Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin

Bismillah …
Assalamu Alaykum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh, We pray this finds everyone well, wrapped in Allah’s mercy and steadfastly traveling the path to eternal felicity, in sha Allah.
Shaykh Abdullah Ibn Muhammad Najib Sirajuddin al-Hussaini Alayhi Rahma was a descendant of Imam Hussain bin Ali Abi Tlib on his father’s side, Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin was born into an honorable and pious family, on the verge of the collapse of the Ottoman Sultanate in 1923 CE. During his childhood, Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin was surrounded by the love and care of his father, Shaykh Muhammad Najib Sirajuddin , who was also a leading scholar of Tafsir, Fiqh, Hadith and Tasawwuf. Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin was known for expressing much respect, benevolence and love towards his family. It is also said that he was very enthusiastic about helping his mother in her domestic tasks. He loved his father dearly as well, and after his father passed away he always began his writings with homage.
Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin Alayhi Rahma was one of the Greatest ‘Ulama and Awliya of the past century and an extraordinary scholar and saint who dedicated his entire life to the service of Islam and It is without doubt that Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin Alayhi Rahma had an important role in defining the scholarship of Aleppo (Halab) during the past century. The Noble Shaykh was known to see the Prophet Peace Be upon Him whilst asleep and awake and one time Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin Alayhi Rahma saw the Prophet, upon him blessings and peace, ordered our liege lord ‘Ali ibn Abi Talib to dress the Shaykh with his cloak, and another time the Prophet himself dressed him with his noble hand, and another time the Prophet told him: “You are our dedicated servant,” after which he would say: “The Prophet is pleased to have me as his servant.” and some of The ‘Ulama have even said when the Shaykh would begin writing his books on The Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) it was as if the Prophet (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) was standing in front of the Shaykh and the Shaykh was describing the Exalted Attributes and physical beauty of Rasul Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam). Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin was truly in love with The Best of Creation Rasul Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) and the Qutb of Damascus al-Arif Billah Shaykh Abdul Rahman Shaghouri Alayhi Rahma called him “the Pole of Prophetic love of our times.”.
There was a brother in Saudi who told Shaykh Rabbani that a friend of his was wondering for a while about how to learn more about the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). One night in his dream he saw the Prophet, and so he asked the blessed Prophet, “Ya Rasul Allah, how do I learn more about you?’
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said to him, “If you want to know about me, then read the book Sayyidna Muhammad Rasul Allah by Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin Alayhi Rahma.”
This book was banned in Saudi, so he asked the beloved Prophet where to find it as he has never heard of it. In the dream he heard the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) say, “Go to Aleppo (Halab), and you will find it.”
This man never knew who Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin Alayhi Rahma was, or what this book was. He went to Halab and he found out about the book; he read it and it transformed his life.
Similarly, one of The Shuyukh, a Halabi himself Shaykh Muhammad Qaylish, mentioned, ‘’I used to be a common person. I was 15 or 16 and I read this book and it transformed me. I used to take this book after ‘Isha, lock my door and sit under the light, and I used to read and cry in yearning for the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). I used to cry in love for the Prophet. I used to cry out of my sense of distance from the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him). I would cry at the beauty of this man (peace and blessing be upon him). I would cry at how far I was from his radiant example. Those tears melted how I was, and it transformed me.”
Shaykh Muhammad Qaylish, when Shaykh Rabbani met him, was in his early twenties, and he was truly a remarkable man. It is as Imam Busiri said, ‘by the mention of Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), do hearts come to life and sins and errors are forgiven and cast off. And I long that I live through him, content and successful, and that I meet him and have no burdens upon me. A Prophet, perfected in his qualities, until he was called the Beloved.”
Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin Alayhi Rahma’s Magnum Opus ‘’Our Master Muhammad Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam’’ is considered to be his best work, and this was the book that was recited to Rasul Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam in their dream and then placed onto the Kaba, The Prophet Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam said ‘’put this book that Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin Alayhi Rahma wrote on the Kaba.’’ And many Brothers and Sisters have had many Dreams of Rasul Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam after reading this blessed book and other books authored by Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin Alayhi Rahma and the reports of many Ulama and Awliya who saw the Prophet with Shaykh Abdullah Alayhi Rahma on his side in their dreams are countless and many people have had dreams of Rasul Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam with Shaykh Najib Sirajuddin Alayhi Rahma sitting on one side of Rasul Allah and Shaykh Abdullah Sirajuddin Alayhi Rahma sitting on the other side of Rasul Allah Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam.
In a time when Islam was weakened severely in many ways, one man inspired the people to return to the righteous path as no other. And even though Aleppo is the city of scholars, some said that no scholar was left in Halab (Aleppo) any longer after his passing away.

