Oct 15, 2011 - islam op-eds    15 Comments

Why do Muslims flip out?

Why do Muslims flip out?

Recently a Muslim comic book called ‘the 99′ came out. Some Muslims flipped out just on the concept alone, because they thought the comic book was trying to say God was “in” people or that people were God. But the comic book’s creator explains that it’s about exemplifying God through His attributes. ie God is the Most Generous so we strive to be generous, God is the Most Just, so we strive to be just and so on.

In the UK they just came out with a “new Muslim marriage contract” which emphasizes some rights of women (already given in Islam) and also (so I hear) allows women to marry themselves without a guardian and with witnesses that are not male. When many Muslim guys read this they flipped out. Even though women marrying themselves is a well known opinion in the Hanafi school of thought. There is also an opinion that if a marriage is public and known there is no need for witnesses.

When the Danish cartoons came out Muslims flipped out. Yes the cartoons were wrong and definitely not covered under free speech. (Imagine creating pornographic pictures of the most respected person you know like say…the Pope and then publishing it in newspapers across the Muslim world. Will anyone call that free speech?) Anyhow we saw what happened: Mass demonstrations, violence, ppl being killed across the Muslim world and death threats against the cartoonists.

Closer to home, the other day there was a woman in the Mosque whose baby was crying (screaming crying choking alternately) while we were praying. I’ve actually never seen a mother totally ignore her baby like that through the entire prayer. After the prayer I and some other women asked her why she didn’t pick up her baby, and she flipped out and became upset and said that it wasn’t allowed and that she needed “evidence”. She needed “evidence” to do something before her baby choked??? Turns out there is a very clear tradition that the Prophet (s) himself picked up his granddaughter during the prayer (and she was not even crying)!

So why do Muslims flip out? Why are we so emotional? Why do we think only in black and white? Why can’t we think about these things calmly and try to find the Islamic opinions on these things? Why don’t we contact wise and knowledgable scholars and try to think about the consequences of our actions?

Emotionalism and love for Islam are good things, but sometimes it just feels so hollow. Someone burns down a McDonalds in Karachi because they are mad about the Danish cartoons? Really? Does that make any sense? like at all?? It’s almost the same mentality of terrorists – so called “love” but completely wrong way of following through. And worse still a way that harms Muslims and Islam even more! The “love” becomes completely meaningless.

If we truly had love of Islam we would do the work. It takes the long haul to educate people and change how they think of Islam. It takes long nights organizing, planning, writing things, holding events, working with interfaith groups, speakers, communities, teaching. It takes talking about Islam to our friends, co-workers, neighbors. It takes living up to its values of honesty, justice, truth, keeping promises and living decent lives. It takes time to think about and weigh the consequences of things, to create a vision and follow through. It takes a lifelong dedication to Islam and Dawah; not just 5 seconds of expressing our anger.

The same thing happens in our Mosques all the time. Everyone likes to flip out and complain, criticize or worse yet be very vocal about their own Islamic opinion on how something is wrong. But where are they during classes and Islamic learning? Where are they when it comes to volunteering and serving the community? Why don’t they join the committees and try to make positive changes? Walk the walk and then talk?

I know two sisters who (solely) organized a huge Eid party for the kids and one of the fathers came 4 hours late and because there were only a few things of food left, he flipped out. I’m sorry? These poor girls spent weeks organizing, recruiting, selling tickets, booking ppl, coordinating bouncy-bounces with pony rides and food and volunteers for his kids and he gets to flip out?

It just seems like a pattern or mentality we have. We flip out. And that isn’t even the worse part. The worse part is that’s ALL we do! Nothing else comes after it. Meaningless and Hollow.

There is no pause or conversation or consideration.

I remember a woman flipping out and telling a new obviously non-Muslim girl who came to Friday prayer once that her prayer didn’t count and she shouldn’t come here like that. Ummm? Turns out she came because her “Muslim boyfriend” wanted her to learn about Islam because she was having his baby! Yeah we never saw her again.

What does flipping out do? Does it bring someone closer to God? No. Does it benefit the person or others? No. Does it change our condition as a people? No. So why do ppl do it? Most likely the only reason I can think of is because it makes them feel better!

Makes one feel better, but again so false and meaningless. The only way emotion and feeling can be good is if it motivates one for doing action that benefits. Feeling passion and anger on behalf of our religion and Prophet (s) or in the face of injustice is good. But we need to step back and realize that the life of our noble Prophet is a study in how to deal with and channel these things. It was never easy for him or a 5 minute deal. The message of Islam took over 23 years, hardship after hardship. And still he persevered in his patience and wise actions.

