain unity among people and see all human beings as brothers and sisters. While working for the benefit of truth and justice locally, they also care about and try to help the global community. They wholeheartedly obey The Creator and work to stop people from oppressing others, even if this means sacrificing their wealth, health and lives. Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala says in the Holy Qur’an:
"It is not righteousness that you turn your faces towards the east and the west,
but righteousness is the one who believes in Allah and the Last Day and the angels
and the Book and the Prophets and gives the wealth in spite of his love for it
to the near relatives and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and those who ask
and in the freeing of the necks, and who establish the salat
and give the zakat and those who fulfill their promise whenever they make it
and those who are patient in the suffering and the hardship and in time of distress.
Those are the ones who are true and those, they are the Allah-conscious.” (2:177)
"And what reason do you have that you should not fight in the way of Allah
and for those who are oppressed among the men and the women and the children,
those who say: ‘Our Lord! Cause us to go forth from this town,
whose people are oppressors, and give us from Yourself a guardian
and give us from Yourself a helper.’” (4:75)
"The believing men and believing women are allies of one another.
They enjoin the right and forbid the wrong and they establish the salat
and give the zakat and they obey Allah and His Messenger.” (9:71)
“Surely the submitting men and the submitting women,
and the believing men and the believing women,
and the obeying men and the obeying women,
and the truthful men and the truthful women,
and the patient men and the patient women,
and the humble men and the humble women,
and the charitable men and the charitable women,
and the fasting men and the fasting women,
and the men who guard their private parts and the women who guard,
and the men who remember Allah much and the women who remember –
Allah has prepared for them forgiveness and a mighty reward.” (33:35)
“Only the believers are those who believe in Allah
and His Messenger, then do not doubt,
and strive with their wealth and their lives in the way of Allah.
Those, they are the truthful.” (49:15)
How can you decide what kind of Muslim you are?
Answer these questions:
1.What do I do for a living?
2. What do I do in my leisure time?
3. What hobbies do I have?
4. What books do I read?
5. What religious practices do I engage in?
6. What political practices do I engage in?
7. What do I do for my local community?
8. What do I do for the global community?
9. What sort of people do I socialize with?
10. What do I talk about mostly?
11. What do I think about mostly?
12. What sort of people do I give charity to?
13. What do I do for my family?
14. What type of people are my friends?
15. What do I feel is the biggest obstacle to peace?
16. What kind of places do I travel to the most?
17. What do I feel is the biggest obstacle to healthy relationships?
18. What do I do to maintain emotional stability?
If you answered honestly, you may be able to evaluate yourself in terms of Islamic practices, inshallah. You may be able to see what you do well and what you need to add to your life to better serve Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala as His vicegerent on Earth, bear the Divine Trust and fulfill the purpose of your life.
Another way to figure out what kind of Muslim you are
is to give a true or false answer to these statements:
1.All people are equal.
2. I take care of family first.
3. I take care of Muslims first.
4. My ethnicity is the best.
5. My country is the best.
6. I enjoy buying things for myself.
7. I enjoy nature.
8. Attending religious events are uplifting.
9. I get depressed when I think about the world’s state of affairs.
10. Money is important.
11. I spend too much time working.
12. I do not like spending time with my family.
13. I often talk about myself.
14. I’d rather be alone than with other people.
15. Some people don’t work hard enough to better their lives.
16. People’s lives are controlled by others.
17. People who commit crimes are bad.
18. Mental illness is used to justify one’s inappropriate thoughts, words and actions.
19. I am fine just the way I am.
20. We reap the consequences of our thoughts, words and actions.
21. I spend my time with people who are from my own ethnicity.
22. I do not like meeting people from other communities.
23. I enjoy my life.
24. I feel happy most of the time.
25. I engage in at least one unselfish act every day.
26. Protesting injustices is useless.
27. Life is beautiful.
28. The world needs me.
29. The remembrance of Allah makes me calm, rested, content and confident.
30. My purpose on Earth is to enjoy myself.
These statements and your answers may lead you into many avenues and open up your mind and heart to what’s important in your life, how you are acting on those values and ways you can be more fully engaged with Islamic practices, inshallah.
