This episode’s special guest is brother Ernst “Abdul Wakil” Fenelon Jr., PEP Coordinator at Prison Education Project (PEP).
Abdul Wakil’s contact info.
We continue with The Sherman Jackson Reader, a class taught on Saturdays by Imam Marc Manley at Middle Ground after Fajr prayer.
“I think that there’s this fine line between accepting that there are standards, but standards don’t come at the price of erasing human experience” — Imam Marc Manley
Skepticism: not sure that you can even know anything.
Cynicism: not really matters.
Nihilism: the rejection of all religious and moral principles, often in the belief that life is meaningless.
Many of us have substituted personal faith, personal convictions, personal principles for abstracts: justice, equality, etc.
But what happens if you are unable to attain (different than strive for) justice or equality?
Abstractions: progress. We are fed a myth of progress but what progress can there be without a personally held belief and conviction in God?
This is why so many have turned to activism as a substitute, not a supplement, to faith, religion, and deen.
Many of us are unaware of the tyranny we live under: the tyranny of ideas and abstractions that coerce us into expressing our Islam through it. And often when we are unwilling or unable to do so, we jettison Islam in favor of this new form of revelation.
Knowledge, experience, and meaning: this is our crisis but it’s also our way out.
Knowledge of la ilaha illa’Allah, as witnessed through the creation.
Experiencing Allah’s oneness, power, mercy, wisdom, judgment, etc.
Putting these two together to conclude: there is meaning to life.
Treating the problem: stop seeing Islam as some sort of abstract collection of beliefs, rules, and regulations. There are rules, but they are part of a grander goal, objective and meaning.
The downside of this approach with our Islam is we tend to look at all problems and challenges in life theoretically, whereby real situations are reduced to mere possibilities and the people around us are reduced to objects.
Real situations are reduced to mere possibilities: we must have an Islamic state/society or our Islam cannot be fully realized.
The people around us are reduced to objects: non-Muslims/the kafir is [wrongfully seen] as something to either overcome, subdue, or if unable to accomplish that goal, assimilate to and subjugate ourselves to their rubric of reality.
Surah al-‘Asr [Qur’an 103: 1-3] and the Fundamentals of Reality:
إِنَّ الإِنسانَ لَفي خُسرٍ
إِلَّا الَّذينَ آمَنوا وَعَمِلُوا الصّالِحاتِ وَتَواصَوا بِالحَقِّ وَتَواصَوا بِالصَّبرِ
The Qur’an is a gift. And it is the means by which we can live well:
وَما أَرسَلنا مِن رَسولٍ إِلّا بِلِسانِ قَومِهِ لِيُبَيِّنَ لَهُم ۖ فَيُضِلُّ اللَّهُ مَن يَشاءُ وَيَهدي مَن يَشاءُ ۚ وَهُوَ العَزيزُ الحَكيمُ
وَلَقَد أَرسَلنا موسىٰ بِآياتِنا أَن أَخرِج قَومَكَ مِنَ الظُّلُماتِ إِلَى النّورِ وَذَكِّرهُم بِأَيّامِ اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ في ذٰلِكَ لَآياتٍ لِكُلِّ صَبّارٍ شَكورٍ
“We have not sent any Messenger except with the language of his people so he can make things clear to them. Allah misguides anyone He wills and guides anyone He wills. He is the Almighty, the All-Wise. (4) We sent Musa with Our Signs: ‘Bring your people from the darkness to the light. and remind them of the Days of Allah.’ There are certainly Signs in that for everyone who is steadfast, thankful. (5)” Qur’an 14: 4-5
Allah breathed life into us. By taking a deep breath (literally or figuratively) we can orient ourselves, not panic, and gain perspective.
So … take a deep breath!, and focus on what’s important.