Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Let the Tube's strike. Don't let your good character.

Quest to becoming a Huquq Al Ibaad Hero (part 1)

Top Tips For Maintaining Your Humanity During The London Tube Strikes (and other such battles)

The “How to be a Huquq Al Ibaad Hero” series… starting with the London Tube Strikes

"Please note that the beeping noise coming from the doors means that the doors are about to close. It does not mean throw yourself or your bags into the doors," one train driver recently quipped. Such is just one example of the daily commotion known to occur all too well in London’s beloved underground. Any  Londoner can give testament; keeping ones wits about one when one is late, packed into a steel box like a sardine and unable to find a seat is undoubtedly difficult. But what can only add to this misery is the smile ridden faces and state of constant grumbling grunts of ones fellow travellers. But there comes a point, when every bad habit must be broken, every wrong rule be rewritten and every commuter told it’s okay to act human on the London Underground, for God’s Sake! And when best to do this, than in the time of extenuated chaos pushing you to what you see as an underground battle field, during the train strikes! And so I bring to you the first in the series of helpful short guides  on how to maintain your humanity, or is known in Arabic,  Huquq Al Ibaad (that is, the rights of others), during the London tube strikes, and other such minor battles:

1. Keep Calm and Carry On

Ah yes. It’s been a long day and now there are train delays and strangers getting too close for comfort. Not ideal. But maintaining your composure during all of this is essential. “Glad tidings” are given to the “As-Sabirun”, the patient as Surah Baqarah states, let’s not forget!  But it’s is easy to be calm when all is going well and you are untroubled. The real test of character comes in moments of hardship and discomfort; this is when ones real character is revealed. Anybody can get flustered in the moment, but not the Muslim who watches themselves and keeps close check on their behaviour. How we express ourselves in such moments in critical. A man said to the Prophet, ‘Give me advice.’ The Prophet, peace be upon him, said, ‘Do not get angry.’ The man asked repeatedly and the Prophet answered each time, ‘Do not get angry.’ (Bukhari). If you must speak out, do so with tact and an intention to be of assistance rather than an additional nuisance. Don’t forget "Gentleness does not enter anything except that it beautifies it and harshness does not enter anything except that it disfigures it." (Bukhari) And only if you stay cool and patient, will you be able to be of assistance to others. Which brings us nicely onto tip number 2...

2, Stay Alert: Look out for the welfare of the vulnerable

Hey City Slicker! Yes, you! Not everyone who has to use the train will be at the peak of their health and fitness! Now is the time to really show what Huquq Al Ibaad is all about. It’s time to revive the forgotten art of chivalry. It’s time to dust of your heart to enable your kind intentions to shine out through action. It’s time to help the vulnerable:

The Elderly:  If you happen to spot someone elderly during the tube strikes, asking after them will go a long way. It isn’t just about getting up for them on the train, it’s also about helping them with bags, reassuring them that there is someone at hand and walking at their pace. This is the way of the Best of examples (peace be upon him), who advised, "And your helping a man to get up on his means of transportation, or helping him carry his things on it, is a Sadaqah (charity)." (Bukhari)

Young children: Young children may be afraid to see so many strangers in a small space and their parents likewise will be concerned about the wellbeing and safety of their child. In all the commotion it may become easy for them to become separated. As a 2 year old child, I was once lost on a trip outside. To this day, some couple of decades on, my parents still remember vividly their fear in that moment. Don’t be that person who in their absentmindedness, comes between a parent and child. Help parents with pushchairs and let parents onto trains ahead of you. Remember this hadith and you will go a long way; “He is not of us who does not show mercy to our young ones and does not respect our old ones.” (Tirmidhi).

Pregnant women, Disabled, Unwell:  Any of the people within these groups may find particular discomfort travelling in this busy period and need assistance. Stay alert and if you are able look out for such people in advance of the doors of the carriage opening / getting comfortable in a chair. Remember, “Allah is ever assisting His servant as long as that servant is helping his brother” (Bukhari). Importantly, if you see someone struggling, talk to them, double check whether they need anything. Now is not the time to be living by the unwritten underground rule of no speaking! 

3. Show good comradery

We all know the infamous hadith “None of you truly believes (in Allah and in His religion) until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself” (Bukhari). Well get ready to take your Ilm to Amal and practice what you know! Firstly, for the love of a good cup of tea when you get home, move down the carriage! After this in order of importance, if you know of an easier route, or an alternative train line that happens to be running, you may want to consider informing those around you or those who ask.  Additionally show respect to the train staff and the ethics for which they feel the need to strike. Rather than insulting them, think of all the good service that has enabled you over the years to get to and fro with ease. Be kind to them, they too are trying to earn a living and do a job. The truth of the matter is those who do not appreciate their blessings when they have them come to realise through losing them and this may be one such time to reflect on the blessing on a good transport system.

Finally, it is worth reminding that Nothing befalls a believer, a (prick of a) thorn or more than that, but Allah will raise him one degree in status thereby, or erase a bad deed.” – while this hadith is usually used to console those going through calamities, it is also important to bear in mind during every day struggles. Why? Because the example given, is that of a prick of a thorn. This indicates that any difficulty, no matter how small will be rewarded for. So, battling a brutal rush hour (multiplied by 10 in this instance!) on your way to study or earn a living can actually earn you reward. Just imagine! So loosen up, be thankful for an otherwise decent train service rather than having to walk 20 miles a day and …. Perhaps even… smile!

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,