These notes are from a lecture Shaykh Faraz and Shaykh Yahya gave during Shaykh Yahya’s visit in Sept 2011. For greater clarity and as a self-reminder, am reposting this section of the talk here.
Shaykh Faraz Rabbani:
Religion meant to transform you and make you an agent of transformation in society. You’re not doing it for people, doing it for Allah. Don’t just make learning something you do. That you’re deening: you don’t go to the theatre, so you go to lectures instead.
3) We serve out of mercy. We have to have a sense of urgency. Benefit to others is of greater religious consequence than benefit simply to yourself. There are actions that are good, and then there are other actions that have benefit that lasts, that have excellence in a beautiful manner. We always need to ask ourselves the question: why do we do the good? There are people who do tremendous good in general state of blah (GSB) and they miss out because they did the good without proper purpose. The purpose should always be to do that which is pleasing to Allah. If you’re helping someone because they are poor, dig deeper. Because it’s the good..so what? Higher purpose should be understood. Activist burnout is real, and some people aren’t just burnt out, they’re roasted. They have harakah without barakah. (Movement without blessing). T.S Eliot said that “most men lead lives of quiet desperation”. So we need to ask ourselves, why do we volunteer, why do we serve? The meaning is not just a checkbox, it’s harder than that, need to bring heart to the equation. Need to work on making intention true. Intention is not what you claim, it is what drives you to do something. It should be because you’re seeking the pleasure of Allah.
GWMLB: Prophetic model of what your motives should be. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) told us that the strong believer is better than weak believer though there is good in both, and the strong believer is avid for all that benefits. GWNLB stands for Greatest Widest Most Lasting Benefit, and this is what should guide us.
So if you want to study, ask yourself what do you want to study? Why do you want to study? What do you want to achieve? If don’t know answers to these questions, then don’t go. People who do something with clear benefit, go far. Whatever you do, seek greatest widest most lasting benefit. If seeking intellectual edutainment, that is what you will get.
4) Can’t do everything but need to have concern that is manifested in your conduct. Stop watching news, is a form of entertainment. Instead of watching news, be someone who contributes to what is happening. Doesn’t take much to keep track of what is going on, but it’s a valuable exercise to go to CNN and count number of stories that you can do something about.
Always need to be asking yourself, What is Allah seeking from you in this situation? What you can do on your own is very limited. If want to do good, have to work with others who are doing the good. Need insight and wisdom as to how to promote the good.
5) Two keys to bringing the good in own lives and radiate good around us is knowledge and remembrance. These are two ways to gain benefit and radiate benefit. The good that you do without these keys are like plants without water, they may grow a bit but will soon wither and die. If you see your own life, likely any time you had increase in your own life is when connected to remembrance and knowledge.
6) A way to wisdom is to serve people and having a sense of service in everything. In terms of gaining insight and wisdom don’t look at immediate. Look at long term and see what will be of greatest, widest, long term benefit.
7) One way to have consistency is to have good routines that allow you to connect with knowledge and remembrance. Act of gathering with other people in remembrance and learning.
Recap: have clear sense of purpose. In anything never just go without sense of purpose. Realize that any of the good that you’re doing is part of a collective obligation. A responsibility, not just a feel good thing. Someone who goes to sleep while neighbors are hungry is not a true believer. Least is to have concern. If someone is a student of knowledge, and slacking off and not taking it seriously, they may be sinful.
Discharge things with worldly and spiritual excellence.
What we describe positively as activism was in the lives of the Sahabas. They were very cognizant of societal conditions. Every time you walk outside, that is an opportunity to impact people. People wouldn’t be here unless people lived these meanings. People whose whole lives were dedicated to serving deen, who were always ready to receive guests. We can’t just say can’t do this and give up.
Be someone who is not a spectator in life, do something about things. Dua is something you can do.