Who taught you to hate yourself? Ummah we need to talk, boo boo.

This is a state of emergency that is being called on the ummah!

Nusrat Lodda

As most of you are aware, regardless of where you are in the world, Christmas day has now approached. No Christmas is complete without all the trimmings, which usually entails a Christmas tree, lights, turkey, writing Christmas cards…oh and the family gathered round for that all important EastEnders episode. Alas! Despite this enticing imagery there’s always that Grinch in the gathering who manages to ruin the day for everybody.

Having said this, this is usually the scene for many Western non- Muslim families, with the imagery conveyed through mass advertisement and consumerism. And the fallout come Boxing Day when you realise the dire situation of your finances, unsurprisingly you still run to the sales faster than a Kenyan runner.

Jokes aside, one of the things I find very disconcerting is how Muslims take part in a holiday that is contrary to their tenets of their faith.  I mean really though, would…

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Who taught you to hate yourself? Ummah we need to talk, boo boo.

As most of you are aware, regardless of where you are in the world, Christmas day has now approached. No Christmas is complete without all the trimmings, which usually entails a Christmas tree, lights, turkey, writing Christmas cards…oh and the family gathered round for that all important EastEnders episode. Alas! Despite this enticing imagery there’s always that Grinch in the gathering who manages to ruin the day for everybody.

Having said this, this is usually the scene for many Western non- Muslim families, with the imagery conveyed through mass advertisement and consumerism. And the fallout come Boxing Day when you realise the dire situation of your finances, unsurprisingly you still run to the sales faster than a Kenyan runner.

Jokes aside, one of the things I find very disconcerting is how Muslims take part in a holiday that is contrary to their tenets of their faith.  I mean really though, would you think for a second that the likes of Prime Minister David Cameron or many non-Muslims Brits would go out of their way to celebrate Eid al Adha or Eid ul Fitr…Hanukkah anybody? And don’t play dumb either, you know what answer would be!

This isn’t subjected to just Christmas either, I’m referring to other nationalist and non-Islamic holidays such as Halloween, Easter, New Year’s day, April Fools, All Souls day, Thanksgiving etc…

And no, this isn’t a diatribe against any particular person, group of people or religion. Don’t worry I’m not specifically calling anybody out. This is simply me pointing out the hypocrisy and compromising positions that seem to be prevalent within certain segments of the Ummah (Muslim Community) and trying to advance ideas as to why this is an issue and what can be done to alleviate us from this problem.

 

Who did teach us to hate ourselves? Why do we find ourselves on the defensive?

The questions I ask are something for many to reflect upon, but most especially those whom insist on taking a compromising stance with regard to their faith. Perhaps the root of why many Muslims seem go in this direction is due to the need to “feel accepted” and “blend in”…in a simpler way it seems that there is a sense of inferiority complex. Yes …that’s right…I went there!  One of the things that surprises me  is how in spite of knowing truth from falsehood having an awareness of the deen and the oppressive hypocritical practices operative in our “democratic society”, members of our ummah revel in a sense of inferiority complex in order to placate western liberals and secularists. That’s like knowing you have gold or a skill/talent of some sort (or something of high value) but in spite of possessing it you choose to conceal it and settle for something less. That’s well and truly the epitome of stupidity, perhaps even more so than the ill constructed defence mechanisms advanced to try and justify wrongdoing.

Under the banner of “secularisation” we see members of this ummah engaging in acts of moral degradation such as fornication, theft, espionage etc., neglecting the fard of propagating Islam and engaging in festivities that are the very antithesis of what Islam says. This is one of the many examples of the dangers incurred when people take westernisation as the basis for freedom. It doesn’t take a person with so-called “remarkable intelligence” to conclude through past and present observations that the taking of Westernisation and Democracy as a basis for freedom has led to the devastation of many nations and the disillusionment of many a people.

This personally saddens me as I genuinely have an affinity to the ummah and have done so for the past 11 years. But boo boo this hypocrisy has to stop, seriously.

