A Million Acts of Kindness

Beautiful lake and forest in Canada

Corner Brook, Canada

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

TV news will have you believe that that the world is nothing but crime, tragedy and disasters. Don’t believe it. For every evil there are a million kindnesses.

A single day on this planet witnesses so many acts of human kindness that they could not be counted. They don’t make the news because they are neither glamorous nor shocking. There are everyday kindnesses, like a mother feeding her child, a father working hard to put food on the table, a teacher who strives to help children learn, or one friend who sits down with another, makes her a cup of tea and says, “You seem a little down, tell me what’s going on.” These common mercies may not be newsworthy, but they are profound nonetheless.

One time my daughter, who is four years old now, saw a two-year old girl in her preschool looking a little confused at clean-up time. She took the girl’s hand and led her around, showing her how to do clean-up. She explained everything to the little girl very carefully, showing her how to choose a clean-up task from the chart, and how to use the broom and dustpan. Another time one of the kids was a little sick, so my daughter went out to the yard, collected a few leaves and blades of grass, put them on a plate, then went to the sick child and said, “I made you a salad to help you get better.”

Silly, I know, but these are pure and innocent acts of kindness.

Some people say that human  beings are born with the burden of original sin, and with a predisposition to wickedness. Don’t believe it. Compassion is engraved on the human heart from birth. Everyday acts of kindness are repeated a billion times a day, ten billion times a day, from Sweden to Swaziland.

Even animals have a degree of inherent kindness that goes beyond the instinctive compassion of a mother for her young. Check out this story of a dolphin that saved two stranded whales by leading them back to the open sea. This is an amazing example of an animal showing empathy and compassion for others that are not even of its own species. SubhanAllah!

Beyond kindness, there is heroism. There are people who travel to far-off countries to work in disaster relief, to help the locals learn how to farm sustainably or prevent the spread of disease. There are journalists and human rights workers who persist in their work in spite of extreme dangers (I am reminded of people like Dr. Eyad Sarraj of Palestine, Natalia Estemirova and Anna Politkovskaya). There are doctors and aid workers who go into frightening war zones to treat victims of brutality and starvation.

Once again, these acts of heroism are seen even among animals.  Take a look at this amazing series of photos, showing a mother squirrel confronting a large dog in order to save her baby.

Don’t give up on this world, this beautiful ball spinning in the ink of space. This planet of wonders and miracles.

Don’t give up on the human race. Though we can be abominable beyond belief, we also produce Prophets, martyrs and heroes. We have far yet to go, by Allah’s will, and no one knows what the future will bring.

Don’t give up on yourself. You were created on fitrah (the natural, pure way); you have a striving spirit and a good heart. You have unique gifts and talents that the world needs. Your presence here is not an accident. Your life has meaning and purpose, as much as the mountains, the sea and the stars.

Don’t give up on Allah. He wants only good for us. He gives us life, guides us, helps us, answers our prayers, and waits for our repentance. He is a Merciful and Compassionate God. Have faith in Him, as He has faith in you.

You Are Perfectly Created

Sun Rays by Roy Lichtenstein

Allah is the Master Createor and He made you perfect

By Wael Abdelgawad for IslamicSunrays.com

In many verses of the Quran the human being has been described by Allah as being created in the best form, or created perfectly:

“We have indeed created humankind in the best of molds.”
Quran 95:4 (Surat At-Tin, The Fig)

and:

“Then We made the sperm into a clot of congealed blood; then of that clot We made a (foetus) lump; then we made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then we developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best to create!”
(Quran 23:14) (Surat Al-Mu’minun, The Believers)

and:

“The work of Allah who has perfected everything (He created).
Qur’an 27:88 (An-Naml, The Ant)

and:

“He is the One Who has made perfectly everything He has created: He began the creation of human beings with clay, And made his progeny from a quintessence of the nature of a fluid despised: But He fashioned him in due proportion, and breathed into him something of His spirit…”
Quran 32:7-9 (As-Sajdah, the Prostration)

These ayaat do not speak only of the human being’s physical form. The perfection of man and woman includes the human spirit; the human will; the human emotional capacity, intellectual drive, innate curiosity, desire to excel, ability to love without bounds; and our yearning for Allah, even when we do not recognize it.

