Mind and Our Health

By Mohamedarif Suleman,

Nairobi, Kenya

In various instances, we have been advised by many of our aimmah (AS) that purity of the mind and to train the mind to cherish good, positive and pure thoughts, is perhaps a more important function that we must continuously perform. Niyyat, we are further reminded, is of superlative importance when it comes to the performance of good or bad deeds. Embroidered in this school of thought is the recognition that the mind is the home of all actions and that when we think good thoughts, we will act in a given good manner and that when we house all evil thought, we are bound to act in a certain negative manner. And it therefore follows that looking at a woman (or man) in a lustful manner “which your right hand does not possess” is prohibited because once a person takes the first step of looking, further adulteration of thought will naturally take place. Of course, there is the aspect of developing self control simultaneously with restraint that was discussed lastly.

The mind has strange and very advanced powers, and those engrossed in the study of the mind can very well vouch this fact. Psychologists such as the infamous Sigmund Freud has in many cases advanced theories, some rather absurd, but all that point to the undeniable relation between body and mind, and the circular influence that each has on the other. Much of his work was based on what is now referred to as ego-psychology. This theory insinuates that any single personality is divided into three separate persons, namely the Id, the ego and the super ego. For those not as yet initiated to the definitions, the id is the collective conception of all our primitive instinctive impulses, death on one hand and life on the other; the super ego is that part of the personality which we have developed and shaped after the pattern or example of the authorities which influenced our bringing up, such as the parents or guardians. In simple terms, the id is the brute within a man which is animalistic and basic in nature and is embroiled in a constant struggle of survival, and the super ego is the refined and civilized man within us that strives to conform to norms and to excel in mundane activities and affairs. Both may eventually target the same goal.

Torn between the two is the ego, which not only has to withstand the demands of the instinctive id and to justify itself before the criticisms of the super ego, but it must be in addition take notice of the real possibilities of the outer world; so that the mentally healthy ego adapts itself in three directions and has to bring the three principles of pleasure, reality and morals into harmonious relations. Freud called these conditions psychoses.

Based on the above premise, we come to define terms such as ‘’amentia’’, where reality is denied completely (ego is not in control, super ego rules). For example, the death of a loved person is simply not recognized. Or we have ‘’schizophrenia’’ in which the interest of the outer world is directed inwards. The outer world is falsified so far as it is necessary to make it compatible with the demands of the id and the super ego.

And so if the mind is potently divisive in its substance, there is really no wonder why Islam, through regulated and balanced lifestyle succeeds in keeping the naturally opposing forces of the mind in perfect harmony. Through recitation of duas and the Holy Quran, which yield a person to the realities of life and death, thereby putting an end to the struggle for survival and instead assisting in the surrender to death, through the exemplary Ahadith of the lives of our aimmah and through the sunnah of the Holy Prophet (SAW), that collectively prescribe a common code of public and private etiquette so that there is an end to the human restlessness in achieving worldly gains at the expense of mental and physical health, Islam surely attempts to reconcile these three separate chambers of our minds. And lastly, as we keep remembering the names of Allah (SWT) during this Holy month, our hearts, which are probably likened to Freud’s Id, are as well put to rest.

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The role of Ahadith in our lives

By Mohamedarif Suleman,

Nairobi, Kenya

Sociologists and theologists of our time will be hand to attest to the fact that centuries ago, in ancient Egypt, and in other early civilizations, when the need for human beings to seek from and to communicate with a higher being outgrew a certain limit, members of such civilizations took to idols and other Gods in order that they may fulfill these intrinsic needs. The scene is much different today, although it will not be wrong to assume that we are experiencing a dangerous cyclical turn back to the age of darkness. We have the most advanced in science and technology, but our minds are regressing at a rate greater than the speed of light. We are living in an age whereby all wrong will be legitimized and there will be little influence that we will have onto the rest of the world owing to our religiousness. We will be isolated as conformists or even fundamentalists. Twice in a week, a brother or sister living in Nairobi and probably watching news coverage of the BBC World Service. He or she may have heard on two occasions stories related to fay culture and homosexuality. In a wedding night Majlis, Br Khalil Jaffer narrated the plight in Canada whereby same sex marriages are now commonplace. He was abundant in speech in describing the vagaries of such acceptance. In one of the BBC’s news services earlier this week, the announcement that Germany had now given legal status to homosexual marriage, was even disturbing. The accompanying clip covered female couples rejoicing and the leader of the Green Party empathetically saying that when the reality of the world was that men loved men and women liked women, why should governments not recognize this fact. This Stage is different, but centuries ago, a similar community with similar pervert sexual preferences, was met with the wrath of the Supreme Being in whose search many have slipped from the truth.

