“Cover up young lady”, a Khaleeji woman yelled at her teenage daughter when her “Shaila” began to slide off her head as I passed by them in the Dubai Mall. A sight I was not sure how to react to given I like to encourage Islamic practices when they are conveyed through good conduct. Although I did not like the tone in which she advised her daughter, I eagerly listened in hopes of an explanation that would redeem the situation. However, all I heard were the following disappointing words: “What will people say about us?!!”
It is unfortunate that a nation whose pride and joy were values based on God-consciousness and good conduct has evolved to giving more importance to how it is perceived by others than how it will be judged by its Creator. What is even more shocking is that the younger generations are being brought up with these shallow concepts engrossed into their character.
In the beginning, I thought that I should explain the negative connotations of such a mindset being widespread in a nation. Things like racism, intolerance, abuse, debt, marriage, divorce, broken hearts, inefficient workforce, “wasta” (using connections) and many others came to mind. However, I believe these are things people are more or less familiar with and can see happening in their daily lives. Instead, I will walk you through three reasons why we need not to care of what others think of our actions and why we should act for, and only for, the sake of The Almighty.
First of all, let’s examine the concept of pride and honor. Usually, being admired by society is the ultimate pride for any individual. Being accepted, rewarded, and used as an example is what most desire rather than being ridiculed, punished, and shunned. As a result, people indirectly fear society and the implications it would have on their honor should society not accept them. What people tend to neglect, however, is that honor and pride are mindsets within a community and do not necessarily have to be based on appropriate fundamentals. For example, it was normal for people in pre-Islamic Arabia to bury their firstborn daughters alive in the name of honor even when it wasn’t desired by the individual, in fear of what the society may think. Does that mean we stay quiet and bury our newborn daughters?
“…is it honor they seek among them? Nay,- all honor is with Allah. “
-The Holy Quran [4:139]
Second, let’s look at the concept of success. Success in today’s world is usually associated with power and wealth, both of which are in the hands of society members. Any action that may jeopardize the path to these is unfortunately feared. What people forget, however, is that success and prosperity are not decided by people or society but they are in the hands of The Merciful.
“… And fear Allah. That ye may prosper”
The Holy Quran [2:189, 3:200, 3:130]
If it were not for the braveness and ability of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) companions to stand up against their society, we would not have the beautiful religion of Islam today. It took men and women who endured beatings in the heat of the summer desert, constant criticism and ridicule. They stood up for the Truth and would not indulge society’s baseless desires for idol worship as was the norm. Sincere action realizes its fruit of success both in the current life and in the hereafter as promised by Allah.
“O ye who believe! If ye will aid (the cause of) Allah, He will aid you, and plant your feet firmly”
The Holy Quran [47:7]
Finally, people need to understand the concept of mortality. As a result of their short sight, they tend to forget the impact of their decisions, based on societal pressure, on the generations to follow. What people need to be reminded of is their fleeting existence and the final return to the Ever-Living. Does society really matter if marriages are split due to social pressure or if certain bank loans were taken to please others? We won’t be there to witness its effects on the ones who are left behind.
“Every soul shall have a taste of death in the end to Us shall ye be brought back”
The Holy Quran [29:57]
In summation, people have moved away from worshipping the One True Creator to the worship of society for a range of reasons. In order to make people go back to Worshiping Allah as the focal point of their interactions, they need to be reminded that All Honor belongs to Allah, that all success is from Allah, and that eventually to Him we will all return. Let’s stop doing things for people, let’s stop worrying about what Rashid or Afra think and let’s worry about what The All-Knowing thinks.
“And that ye should worship Me (alone), this is the Straight Way”
The Holy Quran [36:61]
Mohammed’s bi-monthly column aims to openly and honestly target issues around the native culture, society, religion, economy, and policy that have resulted as a consequence of the constantly changing demographics of the region. The column is characterized by a point-like articulate approach that gives the reader a comprehensive understanding of the discussed issues.