We’ve spent time this month reflecting on how our relationship with God as Muslims should manifest itself in the way we engage our society and community and be ambassadors of Mercy. As we bear this in mind, it is important that we remember that Allah SWT describes us as “Ummatun Wasata”- a middle nation. This means that we should not become excessive in anything that we do but always strive to maintain the middle path.
Sometimes this happens with those who become active in trying to help in their society/community. At times they begin missing their prayers because of this desire to help or begin to neglect their families. Others begin to focus so much on their prayer (outward aspects or inward) or seeking knowledge that they forget that it must be followed by taking action. Sometimes, we become so “active” that we forget about the needs of our brothers and sisters around us, the people we know and we say we care about, yet we neglect or sometimes are oblivious to their needs.
In essence, when this starts to happen, we begin to lose sight of the fact that there is a methodology that we must follow, an order of priorities that begins with the fard and follows with looking after our families and brothers and sisters, our neighbours and our communities/societies. Change, in all aspects, must begin with us and this was exemplified by the way the prophet peace be upon him in the way he lived in his life in a balance and just way.
We have to think about “who” has a right over us? We begin with ourselves, the prophet peace be upon him said, “Your body has a right over you”. At times we neglect this because we are too busy or we use being busy as an excuse as to why we have poor diet/exercise habits. Our bodies are a trust from God, we must look after them.
On one occasion, the prophet peace be upon him saw a lady and asked about her, Aisha, may God be pleased with her, said that she was a woman known for her excessive prayer. He went to the lady and told her that she is only meant to do what she is able. What he meant by that is not that we shouldn’t strive to do more but we should not make it become a hardship on ourselves. We also need to evaluate how we work within our families. We cannot say that we are “busy helping in the community” while we are neglecting our families.
Instead, we have to begin to re-conceptualize the way we think about our families from an Islamic perspective. For too long we’ve gotten caught up in the dominant culture of thinking such that marriage distracts us from our true purpose of being. We get caught up in the houses, the cars, the clothes; it’s why we are always “busy” with work and we never have time for friends/community work. If our purpose is connected to our relationship with God and is about worship and being ambassadors of mercy, then marriage should double that endeavour. It brings two families together and two people who should share that purpose.
Our families should become units who work together to become better with our relationship with God and to give back to society. If this is the focus of both people, then we will be able to make our societies a better place. We do this with our children as well and include them in this process.
Remember that the prophet peace be upon him said that whatever good deed that you begin and people follow after you, you will get the good deed for doing it and for each person that follows it without diminishing their own good work. We should keep the ethic of balance in mind while trying to work diligently to increase our good. At the end of our lives, it is the only thing that will truly matter.