Religious Elitism

the72sects:

Watching the monotonous swipes between differing religious groups and sects constantly being exchanged on Tumblr is the most tedious and uninspiringly brain numbing exercise ever. Maintaining an arrogance about your belief system invariably undermines your spirituality, regardless of religious persuasion. It’s a constant tit-for-tat let-me-see-you-better-that contest seldom with good intention, but most often with intent to protect turf and nothing else. 

When we engage in harsh tones and condescending remarks, I’m reminded of this hadith narrated by A’isha (RA) recorded in Sahih Muslim:

"Gentleness does not enter anything except that it beautifies it and harshness does not enter anything except that it disfigures it."

And if for some reason you’re inclined to deny the words of A’isha (RA), then here’s supporting sentiments from Rasulullah (SAW) as well:

"Whoever is deprived of gentleness is deprived of good."

Recorded in Sahih Muslim on the authority of Jarir bin ‘Abdullah (RA)

Yet another hadith that I am reminded of on this matter is:

"Religion is very easy and whoever overburdens himself in his religion will not be able to continue in that way. So you should not be extremists, but try to be near to perfection and receive the good tidings that you will be rewarded." 

Sahih Bukhari, Volume 1, Book 2, Number 38

And finally, if you honestly and sincerely find reason to doubt the authenticity or contextual relevance of the above ahadith, then here’s some words directly from Allah that further substantiates how we should approach matters of deen:

So by mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]. 

Surah Al-Imraan (3:159) - Sahih International

It’s unfortunate that most are inclined to justify their harsh and abrasive tones under the pretense of hating for the sake of Allah, but choose to conveniently dismiss the above advice, and so much more in the Qur’an and hadith, that advises us to engage sincerely, in a measured tone, speaking gently, and inviting towards good. The amount of in-fighting over matters that do not take one outside the fold of Islam is disappointing. I can think of no other reason but the fact that those that engage with such unrestrained harshness about trivial matters do so driven by their egos rather than any desire to uphold what is right and forbid what is wrong.

Still relevant.

Hajj 1435 - Final Thoughts

I have nothing of material value to add to this discussion. I immersed myself as best as I could given the constraints and demands that were placed on me, mostly external to myself, but somehow it felt as if my effort was lacking.

There was no shortage of Ulema lecturing us on the signs of an accepted Hajj. The contradiction was the other constant reminder that we should never doubt Allah’s acceptance of our Hajj either. Topped by the awkward feeling of wondering why someone with an accepted Hajj should be concerned about the acceptance of any other person’s Hajj. We place too much emphasis on trying to measure the success of the efforts of others, or even ourselves.

Mindfulness in our practices is good only as long as it keeps our intention grounded. Beyond that it serves as nothing more than a distraction from the purpose of our efforts to begin with. We’re an Ummah obsessed with judging each other.

I left the plains of Arafaah with one simple realisation. If the Ummah is to ever be united again, three things must be abandoned:

