With Mohammed Hassan Loum
You say you are a Muslim yet still cannot be recognised as one. You do not think, talk, dress, deal, love or live like a Muslim. Either your actions betray your words, or your words betray your actions. Today you are a grand marabout attending an Islamic conference and delivering a speech on a very important Islamic subject which you yourself never practise. Tomorrow, lo behold, you have metamorphosed overnight and become like 2Pac about to take part in a rap concert. Once you say you are Muslim, then try by all means to be recognised, behave and act like one. You cannot sit on the fence.
You cannot be a man of all seasons. This act of not being here or there in Islam is termed as hypocrisy. This is what Allaah mentioned in the Noble Qur’an regarding the fluctuating indecisions, falsehood and deceit of the hypocrites: “Indeed, the hypocrites [think to] deceive Allah, but He is deceiving them. And when they stand for prayer, they stand lazily, showing [themselves to] the people and not remembering Allah except a little. Wavering between them, [belonging] neither to the believers nor to the disbelievers. And whoever Allah leaves astray – never will you find for him a way”. [Surah An-Nisaa 4; Verses 142 – 143].
Islam nowadays has become strange in the hearts and minds of Muslims. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said that there would come a time when the Muslim who endeavours to practice Islam completely and sincerely shall be like one holding in his hand a burning charcoal. However such a Muslim should not lose hope but receive glad tidings since it was Messenger of Allah Mohammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who informed us that: “Islam began as something strange and will revert to being strange as it began, so give glad tidings to the strangers”; [Muslim 145]. So for the aspiring believer and practicing Muslim who has now become estranged, receive glad tidings and become even more steadfast. Become more steadfast by entering into Islam fully and completely. If the evil person is not afraid to manifest his or her evil, then you also do not be afraid or shy to practice your religion for Islam is peace and peaceful.
Steadfastness (or Al Istiqamah in Arabic) is a comprehensive term which in summary means to stand firm before Allaah and submit to His will and religion (Islam) completely in all truthfulness regarding what is concealed in the heart (of intentions and sincerity), what is uttered upon the tongue, and actions carried out by the limbs as well as one’s outward state. On the authority of Abu `Amrah Sufyan bin Abdullah ath-Thaqafee (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: I said, “O Messenger of Allah! Tell me something about Islam which I can ask of no one except you.” He, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “Say I believe in Allaah (and His messenger), and then be steadfast.” [Muslim, 38].
Once we clearly understand this recurrent and everlasting message of steadfastness in Islam, and it becomes deeply rooted in our hearts, and we are at peace with it, then we will know that Allaah did not create this universe, the heavens, the seas, the rivers, the mountains, the deserts, human and jinn-kind except for us to worship Him: “And I (Allaah) created not the jinn and mankind except that they should worship Me (Alone)”. [Surah Ad-Dhaariyaat 51: Verse 56]. Therefore remaining resolute in worshiping Allaah alone and being firm in His religion is and has now become the most urgent priority of the Muslim who wishes to remain upon the straight path. This is very important and its importance is mainly due to the fact corruption and all forms of evil have now become clearly manifest and widespread on earth. Truth has now become falsehood, and falsehood is now truth. The true believer and practicing Muslim is now a stranger and an outcast. The innovator and the wicked liar who has no knowledge of Allaah, His Religion or His Book is venerated and termed as most pious and the flag bearer of goodness. Everything is now upside down and totally unrecognisable.
If then we are truly sincere in our resolution to be steadfast in Islam, then why O Muslim should you think of or even participate in the celebration of Valentine’s Day? ! Let us for a minute take a quick glance at what is this Valentine’s day. The history of the celebration of Valentine’s day in itself is unclear. It contains vestiges of both ancient Roman and Christian traditions. The Catholic church recognises at least three different saints named Valentine or Valentinus, all of whom were martyred. According to History.com: “While some believe that Valentine’s Day is celebrated in the middle of February to commemorate the anniversary of Valentine’s death or burial – which probably occurred around AD 270 – others claim that the Christian church may have decided to place St Valentine’s feast day in the middle of February in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan celebration of Lupercalia. Celebrated at the ides of February, or February 15, Lupercalia was a fertility festival dedicated to Faunus, the Roman god of agriculture, as well as to the Roman founders Romulus and Remus.”
