Brothers, Family, and The Struggles of Our Lives

There have been times in my life as a Muslim when I have had low iman and when I have had high iman.

 

My iman has been high when I have been around the brothers and been close to the Masjid. There may be Muslims out there who do not need the comfort of the community but I am not one of them. I need the brothers and they help my iman increase.

 

It is not just that it is good to go to the Masjid because there are more blessings in praying with the group, or that it is good to be around people that mention the name of Allah and try and practice the Sunnah even if they are not perfect; but it is about being with people who have the same struggle that you do and generally the same world view.

 

When you go to a large Masjid you give everyone the greetings and you are all brothers. Some may not like you because of your background or you views of issues but in general we are all brothers. However, within this Masjid, brothers who have similar interests learn to click. In my younger days I clicked with brothers who shared similar religious views and an attraction to the Salafi Dawah in some stages or political Islam in other stages; but today I would rather hang out with a brother who wants to come over and watch the fight or the game or go to the gym together and really don’t care if they share my views as long as we are on the same team.

 

In past years I was with brothers who were interested in impressing me with how much Arabic they knew, how many hadith they had memorized, how many suras they knew, and those were all good things; but outside of that we never really got to know one another. Like Tariq Nelson has stated before these were brothers I saw everyday and I didn’t know anything about heir parents, siblings, children or wives. When they wanted to be real, and not put on some act, they hung around either non-Muslim friends or family.

 

That is no longer the case with me. Today I hang out with brothers who are real. We are honest with each other about our virtues and our faults. They know not to invite me to a class on the Fiqh of Janazah on fight night and I know not to invite them to a lecture on Muslims in Rwanda during the NBA Finals. It is not that we are not interested, we are, but we are no longer robots.

 

In the past I think we lost our humanity. We walked around in a constant state of agitation mad at one thing or another thinking all Muslims were in a lesser state than us and all non-Muslims wanted to kill us. We had big chips on our soldiers, especially the American brothers and did more frowning than laughing.

 

These days I know that some Muslims are bonkers and many non-Muslims hate all Muslims (especially on the political-right); but that is not what I walk around thinking about all day. I am more concerned with family, making money, life after a failed nikah, pursuing my life goals, etc. Through all of this I can implement Islam in my life. Back in the day when we talked Islam we didn’t walk Islam, because the deen is more than about quotes and memorization. Our lives were going nowhere fast and falling apart and we didn’t care because we could hang out with the brothers and the Muslim community was all that mattered, and then the Muslim community fell apart because we fell apart. Sometimes we looked for salvation from our failed lives in one glorious act; but the life of a believer is about your heart and soul and not just a commitment to some cause.

 

What am I saying? I guess it comes back to the fact that I need the brothers, especially when the family situation goes sour, and I am weak. My imam is fragile. That is why it is important to be married to a sister who is serious about the deen; because with no Muslim family, scattered Muslim friends, and living in a society often hostile to Muslims, the believer can be weak.

 

When we are weak we can run to what we know and what you run to depends on your background. When you come from where I do what you run to is not good and that is why I can’t afford to be alone. I need the reminders; I need the Muslims, at all times.

 

Sometimes thoughts like this make me think about hijrah, and in the right circumstance economically it would not be bad, but I also have visions of beating down a group of mutawwa in Saudi Arabia, waking up in the middle of the night broke and overheated in Pakistan, asking Turks if they could stop telling me tales of their greatness, and asking Indonesians if they could please speak louder. In all honesty I also think about rotting in some jail in a Muslim country on trumped-up charges per the request of Uncle Sam because of past associations.

 

At the end of the day, in my financial situation, America is where I am going to be and America is where I love even if I have a troubled relationship with her and am looked at as less than American by a sizable percentage of Americans. So, I am just going to have to deal with it; but what is important to me, more than anything else, is maintaining my deen and as a socio-political minded Muslim engaging in the debates of our time helps me maintain my deen and it draws me closer to my brothers and sisters.

