Orland Park Prayer Center

The Prayer Center of Orland Park

Eid is supposed to be a joyful occasion. What is happening in Gaza makes it very difficult on every one of us to feel happy. In spite of the sadness, the pain, and the suffering; Eid must be a window for hope and an opportunity for change- change of pain (ألم) into hope (أمل).

In Eid, we feel the inner capacity to change our time and our days instead of feeling that the days are merely passing and we are changed by them.

When the Umma is facing a state of almost total despair, when the Umma feels that nothing is working and the path is blocked, when the Umma is stuck and unable to move forward and achieve higher goals, does Quran have the power and the rationale to intervene and come to the rescue at the time of crisis?

Surah Al-Tariq, “The Night Star” (الطارق) is an excellent recipe for salvation at the time of crisis. The Surah reminds the “Umma” of Allah, the ultimate source of guidance. The night star is used as a metaphor for the light of the Divine Message piercing through the darkness that engulfs the “Umma.”

“By the sky and the Night visitor! And what will explain to you what the night visitor is? It is the star of piercing brightness.” [86:1-3]

At the time of crisis, the matter is serious and requires the seriousness of Quran and its decisive statements that shy far away from any simplistic amusement.

“Behold this is the word that distinguishes good from evil. It is not a thing for amusement.” [13-14]

Quran is like the rain coming from the sky that brings life to the dead land.

“By the sky which returns, and the earth that opens out.” [11-12]

Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) himself must act like the thirsty land ready to respond to the command coming from Heaven.

“Open your heart to what you are commanded.” [15:94]

The “Umma”, in turn, would follow his footsteps and respond to the Divine Command like him. The “Umma” must not doubt the possibility of coming back and overcoming its state of despair and helplessness.

“Surely Allah is able to bring him back to life, at a time when all secrets are out and the human has no power or helper.” [86:8-10]

There is no place for despair if the “Umma” believes that this life is protected by Allah and His Angels, without which life becomes impossible.

“There is no self but has a protector over it. Let the human think from what he is created! He is created from a drop emitted- proceeding from between the spine and the ribs.” [86:4-7]

If this is the case, why should the “Umma” then doubt being left without Divine protection at the time of moral and spiritual decline?

This recipe for salvation does not work spontaneously. The members of the “Umma” must be the agents of change, and they are responsible for determining the right measures of the ingredients of this recipe.

“Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves.” [13:11]

I do not claim that I know all the details of this recipe, but I am sure about two things: where to start and where the Umma must be heading.

The first step in the revival of the “Umma” is to revisit its human “Fitra.” We are celebrating Eid Al-Fitr, the coming back to Fitra. Fitra is the Memory and the Reservoir of the high values that preceded time and history.

“Set your face truly to the Faith. Establish the handiwork of Allah according to the pattern on which He has created mankind. Let there be no change in the work of Allah. That is the standard of religion.” [30:30]

Fitra is the Divine “blueprint” that determined the highly tuned and balanced primordial nature of Humankind at the time of creation. Prophet Mohammad (ﷺ) said: “Everyone is created according to Fitra.”

What is the “Umma” going to find in “Fitra”? The Umma is going to find all the high values, “Qiam” (قيم) like justice, mercy, forgiveness, kindness, generosity and others that are all derived from the Eternal and Beautiful Names of Allah.

The new “Umma” must be founded, like the one raised originally by the Prophet, on these high values.

“You are the best of people evolved for mankind: Enjoining what is right, forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah.” [3:110]

All the high values are summarized in one Quranic expression “Maaruf”, (معروف) i.e., evidently and universally known. They are known and common to all humans everywhere and at every time, because they constitute the common human Fitra. They are prescribed in Quran without a qualifier. They are not prescribed as Islamic, Muhammadan, Abrahamic, or Judeo-Christian. The newly born “Umma” has the responsibility to be the model in the commitment to and practice of these high values, and the rejection of their opposites.

The Umma will also find its balance or “Wasat” in Fitra, and this is where the Umma must be heading towards its benchmark and standard.

“Thus, We have made of you an Umma justly balanced.” [2:143]

The word “Kazhalika” ( (كذلكat the beginning of the verse indicates that what follows represents a standard or benchmark. “Wasat” literally means to be in the middle or the Golden Mean. Of interest, the verse is physically located right in the middle of Surah Al-Baqara (البقرة).

Fasting and all other “technologies of the self” like Salat, Zakat, Hajj aim at refining our character and finely-tuning ourselves to be closer to our “Fitra”, the state of balance and equilibrium at the time of creation.

Our fast is not accepted until we pay for ourselves and for every life dependent on us a charity before Eid prayer. This type of charity is interestingly called “Zakat Al-Fitra.”

The revival of a justly balanced Umma within the framework of the Beautiful Names of Allah and the high values derived from them is still possible. Do not let despair imprison you and always look forward for the soothing Mercy of Allah.

“Never give up hope of Allah’s soothing Mercy: truly no one despairs of Allah’s soothing Mercy except those who have no faith.” [12:87]

By Dr. Walid Khayr


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