Community Revisited

Having a group of people with the same religious beliefs that you congregate with regularly, it turns out, plays a part in your mental well being. When talking about protective factors to a person’s mental well being, one of the items listed is having a congregation that the person can go to and get support from. In submission we refer to our various congregations as communities, but they all serve the same purpose.

I’ve said it before that having a community or congregation is a gift and a blessing from God. Through your congregation you are able to get support, encouragement, understanding, and even a sense of stability and consistency when everything else in your life seems shaky. This may be why throughout all the revelations sent down to us from God and the rites given to us by God, He has consistently encouraged us to observe and hasten to our congregational prayers and to force ourselves to be with those who believe.

[62:9] O you who believe, when the Congregational Prayer (Salat Al-Jumu’ah) is announced on Friday, you shall hasten to the commemoration of GOD, and drop all business. This is better for you, if you only knew.
[18:28] You shall force yourself to be with those who worship their Lord day and night, seeking Him alone. Do not turn your eyes away from them, seeking the vanities of this world. Nor shall you obey one whose heart we rendered oblivious to our message; one who pursues his own desires, and whose priorities are confused.

But as God tells us Satan is our worst enemy and will always try to drive a wedge among the believers and divide them in any way possible. Sometimes it may be obvious, but most times it is a slow and subtle process that escapes notice until some damage has been done.

As humans we are susceptible to countless distractions that come with this life: work, children, school, TV, sickness (getting sick ourselves or perhaps taking care of a sick relative(s)), family life and responsibilities, stress, finding or holding on to relationships – and the list goes on. Living day by day can be a distraction on its own. So it’s extremely easy for Satan to pick any tool he wants to distract us with in order to divide a community. Members can have disagreements and fight; people grow distant from each other or the congregation; people become too busy and distracted by life, or any number of seemingly valid reasons for removing or distancing oneself from the community.

[17:53] Tell My servants to treat each other in the best possible manner, for the devil will always try to drive a wedge among them. Surely, the devil is man’s most ardent enemy.
[35:6] The devil is your enemy, so treat him as an enemy. He only invites his party to be the dwellers of Hell.
[43:62] Let not the devil repel you; he is your most ardent enemy.

If the congregation or community is large, then these may be experienced more on a personal level where the members waver in between joining the group on some days and not joining on others. If the community is small then these distractions can lead to stagnation, regression, and even the dispersal of the community as a whole. Should this happen then Satan will not only have succeeded in distracting and driving a wedge between the members of the community, but also in removing a point of support, stability, and encouragement from the lives of the people of that community. That is why it is important for the members of a community to hold fast to one another and hold fast to God; to make every effort to stay united, and care about one another. This is especially important when there are so many distractions, and we feel so overwhelmed that interacting with the community feels like an “extracurricular” activity for which there is no time.

[3:103] You shall hold fast to the rope of GOD, all of you, and do not be divided. Recall GOD’s blessings upon you-you used to be enemies and He reconciled your hearts. By His grace, you became brethren. You were at the brink of a pit of fire, and He saved you therefrom. GOD thus explains His revelations for you, that you may be guided.
[22:78] You shall strive for the cause of GOD as you should strive for His cause. He has chosen you and has placed no hardship on you in practicing your religion-the religion of your father Abraham. …Therefore, you shall observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat), and hold fast to GOD; He is your Lord, the best Lord and the best Supporter.

We are each other’s support. We are each other’s encouragement. We are each other’s stability So let’s make every attempt to be there for each other, and be there for ourselves. Do not let Satan distract and divide us.

[7:17] “I will come to them from before them, and from behind them, and from their right, and from their left, and You will find that most of them are unappreciative.”


Variations in Our Colors

Over the past few months, news and social media outlets in the United States have been littered with stories of police brutality and fatal shootings, judicial injustice, and of public outrage, disgust and disbelief regarding the incidences.

At some point many of us have witnessed, and even experienced the prejudice, hate, animosity, and unfair bias that one person can have for another person because of skin color, religion, place of birth, and/or social and economic status. There is no reason, no justification, and no excuse for this except that the human being – driven by ego and ignorance – can be profoundly arrogant, unjust, and cruel.

As residents of one of the most diverse cities in the world – NYC – we get to see both the worst and the best examples of how people of varying backgrounds interact with one another. As Submitters to God alone, it is our responsibility to be among those who consistently set the best example by fighting oppression, standing up against injustice, and advocating freedom and equality.

