The article below appears in the second edition of the digital magazine Haqiqah (meaning the reality) and Qari Asim is the Senior Editor. The magazine was created and curated by UK Imams and Muslim scholars as a direct response to ISIS propaganda. Read more at http://www.haqiqah.org
In today's world, full of fantasy warriors and superheroes, it can become difficult to identify an actual individual as a role model. You can be forgiven to believe that in today's complex, conflict ridden world those real heroes and role models are few and far between. Perhaps it is because real heroes have disappeared that our world can sometimes look like a sad and lonely place? What if I told you that heroes still exist, that role models and inspirations can be found all over the world. It is in the midst of conflict, pain and loneliness that true heroes emerge and sometimes it can be the smallest gesture that has the greatest impact.
Islamic history shows us that throughout time, ever since the Prophet Muhammad (saw) was alive, that Muslims have been doing extraordinary things. The noble companions of the Prophet (saw) would frequently go above and beyond in undertaking good deeds, displaying kindness and generosity. It was through their actions, through their ability to imbibe the true spirit of Islam that so many others were inspired to do the same.
If we look at the great heritage of Islam, we see feats of incredible achievements in different fields of work. We see the advancement of medicine, literature, philosophy, architecture and astronomy happened at the hands of great Muslim thinkers. Our history is a rich tapestry, full of wonder and belief, with individuals spurred on through a desire to prosper and help those around them.
But a lot of the time, it seems that we find it hard to comprehend these feats. We find it hard to identify with these great thinkers. We see their accomplishments as something to marvel at but not really something we can emulate. We desire to leave a legacy in this world; we want people to know that there was once a great Muslim who lived within the true spirit of Islam who was able to inspire a generation of people.
Through this desire though, we can sometimes be swayed by false claims and misleading accounts of heroism and bravery. We can be tricked into believing that we are guilty of many sins and that Allah will not forgive us unless we commit to fighting for a manipulated world view.
A world view peddled by the likes of Daesh/ISIS who prey on this emotion and claim to be great men of Islam emulating the way of the righteous. They provide accounts of themselves braving severe conditions and defying all odds to overcome their enemy but forget the abhorrence Islam and the Prophet Muhammad (saw) had towards violence and arrogance, which is made clear in a hadith in which the Prophet says,
'NO ONE WHO HAS EVEN AN ATOM'S-WEIGHT OF ARROGANCE IN HIS HEART WILL ENTER PARADISE' -- (SAHIH MUSLIM, 91)
There seems to be no sincerity in their actions. They desire only an evil end to their evil ways. Do not be drawn into their ways.
By contrast, reflect upon some of the positive stories of contemporary, every day Muslims who are doing good all over the world purely for the pleasure of Allah. Take the example of a newlywed couple from Turkey that spent their wedding day feeding 4,000 refugees. Take the example of Muslims in America who came together to help support and rebuild black Churches.
Look at the actions of Muslims in Phoenix; faced by angry anti-Muslim bikers they invited them into the Mosque to show them what Islam is actually about. Take the fantastic example of young British Muslims in Liverpool who decided to show neighbourliness to the non-Muslim residents around their Mosque by handing out small gifts for Eid.
Consider the inspiring example of young Muslims in Leeds who have been feeding the homeless for a number of years and donating gifts to young children in a Children's hospital and the elderly in a hospice. Take these examples, and the examples of Muslims all over the world that are helping people on a daily basis as your inspiration. They are showing that even the most ordinary of people can do extraordinary things that make a huge difference.
Such are the people whom you should take as your 'heroes'- these are individuals who are reviving the Sunnah of the Prophet (saw) by striving to always do good, enjoining kindness and acting with full sincerity in the desire to be rewarded by Allah. The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said,
"THE BEST OF PEOPLE ARE THOSE THAT BRING MOST BENEFIT TO THE REST OF MANKIND." --(DARAQUTNI)