Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Human beings are a funny lot. Even if we had no divisions, we seem to like them to the point that people here in England end up smashing each others heads in if they happen to support different football teams. It's the Prophet Muhammad's birthday soon and I guess I should say something on this occasion. It occurred to me the other day that people see religion like some club or football team you join. Whether of the Abrahamic faiths or otherwise, I can't fail to spot the person who wears their faith like a T-shirt, not that I'm saying I might be different. Who knows?

The word "Muslim" means "he who submits". It is not a label, it is a description of some action. It is like saying of someone, "they are a builder, a swimmer a programmer". It is not the same as saying that he is a , for example, Tottenham Hotspurs fan (ie. not even a player but one who watches from the sidelines and does nothing). So if a "Muslim" is one who is doing some action, what is involved in this act of submitting? Submit to what and to whom? Why and what is expected? Different questions begin to emerge now, no longer a passive "fan" of some obscure football team (no offence to Hotspurs fans out there!).

You find that you are obliged to treat people a certain way, treat yourself a certain way. You will fail often, but it's not the failure which bothers you, it's what that does to you on the inside, like some stain which won't come off easily. All the more reason to avoid such injustice to others and to your soul in the future. You are no longer concerned with who has the "better team", it's almost like the level of questions you ask yourself rises above the ridiculous and petty squabbles of small minded people. Ibn Khaldoun, the father of modern sociology (I think?!) had something interesting to say about what Allah does to a people if he wishes to destroy them. He makes knowledge disappear by making those who possess it gradually disappear. What you then have left are the football hooligans who aren't quite sure why they support the teams they do.

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