By Nader Nasr
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful
The 11th Annual MSA West Conference was recently held at UC Riverside. For me personally, it was my first annual MSA West Conference, and to be perfectly honest, I was not as excited before the event as I should”ve been. When I had first registered for it, I was thinking, Man, a whole weekend wasted (stakhfar”Allah)1?, and I was arrogant and ignorant enough to believe that it really was not going to benefit me”I mean, what more could the speakers and various workshops tell me, that I didn”t already know? Subhan”Allah2, this train of thought quickly changed.
One of the Arabic words used to describe human beings in the Qur”an is insaan. It comes from the verb, nasia, which means to forget, and, subhan”Allah, we truly are forgetful. This is exactly what happened to me, because what I thought I already knew, I had actually forgotten. This sounds a bit complex, but it isn”t. For example, I know that there is oppression and an illegal occupation taking place in Palestine right now, but I forgot that I could make others aware and write letters to our political leaders; I know malaria is infecting and killing countless Africans, but I forgot that it was easily preventable and that I could do something to help. See the pattern? It is always easy to gain knowledge and to know, but it is so much easier to forget the potential of that knowledge to do some good. We are so focused on our lives that the problems plaguing this world seem to wander off into the dark cellars of our mind. We are aware of the problems, we just choose to not to do anything about it. Thus, we need constant reminder that they still linger and that there are a myriad (word of the day) of options and resources we can utilize to help those in need. After the reminder, we get pumped up and inspired, but then, weeks later, we forget again. Then we are reminded again, then we feel inspired again, then we forget again, and so forth, and so forth. But when is this cycle going to stop dragging on? When are we going to stop waiting for the reminder, and instead, be the reminder? I know we are called insaan, but this is just one of the words Allah uses to describe us. You know another one? I”ll give you a hint”this word refers to a certain group of people, specifically the believers. Exactly”Muslims. We are Muslims, and as Muslims we are obligated to gain knowledge and transform that knowledge into action, instead of harboring it inside. After all, Islam, when practiced properly, is the only way of life that is immune to forgetting, as we are constantly in a state of dhikr3 of Allah and our Ummah4. It is the foundation which cannot crumble and it is the best foundation to begin taking action from.
Brothers and Sisters, the most important lesson I learned from MSA West Conference is that before 9/11, we were so active, but ever since that fateful day, we have been too afraid to step up and be the voice this world needs. We are all capable”we all have Allah, and from Allah, we are blessed with resources, like schools and masajid. It is just a matter of understanding and utilizing that knowledge, and serving as that constant reminder for the entire world to see.
Anything I said that you agreed with or liked”that is a blessing from Allah, and anything I said that you disagreed with or did not like”that from my own shortcomings. Jazakum Allahu Khairan.
1I seek forgiveness from Allah.
2Glory be Allah