By Imam Abdullah El-Amin, Muslim Media News Service (MMNS)
Keep our eyes on the prize
â€œO ye Children of Adam! Let not Satan seduce you in the same manner as he got your parents out of the garden, stripping them of their raiment, to expose their shame: for he and his tribe see you from a position where ye cannot see them. We made the Satans friends (only to those without faith.â€ 7:27
With the all-out war being waged on Muslims, Islam, the Prophet (s), the Qur`an, andâ€¦ALLAH, we have the strong need to strengthen the perception of our religion in the general society.
Islam is the newest of the Abrahamic faiths to grace these shores, behind Judaism and Christianity. As a result, many people have no idea about what Islam really is so whatever they hear is taken as the truth. They really have no idea of how wicked some people are, whose business it is to intentionally distort the truth of the religion. The devil has a plethora of tricks and methods to shed negative light on anything that has the potential to enhance humanity. Islam is the most important of these. So we must be strong in our faith as individuals to tighten the chain of brotherhood, thereby eliminating weak links. The following comments were made previously in this column. Let us revisit and reflect.
One of the pitfalls of the glitz and glamour of the modern world is it has a very strong magnetic effect on the young (and sometimes not-so-young). Much of the TV, movies, and music we experience today have messages that downplay good healthy wholesome living.
Sometimes when I havenâ€™t seen a person at the masjid in a long time, I will run into them at a festival, parade, ball game, golf course, or some other recreational outlet. And many times when I see them they will be with a non-Muslim companion and not dressed exactly as they were the last time I saw them at the mosque. This is much more common in the African-America community, because assimilation in the local culture is much easier than it is for immigrant Muslims.
Many of our young people, indigenous and immigrant, feel that Islam and living an Islamic life means you canâ€™t have fun. They feel that Islam is too restrictive and prevents you from living a full life. Well, nothing could be further from the truth. And Iâ€™m not speaking from the perspective of an older person. Iâ€™m speaking from the perspective of the Qur`an.
ALLAH only forbids us those things that are harmful to ourselves and/or the society. A few examples of what I mean:
* We are forbidden to eat pork and other unclean meats. This is self explanatory if you think about it. Pork is known to cause high blood pressure and clogged arteries, which can lead to strokes and heart attacks. It also harbors worms.
* Adultery and fornication cause breakups in the family, which ultimately weaken the society.
* Alcohol and intoxicants cause warped and unstable thinking.
* Gambling leads to lying and theft after the inevitable losses you will incur.
These are a few of the prohibited things. There are many more activities that are permitted by ALLAH. You donâ€™t need to stay away from the masjid to go to a movie. Just try to see decent movies. If your culture allows you to listen to music, make sure that the music you choose is not the rotgut, vulgar stuff put out by Shaytan.
As an imam and counselor, I get a great many people seeking help for problems that can, for the most part, be solved by adherence to the Qur`an and attendance at the masjid. When you are around Muslims, your behavior automatically is going to be more Islamic. You will be encouraged to pay the zakat and attend Friday prayers. We need each other. Steel sharpens steel and man sharpens man.
On the other hand, we must be constantly aware of the presence and plan of Satan and know that â€œhe can watch you while you are unaware.â€ When you are around non-Muslims, your behavior will likely be like those you are around. You will â€œrelaxâ€ into an inferior culture, which will bring you down to a lower level.
Be Muslim ALL the time. Your life will be less stressful, more peaceful, and a greater asset to the communityâ€¦â€¦â€¦And your Lord will be pleased with you.