Muslim 'Happy Slapping'

http://www.mpacuk.org/content/view/4/763/103

I am sure that everyone has heard of the term "Happy slapping". It is the term used to describe the phenomenon of an individual or group (of teenagers generally), slapping or striking a stranger while an accomplice films the assault using a camera phone or smart phone [1]. One would say that it has nothing to do with Muslims but it seems we are doing something similar in our everyday lives. I have constantly noticed that some Muslim brothers/sisters try to shame other Muslim brothers/sisters whenever they find an opportunity. You will see them in Islamic rallies, high streets, shopping malls, supermarkets either lecturing some other Muslim brother/sister loudly on how to do things properly or telling someone how he is going to end up in hell because his beard is not of particular length or berating one of the sisters because some of her hair is uncovered and of course she will not be able to enter paradise. These "Muslim Happy Slappers" take pride in telling off people and shaking their head in disgust at other Muslims who do not meet their criteria.

Sometime back I went to a small Muslim rally. I noticed that some of the ‘niqabi’ sisters were not talking to other sisters who were either wearing hijab or were not wearing one, but were modestly dressed. One of the non-hijabi sisters decided to break the ice by saying ‘Salaam’ to the ‘niqabi’ group, but all she got in return were angry noises, frowns and hostile glances. Out of the group of 3-4 only one returned something sounding like a ‘Salaam’. The ice was certainly broken. One of the ‘niqabis’ then started shouting at the other sisters, lecturing them on how we cannot be Muslims until we cover ourselves fully and passing judgement on the sister saying ‘Salaam’ for she will surely end up in hell for exposing her hair. The brothers not to be out done, joined in shouting at non-niqabi sisters, exclaiming loudly how they are following Islam incorrectly, and how they will never smell the fragrance of Paradise, etc.

I assure you I am not maligning the devout sisters who wear ‘niqab’. I appreciate their commitment to their faith. But people commit to their faith in different ways - they should all be appreciated and acknowledged. Nor am I saying those who do not cover should not be encouraged to wear hijab, they should, but with great humility, not with shouting, berating, lecturing and public humiliation.

I wonder why do so many Muslims quote Quran and Hadith in every discussion, but not follow them when talking to our brothers and sisters. Allah has clearly mentioned in the Quran:

"When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. Allah takes careful account of all things." (Surah Nisa - 4:86)

Why do we not respond to the greetings that other Muslims extend to us? At work I have often seen that when I say ‘Salaam’ to some brother or sister, I get an inaudible and mumbled reply, as if they are ashamed to reply to someone’s ‘Salaam’ in public. It is fundamental that when a Muslim brother/sister says ‘Salaam’ to us we have to return his/her greeting in the most courteous way. If you are frowning or if you do not reply please remember that Allah is keeping a tab of this and you will be held accountable on the Day of Judgement.

It seems we Muslims always have a problem with the way other people dress, eat, walk, talk, pray, etc. As good Muslims we are not supposed to be scrutinising these things to find fault but we cannot seem to ignore small shortcomings. Probably as some people say Shaitan diverts our attention towards these futile things and influences us to pick holes so we do not spend time remembering and talking about Allah.

We must remember if we do not like something about someone or if we think that somebody is not following some Islamic tenet properly, we are supposed to let the other person know without offending them.

Allah says "Invite (all) to the Way of your Rabb (Cherisher and Sustainer) with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for your Rabb knows best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance." (16:125)

Note that here Allah is referring to everyone and not just non-Muslims. One of the best examples of this would be the story of Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta), the grandsons of Prophet (SAW).

