When the Prophet (SAW) came with this deen, one of the central components of the religion was try to humanise people, to make the already difficult circumstances of the world more tolerable. One of the central ways of doing that was to help people get outside of their egocentricity. Because not only is there a benefit for yourself when you’re less egocentric, but it is making life a lot easier for other people. So the more people do that, the better life becomes.
That’s what is so ironic about egocentricity, that it makes life miserable for everybody. And when you begin to get out of yourself and actually start thinking about other people and you get a critical mass of people doing that, then you really begin to create Paradise on earth. It’s not saying, “double shot” or “triple shot cappuccino”, it’s saying: “Can I get YOU something? Can I help you?” That’s what makes life a much more enjoyable experience, it’s not the satisfaction of the self.
The illusion of happiness is saying that if I just satisfy myself, I’ll be happy. Real happiness is actually in serving others, what in philosophy is called the Hedonistic principle. The way we are designed is that we feel good about helping other people but the nafs is there to prevent that. The nafs, shaytaan, desire and dunya are the enemies of humans and are there to prevent that.
– from a lecture by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf (taken from http://habeeba-asghar.tumblr.com/)
A lesson which may be of value is a warning to Muslims against being sucked into the culture of victimhood which we often seem to revel in. I’m not a big fan of screaming ‘Islamophobia’ whenever we are criticised or attacked. I don’t find it very dignified, nor do I see much evidence of it in the example of the Prophet sallAllahu alaihi wa sallam who bore suffering with patience and fortitude, rather than burning flags, protesting and shouting slogans. We seem happy to be suckered into liberal ideas when they stick up for us minorities, only to get snookered by having to edit out the bits of our religion that they don’t like. The Qur’an is not going to change for anyone, like it or not, the Qur’an is the starkest reality facing mankind.
– from an email from a good friend of mine
One thing you will notice about all the arkān (pillars) is that they are meant to be publicly displayed or otherwise known among the believers.
The shahada must be witnessed; the fard salah ought to be performed in congregation if possible; zakat must be collected from all those of whom it is required and given to those to who are eligible for it; Ramadan is a month where the believers abstain from food while going about their lives as they otherwise would in front of everyone; the hajj is done very publicly with millions of others at the same time.
In essence, the collective performance of the pillars of Islam is what gives shape to the Muslim community. It is what truly marks the establishment of Islam in a given area amongst a certain population of Muslims.
– an Islamic scholar, as quoted in the article ‘Muslims, Muggles, and Musallahs’ by Rashid Dar