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How can I make a difference?

Pandemic. Protests. Panic.

A lot of hidden or ignored issues have now erupted into the light. You may be standing in the midst of this wondering, what can I do? How can I meaningfully contribute?

On the authority of Abu Sa`eed al-Khudree (may Allah be pleased with him) who said: “I heard the Messenger of Allah (saws) say, “Whosoever of you sees an evil, let him change it with his hand; and if he is not able to do so, then [let him change it] with his tongue; and if he is not able to do so, then with his heart — and that is the weakest of faith.” [Muslim]

It can feel like you need to act right now and rush into whatever you can to make a difference. You may feel like diving headfirst into whatever is being organized so that you don’t feel like you’re standing still or useless.

However, resist the feeling of participating in something just because everyone around you is. The nature of a Muslim and of our sunnah is that one is educated first. Take a moment to ground yourself, to truly learn about the issues and use the lens of the Qur’an and Sunnah to select what measures to address are meaningful and can create true lasting change. The right thing to do may be the popular thing, but build in the habit to thoroughly assess something before you join, regardless of whether it is a popular action or not.

Before we approach salah we prepare. This is an action we do 5 times a day and yet, we are required through our faith to take intentional steps to stop and prepare before we approach that daily appointment. We learn about what to recite, how to move, and what to think. We take moments to clarify our intentions, to prepare ourselves physically through wudhu, to select appropriate clothing and prepare our physical space. Before we stand in front of Allah (swt) we spend a significant amount of time physically and mentally preparing through guidance of the Qur’an and Sunnah. After we are done our salah, we stop and reflect on how we could have improved it and our level of khushoo. We bring these learnings to our next salah.

Take this practice and translate it to the rest of your life and your actions. The nature of a Muslim is that we are all expected to be activists for justice and we must participate in establishing the truth. However, our actions are grounded in the Qur’an and Sunnah, so remember to take those moments before and after to reflect on what you are doing, if it is meaningful and if it is pleasing to Allah (swt).

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