[2:193] You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship  GOD freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors.
[16:90] GOD advocates justice, charity, and regarding the relatives. And He forbids evil, vice, and transgression. He enlightens you, that you may take heed.
In light of the current situation with the police and the country’s institutionalized racism, let us take a look at what God says regarding the differences in our colors.
[30:22] Among His proofs are the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colors. In these, there are signs for the knowledgeable.
[35:28] Also, the people, the animals, and the livestock come in various colors. This is why the people who truly reverence GOD are those who are knowledgeable. GOD is Almighty, Forgiving.
[49:13] O people, we created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may recognize one another. The best among you in the sight of GOD is the most righteous. GOD is Omniscient, Cognizant.

God tells us in these verses that He created everything in various colors and provided us with distinct languages as a sign from Him, and as a means for us to recognize each other. We also understand that the best among us – regardless of the differences in our colors, languages, or gender – is the most righteous. The most righteous. Period.

However in the realms of this worldly life, we are encouraged to think that there are other more visible and worthy factors that qualify someone as better than another. As students of the Quran, only one example comes to mind when pondering where this idea might come from. It is found in these verses below:

[38:75] He said, “O Satan, what prevented you from prostrating before what I created with My hands? Are you too arrogant? Have you rebelled?”
[38:76] He said, “I am better than he; You created me from fire, and created him from clay.”
This interaction is repeated in verses 7:11-7:12, where God questions Satan regarding his refusal to follow the commands given to him, “What prevented you from prostrating when I ordered you?” to which Satan responds, “I am better than he; You created me from fire, and created him from mud.” Satan’s statement in verse 7:12 exposed his bigotry.

God provides us another example in the Quran to help us understand this Satanic phenomenon:

[34:34] Every time we sent a warner to a community, the leaders of that community said, “We reject the message you are sent with.”
[34:35] They also said, “We are more powerful, with more money and children, and we will not be punished.”

In the midst of everything that we are hearing, seeing, and feeling, as Submitters and worshippers of God alone, let us try to remember what God tells us in the Quran about His creations, the qualities that He loves, and what we should strive for so that we may be among the most righteous – to be the best among the people.

Let us be righteous.

[2:177] Righteousness is not turning your faces towards the east or the west. Righteous are those who believe in GOD, the Last Day, the angels, the scripture, and the prophets; and they give the money, cheerfully, to the relatives, the orphans, the needy, the traveling alien, the beggars, and to free the slaves; and they observe the Contact Prayers (Salat) and give the obligatory charity (Zakat); and they keep their word whenever they make a promise; and they steadfastly persevere in the face of persecution, hardship, and war. These are the truthful; these are the righteous.

Let us advocate and stand up for justice.

[49:9] …You shall maintain justice; GOD loves those who are just.

Let us fight oppression and aggression.

[2:193] You may also fight them to eliminate oppression, and to worship GOD freely. If they refrain, you shall not aggress; aggression is permitted only against the aggressors.

Let us be  equitable and just.

[55:9] You shall establish justice; do not violate the law.
[4:135] O you who believe, you shall be absolutely equitable, and observe GOD, when you serve as witnesses, even against yourselves, or your parents, or your relatives. Whether the accused is rich or poor, GOD takes care of both. Therefore, do not be biased by your personal wishes. If you deviate or disregard (this commandment), then GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.
[5:8] O you who believe, you shall be absolutely equitable, and observe GOD, when you serve as witnesses. Do not be provoked by your conflicts with some people into committing injustice. You shall be absolutely equitable, for it is more righteous. You shall observe GOD. GOD is fully Cognizant of everything you do.

The Blessing of a Community

Becoming a submitter is usually accompanied by some loss of friends and sometimes even family. It comes with a new way of thinking and seeing the world, so it becomes harder to find people that you can truly connect to and have meaningful conversions and interactions. As such, those of us who began our journey alone know how difficult and lonely it can be without a community.

Having a community of submitters near you that you can interact with, and discuss ideas, questions, or problems that you may be having is a great blessing and a beautiful gift of mercy from God. It is through a community that God sometimes chooses to shower us with His support, love, kindness, mercy, and even wisdom.

In saying this I am not only speaking of a physical community, although that comes with it’s own set of blessings. We live in an age where technology is thriving and new ways of connecting and interacting are constantly being thought of and improved, thus making it that much easier to connect to others no matter how far away they may be. With this technology, by the grace of God, not only are we able to have a physical community but we can also reap the benefits of a global one as well, which is something of a great blessing for a submitter who is “alone” at their location.

So let us remember to be appreciative of the community that God gives us, whether it be virtual or physical, big or small.