by Maurice Hines
As we enter into the 10 days of forgiveness, we can find wisdom on how to attain redemption through patience and perseverance in the twelfth juz’ of the Majestic Qur’an. This section of the Qur’an contains most of Surah Hud and the first half of Surah Yusuf (11:6–12:52). Surah Hud begins by reminding the interlocutor of the constant theme of the messengers:
Do not worship anyone or anything except Allah. I am surely a bringer of warnings and good news from Him to you.
Seek forgiveness from your Sustainer and turn to Him in redemption, and He will grant you wholesome pleasures for a given time and bestow His bounty to every possessor of bounty. But if you turn away, then I fear for you the retribution of a great Day.
To Allah is your return, and He has power over all things. —9:2–4
All prophets and messengers petitioned us as individuals and communities to earnestly focus our worship of Allah and to confirm their status as warners and bringers of good news in this life and the hereafter. Our way to prosperity in this life is to seek forgiveness from our past violations of the rights of Allah and others and to turn to Him in our future affairs and, undoubtedly, Allah will increase us in our reward in the afterlife. Yet, if we decide to turn away from this mission, then we can only expect misfortune when we ultimately return to Allah and must answer for our deeds.
The key to sustaining our way to a fortunate end is patience and perseverance. Throughout Surahs Hud and Yusuf, this is the refrain of all the messengers mentioned as they faced the injustices of their people. They maintained their sincerity by not seeking compensation and being conscious of Allah throughout the insults and hostility posed by their people.
Surah Hud shows us the ruinous end of those who opposed these sincere messengers. In the current climate of Black Muslims in America, we may look back on the set up of Imam Jamil al-Amin, the deadly FBI entrapment of Imam Luqman Abdullah and the exile of Shaykh Muhammad Shareef among other things and call on Allah for the ruinous end of America for its opposition to some of our sincere leaders. Yet, in the life of prophets Ya’qub and Yusuf (upon them be peace), we find a happy ending for those who are patient and seek the path of forgiveness and redemption. Likewise, we witness in the lives of Imam Warith Deen Muhammad and Muhammad Ali how they won the hearts of the people, including their enemies, by being “beautifully patient and persevering” without compromising their principles. The recent publicity around Ibn Ali Miller’s peacemaking between two teenage boys causes us to remember the true nature of what it means to be Black and Muslim in America. The fact that non-Muslims, both within and outside of the Black community, respect these people for their work and sincerity opens them up to hearing the message of Islam, which is a good sign that America can change from its evil ways.
Islam in Black America has wavered between these two end scenarios for the American power structure. The stories presented in Surahs Hud and Yusuf show us that while truth and justice may sometimes drive a wedge between us and our societies, we must do our best to hold fast to our principles, patiently persevere through our struggles in a way that exudes sincerity and beauty, and ultimately let Allah determine the outcome.
Maurice Hines is an educator and community servant who has worked in various capacities in the community of Durham, North Carolina. In 2011, he earned a Master’s degree in Teaching Arabic to Non-Native Speakers from the Khartoum International Institute for Arabic Language in Sudan. He has instructed Arabic at a number of institutions of higher learning, such as Elon University and Zaytuna College, and served as Arabic Project Director at Bennett College. He also holds a second Master’s in Library and Information Science from North Carolina Central University. His interests range from archival work and African-American history to Arabic teaching pedagogy, information literacy instruction and educational philosophy in the Islamic context and in the ancient world. He has also initiated an oral history project on the North Carolina Muslim community and written on the concept of Islamic information literacy. He currently serves as a reference and instruction librarian at the American University in Cairo.