Sunday, 17 June 2012

Terry Moore: Why is 'x' the unknown?

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Monday, 7 May 2012


It is with deep humility and honor that I sit to transmit a snapshot of the
life of my teacher whom I spent 8 years of my life studying under; who
would refine me, educate me, advise me, and transmit ijaaza to me thus
becoming the father of my spiritual life, Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er.

Shaykh Muhammad Emin Er was born in 1909 in the village of Kuluyan
(recently renamed Kalash) in the province of Diyarbakir, in the southeast
of what is now Turkey but was at that time the Ottoman Empire. Shaykh
Emin’s family belonged to a Kurdish tribe called Miran. His father, Haji
Zulfikar, was a wealthy farmer who took a great interest in science and
education, and happened to be a person of some wealth. There being no
school in the village of Kuluyan, Haji Zulfikar employed a private tutor to
educate his two young sons, Muhammad and his elder brother Ali. Then just
as his sons were learning to read and write in the Arabic script (at the
time still the official script of the Ottoman language and state), Haji
Zulfikar passed away. The future Shaykh had already lost his mother Hawa
while he was still a young child of the age of three or four and thus (like
the Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace) he was left
an orphan. To this day, Shaykh Emin travels to the graves of his mother and
father in the village of Kuluyan at least once per year. **

At this time, Muhammad Emin was 10 years old, and the Ottoman state still
stood as one of the largest in the world extending from North Africa to
Yemen, and from the Balkans to the frontiers of Persia. It faced
coordinated attacks on many fronts, east and west. Because of the war, the
economic situation became ruinous, as the Ottoman state was increasingly
forced to deplete its already overextended financial resources in the
defense of its territorial integrity. The resulting economic hardship was
severe throughout the country and the young Muhammad Emin passed through
the remainder of his early life in much straightened circumstances, first
under the care of his stepmother and later under the care of his elder
brother. He contributed to the support of his family by shepherding goats
in the high mountains surrounding the village. All the while, his desire to
learn to read and write, ignited both by his late father and his former
tutor, persisted and grew. Having neither paper nor pen, he used stones to
scratch words and sentences on flat rocks, while tending his goats on the
mountainsides. This striving to improve his reading and writing skills
despite great deprivation gave rise to the legend in his village that
Khidr, the companion of Moses and saintly figure who comes to the aid of
the destitute, provided the young Muhammad Emin lessons in his sleep. **

So great was his passion for knowledge that he would cry bitter tears wile
imploring Allah to help him learn to read the Quran. He missed no
opportunity to seek out people whom he thought might help him. He would
journey on foot for several days at a time simply to visit knowledgeable
people in the vicinity of his village. He would eventually learn how to
write letters and read books in the Ottoman script. As for the Arabic
language and knowledge of the traditional Islamic disciplines, there was at
the time no one in the region able to introduce him to this type of
scholarship. Thus he sought what he could from books. However, as the new
Turkish Republic was established, the traditional Ottoman script was
abolished and its use outlawed altogether with all Quranic and Islamic
education. Families began to fear the consequences of teaching the Quran to
their children even in the privacy of their own homes. As Shaykh Emin
recalls: “…at that time, everything was forbidden in Turkey. Even to read
and to learn the Quran was forbidden in those days. It was not easy, like
it is today. We had very hard times, so I resolved at my first opportunity
to seek religious learning in Syria.” This was not to be. Reaching the
border city of Gaziantep, Muhammad Emin was not permitted to cross into
Syria. He resolved instead to travel first to Adana, and soon thereafter to
Istanbul. Knowing no one in Istanbul, he soon ran out of money, and thus
went on foot to Bursa where he worked as a servant for a wealthy family in
order to make a living. 

