Makkah: A Microcosm of the Ummah
Makkah al-Mukarramah in modern times, is somewhat a microcosm of the Muslim Ummah. Muslims gather from all over the world, from all different backgrounds and levels of religiosity. It is definitely encouraging to see the large numbers who are taking out time, spending a lot of money and making the physically strenuous journey to the sacred lands.
On the other hand, we become wearier of some of the less positive aspects of our current reality. We do have a secure place in our heart for worshipping Allah and performing religious rites, but there is much need for improvement in the realm of the rights of Allah’s servants (Huquq al-‘Ibaad). It is very disappointing, to put it mildly, to see what happens in the vicinity of the blessed Black Stone.
The battling that takes place for kissing the stone is the sort that we are more used to seeing in sports’ grounds or outside famous shop-sales. It is in no way befitting for the house of Allah (SWT).
It would be nice if we could dismiss the situation at the Black Stone as an exception, but that is unfortunately not the case. It is common to see rudeness and even physical aggression all over the sacred lands.
When one is trying to purchase a meal, enter a lift, board a bus, buy necessities or exchange money, it is easy to forget that the concepts of queuing, smiling or courtesy even existed, let alone taught by the Prophet. Nor is the problem isolated to one region or country.
If one stands back and observes the currency being advanced in the crazy rush at the money exchange, one will see Dollars, Pounds, Rupees and everything in between being pushed over heads towards the counter. Similarly, the rudeness one faces at many shop counters cannot be ascribed to a single ethnicity.
It is reported that the Prophet (SAW) would turn his whole head towards somebody when speaking to them and that he could be taken aside by a small slave-girl and he would oblige and listen to what she had to say.
However, we find our own Muslim brothers unable to look at a fellow Muslim when asked a question they are actually being paid to answer.
We often find ourselves arguing for the right to maintain an “Islamic” culture in secular lands, but does our perception of culture surpass dress and attire? Good manners (akhlaaq) has always been one of the biggest forms of da’wah, especially in the life of the Prophet (SAW). Is our current lack of akhlaaq a bigger symptom of the ummah’s moral decay or the fact that the ummah has changed its dress? These are questions which we, as an ummah, need to address.
The Prophet (SAW) dictated ettiquttes (aadaab) from the sacred mimbar (pulpit) and Allah (SWT) sent down verses of the Qur’an when Muslims did not accommodate latecomers to a gathering, something we would pass off as insignificant in our Masjids today. Our homes and masjids are now almost void of such teachings. One can imagine what a profound effect it could have on the ummah if we had to queue to kiss the Black Stone. Maybe it would be a lesson in courtesy and patience pilgrims take back to all the corners of the world.
This also highlights another deep and profound problem; jahalah, or a lack of knowledge. Some may argue that we, having grown up in a certain culture, shouldn’t expect people from other parts of the world to have the same social norms as we do. However, the issues we are speaking about are almost foundational to our Deen.
Did the Prophet (SAW) not warn harshly against climbing over people’s backs to reach the front of the masjid? Has the Prophet (SAW) not promised the person who is delayed for Salah but does not rush, of getting the full reward as if he performed the whole prayer in congregation?
As an ummah, we now do the opposite. We see people actually endangering others’ lives, as well as their own, to perform an act like kissing the black stone, which is nowhere near obligatory. If we are going to the house of Allah to please him, it is our duty to acquire the relevant knowledge, and that includes getting our priorities right. How can it be acceptable to let your emotions overcome you in a manner that puts lives at risk?
On a deeper level, it indicates a general neglect of rights of Allah’s servants (huquq al-‘ibaad) in the ummah. From the local to the global level, we seem to be losing all manners and courtesy. When we walk into a shopping mall, we are greeted by staff with smiles and kind words. When a Muslim enters his local Masjid as a guest of Allah, he is more likely to be frowned or shouted at by a committee member. Again, have we mixed up our priorities?
I sincerely hope that readers of this article do not do such things. Nevertheless, I still present all of the above to them, asking them about the next generation. What kind of courtesy and manners are our children growing up with?
What are we teaching them? Once upon a time, a father would harshly reprimand his child if he heard the child had been slightly rude to a teacher or elder. Today, we will go into the school or wherever the incident happened and defend our child’s innocence without being sure of the facts. Are our children growing up with the akhlaaq of the Prophet (SAW), or those picked up from Hollywood and Eastenders? What kind of example are we setting them? When was the last time we decided to suppress our anger and be polite to other road users, just so our children do not pick up bad habits, if not to please Allah? How often are we rude to someone over the counter or phone well within an earshot of our children? Once upon a time, these things were assigned to the realm of the “hidden curriculum”. In a modern society driven by rights as opposed to duties, such things can easily become invisible so we need to bring them into the open.
As Muslims, we are responsible for the society and cannot merely criticise others. Unfortunately, Muslims, even those in positions of authority, are rarely mindful of their language or conduct. Those practicing, learning and teaching the Deen in such turbulent times must be commended, but there is no need to allow a corporate or street attitude into our classrooms and places of worship. There is a dire need for us to make a conscious, deliberate and active move towards the akhlaaq of the Prophet. This means that we need to understand and learn the blessed akhlaaq of our Prophet, bring it into our own lives, inculcate our children with it and propagate it in society through example. Otherwise, we can sit back and leave them to the mercy of film producers, soap-scriptwriters and godless legislators.
BY: MAULANA MUHI UDDIN