An old memory from childhood cropped up in recent days – it was a chilling sermon I had heard at Eid,which is one of two Muslim holidays in a year. It was a masterpiece of oratory, with powerful rhetoric that, I remember, had sent chills down my spine and gave me goosebumps.
The sermon was on the oft-repeated Islamic chant, “Allahu Akbar”, Arabic for God is Greater. Greater than anything else.
Listening to this chant being recited in chorus has long been addictive to me. Quite often, emotions stir up. If I do not melt and feel like crying, helpless before God, a fire lights up within me giving me a huge rush of energy and a feeling of invincibility, that God alone matters and nothing else does. At other times, I feel a heavenly inner peace and contentment, a blissful solitude even in a crowd.
I’m not alone. Many look forward to the chant being recited in chorus before every Eid holiday prayer by Muslims. In times of happiness and success, sorrow and distress, in need and fulfillment, many find a way through calls of Allahu Abar.
It was moving to see young revolutionaries in Egypt standing up to a tyrant, a dictator as they repeatedly chanted the same in chorus, electrifying the masses. I often searched and played the protestors chanting and praying during the revolution, on YouTube.
It was the same during the Libyan revolution, until, things changed.
The last time I heard the chant during the Libyan “revolution”, I was nauseating. I was disgusted.
A bloodied Gaddafi was being sodomized with a long knife-like object, a someone ramming it through his buttocks, cries of Allahu Akbar abound. He was being lynched, beaten, slapped and ultimately killed by people chanting the phrase in chorus. I also read how scores of others were summarily executed by the same “revolutionaries”. I wanted to plead with them to stop one of them – either the religious chant, or their despicable act.
It was clear. Swayed by emotions, the worst has been done, even in the name of religion. Hatred and discrimination, and worse, killing and oppression of a people, because of or due to, or for religion.
Did I learn any lessons? Yes. One, be careful about who you get your knowledge from. Not everyone who claims to do and call upon good is right. The truth stands out clear from falsehood. God repeatedly asks us to ponder, in the Qur’an.
More importantly, emotions that run high and low, and vary with time and place cannot be the sole basis for actions.
Emotions now come after I am convinced of its basis, with reasoning.
My personal relationship with God has grown beyond this stage.
It is about total love, hope, fear, all at the same time – strong emotions, all of them.
As a mortal human with forgetfulness, I have my mistakes as I act at certain times in ways that may point otherwise, but I do realize this: that the world may teach us, men more than women, that to show emotions is to be weak. But the way to God is through hope, through fear, through love. That God is closer to me than anything else. That He is waiting for me to communicate. That His wishes are more important than mine. That my desires are less important than His. That only He is an infallible entity that I can depend upon, that He will never let me down – men are fallible and can and do all the time.
Someone rightly said: Use emotions—but never let them use you. Control them. Never allow them to control you.