At the age of 25, Muhammad Emin made his first of many trips of pilgrimage
(hajj) to the Sacred House, in Mecca. Upon his return, his desire to seek
scared knowledge undiminished, he undertook extensive travels in eastern
Anatolia to seek out scholars and ask them to teach him. He later resolved
once again to cross into Syria in search of scholars who could instruct
him. By now, World War II had begun, and although he succeeded in crossing
the border, he was detained by security forces who suspected him of being a
spy. He spent some time in prison in Syria before being cleared. Set free
by authorities, he returned to Turkey, particularly to Diyarbakir. There he
was able to study the remaining subjects in the foundational curriculum of
the traditional Islamic sciences, many of them concerned with Arabic
linguistics. These included propositional logic (mantiq), historical
semantics (ilm al-wada’), figurative usage (isti’ara), etiquette of debate
and argumentation (munazara), literary meaning (ma’ani), rhetoric (bayan),
refined usage (badi), fundamentals of Islamic creed (usul al-din),
methodology of Islamic jurisprudence (usul al-fiqh), Islamic jurisprudence
of both the Hanafi and Shafi Legal Schools (fiqh), and Islamic spiritual
psychology (tasawwuf). The teacher with whom he spent the greatest part of
this time was Molla Rasul, a classmate of the famous Bediuzzaman Said
Nursi. Shaykh Emin would later meet Said Nursi and study briefly with him
as well. 

In 1951, Shaykh Emin completed the last of his studies, completing the
study of discursive theology (kalam) and received his full license (ijaaza)
in all of the rational and traditional Islamic disciplines which have
constituted the curriculum of the greatest of scholars of the Islamic
tradition since the time of Imam Ghazali in the 11th and 12th centuries. In
addition, Shaykh Emin mastered and received ijaaza in the sciences of
exegesis of Quran (tafsir), religious laws of inheritance (fara’id) and the
sciences of the prophetic traditions (usul al-hadith).

Shaykh Emin has devoted his entire life to emulating the example of his
teachers and teaching the inner and outer discipline to student, issuing
ijaaza to those who successfully complete their study under him – efforts
he continues to this day. Central to this is his position within a chain
(isnad) that is within an unbroken lineage of transmission of knowledge
extending back to Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him
peace. And, according to the custom of Muslim scholars of this mold, he in
turn passes on the knowledge transmitted to him by his mentors, bequeathing
a place in this unbroken chain to students in the 21st century. Even if
seldom encountered, it is nevertheless true that such an isnad persists to
the present day. Shaykh Emin has six children and 40 grandchildren. A
seventh child of his passed away as a toddler. Having retired from many
years of service as imam in several cities, he continues to live a life of
rigorous worship. He has little free time, but uses it when it comes to
read and contemplate the Quran and consult the commentaries of the great
scholars on questions that occur to him in his reading. Shaykh Ein sleeps
very little –by his own estimate, perhaps three hours during the night, and
an hour or two before noon if possible. He always sleeps in a state of
ablution, in emulation of the sunna of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and
grant him peace, and mindful that, should he die in his sleep, he would
want to face his Lord in a state of purity. He rises every day at around
3a.m. for the night prayer called tahajjud, remaining awake in a state of
contemplation until the time of the prescribed dawn prayer (fajr). He then
remains in the place of prayer and reads Quran until the sun has risen, and
then remains for a bit longer, finally offering a voluntary cycle of prayer.

