Whither Indian Muslims
– Third and Last Part
Some Examples of Lack of Character
We have been saying so far that it would take two things to change the condition of Muslims in India – and also in other places:
- One, a complete overhaul of Muslim education – Ta’aleem – in India and everywhere else.
- Two, a total revolution in Muslim character – Tazkiyah – in India as well as in other places.
Naturally, this means that there are some serious problems with both Muslim education as well as Muslim character. Below, I provide some examples of lack of character among Muslims. And also among others, I guess, if you want to generalize it to other groups. I have deliberately repeated some instances using different language and emphasis.
Add to this list your own ideas. But as you are doing that, please keep the following three things in mind:
- First, keep those ideas practical. Don’t forget Islam is a pragmatic system.
- Two, keep them simple. Making things complicated may make you feel important, but it doesn’t get the job done.
- Three, don’t create confusion by using so-called “religious” expressions as a substitute for real-life issues and language. Islam is not theology. Don’t forget that its first addressees were the no-nonsense children of the desert.
Even though in reality, the Deen of Islam and real life are one and the same, many Muslims unfortunately do not see them that way and they do not know how to use them that way. Therefore, always think practical and always think simple and real.
For, that is what the Deen of Allah, the Deen of Nature – Deenul Fitrah – really is. It is simple. It is clear. And it is most eminently practical.
For example, when someone asks you – does not matter who it is – if you will do something, don’t say “Inshallah!” and leave it at that. Don’t try to put that person off with the intention of buying time. Instead, do not hesitate to say, “Yes!” firmly and clearly.
But don’t forget to add “Inshallah! I will do my very best to do it.”
Try to be as real and as genuine and honest in everything you say and do. And do so regardless of who you are dealing with – Hindu, Muslim, Jew or Christian; rich or poor; friend or foe; adult or child. For, that is the spirit of this Deen: total and complete openness and honesty – with Allah as well as with Allah’s creation.
That is the nature of this beautiful Deen that Allah sent from heaven to guide and help you right here on earth – to make your earthly life as nice, as good and as successful as possible.
If You Lie, You Lack Character
So here goes:
- When you lie you lack character. So Muslims need to rebuild their character to be truth-tellers. They need to relearn, as individuals, groups, societies and nations the lesson of Sadaaqat. For, Islam is truth telling. It is Sadaaqat.
- I watched my late father, Allah give him and my mother Jannat. In all the time I was with him, the man never lied. Not even in jest. Not even to his kids, as so many people so cavalierly do. That was his reputation among both friend and foe: his word was totally and absolutely his bond.
- When you show up late for your appointments, you lack character. Once again, I never ever saw my father being late to an appointment, or to a train, or to a Namaz. People knew that when he was involved in something that thing would start on time, whether it was wedding, a funeral, a meeting or a dinner party.
- When you steal, you lack character. And there are all kinds of ways in which people can steal, both formally as well as informally, both technically as well as in more routine and ordinary fashion.
- Stealing from your work is still stealing. When you collect payment for the time in which you did not put in any work, you are stealing.
- Breach of trust is also stealing. When you are put in a position of trust and you violate that trust, you lack character. Muslims need to relearn the lesson of Amaanat in their capacity as individuals, groups, nations and societies.
- If leaders betray the trust of their followers and plunder and squander their national wealth, they lack character. And if followers do or say or feel nothing about this outrage, then they too lack character. There is perhaps no worse example of lack of character than Khayaanat.
- When leaders and others work to advance the interests of foreigners at the expense of the genuine national interests, advancement and wellbeing of their own societies and peoples, then the name for that kind of lack of character is treason. In Urdu it is called Ghaddari.
You Lack Education, You Lack Character
- When you lack education and yet you are not making any effort to remedy that situation; to go to school; to educate yourself; or to increase your knowledge base or skill level in one way or another, you lack character.
- When you are not willing to help others to go to school and get an education or better their life in other ways, you lack character.
- If you are a commercial provider of goods and services, and you misrepresent facts to your customers, you lack character.
- When you make promises mindlessly or break them carelessly, you lack character.
- When you do not value your time, or other people’s time, you lack character.