Advertisements

33 thoughts on “Brothers, Family, and The Struggles of Our Lives

  1. Masha Allah for your honesty. I think a lot of us feel the same in one way or another. It is easy to write blogs just quoting the Qu’ran, but it is your honesty that touches people.

  2. I could sign my name in agreement to everything you said. I have very similar experiences, except that I was born Muslim.

    I think America is your home for now, and me too, as long as we can still worship Allah here, America is no different than most of the Muslim world when we’re talking about the negative things in it, on the contrary, I feel I’m a stronger Muslim while in the West than back home, because right here I’m always reminded of being a Muslim since I encounter all sorts of people all the time, I remember here the value of Arabic, the value of being Muslim who doesn’t do this and that,..

    The West is better for many of us since there are jobs here and a system that would take care of you in case you have financial hardships. In the Muslim world no such system exists, unfortunately, even though I believe the West got its welfare programs from our Zakaat system (just like they learned from us having lights in the streets and roads for the sake of the people and not only the ruling monarchs! The first lit road in Europe ever was in Muslim Spain!).

    Believe me, “hijrah” is funny when many Muslims back there want to do “hijrah” here! I heard from many Arabs who wish if they were your own shoe to accompany you back to the Western country you’d have come from when visiting them back home!! It’s not because of the freedom of speech here or the nice weather or the immoral, “uncovered” women, not necessarily, it’s mostly for money’s sake! Imagine that in Jordan people pay taxes ON the taxes they pay the government!! There is even taxes on the bridges and tunnels built in that country, which even nomads with no cars have to pay!!

    Injustice in the land of Islam has reached an unprecedented height. Of course socially and Islamically it will remain relatively better than in the West, but like one Arabic saying goes: “al-maal fil ghurbah watan”, roughtly: “financial wealth in a strange land makes that land your homeland.”

    I advise no one of doing hijrah without having a solid financial base and a job opportunity there, because others you can expect to lose everything you have there (where they are no rules or laws, even in Saudi Arabia), and they you’ll be stepped upon like the asphalt in the street and you won’t find but other poor people like you to offer you insignificant help, and you’ll have to wait for the sadaqah and Ramadan to eat well and have, MAYBE, some cash money donations!

  3. Theres a famous saying that goes,”No Man Is An Island Unto Himself”. I think that is a very true statement. I really believe that in order to practice Islam and be reminded on a daily basis we need to be around muslims. Even the worse kind of muslims because they will renind you of how NOT to be.
    Umar–theres a new song out with Fabulos and Ne-Yo that starts with..Im a movement by myself but unstoppable with a shorty by my side and it talks about how having a good woman keeps you straight. I love this song. Why do I mention it? Well because I love this song but(lol) more importantly…dont be an Island unto yourself. Marriages fail and sometimes our emaan slips but you gottta keep on trucking. I do agree that its important to keep it real and not try to be what you arent. No point going to a fiqh class when all you want to do once you are there is know the fight updates..even if you DO get the barakah from just being there. The Prophet said theres a time for this and a time for that so I guess you can understand that to mean that its known that we wont be doing one particular thing at one time all the time and its good to mix it up and give our activities the justice they deserve.
    Oh yea..did you ever do a blog about the radio show? I was looking but I dont see one?
    Your Sister
    Myopic :)

  4. Assalamu alaikum, sister Myopic, yep, know htat song, like it, and interesting you bring it up regarding this discussion as it seems to fit, lol. I also wanted to say that I’ve definitely felt the need to be around other Muslims when I was either living with my roommate or family. Of course, now that I’m married (to a Muslim ofcourse), I don’t feel that need anymore. But as much as “the community” can be aggravating, and I feel the need to stay away from it, having a few good Muslism to associate with helps tremendously, at least in my experience.

  5. Good stuff, as usual brother. I am with you 100% on most everything, accept for the fact that I am not big on the Muslim community.

    When I became a Muslims I wanted to spend a lot of time at mosques and at Muslim events, but as time went on I found this actually strained my feelings about Islam, not helped it.

