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More On The Makkan Conference (1)

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“Do not envy one another; do not inflate prices one to another; do not hate one another; do not turn away from one another, and do not undercut one another; but be you, O servants of Allah, brothers. A Muslim is the brother of a Muslim; he neither oppresses him nor does he fail him, he neither lies to him nor does he hold him in contempt. Piety is right here – and he pointed to his breast three times. It is evil enough for a man to hold his brother Muslim in contempt. The whole of a Muslim for another Muslim is inviolable: his blood, his property, and his honour.”
It was reported by Muslim.

Travel broadens your horizons, it is said. One of the things I learned in Makkah in the Muslim World League (MWL) conference is the immaculate organisation of the event. Car hire and taxi companies within the King Abdulaziz International Airport were aware of the special airport shuttle vehicles designated for the conference attendees. Whoever, upon arrival in Jeddah airport, approached any car hire company for transport to the venue they were directed to the conference desk where they were conveyed to the Hilton Convention, the venue, for registration and accommodation. By this transfer arrangement, the possibility of any participant going to the wrong place was virtually eliminated. Attempt implementing this system in another country and see what the car hire and taxi companies would do when the guests arrive at the airport.  Manipulation.

During check-in formalities at the Hilton, MWL officials in charge of accommodation taught me another lesson, even though, as a travel agent, it is my job to facilitate such logistics for hundreds of pilgrims in Umrah and Hajj seasons. What we do in my company, for instance, is to check in everybody and have their keys ready before their arrival at the airport. But the MWL team had the keys of all the rooms assigned for the conference at the registration desk where each participant registered and got the key to their rooms without going through the check-in process with the front office of the hotel. No forms filled; no questions asked as details of everybody had already been captured for the visa application. Superb! What conferences of this nature do elsewhere is for a participant to register with the arrival desk and then fill in their details with the reception before getting a room.  We keep learning…

The conference materials were another display in a spectacle. Papers were printed and bound in different colours according to the time of delivery. About twenty papers were presented in all, and spread during the morning, afternoon and evening sessions, spanning the duration of the conference. All papers delivered during the morning session of the first day of the conference, for instance, were available at the entrance of the hall hours before the arrival of participants, with the cover, as well as the back-pages, printed in yellow, for example, and bound. Those of the afternoon and evening sessions were in different colours, say, green and blue respectively. This printing and binding of papers in diverse hues made a lot of sense. Participants had all and were able to know exactly what papers were presented when, though many were they, and at what session. It was not what I am familiar with of the aleatory chaos of photocopying papers, during the presentation, on machines that have run out of cartridges and thus the end product is scarcely legible.

The above epigraph, in the form of the Hadeeth reported by Muslim, encapsulates the aim of the MWL conference – embracing the middle course in all matters and respecting the etiquette of dialogue when we differ in anything among ourselves.

As I mentioned last week in my first piece on the MWL conference, I will dedicate two to three articles, in a feeble attempt to give a summary of the proceedings in Makkah; needless to say that all papers were written and presented in Arabic, but the simultaneous translation of proceedings was available via headphones.

Taking the middle course, as averred by many scholars that addressed the topic here, is the alternative to extremities. Allah enjoined His Messenger, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam to ‘seek a middle course’ when he prays – neither ‘loud-voiced…nor yet silent…’ (Al-Israa 17:110); also, Allah praised ‘those who, when they spend’ out of what He has bestowed upon them, ‘are neither prodigal nor grudging’; they ‘are not extravagant and not niggardly, but hold a just (balance) between those (extremes);’ (Al-Furqaan 25:67).

In the Sunnah, in a Hadeeth reported by Abu Dawud and Al-Bukhary in al-Adabil Mufrad, on authority of Abi Musa al-Ash’ary, may Allah be pleased with him, who said that the Messenger of Allah, sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam said those who revere Allah would ‘respect the aged, and a haafizul Qur’an who neither goes to the extreme in the rendition of its letters, nor turns away from the Qur’an after memorising it ….’

Therefore, the scholars averred that the middle course in Aqeedah is to make religion pure for Allah only in His Divinity, Worship, Names and Attributes. Suratul Fatihah embodies this tauheed as the faithful declare praise to their Maker Whom they worship and seek His help. The Qur’an is replete with verses depicting the middle course in Aqeedah, establishing Allah’s Names and Attributes, without negating any as ‘the most beautiful names belong to Him (Al-A’raaf, 7:180); and avoiding anthropomorphic concepts, since ‘there is nothing whatever like unto Him’ (As-Shuraa, 42:11). It also affirms the Singleness of Allah in worship (Al-Israa, 17:23); that His Divinity, in relation to His bondsmen,  is not compatible with seeking for succour from any other than Him, being in awe except for Him, and hoping for anything except it be from Him (Yunus, 10:106-107).

The middle course in ‘ibaadah is for believers to offer devotions based on genuine aqeedah since infidelity negates recompense (an-Nisaa,4:124). Righteousness must be textually supported by the Kitaab and Sunnah as adherence to any deen, except Islam, would be rejected (Aali Imraan,3:85). The Prophet,  sallallaahu alaihi wa sallam, said: ‘He who does an act which our matter is not (in agreement) with will have it rejected.’

After satisfying the above conditions, acts of devotions, moreover, must be done seeking Allah’s countenance only (az-Zumar, 39:3), in as much as Allah said، as reported by Muslim, that He is the Most Self-Sufficient of associates that people impute falsely to Him. Whoever does an act of worship in order to impress any other than Allah, he will have such devotion discarded by Allah, leaving it to him and those he desires to impress.

Lastly, on the middle course in devotions, spiritual exertion should be offered consistently even where we deem it a trifle. What is important is not the quantity of, but how consistent is the worship. No weariness touches Allah when He rewards us for exerting our utmost in His service. Thus, He loves what is most persistent of our worship even where it is little; He is not tired until we are tired of serving Him (as reported by Malik in his Muwatta’, and an-Nasaa’i and others).

 


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