Event Review: When Allah Writes My Love Story
What: When Allah writes my love story
Where: Singapore Expo, Max Atria
Who: Ustadz Usama Canon
When: 23rd February 2013, 8 pm
Organised by SimplyIslam[/box_dark]
“When are you getting married?”
Now, if you are part of the group of people who cover their ears and run off in another direction when asked this, under the pretense of a really bad stomach ache or death of a pet, then come on board. I’m sure most of us, especially in the Muslim community get asked this question the year we hit the big two-zero. I’m really starting to think that relatives check their calendars before going out for family events to identify which of the unsuspecting nephews, nieces, cousins or grandchildren that are 20 and above just so that they can torment us with that question. I mean it’s one thing to already HAVE plans to get married but what happens if you still haven’t found someone or if you’re still unsure?
Well, Ustadh Usama takes us down that very complicated road.
He converted to Islam in 1996 and was a student of Shaykh Hamza Yusuf. From the United States, he is the founding director of Ta’leef institute in California. It serves to provide a healthy and culturally relevant understanding of Islam to youths, both Muslims and non-Muslims.
The session began with Ustadh Usama saying that the word love is commonly said yet it is a complex thing. We use the same word to describe our feelings towards so many things from pizza to our parents yet the two mean totally different things to us. But it is also through love that we understand what another person is going through. There is an Arabic poem that was recited regarding a pepper-colored pigeon and a man who were both sad because of love. Even though they did not speak each other’s language, they understood what it felt like to be affected with the matters of the heart.
With so much emphasis being put on paper and words nowadays, Ustadh Usama reminds us that love can never really be accurately described. As he said “The lover knows love at an experiential level” and thus, it is something we have to feel to understand. That said, Ustadh Usama also acknowledged the fact that some Muslims are afraid to love.
Love is not a sin. If we ground our love in faith, then it becomes a beautiful thing. Look at the love a mother has for her child. Is that not a beautiful thing? Ustadh Usama related to the audience about how he was rushing for work and asked his mother to help make him a sandwich for his commute to work. When he started driving and unwrapping the packaging of the sandwich in the car, he saw a note on top of the sandwich that said “I love you”. That was enough for the majority of the audience (i.e: women) to go “Awwwwwww”.
Also, the love we have for Prophet Muhammad (S) is one of the most pure kinds of love a Muslim can have in his heart. We all know that we do not worship the Prophet and that he is the Messenger of Allah. Yet, it is through his message that we receive the knowledge and understandings that Allah ‘azza wa jal wants to give us. Hence, there is no such thing as loving the Prophet too much! Why do scholars put so much time and effort in writing qasidahs and poems praising Rasulullah (S) if it holds little meaning? Rasulullah (S) always made people feel so loved that every single person who sat with him felt like they were the ones he loved best! There was once a bedouin man who saw Rasulullah (S) kissing his grandchildren lovingly and claimed proudly that although he had 11 children of his own, he had not kissed even one. And what was the messenger of Allah’s reply?
“He who does not show mercy, will not receive it.”
This also shows that it is required that as Muslims, to love the young and respect the elderly. Hence, if we do not love our young and respect our elderly, can we really be justified as calling ourselves Muslims? Children need their love tanks filled up in order to grow and develop well. As Ustadh Usama puts it, “When a child’s love tank is not filled up, they become emotionally unstable.”
He related to the audience on a story of Mr Rafee Peterson who mentors youngsters for crime intervention. Once, a boy started throwing a fit during one of the sessions cussing and swearing but Mr Peterson just goes ahead and hugs him tight. The boy was bewildered and told him that he was the first black man to ever hug him. As a child, to feel unloved is the worst possible torture anyone could ever put them through.
Let us never forget the love that our Creator has for his creations. We tend to remember Allah’s love and mercy more often than not, during times of trials and tribulations. His love is fitrah (natural) to us. We naturally love the Almighty and He loves us. He never stops loving us but we are the ones that drift off so deep into matters of the world that we forget that we have Him.
Allah does not need to love us. What can we give Him that He can provide for us? Nothing. We are helpless beings before Him yet He continues to love us. How do we know that Allah loves us? It’s when we get to do ibadah. Our prayers, supplications, du’a, zikr and salawat benefit none but ourselves. We grow closer to Allah and the Prophet (S) and He puts our hearts at ease.
It is because of the love Allah has for us that we manage to do the things that He ordained for us. So every time you pray or do something good, remember that the Almighty still loves you and wants to bring you closer to Him.
Based on the hadith “None of you will enter paradise unless you have faith. And none of you truly have faith until you love one another” (Tirmidzi), Ustadh Usama explains that it is a condition of Imaan, that we love one another. To spread love and peace is the way to go. Therefore, his challenge to us all was that every time we think of someone, that we call them JUST to say “Assalamualaikum.” They might think it’s weird but that’s part of the challenge isn’t it? Here’s a heads up, I might just start calling and texting random people to do this, after all, everybody’s saying “Call me maybe?” these days. Why not just take them up on that offer?