    Islam IS the best religion, but Muslims are the WORST followers, it is true. I prefer my wife, children and her family to about anyone else. Save for a couple of close friends, I’d rather not have much to do with anything related to the Muslim community.

    This doesnt mean I am lesser in my deen, I chose this path because I value my deen and want to do what is best for it.

    In the last few years I have sort of become the white Muslim hermit. You might catch me at the occasional anti war rally, demonstration at the Israeli embassy, or a Jummah, but that is it.

  6. And the other saying Myopic is the “Lone Wolf Gets Devoured.” I don’t believe in the best and worst Muslim because Allah is the one who knows whose best amongst us. I have encountered Muslims who LOOK pious yet their behavior disgusted me, as I have Muslims who on the outside show no traces of Islam yet had the most beautiful disposition one can find in another human.

    Yes, friendship is important, and as I’ve said many times our friends should love and accept us as we are, instead of expecting us to be clones of them – how boring – as well as bring out the best in us. My best friends, whom I have known for years are like this with me. When I slip, although they aren’t Muslim, they straighten me out. They share in my joy, pain, failures and success. The encourage me when I start allowing shaitan to whisper in my ear and tell me I can’t accomplish whatever…We shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells around our friends.

    I understand how you feel, Umar. Folks that know me, know not to mess with me during a Cowboys game, Wrestling, or Law and Order. As a woman I can sadly say – BASED ON MY EXPERIENCE – it’s lonely for convert women. I’ve always been a tomboy, so prior to accepting Islam it took a lot for me to find women I could talk to about things other than men, children, shopping, and cooking. I also never cared for getting the hair and nails done – took too much time. Too often sisters are only concerned with the outer shell and rarely take the time to get to know each other based on the way the other is dressed. Part of my message to the sisters last week including reminding them, as well as myself, that the Masjid is a place where we go to get healed and seek guidance. WE shouldn’t discourage others from coming because of their outer appearance, especially for women as she may be a new muslimah or a poor who cannot afford $80 (60 for the over garment and 20 for the scarf).

  7. Our family doesn’t really maintain a relationship with much of the community anymore. We have a solid core of about 5 families who we feel comfortable enough to associate with, let our kids around and maintain ties to. Being that we are in a community with probably over 5000 families, that is pretty damn sad. We have slowly but surely been turned off by the Muslims around us for the past 11 years. Frankly, it was the rabid anti-semitism that did us in. You can only be called a spy agent for Israel so many times before you start to say…”ummm, then why the heck am I hanging around here still?” We just found that too many Muslims are pathologically obsessed with the Jews (and not in a good way) OVER being obsessed with the Deen. My Husband and I are sick of this attitude. We are also sick of the “Israel is the Root of All Evil” sermons. I don’t know if this is just something exclusive to our neighborhood, but it is played out, boring, tiresome and frankly, just WRONG. Once we squirrel away enough funds, we are headed for the hills. Until then, just give me my Quran, Rumi and Rabiah and I am set.

  8. With all due respect, why is it that you are more concerned with my reading list than the much bigger issues that I brought up?

  9. Salaam ‘Alaikum

    Isn’t that the type of thing that alienates us from one another and drives people apart? Idn’t it the type of thing ‘Umar was just talking about? I’m sayin’ though… Ain’t nothin’ wrong with reading works written by pious Muslims.

    I’ve got the Qur’an, I’ve got books of hadith… and I’ve got Rumi, and I’ve got Law & Order (and Lost), and whatever all else. The key is balance.

  10. Thanks Ginny and Nina. Abu Sinan I know what you are saying but i cant do that myself, I am too social by nature. Myopic Vision, yea I know that song and when I hear it now I will think of your comment, and you are right that you gotta keep moving on, but you can only hope there is something good around the corner insha’Allah and not disaster. I got the tape of the show so all I have to do is convert it to CD or something and then put it online. I do not know how to do that but this weekend I’m gonna try and find someone who can. Bint Will the outer shell thing is right on point; it is easy to grow your beard and keep your pants above your ankles, trim your nails, remove your pubic and underarm hair, etc; it i a lot harder to have genuinely good character and a good spirit.Fariuz, I am angered by the same Jew-baiting in the community where Muslims think if there Cheerios are stale it is a Jewish-conspiracy. Husam, I know what you mean about hijrah, I was one of those brothers who used to talk bad about people from Muslim countries moving to America until I spent time in the Muslim World and then realized why they wanted to come here so they can have what we take for granted.