- When you have not done anything to keep your neighborhood clean, you lack character.
- When you do nothing to help your neighbor, you lack character.
- When you do nothing to resolve disputes in your community and neighborhood and among members of your own family, you lack character.
- When you show up late for everything everywhere, you lack character.
- When your word and promises have no value, you lack character.
- When you are habitually rude to people, you lack character.
- When you lack respect for your elders, you lack character.
- In the same way, when you lack compassion for those younger than you, you lack character.
Wasting Resources Shows Lack of Character
- When you waste resources, including food and water, you lack character.
- When you waste your time and energy in fruitless and unproductive activities, you lack character.
- When you don’t take care of your own health as well as the health of your family, you lack character.
- When you fail to arrange for the best worldly and other-worldly education for all those under your care, male as well as female, you lack character.
- If you don’t brush your teeth, you lack character.
- If you don’t teach your children and family good hygiene and good health habits in general, you lack character.
- If you don’t learn some kind of practical skill (Hunar) and don’t teach the same to your children and family, you lack character.
- If you always depend on servants and others for everything, and will not do any daily chores by yourself, you lack character.
- If you do not treat your servants and hired help with respect and dignity, you lack character.
If You Are Not Nice to People, You Lack of Character
- If you always have an angry face and always speak rudely and harshly to people, you lack character.
- If you do not sport a ready and spontaneous smile, you lack character.
- If you are too caught up all the time in the minutiae – small details – of Fiqh and Masaa-il while ignoring the larger and more significant elements of the Deen, you lack character.
- If you are quick to anger and slow to forgive, you lack character.
- If you treat people badly, you lack character.
- If you discriminate against people, regardless of why you do it, whether you do it in the name of race, religion, caste or something else, you lack character.
- The list, as they say, goes on and on and on.
Jealousy and Hate Means Lack of Character
- If you harbor in your heart or show through your speech or behavior jealousy or anger or hate or malice toward others for any special gifts or blessings God Almighty may have conferred upon them, you lack character.
- If you will not feel happy at the achievement of your fellow-Muslims, friends and neighbors, you lack character.
- If you will not offer a helping hand to others in the fulfillment of their legitimate goals, aspirations and dreams, you lack character.
Abuse of Power or Authority Is Lack of Character
- When you fail to speak out against social ills such as the shameful and notorious Dowry System that plagues India’s marriages, including all too, too many Muslim marriages, you lack character.
- When you will not speak the Haqq – the right thing and the truth – even when it is safe for you to do so, you lack character.
- When you suppress Haqq – the right thing and the truth – you lack character.
- When you commit Zulm – oppression of one kind or another – against those weaker than you in any form or fashion, you lack character.
- When you misuse public funds, you lack character.
- When you do nothing to educate and uplift the community, you lack character.
- When you abuse power or authority, you lack character.
- When you abuse your children, spouses, parents or family, you lack character.
- When you do not vote in elections without a reason, you lack character.
- When you sell your vote for personal gain, you lack character.
- When you cannot get up for Fajr, and there is nothing physically wrong with you, you lack character.
Not Paying Zakat Shows Lack of Character
- When you will not pray Faraz Namaz, you lack character.
- When you will not fast during Ramadan, and you have no physical excuse or disability, you lack character.
- When you will not pay Zakat even when you owe it, you lack character.
- When you will treat people with contempt, you lack character.
- When you will not work hard on your business or farm or trade, you lack character.
- When you will not work hard on your studies, whether it is a math or science or Arabic class, you lack character.
- When you will not work to get the best grades you can get in your class, you lack character.
- When you make decisions of right and wrong, based not on principle but on who is or is not part of your group, nation, tribe, race or gender, you lack character.
- The list, as they say, is endless. And it goes on and on and on. You must add to this list other items as you go along. But make sure you are talking about real and concrete things and not about abstract things which nobody understands clearly.
But What Is It Really: Character or Iman?
I am calling them examples of lack of character. But at the same time, are all of these examples of lack of Iman as well? Sure they are. For, Iman is at the root of everything in life. But Muslims have turned the expression Iman into a cliché. And they often use it as a way of escaping the challenges of everyday life. They invoke it to escape reality.