The problem of Muslim inferiority complex is something that seems over the years to becoming more and more apparent, but this didn’t seem to be prevalent during the time of Prophet Muhammed (peace be upon him) or in the generations after him. During that time Muslims didn’t have an inferiority complex – and neither did they have superiority complex as this wouldn’t fit with the teachings of humility and submission, which are one of the key characteristics of our faith. But rather, Muslims during this time were the people to be imitated as opposed to being the ones imitating others. Why? Because we were a people of izzah (honour), this is very much exemplified how when Islam had spread to the far lands and when there was a caliphate in place, even the non-Muslims used to emulate us in our mannerism, dress, moral and ethics and culture – for example, some used wear traditional Islamic clothing such as turbans to try and emulate us. I can even say from the perspective of an East African (Ugandan to be precise), the wearing of the Kanzu (khamis, thobe) in our culture originated from when the Arabs came and invited us to the religion of Islam.

Perhaps one of the main causes that had resulted in the current ummah being in the state that we’re in is not believing or actualising out trust in Allah (tawwakul) and not being proud of Islam, again this is something I find very disconcerting. My theory is that due to decades and centuries of being socially conditioned, mentally enslaved through colonialism and lazy in retaining out covenant with Allah this resulted in our honour being stripped away from us. As an ummah, particularly those living in the west, we have been socially conditioned to believe that the Western way is the only “right and only” way in which to succeed and sadly you’ve fallen for it.

The words of Umar ibn Khattab remain true to this day:

“We were the most humiliated people on earth and God gave us honour through Islam. If we ever seek honour through anything else, God will humiliate us again.”

You can’t seek tawfiq in anything else other than Islam, so given the words of Umar ibn Khattab, why do you try to seek honour and approval of a people who are the very antithesis of what Islam represents? Surely common sense would tell you this, right? Honour comes from doing that which is pleasing to Allah and enjoying in what he has permitted – even if it is at the expense of being subjected to stares or verbal and physical ridicule. But yet it seems that many Muslims don’t seem to have a backbone enough to say “I don’t care what you think or say about me, courage is being the way I am irrespective of what another has to say about me.” I think in order to alleviate ourselves from the humiliation as individuals, regardless of whether you come from non-practicing families or those who have reverted who come from a non-muslim background, I sincerely urge you to be staunch and steadfast in your convictions to Islam. Be strong! The price is high…but the end is near.

Don’t be a sycophant!

My name is…?

“Before you make assumptions as to who you think I am, did you ever try to ask me first? A text without context is pretext, therefore one must ask in order to understand.” – Nusrat  AbdurRahman, December 2013

 

Perhaps as a topic at large, dealing with name changes upon conversion is something that many converts can relate to – with regard to the social and psychological impacts that may come along with it. The following pretty much explains how I deal with it, and how I came to be the Nusrat that most of you (whether personally or through my work) have come to know. For any discrepancies that may occur, I seek the forgiveness Allah as this is from my naffs and Shaytan – likewise for any benefit derived from this article it is only from the inspiration and will of Allah.

As my readers, many of you are aware through reading my posts and through the talks I have given, that I utilise the pseudonym “Nusrat AbdurRahman” as opposed to my legally recognised name. Correspondingly, one of the many questions that are regularly directed at me are those such as: “Why do you use that name?” “Why did you choose that name?”, “It’s not very feminine, you sound like a man.”

Well, in response to the latter question, I find it quite interesting that some people have commented that my name sounds manly but ironically some of these people have more facial hair than Wolverine and have deeper voice than Luther Vandross or Rick Astley. You think about that love!

But anyway so as to not digress from the topic at hand….ahh yes!

Nusrat AbdurRahman is a pseudonym I use professionally as a writer and speaker, this is no different to the way other writers such as Harun Yahya (Adnan Oktar) and Lemony Snicket (Daniel Handler) also use pen names. Although I have used my legally recognised name and pen name interchangeably (and reserve the copyright to do so), the reason as to why I chose Nusrat AbdurRahman is something quite personal to me and its context as to how it came to be isn’t as simple as you’d think. Explaining it by way of written articulation is hard enough, kind of like explaining the concept of the Trinity (let’s not even go there!).

“She’s the other side of me, she represents an Islamic personality that I couldn’t and didn’t develop until much later. Nusrat AbdurRahman is more than just my pen and stage name – a pseudonym – she’s a personality, a character…but in order to understand that character you have to know who I was first, which represents the very foundations of who I am today…you can’t have  post-Nusrat without pre-Nusrat. That’s a just a fact.”

I don’t believe the term “alter ego” is befitting either, as my individuality and all things attributed to it don’t unexpectedly or suddenly change – I’m no Sasha Fierce! But what I can try is advance an explanation for why I use this name and how the two people differentiate – but are yet still almost the same person.

