Anas b. Mālik (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) is the name of a companion who was blessed by Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) to be at the service of Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) for 10 years. He was named after his uncle, Anas b. al-Nadr (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu), who had not attended the Battle of Badr for a circumstance. This weighed heavily on him as it was the very first confrontation between the Muslims and the pagans of Makkah, one that the Muslims had not prepared for, so he made a promise to himself:
أَوَّلُ مَشْهَدٍ شَهِدَهُ رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ غِبْتُ عَنْهُ، أَمَا وَاللَّهِ لَئِنْ أَرَانِي اللَّهُ مَشْهَدًا مَعَ رَسُولِ اللَّهِ صَلَّى اللَّهُ عَلَيْهِ وَسَلَّمَ فِيمَا بَعْدُ لَيَرَيَنَّ اللَّهُ مَا أَصْنَعُ
“I was absent from the very first battle that the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) partook in, and so by Allāh, if Allāh allows another circumstance to appear, Allah will see what I shall do.”
A year later, the pagans were on the offensive yet again in what would later be known as the Battle of Uḥud, and Anas b. al-Nadr (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) showed up. His behaviour on the battle field was odd. He was advancing all by himself as if needing to reach somewhere.
Saʿd Ibn Muʿādh (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said to him:
يَا أَبَا عَمْرٍو أَيْنَ؟
“Father of ʿAmr! Where are you going?”
وَاهًا لِرِيحِ الْجَنَّةِ! أَجِدُهَا دُونَ أُحُدٍ
“I can smell paradise from near Mount Uḥud!”
This battle was a very damaging one for the Muslims, costing them 70 of the most precious of lives, including the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam)’s uncle, Ḥamzah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu). Post battle, Anas b. al-Nadr (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) was missing. They found a corpse next to Mount Uḥud that had received over 80 wounds. It was unrecognisable. A lady called al-Rabīʿ b. al-Nadr inspected the corpse and realised from his finger tips that it was her brother, Anas. After this, a verse was revealed commenting on this episode, where Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālāa said:
مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ فَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ قَضَى نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُمْ مَنْ يَنْتَظِرُ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا
“Among the believers are men true to what they promised Allāh. Among them is he who has fulfilled his promise, and among them is he who awaits [his chance], and they did not change in the least.” 
Just like us, the companions were human beings who ate, drank, bought, sold, laughed, cried, and also experienced the same set of weaknesses of fear, anxiety, depression, and hesitation that we, too, are prone to. Yet in Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā)’s Eyes, no generation in existence will ever match them in purity, righteousness and rank in paradise. How come? Surely this is a perfectly natural question to ask, as we also crave the same goal that they achieved; Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā)’s acceptance and paradise. One of those many reasons that qualified them for this ultimate prize was, as you read above; “and they did not change in the least.”
ما شكُّوا وما تردّدوا في دينهم، ولا استبدلوا به غيره
“They didn’t doubt nor hesitate in religion, nor did they replace it for anything else.” 
What is the biggest threat to a believer today? Is it Islamophobia? Unquestionably, it is a concern that is deserving of our time and collective planning. But perspective is necessary. After all, its potential damage is limited to job opportunities, reputation, family, or even one’s very life. If such adversity ends with success on the Day of Judgement and eternity in Jannah, then it becomes obvious that Islamophobia cannot be classified as the biggest threat for a Muslim. In reality, the biggest threat to you is yourself; something you say, write, or do, be it appeasement, a PR exercise, or a compromising decision that you make that jeopardises your religion and home in the Hereafter. Not only does this happen, but the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) prophesied that it will.
In a remarkable ḥadīth, the companion Ḥudhayfah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) said:
كان الناس يسألون رسول الله صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم عن الخير، وكنتُ أسأله عن الشر مخافة أن يُدرِكني، فقلتُ: يا رسول الله، إنَّا كنَّا في جاهلية وشر، فجاءنا الله بهذا الخير، فهل بعد هذا الخير مِن شر؟
“People used to ask the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) about goodness, but I used to ask him about matters of evil fearing that it may affect me, so I asked: ‘Messenger of Allāh, prior to Islām, we were in ignorance and evil, then Allāh delivered this goodness to us. Will there be, after this goodness, evil?’
He said: ‘Yes’.
I asked: ‘After that evil, will there be a return to goodness?’
نعم، وفيه دَخَنٌ
‘‘Yes, but it will contain hidden evil.’