Various faith groups revolve around belief systems that don’t work in our world. Most believe they are on the right path and everyone else is doomed. This thinking doesn’t bode well for peace and harmony, whether within families, neighbourhoods, work places, communities and countries. Most faith groups agree that we must conduct ourselves morally and righteously. Of course, people who believe this don’t always do it. Many faith groups believe that love is the answer to creating world peace. Yet we see that those who attempt to love their enemies are wiped out. Some faith groups focus on the individual, engaging in self-negation, rituals that abase the self through hours of prayer, devotion and deprivation of wants. This may work individually, but human beings aren’t separate from each other. It’s not easy to be spiritually in tune and live in the world with others who aren’t.
So what’s the answer?
Islam combines self-purification, worship, intellect, heart and political action. Religion and politics are not separate. Leaders must be muttaqi (Allah-conscious, virtuous). Countries must be run on the universal truths. People must not be shamed into appearing more pious. We each must help the other to overcome defeating traits, the ego and diseases of the self through compassionate and loving care. We must encourage each other in the doing of good. We must stand up for the oppressed and weak throughout the world and demand justice for wrongs done.
It is only through the combination of worship, moral behaviour, kindness to each other and power against the forces of darkness that human beings will be able to live with contentment and hope. Trying to fix yourself alone won’t get you there. Trying to be loving towards others alone won’t get you there. Trying to help the weak among us alone won’t get you there. Trying to worship Allah Subhanahu wa ta’ala alone won’t get you there. They can’t be separated if you want to feel connected to the rope that binds you to the Creator, if you want to be whole, if you want to feel useful, if you want to feel loved, if you want to feel worthy, if you want to feel hopeful, if you want to feel at peace. All of these must be done at the same time, not in a step by step way where you complete one step before you move on to the other.
Imam Ali (a.s.) in his Muttaqi khutbah #193 in Nahj al-Balagha outlines the characteristics of a muttaqi Muslim:
moderation humility proper speech seeking & listening to beneficial knowledge endurance forgiveness
trustworthiness avoiding the forbidden kindness controlling anger vying in good deeds blaming the self before others
fear of Hell not liking compliments certain faith forbearance renouncing the world night prayers
Qur’an recitation Qur’an influences the heart & cures gratitude to Allah eagerness for Paradise determination
devotion generous loves guidance speech with action contentment simple hopes dignified patient
deadened desires truthful makes others feel safe merciful purifies self
It’s time to realize that Muslims are the culmination of all the Prophetic traditions. We’re the last great hope for humanity. That’s why Muslims receive the brunt of the oppression in the world. The people who are suffering, Muslims or not, are looking for someone to come to their rescue. The oppressors are hoping that the Muslims won’t come. The oppressors are hoping the Muslims will just sit back, engage in masjid-related supplications and rituals, and wait for the end of time when all wrongs will be righted and they’ll relish in Paradise forever and ever. But that’s not why we’re here. Here is where we must act to receive Allah’s blessings. After we die, there will be no opportunity to act. Ask yourself who is speaking out and acting on behalf of the oppressed, which leaders are doing that, which country is doing that. And follow them, inshallah.
Belief without action is futile.
The Prophets did not not act!
Artwork by Laila Hasib (2015) - See if you can figure out what it says, inshallah.
A Group of Muslim Scholars (compilers). An Enlightening Commentary into the Light of the Holy Qur’an. Vol. 6. Under the direction of Ayatullah Allamah Al-Hajj Sayyid Kamal Faqhih Imani. Sayyid Abbas Sadr-Ameli (translator). Isfahan, Islamic Republic of Iran: The Scientific and Religious Research Center Amir-ul-Mu’mineen Ali (a s.) Public Library. Accessed from www.al-islam.org/enlightening-commentary-light-holy-quran-vol-6/section-8-hypocrites.
Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib (a.s.). Nahjul Balagha. Compiled by Allamah Sharif Razi. Al-Islam.org. Accessed from www.al-islam.org/nahjul-balagha-part-1-sermons/sermon-193-now-then-allah-glorified-sublime-created#f_0648b565_2.
Mohamedali, Hasnain (compiler). Excerpts from the Holy Qur’an, An Eternal Guidance to Mankind. World Islamic Network. Al-Islam.org. Accessed from www.al-islam.org/excerpts-from-the-holy-quran-an-eternal-guidance-to-mankind/world-materialism#good-deeds-weigh-heavier-worldly-adornments-wealth-children.
Shomali, Mohammad Ali. Self-Knowledge. International Publishing Company. Al-Islam.org. Accessed from www.al-islam.org/self-knowledge-mohammad-ali-shomali.