He passes the rest of the morning in scholarly writing, sometimes receiving
visitors. Shaykh Emin writes only in Arabic, always facing the direction of
prayer (qibla) in a state of ritual purity (wudu). When his work is
interrupted for some reason, he performs ablution and two cycles of prayer
before resuming his writing, a demonstration of profound reverence, typical
of the foremost representatives of the Islamic scholarly tradition but
seldom encountered in the present day, before the grave responsibility of
transmitting knowledge.* *

His modest home in Ankara, Turkey witnesses a steady stream of guests, and
he never refuses any request of learning, regardless of the level of the
student. Shaykh Emin and his guests sit on carpeted floor of a room lined
with shelves of books from floor to ceiling. The students and visitors are
always served tea and sweets, and even a complete meal at the appropriate
times. He teaches his students on an individual basis, through the pace and
method of instruction best suited to each person’s aptitudes and
constraints. Although it is his habit to fast whenever possible, he goes
out of his way to accommodate those guests who are not fasting in order to
set them more fully at ease in his company. This observance, far from being
merely the exemplary of the manners of his generation, is the living sunna
of all the Prophets. The importance of this for people in his company is
tremendous, and not to be overlooked. It is possible to learn a great deal
about exemplary conduct from books, and even to some extent to imitate what
one reads. But not everything we need to know on this matter is written,
nor could it be. It is by keeping the company of those who know it that we
acquire the essentials of exemplary conduct in both its written and
unwritten aspects. Shaykh Emin’s conduct exemplifies what was transmitted
to him from his teachers, and they from theirs, and so forth along lineages
extending to the teaching and example of Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless
him and grant him peace. All of this gives us a greater sense of what could
be lost to us forever if the last chains of transmission of this tradition
were ever to be broken.