Where at any point in the life of Rasulullah (s) did he ever once become emotional, do something spontaneous and leave it at that. Never. He always took the time to seek answers from revelation or consult those around him. He always took the wisest actions in dealing with people and situations. He always thought of the consequences. When people encouraged him to kill the hypocrities -known enemies of Islam who did such evil things, he said no, he did not want ppl to think he was killing his companions. When a bedouin came and urinated in the Mosque, he told ppl to leave him alone and let him finish! He even let someone come and pull his beard harshly and talk to him disrespectfully. He did not once let feelings at the time influence his wisdom and hope of teaching someone. There are countless examples of his forethought and vision, not because he was told those things by a higher power, but because he kept his real ideals and values in front of him at all times.

If only we could go back to that kind of pattern instead, where we are not reactionary or emotion-full, but thoughtful and full of  wise plans and vision. Our passion would still burn in our hearts, but only in order to light our way forward.


  • You are so right. People need to calm the hell down and think rationally. People do things all the time that only further our bad rep.

  • Maybe a better title for the article would be: “The FOB Phenomena”. :-)

    I’m going to comment on some of the examples cited.
    1). woman not picking child up during praying: She probably didn’t know if her prayer would be valid or if she could repeat it if she stopped in the middle. Sounds like she may have been a new Muslim and unaware.

    2). Father with kids coming to party 4 hours late and hardly any food. You snooze, you lose! How insulting, he came to the party 4 hours late and should be the one apologizing. This is just plain selfish behavior.

    3). New non-muslim girl coming to masjid wearing inappropriate clothes. There is a way to correct people, and not everyone knows how to do it. Is there a dress code sign at the masjid with a box of stuff to wear?

    4). Complainers- The complainers should be called on it and step up to the plate.

    Seriously, don’t you think all of these are FOB stories?!?!?!?

    • Lols Arshad, i can’t blame only fobs, there’s ppl who grew up here who act like that too! maybe it’s inherited from them tho? but i can’t deny wanting to do the same sometimes before i pause and think about things! it’s just a mentality or something.

      The woman was not a new Muslim as far as I know, it was just the situation was an emergency and she was so rigid about it? Reminds me of the Saudi girls school where there was a fire and all the girls ran out without their hijab and the religious police sent them back in because they weren’t wearing hijab and many died!! There’s just no common sense there! Agreed the father was selfish but nothing new there among ppl! There’s no sign and yes ppl need to learn the delicacy of giving naseeha.

      thanx for ur comment Mona :)

  • Asalaamu Alaikum :)

    I am sure there are many valid answers to this question but I will suggest a couple to get things going.

    The first is knowledge, or the lack thereof, of people in given situations which can often make matters worse rather than better.

    Knowing when to speak / when not to speak is almost as important as *what* you speak but, yet, the majority of us tend to focus on the latter rather than the former.

    If we are ever unsure, we should really approach those who do know rather than attempting a ‘quick fix’ ourselves.

    Whereas knowledge relates to the outward, the second reason is of an inward nature and down to our ego and the impurities within our own hearts. Traits such as anger, pride, arrogance, greed and covetousness can raise their ugly heads when a difficult situation arises resulting in a certain amount of ‘flipping out’ depending on the depth of the spiritual ailment.

    The more we eradicate these spiritual diseases, the greater the inward sight (insight) we have to recognise why these difficult events occur in the first place. As with the story of Musa (as) and Khidr (as) in the Qur’an; the greater the insight we have, the more patience we have and the less likely we are to ‘flip out’.

    In essence, therefore there is nothing new here beyond that we all need to learn more about our religion and set about purifying our bad characteristics.

    Sounds easy when you say it like that, but much harder when we actually go about doing it!!

    And Allah knows best!


    • walaikum salaam wrt,

      brkhalid so true, lack of knowledge is a big thing. when we know our islam only culturally, like what is passed on from our parents, we can get upset at seeing other muslims doing it a different way thinking that is ‘wrong’. naseeha is also a huge area we all need to learn more about properly so we can deal with others in a gentle and proper way. this is always something i struggle with all the time in being disturbed at seeing things but not knowing whether to say something or how far to go, with meeting all kinds of ppl at all different levels all the time.

      as for purifying ourselves, it looks like those sh Mokhtar cds are coming in handy…exactly what he would say!! jazakallah khair for giving us a proper framing for this. :)


