Those who were born into a muslim family were taught basic tenets of Islamic creed without much debating with parents and elders. Muslims, generally, grow up understanding that Islam is primarily about performing 5 pillars. They are of-course, Iman in Allah swt, 5 daily prayers, fasting in Ramadan, Zakah and Hajj. Social interactions sometimes make us feel that our traditional values are coming under undue attacks from doubters and disbelievers. Usually, we tend to respond to it by disengaging from such company where our belief is under attack. Does this help us strengthen our faith or remove some doubts from the disbelievers’ minds? I suspect our inability to take on such attack puts us further back in our darkness. Is there a way to cure this blindness of faith? I would like to share with you the fascinating story of a man who was extraordinarily different from all his contemporaries. Prophets almost always had to face very trying situations for speaking about values in an immoral social setup. They were looked at scornfully for blaspheming idols, for humiliating time honored traditions of forefathers, and for doubting the authority of priests and clergies. Prophets (pbut) searched for honest souls who could rise above the narrow thinking stepping forward to spread the Word of God Almighty, Allah swt. This is a common situation and it was no different in Islam with the Holy Prophet Muhammad (swm). With perhaps one of the most unusual experiences to be recorded in Islamic history. The setting is at the dawn of Islam. A tribe lived in a city state close to Medinah. The members of this tribe worshipped an idol named Munat. They thought that Munat decided predestination and chance. They visited and sacrificed sheep for it. One day, a poor young man called Jundub belonging to the tribe went to Munat. He gave Munat some yogurt and began looking at it. But Munat was motionless and did not drink the yogurt. He waited. A fox passed by Jundub but did not see him. The fox drank the yogurt and, in addition, it raised its leg and urinated in the ear of Munat. Still Munat was motionless. The young man laughed. He sneered at Munat. Then he criticized himself because he worshipped a dumb rock, which did not understand anything. While Jundab was going back home, he remembered the words of Qais bin Saydah. He said them in Ukadh market: People, hear and understand! He who lives will die! And he who dies will perish. Future things will happen. Why do I see people go and not come back? Are they satisfied with the stay there? Or have they left anything there, so they have slept? Jundub looked at the blue, clear sky and at the wide desert. Then he remembered what the fox did to Munat. He believed that the world had a God greater than Munat, Hubal, al-Lat and all idols. Since then Jundab bin Jundah had deeply believed in the Creator of the sky and the earth. One day, a man came from Makkah and said to Jundub: There’s a man in Makkah who says that there is no god but Allah and claims that he is a prophet. Jundub asked: Which tribe does he belong to? The man answered: He belongs to the Quraish. Jundub asked: Which tribe of the Quraish does he belong to? The man answered: He belongs to Bani Hashim. What have the Quraish done? They’ve accused him of lying. They say that he’s a magician and an insane. The man went away, but Jundub thought again and again. Jundub thought to send his brother Anees to Makkah to get him some news about the new Prophet. Anees set off to Makkah. Anees covered hundreds of miles. Anees quickly came back to tell his brother: I’ve seen a man. The man orders people to do good and avoid doing evil. He invites them to worship Allah. I’ve seen him praying near the Ka’aba. I’ve seen a young man, his cousin Ali, praying besides him. And I’ve seen a woman, his wife Khadijah, praying behind them. Jundub asked: Then what have you seen? Anees answered: This is what I’ve seen. But I didn’t dare to approach him because I was afraid of the Quraishi leaders. Probably at this time, there were only 3 (Prophet swm, Ali ra and Khadijah raa) or maybe 5 (Prophet swm, Ali ra, Zaed ra, Abi Bakr ra and Khadijah raa) muslims in the whole world. The Holy Quran may have consisted of only few early suras such as some parts of Iqra, Mudathir, Muzammil and Al Qalam. Lets see what happens next. Jundub was dissatisfied with what he heard. So, he set out for Makkah to know the Prophet. When the Gheffarian young man arrived in Makkah, the sun was about to set. He went round the Ka’aba, then he sat in a corner of the Holy shrine to take rest and to think about a way to meet the Prophet [s]. It got dark. The Ka’aba became empty of people. In the meantime, a young man came into the yard of the Holy Mosque. He began going round the Ka’aba. The young man saw a stranger. He came and asked him politely: You’re a stranger, aren’t you? The Gheffarian answered: Yes. The young man said: Let’s go home. Jundub was following the young man silently. In the morning, Jundub thanked the young man for his good hospitality. He saw him off and set out to the Zam Zam well to see the Prophet [s]. The hours passed. Jundub waited till it got dark. Two things could be happening here. One, Prophet swm remained cautious about a stranger coming to Makkah in search of something. Or, the Prophet swm kept himself disguised for which Jundub could not recognize him. Again the young man came and went round the Ka’aba. He saw the foreign man at his place. The young man said to Jundub: Isn’t it time to know your house? “No!” Jundub said. The young man said to Jundub: Come with me to the house. Jundub stood up and went with him to the house, silently. The young man said: I can see you’re thinking, what’s your need? Jundub said carefully: I’ll tell you if you keep it a secret. I’ll keep it a secret if Allah pleases. Jundub was relieved when he heard Allah’s Name. So, he said slowly: I’ve heard about the appearance of a Prophet in Makkah and I want to see him. The young man said with a smile: Allah has guided you. I’ll show you his house. Follow