  1. The abolishment of the man-made titles that define the spiritual supremacy of our ‘spiritual leaders’ is needed before we are able to return to the Sunnah of identifying acts of piety as a distinguishing factor in our choice of companions, rather than blindly following title holders. The contradictions in behaviour and character of the majority of title holders relative to their professions of upholding the Sunnah is sowing seeds of acceptable hypocrisy in our hearts. The titles I am referring to are those of Maulana, Mufti, Sheikh, Aalim and so on. Titles which, to this day, I patiently await the moment when someone will be able to show me how these were derived from the practices of Rasulullah (SAW) and his companions, since none of them are referred to by such titles in the ahadith that I have read or seen quoted.
  2. The abolishment of the madhabs. The proclamations that the following of the four madhabs (or madhaaib, whichever you prefer) is recommended is probably one of the most misguided innovations that faces the Ummah today. The principles underlying the definition of these madhabs is not very different to the same principles and disagreements that drive that wedge between Sunni and Shia. I’ve witnessed first hand how petty these madhab differences were during the days of Hajj where we even saw one group holding two separate congregational salaah times for Asr to accommodate the Shafi first and then later the Hanafi. This took place despite many madhabis confirming that the prevailing madhab of the Imam of the congregation is what should be followed by the group. It doesn’t happen. If it does, it’s the exception. Madhabs drive wedges in communities, in boards of trustees, and ultimately in the Ummah. It must be abandoned in favour of a collective and flexible practice of the Sunnah as is clearly evidenced in the ahadith. Islam is entirely compatible with an adaptive approach that is principle based. We’ve lost sight of the principles, fixated on the rituals, and established madhabs to cement our position.
  3. The abolishment of the use of the crescent moon and star as symbols of Islam. I have proven in numerous previous posts, and also received confirmation from one of the most prominent boards of Ulema in South Africa that these symbols have absolutely no basis in Islam. They are not supported in any ahadith, and they are confirmed to be of pagan origin. This is a form of shirk that must be abandoned. It has gotten to the point where this symbol of paganism has been raised higher than Allah’s name on the clock tower above the Kaaba. This can never lead to good, and can only further encourage Muslims to follow a deviated path of adopting symbols as items of worship that further distract us from the oneness of Allah. No wonder then that the use of taweez/talismans, and the seeking of intercessions from ‘saints’ is becoming more widespread.

The above resonates with the nationalism that was prevalent during this year’s Hajj. I personally witnessed Nigerians and South Africans coming close to blows due to gross intolerance and disrespect for each other’s rights in Muzdalifah. I also witnessed the total lack of consideration for the personal ibadah that was to be emphasised on the day of Arafaah because of the need of various groups to demonstrate their piety through blaring loudspeakers in leading group dhikrs, lengthy bayaans, and acknowledging dignitaries. Personal ibadah, as emphasised by Rasulullah (SAW) took a distant back seat on the blessed day of Arafaah.This saddened many in our group, but we were the minority.

Islam has become a democracy. May Allah save us from this pervasive ignorance in our sincere efforts to contribute towards the healing of the Ummah. Whether I have returned as a better man, a more impassioned being, or if I remain unchanged is yet to be seen. May Allah have mercy on me, and may He accept my flawed efforts. Aameen.

"Asking the hujjaaj to make sabr while dealing with trials imposed through a failure on your part to meet your contractual obligations is like victim blaming. You get to abdicate responsibility while leaving the burden of the impact on those affected by it."
Zaid Ismail
"After this trip, I am convinced that the biggest contributors to disunity in the Ummah is a combination of the tableeghi jamaah and the madhabis, usually the hanafis. They generally have an ingrained sense of superiority regarding their interpretation of Islam and are almost entirely inflexible in situations that require them to accommodate differing practices that are clearly allowed within the sunnah."
Zaid Ismail
A message from Anonymous
Salam, please could you pray that Allah SWT gives me sabr and ajar and pray for my mental health as well as physical health and that I am able to be more confident and a lot more happier in myself. As cheesy as it sounds that I learn to love myself. Jazak'Allah. God willing, yours and your family's hajj is accepted.

Wa Alaykumussalaam,

Aameen, Thumma Aameen.

I promise you that if you focus less on people’s opinions of you and more on your own strengths, the confidence and mental health will take care of itself. People, often including your own family, will never be fully pleased with you. So set your own goals for yourself independent of how people will perceive it, and find objective ways to measure your progress.

They say that if you compare a sane man to an insane society, he will appear insane. I honestly believe that society has reached such levels of insanity that determining reality is almost impossible these days. So take comfort in being the odd one out. Allah will provide you with comfort through other means, Aameen.

Wslm,

Zaid.

