Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An intellectually stimulating night with Professor Tariq Ramadan

Have u ever been so inspired and intellectually stimulated that u feel your spine is tingling??Ha3....sounds exaggerating but seriously I am NOT. Last night was one of those moments. And I am pretty sure I am not the only one feeling so enlightened.

Alhamdulillah, last night we had the privilege to listen to Professor Tariq Ramadan's lecture in UIA.
Together with 2,500 people. MasyaAllah. Kudos One Heart Creative Solution. We look forward to more lectures with great speakers ;-)
The topic was "In the footsteps of the prophet; How Muslims should contribute to the world".
I am a huge fan of Tariq Ramadan. I love his straight forward no nonsense style. The speech was so inspiring. Apart from him looking so suave like James Bond, and sounded 100x more intellectual that James Bond.....ahakkkksss...sorry can't help it ;-), plus some French accent peppered with fluent Arabic, it's difficult not to listen to the man. I am just so grateful to listen to him in person. There is so much wisdom.

I am sharing some of the stuffs. Bits and pieces that I managed to gather. In between waking up Hajar and waking up Emily. And answering Medina's questions. It is definitely not be the same with listening to his lecture. I hope the recording of the lecture will be uploaded soon. Nevertheless, here are some of the points from his lecture.

We have in the prophet the best example. Rasulullah's success in spreading the message of Allah involved few stages.

1. Before getting his first revelation, Rasulullah (pbuh) was known as the "Sadiqul Amin". Which means The Truthful & Trustworthy. He was trusted even before he became a prophet. Which emphasizes the importance of great character.

2. He was chosen because he was consistent in every steps. He was a good man even before he became a prophet. He was very humble. Humbleness is the true state of humility. And he was not happy with all the wrong stuffs that were happening in his community. Hypocrisy is being content with not doing. Being complacent.

3. He has specific objectives. He knows what he wanted to achieve. He wanted to deliver the message.

Following the example of Rasulullah (pbuh), we need to follow a few steps to contribute to the world.

STEP #1;
Change the way u look at things in a spiritual way.

Change the way we look at nature.

Have u ever wondered why most of the earlier Quranic verses, eg. those in Juz Amma (the last chapter of the Quran) revolves around nature? Waddhuha...the morning sun, wasshams...the sun, etc etc. Allah is calling us to look around us. To observe nature. Observe nature as a GIFT from Allah. The more u see, the more humble u feel. The more u thank Allah.

Behold! In the creation of the heavens and the earth; in the alternation of the night and the day; in the sailing of the ships through the ocean for the profit of mankind; in the rain which God sends down from the skies, and the life which He gives therewith to an earth that is dead; in the beasts of all kinds that He scatters through the earth; in the change of the winds, and the clouds subjugated between the sky and earth — [here] indeed are signs for a people who thinks.

Observing and appreciating nature is the starting point of humility. People who abuse nature are not treating nature as a gift. They are treating it as their own property.

Taking heed from this, teaching kids (or non Muslim) about Islam should start with nature. Show them the signs of Allah's existence. Allah's mercy and Allah's knowledge. Not the halal and haram. The do's and don'ts. It's very common for us to start teaching Islam to our kids by reprimanding.
"Don't do this"
"Don't do that"
"U will go to hell fire"
"If u do behind my back Allah knows. Allah is watching u. U will go to hell fire"
We need to change our approach. I have heard this from Imam Afroz Ali too. Do not start teaching Islam with the gory stuffs. Not only it will freak out your kids, it will freak out anybody!! Allah is the MOST merciful. There is so much great things to talk about our Creator before we get to the subject of hell fire and punishment. Talk about the good stuffs, about heaven, about Allah's mercy etc etc. Feel the love first. Islam is not just about halal and haram. Rasulullah (pbuh) didn't start spreading his message with halal and haram. He started with himself. He walk the talk.

Allah is NOT monitoring your mistake. He is watching closely your INTENTION. Which is a HUGE difference. Coz sometimes, your intention is good, but it doesn't translate into great outcome. Or good deeds. And sometimes your action got misunderstood and criticized by human. But Allah knows your intention. And He rewards you according to your intention.

