And be not like those who forgot Allah , so He made them forget themselves. (The Noble Quran 59:19)
“Clap! Clap!” He yells over the crowd in Urdu as they give him that and more. “Do you want to take my picture?” Cooing and screaming as if at a rock concert the audience is roaring around us as we regard each other with stunned silence. Alas, this was not a rock concert or an awards show; this is at Muslim Fest, which took place in Mississauga about two weekends ago.
We stand towards the back of a crowd of men, women and children swaying and cheering along as Pakistani singer Junaid Jamshed belts out one of his popular nasheeds while riling the crowd up to scream and clap until they’re blue in the face. For those who are unclear, a nasheed is a song/poem that is recited to Praise Allah; illustrate our love of the Prophets (AS) and to glorify Islam. When a nasheed is heard one should reflect and keep silent, one should definitely not clap or scream over the recitation and thereafter. The behavior that we experienced exhibited at this event was exactly the reason why many scholars have begun to frown upon nasheed recitation in general. A sad state we are in indeed.
If that wasn’t enough, it was heartbreaking to watch the sun set while the music played on without any regard for the fact that we were Muslims at Muslim Fest and it was time for Maghrib prayers (a friend said As’r prayer was also called late). When a few voices out of thousands were raised to organizers the call to prayer was called by none other than Jamshed, but by then it was too late and in darkness people began to scramble towards the washrooms for wudu or the designated place to pray finally coming out of their Jamshed induced stupor (I have heard this is a regularly occurring phenomenon). I watched as folks prayed here and there not finding any real places and all I could think about was what Allah was thinking of us at that moment.
In this wide-open space, in this gorgeous location, a congressional prayer could have easily taken place. I imagine it and it gives me goosebumps. The Mercy and Grace of Allah would have descended on that congregation and the beauty of our unity would have brought awe and appreciation from all around us. We could have made Du’a to the only One we can ask for aide together for relief from the pain and suffering we as an Ummah are going through throughout the world. While we are being humiliated in other parts of the world, here we stood to humiliate ourselves in front of Allah. Like I said, heartbreaking.
Junaid Jamshed, who spoke Urdu throughout his show, actually illustrated our situation quite clearly by asking our nationalities and then speaking/singing a few words in each of our languages. This is the way we are. We have these walls up around us and no one can breach them. We pray in our little groups (even Jamshed prayed in a small group as seen above) and not as a whole. We shrug off people who don’t look the same as us or speak the same as us. We become enraged with some over mundane things such as the price of a headscarf, yet show kindness and respect towards others who we see more worthy of our patience.
Everywhere you looked you could see Islam on display but not in practice, not in the hearts of men and women. Sometimes we do things and I realize that the intention is to please Allah with them, but somewhere along the line we forget about Him and the line blurs. I am not talking about Dhikr and nasheeds, those were rampant and have become our crutch for displaying our faith, but what good is a crutch when you don’t have any legs to stand on? Our legs are our sincerity in actions and in faith. Instead of stroking the egos of attendees and vendors, they should be asked to please refrain from inappropriate behavior. We can shut everything down when it is time to put the remembrance of Allah first and pray. Only Allah can make something successful and we should never forget to show Him our gratitude and love. Perhaps if we did, events like Muslim Fest would soar to heights that we cannot even imagine.
I am sure that the organizers of Muslim Fest are humble enough to review the event and renew their intentions. From the looks of it the original intention was to unite the Muslims in their love and devotion to Allah along with our beautiful Islam and to show persons of other faiths and walks of life that we are a people of Grace and Goodness. I can appreciate that organizing an event at such a large scale is not easy, but when you make a partnership with Allah and intend to make it all about Him then He will aide in the cause. When His name is mentioned and His attributes praised we must stop and listen whether in Adhan or nasheed, because we are Muslims and we know no love greater than the love we have for Allah and who doesn’t want to hear the praise of their most Beloved. Our recognition of Him is what sets us apart, what makes us special and what makes us deserving of the title Muslim.
We are only slaves and we cannot let the groove of this world make us march to the beat of false kings. Allah is the Only King, the King of kings, and we must surrender. Praying on the time He has ordained is just the beginning of this beautiful prostration. May Allah help us to be worthy of bowing down to Him, Ameen.