"Yesterday’s experience at the Jamaraat felt like a scene from a post apocalyptic movie. The wailing sirens, the blaring loudspeakers, the gravel and debris strewn over concrete floors, the massive industrial chillers blowing cold air into the crowds, and the military clad police officers looking uninterested but compelled to be on duty while the mob swayed and shrieked at the opportunity to pelt the devil. It seems most left their pebbles at the pillar and took the devil with them when they left. I saw elderly women with sticks and wheelchairs being shoved out of the way by big burly men and obese women in their rush for a seat on the bus to return to their hotels. There was no shortage of young and healthy twenty-somethings that joined this hustle discarding any sense of shame in their treatment of the elderly. Another poignant moment with a bitter after taste from my hajj experience."
Zaid Ismail

Hajj 1435 - Day Twenty One

It feels like an assault on my senses. Not so much the Hajj itself, but the constant surrounding of people and noise and heat and humidity. There is no time for just being. Even in sleep there is an unfamiliarity that seeps into my bed.

There is no room to recede to enjoy just a quiet moment. Even in the Haramain the clammer was such that it made it difficult to experience a quiet moment with my thoughts focused on the purpose of my visit. Silence is not silent any longer.

The heat and humidity is like a nagging ache. You find ways to contend with it while trying to remain productive but it gnaws away at you at every turn, quite literally. Watching the dance between the madhabs in our group is equally corrosive. Perhaps that’s too strong a term to use, but the mild annoyance that can be sensed when each group expresses themselves in their own ways in the gatherings is almost laughable.

It’s amazing how much clutter is in my head while nothing seems to be forthcoming for this post. I have a need to express myself, but even that expression is appearing foreign to me. It is not that I may be resisting any changes that might be prompted in me. Quite the contrary, I’m finding it difficult to immerse myself into the experience because of the constant barrage of distractions.

From Madinah where it felt peaceful and warm, apart from the barbaric behaviour around the resting place of our beloved, to Makkah where time seemed to lose significance and days and nights simply converged almost imperceptibly, now followed by Aziziyah where time has almost no barakah at all. Strange how that seems to mimic our lives. Madinah resonates with childhood, where we’re eager and excited to experience the world while oblivious to its challenges only to be disrupted by events around us due to the behaviour of others. Makkah is our adolescence when we’re impatient to make our mark, while exerting ourselves in the distractions of the world hoping that what is to come will herald some peace and composure. Aziziyah then rings in our adult life, where everything is so regimented and routine that time loses any meaning, and before you know it, you’re faced with the regret of missed opportunities and the dawning of your twilight years.

And so I approach the days of Hajj with trepidation and a sense that it will signify the twilight years of my life. The orientation walk on Sunday through the camps at Mina, followed by the Jamaraat in the usual desert heat gave us a sense of the experience to come. We will set out for Mina to begin the rituals of Hajj on Thursday morning. What lies beyond those rituals is what most intrigues me right now. Will it be the death of me, or the rebirth of me. Will I find myself building on the strengths I have, or rethinking every decision of my life? Will life get easier, or more difficult? Will I finally be able to recognise the man I see in the mirror each day, or will I be repulsed by the image before me?

I want so desperately to be able to write about the positives in my experiences thus far, but the immensity of the problems plaguing me as a person, and the challenges facing the Ummah emphasises my impotence in being able to change it in a meaningful way. I truly believe that hopelessness is not an attribute of a believer, where then does impotence fit in?

Hajj 1435 - Day Fifteen

Today is our last day as residents in Makkah. Tomorrow we leave for Azizia where we will make our final preparations for the days of Hajj set to commence next week. No matter how much or how little is achieved during your stay in Makkah and Madinah, you’ll always leave with regrets.

There is always more you could have done, or less distractions you could have succumbed to, but even those distractions, if done with good intentions and correct manners, will serve as a benefit on our records, Aameen. One thought that keeps recurring is the reminder of how many opportunities abound through which we are able to acquire total forgiveness for all our past sins. The same applies to an accepted Hajj. People keep repeating the phrase that we’ll be as innocent as the day we were born, but there is another side to this that I keep thinking about. In all those promises of forgiveness, not once does Allah tell us that He will remove all our good deeds from our records when those sins are forgiven. How then can we be as we were the day we were born? Won’t we be even better than that?