In order to understand love, we need to understand ourselves. Because when we don’t get why we feel the way we feel, we become confused and this leads to hurt when we continue on blindly. “Hurt people, hurt people” says Ustadh Usama and I couldn’t agree more. When we hurt, we hurt others without even realizing it because of the pain of our experience. Sometimes we don’t even realize it until the other party gets wounded too deep that they just walk away. Only then do we realize the harshness of our actions but well, by then, it’s too late.
Now, for the part we’ve all waited patiently for, the love between a man a woman.
As Muslims, we are told to look for 4 things in a spouse. Wealth, beauty, lineage and religion with religion being the most important. As Rasulullah (S) says “If a person proposes to your daughters and their religion pleases you, then marry your daughters to them. If you do not, then corruption will spread throughout the land”. Looks are important too but it differs on the level of significance for each individual. I mean someone who looks handsome in the eyes of one woman might look average to the next woman.
Ustadh Usama stresses that it is important that we be fulfilled by the person we want to marry and to seek out a pleasing physical form. But if we wait for the perfect person, he/she will never appear because, well, to put it simply, that’s just not being realistic. See, true love is not just the physical attraction, there has to also be a spiritual connection with each other.
When two individuals get married, it does not just involve two people. It is the marriage of two families together. So cultural sensitivity has to also be taken into account. After all Allah azza wa jal says in the Qur’an: “We made you nations and tribes to know one another” (Al- Hujurat: 13). So therefore it is no issue to marry outside of your culture as long as you are mindful of the changes that it brings.
Sometimes two families might not approve of the love but insyaAllah with du’a and efforts to reconcile both parties together, they will open up and be accepting. Having a few grandchildren won’t hurt either as both sides will want to get involved with the children. Just sayin’.
But, will love last?
Ustadh Usama explains that infatuation and obsession will fade but love will deepen as long as it is nurtured properly. Sometimes we think that life is supposed to be perfect and once the rainbows and butterflies fade away into the horizon, we just give up and say that it was a mistake. That is a love purely based on emotion! A better option is to a love that combines both reason and emotion. Love is supposed to be nurtured. It is supposed to be fulfilling of the needs of each other and full of mercy. If you have love and mercy in a marriage, insyaAllah, your marriage will be successful.
However, for those of us who have yet to find our other halves?
“Be mindful of Allah, leading up to love”, says Ustadh Usama. Whatever we do to find our future spouses, be aware that it is within the sacred laws of Islam. And if we still find it taking a long time just remember, that good things come to those with patience. Couples who wait to live together are stronger than those who move in even before marriage.
At the end of his talk, Ustadh Usama says “Love has degrees. It is easy to claim love but another thing to prove it. Its easy to say “I love you” but you say the same thing to pizza. We are all beyond cheap fast food and the only way to do it is to have a love that is rooted in your faith and in Allah and Rasulullah (S).”
Question & Answer
After the talk, a question and answer session was held and here are some of the ones asked:
Q: I have a male schoolmate who is bisexual and he is interested to embrace Islam. How do I handle it?
A: “Welcome him into the religion and then slowly get him to avoid that aspect of his life. Islam does not shut its doors to people, so regardless of sexual orientation, welcome him in first and then address the other part.”
Q: Will Allah forgive gay people?
A: “Allah forgives who he wants. He can guide people so do not give up on Allah’s mercy.”
Q: How do we love someone we’re supposed to love?
A: “Perhaps we are already too comfortable in our comfort zones. Find the limit and challenge it. To nurture the love, give gifts and pray for one another.”
Q: How do we soften our hearts?
A: “Be mindful of Allah. Surround ourselves with people whose hearts are soft.”
Among all the questions received, one seemed to be the most popular.
Q: How do we know he/she’s the one?
A: “Three things. Istikharah, Istisharah and the outcome. Pray Istikharah asking Allah for His blessings and guidance, Istisharah is to seek counsel from the ones you love and trust, like the elders, and wait for the outcome. You only know he/she is the one when you marry him/her.”
The talk was very light, fun and refreshing. Ustadh Usama Canon was down to earth, provided simple explanations that were easily understood and man was he funny. He spoke in a very relaxed manner, joking with the audience and giving examples that were easily related to. He reminded us not only of the love for our future/present spouses but also of the love we already have in our lives. The ones from the Almighty, His Messenger (S) and our families. One thing that I took away with me from this talk is that it is not the hand holding, long talks, gifts and physical attributes that makes love beautiful.
It’s the faith that we build it on.
You can watch the full lecture here:
Radhiatul Mardhiyah Mustaffa
Mardhiyah graduated from Temasek Polytechnic with a Diploma in Applied Food Science and Nutrition. She’s an aspiring writer who blogs her mind at http://marmardee.wordpress.com/