Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Smoking In Medina : Sign of Times

In Medina, I found more signs of the troubled times we live in. I tried to find a non-smoking hotel because my children were with me, and because my reactive airway doesn’t tolerate smoke well. Sad to say, I was unsuccessful. Despite the fact that all of the major hotel chains outlaw smoking in their European and American locations, they revert to allowing smoking – due to popular demand, no doubt – in the two most sacred spots where smoking is not only haram1 but manifold times more so.

And it’s common knowledge that secondary smoke clearly causes harm to others. When I went to a hotel’s manager to protest that my rights were being violated, he looked at me as if I was mad and flatly stated the obvious reason for their policy: “The majority of guests here prefer smoking!” So what is clear is that in the City of our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, a smoker’s right to harm himself and others trumps a non-smoker’s right to be free from harm and to breathe the blessed and healing Medinan air.

Apparently, they also prefer to waste food. The wastage I witnessed was beyond belief. While in Medina, my wife and I took leftover food out to the streets and found poor people who were overjoyed to eat it and thanked us profusely for having thought of them. I spoke with one of the waiters in our hotel about people placing far more food on their plates from the buffet table than they could possibly eat, and he responded, “If you saw what we see, you would weep.”

We clearly suffer from those very tribulations the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, identified, and we have to realize that the source of the tribulations is not the big bad West, nor is it the evil rulers in Muslim countries, or the unjust judges.

We need only look within our selves. We are consumed by our indulgences and our excesses. These problems are all only symptoms, and as long as we treat the surface symptoms, the disease lies beneath and only gets worse. The antidote is to follow the Prophet’s sunnah.

In another hadith, the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, was reported to have said,

“God is never angered with a people except that they suffer from inflation, their markets become depressed, corruption becomes the norm, and unjust governance becomes more severe. When that happens, the wealthy among them forget the rights of the poor, governance loses its virtue, and the poor stop praying.” 

 If we look at the current economic crisis, the prevailing view is that there are clearly discernible causes for it that have been studied, documented, analyzed, and articulated. And there are legal and legislative and systemic solutions being offered. But these are merely symptomatic analyses, and as long as the metaphysical roots are ignored, the tribulations will only recur. When God’s limits are transgressed, certain responses are incurred. God is not susceptible to emotions, so when He is “angered” (sakhita), this should not be understood anthropomorphically.

The solution then is to work to attain God’s pleasure (rida). One of the prayers of our Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, every day was, “O God, I seek refuge in You from your anger and the fire, and I ask You for Your pleasure and Your paradise.” 

The pleasure of God is only discerned through following, to the best of our ability, the way of His beloved Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him. Our task is to learn and live by it. It begins with sincere intention, is followed by disciplined study, and is fulfilled through purposeful actions based upon sound knowledge.

I have no contempt in my heart for anyone. While in Medina, though troubled by much of what I observed in the Prophet’s city, my heart was always filled with a love for his community and with a desire to see them, and myself, on a path to purification. If the Prophet’s sunnah is not practiced in his own city, where the beloved rests awaiting the day of judgment, tell me, where then will it be practiced?

reposted from Sandala.org : Hamzah Yusuf Blog

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