The Muslim Orange

The Rules of Engagement: Islamic Code of Ethics

Makes us better individuals. End this dichotomy. That is what I am referring to. The person is missing the point. You abuse the volunteers in the masjid. Your create a mess. When you walk into the masjid, you despise them. You want to keep your distance. You are there to humble yourself. You should not smell like that in the masjid. It distracts someone else, including the angels. There are times when I am in sujood, and I cannot breathe.

We have to make that connection. Ibadah is supposed to affect the way we act. We need to create the connection, make us realize. You do not have to lie to make people laugh.

People get carried away at the jamaraat. Shoes start flying. Pray that no one misses from the other side, because it will land on you. When you try to advise them, they say, “Leave me alone. You don’t know what he has done to me.”

When you are standing next to someone in salaah, you are feeling the bond, the love. The unity. Sometimes we get annoyed. You are being blessed. Your reward is multiplied.

Our connection with Allah is where it all starts. Our relationship with others, with people. When it comes to people, treatment of others. In the last hadith, the prophet said to Mu’adh, “…And behave towards people with a good behavior.”

What are the parameters of dealing with people? Offering good, and holding back abuse. Make sure when you deal with believers and non-believers. Make sure you do not hurt them. Directly or indirectly. Fairness and kindness. Fairness is the bottom line. There is no limit to kindness. Even criminals have the right to be treated fairly. You have to be fair to people. If you go below that you will fall into dhulm, injustice. You cannot do that, it is forbidden. You cannot fall short. You have to be fair with people.

The next level is kindness. There are some people that you have to be kind to. In kindness, there is no limit to kindness.

You cannot just do the bare minimum with your parents, with your spouse.

Rights and treatment of parents. Parents do not receive as much because they do not ask from their children. Thus, children have to get more reminders.

“And your lord has decreed that you worship none but Him.” Who does Allah mention right after him? The very first thing? Bil walidayni ihsaana. Allah swt put it there. This is the decree of Allah. This is something that we can all relate to. This is something that we all have in common.

The rights of siblings, parents, spouses. When it comes to parents, we all have parents. If we are here, we all have parents, living or dead. We understand how much we owe them, our very presence, being alive. Allah chose them to be the direct cause of our existence. Allah puts them right after Him. “And to have ihsaan.” Towards your parents you have to have excellence. This is something you have to improve, struggle with. Today you are good with your parents, tomorrow you have to be better. Who has the top priority? Your mother, three times.

Parents may be physically dependent on you, most people fail. All of a sudden their parents try to maintain an independent lifestyle, the children cannot connect because they did not form that connection. Do not say “uff” to your parents. That is haram. Anything above that is a major sin. If you cannot say uff to them, then you cannot use bad language, you cannot get physical with them.

Instead your duty is not only not to say those things, the Quran says you should have the character to channel your frustration in a positive way, you say something nice and kind. Something thoughtful, honorable. The Quran says you cannot say something bad, you should manage to say something nice, thoughtful honorable. Lower yourself for your parents. That night when you had fever, your mother had to see death literally to give birth to you. It’s your turn. Not only do you lower your wing, you pray for them. Say Oh my Lord, give them mercy.

Our parents have rights in their lifetime.

Children should be treated as a source of blessing, a gift. It is a gift from Allah. Do not think that you will be responsible for their rizq. You do your part, but Allah will provide. Do not kill your children from fear of poverty.

Quran addressed drinking gradually, but infanticide, it was addressed clearly because it cannot be tolerated. When it comes to certain moral issues, we cannot wait. We cannot say, this is not a priority. Parents have responsibilities to their children.

What rights do parents have over their children?
1) Honor and respect. It does not matter about their education or cultural background. You owe them everything that you have. You do not earn your parents. Parents are chosen to you by Allah. Allah designated them for you. You are of them. They are the direct cause of your existence.

When you compare the attitudes, you need to do what is culturally correct.

One of the companions reached Jannatal-Firdaus because he was so kind and respectful to his mother.

2) Obedience. Obeying your parents. Even if you are teaching hadith, if your mother asks you to feed the chickens.

