by Nisa Muhammad
Did I not enjoin upon you, O children of Adam, that you not worship Satan – [for] indeed, he is to you a clear enemy –
And that you worship [only] Me? This is a straight path.
And he had already led astray from among you much of creation, so did you not use reason? – 36:60-62
Those verses are in the beginning Juz’ 23. It is a Meccan Sura that is also called the Heart of the Qur’an because it contains the central teachings of Islam, God, prophethood and the hereafter. It’s considered a discussion of the stark differences between the choices and ending of the believers and the disbelievers. While revealed over 1,400 years ago, they are as true as if they were revealed last night.
Every day we see how Satan has made a world full of distractions from the worship of Allah. Unless we are focused on praising Allah, the guidance we are given from the Qur’an and Sunnah, do everything we can to be the best Muslim and call others to the faith, we fall into domination by our open enemy and like the verse says, he had already led astray from among you much of creation.
This juz’ reminds me of USC’s Dr. Hakim Jackson’s, remarks last year at the 25th anniversary dinner program of the Majlis Ashura of New York.
If you don’t have power in the political and social realm, then you are likely to exist as the object of power…you become one of the dominated. And by domination, let me be clear about what I mean. For someone to dominate you, means for them to take your story away from you, and assign you some jive time supporting role in their story.
When this happens, their way of life, their preferences, their fears, their aspirations become normalized; yours are marginal, they don’t really count. And when this happens, they get to live naturally, you get to perform. Your entire existence becomes a performance to prove how authentic a replica of them you are. That is the meaning of domination.
Unless we are focused on praising Allah, the guidance we are given from the Qur’an and Sunnah, do everything we can to be the best Muslim and call others to the faith, we fall into domination by our open enemy and like the verse says, he had already led astray from among you much of creation.
In so many ways, Muslims are under domination. Our story of Islam, enjoining the good and forbidding evil has been replaced with their bleak story of “preferences, fears and aspirations” that is often so foreign to the way of God that we can only shake our heads in wonder and amazement. Turn on the news and watch us perform to prove how “authentic a replica of them we are.”
Remember the week, when the world was focused on the life and times of Muhammad Ali? Remember all of the goodwill that Muslims felt hearing the many positives about the faith we love and cherish? It was just earlier this month but it could be a lifetime ago because in the twinkling of an eye, we are right back as the hated of the world as a result of one man’s senseless actions. One man. Not an entire faith, not a community, not a certain masjid, not a country, just one man. One man who by numerous accounts was not even religious. One man who just happened to be born with a Muslim name. Just one man and now an entire faith is literally under attack.
The early history of this deen shows the many trials and tribulations Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaba faced to establish Islam but they did not give up. They did not stop because of their belief in Allah.
We are the only faith that has to apologize for the actions of few. Christians don’t do it, Jews don’t do it, only Muslims. Unfortunately, people reject that the Qur’an and the faith of Islam as manifested by the more than a billion people around the world could in fact be true. They would rather believe the actions of a man who better reflects the gods they worship, that better reflects the roles they have assigned us.
But they have taken besides Allah [false] deities that perhaps they would be helped.
They are not able to help them, and they [themselves] are for them soldiers in attendance.
Ya Sin 74-75
As we endure these dark days during our blessed month of Ramadan, hold fast to the rope of Islam. Allah has promised us the victory. The headlines will amaze us, the anti-Islamic rhetoric will stun us and the attacks against Muslims unfortunately will continue. The early history of this deen shows the many trials and tribulations Prophet Muhammad (sallAllahu ‘alayhi wasallam) and the Sahaba faced to establish Islam but they did not give up. They did not stop because of their belief in Allah. They did not stop because Allah is indeed God, He is the best knower and He is the best of planners.
Does mankind suppose that they will be left to say, “We believe,” and that they will not be tried, though We have indeed tried those who were before them? Surely God knows those who are truthful, and surely He knows the liars. – 29:2-3
This is our time as Muslims to show the real beauty of Islam. These challenges are great opportunities for dawah. We are not what they say we are. We are Muslims!
So let not their speech grieve you. Indeed, We know what they conceal and what they declare. – 36:76
This reflection was originally posted in 2016.
Nisa Muhammad is Sapelo Square’s Internship Coordinator. She is a graduate of Hartford Seminary, Class of 2017, with a Master in Islamic Studies and Christian–Muslim Relations, and a Graduate Certificate in Islamic Chaplaincy. She currently serves as the Assistant Dean for Religious Life at Howard University.