One day an old pious Bedouin came to Medina. At the time of Prayers he began to make ‘wudu’ but he was making his wudu incorrectly. Hassan (rta) and Hussain (rta) saw the old man making ‘wudu’ wrong and they wanted to correct him. They didn’t want to offend him or make him feel insulted, so they came up with a plan. They went to the old man and said, "My brother and I disagree over who amongst us performs ‘wudu’ the best. Would you mind watching us make ‘wudu’, and be the judge to see which one of us indeed performs 'wudu' more correctly? Could you please correct us wherever we are wrong?" The man watched carefully trying to judge who is better. In the end he understood what was going on and said "By Allah, I did not know how to perform ‘wudu’ before this. You have both taught me how to do it correctly."

This incident has been preserved carefully in many Islamic history books as it highlights the way Muslims must behave when they want to correct someone. There are also many verses in Quran and also Hadith that touch this particular topic. For example:

Abu Hurairah (rta) narrated that the Prophet said, "A believer is friendly, and there is no good in one who is neither friendly nor is treated in a friendly way." (Tirmidhi 4995; and Ahmad)

Aishah (rta) narrated that a man asked permission to see the Prophet (saw) and the Prophet (saw) said, "He is a bad member of the tribe." When he entered, Allah’s Messenger (saw) treated jim in a frank and friendly way and spoke to him. When he departed, Aisha (rta) said, "Messenger of Allah! When he asked permission, you said: "He is a bad member of the tribe; but when he entered, you treated him in a frank and friendly way." Allah’s Messenger (saw) replied, "Aisha! Allah does not like the one who is unseemly and lewd in his language." (Abu Dawud 4774)

"Kind words and forgiving of faults are better than charity followed by injury. And Allah is Rich (Free of all wants) and He is most Forbearing." (Quran - 2:263)

"Allah does not love the utterance of evil words in public except by one who has been wronged. Allah is He Who hears and knows all things." (Quran -4:148)

‘Abdullah Bin ‘Amir (raa) narrated that the Prophet (saw) never used bad language. He used to say, "The best amongst you are those who have the best manners and character." (Bukhari 4/759 and 8/56)

My question to these "Muslim Happy Slappers" is which part of these verses or Hadith do you not understand? Please make a firm intention that the next time we see Muslim brothers with or without beard, Muslim sisters with or without Hijab, we will say ‘Salaam’ to them. If we are greeted before we greet them, then we will reply to them in more courteous way and with a smile on our face. And the next time we feel the need to correct/instruct someone, we will do so privately and humbly.

Allah rewards us for every good intention we make even if that intention does not always result in action and believe me that on the Day of Judgement we will be in need of all the rewards we can get in this life.

Before I end I would like to mention a revert brother I knew of. Having been born in a devout Catholic family John, (not his real name), was interested in learning more about other religions. He read the Quran and Alhamdulillah he embraced Islam. Since John lived in Ireland he didn’t meet any Muslims before his reversion. His experience of Islam was based on the Holy Quran and the Sunnah alone. When he moved to London he was in touch with lots of Muslims. For the first time he was living around Muslims and he loved every moment, at first.

Then some of these Muslims tried to impose their opinions on him. First there was the constant suggestion that he should grow a beard. Being a white Irish person, he did not have enough facial hair and the only thing he could grow on his face was this small "goatee". But this effort was ridiculed. Next on the list, people disapproved of his crew-cut, his hair should reach his ears they said. Then came the objection to the tie he used to wear. Some Muslims kept quoting a ‘fatwa’ saying that it is a sign for the cross so he shouldn’t wear it otherwise all his prayers, etc were futile. Then came the demand to stop wearing Muslim skullcap and start wearing the turban. Then it was the length of the trousers that were not right.

There were so many things, that John had a nervous breakdown. He had received no support, no encouragement from his fellow Muslims. During the breakdown he used to keep crying and saying that he will never enter paradise, since he simply cannot be a good Muslim. It took John a long time to recover and now he doesn’t tell anyone he is Muslim. He never goes to the Mosque (even if it's Friday) and lives in an area where there are no other Muslims.

I am not exempt from the advice I have written in this comment. May Allah forgive any mistakes I have made here and guide us all on the correct path. Allahu Alam.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Happy_slapping





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