Nusrat is the name I adopted when I became a Muslim, but within the last 5 years actually started growing into. It’s a name which means victory and/or assistance and it bears an immense significance to me as the meaning encompasses certain aspects of my life where I’ve had to overcome a lot. Nusrat is really the “Muslim me” and represented my metamorphosis upon conversion, in that when I deliver a lecture or write professionally I’d like to be known as. Okay, I still get referred to by those who knew me prior to my conversion as my birthname, and in some ways I’m still fine with this as at that time in my life was a different person.

In regards to why I use this name, is not because necessarily I am ashamed or want to hide my Roman Catholic roots, but rather that is my Islamic identity. Period. For me, it makes a clear demarcation between my life and who I was prior to Islam and who I am currently.

Without pre-Nusrat you wouldn’t have post-Nusrat, as I have expressed before, she makes up the very foundations of what I am: an eccentric, quirky person…but also a person who has a love of Islam and a dedication to conveying that message. Think of it like restoring equilibriums: elements of my “old self” complementing my Islamic disposition – really what most of you will know me at present. They’re two almost inseparable entities that compliment each other so well, I keep pre-Nusrat in my heart as she’s the fun loving red head!

 

And that’s how best I can explain it …I just make sure I don’t leave either one of these girls behind. 🙂

 

 

Seeking Clarity: Part One

My conversion – or as many would term reversion (owing to the commonly held Islamically belief that we are innately born into a state of faith and submission) is something that I often write about. To be honest I don’t even speak about it much either, the level of depth that is needed to explain how it happened isn’t something that can be encapsulated in a 30 minute interview or in a 500 to 750 word article. It was quite personal.

Why? Well, despite being a writer on contemporary social issues affecting Muslims (along with the perceived uniqueness that my story and experiences entail) I never really thought of it as something that people needed to know. My journey was something that I felt not many people my age could relate to, neither something that people who were older than me could try to understand at least from my perspective. One could say that even having the audacity to contemplate the purpose of life and the reason for my existence wasn’t something conventionally done by many young people.

Defence mechanisms advanced to me such as “you’ve got the rest of your life to think about that” and “you’re at the height of your young life” are phrases I’m very well familiar with. Likewise, I’m also accustomed to being subjected to the common narratives of female conversions to Islam held by non-Muslims (perhaps triggered by my race and ethnicity) that a black British woman automatically must be a convert to Islam because ‘Islam is an Asian or Arab religion isn’t it?’ or “Is your husband Muslim?

While I can try to understand that perhaps Western media portrayals and stereotypes of Muslim woman may be overly represented by the race and ethnicities I just mentioned, sadly this parochial way of reasoning also permeates within the mindsets of some Muslims.  Some Muslims who have approached me automatically assumed I am a convert (sometimes attempting to exert a superiority complex over me), while I acknowledge that a lot of the heroes of Islam were converts, to assume that anybody who isn’t an Arab or Asian can’t be born a Muslim is the epitome of arrogance.

But anyway, not to digress from the subject at hand…ahhh where was I?

Questions of the Fitra

Having been born and baptised into Roman Catholicism, like so many other children I went on to be educated in a Roman Catholic school. This was supposedly meant to help foster my love and appreciation for my faith,  in addition to fulfilling the first and second part of my compulsory school education.  Ironically it was through this that it helped ignite the questions as to my existence, my purpose in life and elements of the hereafter. Amidst all the archetypes that existed with being Catholic educated: the hymn singing at assembly in the morning coupled with the compulsory religious lessons and the obsession that staff had with ensuring my uniform was correctly put on (oddly enough they cared more about the latter), I began to analyse my environment much more. One of things that perplexed me was the idea of the trinity, if God was greater than anything that can be conceived then why would three attributes be needed? Similarly, why did Jesus constantly have to be depicted as a Caucasian God-like figure, doesn’t this reinforce the idea of white supremacy and the inferiority of minority groups? These were the questions that plagued me as I grew older especially as I began to notice numerous discrepancies between the Bible’s Old and New Testaments.

My questions, and the lack of real answers I received, were something that spurned me to consider other alternatives. I knew that God existed and so never doubted this. Rather if anything, this was demonstrated in many ways such as in the regulation of solar systems and nature, the complexity the human being and the functioning of the human organs. This couldn’t have come about by random chance. The quest for knowledge began…