Imam Khalid Latif is blogging his reflections during the month of Ramadan for the fourth year in a row, featured daily on HuffPost Religion. For a complete record of his previous posts, visit his author page, and to follow along with the rest of his reflections, sign up for an author email alert above, visit his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter.
A close friend of mine, Mostafa Khalifa, passed away a couple of nights ago. I woke up yesterday morning to a barrage of emails and text messages asking if I knew what happened and if I was going to go to the funeral. Of course I was going to go. This was Mostafa Khalifa after all, a young man who I owed a lot to. Nothing would keep me from being a part of his funeral.
When I was younger, I didn't really feel so connected to my faith and was really confused about where I fit in. I felt alone a lot, trying to straddle different sphere of my life without really anyone to turn to for advice. As I started to explore my spirituality towards the end of my high school and beginning of my college career, I was blessed to meet a few individuals who helped me in ways they probably didn't even realize.
The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, said, "God is kind and loves kindness and gives for gentleness what He does not give for harshness nor for anything else."
And in another narration, "Whenever kindness is in a thing it adorns it, and whenever it is removed from anything, it disfigures it."
Mostafa was definitely active and dedicated to his leadership, but overall he was just a nice man. He held many different roles in various organizations and groups, usually in a presiding role, and was always moving, never still. But despite his commitments and obligations, he still made people feel like they belonged. I can't remember a time since I was 18 years old that I saw him and he didn't smile at me or hug me when he greeted me. Even as I write this, the tears fall. I would be foolish to believe that he did not have an impact on my life and evidenced by the crowd of thousands that I walked into yesterday in New Jersey, he impacted many others as well. Please pray for my friend Mostafa and his loved ones. He truly was an amazing man mashallah.
The full beauty of a Mostafa Khalifa is only realized when we ourselves acknowledge those who have impacted our lives as well as our ability to impact the lives of others. I am sure all of us have someone who has touched our hearts in some way or another and we have not done what we can to let them know that we appreciate that. I am also sure that all of us have the ability to touch someone else's heart, but we don't always let ourselves see that.
A well-known intellectual to come out of the Indian subcontinent by the name of Muhammad Iqbal was offered knighthood by King George V. In the course of his life Iqbal would receive numerous distinctions and honors, author a variety or books and papers, and become known as one of the most influential figures of his time. When knighthood is about to be bestowed him, he responds by saying that if he is to be given such an honor, then his madrassa teacher from when he was younger, Syed Mir Hassan, should also be honored. No one really seemed to know who Syed Mir Hassan was. They asked Iqbal to give them some insight. Had he written anything? What were his books? Iqbal's response: "I am his book."
Our stories are being written every day. As characters within them come and go, the impact that some have on us remain throughout. So too we, whether we are conscious of it or not, are written in the books of many others and our interaction with them undoubtedly has some continued impact. Whether that impact is good or bad depends on us, not anyone else. I would encourage you to do your best to make sure that the impact is good and only good, regardless of what might need to be sacrificed to achieve it.
I would take this opportunity to apologize for not being able to fulfill my commitment of writing they reflections daily as I had done in my first three years of writing. Many things had come up over the course of the month that made it difficult to write when I wanted to and I missed a few days here and there. Forgive me for that. But in my own assessment, the immediate attention I had to give was towards circumstances that came up. People's books were being written, and I needed to own up to my responsibility and role in that writing. Thank you, nonetheless, for reading along.
As this month of Ramadan comes to end, many will be celebrating the Eid ul-Fitr Holiday tomorrow all over the world. In these remaining few hours or Ramadan, do your best to spend a little bit of time with yourself and look inside your heart to see what are you carrying with you as you leave this month. Each of you has so much to share with this world and this world is in such dire need of each of us to realize that. A look within is necessary as our ability to share with those around us in premised on our having something to share in the first place. You can't give someone something you don't have, and you will give what you do have. Find courage, strength and hope in yourself and share that with the people around you. Build up love, respect, and confidence for yourself and others, and give each without condition to all those that you meet. Remove anger, hatred, and racism from within, and be willing to confront yourself to see if these things exist inside of you. Stand up against bitterness, envy, arrogance and jealousy, as these things can't be shared if they are not there to share in the first place.
We have a commitment to each other in our shared humanity to be our very best on this day and every tomorrow that we are blessed to see. Don't be selfish and keep yourself from being surrounded by selfish people. The mindless consumption that renders a short-lived complacency from a simple a satiation of our stomachs should no longer be our pursuit. Instead elevate yourself to your highest station, free of any of fear of reaching your potential, and pursue real contentment by satisfying your soul through a nourishment that sees beyond the acquisition of things worldly. Do it so that the world will be better, even if it's just the world of those who are blessed to meet you. Where they might end up will be totally different because of how you impacted their life.
Just be good and try your very best. It will make a difference, I can guarantee you that.
May your noble intentions be elevated and life's objectives be facilitated as you continue to do all that you do. May you be protected from hearts that are not humble, tongues that are not wise and eyes that have forgotten how to cry. May God All-Mighty be with you always, and may you feel His Presence, Love and Grace on this day and every tomorrow that you see. Ameen.