INsights 015, Friday 20th May 2022
INsights 015, Friday 20th May 2022
Assalamu-alaikum, Peace be upon you.
Here’s a powerful quote that gets me every time…
“All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds wake up in the day to find it was vanity, but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.”
Do you have lofty aspirations that stir you into action?
Do you have powerful goals that drive your conversations?
Do you have visions for a better future that dominate your thoughts and dreams?
Are you mission-driven?
The God-centred life is the mission-driven life
To believe in our Lord is to worship Him but also to serve His cause and represent His ideals in society. Any problem around us is an opportunity for us to provide a solution. It’s a chance to show our Lord that He’s number one and to demonstrate the value proposition of monotheism to those around us.
Of course, we can’t all address every issue out there. Each of us is unique. We have different talents, skills and capabilities. We have different levels of access to networks and resources.
The aim is to know your Lord and yourself well enough to identify a worthy objective, even it seems small, and then to pursue it as vigorously as you can.
The priority is most certainly direction over speed because true success is not as much about how far you go on the path you’ve chosen as it is about choosing the right path in the first place. Select carefully then fly accordingly.
Today's edition of INsights is the first in a four-part series...
- Part 1: the link between prayer and social action for the sake and cause of God.
- Part 2: how prayer keeps you strong through the ups and downs of the mission-driven life.
- Part 3: the role of revelation in empowering the prophetic mission and what that means for us today.
- Part 4: key principles that will help you identify a worthy cause and pursue a life of service and leadership.
Prayer is the cornerstone of social action
Like all prophets before and after him, Shu’ayb had a clear message…
And to Midian, We sent their brother Shu’ayb. He said, ‘My people, worship God. You have no god other than Him. Do not give short measure nor short weight. I see you are prospering, but I fear you will have torment on an overwhelming Day. My people, in fairness, give full measure and weight. Do not withhold from people things that are rightly theirs, and do not spread corruption in the land. What lasts with God is best for you, if you are believers.’ (11:84-86)
The call to pure monotheism was accompanied with clear guidelines for social and economic justice. His people didn’t like it. What they did like was the status quo: sticking to their traditional practices and doing what they wanted with their resources.
They couldn’t understand what had gotten into Shu’ayb. He had lived amongst them for some time and he had a good reputation. He was one of them. So why was he trying to cause disruption all of a sudden? What had activated him? The only thing they could point to was his prayer…
They said, ‘Shu’ayb, does your prayer tell you that we should abandon what our forefathers worshipped and refrain from doing whatever we please with our own property? Indeed you are a tolerant and sensible man.’ (11:87)
Perhaps their tone was mocking, perhaps it was exasperated, perhaps both! But isn’t it interesting how they, even if sarcastically, identified prayer as the cornerstone of Shu’ayb’s newfound confidence in inviting his people to a better way?
If our prayer isn’t a catalyst for us to lead a mission-driven life, this suggests that there's something missing in our prayer. If that seems a little shocking, consider the following…
- how can we keep proclaiming God’s greatness (Allahu Akbar) without trying to make His name and His remembrance uppermost in society?
- how can we keep saying, “You only we serve…” (iyyaka na’bud) and asking for guidance, “on the path of those You have favoured…” (sirat alladhina an’amta ‘alayhim) without then striving for His cause with everything we have, exactly as those He favoured did throughout their lives?
- how can we keep bowing and prostrating in true humility and submission before God without then standing up courageously before the forces of godlessness and injustice?
- how can we keep asking God to grant His grace and blessings to His final messenger (Allahumma salli / barik ‘ala Muhammad) without realising that it is precisely the action (or inaction) of believers today that will (or won’t) keep the prophetic mission alive and flourishing?
It all comes back to whether we really mean what we are saying in prayer, and realise the full implications of our actions and words.
Truly mindful Salat realigns us with our highest priorities. It reminds us of the King that we are supposed to serve, of the divine mission that needs fulfilling. It makes the pursuit of our own selfish goals, for which we automatically strive so hard, secondary or even non-existent.
On a personal note, standing in prayer without knowing that I’m trying to serve my Lord’s cause as best as I can outside of prayer is just plain embarrassing. It’s as if I’m saying:
“My Lord, yes I believe in You, I’m here to worship You, You are the greatest, You are praiseworthy for everything You’ve given Me, and yes there are all these people who don’t know the path to You or are struggling to stay on it. But sorry I don’t have time to do anything about it! I’ve got my own problems to worry about. So can You please get it all sorted with someone else? I’m busy!”
Doesn’t seem quite right, does it?
Note how Luqman advised his son with a powerful sequence of prayer, social action and steadfastness, “My dear son, keep up the prayer, command what is right, forbid what is wrong and bear steadfastly with anything that afflicts you; these are amongst the greatest things to which you should aspire.” (31:17)
So let us aspire for greater heights and realise that true submission to God is about a lot more than devotional worship. It’s not just about putting aside certain times in the day to pray. That’s just the start...
It’s about letting those moments of prayer inspire us to devote the rest of our lives fully to Him too.
Say, “Indeed my prayer, my sacrifice, my living and my dying are all for God, Lord of all that exists.” (6:162)
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Have a blessed fortnight. I'll see you in two Fridays, God willing.