I said: ‘What is its evil?’
قومٌ يَهْدُون بغير هَدْيِي، تَعْرِف منهم وتُنْكِر
‘People who guide others using other than my guidance, where you will approve of some of what they do and disapprove of others.’”
In other words, you read some of their works, observe some of their stances, campaigns and public lectures which impress you. You say to yourself, “Yes, this is Islām!” Not long after, however, the very same individual shell shocks you with another statement, a stance, a campaign, a so-called strategic move, where you say to yourself, “What? Can it be? This is not Islām. There is no precedent for this. This goes against the prophetic model. This collides with consensus! What’s going on?”
Ḥudhayfah (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) continues:
“‘After this goodness (although tainted), will there be evil?’
نعم؛ دُعَاة على أبواب جهنَّم، مَن أجابَهُم إليها قذَفُوه فيها
‘Yes; callers who invite at the gates of hell. Whoever accepts their invite, they will throw him inside.’
يا رسول الله، صِفْهُم لنا؟
‘Messenger of Allāh, describe them to me.’
هُمْ مِن جِلدَتِنا، ويتكلَّمون بألسِنتِنا
‘They’re from us and speak our tongue.’
فما تأمرني إنْ أدركني ذلك؟
‘What do you instruct that I do if I live until that time?’
تلزم جماعة المسلمين وإمامَهم
‘Remain with the jamāʿah and their leader.’
فإن لم يكُن لهم جماعة ولا إمام؟
‘What if they have no jamāʿah and leader?’
فاعتَزِل تلك الفِرَق كلها، ولو أن تَعَضَّ بأصْل شجرة حتى يُدرِكَك الموت، وأنتَ على ذلك
‘Then, distance yourself from every one of those groups, even if it means that you need to bite onto the base of a tree till death meets you in that state.’” 
That is right, you and I are a greater threat to ourselves than Islamophobia is. This is when pressure pushes us to change our stances, having forgotten: “and they did not change in the least.”
As a Muslim, Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has gifted you with a set of timeless principles that do not fluctuate with time and actively harmonises all what they come in contact with. This is the nature of revelation when it is from God. Any community, however, that operates according to its own prerogative, the goal posts will continually shift in extreme ways. It is much like an unwell body that no longer produces insulin, where blood sugar levels perpetually spike and drop in extreme ways, as the pancreas – the regulating factor – is not functioning. Revelation is that societal ‘insulin’ that harmonises behaviour, and in its absence, extreme fluctuations prevail.
For example, there came a time – a miserable time – where it was fashionable to discriminate against the black community. It was the in-thing, the ‘progressive’ and ‘enlightened’ thing to do that at the time. There were, however, some who courageously spoke out, opposed the status quo, and as a result, the press was against them; so were policies, academics, and public opinion. They suffered and were seen as incompatible components of society, but today, the moral compass – to a large extent – has changed, and as a result, such people of the past who had taken a stance are now hailed as heroes.
The same can be said about the Jewish community or women. There came a time when they, too, were discriminated against and it was seen to be a morally right thing to do. But again, some people spoke out and challenged the status quo. They were opposed, accused of all sorts, and, in the case of the suffragette movement, groped, force-fed, sexually assaulted, and imprisoned. But today, things have changed, and the moral compass has shifted yet again, and now we sing in praise of those men and women who had taken a stance against the dominant culture back then.
Today is just another round. Nothing has changed. It is just that the focus has simply shifted onto different matters, but the cycle will be the exact same; Muslims today are exercising their freedom of expression and challenging parts of the dominant culture, along with other religious denominations, and it has resulted in name-calling, bad press, accusations of incompatibility, and being on the receiving end of policies.
But if and when society changes in stance as it always does, there will come a time when people will look back at the pages of history that we are writing today, and we will no longer be the villains but the heroes. In fact, signs of this have already started, as Christian ministers from all around the country communicate their admiration to the Muslims, saying to them that “you are doing what we Christians should be doing. You are taking a brave initiative. You are the conscious of this country.”  It is almost as if they are saying: “…and they did not change in the least.”
Think about every bodily pain that you have experienced in the past. You would not be able to list them. Imagine if every time you felt a bodily pain, you dealt with it by cutting off that limb. How much of you would remain? Nothing. Similarly, imagine if every time you are made to feel uncomfortable about an Islamic value because of a prevailing ism in a given society, you cut off the element of Islām, what will remain of your religion in Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā)’s Eyes? Nothing, even if you are celebrated by the masses. It comes, therefore, as no surprise why He has described the Day of Judgement as being:
“A debaser of some. A raiser of others.” 
