Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Dakwah and Confidence

Dakwah is an art of communicating the divine message to humanity. Speaking the truth is not enough. You have to speak the truth in the right way, according to whom you are speaking with.

Speaking isn't the only medium for dakwah. Communication can be established in many, many ways. We shouldn't preoccupy ourselves too much on speech to commit to dakwah.

Any (legal) medium of communication can be used for dakwah. The goal is simple: to share the message across to people. Note: the keyword is "share". Not "shove".

Sharing this message requires #confidence in yourself, especially in your identity as a Muslim. Have you met a Muslim friend who panicked when someone asked him about Islam?

"Oh my God, what should I answer?!"

Why the panic? Not because the person asking is manipulating his mind into disbelief in Islam, but because the Muslim is not feeling confident in the faith to begin with.

This usually happens when we are born with the faith, like many Muslims that I know. I, too, was born in a Muslim family. But, that's not enough.

A friend of mine once said and I hold his words true in my heart, "We are all Muslims by birth, but today we have to find a reason to become Muslims by choice."

His words struck me deeply. Being a Muslim by birth is a blessing, but you can't rely on that alone if you want to survive as a Muslim in the current climate.

People will flood you with questions about your faith, especially when Islam is in the headlines more and more these days. For dakwah, this is a great opportunity. But only if you are confident enough in your faith in the first place.

If not, then these questions might seem like an attack on you and you might feel like being pushed to a corner. In that situation, there are two choices in your mind: run away or fight.

Both aren't good choices when you don't have confidence. People who lack confidence tend to run away from problems, thinking that it will make the problems disappear. Like sweeping dirt under a rug, you don't see the dirt but you know it's still there.

People who lack confidence can't fight properly. They tend to be emotional and incoherent. They can't form a proper argument and they can't articulate the argument professionally.

To stand firm as a Muslim with all these questions lingering around online and offline, you need confidence. You need to question your faith and remove the doubts.

Because if you don't, others might question it and insert more doubts.

Dakwah and confidence - they move hand in hand.

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Monday, January 09, 2017

What Does It Mean To Be Human?

Being humans mean having the capacity to empatize with the other, even when the other is doing something so inhumane, you get sick. But inhumane behaviours of other people do not justify our inhumane behaviours.

Being humans mean the ability to not respond to negativity with more negativity, without being passive and complacent. We want to improve life as we live it and in doing so, we want to reduce negativity by promoting more positivity into the world.

That, in itself, is not a sign of weakness on our part. When someone punches you and you punches him back, that is actually weakness because you have succumbed to your base desire to get even and not your higher ideals to make the situation better.

This does not mean that the person who punches you should walk away scotch free. Promoting positivity does not mean that we overlook justice. In fact, it doesn’t make sense to promote positivity without promoting justice at the same time.

The thing is, under normal circumstances, justice doesn’t have to be upheld with violence. Those who resort to violence immediately are obeying their animalistic urges. The more animalistic you become, the less human you are.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Sustainability in the Eyes of the Youth

On 29 November 2016, I was invited by Institute Of Strategic & International Studies (ISIS) to be one of the young panelists for a discussion about sustainability. The discussion was a part of a book launch program.

Since the topic was so interesting and rare, I grabbed the opportunity.

The thing is, when we talk about sustainability in the eyes of the youth, we have to realize that it is not one of the top topics the youth discussed. I know that because after 5 years of being a public speaker in Malaysian universities, I can only recall 1 time where the environment is the main topic and that was back in 2012.

Most of the times, the youth are discussing about topics regarding their future such as love, education, and career. This is not to say that the youths are selfish. No. They are insecure and afraid. In other words, the youth are preoccupied about their own survival in this seemingly scary world.

If you refer to Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, survival is the lowest 2 of all our needs. When you are thinking about surviving, everything else becomes secondary. The youth now is feeling insecure about themselves and about their future (their future love life, their future educational achievements, and their future career status).

So, I believe our immediate course of action should be on developing the self-confidence in these youths and it should be done primarily in two places: in the homes and in the schools. Why? Because for most youths, these two places are the first two places they refer to when they want to figure out the world.

If in these two places, they are not being empowered to harness their uniqueness and potential, to become a confident individual, then it is difficult for them to start thinking about other things outside of their immediate surrounding.

If you go and interact with our youths, many of them are too preoccupied with their exam results and they can go into bouts of depression because of it. They’re too insecure thinking about surviving than to think about sustainability. They’re preoccupied with their future and not the future.

Sustainability is about the future and it cannot survive on the backs of insecure people. Sustainability is about going against the status quo of being dependent on fossil fuels, about possibly having to pay more to get sustainable options, and most importantly, it is about going against the big giants who want to keep us addicted to fossil fuels.

Elon Musk’s car company, Tesla, is a great example of this. Much of the things Tesla did were unorthodox and it was unlikely that they will succeed. But because they’re confident about their mission to promote sustainability, they persevered and now they are in the forefront of the sustainability movement.

The sustainability movement is rosy in its slogans, but it can’t survive by feeding on slogans alone. It requires well-educated, well-versed, and confident youths to keep the movement going.

Photo credit: ISIS