To me, it means that instead of starting out with a clean slate, we’re in fact starting out with a credit. A huge credit. Alhamdulillah, if that doesn’t emphasise the mercy of Allah, then what does?

I realised this morning that the veil of negativity that keeps plaguing me is something that is reflective of my accumulated life experiences. It is a reflection of my emphasis on the selfishness of our actions and the challenges that face us, and despite my celebration of our ability to continuously triumph over these, it has established within me an inclination to smile at the burdens without realising that I’ve simulatenously blurred my vision of the beauty that accompanies it. Beauty is not the same as benefits. There is beauty in pain and in pleasure, but not necessarily benefit in both. Although even that is not entirely true since there is nothing so bad that there is no good in it.

The burden of being me is that I will probably always feel conflicted. Those that can relate to an upbringing lacking in sufficient role models will suffer a similar frustration to my own. While there is much to be said in favour of having had so many colourful life experiences which often serve to educate others more than ourselves, it would be so much easier to have figured all this out through sound advice and guidance so that the focus of my life could have been on ccontributing towards the upliftment of the Ummah, rather than on the salvation of my sanity.

I have no idea what to expect at Azizia. Common comments suggest that we’re moving from five star accommodation to zero star accommodation, followed by all-star accommodation at Mina and Muzdalifah, implying that the skies will be our canopy. Strangely enough, I’m inclined to advise others not to seek the most comfortable accommodation in Makkah or Madinah, because the more comfort or luxury you have, the less likely you will be to leave the room. Or the more likely you will find reason to return to the room to rest. It’s a double-edged sword. On the one side, it makes it easy for you to get to the Haram, but on the other, it also makes it easy to return from the Haram. And I suspect that if it weren’t as convenient to return, I probably would have found more reason to stay for longer periods in the Haram when I got there.

While regrets already abound, my experience on that first night when we arrived in Makkah sealed the trip for me. I felt immersed in the experience of Tawaaf and Saiee with a deep connection to Allah like never before. I was alone in my experience that night, and that echoed the reality of my life beautifully. Insha-Allah it will be a source of strength for me for the rest of my life. Aameen.

If internet connectivity is not reliable at Azizia, this could very well be my last bleeding of thoughts on this trip, which served as a purge for me more than anything else. In the off chance that I do have access to Tumblr again before Hajj starts, please send me a message with any specific duas that you would like me to make for you on Arafat, and insha-Allah I will include it on that blessed occasion.

Remember me and my family in your duas.

Zaid.

Hajj 1435 - Day Thirteen

This trip has been anything but the idyllic spiritual retreat that I thought it would be. Perhaps in that is a retreat of sorts. The most interesting contrast between Makkah and Madinah is the way in which we’ve experienced the hospitality of the two. Madinah by its very nature felt warm and inviting, even though the traders and hotel staff in general were abrasive, dismissive, or unpleasant. I found myself chastising myself several times about criticising the people of Madinah, but took some comfort from the fact that the majority of those that treated us poorly were not the locals of Madinah.

In Makkah, the reverse is true. From hotel staff to traders, we’re welcomed at every turn and served well as guests of Allah. That part feels good. But the warmth of Madinah is missing. Makkah has a very business-like atmosphere. It feels as if we’re here to do a specific transaction, and the moment it is done, we should leave. Unlike Madinah where it felt as if we shouldn’t leave at all if we could help it.

The crowds have grown tremendously over the last few days, even though we were hoping it would subside with many groups already leaving for Azizia. What I used to stare at in awe on TV at home I am now a part of. The experience is breathtaking and intimidating at the same time. There is no other city in the world that suffers from as beautiful an insomnia as Makkah.

We leave for Azizia on Thursday, at which point the final countdown for Hajj will begin. In all honesty, the gripping excitement has yet to hit me. I am still very much taking things in my stride and I’m starting to wonder if my jadedness might not deny me the beauty of this experience after all. The persistent after taste of this trip so far has been one of ambivalence. I find myself admiring the beauty of the constant flow of worshippers performing tawaaf, but being painfully aware of the harsh treatment many have towards each other in their selfish strides to take what they need from the experience. Like the Ummah, from a distance, it appears harmonious and united with a single ethos, and a single focus, but just a slightly closer look and the rifts, the bickering, and the harshness towards each other stings your eyes.

