A Muslimah's identity - sisters halaqa lecture notes
Praise be to Allah, we seek His help and His forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil of our own souls and from our bad deeds. Whomsoever Allah guides will never be led astray, and whomsoever Allah leaves astray, no one can guide. I bear witness that there is no god but Allah, the One, having no partner. And I bear witness that Muhammad is His slave and Messenger).
“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared, and die not except in a state of Islam” [Surah Al-‘Imran 3:103]
“O mankind! Be dutiful to your Lord, Who created you from a single person, and from him He created his wife, and from them both He created many men and women, and fear Allah through Whom you demand your mutual (rights), and (do not cut the relations of) the wombs (kinship) Surely, Allah is Ever an All-Watcher over you)” [Surah al-Nisa’ 4:1]
“O you who believe! Keep your duty to Allaah and fear Him, and speak (always) the truth).” [Surah al-Ahzab 33:70]
Asalamu alaykum my dear respected sisters in Islam.
How are you all today?
I pray you are all in the best of health and Imaan and in sha Allah by the permission of Allah, The Most High, I will be conducting a talk titled ‘A Muslimah’s Identity’.
So what do we mean by identity? How do we identify ourselves? The fundamental way in which we should identify ourselves is that we are Muslims, and we follow the Book of Allah, The Most High, and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him.
We should be grateful and thank Allah, the Most High, for guiding us to this beautiful religion of Islam as only Allah guides whom He wills and misguides whom He wills. We should thank Allah, the Most High for the unlimited and countless blessings He has provided for us.
Differences in nationalities, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic factors should not detach us from one another. For we are all slaves of Allah. One Allah. We were all created for One purpose and that is to worship Allah and perform good deeds. And we have One Qiblah in which we all face when we pray and that is the direction towards the Kaaba, Allah’s House in Masjid Al-Haram.
How many have performed Umrah?
Allah, the Most High says in Surah Al-Imran on verse 103 and 105:
"And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah (i.e. this Qur'an), and do not divided among yourselves. And remember Allah's favor on you, for you were enemies and He joined your hearts together, so that by His Grace, you became brethren (in Islamic Faith), and you were on the brink of a Pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah makes His Ayat (proofs, evidences, verses, lessons, signs, revelations, etc.,) clear to you, that you may be guided." Then He said after one verse: "And be not as those who divided and differed among themselves after the clear proofs had come to them. It is they for whom there is an awful torment."
Allah, The Most High also said
"O Mankind, We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. Verily the most honored of you in the sight of God is he who is the most righteous of you" (49:13).
Therefore, my dear sisters, following Islam and its principles and verifying the Islamic identity is actually following Allah and His Prophet peace and blessings be upon Him. Allah makes the commands and laws in which there is wisdom behind it, whereas the Prophet peace and blessings be upon him notifies us of these laws. Allah, the Most High has given us Islam as a complete religion that does not require any adjustments nor additions.
What I mean by additions, such as culture or traditions of nations that does not belong to Islam.
So let’s start off with what is culture? (Ask audience)
Culture is defined as a people’s complete way of life. It consists of ideas, food, clothes, language and ways of doing things.
The problem that lies in the Ummah is that we let our traditions that we were raised upon to influence us, instead of Islam. If these traditions oppose the orders of Allah and His Messenger, and is introduced and applied them as part of Islam and request others to also apply them and respect them then this dangerous as it leads to culture dominating Islam.
Many of non-muslim friends today, consider marrying from the same race as part of Islam, forced marriages as part of Islam and so forth. This is the consequences of mixing traditions with Islam. For adding such ideas to Islam is equivalent to removing aspects of Islam.
