Saturday, March 31, 2012

Practice What You Blog

I've learned a great deal in my first year as a blogger, but the most profound revelation came last month when I realized I need to put my money (time, energy, etc.) where my words are.

I've been blogging about the need for social justice since last spring, inspired by the courageous women on the front lines of the Islamic Awakening who joined (and even led) movements to end oppression. Coming from an Asian subculture that emphasizes academics, I chipped in by doing what I knew best: reading, writing and gaining knowledge about the issues of the day, mostly via the Internet since I still had two young ones at home. 

Watch this video. Listen to that lecture. Like this article. Share that. Sign this petition. Comment on that. 

It was all empowering...until it turned immensely stifling. 

"I want to throw my laptop out," I announced to my mother upon coming to this sobering conclusion: So much of my time was being spent learning about and communicating the problems of the world that no time was left to do anything about them.  

That's when I decided to go MIA on the blogosphere (albeit temporarily). I needed to focus on transitioning from studying activism to becoming active in my real world community, especially since my youngest started school full-time this month.

Indeed, God asks: "Do you enjoin right conduct on other people and forget (to practice it) yourselves, and yet you study the book? Will you not understand?" (Quran 2:44)

And, "O you who believe! Why do you preach that which you do not practice? Grievous indeed is it with God that you preach what you do not do." (61:3)

Prophet Muhammad (S) similarly warned (paraphrased):

On the Day of Judgment, some people will be on their way to Paradise and will pass by others not so fortunate. Astonished, those Heaven-bound will ask, What happened? You were the ones who encouraged us to do the good things for which we are now being rewarded! Their rueful response: Yes, but we did not practice what we preached.

While raising consciousness, creating awareness and spreading knowledge are important, it needs to be accompanied by one's own good deeds, sincere actions and personal efforts.

Scholar Shaikh Abbas al-Qummi demonstrated this when he took a book of prayers he wrote back from the publisher at the last minute. He returned a year later and explained: "I had composed a book on the supplications to be performed for each day of the year. However, I felt it was unfair for me to tell others to do them without having done them myself. So, for the last year, I have gone through the book and performed every act for each day that is recommended. Here it is now for publication."

After doing some research, I signed up earlier this month as a (substitute) delivery person for a local service that provides lunches for needy seniors in our community, inspired as I was by Fatima, the daughter of the Prophet (S) and one of the four perfect women of all times.

When an elderly man came to the Prophet (S) and said, "I am starving so feed me, I am naked so clothe me and I am poor so help me," Muhammad (S) sent him to the house of Fatima.

She gave him her necklace, which ended up feeding a hungry man, clothing a naked man, satisfying a poor man and freeing a slave before coming back to its original owner.

But branching out hasn't been easy for me.

Two weeks ago the Meals on Wheels director called with a subbing job but I had to turn her down.

I had just downloaded some standardized testing material for my eldest daughter and needed to help her study. After all, the TCAP will be twenty percent of her second semester grade.