Posted by: Dawud Israel | February 11, 2019

Things I learned in 2016, 2017 and 2018

Things I learned in 2016

  1. I can imagine my coffin as a chart or infographic of my lifespan.
  2. I love muslims but don’t respect them unless it is for their deen. It is very hard for any one to respect Muslims for anything they do or say – except our religion. The shadow of Islam overshadows anything else.
  3. I have learned to love family and friends unconditionally and even if they are wrong. Horribly wrong.
  4. Attachment makes separation harder.
  5. People do what they see you do; not what you say. lisan al haal abligh min al lisan al maqal – words of your state and more eloquent than speech of words.
  6. The psychological clutter and babbling of the mind impairs brilliance and wisdom. Write it all out to sift it out: opinions of xyz, how you don’t like this individual/group/race, gluttony, consumerism and lust. This is all useless and nafsi babbling. People will spend 95-99% of their time speaking on these things; but the 0-1% on wisdom and gems of truths come after digging all that out.

Things I learned in 2017

  1. I read someone’s diary accidentally about where their life is at 37 and I vowed to never be that person – to get ahead further than them at that age.
  2. Only kindness cuts through the echo chambers dividing people.
  3. ‘Over-reading’ but ‘under-thinking’ on what I’ve learned causes deadening of intellectual vigor.
  4. Knowledge turns into ‘meme’ thats powerful but its meaning quickly diluted.
  5. Islamic tarbiya in North America is turning the average North American Muslim male into a tepid taciturn introvert, only interested in making their point.
  6. Millennial Muslim in the West: selfish, echo chamber, antisocial, unable to even consider compassion to one’s fellow man, won’t ask about friend or visit or bring food for sick or just check up on people. The old akhlaaq of the Muslim world is gone.
  7. ‘It is a shame for the birds to wake before you do.’ – Abu Bakr (ra)
  8. The tongue requires care. Their are punishments for misusing it: angels may say ameen to what you say and it comes to pass, you face the same deficiency you point out in others, your words come back to haunt you, you give people ideas they apply back onto you or force you to make them a reality, or you influence people in the way you did not intend.
  9. One must remove the choice of failure in order to succeed. There is no choice: only do and succeed. If I am in a situation where failure will make a second attempt impossible or going on living will be very hard then I put in my all. Determination because there will be horrible consequences that I may not recover from if fail.

10.  Tokens of the Muslim

  • A flame – for when I sin
  • A mirror – for reflecting on my akhlaq
  • An hourglass – for realizing time is fleeting
  • Empty pockets – for realizing I am leaving dunya with no possessions
  • Ghazalis well
  • Shipwrecked survivors when we’re resurrected in the Akhira
  • Jibril, whose true form fills the horizon and is at the Right hand of Throne of Allah, turned into a small bird out of fear of Ridwan and feared turning into an iota if he were to pass Sidratul Muntaha

11. Ambiya as Men (alayhim salam)

  • Punch like Musa
  • Vandalize like Ibrahim
  • Come back like Dhun Nun
  • Endure like Ayyub
  • Mob control like Harun
  • Denounce rulers like Yahya
  • Flip tables like Eesa
  • Conquer like Sulayman
  • Underdog like Dawud
  • Pelt like Ishaq
  • Lift like Ishmail
  • See through lies like Yaqoub
  • Humble them all like Yusuf
  • Charge into the fray like Abu’l Qasim (salallahu alayhi wasalam)

Things I learned in 2018

  1. Most good people will veer towards or into corruption and injustice and may even get steeped in it. It is whether they can pull themselves out of it and be determined to not get into it again that determines who they are.
  2. Even positive character traits can hurt you. Virtue has its negative side. Generosity to the point of overextension and burdening the receiver with near impossible reciprocity. Tepidness and ineffectualness due to politeness. Contentment which makes one lazy and not want to achieve anything. Never getting angry which removes passion and makes one never be critical.
  3. Negative character traits can be controlled to uplift and give me an edge. Anger motivates me to come up with strong intellectual arguments. Fear to stay up late. Envy pushes me to compete with peers. Ambition to aim higher. Ambition and envy are more powerful motivators than selfless ideals. I know these can make us go lower than the devils in Hellfire, but I suspect it may be they also uplift us higher than the angels in Heaven.
  4. It is easy to dehumanize people – women, soldiers, sweat workers, employees – but we can humanize them by remembering they have hopes dreams and fears too.
  5. Much of the pain of the Muslim world is rooted in envy, jealousy and fear of missing out (FOMO) on the dunya.
  6. Ibadat becomes incredibly easy while in a state of shukr.
  7. I need to stop hiding who I am from who I want to be.
  8. Facebook is like a book of deeds and reactivating it and looking back is like looking at life lived after death. Only a few beautiful words impress me. Perhaps Allah, the All-Knowing and All-Seeing, is only impressed by a few of our beautiful words from all our deeds.
  9. Social media creates a false artifice of unreal strength hidden behind an ever-felt impotency.
  10. Many a time, I embark on noble deeds for utilitarian reasons – like a nadhr oath to do this ibadat for xyz dunya problem – and I feel this is a type of sin one should repent from. The deontological reasons for a good deed – out of shukr, to do good out of ihsan, because it is a good deed – is not a sustainable motivation for a flawed individual like myself. The gap between a utilitarian niyyah and a deontological niyyah is as wide as a good deed and a sin are apart. To do a good deed because it is good is something I must learn anew.

Subhana kallahumma wa bihamdika ash-haduana la illaha illa Ant astaghfiruka wa atubu ilayk, ameen.

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