Muslim Student Association


I Am Blind
Dawood Yasin

At Maghrib (sunset prayer) as we lined up and the iqamah was ending, I looked to my left and saw a brother wearing very stylish sunglasses. He looked too cool for where he was. He and I were both in the front row, and what a blessed place it is. I could not stop thinking, “man, some people are too cool, even in the Masjid during prayer people have on sunglasses!”

I take issue with sunglasses in two instances, when they are worn indoors and at night. I am not judging anyone--or at least that is what my ego has tricked me into believing--as judgment is reserved for God alone.

However, what I think about myself and what is reality are two very different things. The prayer finished and I remained in my place reading a short litany. As I got up to pray two ra’kats (units) of voluntary prayer, and I saw “Mr. I wear my Sunglasses at night” doing something else that really caused me serious discomfort. This discomfort was different; it was more painful than the first. This pain was an internal pain, and it was now, self-inflicted. This pain was the direct result of all the ugliness that we read about regarding the blameworthy traits (envy, greed, lust, jealousy, pride, rancor and ostentation, to name a few) of the undisciplined soul.

The brother was humbly sitting with a large Qur’an open and reading with incredibly proficiency. And why was this painful you may ask? It was painful, because the large white pages from which the man was reading where not covered in ink. In fact, there was not a marking on the page that was visible. The brother was blind! He was reading a Qur’an in brail. He was doing something to bring himself closer to his Lord, just as he intended with his prayer earlier. And here I am, “Mr. I’m not judgmental” judging him. At that moment I felt like crying, I left the Masjid in pain, I beseeched my Lord for forgiveness over and over again! I know how far I am from God’s pleasure; I know that I am filled with shortcomings. But yet, my ego still believes in the hero-narrative it creates for itself to justify all of its ugliness and trickery.

I only wrote about this because I wanted to share a lesson with you. Take heed to the advice of not being judgmental. We do not know what its like to walk in another person’s sandals. Judgment is for God alone, and I ask Him to show mercy on this poor soul when it is judged.

People are asking how are others getting “Ramadan Ready.” For me its simple, it became as obvious as the sun at high noon. I am ready to leave my wicked ways, that is how I am getting Ramadan Ready.

This painful experience has made one thing very clear. My Lord has used a blind man to teach me to see! To show me, that it is I, who is blind, not the man reading the Qur’an. He used this man show me the evil that lurks just under the thin veneer of my self-proclaimed piety.

First task on my Ramadan Ready list…stop judging!
My Lord, I am blind, I call upon your grace, mercy and benevolence to help me to see. Amen!

Dawood Yasin
Muslim Advisor
Dartmouth College
Tucker Foundation

Farzeen Mahmud

One day in the winter—a season that I had thoroughly resented until coming to Hanover—I let myself stare at the glorious white sky over the white Green: other students rushed purposefully by me while I stood completely still. The image of this moment, seemingly insignificant, strikes me when I think of what my faith has grown to mean in the recent part of my life.
So much of the discussion about faith, spirituality, and religion relies on the term "values." We want to probe deeper, in multi-faith gatherings, to determine what a person "values," or what they find meaningful, beyond the simple name of their religion, or collective set of beliefs. Worth, a synonym of "value," lurks in the etymology of the word "worship," which is, otherwise, worth-ship. The question of worship is one that asks, to where or to whom should I point my worth?
Perhaps I can explain the need for value to this audience as likened to the need for a strainer which allows us to distill the opportunities for thought or action that we are presented, from the ones that we will ultimately pursue. We cannot continue to live, except haphazardly and disastrously, until we determine what is worth our time, our thought, our energy, or our presence. I have often found, however, that in the discussion of how to give value to our various "deities" or points of worth-ship, the question of self-value, or self-worth, gets lost. That is the question I have ultimately come to spend time most with at Dartmouth: not how my friends should value me, not why a certain graduate program should value me, not the at-once practical and existential question of what value I have to offer to the World with a capital W, and not even the question of what specific values guide my everyday decisions. Rather, I have asked, primarily, what is the value of me, for me? How can I value myself?
To answer this, I ask more questions: Why did I end up as an individual, in my own realm, where I could sit so comfortably, specifically, and familiarly with myself, my observations, my experiences, and my lens through which I live? Why did this lens come with its own set of limbs, and its own consciousness that could tell its limbs what to do? What am I doing with all of this free will, not generic human free will, but rather, specifically, my free will?
I realize, by understanding the nature of my free will, that my perspective is unalterably unique, just as any person's perspective is unalterably unique. Through exercising my free will by making decisions, like choosing to stand still after a period of walking, I have learned what it means to be myself, and what the empirical value of myself must be. It must be non-interchangeability which lends to me having utmost responsibility over my limbs, eyes, heart, and engagements with other equally unique people.
No one else other than myself can be me; no one else can choose for me to stare at the sky or look at the mountains north of campus, in order to appease an overwhelming sense of awe, other than myself. If I cannot understand what I am given the capacity to understand best – i.e. myself – I cannot understand other things beyond myself. I must be aware of my self, a self defined by my own free will, in order to even think about a god abstractly defined by Perfection. And when I am able to contextualize myself with what is Perfect, I can also learn to contextualize other people over whose realms I have less knowledge. I can, this way, learn to sincerely value the other people, animals, snowy white skies, organic molecules, wisps of air, and avocados in this Universe, whose existences, too, are facts of this Life, and aspects of the absolute truth.
So I am the one that, through my free will, I submit to God, when I engage in Islam, the Arabic gerund for "submission." It is my choice to submit myself to Whatever is, by definition, Most Perfect, Eternal, Most Mighty, All-Knowing, Most Forgiving, Most Merciful, Most Swift in Account, Most Loving, Most Aware, Most Just, that frees me from holding myself to any other standard. This is whose understanding has allowed me to value myself. This is where I choose to point my worth. This is what I worth-ship.

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