Bismillah Hir Rahman Ir Raheem
Peace and blessings are upon you all.
Do you remember the line in the movie, Alice in Wonderland (2010)?
It was very interesting how they showed that ‘good people’ or the ‘best people’ aren’t just your typical sophisticated people with fancy gowns and suits who are well composed and the generalised definition of ‘normal-looking’. They are also those eccentric, out-of-the-box, creative, strange, and misunderstood ‘abnormal’ people. They are those people who are committed to doing the best they can while enduring the turmoil of standing out as strangers. Does that sound familiar to you? I can think of two categories of people that can be mistaken for the Mad Hatter; geniuses and Muslims.
Many geniuses have come and gone through this world but their inventions, discoveries, knowledge and legacies continue to guide us through the ages. It was due to their focus, creativity, imagination, ‘out-of-the-box’ thinking, inquisitiveness and different perspectives of seeing the world that we’ve been able to learnt about gravity (Isaac Newton), DNA (Rosalind Franklin, Watson and Crick) relativity (Albert Einstein), discovery of the Higgs boson (Abdus Salam) possessed the power of flight (Orville and Wilbur Wright), and we continue to discover more.
However, they didn’t have it easy. Many faced setbacks and challenges, both in the field of discovery and societal isolation:
- Galileo was put under house arrest for stating that the Earth revolved around the Sun because it was considered contradictory to the people’s religious scripture.
- Alan Turing committed suicide due to undergoing treatment for his homosexuality.
- Marie Curie faced gender discrimination throughout her study of radioactivity.
These prodigies were at some point in their life singled out from others; considered ‘smarter’, ‘stranger’, ‘abnormal’, or perhaps ‘madder’ than the rest. Who spends hours and hours on an idea? Who challenges the norm so often that it raises questions within us that we fear to answer? Who comes up with such outrageous, mad ideas? Surely such people become the talk of the town, are praised and criticised simultaneously but are eventually put on the sideline with a bright spotlight on them. Many are not appreciated in their own time and die so that years later, their ideas are exhibited exuberantly, like Vincent Van Gogh’s work. ‘Madness’ come at a cost but considering how stretched out and magnificent the benefits are, perhaps it is worth it?
Why have I compared geniuses to Muslims? Because according to Allah, Muslims are meant to be the best people in the world, the Ashraf al Makhluqaat, so perhaps Alice was referring to Muslims as well? To be the best people requires a certain dose of madness like geniuses have. Hence, geniuses and Muslims are similar?
“Allah grants wisdom to whoever He wills. And whoever is granted wisdom is certainly blessed with a great privilege. But none will be mindful of this except people of reason.”Surah Al-Baqarah (2:269)
“And in the alternation of night and day, and in the provision God sends down from the sky, bringing Earth to life by it after it has died, and in the varying direction of the winds, there are Signs for people who use their intellect.“Surah Al-Jathiyah (45:5)
As Muslims, we must use the intellect and talent that Allah granted us to good use, and that use shouldn’t be selfish but should benefit one’s self, one’s family and everyone else. We are not meant to sit idle and enjoy this Dunya, instead we are meant to put in our blood, sweat and tears to do good in this world with what we have. Our prophets and their followers took Allah’s guidance as a way of life and gave up their comforts and free time to commit to His mission to see that it excels. They were constantly learning and improving themselves as human beings and didn’t allow their intellect to die out. They pondered over the signs around them and wondered how and why they came into existence. Hence, we should do the same:
- We should be focused on our end goal and our purpose of life, such as the Aakhirah (Day of Judgement) or an important project. We shouldn’t procrastinate so long and so often but work hard to achieve our dreams and aspirations, like geniuses do.
- We should be creative, think outside the box and use our critical thinking to come up with more effective, smarter solutions to problems that can benefit everyone.
- We should be open to looking at things at different angles through different sources to learn and understand and make discoveries of new concepts while putting our ego far far aside.
Implementing such methods will make us stand out. Dr. Abdus Salam was rejected by his own people and his discoveries long forgotten because of his religion. It will make us victims to criticism and comments about our non-existent self-righteousness, and acting strange and ‘mad’ in this Dunya while following ‘centuries old teachings’. When that happens, do pass by this Hadith:
It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“Islam began as something strange and will go back to being strange, so glad tidings to the strangers.’”Sunan Ibn Majah 3986, Book 36, Hadith 61
Like geniuses, we should not be afraid of people’s criticism or being isolated for not following the norm. We should be proud and firm on our determination to be the best that we can be and make our Ummah and Allah proud.
- We should aspire to be like President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who worked on reviving the roots of Islam in Turkiye.
- We should make Olympic history like Ibtihaj Muhammad.
- We should found a Muslim liberal Arts College like Sheikh Hamza Yusuf.
- We should found a Muslim platform spreading awareness and advocating for our rights, like Amani Al-Khatahtbeh.
- We should make outstanding contributions to philosophy and medicine, like Ibn e Sina.
- We should explore and discover hidden treasures of knowledge like Ibn e Battuta.
We should have big goals, a humongous drive and gigantic hopes of changing the world for the better and put our minuscule routine, that is no different from living like animals without conscious critical minds, aside and not waste the amazing intellect Allah has gifted to us.
It is He Who brought you forth from the wombs of your mothers when you knew nothing; and He gave you hearing and sight and intelligence and affections: that ye may give thanks (to Allah).Surah An-Nahl (16,78)
“Verily, the vilest of all creatures in the sight of God are those deaf, those dumb ones who do not use their intellect.”Surah Al-Anfal (8:22)
We are already ‘mad’, and now let us become ‘mad’ geniuses!
So tell me, reader:
ARE YOU MAD?
And if you are, would you like to know a little secret?