Event Review: “Come As You Are” with Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredricks
Who: Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredricks
Where: Sultan Mosque Auditorium
When: 3rd April 2012
By: Sout Ilaahi[/box_dark]
One would certainly be welcomed by the flashing smile he had throughout the session, and the simplicity of his speech made all that wisdom a little easier to absorb.
“Come As You Are” was the caption for Shaykh Abdul Aziz Fredricks’s public talk which was organized by Sout Ilaahi, earlier this month.
“No matter who you are, the door of God is always open. So what does it take to be on the path? What are your challenges which lie ahead? How do you deal with it?” – was the synopsis for the event.
Shaykh Abdul Aziz opened the session on a humorous note, telling the emcee he had no idea who was being spoken about in the rather formal, curriculum vitae-like introduction that was given on him. He then went on to informally, also rather subtly introduce himself and his works by referring to what “this young man from Nottingham” does.
He spoke about how it’s important to target the younger generation who are less receptive to society and spirituality. He made references to the recent riots in Denmark which was sparked by a group of young people who had identity issues which then inspired their actions.
[quote]“It’s very easy to burn cars when you’re angry”, he says.[/quote]
On the issue of identity, especially among youngsters, he then shared a story he experienced before heading to Singapore. He shared how there were a group of men, probably in their 40s, with tattooed sleeves and rock getup waiting to meet him at the lobby of his hotel. They wanted to let him listen to an audio CD they had put together, where on some tracks were melodious tunes of Qaseedah and on the other were covers of Guns N’ Roses.
It was a simple sharing of prevalent identity issue, where on one hand people can devote time and passion to their spiritual being – and on the other, also play along their interests and hobbies, which in this case, is music. He didn’t mention it as being an identity ‘crisis’ but rather an issue because this is a human inclination we are all subjugated to, and not as something that is wrong in its entirety. Islam is a way of life, and it is fitra for us to be inclined to certain things with the way the world is today.
“They were honest, sincere people. There was no pretense.” – Shaykh Abdul Aziz on describing the men that came to meet him
The people often scrutinized by society are often wanting to be heard and Shaykh Abdul Aziz mentioned how during the Prophet’s times, the Masjid was used as a centre for everyone. He brought up the concern of Masjids here, because shortly before the session he witnessed how a Brazilian lady wanted to enter a Masjid nearby but was rather harshly told not to come in because congregational prayers were about to begin and how after she pleaded she was let in for a short while but only came out in gratefulness that she “didn’t have such a religion”.
His point was real. The lady could’ve possibly heard the adhaan and was intrigued to know how prayers were being performed in a Masjid. And we all know the adhaan isn’t called the “call to prayer” for no reason. He raised a few questions in our heads: “Could she possibly have reacted the same way if someone had welcomed her differently?” “How did the Prophet accepted people in the mosque?”
He then went on to describe how the Prophet used to welcome people in the mosque, often smiling and giving salaam to everyone that was in the mosque and encourages the same to be done in today’s context.
“Every believer has a right. People have a right to each other. We all have duties upon each other.”
And the most simple of duties, is perhaps to smile and welcome each other with warmth, just as the Prophet used to do.
“They didn’t come to see you,” he said, and went on to speak about how perhaps it was through us that people then come to knock on the door of God.
The door of God is for everyone, and the Prophet was kind and loving to everyone, not just Muslims. Shaykh Abdul Aziz also quoted a number of common hadiths whereby the people were often touched and inspired by the Prophet’s compassion which then made them embrace Islam.
During the question and answer session, this question was brought up “How do I invite my friend to the door of God?”
With utmost simplicity, he replied with “Tea.”
Explaining the reason for his answer as the need to find out what people like, and then dealing with them according to their situation, he emphasizes how Allah is the one who Guides – but it is important we make an effort to try and also make du’a for them.
“Don’t chase them away, start where they are.”
He concluded the session with a real suggestion for the Masjids to be a place where everyone can go to, and feel welcomed because it could possibly be a first step that would lead them to God, eventually.
A beautiful statement he made on the beauty of the Prophet’s ways that left us with a whole lot of thinking after that session was “If you’re wise to people and your heart is warm, you’re following the Sunna.”
‘Bout time we made some checks, because what better place is there to run to, than to the House of God. Let’s start welcoming the world with wisdom and warmth. Let them come as they are, for the door of God is the door for everyone.[divider]
A flawed servant with a voice to and for trust. Your sister in faith, your friend in deen and your Ummah in congregation.