Change the way we look at poor people.
The poor people are neglected by the powerful. The way u r loved by the poor is the sign u r loved by Allah. Think about the story of Bilal ibn Rabbah. The black Muslim. A black slave in an Arab community. Think about his position in jannah.

We all come from the same source. We are all children of Adam. We are all created from dust. So we are all the same. GET IT? This was his exact words BTW ;-) 

There's no racism in Islam. So those of u who still thinks Malay should be treated special because we r Malay, do u get it?? The best among us is the one with the deepest faith (taqwa). That's the only thing that can increase our level in the eyes of Allah. Not our race. Or our wealth. Or our lineage.

Rasulullah (pbuh) did so many things that weren't the norm in his society. He challenged the status quo even before his prophethood. He changed the way the Arabs look at things.
Rasulullah (pbuh) changed the way the Arabs look at women.

Before the advent of Islam, the Arab Pagans had no respect for women. They buried their daughter. They considered the birth of a daughter an evil and bad omen.

Rasulullah (pbuh) changed that. He has so much respect for woman. He married a divorcee. A woman much older than him. Khadijah was his pillar of strength. The first person he looked for when he received the revelation was his wife.

Rasulullah (pbuh) changed the way the Arabs look at children.
Rasulullah (pbuh) used to kiss children and loved them very much. Once he was kissing children when a Bedouin came and said, "You love children very much. I have ten children and I have never kissed one of them." Rasulullah (pbuh) replied, "What can I do if God takes away love from you?".

Behave accordingly.

Once our perspective changed, our heart will change, and our behavior will change.
Understanding with heart breeds humility. Understanding with mind breeds arrogance. The classic example is the story of iblees. Iblees refused to bow to Adam coz he's made out fire and Adam was made out of clay. He think he's better. Rationally, he was right. Spiritually, he was wrong. I can so relate to this. In my line of work, I see so many people become arrogant with knowledge. A Muslim must strive to understand with heart. The more knowledge u acquired, the more humble u become. As it show u the greater power of Allah the Almighty.

There are few misconceptions about Islam among Muslim.
1. When it's against the West it's Islamic.
2. When it's difficult, it's Islamic.

This is not right. Islam is not about being HARSH. Islam is the message of mercy. Rasulullah's way of da'wah was about making things easy for people. He educated people by the way he was. His character. His good manners. Not by preaching the halal and haram.

He spoke indirectly about the brouhaha on the usage of the word Allah by the Chritians in East Malaysia. He asked the audience; Why so insecure?? It doesn't matter which word u use.
God in English
Dieu in French
Allah in Arabic
Why must we get unnecessarily emotional when somebody used the word Allah? To a Muslim, there is only ONE God. There is no God but Allah. The one and only. My God is your God. Allah is not just God for the Muslim. He said, we have so much inferiority complex that we need to make a big brouhaha to monopolize the word. Lets monopolize the good deeds instead.

Rasulullah (pbuh) has 4 qualities;
We need to continuously assess each of these qualities in ourselves to be the best ummah.

Not confidence in himself. It's good to doubt ourselves from time to time. Confidence that Rasulullah (pbuh) had was the confidence in Allah. The concept of tawakkul alallah. Not doubting Allah. We need to nurture this confidence in our heart.

His first reveleation was Iqra'...Allah said READ. Being illiterate he answered I cannot read. But eventually he read. With the help of Allah. Anything is possible. We have to have the confidence in Allah in everything that we do.

Prof Tariq shared his story. After 20 years of giving lecture, he's always asked doesn't he get tired?
He answered; Yes I am tired. Muslim community is tiring. There's always someone who is not pleased. Someone who is not happy.

He sarcastically said; I bet in this hall tonight, there are some people who come here solely just to find out how good I am. Whether I am up to their expectation.

It can be very disheartening, but in the end, he will go back to Allah. And his trust in Allah. That keeps him going.

Be ambitious. 1400 years ago, Rasulullah (pbuh) defied the odds and unite the mankind. He changed the world. With Allah's will we can change the world too. In our own capacity. Whatever skills u have, be the best in whatever u r doing. 