  • Assalama ‘alaykum,

    Awesome and much needed post. My friend and I were just having this same talk the other day. The Ummah is really in need of using hikmah and showing more mercy to its fellow muslims/non-muslims. People are so stuck with what they consider to be ‘right/wrong’ that they forget the bigger picture and overlook such things as mercy and kindness to their fellow human being. They are so stuck with ‘harm/halal’ ‘I think this, and you think that’ that the brother/sisterhood of Islam isn’t there. Subhana’Allah if people looked on the Prophet sal allahu sallam dealt with things they would understand that there thinking and ways of acting is what the prophet sal allahu sallam warned us against. I’m reminded of a saying…”Verily we are more in need of a little bit of good manners then we are a lot of knowledge” Knowledge is great, but I feel like people learn a few things in Islam or hold a certain view and they make go around passing judgement on people and making them all uncomfortable. Most people who do this feel like they have all the knowledge in the world and they are more knowledgeable then anyone and are free to pass judgement…when do we get to that level, the scholars of the past spent decades studying and they still considered themselves not fully learned, and look at us today, a person learns a ruling and they run with it without a backward thought of “could there be a difference of opinion on this” nope, its my way or the high for some. May Allah make us of those who ponder and think over our actions towards us, cause us to think, and use our hearts in dealing with people.

    ps. You have a wonderful blog, masha’Allah! May Allah increase you in goodness dear sister!

    • walaikum salam rahma,

      you totally echo my thoughts!! and jazaki Allah khair!

  • As Salaamu alaikum Jannah and everyone,

    I think the example of the mother (and that horrible fire story) is probably indicative knowing certain rules in Islam (i.e. no extra movements in the prayer, wear proper hijab in public, etc), without understanding the objectives of the Shariah and how these objectives impact the rules in specific situations.

    Without that understanding, a person feels that they are practicing the Deen as is prescribed (and, in their minds, making great sacrifices to do so). Add that to the belief that the Deen is supra-ratoinal only, then when someone else comes in to “correct” them, they will guard their opinion strongly, because they feel they have evidence while the other person is only using fallible logic, or just making excuses.

    The example that comes to mind is when a man at the time of the Prophet (pbuh) had an illness that made purifying with water a health risk for him. He sought advice from the people around him who said he still had to use water for the prayer. (The people then knew about the purification requirements for salah. So for them the answer, given the “evidence”, is very clear – you make the sacrifice. What they did not understand was that one of the objectives of Shariah is preservation of life). When the man died the Prophet was very angry that they essentially caused this man to die because of their ignorance.

    The solution for this particular issue, I think, is not to argue about a particular situation, but to help people to understand the objectives of the Shariah – Sh Mokhtar did a great lecture series on that! – and that may shift their understanding about how the Shariah is applied.

    (My first blog reply! Yea :) )

    • walaikum salaam wrt,

      yay great example tahirah! you actually sound like sh M there too… everyone having his CDs has really payed off huh :) yes very true… we learn the rituals and the rules but miss the big picture sometimes! and we don’t go to knowledgeable ppl sometimes when we should and make things stricter on ourselves than they need to be! (great first blog post, see i told u it wouldn’t hurt ;))

  • JazakAllah for bringing this forth. To contribute my quarter, I would suggest you look closely at the topic-”why do muslims flip out”. For the fact that a few of the muslims flip out that those not represent the totality hence making your heading generalising.
    As human we flip out on different issues so not strim line to muslim alone. But as a muslim controlling it should be deemed very important. Flipping out can be associated by anger and sometimes out of inadequate knowledge. The Quran and Hadith of the Rasul (PBUH) teaches us about seeking for knowledge and Sabur – Patience.
    I pray Allah- Azawajal ease our affairs and give us the best of sabur. Ameen

  • wa iyyak, thanks for your comments brother sadeeq, ameen on ur duas.

  • Great post Sis J! In short, many seem to forget the mercy, compassion that Islam contains. Imam Webb posted in recent times about us having an ethical crisis and the points you brought up here reminded of his thoughts on that.

    I hope we can as a community correct this problem, stop flipping out and regain the principles that innately make Islam so beautiful, so that we can show our fellow Muslims, as well as non-Muslims the true face of Islam.

    Jazak’Allahu Khairan as always!

    • salam wcoast,

      yup i read those!! he’s always awesome and happy to hear he’s moving to the east coast! at least closer to us a bit! wa iyyaks

  • Salaams again – I’m NOT happy to hear that he is moving to the East Coast – I never got to see him being away and was hoping that I would now that I’m back in the States for good. Hmph! :-)

    • ws,

      lol I doubt it would make a difference for you. he’ll still be traveling and going to many places to speak. and hey this gives you a chance to come to the east coast!! u could be ECoastbaba for the day1!