Sunday, December 07, 2008

It Took Me Over 5 Years To Come to This...

I posted the below in the Muslim Matter post "The Beard Story: Exclusive Interview With Yasir Qadhi"

I've come to a point in my life where I realized that I've wasted - yes I will use the word "wasted" - much of my time reading, researching, and discussing what is and is not acceptable of my beard.

In the end, I gained little piety or beneficial knowledge from a narrow fiqh issue.

As a Muslim teenager in college who decided to be a good practicing Muslim, the issue of the beard with thrust upon me by these "clear" rulings/fatwas by Great Scholars of the past on growing the full beard (I was initially under the impression that even trimming more than what a fist holds was not the preferred method).

This coupled with the "zealous" young Muslim brothers around me who emphasized the need for a beard so much that it shaped the way I perceived Muslim men who shaved/kept small beards as being open sinners for openly doing something directly in opposition to what the prophet told use to do (let our beards grow).

In fact, some even pointed me towards the likes of Shaykh Yasir Qadi is an example of of an intelligent American Muslim who held firm to his Islamic principles and let his beard grow in the Sunnah manner. Seeing and knowing that Shaykh Yasir was out there in America and doing great dawah work and even attending Yale later with his Sunnah beard gave me much hope and inspiration to pursue my own academic and professional studies with the feeling that 'hey, if Yasir is doing it with the full Sunnah beard - I should be able to pull it off as well.'

This helped me not to cave into all my other family members who regularly pressed me that I should at least shape up my beard and make it "neat and not unkempt looking" since my beard was thick, curly, and frizzy. This concern was further magnified by them when I (still currently am) began my graduate studies and went to job interviews looking very much like the Medina Yasir in terms of my beard.

Yet now, in this lecture I come to find that I had it all wrong: I should have made my beard "neat and professional" as Shaykh Yasir points out in lecture tape 1 (24:40 mark). I guess I was wrong and stubborn for trying to keep what I genuinely perceived to be a Sunnah beard (coming from the same scholars who I learned/read about hadith & aqeedah and the one's Shaykh Yasir quoted and referenced in his lectures/books).

In the end, all this emphasis on following the "correct sunnah" of the Prophet ended up distancing me for learning and practicing other important aspects of Islam - from memorizing more of the Quran, reading more Seerah, and making more prayers/adkhar.

After 5 years from my teenage years, I've come to to this point: I no longer care about what others do/ have about their beard or may think about mine. All of this has left me disillusioned about my Muslim identity and feeling like the narrator in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man - only the Muslim version.


At 5:31 PM, Blogger The Dynamic Hamza 21 said...

I guess you learned what many muslims come to understand that learning "Islamic Knowledge" from one place will leave unawares of the full undersatnding of the deen.

In the Maliki Madhhab I know that beard is considerd any hair of any length upon the chin. As if a man has only stubble upon the chin but shaves his mustache and sideburns in Maliki Madhhab that man has fulfilled the sunnah of growing/having a beard.

As well in history you find the The Prophet nor Sahabah didn't condemn others for trimming their beard only those who shaved off their beard but left their mustache in order to resemble Christin Persians.

I'd always trimmed my beard to keep it neat and clean. Having a good appearance is part of the sunnah as well.

At 5:37 PM, Blogger Siraaj said...

Salaam alaykum bro,

Read your post on MM, thought I'd comment here instead of publically.

I went through the same process you're going through now, and you'll be surprised to know, this is a part of your spiritual development - learning to put issues in their proper place, and learning who has and what is wisdom and the same for small-mindedness.

The goal is always the same - my purpose in life is to worship Allah subhaana wa ta'aala. In any specific matter (especially when there are varying opinions), how can I best accomplish that? Sometimes, you'll choose correctly, and sometimes, you'll not. Whatever you choose, always be openminded (this is referring to fiqh matters) that you could be wrong, or that you could be convinced of another opinion.

It can be difficult, especially if you take a hard stance on an issue, and you feel like you're doing the right thing, and then you find that you're wrong, and maybe even some relationships were hurt as a result of your stance.

But here's the thing - as human beings, we never have all the knowledge, not even the best scholars do - our knowledge is constantly evolving, we're constantly learning, and as that happens, we change perspectives and the see the world from a new light.

If someone tries their best to please Allah subhaana wa ta'aala, and later they found they were mistaken in what they were doing, that's ok - you were following your conscience and your best understanding up to that point, and Allah subhaana wa ta'aala sees that - He takes into account not only the deed, but the intention behind the deed, and the level of knowledge one has as well.

I've often found that what I lost in time earlier was to my benefit later, so don't beat yourself up too much about it - it may be that Allah subhaana wa ta'aala prevented you from other pursuits for your own benefit. Maybe with your new perspective, you are better able to handle what you regretted not pursuing in the past.

Allah knows best. Keep chasing that one goal - worshipping Allah subhaana wa ta'aal - and keep asking Allah subhaana wa ta'aala to make you into what is most pleasing to Him because you know and I know, there's so much information out there, so much knowledge, so much disagreement, we're ignorant, and there's no way we'll navigate through it all without his help, so tie your camel, do your best effort, and ask Allah for help.

As I heard one person say, give your best and leave the rest ;)


At 7:23 PM, Blogger Dunia's Stranger said...

I appreciate the comments from you guys.

I am not deterred from learning more about Islam, if anything this has brought more perspective to many things.

Thanks for commenting.

At 2:11 PM, Anonymous Zanjabila said...

I always remember what a friend once told me: being Muslim isn't about looking different on the outside. It's about being different on the inside, in your heart. The most impressive Muslim stands out by their behaviour, not their long flowing robes/niqab/beard/whatever. It is easy enough to fall into the trap of judging each other by these external attributes, rather than concentrating on the inner qualities.

I find that few of today's Muslims manage to get the balance right -- between the inner and the outer aspects of Islam. Most of us are either too rigid or too liberal. But it's all part of the journey, insha Allah we'll get there in the end.


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