Jumu’ah dispatch #2

Last week, I posted a blog for jumu’ah, and have decided to do so every week. The subject will be likely be a spiritual matter I’ve been reflecting on over the week. I also welcome your suggestions for topics. Please feel free to leave a comment or email me  your ideas.

“Sectarian bloodbaths in Iraq … suicide bombers blowing themselves up in parking lots of hotels, taking innocent lives…female madrassah students in Islamabad waving cane sticks at shopkeepers and vendors … people being turned away from Islam from the harshness of many of those deemed “religious” …

There is a loss of mercy and gentleness around. Yet we see anger and harshness abound, and one wonders what has gone wrong.

In reality, Divine guidance and Prophetic teachings are nothing but a manifestation of mercy-and any understanding of religion lacking in mercy is lacking in true understanding.”

– Faraz Rabbani

Since last Friday, I’ve blogged about some of the most grievous things one human can do to another. Women in Pakistan have been threatened with acid attacks. Kobra Najjar, an Iranian woman, is facing imminent execution by stoning after having already survived sexual slavery.

I’ve received quite a bit of feedback on both of the above items. Many of you – Muslims and non-Muslims – are taking positive action: writing letters to Iranian officials to support Ms. Najjar, and signing up with the non-governmental organizations working against things like acid attacks and honor killings.

By taking these positive steps, you’re exhibiting mercy. Mercy, and gentleness in judgement – are both commanded of Muslims. Those who perpetrate crimes like those above are acting in violation of some of Islam’s most fundamental precepts. That is why it is so important for the rest of us to step up to the plate.

Last night, after a meaningful email exchange about judgementalism, mercy, and values, I stumbled across this article from Islamica Magazine. In it, we are reminded that when confronted with insults – judgements – the Prophet (pbuh) insisted on responding with gentleness and mercy. He said that “Allah is gentleness, and loves gentleness in all matters.”

Not only should our actions for social justice come from mercy – so should should our daily interactions and reactions – no matter the vitriol, the tension, or even the hate we are faced with. A valuable reminder for me, and hopefully for others too.  

What does mercy mean to you? What does your faith/set of values say about judgement and mercy?

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5 thoughts on “Jumu’ah dispatch #2

  1. These are great questions, and an interesting perspective. In the religion of my childhood (Catholicism), mercy was something that one earned, as one was considered inherently sinful, and needing to deserve God’s love and mercy. My current progressive Christian perspective (UCC) doesn’t have a lot to say on mercy per se; in the true Protestant tradition it encourages individuals to pray and discern meaning for themselves in partnership with God. For me, mercy is a way of recognizing the divine in others, which is something that I find incredibly hard to do. Often, social action is linked to anger and sometimes uses literal violence or violent language (i.e.–community organizers often speak of finding a “target” for their campaigns). Mercy, though, comes out of a recognition of our basic connections as humans in relationship with God and each other. Somewhere, tied in there, is the concept of forgiveness. I think that one of the critical skills of my life of faith has been to hold the dialectics–to manage to hold the hurt and anger that I feel with the love of others. And it makes sense to me that this can apply in a social action perspective. Putting into practice is infinitely complex, however. The dominant worldview keeps calling us back to dualisms. The way it works is this: There are individuals who are right or wrong, good or evil, and we all must pick sides. For me, the critical moments of encountering God-with-us are when we can understand the more complex positions, the areas in between, the stories behind the actions on the surface to engage in relationship. However, causing immediate harm to another, threatening the life force that exists within them causes us to be separate from our truest self, and those profound disconnections are a source of pain for us, and I think, for God. Are we “required” to be merciful to those who enact violence in the name of God, whatever their shape God takes for them? I’m unsure… If we are, I do not think that mercy means a blank slate or forgotten past. I think that mercy might create a space for connection, however, where one did not exist before, and that might be something worth pursuing.

  2. Raquel, oh ever-thoughtful one. Why must you bring up the core of the issue and things that make us uncomfortable, or require is to evaluate our locus of beliefs? Kudos sis, shake us up while we sit and enjoy indifference.

    I find the idea of mercy quite tragically ironic in Islam. While Islam is in ultimate support of mercy… We say every day in our prayers, before we eat, before we sleep, before almost Anything Surah Al-Fatiha. It begins as every chapter (except one) in the Quran “Bismillah Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim”. Meaning “in the Name of God who is Benefecent and Merciful”.

    So God is kind and merciful? Yet we’re not with each other? Bummer.

    Peace,
    Erica Aisha

  3. Mercy to me, is what you show the defeated who fought with honor. Mercy is to ease suffering. Mercy is to feed hunger – whether it is for food, knowledge, kindness or love. Mercy is what you show to those in need – with the unspoken hope that they will remember and do the same when given the opportunity.
    Mercy is to put yourself out there in the cruel world and speak the truth – even when there are those who don’t want to listen and would shove you back into your cocoon with words and deeds. Mercy is to carry on in the face of scorn and ridicule for those who cannot speak for or defend themselves.

  4. salam sis
    i stumbled on this site
    mashallah!
    its nice to c this nasheed here its one of my favs really
    if u lyk islamic songs plz c my site, take care n ramadan mubarak!

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