Sometimes I find myself wishfully wondering, how lovely it would be if a Muslim who wanted to practice Islam could have it all, in one location?
And by “all”, I mean: the freedom to practice and preach their Deen; a clean, safe and secure environment to raise and educate their children; affordable food, housing, education, and healthcare; employment opportunities/career growth for anyone who works hard; and a society based on the legal and political system provided by Islam, that endorse /uphold peace, justice, integrity, equality, and enforce all the laws of Allah.
In reality, though most of us strive to seek it, we can hardly find any one such society which possesses all of the above traits. Consequently, many endeavor to relocate elsewhere in the world based on their most dire need in life at any particular stage; be it education, marriage, housing, or healthcare. Therein lies the test for us all.
Granted, this world is a potpourri of one trial and test after another; we should never forget that the only place that we should truly covet is Paradise in the Hereafter.
Families Physically Apart, Yet Virtually Connected
Grandmothers Skyping every single day of their lives to bond over digital screens with their grandchildren. Husbands spending several months a year apart from their wives and children, to avail employment opportunities in another country. College-bound teenagers flying off to another country to avail more recognized degree programs. Mothers of teens leaving their husbands behind to accompany their offspring to the locations where they’ll be enrolling into college.
It is not uncommon for a person nowadays to have siblings, parents… all in different countries.
Consequently, Muslims of every family are spending more than just the festive occasion of Eid apart from their close family members every year.
Wistful sighs and forlorn expressions appear as planes are boarded; tearful goodbyes are exchanged too often for the sake of worldly, educational, immigration-related, or professional pursuits… Knowing that the next Eid will be spent alone, missing one’s family in another country and wishing to be with them on that day.
Just as modern transport has shrunk the world, thankfully, so has technology done away with the historic barriers to instant communication that came tenaciously along with geographical distance.
A handy phone, tablet, or a perpetually connected home or office computer… With these gadgets in one’s possession nowadays, one hardly feels isolated or lonely, thanks to being able to communicate with close family members on a daily basis.
Tribulations Raining Down
Our deceptive worldly bubble bursts often whenever a disturbing and horrific event happens anywhere in the world; it shakes us out of our heedless slumber caused by blind pursuit of worldly goals…
There is only so much that one can conjecture about, and/or give credibility to, what they see on the news. Why violent events unfold; why horrifying crimes are committed, and by whom, is best known only to Allah at the end of the day.
Yet, every single year, calamities leave us feeling depressed, devastated, confused, and angered…
Every state of our being, whether it is temporary wellness and enjoyment of ample provisions; or pain, loss and sorrow, are embodiments of the tests and trials of the life of this world that Allah sends our way, in order to see whether we continue to obey and worship Him no matter what, or not.
Similarly, the temptation of acquiring more power, money and success, as well as situations in which we fear losing these blessings unless we ‘water down’ or totally give up our faith in Islam, are both a form of test.
What we do and how we react to provocative, make-or-break situations involving allegiance to other people in the form of groups; i.e. who we side with, support, or stand by, and who we oppose and condemn, are also a test of our faith.
One with the Pilgrims
Whenever Eid comes around in the Islamic calendar, it does so after a period of blessed days; days in which all the Muslims around the world are commanded to strive extra hard in the worship of Allah; fasting during the day, praying extra at night, and giving wealth generously in charity.
As trials and tribulations rain down upon the ummah in one form or another, at every Eid, like a breath of fresh air, Muslims around the world get yet another chance to unite in their sincere endeavors to return to their Lord, seeking His forgiveness for their sins and beseeching Him for guidance.
As waves of political unrest dot the Eastern part of the world, amidst this chaos, what is a Muslim to do? What should they think? Whom should they side with?
The lure of peace, security, material comfort, free education, and better healthcare; the pressure to assimilate into non-Muslim societies by ‘watering down’ one’s practice of Islam in order to avoid being attacked or marginalized by “Islamophobes”; and struggling to hold on to one’s Islam after reverting to it… These are the trials of Muslims specific to the Western part of the world.
Wherever a Muslim might be in the world, they have their own particular set of concerns, challenges, issues and problems to overcome with grit.
Amidst all this, the ten-day prelude period of Hajj comes as a welcome sigh of relief!
Conclusion: Focus on Uniting this Eid
Whatever your situation might be, try to set aside your personal concerns and issues this Eid, and look at the bigger picture around the world.
Whether you’re a pilgrim in Makkah eagerly hoping for forgiveness of your lifelong sins during this hajj; or a refugee living in a tent after having lost their property in a drone attack; or a new Muslim wondering how to pass yet another Eid feeling lonely…
No matter which “group” you belong to in this ummah, focus all your senses on glorifying and praising your Lord; ask for His forgiveness on the Day of Arafah, when He will be doling it out to all the repentant pilgrims in Arafah.
Make arrangements to sacrifice an animal eagerly; resolve to distribute its meat eagerly, and say “Allahu Akbar” very often in the days leading up to Eid.
Forgive all your Muslim brethren, even if they are making grave mistakes of ideology and action; and pray for guidance to the haqq, for yourself and them.
Lastly, remember to include your new brethren in faith into your Eid celebrations; make your social Eid gatherings more tolerant of those who are supposedly still behind you in piety, faith and righteous action.
(From Discovering Islam’s archive.)