My focus now is to get my sleep routine more sustainable before the days of Hajj. The purpose of this trip, as we were reminded many times by the group leaders, is the five days of Hajj, so exerting yourself excessively before that will only detract from that core purpose. I guess that adds to the ambivalence because on one hand I want to expend myself as much as possible in the time I have in Makkah, but on the other, I know that it will be detrimental to my health and ability to do justice to the days of Hajj during which the conditions of ihram place an additional strain on my city-seasoned body.

One more thought that keeps occurring to me is the absence of the simple sunnah of greeting each other with a cheerful disposition. The Prophet (SAW) used to greet every person he passed in the market place with a smile. I don’t recall the hadith singling out Muslims in that practice either. Yet with almost every Muslim I pass both here in Makkah and at home, rarely do i come across one that greets enthusiastically or cheerfully. Oddly enough, it is those that are perceived to be further from the sunnah in apearance and dress code that tend to practice this beautiful sunnah more than most. This obviously excludes those people that we greet out of familiarity or common acquaintance.

Hajj 1435 - Day Ten (I think…)

The chafing is a beautiful reminder of the simple things we take for granted. Being able to walk without waddling, as an example. On my way out the other day I saw a slender built brother in visible pain waddling very slowly into the hotel. I smiled and felt pity at the same time. My vanity was also pacified by the fact that it wasn’t my thunder thighs that were the cause of the chafing, but rather just a natural occurance when wearing ihram. I’m desperately trying out various techniques and remedies to alleviate this feature of hajj so that the five days in ihram will be easier to bear insha-Allah.

I managed to get one tawaaf in this morning before Fajr. It was during this time that I realised that I had more to fear from the women making tawaaf than from the men, well most of the men anyway. The women tend to move in packs, with arms interlocked, and literally bulldozing their way through the crowd. More often than not I found myself almost totally off balance after being knocked out of the way by the many groups of women around there. Of course the men wouldn’t take kindly to being outshined in this way, so I was also fortunate enough to have had a man’s arm entangled in my strap of my shoe bag that I was wearing on my back. After violently wresting it out, he offered a sheepish grin and extended his hand as a gesture of apology. I took his hand, but was only able to muster up half a grin in return. My strap is now broken. Alhamdulillah.

There are changes being sparked in me, but I’m not quite certain what those changes are. I was within an arm’s length of Hajratul Aswad this morning, after having been able to touch Rukn Yamani without shoving anyone out of my way, but I walked away from the black stone after witnessing the vile behaviour of many around it. The experience was similar to Raudul Jannah in Madinah. I expect less now, so it made it less offensive. That’s concerning because it reflects how easily we become complacent about what’s not right around us. The same thought occurred to me while observing the men reading salaah around me this morning. The majority are composed, reserved, considerate and unoffensive, but there are a significant number, by no means a majority, that are abrasive, offensive, selfish, and arrogant in the way they push through others without any consideration for the fact that they’re in salaah.

My response to this is also significantly watered down compared to when we first arrived over a week ago. But this time not so much because of complacency, but rather the realisation that this is simply a reflection of our state in life. That state we reach when we feel we have to simply take what is needed because waiting or respecting the rights of others inevitably leaves us short-changed. I’m convinced that those men behaving so offensively are mostly oblivious to how vile their actions are. This is part of the problem with living life as a victim. We inevitably become aggressors in the process, which creates new victims that spawn new aggressors. Another vicious cycle that can only be broken through reflection and accountability.