  11. Akh, I agree with Umm Zaid, you may not like everything a fellow Muslim reads, but it is more important to concentrate on balancing yourself and what you personally choose to read.

  12. On what scale? Cuz on the day of judgement, I’m not so sure you want to risk tipping the scale in the wrong direction…ya know?

    I am paranoid about slipping into some of the things others seem to take so lightly. I may laugh and I may joke, but I don’t play (about the deen).

    Umar, if you are struggling then it is more important for you to surround yourself with those who remind you to fear Allah, keep you on point and on your toes. Last night I went to a gathering of Western Muslims. We did the usual, ate everything in site and talked all night. We get togther for these socials once every few months. They are usually not beneficial but feel goody. Everyone there received a text message from a sister who I truely love for the sake of allah, to attend a picnic today. The picnic also includes a small dars and all of the sisters who come have tight deen. it’s a mixture of sisters from all over the world. I was the only sister from last night who attended. The others had no interest. They aren’t the ‘deening’ types and the sad thing was that some of them use to be but over the years I have witnessed this ‘lax Muslim Movement’. It was no way I was going to miss out on the beneficial gathering with these sisters, espcially after I had sat in a social the night before.

    It’s late, I’m tired and my thoughts are scattered so I’m not sure if I’m making any sense…

    It’s about priorities. Sometimes, I would love to just lay back, take it easy, pop in a video, and chill…I really do miss that stuff. I miss music too and think sometimes, how it could add some romance to my marriage when I reminice about those songs I used to listen to late at night on the radio. this is one reason for me that I love living in KSA, it’s harder to find the vices (yes, I’m sure they are here put you have to put in an extra effort to do it, it is not all in your face).

    Hussam Hariiri, Umar’s often mentioned those who make ‘reverse hijrah’, so I’m not sure you are on the same page as he is. He is an American convert who chooses to stay in the place that Allah brought him into this world in. I don’t think he is promoting America as a place of refuge for all the Muslims from the Muslim world who want the’American dream”.

    Quite frankly, I get tired of the whole ‘a bad Muslim is better than a good kafir’ stuff. IMHO, that is means the bad Muslim when he stands before Allah is better off than a good kafir. That does not mean that I have to befriend the ‘bad Muslim’. Often times the bad Muslim has actually crossed the lines and is actually a ‘good kafir’ and that is why you hear so much about these dunyah stricken ‘bad Muslims’ with good character and such. However, usually they’ve just about, if not invaladted their Islam anyway.

  13. Umar…hate to say it but you are not far off in left field on the “Jewish food tampering conspiracies”.

    A Muslim once told me that food companies are threatened with lawsuits and intimidation by Kosher groups if they don’t put that “jewish mark” on their packages. So he said that “we” should boycott everything with a heksher on it.

    So yup, you are probably right…if the Cheerios are stale… we know who to blame.

    heh, heh, heh.

  14. fairuzamizna

    My family and I feel the exact way you do.

    I have a movie about Rabiah but it’s all in Arabic with english subtitles.

    Sometimes people choose isolation becuase it’s the only way to hang on to your deen.

    Another issue is children, when you are a parent, everything is stepped up to an entirely different level.

  15. I would so love to go to Zaytuna Institute or something similar

    until then I just attend Dhikr and at least when I’m around Muslims in that setting an hour is spent Praising Allah instead of our Ego’s

  16. As-salaamu ‘alaikum wa rahmatullaahi wa barakaatu,

    Subhan’Allah, I was thinking about this very same issue… I’m reading a book that’s gotten me thinking about women in the Muslim world and the injustices they have to deal with because of society (not that I’m saying we in the West don’t have our own stuff to deal with!), and was dreaming about what I could do to help… but when I started thinking about how I could really make a difference, I realized that I’d probably be able to do more where I am now.
    I was dreaming about going to, say, Saudi or Afghanistan, and work with women there; and while it’s something that could probably be done, I’d be more effective here in Canada: Where I know the people, where I share the same background, where I can relate to them and know their needs and help accordingly.