Another problem with the Ummah, is stereotyping. If your dark-skinned your from Africa. If your light-skinned you are either European or Arab. Many times I have been approached saying ‘Are you Somalian?’. There is nothing wrong with Somalia, they are my sisters in Islam, but why stereotype just because I am dark-skinned with a hijab on. Until today, nearly half of my friends, I don’t know anything about their ethnical backgrounds nor family. Why? Because it doesn’t bother me. What matters to me is their character and Deen. So if one would be so interested into where they are from. You ask ‘where are you from sister’.
Moreover, our character also forms part of our Muslim identity, and the cornerstone of Islam is morality and simplicity which are both qualities of Imaan. The true Islamic society should uphold the highest levels of both traits in all aspects.
A man once visited the Prophet's mosque in Madinah. There he saw a group of people sitting and discussing their faith together. Among them were Salman (who came from Persia), Suhayb who grew up in the Eastern Roman empire and was regarded as a Greek, and Bilal who was an African. The man then said:
"If the (Madinan) tribes of Aws and Khazraj support Muhammad, they are his people (that is, Arabs like him). But what are these people doing here?"
The Prophet became very angry when this was reported to him. Straightaway, he went to the mosque and summoned people to a Salat.
He then addressed them saying:
"O people, know that the Lord and Sustainer is One. Your ancestor is one, your faith is one. The Arabism of anyone of you is not from your mother or father. It is no more than a tongue (language). Whoever speaks Arabic is an Arab."
In addition, an excerpt from the Prophet’s Last Sermon states:
‘O people, Remember that your Lord is One. An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a black has no superiority over white, nor a white has any superiority over black, except by piety and good action (Taqwa). Indeed the best among you is the one with the best character (Taqwa). Listen to me. Did I convey this to you properly? People responded, Yes. O messenger of God, The Prophet then said, then each one of you who is there must convey this to everyone not present.’
Moreover, pride of where you come from is a big issue in the Ummah. Our Prophet peace and blessings be upon him said:
‘Let people stop boasting about their ancestors. One is only a pious believer or a miserable sinner. All men are sons of Adam, and Adam came from dust’ [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi].
I would like to give an example of one of the Sahaba - Bilal RA. Bilal was a black slave belonging to 'Umayyah ibn Khalaf. He was tall, thin and slightly hump-backed and He was the first person who did the Adhaan.
Another example I want to mention is Julaybib RA, he was regarded as someone who was a social outcast due to his appearance and lineage. The Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him recommended him to a family of Ansar, the Ansari girl readily married Julaybib R.A and had confidence in the wisdom and authority of Prophet peace be upon him. Julaybib R.A was blessed to die as a Shaheed, the most virtous death a believer could ever hope for.
The story reflected a profound understanding of Islam, and the effacement of personal desires such as culture and expectations. Prophet Muhammad peace and blessings be upon him stated ‘He is of me, and I am of him.’
We all aim to go to Jannah but did you know that looking down upon other people will stop you from entering Jannah?
The Prophet peace be upon him said:
‘Whoever has pride in his heart equal to the weight of an atom shall not enter Paradise. A man inquired about a person who likes to wear beautiful clothes and fine shoes, and he answered: God is beautiful and likes beauty. Then he explained pride means rejecting the truth because of self-esteem and looking down on other people.’ (Muslim).
Ultimately, there should be an accurate distinction and separation between Islam and the traditions we practice. Otherwise, trust will be lost and the image of Islam will be distorted while we think we are doing a good job.
In our short journey on Earth, we as travellers need to serve Allah alone in the manner taught by His Beloved Prophet. With this mindset, one will sacrifice one’s wealth, energy and time for the purpose of life.
Indeed we need to find a fine balance between Duniya and Deen, but always remember that our Deen is the driving force and lightens our path, everything else will follow.
We as travellers should be focused towards our destination - Jannah. Yet, as a result of one’s obedience to Allah, one will be blessed with peace, serenity and contentment. Stay United.
Anything good Is from Allah, anything bad is from myself and Shaytan.
“Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and giving to kith and kin, and He forbids all indecent deeds, and evil and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may receive admonition.” (16:90)