Reading through a collection of ahadith this morning made me realise even more how merciful Allah is. It amazes me when so many try to insist on emphasising specific spots and actions that result in Allah’s forgiveness for your sins or answering of your duas, but few step back and look at the pervasiveness of such opportunity. I have seen sahih ahadith that confirm that the dua made during adhaan, while ill, while travelling, while oppressed, on behalf of someone else, while performing wudhu, while making effort in the path of Allah, while walking to the mosque in a state of wudhu, when looking at the Kaaba for the fist time, when standing between the Black Stone and the door of the Kaaba, when in Raudul Jannah, etc., are all accepted. To me, this simply confirms that whenever we’re faced with worldly attraction, or blessing, or trials, if we stop and reflect and turn our gaze towards Allah, Allah will respond. Khalaas. Being mìndful is therefore a requirement to be a good and conscientious Muslim. Being purposeful in our worship is therefore a prerequisite for acceptance, but not because we’re being punished if we lack it, but simply because we are not talking to Allah when we turn to him. Often, because we’re still continuing our last conversation in our heads about some worldly matter. Too often, this plays out physically with too many busy with their phones while in the masjid, sometimes interrupting their dua to take calls and photos so that they can share the moment.

Our attention whoring has taken us to a new level of self-destruction. Popularity is a trap more than it is a benefit. I’ve found that even on this trip, I indulge in more banter and critical analysis of what’s going on when I am in familiar company where my opinion may be respected, whereas I find myself focused inwardly when alone. Sometimes our introspection reveals truths about ourselves that are uncomfortable to process without the amicable interruption of acceptance or admiration from others. We’ve become so obsessed with affirmation and validation, that our successes are not deemed successful unless recognised by another that is considered a credible judge of such success, and similarly, our pain is considered to be a weakness unless it is celebrated as a triumph of adversity by similarly afflicted fools.

Misery loves company, true. But misery is not always presented as pain or failure. How miserable an existence isn’t it when we later realise that the best moments were lost to distractions that we thought were significant at the time?

Hajj 1435 - Day Eight

I think it’s day eight. It’s easy to lose track of time when life is not run by the corporate clock. It seems a little disconcerting at first, but I know it’s going to feel stifling when I have to get back into the routine. The last few days have been interesting. That’s an understatement.

The bus drive over from Madinah took about 11 hours. The journey was a little over 400km. Yeah, not a very good average speed at all. The seating space made cattle class look like business class (on the plane that is). But it was part of the experience. My shoulder bag fell on my head twice from the overhead storage area, so it was probably a sub-conscious reprisal when I forgot it on the bus as we disembarked.

We received a number of surprise gifts along the way. First a hamper of food and drinks including milk and orange juice when we just left Madinah, followed by generous handouts of passengers sharing their snacks throughout the bus, and then completed with another round of unexpected food hampers given to us at a check point before entering Makkah. The final gifts we received was a bag with a prayer mat and a white umbrella for the coming days of Hajj. It was a pleasant surprise for most of us, except those that decided to buy umbrellas for themselves in Madinah.

Despite the long journey, I decided to complete my Umrah the moment we arrived. Almost everyone else retired to the very plush hotel rooms provided, but having done this before, I preferred going by myself. The experience was surprisingly pleasant, with minimal buffoonery in the pushing and shoving department, and a surprising level of mindfulness that I managed to achieve on my part. It felt spiritually and emotionally grounding. Exactly what I needed to complement my experience in Madinah the day before we left.

My head is once again clean shaven, and I like it. Definitely thinking of sporting this look on a more permanent basis. Lots of new quaint experiences that I’ll probably touch on later. Need to go out now and once again search for some shorts that don’t choke my thighs. The thigh burn from the saiee between Safa and Marwah left me chuckling in pain. But more on that later insha-Allah. The souk is calling.

Hajj 1435 - Day Five

The clutter has yet to subside. The more I try to focus on the purpose of my journey the more I am reminded about the frustrations I experience as a Muslim among the Muslim community both online and at home. The dynamics of millions coming together from all over the world results in those frustrations being magnified rather than subdued. The appearance of unity is amazing, until you spend a few minutes in the mosque and once again witness the emphasis on personal benefit and objectives rather than striking a harmonious balance with those around us.