    I think I’d still like to make hijrah one day, but it all rests in the Hands of Allah… so all I can do right now is, work hard, make du’aa, and then just place my trust in Allah and know that whatever happens, it’s because He’s decided that’s best for me.

    Re: friends – another thing I’ve been thinking of… since my family and I moved last summer, I’ve noticed that the people in my new city are different from my old friends. My old friends and I were always coming up with plans that we’d actually try to implement at our Islamic centre – ways to have fun and learn about the Deen at the same time.
    Umm Adam, what you mentioned about the socializing and feeling good thing, I totally get what you mean – that’s how I feel the people here in my new city are, although we’re trying to make an effort to start up more beneficial (but also fun) things.

    May Allah strengthen us all in our emaan, and keep us strong upon Islam always and forever, ameen!

  17. As-salam w.a.k

    Brother I read in past you were involved with the Tabligh. My advice will be to give more of your time in association with them.

    Tabligh may look like a non-political, pacifist on world affairs, but thats with many valid reasons and in interest of all common muslims whose primary concerns are to lead a healthy social & spiritual life. (and in a bunch there will always be some bad apples which we can let go.)

    Inshallah this will also take you to many different places that you want to go and experience.

  18. My husband has several Egyptian freinds who made ‘hijra’ to egypt or returned back to egypt recently, and they’re all doing alhamdulillah very well. Some have egyptian wives and some don’t. And from what I hear, things are cool and no one is considering moving back here.

    I am in the same boat. Even though I know its dirty, and often times no justice(but not everywhere to a level that we sometimes imagine in our heads) my Imaan is protected.

    I feel it is EASIER to say that oh here in the west our imaan is higher cuz the wrong doers are kafir so its better that we see them that way vs yur in a Muslim land and everyone is doing bad around you. I went to Pakistan and as someone who was very anti-pakistani before, I saw Pakistan through a whole different lense.

    My Imaan shot up quite a bit to my surprise. I felt so at home. I was FREE to practice my deen. No thoughts, no society, no pressure, nothing stopping me. If the woman next door chose not to cover she could do that, but she could not ever say what im doing is wrong. Because its considered NOBLE. PERIOD.

    Even the so called ‘secular’ people I met I felt were good, because they seemed to be secular because of the ‘extremeness’ of the ‘religious elements’ which heck, even I thought were WEIRD.

    So being a guy who from what I understand doesn’t have a family keeping you here like a wife may, why not go to another part of the world and live there for a while, and get the best you can get.

    But in the end, I always ask Allah, oh Allah settle us in a land which is good for our deen and dunya. Because you NEVER know what’s good for you.

  19. Salaam’Alaikum

    I was just thinking…

    The reason people feel strengthened in their eman or feel disappointed in Muslims becuase the truth of the matter is that the majority of love each other and love the deen.

    I think some people don’t know how express their love in a healthy way or some misunderstand their love becuase of cultural/theological clashes.

    Just my opoinion

    : )

  20. Mother of Aminata

    If Zaytuna didn’t happen to be located in one of the most expensive zipcodes in the country….we would have planted ourselves their YEARS ago.

    Ahhh…….to dream.

    BTW, what’s the name of that Rabiah movie?

  21. I’ve been reading all these coments on all these posts, and it seems like Walaa wal Baraa was saying no more than what Burgundy said. But Abu Sinan got on his ass like he stole something. And I forgot his or her name but someone else said he was for hijrah and y’all act like America is so great for your religion. Really? If you get a master’s and wear hijab, does the chick with the mini-skirt and a BA get hired for the same job ahead of you? Get real! I’m gettin’ out of here in 5 months, and Kelantin Malalysia has job opportunities and all the basics of dunya right along with the things you liberals probably hate like separate grocery lines for men and women! Bunch of coffee shop Muslims!
    What happened Umar? You let this blog get diluted and now it’s not fit for the pic of Malcolm X you got up top! You can do better! What you scared of!