me at a distance. When I see a suspicious person, I’ll stop as if to repair my slippers. Then don’t stop just go on your way. The young man went on walking to our Master Muhammad’s [s] house. At the same time Jundub was following him. Observe the stages of movement carefully. The young man befriends Jundub but does not push him, although his suspicion is easily felt. Jundub in order to find the Prophet (swm) has to ask someone for directions but he is also aware of the grave dangers of doing that. The young man comes up with an instant plan to move unnoticed towards the Master’s (swm) place. This is no ordinary meeting taking place. Here we have a man who came to look for the Prophet (swm) when this very search could lead to death at the hands of the enemies. Jundub came into the Prophet’s house and met our Master Muhammad [s]. He was before a man embodying all good manners. Our Master Muhammad [s] asked his guest: Where’s the man from? Jundub answered: From the tribe of Ghifar. The Prophet [s] asked: What’s your need? Jundub said: How shall I become a Muslim? The Prophet [s] said: Islam is to say there is no god but Allah and I am Allah’s Apostle. What else? Avoid doing evil actions. Follow good manners. Stop worshipping the idols. Worship Allah only. Don’t waste your money. Don’t oppress people. The young man believed in Allah and His Apostle very much. He said: I confess that there’s no god but Allah and that you’re Allah’s Apostle. I am satisfied with Allah as my Lord and with you as my Prophet. At that moment, another great personality was born. It was the personality of the great companion Abu Dhar al-Ghifari whose full name was Jundub bin Junadah. Abu Dhar stood up and said with enthusiasm: By Allah, I’ll spread Islam. Before he left the house, Abu Dhar had asked our Master Muhammad [s]: Who was the young man who showed me your house? The Prophet [s] answered proudly: He was my cousin Ali. Our Master Muhammad [s] advised him: Abu Dhar, keep your Islam a secret and go back to your homeland. Abu Dhar realized that Allah’s Apostle was worried about him because the Quraish would kill him. By Allah, I’ll spread Islam among the Quraish whatever may be. In the morning, Abu Dhar set off for Ka’aba, Allah’s Holy House. The idols were motionless at their places. Abu Dhar was finding his way while the Quraishi tyrants were thinking about the new religion. At those moments, a bold yell sounded: Quraish, I confess that there’s no god but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle. The idols and the hearts of the polytheists shook. One of the Quraish said loudly: Who is abusing our gods? They rushed towards Abu Dhar hitting him a lot, until he was unconscious. Blood flowed out of his body. Al-Abbas, our Master Muhammad’s cousin, came in between and saved him and said: Woe unto you! Do you want to kill a man who belongs to the tribe of Ghifar? Don’t you know that your trading caravans pass by his tribe? Abu Dhar recovered and went to Zam Zam well. He drank water and washed the blood off his body. Again Abu Dhar wanted to face the Quraish with his belief. He headed for the Ka’aba. He said loudly: I confess that there’s no god but Allah; there’s no partner with him. And I confess that Muhammad is Allah’s Apostle. The Quraish attacked him like a pack of wolves. They hit him a lot. He fell to the ground unconscious and al-Abbas saved him again.
If you are feeling really sick of this cut throat materialistic world then dont feel lonely. Every other corporate employee feels it when they take a look at their busy lives. Especially for those stuck in the world of financial services. Bankers’ professional lives are surrounded by the concept of money all around them. There is no escaping from being brain washed into believing that money is all that matters in life. Every event, occurence or assumption has to be linked to a monetary benefit, or the effort is worthless.
Corporatized society of the developed world has swept over the urban cultures of many developing countries in Asia as well. This new culture of ‘make money be happy’ is being promoted without any reservations for the decrease in social values.
For example, the trend is now to live in smaller flats instead of large houses. Thats because land prices sky rocketed so high that its now impossible for a single family to own property anymore. The result – family bondness is shrinking. Whats wrong with that?
Family bonding is being replaced by another form of bonding. Lot of families will work extra hours to provide the best for their children. They go out of their way to make children happy. They think they can do this is by buying them ‘stuff’. Probably they assume that more expensive ‘stuff’ is directly proportional to the level of childrens’ happiness. While parents continuously try to make kids happy they also know in their hearts that something is something.
Missing is the lack of ‘belongingness’, that missing ‘childhood’ experience of playing games, going out, having fun and being kids with lots of other kids. Parents try to compensate for that missing childhood by ipads and wii.
The affect of corporatizing our society has fundamentally changed the way we viewed our lives. Before, we were part of a social fabric, sharing our moments of joy, sadness, likes, dislikes, achievements and struggles. That was before franchises, retail chains, superstores and mega shops took over our little towns. Now, we dont think about setting up a small business in the city. We think about getting a job at Walmart or Tesco.
We managed to replace our old bonds with new ones. We are taught to be loyal to the corporation, the employer, the provider of the good things in life, they say. We are connected nowadays through professional clubs, country clubs, sports clubs, networking clubs and so many others whose primary interest is to advance the self to win the race. We are creating an increasingly individualistic society where material comfort, wealth perceptions and satisfaction of desires play gods.
How does this fit into our belief system?