Friday, December 28, 2012
Alhamdullillah, through the mercy of the Almighty Allah tonight I will be leaving to perform umrah Inshaa-Allah!
If you can please try and remember me and my family in your prayers. I am sure that I will have some very interesting experiences to share when I return Inshaa-Allah!
In the meantime, I wish you all a blessed year ahead, may Allah keep you and your families in peace!
Saturday, December 8, 2012
I just finished read a book called “Roots” written by Alex Haley (the author of the Autobiography of Malcolm X). It's an old book, published in 1976. This book tells the story about an African man who was captured in his native village in West Africa and sold into slavery in America. It’s a distressing book because it focuses on the atrociousness of slavery, but at the same time, it’s a book which makes you realize the importance of knowing where you come from, and where your family comes from. A person’s roots plays a huge role in the development of their own identity, and this is one of the important lessons of this book.
There are actually so many important insights from this book and that’s why I decided to write about it here:
- Firstly, in my previous post I wrote briefly about how people don’t have any value for others. Well, if I thought I knew what I was talking about then that’s nothing compared to the sufferings that people had to endure in the time of slavery. People were stolen away from their families, their lives and their culture and treated worse than animals. This is such a deep issue, the systematic and continuous devaluing of people’s lives was so intense that I could probably go on about it forever, but all I will say is that it was purely evil.
- Secondly, the native people of different lands, were people with a culture, value system, social and religious system, and all this was replaced through oppressive regimes such as slavery and later on colonialism and imperialism. Now as a result, we have meagre traces of those rich cultures which once existed as most people are forced to “assimilate” within a Euro-American culture which is pale in comparison to the native cultures.
- As a result so many of us do not know our own family roots and obviously this means that we cannot form solid identities and that’s why most people seem to be always in search of something.
- Even in today’s times, people who attempt to hold on to their cultures and roots are regarded as people who are “backwards”. A “civilized nation” has somehow come to represent people who speak English, who live in cities, who work in office buildings and who basically have no connection with nature, except of course for the occasional spectator role we tend to take on. Yet the people who are regarded as “uncivilized” have this deep connection with nature. They can tell their way by the use of stars and the sun and moon (they don’t need any modern day navigation devices). They can determine things by focusing on the animals. They understand the language of nature and their communication is intricate and advanced, but still they will be regarded in all the negative terms because they don’t fit dominant ideas of civilization.
- Finally, modern day slavery still exists, it’s all around us, it’s just that it’s disguised and made to look glamorous. Think about the soccer players who get traded and sold at will. Yes surely they get paid a lot to do what they do, but are they really “free”? What about the models or actresses who cannot afford to even eat things that they would like to, who have to look a and dress a certain way all the time, are they completely “free”? And what about the rest of us who find ourselves stuck within a system that determines what time we have to go to work, which days we have to work, how we live, how we dress (that is if we care about following fashion), how we speak, what we buy, what we watch and so on, can we say that we are really free? Or are the people who live in villages and work each day without having to worry about paying off debts or meeting deadlines or buying the latest things, actually the ones who are “free”?
- Sadly, you can easily see how events of the past have shaped the world today. So many things of today can be explained easily if we turn to the past, so the actions of our ancestors actually impacts on us directly and although many of us might regard history as something very boring, it is in effect an important key that opens so many doors of understanding.
Besides these issues, I think the thing that stuck with me from the book is that In order to understand where we are going; we need to know where we came from, this statement is made so much more profound after reading “Roots”.
So yes, I guess that even though it was distressing to read this book, and some parts really left me feeling so despondent about human beings that I was filled with anger, nonetheless, the lessons I’ve learnt are crucial and I hope that I am able to hold on to some of them.
The thing that I needed to focus on throughout the book is that Allah sees everything and although it may seem as if things have gone unseen, in fact Allah has only given people some time before they have to reckon for their deeds. In truth Allah Almighty sees and hears everything and nothing has gone unseen.
And Allah is the Knower of all things, the Greatest. Glory be to Allah !
May Allah help us all to leave behind us goodness wherever we go, and may Allah help us never to harm another person in any way at all.
Image 1 from here
Image 2 from here