Ebrahim Moosa – Cii Radio | 5 Shawaal 1434/13 August 2013
There was much consternation in South African Muslim ranks earlier this year as reactions cascaded in to reports that believers were among those who had flocked in large numbers to scoop up tickets to the concert of a renowned youth pop star.
“It is extremely heart breaking to learn that Muslims, in large numbers, are buying tickets to attend this concert. But even more tragic and more heart breaking is the fact that many of our youngsters, young daughters and sisters will be attending these types of functions, with the support and blessing of their parents, of their families,” said Mufti Bayat, commenting on concerns that Muslims had unashamedly associated themselves with a series of high profile Justin Bieber concerts.
Cautioning against the blowbacks of such behavior, he told an Islamic broadcaster that the Muslim community should not be astounded when unfavourable conditions befall their societies as a result of their actions. “Then we must not have anybody else to blame but ourselves and we must be willing to accept blame for whatever is going to befall us and we are bringing this condition to prevail on ourselves.”
“May Allah Ta’ala give understanding to their parents, give them realization, open their eyes up, and make them understand that they are not being good to their children, they are not doing kindness to their children. In fact they are destroying their children if they are going to give them financial support or if they are going to give them moral support – openly, covertly, passively – whichever way they do it, they are actually destroying the Aakhira (hereafter) of their children,” Bayat added.
The Bieber episode was an unfortunate blemish, but it also presented the opportune moment for collective soul searching as a community. Why would some among our ranks with Muslim sounding names, and perhaps even donning Islamic looking garb be so gaga towards ‘idols’ who represent ideals worlds apart from those on whom they had been nurtured, and who often find themselves associated with the worst of societal ills.
Girls, booze and drugs are in abundance during wild parties thrown at Justin Bieber‘s Calabasas mansion, it has been claimed, and insiders say the pop star has also been known to habitually smoke marijuana.
“Muslim youth, especially in the West, lack an identity,” diagnoses the late American Yemeni scholar Imam Anwar al Awlaki. “They have an identity crisis. Ask them about the Ambiyaa or Sahaba, and they have scant knowledge. But ask the same person about a singer, an actor or a football player, and they’ll know the ins and outs of that personality.”
The problem, he says, is one of upbringing. Children, through the media, educational system and ineffective parenting are being herded away from true Islamic role models and instead being offered delinquent ‘idols’ and ‘superstars’ as substitutes.
Quoting a famous author, Awlaki observes that the most effective way to destroy a society is to sever its roots. “Do this, and the tree will dry up – If you do not have an attachment to your history you are a nobody,” he says.
“Therefore,” he concludes, “it is extremely important for every one of us to learn the details of our heroes, these are our celebrities, these are our role models. It is not enough just to know the name, because you can’t love a person just by knowing the name. You have to learn more about them.”
Contrasting the examples of righteous Muslim role models with those of defunct contemporary superstars, he illustrates: With the Sahaba and others, the more you know about them, the more you love them. But with the celebrities of the Kuffaar, the more you know about them the more you hate them.
Studying the lives of the Ambiyaa and the Sahaba thus should be given priority, he argues, as their examples represent the paragons of human excellence.
In addition, he states the variant personalities of the Sahaba present ample opportunities for Muslims of different inclinations to draw guidance from them. For instance, one could learn compassion from the life of Sayyidina Abu Bakr RA, firmness upon Shariah from Umar RA, modesty from Uthmaan RA, bravery from Ali RA, eagerness to obtain knowledge from the enthusiasm of Aishah RA, loyalty from the example of Khadijah RA, aloofness from Abu Zar RA, austerity from Sayyidina Abu Darda RA, generosity and management of wealth from Abdur Rahman ibn Auf RA and courage from Khalid bin Walid RA.
“It is important to learn about the lives of the Sahaba RA so that you could look up to one of them, and try to be like them. The one that resembles your personality most closely, you can take that Sahabi or Sahabiyya as your role model,” exhorts Al Awlaki.
His motivation echoes that of Shaykhul Hadith Moulana Muhammad Zakariyya Kaandhlawi RA who cited a desire to imbibe within young children the ideals of the Sahaba as a reason for him including a chapter on the Stories of Sahaba into his Fazail e A’maal(Virtues of Actions).
“It was in the year 1353 A.H. that an eminent Sheikh, who is my patron and for whom I have every respect, enjoined me to compile a book containing stories of the companions of the Holy Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam), with special reference to the Faith and Practices of the women and children of his time. The main idea underlying this behest was that Muslim mothers, while going to bed at night, instead of telling myths and fables to their children, may narrate to them such real and true tales of the golden age of Islam that would create in them an Islamic spirit of love and esteem for Sahabah, and thereby improve their ‘Imaan’; and the proposed book may, thus, be a useful substitute for the current story books,” writes Hadhrat Moulana in the foreword of his chapter Hikayaat-e-Sahaabah.
“It is an admitted fact that the stories of the godly people deserve to be studied rather deeply, in order to derive proper benefit from them. This is more important in case of Sahabah, who were chosen by Allah for the company of His beloved and our dear Prophet (Sallallaho alaihe wasallam). Their stories not only serve as a beacon of Faith and Practice but also cause Allah’s blessings and mercy to descend on the readers,” he adds.
Exposing Muslims to the stories of the Sahaba today serves the additional role of offering a bulwark against deviant ideologies like Shi’ism that seek to denigrate the Sahaba. As many local Ulama have opined, inculcating a love for the Companions within Muslims is far more effective against sectarian brainwashing than any amount of polemical debate would achieve.
The recent renewed interest in the narratives of the Sahaba from Muslim community organizations and media outlets is thus a most commendable development that could reap immense dividends in the reassertion of a Muslim identity amongst the youth, and the crystallization of an authentic Aqeedah.
In the words of ‘Abdullah ibn Mas‘ood (RA): “Whoever wants to follow a path, let him follow the path of those who passed away, for the living are not safe from fitnah. They are the Companions of Muhammad (SAW). They were the best of this ummah: the purest in heart, the deepest in knowledge and the most straightforward. Allah chose them to accompany His Prophet and establish His religion, so recognise their status and follow in their footsteps and adhere as much as you can to their example of conduct and attitude, for they were on true guidance.”