As we bask in the glory of the presence of a religion with abundant guidance and comprehensible principles for all generations, we must acknowledge the powerful role that the ahadith of our Aimmah (AS) plays in showing us the light and giving us solace in an era where little looks hopeful. So when an aimmah tells us “Beware, do not backbite. Refrain from backbiting for it is worse than adultery,” we are indirectly being told that if adultery is that bad, gossiping is worse. We are constantly reminded that our deeds are accountable. How much we derive from the strengths of such traditions remains to be seen. In giving our lives added meaning, and in discouraging the association of religious with endless worship, another tradition comes to the aid, “Anyone who strives to earn a livelihood of his family gets thawaab of engaging in Jihaad in the way of Allah (SWT)”. This is another of those traditions that uses similes of association in trying to convey to us the message or significance of an action. It tells us that religion recognizes your social responsibility and in fact incorporates it to the extent that it allocates good deeds against it. How much we reap from this tradition is yet questionable as we reduce the “thawaab” terminology to an absolute redundancy. Yet another of those gems comes to play in our mundane living we are told that “If a person fasts during days and worships during nights but he harasses his neighbors, he will go to hell”. Islam involves itself in our domestic living and invigorates goodness in us unlike the contemporary world whose only subject of discussion now pertains to sex and sexual preferences. And yet to we ever pay homage to these highly meaningful traditions that actually illuminate our paths each day of our lives? That, in short, is the role that these traditions must play in our societies and that is the role that our leaders and preachers, our parents and scholars must jointly exhibit and adhere to.

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The Community Needs Thinkers…

Mohamedarif Suleman – Nairobi, Kenya

Without having to necessarily impinge on any personal territory in as far as leadership is concerned, especially because we would all like to reconcile our loyalties with their apparent zest and zeal to follow a progressive communal curve, we must, as well, be armed to the teeth with an ability to accept that in this day and age, we need visionaries and thinkers above all.

Communities have thrived the world over and over the years, we have secretly escalated from an insignificant lot scattered across the universe to a more synchronized community that is vigorously engaged in self-growth and perpetuates preservation of its entity. It is common knowledge, however, of the manner in which most Jamaats are run. Ad-hoc financing, lackluster drives and donor-motivated projects, all of which while commensurate with the continuous motion needed to run the routine and short term plans of the community, defeats the principal of an organization.

We must vociferously concede that our organizations lack unilateral focus and are in fact anti-organization in spirit. In other words, when a new team comes into leadership, support by the membership is limited to those willing to commit their own resources only. As a result, personal interests, not compulsorily harmful, but those that predicate the “one-man shows” of our long history have prevailed. In any organization, the first rule is that there ought to be continuity. Continuity of planning, continuity of controlling and directing. And finally the supervisory controls to ensure that the plans are adequately followed and that the so-called “master plans” are not mere publicity propagandas earmarked for the registered office archives.

THE COMMUNITY on FRIDAY, while pro-progress, believes in the sanctity of the constitution, in the wholesome philosophy of an organization, and in the discipline associated with discharging our various individual roles associated with such tasks. But we simultaneously find ourselves, term after term, that each individual jamaat fails to rise above the petty triviality of running their centers and manning their problems, to engage in any meaningful planning or vision implementation. And once the term ends, the succeeding team fails to inherit the problems as well as the successes. What does this mean to the ordinary voter? Simply put, when you elect a member, in as much as we desire the emergence of new ideas and reforms, we also must seek the absolute fulfillment of the organizational mission, rather than any personal unvented opinion.

To start this, and especially now that the World Federation ha confidently placed their Vision Plan to the whole world (and that we believe is beginning to receive widespread acceptance), the local Jamaats, grassroots you may call them, must change the mode of leadership. Let us low censure of misdeeds, not for humiliating people, but to uphold the constitution of truth and justice. This should immediately replace the age-old song of unity, because while immensely emphatic, unity is subject to abuse by unaccountable teams of leaders. Let us not shy away from questioning, and let  us not deprive the non-wealthy persons to assume leadership roles.But because of the present-day defective organization structure, where the leader has to practically stop living his life (absence of management delegation), this is not bound to happen, is it? With a more positive approach to our systems we will then be able to happily move forward and unite with cleaner hearts for another. Organization, not personalization, is the key.

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Economic Gain at Spiritual Loss?

