Do we do Iqra? More importantly, is it enough?

Heart wrenching events have been taking place since the beginning of times. There’s no denying that evil exists. It has been and will always exist. What we can do as a people is guard ourselves. We can utilise what we have been blessed with to deal with our tests. And we will be tested, we cannot escape it. God knows, we have been blessed with plenty, only I feel at times we’re too swayed by the world and its complexities to look around and acknowledge it.

Every era ‘the bad guy’ changes. The one of our times doesn’t need to be named to be known. What doesn’t change is the repetitiveness of our reaction as Muslims to it. We quote the Quran so readily to start refuting all the revolting accusations we as a demographic are stained with. By quoting I mean when social media starts flooding with memes misquoting or partially quoting verses or when videos of Muslims in a desperate attempt of showing how we are just puppy-loving hippies start surfacing. Don’t get me wrong, we love puppies and we can be hippies, but we’re more than that. We’re Muslims.

Time and time again this vicious cycle continues. This cycle of denouncing all things bad in our name. The time we feel obligated to stand on the defensive and portray ourselves as the harmless hippies that we are. Does the repetition of the situation point not out its flaw? Our watering down of our identities is a major contributing factor to our grievances in this era of eerie Islamophobia. But we don’t learn. We keep reaching into our box of old age antics of overly simplified arguments to establish how Islam is a religion of peace. The thing is, it is more than that.

How readily we like to point out the word ‘Iqra’ that is the first word revealed in the Quran to ensure all others who have their qualms about our lifestyle that we are not people who have no affiliation to knowledge and education and to refute the instances when we are called out to being barbaric, medieval and uncivilised. Indeed we are not. But my question is how many of us really live up to what we preach? Do we do Iqra? More importantly, is it enough?

There’s a reason why the ‘the golden age of Islam’ is in the past. We keep groping back to hundreds of years ago, referencing and clinging onto accomplishments that are not of our time and which are not ours. Maybe it is time to change that. Maybe it is time to work towards more golden ages of Islam. Hence it is time we get busy. It is time we overcome our knee-jerk reaction and stop with the catch-phrases and quoting of hadeeth without having any clue about it. Evil feeds off of our incompetency. It is time for the passivity within us to wither and for us to engage in exploring and learning. The infinite array of possibilities, sprinkled like stardust all over the universe is waiting to be captured, only if we just reached out.

Can we still associate excellence with Islam today? Surely we can, I will not refute that. My heart and soul feel that way. Does that reflect in the Muslims of today? I’m not sure it does. It is our responsibility to stop those who are a gross misinterpretation, a gross violation against humanity. There is not an ounce of doubt in my mind and there is no wish to turn my back to the responsibilities I took upon me when I decided I was Muslim. I take these responsibilities, not because the biased media and the world’s current power entities force people to do so, but because I choose to, because of humanity, because my religion has set these standards for me. It is this that will lead us to excellence but it will only come about when we as a worldwide community commit to it.

I want to be unapologetically self-critical. Living in a bubble holds no meaning for me. Self-criticism is the only way to safeguard the authenticity of communities. It is the only way of assuring ourselves of staying away from hypocrisy and unsustainable and unjustified delusion of superiority.

So let’s be the light this world needs, not the burden. Let us not be meagerly educated and ignorant and superficial. Superficiality is not the answer. The answer is deep pondering and dedicating our time to our most noble cause, our Islam. Let us stop quoting half the verses, let us stop giving the ones who misunderstand, misrepresent us legitimate points to undertake us. The Quran should not become a symbolically worshipped object. It has a purpose. We need to let it be what it is meant to be. A guide. Our light.

Let us identify the ignorance within ourselves and treat it. Let’s be actively Muslim. Let us reawaken the Islamic spirit. Let us try and reach for excellence. Let’s Iqra.

Written by Farhana Nitol

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Farhana Nitol, a 22 year old Bangladeshi by birth and raised in Belgium, is a medical student at the University of Antwerp hoping to soon become a doctor. Other than the afore-mentioned career path, practically anything and everything interests her ranging from world politics to cooking. A little bit of an optimistic dreamer, she hopes to lighten up spheres around her by using some good old sense of humour.