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.”

Reflections and Confessions

There’s someone in my life whom I used to be very close to (we were almost inseparable) but gradually over the years we’ve drifted so far apart that I find myself constantly asking, ‘how is it that two people who were so close can grow so far apart?’ It really baffled me and for the longest time the only answer I could come up with was that it’s because they changed into something detestable; because they decided to pick up every habit and behavior that I found worthy of disdain and disgust; because they’ve disappointed me in every way.

So for the longest time without realizing it I put 100% of the responsibility for the distance and animosity between us squarely on their shoulders. I went over every instance when their decisions disappointed, annoyed, angered, hurt, or disgusted me and saw that by all logic my assessment was correct and they were 100% at fault and deserving of blame.

How clever and cunning is the ego.

This was my logic and justification. It wasn’t until recently that by what can only be the grace of God I reviewed the “evidence” from a broader, less ego driven perspective. To my ego’s disappointment, I see now that the blame is not entirely theirs, and should not have been placed entirely at their feet. Because not only did blaming them prevent me from making any effort at reconciliation, but it encouraged me to add fuel to a fire that Satan was using to drive us apart.
So far apart.

[14:34] And He gives you all kinds of things that you implore Him for. If you count GOD’s blessings, you can never encompass them. Indeed, the human being is transgressing, unappreciative.

The interesting thing is that this person and I had a conversation once where they told me outright that part of the problems they had with me is that I was unappreciative of something they had done for me. My reaction at the time, and for weeks after, was to think “Ha! Me? Unappreciative? Please. Anything you did, it was because you wanted to. I never asked you for anything.”

How self-sustaining is the ego.

God tells us that we are unappreciative, and we are. We’re extremely unappreciative. Sure we may remember to thank God for the obvious big things that He grants us, or for the prayers that He answers but there are countless “little” and unexpected, unasked for blessings that we neglect to even take notice of, much less be appreciative of.

So when I was finally able to look past my ego and look back at our past interaction, while taking into account the things they said to me, I realized I’d been greatly unappreciative. There were so many instances where God provided for me through this person. Some times it was something “little” like a game or something, and other times it was for things I didn’t even realize I wanted or needed yet.

So many blessings God provided. But as I look back I can’t remember being thankful or showing much appreciation when I received them.

So, with this new clarity, by God’s grace I was allowed to see just how deeply, and how subtly, my ego had been influencing my behavior and driving a wedge between me and this person. I also saw how much of the “blame” that I had been throwing on them could easily be placed on me.

So with new clarity, a sense of shame, a sense of regret, and appreciation I thank God for opening my eyes to all the ways I’ve been unappreciative and ego driven. I pray that He guide and help me to amend my actions and my thoughts, and to be increasingly more appreciative of Him everyday for as long as I may live.

[2:286] GOD never burdens a soul beyond its means: to its credit is what it earns, and against it is what it commits. “Our Lord, donot condemn us if we forget or make mistakes. Our Lord, and protect us from blaspheming against You, like those before us have done. Our Lord, protect us from sinning until it becomes too late for us to repent. Pardon us and forgive us. You are our Lord and Master. Grant us victory over the disbelieving people.”

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.