That day will amaze us when droves of people are made to shine, despite us not having given them the time of day in the life of this world. Similarly, we will also be shocked when many celebrity personalities of today – the ones who were previously given so much airtime, and the ones made so much noise using every medium and gained popularity through appeasement and concessions – are lowered into shame. Success has nothing to do with how you are celebrated today. True fame is about being celebrated on the Day of Judgement.
Fortify your īmān, underpin your identity, challenge the temptation of appeasement, and realise that the world today is – more than ever before – like an ailing man who sways from side to side in grief and excruciating pain, patting on the walls of a very dark place as he searches for a light switch, and instead of us as Muslims offering him that light, our priority is, in many instances, reduced to a mere imitation of that hurt individual, as we make every effort to sway from side to side in as much blind conformity as possible. This is not only a betrayal of the trust, but a betrayal of our countries that we care about and reside in.
Taking all this into account, below are a few practical suggestions moving forward:
Realise that the potential losing of faith is not beyond you.
The fact that the Prophets begged Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) to die upon Islām and feared changing is the clearest of signs that it is He alone who is carrying your īmān, and should He let go of you due to your actions, you will never be able to find your way back.
Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) said to the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam):
وَلَوْلَا أَنْ ثَبَّتْنَاكَ لَقَدْ كِدْتَ تَرْكَنُ إِلَيْهِمْ شَيْئًا قَلِيلًا
“And had We not strengthened you, you would have almost inclined to them a little.” 
Thus, the Prophet (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said to ʿAlī (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu):
اللهُمَّ إِنِّي أَسْأَلُكَ الْهُدَى وَالسَّدَادَ قل
“Say: O Allāh, I ask you for guidance and adherence to what is correct.” 
Work under supervision.
Just as a Muslim businessman must study the fiqh of transactions to stay within the safety of Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā)’s guidance, likewise, Muslim activists, politicians, journalists, and anyone else who puts themselves in the limelight must, more than anyone else, study the fundamentals of belief, principles of the religion, and the fiqh-related matters that pertain to the issues that they are engaged in.
Ensure that you are working under supervision of an established Muslim scholar to ensure that your public statements, methods, and strategies are not devastating your Hereafter, just as they have done for droves of people before you. Do not entrust your eternity to anyone less than that.
Your job is not to rewrite the rules.
Doing that was not even the duty of the prophets (AS). Your duty is to be a bridge between people and Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā), just as He said speaking about a particular man who lived in the era of a prophet:
وَجَاءَ مِنْ أَقْصَى الْمَدِينَةِ رَجُلٌ يَسْعَى قَالَ يَاقَوْمِ اتَّبِعُوا الْمُرْسَلِينَ
“And there came from the farthest end of the city a man, running. He said, ‘O my people, follow the messengers.’” 
That is your job; to signpost people to the call of prophets, then move on. As for the rewriting of rules, which takes many forms, consider the ḥadīth:
لعن الله من غير منار الأرض
“Allāh cursed those who change the boundary lines of land.” 
What then do you make of a person who changes the boundary lines of religion, knowingly or knowingly? Your job is not to rewrite the rules but to invite to them.
We are impatient people. We wish for the path of activism to be easy, hence there is an inclination to move the goals posts and make concessions. However, every reformer has had it tough, so why will you be an exception? Beginning with the greatest of them all, the prophets and messengers, they experienced adversity. The majority of them were persecuted, some died in the process, and only a few saw the fruits of their efforts.
Regardless of whether we see the fruits of our endeavours today or not, when the horn is finally blown on a date known only to Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā), when graves crack open, when humanity climbs out to a land and sky that they do not recognise, when books of deeds are distributed and the scales of deeds are erected and the bridge over hell is established, as names are called out one by one for a court case with Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā), on that day, you will thank Him that you had lived according to the āyah:
“…and they did not change in the least.”
 Al-Qur’ān 33:23
 Al-Bukhārī and Muslim, on the authority of Anas
 Tafsīr al-Ṭabarī
 Al-Bukhārī and Muslim
 Al-Qur’ān 56:3
 Al-Qur’ān 17:74
 Al-Qur’ān 36:20
 Muslim, on the authority of Wāthila b. al-Asqaʿ
The views expressed on Islam21c and its connected channels do not necessarily represent the views of the organisation.
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