So why should you as a Muslim celebrate or participate in a festival which is not yours and whose history is shrouded in mystery and controversy? Know, may Allaah have mercy on us all, that Muslims have their own religious festivals and other religions have their festivals. Allah said: “To each among you, We (Allaah) have prescribed a law and a clear way”. [Surah Al-Maa’idah 5: Verse 48]. He (Allaah) also said: “For every nation We have ordained religious ceremonies which they must follow”. [Surah Al-Hajj 22: Verse 67]. So for the Muslim, the days of Eid-ul-Adha (Tobaski) and Eid-ul-Fitr (Koriteh) are his religious festivals, and this could be found in the Hadith narrated that Anas (may Allaah be pleased with him) collected by Abu Dawood (1134) in his Saheeh. Apart from these two days of Eid, the Muslim does not participate in any other festival. This may seem impossible or strange to accept, but this is the pristine truth from Allaah as taught to and narrated by His prophet in the Sharee’ah of Islam. “Help you one another in Al-Birr and At-Taqwa (virtue, righteousness and piety); but do not help one another in sin and transgression. And fear Allaah. Verily, Allaah is Severe in punishment”. [Surah Al-Maa’idah 5: Verse 2]
Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (may Allaah have mercy on him) said in Majmoo’ Fataawa al-Shaykh Ibn ‘Uthaymeen (16/199): “Celebrating Valentine’s Day is not permissible. It is an innovated festival for which there is no basis in Islam. It promotes love and infatuation. It calls for hearts to be preoccupied with foolish matters that are contrary to the way of the righteous predecessors in Islam (may Allaah be pleased with them). It is not permissible on this day to do any of the things that are characteristic of this festival, whether that has to do with food, drinks, clothing, exchanging gifts or anything else.
The Muslim should be proud of his religion and should not be a weak character who follows every Tom, Dick and Harry”. So the time, energy, finance and other essential resources you would hopelessly spend to dress from head to toe completely in red, buy flowers and candies, bake cakes, visit boyfriends or girlfriends and exchange valentine’s cards etc., use these resources wisely to give out in charity to the poor, visit blood relatives you have not seen for a while, visit the sick at the hospital and see how to help them out, pay your debts if you have any, and above all, if your parents are still alive and have attained old age, go visit them, spend more time with them and spend on them for such spending shall never be wasted. And know that the expression of erotic love and sex can only be achieved in marriage. My subsequent article, Get Married or Die Fasting, shall expound in greater details.
I do accept that being steadfast in the face of all these distractions is not easy. Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) said: “The heart of the son of Aadam fluctuates more easily than a pot containing boiling water can turn over.” [Ahmad & Al-Haakim]. The heart is like a feather that tosses whenever the wind blows and changes from one direction to other very rapidly. Maintaining a steadfast heart in the face of such violent winds of desires, distractions and doubts hence requires a strong protecting fortress and an arsenal of weapons which would be able to withstand attacks. It is from the mercy of Allah that He clarified to us in His Book and through His Messenger (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) many means to remain steadfast. Among such foremost means to remain steadfast is constant supplication to Allaah. Shahr bin Haushab reported: “I asked Umm Salamah (May Allah be pleased with her), “O Mother of the Believers! Which supplication did the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) make frequently when he was in your house?” She said: “He (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) supplicated frequently: ‘Ya muqallibal-qulubi, thabbit qalbi ‘ala dinika (O Controller of the hearts make my heart steadfast in Your religion).” [At-Tirmidhi].
I urge myself and you to remain steadfast in our religious commitments and not turn away from them despite the many trials, tribulations and temptations which we currently face. The worst lies are those we tell ourselves believing them to be true. Remember that the good ending in this world and the Hereafter shall only be for the pious and the steadfast in piety. Therefore strive by all means to keep to those ways, means and companionship which will help you remain steadfast and adhere upon the religion of Allaah. Allaah says in the Noble Qur’an:
“Verily, those who say: ‘Our Lord is Allaah (alone),’ and then they stand firm, on them the angels will descend (at the time of their death) (saying): ‘Fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised!’” [Surah Al-Fussilat 41: Verse 30]
Allaah says: “Verily, those who say: ‘Our Lord is (only) Allaah,’ and thereafter stand firm (on the Islamic faith of monotheism), on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. Such shall be the dwellers of Paradise, abiding therein (forever) a reward for what they used to do”. [Surah Al-Ahqaaf 46: Verses 13-14]. May Allah help us to stand firm in this religion, and save us from being part of those who are neither here, no there.