Friday, 27 April 2012

From Tarim to Granada By the Radical Middle Way

Secrets of the Prophetic Chamber: Interview with Shaykh Muhammad Ali Madani

Bism Allah ar-Rahman ar-Raheem, revealer of the Qur’an Kareem that says to His noble Messenger: And We have not sent you except as a Mercy to the aalameen: all the worlds.
And as-Salaatu was-Salaamu upon the most noble of the mursaleen (Messengers), our master Muhammad, and upon his family and descendants until the Yawm al-Deen.
I stood this Sunday morning in London’s V&A Museum before three magnificent pieces of silk in the Islamic Arts section. The most wonderful in design and color was a red band from the Honored Kaaba, dating from the 1800s, because for hundreds of years the Kaaba’s covering was green- not black- in color, with a red band instead of the gold of today.
The two others were green pieces of the silk that once covered the tomb of the Prophet Muhammad (salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam). The first from 1517-1600, and the second from 1600 to 1700. For a hundred years each, these pieces of silk were exposed to all the blessings and mercies that were sent down from Allah upon the Noble Messenger, and to the majestic lights that rose up, emanating from the Light of the Worlds himself, Salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.
Ever since Abbasid times, the coverings of the Honored Kaaba and the Noble Chamber were made in Egypt; at one point in history the latter was being changed every five years. But after the reign of the Ottomans in the lands, the coverings of the inside of the Kaaba and of the Prophetic Chamber were made in Turkey, while the outer covering of the Kaaba remained the work of Egypt.
But the founder of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abd al-Aziz bin Abd al-Rahman Aal Saud, ordered that a factory be created in Mecca to manufacture these coverings from his day forward. Journalist Omar al-Midwahy, whose writings focus on the two Holy Sanctuaries and other important Islamic sights, was able to interview in Mecca two of the men who worked on the last covering of the Prophetic Chamber and its installation.
On the occasion of this servant’s viewing of the blessed coverings, and hoping for forgiveness and acceptance from His Lord, he will attempt to translate this interview that reveals some of the secrets of the majestic chamber of Allah’s Beloved, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam, hoping to gain the favor of Allah and to one day be counted among the servants (khuddam) of His Messenger, salla Allahu alayhi wa sallam.
Omar al-Midwahy says to
The Conversations of Tears and Reverence
I still remember the conversations with the two old men in Mecca, while looking at their weaving. I was in Mecca, so I headed toward the factory of the covering of the Kaaba, and there I learned that the factory has another honor, for it produces also a covering for the Prophetic Chamber.
I met at that time- several years ago- with men who partook in the production and installation, and I didn’t want to waste that opportunity as their youngest was in his sixties and I feared that they would leave this world before I could document this work.
I recorded with them conversations that were mixed with tears and reverence; sometimes words would betray them, and at others, their emotions would choke them, as they spoke of their unique experience. Their limbs shook from just the memory- as if it happened yesterday- and not a quarter of a century ago.
Shaykh Muhammad Ali Madani, head of the automated weaving division of the factory at that time, was generous with me. I learned from him that he was one of those who took part in weaving and installing the covering of the Prophetic Chamber. I said to him, tell me about the covering and the Prophetic Chamber- describe them to me.
His sight wandered far, as if he was bringing those treasured memories before him. Then he answered: On that day, I felt a state of complete amazement take over me. It is a grand spot- of utmost grandeur. I do not know its exact circumference, but it seemed to me that the Prophetic Chamber was 48 meters in circumference.
The awe of the place was so overbearing that nothing attracted my attention. I was so dazzled that I only saw the lamps hanging from the chamber ceiling, which were old gifts that would be given to the Mosque of the Prophet in ancient times. I was told that there were some Prophetic relics that were kept in another place- I don’t know where- but I do know that some historical items were kept in the chamber of sayyidaFatima al-Zahraa- the same place that she lived in.
He added: the chamber covering is a weave made of pure silk, green in color, padded with a strong cotton cloth, and it is crowned by a belt similar to that of the covering of the Honored Kaaba, except that it is red in color. A quarter of its space is taken up by an embroidery of noble Quranic verses from Surat al-Fath, made of lines of cotton and wires of gold and silver…
The covering of the Prophetic Chamber is not changed every year like the covering of the Honored Kaaba, because it is kept inside the chamber and far from the hands of the people and of the elements, and so it is only changed when needed.