By Mohamedarif Suleman,

Nairobi, Kenya

Money, most people will agree, embodies all that is evil, superfluous and mundane. And while the essence of life is much more than money and the material it can provide, the world economic order has little mercy for the have nots of this generation.
An interesting anecdotal moral is told of Bahlool, whom upon being served with a large tray full of delicious dishes by Haroon’s men, diverted the food to a dog standing nearby. When the couriers of this extravagant gesture protested, Bahlool demanded that the servant keep quiet lest the dog also refused to eat and partake of the illegal wealth. What was the moral? Very simple. Bahlool, in all his worldly insanity, knew that by eating that food which comprised from illegitimate input, his heart might bend towards giving favours to the tyrant ruler.
Imam Ali (AS) is long quoted to have said that any land on which a single drop of alcohol is spilt, and on the same place a plant was to grow, even the fruits later borne out of such a tree would be haraam. The moral and significance of the narration is no different.
But today, as the United States government, with its invincible media and IT prowess penetrates through every culture and every faith, across each nation and proliferating infinite boundaries, Muslims have been caught unawares. Some still fighting old wars, others reflecting autonomous regimes, and yet others still intoxicated with abundant wealth, have found the new way of life with least alarm. Communities like ours remain imbalanced and undecided as every other bad becomes good, and the virtue of forklore gains indifferent popularity.
What are our communities doing in order to ensure that we do not become the complete victims of this global inferno that is ever so effectively propagating openness, promiscuity, inconsideration, materialism and egocentricity? Perhaps we need to address this question once again.
Going by the above morals as well, we need to once again ask and introspect whether we are contradicting Imam’s words today or not. Are we bowing down to the rich primarily because of economic power? Are we scared to stand up for our rights when pitted with some community brothers whose favour and fame within government circles places them in a favourable positions to oppress? What kind of Muslims are we growing into? Are we like the modern Arabs who rush to prayers and abandon everything, but are later seen engaging in anti-Islamic of activities? Or are we like Bahlool, who possesses the courage to negate any ill-based and ill-motivated powers? We must ask ourselves these questions if we are to rescue our aakherat. Money, will then not bail us from the fire of hell, for our inanition to solve this crisis.
And whereas it is acceptable that we remain focused to our economic upliftment, it must never arrive at the pitiful expenses of our faith. A good suggestion, originating from a Shia brother, would be able to make our Friday khutbas more practical and relevant, and a forum for the emergence of issues, rather than a ritual offering which in any case defeats the sanctity of the gathering.

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Julus – Performance vs Perception

By Mohamedarif Suleman,
Nairobi, Kenya

Last time’s discussion on Julus and the current anomalies surrounding it invited a lot of debate. As always, there were various people who saw the point made, while others, the die hard veterans believe that the statements were malicious and far from the truth. The Community on Friday, in reality, is in the pursuit of objectivity, which is why views from all corners are invited and circulated.

But as the brave words of Br Hussein Datoo propensed through the subscriber list, a lot of people could actually identify with the vicious circle in which we are now moving without realizing the impact that we are now causing to society in general. Sister Saeeda has made a commendable comparision between the Julus she witnessed from Beirut and another from the Indian Sub Continent and Pakistan. Her points are well received, and in fact confirm the fears of many a leaders and the well wishers of the community vis-a-vis our apparent return to Hindu practices. Interestingly, as the discussion made forays, a visiting Maulana reciting in Nairobi over the Ashra of Muharram made some very questionable remarks. Amongst his predominantly “Indian” theme, he said that the action of ladies in Banaras in Uttar Pradesh if washing the feet of the shabeeh of Zuljana with milk was symbolic of its role in the last hours in the life of a thirsty Ali Asgher (AS). He further said that in a certain year, when the typical Julus did not pass through a certain route featuring the omnipresent Zuljana, mothers refused to feed their children until they first “fed” Zuljana. These, he opined, were examples of non-Shias’ appreciation of the sacrifice made by Imam Husain (AS)’s caravan, something that we had failed to comprehend. One wonders that as we scream our heads off for reform, what good will the arrival of such reciters do to our efforts at bringing a more practical approach to our understanding of the event of Kerbala. Incidentally, thee Hindu involvement in our processions was also discussed as a common feature in Dar es Salaam processions in the last edition, and a question was posed as to why their belief is so selective so much so that it hinders their accepting the belief wholesome? An incredible piece has surfaced from Br Aunali Khalfan who has aired his views, and in between throwing some hard lines at the author, has resolved and important factor that the Julus actually purports to deliver a message and raise our voices as a Muslim Nation amidst growing oppression against our brethren, especially in the Middle East. His message, while loaded with sharp sentiments about the Julus, raises important points in as far as the true role of the procession is concerned. Unfortunately, this is hardly the case. Ask some recent past Nairobi Jamaat leaders, and they will tell you how some people thought that we were a Hindu sect heading towards the Karbrastan to bury the idols of our fallen war heroes. Ask any highly learned man and experienced personality of this community to tell you why the “alam”, originally a flag, has been converted into a different form today. Ask specifically, why the “alam” of Hazrat Abbas (AS) is tall and has a mashq (water bag) tied to its “neck”. Ask them if this really symbolizes the flag that he heralded on the fateful day, or that it represents the tall stature of the brave warrior whose hands were cut off and the mashq was strapped across his neck. It is very easy to proclaim that we are doing this with a reason, but very difficult to be logical. If the organizers of the Julus, the leaders of this community in the first place are not going to accept that a problem exists, and that most of our tradition is Hindu in flavour, and if we continue to rationalize with our own explanations, then what can one say? If our appearance in public is causing a misinterpretation of our beliefs, it is mandatory upon us to change that. That, brothers and sisters, is what communication is all about…the world is free to draw their conclusions, but they will always be based on our presentation. That will be the true perception.

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