Ask ourselves; In which way am I contributing to the society?

The best jihad is word of truth in front of tyrants. Tyrant here means those with authority. Be at the forefront of your kid's education. Nurture your kids to be courageous to speak up for justice.

In striving to make a difference, there are 2 things we need to remember;

1. The concept of khilafahtullah fil ard. Man as the steward of Allah on earth.
Remember we don't own ANYTHING. The air we breathe, the nature around us, the animal around us, the house we live in, our materialistic wealth, our family, our kids, etc etc etc. NEVER think it belongs to us. It belongs to Allah. Given to us on loan. And we will be accountable for every single thing.

2. Remembrance of death.
It reminds us this life is limited. It reminds us to live life the best way we can.

And along the journey, there are challenges ahead;

1. Education
Without education, there will be no humanity. The root word of Rabb, (God) is tarbiyyah. Which means education. The first education of Rasulullah (pbuh) was changing his perspective. When educating our kids, stress on meaning. NOT just ritual. Educate them to dig in the meaning of doing things. Not just excel in knowing how to. He spoke about discernment. Knowledge + Understanding = Discernment. The essence of education is not only to master the know how. But to understand the meaning of it. Then only we will be able to produce a "dignified citizen". Parents need to be at the forefront of the kids' education. There are so many challenges in raising kids nowadays. In the era of pornography and social media. We need to protect the kids with knowledge. NOT with ignorance.

2. Be at the forefront.
Regardless of whatever skills u have.

3. Brotherhood.
We are all brothers and sisters. We need to serve the humanity. Regardless of religion. It's important to show solidarity for people who suffered and being oppressed. One of the problem with Muslims nowadays is our antenna only spike up when it concern our fellow Muslims. Singularity is wrong. It's not right for us to support marginalised Muslim ONLY. If a Jews is innocent, he is innocent. If a Muslim is guilty, then he is guilty.

Reaching out is a responsibility. We are all brothers and sisters in humanity. Before condemning people and asking what would happened to them, ask ourselves about our responsibility of reaching out. Have we done enough? Get busy fixing our weaknesses and leave Allah to decide the fate of others.

4. Nature.
Where are we when people are discussing about global warming? Have we forgotten the concept of stewardship on earth? The concept of khilafahtullah fil ard. Start in our daily life. Go green. Recyle. Reduce wastage. He thinks fast food is problematic. Eating too fast is problematic. Eating too much is problematic. Ramadhan is coming. He thinks the fundamental philosophy of Ramadhan is resistance to consumerism. Make it a point to eat less in Ramadhan. Eat less and think more. Not eat more and sleep more. We think Xmas is being too commercialized. We don't realize that's exactly what we are doing with Ramadhan. It's no longer spiritual. It's all about ritual, cultural and excessive consumerism.

5. Culture
What is our culture? As a Malaysian. This becomes very challenging with globalization. Everything is mixed. We hardly knows our culture anymore. He believes culture is important. He thinks not all music is haram. He argues that rejecting music put us in denial. We are colonizing ourselves. He thinks a bit of entertainment is OK. Balance is the key. To feel good is halal. As we strive for the here after, we should not forget our share in this world.

Muslim should not nurture the victim mentality. And we must believe God is not far from us. The fact that we r thinking whether God loves us or not, or the fact that we were in the lecture hall listening to his lecture, are signs that we r not far from Allah.

He ended the lecture with the beautiful recitation of du'a. I actually missed this coz we left during the Q&A. My friend was talking about it. I found the link today. Very beautiful indeed.
There were moments during the lecture when people get very inspired and started clapping. He was very upfront. He said; Stop clapping. Start doing something. If there is one thing that he repeatedly asked throughout the lecture, it must be his plea for us to do something. The world is plagued with so many issues. Everybody can do something. Start the journey by being kind to ourselves. Learn to forgive ourselves. Pray Allah will grant us rahmah. Let's make a difference. InsyaAllah.


  1. Thank you for sharing! How i wish i was there too..

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  3. Thanks for sharing n if u dont mind me to share this with friends? Thanks in advance! :))

  4. thanks for sharing.