Then I met shaykh Ahmad Sahirty, head of the embroidery division of the factory. It was apparent to me – back then- how old he was, and how weak his vision. He took the initiative, saying: How can I speak to you about my feelings at the moment I entered the Prophetic Chamber… I can’t.. That is a speech above my abilities of speech, and I never thought that I would one day be asked about this experience. And I guarantee you that I will not be able to go through it again.
When the Doors Were Opened
He drew nearer to me and added: Look at the lenses of my spectacles- and he pointed at their thickness- and look at my white hair and the weight of the years that I carry. My age I do not count, but I’ve heard them say that I was born in the year 1333 A.H. (1917 C.E.). And in all those years, I did not know a single hobby other than the love of beautiful scents and perfumes. I’ve spent such a long period of time in those years that I’ve lived, trying to satiate that voracious appetite that is still with me; I traveled much and learned much, but I can tell you this with confidence: that I have my own special blends that you will not find with anyone else, and that no one else could ever make.
And I tell you this because I discovered my inability and the meagerness of my knowledge on that blessed night, when the doors were opened to us, and we entered the Prophetic Chamber, and I inhaled perfumes and scents that I have never known before, and have never known since. I still do not know the secret of its composition: it was a scent above scents, an aroma above and beyond aromas- something else that us people of expertise, the people of the trade, have never experienced before.
When I asked him to describe to me the Prophetic Chamber, a slight chill struck him and coursed through his body. And he said in a faint voice: I believe that the chamber is 11 meters in height. Below the green dome is another dome on which is written: “The tomb of the Prophet, the tomb of Abu Bakr al-Siddeeq, and the tomb of Umar ibn al-Khattab”. And I saw also that there was another tomb that was empty, and next to the four tombs was the chamber of sayyida Fatima al-Zahraa, which is the house in which she lived.
From our awe we didn’t know how to remove the special pieces made for the dome- our fingers would shake and our breaths would race. We stayed 14 full nights working from after the Isha prayer until the first adhaan of the Fajr, in order to finish our task. We kept removing the pieces, untying the knots of the old covering, and cleaning all the dust and pigeon feathers that were stuck in that pure place. This scene goes back to the year 1971 C.E., and the covering that we changed was old: it was 75 years old according to the date that was weaved on it, and had never been changed since.
I was the first to enter, with the Sayyid Habib, one of the notables of al-Madina al-Munawwara, As’ad Sheera the director of religious endowments of Madina at the time, and Habib Moghrabi from the factory management, and Abd al-Karim Flomban, Nasir Qari, Abd al-Rahim Bukhari and others. We were 13 men, I don’t remember most of them, for they have left unto the Mercy of Allah.
We were accompanied by the chief of the Aghas who kept the keys to the Prophetic Chamber, and a number of the servants of the Chamber. Whispering was our speech, and that was if signaling was not sufficient. I was, and still am, suffering from weakness of vision and these spectacles have not left my eyes since those days, but in that chamber I was another person… I felt it, and the difference was clear to me.
Strange Happenings
The shaykh Sahirti swore, saying: I used to put the thread into the hole of the needle without my spectacles, despite the dim light in which we worked. How do you explain that? And how do you explain the fact that I didn’t feel the allergy that I suffered – and still suffer- from? Because I cough severely from the slightest bit of dust. But that day, I was not affected by the dust of the chamber, or the sand flying into the air. As if sand was no longer sand, and as if the dust became a medicine for my ailment. I used to feel all during those nights that I was a young man, and that youthfulness had been given back to me.
Another strange thing happened to me whose secret I haven’t understood until today. We had to take out the old covering, and it was carried by whoever carried it. The embroidered band, 36 meters long, remained. I said to them wrap it and leave it. I went up to it, and despite my weakness, carried it over this shoulder. I went out of the Prophetic Chamber with it, without ever feeling its weight. But after that, they came with five young men to carry it from where I had put it down and they couldn’t.
The shaykh began to weep silently and continued, while sighing: Someone asked who carried it and brought it here. I replied saying: me. They didn’t believe me. I said to them: Ask Abd al-Rahim Bukhari, the famous calligrapher of the covering.
And may Allah continuously whelm the Messenger and his family with Salawaats, Peace, Blessings, and Light, until the day in which his brother Messenger, Isa son of Mary, is buried in that fourth empty grave of the Prophetic Chamber, and yet even after that, and forever.

