Going that Extra Mile

4

Reaching higher and higher should be our goal not only for this world, but for the next one as well.

Abu Hurairah radiya Allahu anhu narrated that the  Messenger salla Allahu alayhi wasallam said,

“Allah the Exalted has said: ‘I will declare war against him who shows hostility to a Pious worshiper of Mine. And the most beloved thing with which My slave comes nearer to Me is what I have enjoined upon him; and My slave keeps on coming closer to Me through performing Nawafil (prayer or doing extra deeds besides what is obligatory) till I love him. When I love him I become his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees, his hand with which he strikes, and his leg with which he walks; and if he asks (something) from Me, I give him, and if he asks My Protection (refuge), I protect him.’” [Al-Bukhari]

I came across this hadith when reading through my Quran one morning, and I immediately thought of a video I had seen the night before. It was a heartbreaking video about the niqab ban in Egyptian universities, the treatment our sister were receiving, and their iron-clad determination not to take off their niqabs or be refused the right to equal education simply for covering their faces.

I ended up racking in sobs, with tears gushing down my face. My heart felt like it was shredded to pieces  and put back together and cradled with love. I was a mess with my Quran half on the pillow on my lap and in my hands.

Combine this with niqab bans that followed in France, similar attempts all over Europe, and even more recently, Canada, and the situation of our sisters is really something we should stand up for.

I do not like to delve into the fiqh aspect of this, as even the scholars are in disagreements over whether the niqab is fardh or mustahhab. Nonetheless, if it’s not fardh, it is mustahhab, a recommended deed, beloved to Allah. I see it as a win-win. There are many ways to attain Allah’s pleasure. It doesn’t have to be the niqab. But if a sister chooses to wear it, why prevent her? She has the right to do this sunnah just as she has the right to get up at night to pray qiyaam or fast Mondays and Thursdays.

We all have different strengths and weaknesses. This can cross into areas of worships, too. Out of His mercy, Allah has given us so many different ways to attain His pleasure. Because we are all unique, we also have different strengths and weaknesses that would make us more inclined to do a certain act of worship over another and excel at it (and by the way, I’m talking about extra deeds, not the mandatory ones we all have to perform).

Some people are just born charitable. It’s easy for them to give in charity. Some people are born with a smile pasted on their faces. It’s easy for them to smile. This is not to say that we should only do deeds that are easy for us to do and neglect the others; but regarding those deeds that are easy for us to do, we should aim for more, just as we would in worldly attainments. A writer would not be satisfied with her current writing skills. She should strive to learn more and sharpen them. A great baker would not want to remain knowing only what he already knows. He’d want to try more recipes. A sister for whom covering up and keeping chastity is easy would  naturally then want to do more in terms of covering up. And that might be the niqab. The difficulty one faces in doing something for Allah also has a direct correlation with the reward. If it’s easy for a person to do, the reward might be less as compared to the person doing something that is harder for him. It’s only natural then to go up that ladder. Think video games. The goal is to move up the levels.

I agree that one’s appearance does not solely determine if a person will go to paradise for sure. Islam is a wholesome way of life. Your actions, appearance and thoughts should all be in conjunction with Allah’s commands. A niqabi should not look down upon hijabis or non-hijabis, and vice versa. Taqwa is in the heart, and it is only up to Allah to judge, though iman cannot be hidden. Iman will eventually, by hook or by crook, come out in actions. It’s like that beautiful tree, the fruits of iman eventually comes out, the branches of the tree reach upwards towards the sky, like our deeds reaching or aspiring to reach Jannah.

A person cannot say he has iman and not have it show in his appearance and actions. We are also accountable for our thoughts, for even if we seem externally righteous, our internal state might not be completely pure and this will be taken into account on the day we will be questioned by our Creator. So you can’t really hope to score goals on one aspect and neglect the other aspects. Islam is a moderate, balanced religion, regardless of the negative propaganda out there.

So, while one has the right to go the extra mile because one has that natural inclination, she or he should also keep in mind that one cannot neglect the other aspects of living life as a Muslim. And also, most importantly, to do the extra deeds, one also needs to strive to perfect the obligatory deeds first. Priorities. Priorities and balance.

May Allah grant these sisters ease, strength, patience, an increase in taqwa and raise their status. Ameen.