Allah is speaking of you.

Not some random historical human being. Not only Adam and Hawaa. Not only the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

You.

Discarding negative self-conceptions

So often we are critical of ourselves. We call ourselves stupid – I do this sometimes when I forget something, smacking my forehead and saying, “Ah, I’m an idiot!”

We find fault with our bodies, sometimes severely so. I certainly have had issues of insecurity surrounding my body. I think all of us do, unless we are Olympic athletes.

Sometimes, when we fail at something, we wonder what’s wrong with us, why can’t we do this or that as well as other people?

Have we ever considered that such negative self-conceptions contradict our faith?

Aren’t we Muslim? Don’t we believe in Allah, and in the Quran? Yes? Then we must believe that we were created perfectly. We were created by the Master Creator who does not make errors.

Allah made no mistakes when He made you.

Your spirit is perfect, your soul is perfect, your mind is perfect, your heart is perfect, and even your body is perfect.

Allah says that He breathed into us something of His spirit! Do we realize how immense that is, how profound, how awesome? Allah the Eternal, The First and The Last, The Majestic, The Omnipotent, has breathed a part of His spirit into Bani Adam, this little two-legged creature of clay, and made us perfect. Me, you, our children and friends, our neighbors and co-workers, and even drug addicts, thieves, torturers and tortured, abusers of every stripe, and everyone walking this earth, believers and disbelievers, were all created perfect in every way. It’s hard to wrap our minds around that. But we must accept it as an article of faith.

In case we have any doubt, let’s look at the ayah above from Surat At-Tin again, but this time with the preceding verses included:

“By the fig and the olive, and the Mount Sina, and this city of peace (Makkah), We have indeed created humankind in the best of molds.”

Allah is declaring an oath by some of the most powerful symbols in existence (an explanation of these symbols is a matter for another article) that humankind was created in the best of molds. When Allah swears in this way it is because He wants to you sit up and open your mind to what is being said; to accept it wholeheartedly and draw it into your chest; and not to have an atom of doubt.

Of course that doesn’t mean that everything you do is perfect. It refers to your capacities, your potential. You were created without flaw, with a pure soul imbued with fitra, a powerful mind, and a body whose magic is still not understood by modern science. You are perfectly capable of fulfilling every obligation that Allah has laid on you; of bearing any burden that is laid on your shoulders; and of achieving any noble dream that Allah has placed in your heart.

What does it mean for us?

So what does that mean for me and you to see ourselves as perfect? I am asking seriously and rhetorically. What does it mean when we can’t fall back on self-pity? What does it mean when we are no longer allowed to view ourselves as flawed?

What does it mean when we have to accept that we can achieve any “crazy dream” that may smolder in our hearts? What does it mean when we look at ourselves in the mirror and see perfect, beautiful faces, no matter the shape of our features? What does it mean when we realize that we have within ourselves the capacity to reach the same heights of imaan (faith) as the sahabah, or the same level of intellectual rigor as Imam Al-Bukhari or Sheikh ibn Taymiyyah, or the same purity and unwavering trust as Sayyidna Maryam? (may Allah be pleased with her).

Do we begin to see that they were simply human beings who acknowledged the perfection with which Allah created them? They strove their utmost to live up to that perfection, placing no boundaries or limitations upon themselves. They were not extraordinary people in their creation; they were only extraordinary because they accepted Allah’s words and thrust themselves utterly into the river of the Quran (or in Maryam’s case, immersed herself completely in tawakkul [trust in Allah], and taqwa [consciousness of Allah], allowing themselves to expand to fill the capacity of the flawless mold that Allah created them in, and refusing to allow themselves to be defined or demeaned by anyone else’s opinion. Nor did they allow themselves to be mentally or spiritually diminished or damaged by the harsh circumstances of life.

We have the same option. You, me, all of us.

You are perfect, whether you admit it or not. Go with it. Live up to it. It’s not a burden but a liberty. It is the freedom to be who Allah put you on this earth to be. It’s the freedom to dream and achieve without the chains of self-doubt or self-deprecation. It’s the freedom to accept yourself, love yourself, and allow yourself to love others fee-sabeel-illah, in Allah’s cause, and to live a full life of meaning and worth.

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