There are exceptions, but unfortunately those exceptions are what should be the norm. I am therefore convinced that society is insane. The woes of the Ummah rests not only in the hands of the corrupt leaders, but instead, and probably more importantly, it rests in the hands of each of us that either fail to uphold the most basic of ethical standards in our dealings, or in the hands of those that turn a blind eye instead of opposing such corruption of our moral standing as an Ummah. We have gotten to the point where I can count on the business ethics of the non-Muslim traders in South Africa more than I can trust the sincerity of the Muslim trading at the door to the mosque of the resting place of our most beloved!

On our trip to Uhud the other day, one of the elderly people in the group who was unaware of the history and time period surrounding the area commented that it was probably in such a state because of the wars fought there. It’s a shameful sight, not just because it is the burial place of a great companion (Hamzah RA), but because no Muslim should live in such filth and disrepair when skills, resources, and capability is within reach. Adult Muslim traders looking at you with finger firmly planted in nostril, unkempt hair, littered surrounds, and abrasive manners, while offering to sell you pirated goods of western brands whose lifestyles they claim to spurn. The contradictions are mindblowing.

I sat today before Asr salaah with my eyes closed trying desperately to get into a frame of mind that would be conducive towards reflection, but was promptly interrupted by the extended tune of a cell phone ring tone blaring out a few rows from me with absolutely no inclination by its owner to silence the curse. It’s disheartening to say the least. I tried to get into Raudul Jannah again last night, but was soon deterred by the abominable behaviour of the crowds that had gathered there. The pushing and shoving was once again despicable with a total disregard for anyone reading salaah immediately outside that section. I walked away because I wanted to have no part in such behaviour. Not because I think I am better, but because it reminded me of the hadith that teaches us not to inconvenience another Muslim, let alone harm them. It reminded me about the fact that the objective of performing salaah in that sacred spot is to earn Allah’s favour for entry into Jannah, and to be close to Rasulullah (SAW), how then can we proclaim to be doing it with such aspirations if we blatantly discard any such teachings in the way we conduct ourselves in this most sacred of places? Soccer hooligans come to mind, and that is not the lasting image I should be carrying with me when leaving this blessed city! I feel cursed!

I seem to grow despondent too easily these days. My tolerance levels are at an all time low. I look around me and see so many using the beautiful Sunnah to justify their unethical behaviour, like reminding me to be patient in how I bear my trials, while those trials are directly related to their blatant disregard for the service that they are contracted to offer, or the ethics they are expected to uphold in their dealings. Surely such trials should only be borne with patience if it results from unexpected outcomes while all involved act sincerely? Or are we now suggesting that the lethargy, dishonesty, and insincerity that already plagues the Ummah must go unchecked because it is more important to bear our trials with patience?

I sometimes contemplate deleting my blogs and surrendering any thoughts of writing that book in the hope that that may offer some reprieve from this clutter. Sometimes it seems as if being able to express myself through this medium creates a space for such frustration to grow, but I’m soon reminded that in the absence of such expression I will find no outlet or ventlet, and such a scenario will most likely be devastating to my ability to bear with patience in person that which I am able to vent about online. Neither is a feasible option, and so my frustrated state will persist.

Edit: I am in the blessed presence of Rasulullah (SAW), may Allah overlook my fickleness of considering myself to be cursed. I am fortunate, Alhamdulillah. Had a challenging but thought provoking experience in Raudul Jannah. Yes, I finally made it in, but more because the crowd allowed me to move in no other direction when I had thoughts of exiting because of the way in which so many were behaving again. I found myself inadvertantly part of a human chain that was formed to create a space for some to read salaah in Raudul Jannah. Yes, a human chain was needed because all the etiquette of the masjid was thrown to the wind by most that attended. It was interesting to see how so many suddenly respected the informal structure that was created and stopped pushing and shoving, but of course there was also a number of men that still saw fit to force their way through the musallees just to get to their desired spot. Nonetheless, Alhamdulillah, it feels like a weight has been lifted. Please make dua that this feeling persists beyond just tonight. Aameen.