3) Be kind to them. Loving them, thoughtfulness, generosity. Being playful, cheering them up. Going out of your way to show kindness and courtesy. Even if it is not expected in your culture. Massaging the feet of your mother is more important that standing the whole night in qiyaam ul layl.

4) Take care of them, physically and financially. What you own, they own. “You and your wealth belong to your father/mother.”

5) Honor kith and kin.

Assignment: Interview you parents. Get to know them. Ask them specific questions.

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The Muslim Orange

The World Goes Away Down Here.

We had a swimming pool in our old house. I used to swim down to the very bottom of the deepest end and just stay there for as long as I could, feeling the pressure of the water and the hum in my ears. It felt like the world went away with only a mere 6 feet of water, a thin membrane between myself and reality. It felt like so much more.

I’d hover down there with my eyes closed, feeling the water moving across my hands and feet and body, my fingertips brushing the floor. It was comforting.

Maybe that’s what being in the womb was like.

The Muslim Orange

The Burning of the Dove: A Love Story (Part I)

The book feels light in his hands. The gilded cover looks innocuous, a curlicue of that mysterious Arabic text lacing the cover. Or, as his father likes to call it, “That damn Moslem book.”

He runs his fingers against the embossed lettering.

His brother’s grin is wide. “Big day tomorrow,” he crows gleefully, as he carts in the last box of blasphemy. “We’re gonna give those terrorists what’s theirs!”

Luke looks up, and forces a smile onto his face. He can feel his heart clench in his chest. “They won’t know what hit ‘em.”

His brother lets out a whoop. “That’s the spirit little bro. Alright, stop groping the kindling.” Peter snatches the book out of Luke’s hands, and throws it onto the stack of other books. Luke resists flinching when it lands with a resounding smack.

Peter throws his arm conspiratorially around Luke’s shoulder, and steers him toward the steps out of the basement. “So Luke, man, what do you want for dinner?”

As they walk up the steps, Luke can feel his mouth shaping the words, his lungs forcing air past his lips. He can’t stop thinking about how heavy his hands feel.

***

When Luke was five, a little girl with caramel skin and hair the color of a raven’s wing walked into Ms. McCarty’s kindergarten class clutching her mother’s hand. Luke watched as her mother crouched before her, wiping away her daughter’s tears and kissing her cheek before she left.

Ms. McCarty led the little girl to his table. Her name was Layla, and she didn’t have any crayons.

Luke pushed a few stubby Crayola’s across the desk.

Layla solemnly selected one. Forest Green.

Luke smiled. His favorite color.

***

In 2nd grade, the kids at recess started calling Layla ‘Pocahontas’ because of her plaited hair. Luke watched from the monkey bars as she told the other kids that in her mom’s language, ‘nai’ means ‘no.’

“Neigh, like a horse?” one girl exclaimed gleefully. She reached out and pulled on one of Layla’s braids like a rein. “Neigh, neigh!”

The other kids joined in, crowding her. “Neigh, neigh!” they all chorused, yanking on Layla’s braids.

“Stop it!” she screamed.

Luke dropped down from the monkey bars, and it was nothing at all to let the momentum barrel him forward and give Chris Walker an almighty shove in the back. He slammed into Jennifer Morrisey and they both hit the mulch, hard.

The pitiful crying from the ground and the recess aide’s shrill voice asking what in God’s name was not enough to mask Layla’s whispered, “Thank you.”

He had detention for a week, but seeing Layla’s smile made it worth it.

***
In fourth grade, Layla didn’t bring lunch to school one day. Or the next day. Or the next.

“Why aren’t you eating?” asked Luke, his voice raised over the din of the cafeteria chatter.

“It’s Ramadan. I’m fasting!” replied Layla, as a dropped serving spoon resonated with a clang.

“Oh. What’s Ramadan?”

Layla told him.

The next day, Luke left his lunch box behind the potted plant in Mrs. Fields backyard.

At Layla’s look of surprise when he sat down empty handed in the cafeteria, Luke said, “I’m fasting, too.”

His mother gave him hell for leaving his lunch (Mrs. Fields had brought it over, perplexed by the sudden appearance of what she believed to be a polygonal lawn gnome) but dinner never tasted so good that night.

***

Next year, Mr. Wetzel called roll. Layla’s name was not on it.

She was gone.