May I Call This Globe A HOME?
“What is a home to you?”
Johann Wolfgang von Goethe1 said this in his native language, “hier bin ich mensch hier darf ich sein.” I stumbled upon these words of wisdom during an understudy visit to Muslim Women´s Meeting and Training Centre (BFmF) in Cologne, Germany. It was painted on a wall by a group of teenage students and when I asked the teacher in charge what it meant, she said, “here I am human, here can I be human.” It caused me to reflect and ponder for a while.
I arrived at the understanding that the saying is pretty much related to what home does for you. Home is a sanctuary where you are free to be you, with no fear of being judged or labeled – in harmony with all that is. How many of us are able to walk in this world feeling like we can call this world ours – our collective home as we are passing?
Sheikh Hamza Yusuf explained a similar sentiment in accordance with the tradition of Islam as modeled by Rasulullah (SAW), when he said, “Our tradition was one that taught people to honor people for themselves. Human beings are not (simply) objects, each human being is an end and must be respected. We are not just appendages to each other’s lives, we all have unique stories. We are fragile human beings, and we are all something amazing.”
So what about that which happened in France recently? Is this a story book on a shelf repeating itself? Before I allow the endless ocean of emotion to sweep my body off the shore, I must step back. No matter what and no matter how hard it may be to contain, (I am, however, still learning) Rasulullah (SAW) taught us not to be angry, yes? Does that mean we suppress our anger?
While at Sidi Hakim Archuletta’s Neurology of Nafs (Self) study retreat last year, he shared with us what anger is according to a psychosomatic therapy perspective. Anger is a powerful emotion that is often rooted in a state of either non-acceptance, fear, rage, trauma, resistance, denial or other powerful emotions. It does not occur on a whim. Somehow, whatever emotion we focus on is amplified when we become angry.
We must understand why and what our anger is all about. In order for an illness to be treated, we must know the root of illness, not just the symptoms. Once the real cause has been identified, appropriate medicine or clinical attention can be prescribed. Anger, or any ill feeling for that matter, that rises to the surface can be treated by seeking understanding, acceptance and forgiveness. And there is a shortcut for this – practice acceptance and forgiveness, or the shortest route would be acceptance.
Step back by doing this:
1. Know that every thought we think and every word we say has its premise. It has its epistemic structure.
2. Pause and contemplate:
a. What sensation do I feel in my body when I think about this issue/incident?
b. What do I learn from this issue/incident?
c. How do I reflect?
d. How do I respond?
— as a Muslim, as a member of society, as a citizen of the world, as part of the ummah of Prophet Muhammad (SAW) whom Allah refers to as rahmatan lil ‘alamin – the blessing to the worlds, as the vicegerent (khalifah) as well as a servant (‘abd) of Allah?
3. Then you’d ask, where did that emotion, rage, anger, grudge and so on go? Are we not living in this world to be tested in our faith?
My fellow traveller and world citizen, some of you may say: How do we have time to do all these steps? And I may also hear, “How would I be able to pause and go through all those steps? I have calls to make, messages from email, WhatsApp, Facebook, WeChat, Viber, Telegram to be responded to. I have no time!”
Give it a pause. Switch off from world wide entanglements for a while. Start with 10 minutes perhaps. Give it a try. Have we ever been able to shut down from the external world as soon as we make the intention to offer ablution prior to our salah?
Have we ever been able to approach Allah’s court and leave behind our status, our work, our wealth, our issues, our parents, our children, husband, family then surrender to Allah as His ‘abd, in our natural state, as when we say takbir – “Allahu Akbar” – a testament that Allah is greater than anything great?
Have we ever been able to bring about the khasha’a state in prayer – the feeling of the sense of humility before Allah, Al-Malik ul-Mulk; the Lord of the worlds that Created, Fashioned, Sustained, Provided, Nourished each one of us?
If the answer is yes, Alhamdulillah, and I truly envy you for the right reason. If it is otherwise, we have so much to learn, to put into practice and to teach those near and dear to us.
Ico Piyer is quoted to have said, “It’s as if almost all of us now feel like emergency-room physicians, perpetually on-call, and obliged to heal ourselves but unable to find our prescriptions amid all the data at our desk.” Are we living like that?