Being Religious Without Being a Jerk By Abdul Sattar Ahmed

There is nothing that has gentleness in it except that it is beautified, and there is nothing that has harshness in it except that it makes it ugly. So be calm, O Aisha!”
The above words were spoken by our beloved Messenger ﷺ to his wife, `A’isha radi allahu `anha (may Allah be please with her). A group of people had passed by the Prophet ﷺ and our Mother `A’isha, and said to him: “As-sa’amu `alaykum” (death be upon you).”  It was a wordplay on “As-salaamu `alaykum (peace be upon you)”, with the intent of ridiculing the Prophet ﷺ. `A’isha (ra) became so angry that she rose up and began yelling at them that death should be upon them, and the curse of God, and so on.
At this, the Prophet ﷺ turned towards her, and spoke these words, telling her to calm down, and not to lose her composure, even in the face of personal insult. This man, our Messenger ﷺ, was the pillar of tranquility in an ocean of chaos. Our mother Aisha (ra), did this out of a pure, sincere, and unyielding love for the Prophet (saw). Not out of any arrogance or pride. For her it was an anger rooted in love, a desire to protect her Prophet from those who hated him. May Allah be pleased with her.
Unfortunately however, many of us react with harshness when faced with religious differences, especially WITHIN our own ummah – not out of love, but out of arrogance. When we examine ourselves today, especially those among us who are students of religious knowledge or believers striving to better ourselves, a tragic observation can often be made: Religiosity often turns people into jerks.
Many have witnessed this story: A young man or woman who used to be friendly, well-mannered, who treated people well, sadly turns into someone who shows mild annoyance upon meeting people who follow a different religious opinion. He shows anger when presented with arguments against his or her own point of view. Finally, he or she begins to pronounce judgment against others—pronouncing minor differences in opinion as proofs of disbelief.
When told to calm down, to stop being judgmental—the response comes in one of many flavors:
  • “Brother, I am enjoining the good and forbidding the evil!”
  • “We are defending the Sunnah!”
  • “When people are harsh against the Sunnah, we will be harsh in defending it!”
And so on.
Over what kinds of issues? Not the serious lack of counseling services in the community. Not the difficulty that our youth are having in protecting their faith from intellectual attack. Not the issues of domestic abuse, poverty, family breakups or homelessness afflicting non-Muslims and Muslims around us.
But the length of our pants and whether or not they are above our ankles, the lengths of our beards, etc. Perhaps one’s adherence or lack thereof to a group or organization. What we think about pseudo-philosophical concepts about the essence of God’s attributes.  Such meanness and harshness occurs not over what is physically affecting people, but over a disagreement between opinions in our minds. Over varying textual interpretations that result in different legal opinions or a creedal points unknown to the majority of the world’s Muslims.
Why does this happen to us when almost nothing is more important in our religion than the subjugation of our egos to the Power and Oneness of God?
The Remedy
“Islam takes us and throws us so we fall totally in love with The Creator. Yet, somehow some of us turn it into a way to look down upon the creation.”
This happens because somewhere along the line in striving to love God, the ego—the innermost part of our soul which continuously wishes to be glorified and exalted over others—made our religiosity a means of doing just that. The religion exists to crush the ego, and enslave it towards the worship of its Creator.
When we say AllahuAkbar (God is the Greatest), the true meaning of this, when one explores Arabic grammar, is “God is the Greatest Above All Things”—including our loves, our hates, our desires, our weaknesses, our dreams, our hopes, our very essences. Success in reaching our desires is only through His permission, and the power to overcome our weaknesses is only through His Mercy. This phrase is formulated to remind us of Allah’s greatness over ourselves and over every element of our lives. It acknowledges the overwhelming power that is Allah subhanahu wa ta`ala (exalted is He).
On the ego’s path to enslavement and the realization of recognizing Allah (swt) alone as the sole object of adoration and love, our ego sought a way out so it would not have to undergo such tribulation and destruction; so that it would not have to give up its position as the one that is praised and feels valued.
That ego essentially hijacks the religiosity of the individual and takes it on a detour. What is that detour? Rather than letting Islam be Islam and allowing the soul to get lost in the wonders of Allah’s power, the limitless nature of His love, the magnanimous breadth of His Mercy, the immeasurable depth of His knowledge, the care and affection that He showers upon His creation—the ego detours the soul into LOVING ITSELF.
When the soul begins to love itself, it becomes dissatisfied with not only God, but with God’s creation. It sees its own knowledge, opinion, and worldview as superior to all others. In order to maintain its false notion of being humble, it will even fake humility to those on the outside: “I’m nobody, I’m not knowledgeable”—while secretly harboring contempt for all those who follow different opinions or ideas about Islam. It is easy to recognize this tendency in ourselves. It happens when our religious discourse, our religious speech, and our religious vocabulary become less about loving God, adoring his Messenger ﷺ, bettering ourselves and more about creedal disagreements, legal fine points, and how one group is bad or another is good.
When religion becomes more about how one person does not practice the way that pleases us  (even if we are correct in expressing the opinion of orthodox Islam) than about how we can please God, the religion has essentially turned into a tool to make us feel better about ourselves.
This does not mean we should turn off legitimate criticism in religious discourse. Enjoining the good and forbidding evil means that we must take an active interest in our communities, and in striving to develop our communities and our religious practices in a way that is healthy, natural, and allows Muslims from all backgrounds to be included and non-Muslims to feel welcome.
Rather, it is time we examine our deeper motives and feelings when we criticize and put forth negativity: “Am I criticizing and putting forth negativity because my criticism and the way I am putting it forth will actively help to prevent harm and bring benefit? Or am I criticizing to ridicule, make myself feel better, and make others see me as superior?”
Answering this question correctly and being sincere is the difference between the religious jerk and a servant of God.