  22. Salaam,

    I think also when, for example, some random stranger is rude to me, it’s not that big a deal. If a Muslim is rude to me though, it hurts me much more deeply. It’s unfair probably, but I think we have really high expectations of our brothers and sisters. When they fall short, we feel it much more, and maybe that alienates us a little from one another.

    But I also like having a community, and I think it’s all about finding the right community, which can depend on the right city, the right masjid, all of that which Inshallah everyone will find someday. And maybe that takes a while. I also think having a community is important if you’re growing up Muslim in a non-Muslim society. In my case, being like the only Muslim in school can be difficult, so it’s important to have other Muslim kids to interact with, so the kid does not feel like their religion is abnormal if none of their school friends are Muslim. Things like that.

    I will say that although I was born in the US and it’s my country and I don’t plan to leave, when I’ve been in a majority Muslim country, there is a certain feeling of ease I get that it’s not possible to get here, as a minority. I can cover and that’s not a big deal, there’s usually a masjid around the corner, you know, being Muslim is just a normal thing. I think it’s just the type of comfort any minority will feel, whether it’s race, religion, or whatever, when you find yourself around people like you.

    Because of all the things going on in the world, there can be some strain and stress involved in just being Muslim these days . So despite whatever community politics or silliness is going on, it still eases my heart a little to pray in congregation in the masjid and know that I am not alone.

  23. WCGR,
    I’m pretty sure you’re the same guy who left the post at my blog charmingly signed “Deez Nuts” and all I hear is the chest thumping of an armchair jihadi. You said you were leaving, so either stay or leave. And that comment can apply to Umar’s blog and America, both would be valid.

    P.S. My respect for Malcolm notwithstanding, I don’t do taqlid to him. But even if I did, it’s a presumptuous to think that, because he was dissatisfied with American society, he’d fall in with you guys.

  24. As salaam alaikum Umar,

    It has been said before, but I have to say it. BEAUTIFUL! Suphan Allah, may Allah make it easy for you… Ameen!

  25. “What you scared of!”

    Wow, your English is good for a second language. It is your second language right?

    Ma’Salama, like the old phrase goes, dont let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!

  26. Naw Dave, WCGR is my brother and we were on your sites at the same time. I like that post too by the way. No one likes a hypocrite.
    That’s why i ain’t gonna retaliate against Abu Sinan mocking my bro’s english. It wouldn’t be personal enough.

  27. Salaam Alaikum brother Umar,

    I am really disturbed to read of the attacks that you and brother Tariq have come under by these so-called Muslims promoting death and destruction. For what it is worth, you have my full support. But even more importantly, this indicates that you brothers are doing something right. After all, these wackos wouldn’t threaten you and want to shut you up unless they were afraid of your message and the power of your impact on their own twisted hopes.

    Fi Amanillah!

  28. As salaamu alaykum Mashallah Tariq Nelson Is good brother from my neck of the woods alhamdulillah I’ve been knowing him for about 10 or 11 years may Allah(swt) increase him an all of us in imam Ameen ameen Ameen.We talk from time to time he gave me very good advice .Alhamdulillah your brother in Islam Abdussalaam

  29. As-Salaam u Alaykum,

    Akhi, I feel u 100%. We have to it keep real with self and Allaah. For me it has been important to find and frequent a masjid that has insight, understanding, and compassion for the African-american experiance. With that guidance from the khutbah’s are practical and inspirational. In sijin I gave many sermons and taught many taleems. You have to be on top of ur Deen inside, inorder to have a voice. But the struggle in the dunya is real. And coming out attempting to be apart of these Arab’s and Pakistani’s masjids is a sad experiance. When we find what it is that we want from this Deen, we must come together with the like minded and go
    get it. I leave u as I’ve come in Peace! Salaam u Alaykum!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s