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.