AL WALA’ WAL BARA’

The concept of Al wala wal bara is a much debated concept within the Islamic community. For those who are unfamiliar with this religious tradition or hold religion in general as of little value then this post may not make much sense to you and may even come across as harsh or unnecessary. In its simplest terms this concept means to love for the sake of Allah and to hate for the sake of Allah. To love what Allah loves and to avoid what Allah dislikes. I am not learned in this concept nor will I act like I am. Furthermore It’s never my intention to ever offend anyone and I do realize sensitive topics like religious concepts can draw a wedge between people. I simply blog honestly from my heart about what I experience in my daily life and this concept came up today for me.

A little background to what led to this discussion. I became good friends while I was in Kenya with someone. She is in medical school and was in Kenya for similar reasons as I was. To make a long story short we bonded very well and I have become very fond of her. She is a beautiful person and we get along very well. And thus our friendship carried onto the states. This is not about being intimate friends with non-Muslims and so forth, I know there are extreme Muslims that hold those views and I would never even entertain such a concept. Every close friend I have happens to be not of my faith, my closest friends being Hindu and atheist. So let me make this clear that this is not about friendship, but it’s about participating in some religious gatherings with your friends. The friend I met in Kenya is a very religious individual, Seven Adventist to be exact. I find our religious differences, the diversity of our differences beautiful, even though I don’t believe similarly. Again some of our religious community would raise an eyebrow to that, beautiful huh? How could a believing Muslim find worshipping of the prophet Jesus peace and blessings be upon him and making images out of him a beautiful thing? But with such literalist people what they fail to realize that this is not about religion or creed, but it’s about the human bonding that exits between people regardless of their religious background. I find that very beautiful and I do believe if religion is to make you a better human being as we all claim it does than by default ones heart should never hold any animosity to others, otherwise a hardened heart towards those who believe different than you is reflective of a misunderstanding of religion.

Going back to my friend, she is putting on a poetry event at her church and this event is Christian based and will be in praise of Jesus from their perspective, which to Muslims is considered blasphemous, because God did not have a son nor any partners etc. She asked me to come and I didn’t think twice of it. I care a lot about my friend and I want to support her, so I said yes. Nothing big right? Well at least to me this was and still is a non-issue.

Today at our store I meet a family friend, a brother that converted to Islam years ago and mashaAllah he is a wonderful brother, who follows the deen faithfully and is learned. I respect him a lot. Whenever we meet we always have long conversations about Islam. I told him about this event that I am going to and asked for his thoughts, because I am a very curious person. I tend to ask many questions even when my mind is already made up. We had a long talk, drawing examples from the lives of the prophets and their companions. Then we came upon the concept of al wala al bara. He asked me what is the worst sin in the Islamic tradition. That was easy, I replied it’s shirk, associating partners/equals with the One God. Then he asked me does Allah hate shirk? I replied, yes. It’s a concept repeated throughout the Quran and what every prophet was sent for, calling people away from worshipping idols/human beings/images to worshipping just One God that is without form, neither man or female etc. Then we came upon the proclamation of faith, that which makes one a Muslim. Tawheed (belief in the Oneness of God) he said means not just uttering those words, but by believing and acting on them. And that believing and acting is done by striving towards what God loves and rejecting, not associating with what God dislikes. In his view by going to a gathering, in which shirk (associating partners with God) is being praised, I am participating in what Allah dislikes. I told him my intentions were specifically for my friend and to support her and that Allah knows our hearts. I don’t believe in their creed, but I believe in my friend. He said because of my attachment to my friend I was not seeing the error that I was going to partake in as a Muslim. Islam encourages us to be good to our friends and to our neighbors, but not to participate actively in gatherings of shirk. To make a point against what I was doing he gave me an example that most of Muslims have heard many times. This is an example of a blessed gathering, where a group gathers to remember Allah SWT and they do not associate partners with Allah, any person that joins that gathering even if they are a wicked person it is written for them a good deed just by being there. In essence what he was saying to me was hey Fatima you are among those who believe in truth, a believer of Tawheed and the Oneness of Allah SWT, but by joining a gathering where shirk is being praised rather than Tawheed, you are in the wrong here.

I appreciate his advice and see its value. And Allah Knows Best.

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