Deterioration – Inside Out

25 11 2009


Living in America has always been something natural to me. It is all I know and because of that, I know it well. I love Thanksgiving and Independence Day and usually have some form of celebration on these days. However, I am always fascinated by the discovery of “what does it mean to be American?”

Ana Menendez, an established author, spoke to our class a few months back. She shared her experiences traveling to almost 40 countries. As a Cuban American, she always identified with both cultures and always lived in the famous reality of many immigrant families, staying in the USA “only temporarily.” However, when she made that trip back to Cuba in her late 20s, she realized that she wasn’t as Cuban as she thought; in fact, she was more American than she could ever believe. She discovered being American is “a state of mind.” It doesn’t have a color or face but rather it is how you think, your mannerisms, the way you speak, and how you identify with certain cultural norms.

Still, I hadn’t realized the impact this upbringing could have on my personal beliefs until I had a GEM moment listening to Muhammad AlShareef’s Tafsir on Surah Tin. The ayah, “Then who can give you the lie after (this) about the judgment?” He speaks about who will try to persuade us to their path; amongst these will be the shayateen but also the entertainment industry, corporate world, and the like. A young Muslim comes to America and is shocked by what he sees and hears on tv and radio, but after a year, he doesn’t even notice it. I listened to this example, and agreed, it is hard to guard our “shock factors” after seeing so many obscene, violent, and sexual images. However, it didn’t sink in until later that evening. Cooking some pastries for the upcoming holidays, I turned on MTV. Glancing up at what was showing and back to my recipe and dough, I didn’t even wince at the fact that there was overwhelmingly inappropriate content taking place in our kitchen. I let this vulgarity enter my home, but also enter through my soul enough to let it sit in calmness. Astagfirallah.

Those people who will try to lie to us (from Surah Tin) are sneaky. Have we lost our shyness? Is that what I get after 16 years in the Public Educational System? I recall Wisam Sharieff telling us how he could not watch a Disney Cartoon “Kim Possible” with his nieces and nephews out of shyness because of how Kim was dressed. I thought, Subhanallah, the contrast. How we let our nafs deteriorate by what is seen and heard.

We can’t deny that this is a country that has been controversial and cutting edge for the past two centuries. We can’t hide and escape every hint of evil that appears before us whether it is in media, art, advertising, news, etc. But we can take an active stance and control what goes into our hearts. Step back and live in the present moment. Focus on beauty –the skies, trees, and scenes of creation.

Our youth are falling prey to these vices deeper and further than we can ever believe. We should not be ignorant of the growth mainstream vulgarity has today. Oprah dedicated a show to highlight the porn and erotica industry and shortly after had another show dealing with sex addiction. Is this not contradicting? Cause and effect perhaps? Allah knows best. Yasir Birjas covers these problems in a Western and Islamic context very thoroughly and I suggest anyone struggling with these issues attend or purchase his course Love Notes or Fiqh of Love.

Regardless, being American still remains dynamic and undefined. It is a country that really allows one to exhibit the verses of Surah Tin: “Certainly We created man in the best make/ Then We render him the lowest of the low.” The choice is in our hands, freedom demands choice.

Just remember, what we choose to expose ourselves to will impact us till the day we die. The best leaders as Umar Ibn AlKhattab said were people who knew evil (i.e. were not naive) but also exemplified good. Struggle. Perceive. And take control of your gifts or else somebody else will. Remember we answer to a Just Lord who knows what lies within. “Is not Allah the best of Judges?”

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4 responses

26 11 2009
runningmuslimah

Salaams, this is such a well-written article! It’s so true, if we just let everything sink in and roll over us, we won’t realize what it’s doing to our hearts. I remember listening to an audio lecture where the speaker talked about a friend of his who was newly arrived to the US. They walked into a gas station to pay and his friend’s immediate response was, “Astaghfirullah!” when he saw the magazines lining the checkout. The speaker mentioned how ashamed he felt that it didn’t even ping his radar, because it was just something “normal” to him.

The more connection we have with reality, with things that actually exist; like you said, the trees, the sky, the scenes of creation, the better our connection will become, iA. I for one will try to implement this in my life more often.

once again, great article!

26 12 2009
Jawaad Ahmad Khan

As stated in Suraatul ‘Asr,

“Mankind is in a state of loss” (in other words, the default for humans is Jahanam)
So, if we just let this life pass us by, and do nothing (neither shirk nor believe in tawheed) then our destination is set. However, our lives are meant for us to ACT and to work for the pleasure of Allah. How? (Back to ‘Asr)
“‘Amanoo, wa ‘amilus salihaat, watawaa saubil haqq, watwaa saubis sabr”
(Believe. Do Good Deeds. Call to the truth. Call to consistency/patience.

4 03 2010
tayibah

asaaam u alaikum sister

This is so original and so valid… well I have been stumbling upon blog after blog of muslimahs and I have no words to describ the pride that i feel for being your sister be it only in islam… JazaakAllah khayr

5 03 2010
ladyinsight

JazakAllahKhair Ya Tayibah,

Your words inspire me to write more. Thank you for the encouragement.

Peace & Blessings.

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