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Intellect Magazine – Vol 10 Issue 1 Jan Mar 2020

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The grass always seems greener on the other side.
In our society, whenever a person decides to settle in another country (read “western” country), be it for
studies, job opportunities or to join a spouse etc., others look upon him with envy, longing for a similar
turn of fortune. But in this yearning for greener pastures, we usually miss to take into account the
specific challenges that the host environment might pose, especially for Muslims, in these testy,
constricted, Islamophobic times.
Our interesting Cover Story reflects on some such challenges faced by our Diaspora on a regular basis
and how best to cope with them in a positive manner, not allowing them to overwhelm us or to scar us
emotionally and irreparably.
In UlulAlbab, Dr. Asad Zaman excerpts and comments upon “Life Lessons” (continuing into our next
issue), from Bulgarian author Maria Popova.
This time around, important lessons such as “acquiring the flexibility of changing one’s mind, allowing
fresh ideas to seep in, instead of being up in arms owing to biased resistance” and “avoiding doing
things for prestige, status or approval of others” are included.
Action Alerts calls upon Muslims to re-inculcate their creed’s inherent sense of Haya, a sensibility which
hitherto was never required to be hinted at or “reminded”.
A Pushto adage indicates that “foregoing Haya is an uphill climb, but once the peak is circumvented,
there is only soft sand to traverse”, implying that once someone’s sense of haya is compromised, there
remains not much obstruction to greater transgressions. Mind your Language is a must-read, and
much-needed article in this regard.
The recourse of the common Muslim in times of trouble and snags is towards their Lordl; this is the
only totally dependable course of action. The Qur’an and the Sunnah are the Momin’s anchors, helping
them stand when the tide flows against them. (The Eternal Book in Spirituality Matters recounts
instances of wonderment of our resort to the Words of Allahlfor patience, guidance and reward).
In the case of Auliya, the friends of Allahl, the relationship is one of not just dependence but the
feeling of His constant presence. Achieving this state is no mean feat. Striving and persistent
Mujahida-e-Nafs is needed and from amongst the most important habits of the Auliya, which leads
them to enviable stations, is to consider others better than themselves. So we see Maulana Ashraf Ali
Thanvit considering infidels to be better than himself, citing as reason their possibility of accepting
Islam and thereby having their slate wiped clean of all prior sins; and we read of Sheikh-ul-Hadiths
collecting their students’ shoes to protect them from rain and we get to know about a renowned Mufti
Sahib bringing groceries for the widows of his neighborhood, running to and fro to the market to rectify
his shopping mistakes!
Going much further back in time, we learn of the amazing case of Imam Al-Ghazalit, sweeping the
Ummayad mosque in Damascus, by design, where not a soul recognized him by face! They taught his
books in the courtyard but he so feared Ujub that he would consider leaving for another place at the
mere mention of his name in reverence.
Once, a group of Ulema was sitting in the mosque, while Imam Al-Ghazalitwas sweeping the floor
nearby; a man came to ask the scholars a question, but none were able to answer him. Imam Al-Ghazali,
worried that the man didn’t receive the guidance he sought, went up to him and explained the answer.
The man began to laugh, commenting that if all the ulema couldn’t answer him, how could he, a mere
janitor, come up with the right response? When someone came to inquire about the matter and the man
recounted Imam Al-Ghazali’s answer, the scholars were shell-shocked. Fearful of recognition, Imam
Sahib left forthwith!
Let us introspect and compare all this with our own attitude towards fame and recognition in life; where
the slightest praise balloons our egos beyond measure and the desire to stand out, washes out
considerations of kinship and friendship.
There is so much to learn and emulate from the stories of our Salf, if only we take out the time to study
them and make an effort to adopt them in our lives….
Let us at least hope and pray to follow in their footsteps, on a path that leads to nothing short of
fulfilling peace and everlasting bliss, inshAllah.

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Intellect Magazine – Vol 10 Issue 1 Jan Mar 2020

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