The Value of Faith,Unity & Trust

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.”

Helen Keller

In pre-modern times, human beings used to live in scattered places and they were dispersed  all over the world. Oblivious of the existence of other societies living in far away lands, each community was living in isolation from each other. Of course this isolated way of living made sense at the time since resources were scarce and hostile groups could strike any time. By living this way they thought that they were protected. Contrary to their belief, their way of life caused various problems for them. They became easy prey, prone to constant attacks by hostile forces as well as wild animals.

Later on people realized the strength in living collectively and that they were safer living in close proximity to each other as that increased their chances of survival and calls for reinforcements.The value of unity to society/nation is not something that is being realized and appreciated now, it actually goes back many generations-maybe it goes back to the beginning of time.

Unity is an integral pillar that keeps people and nations cohesive. A nation that is not united is vulnerable to many forces. It can be easily manipulated and destabilized  by outside forces. Divided they can be easily disintegrated and played against each other. United they are strong and become a force that has to be reckoned with. There is a Somali proverb that says: “ Ilko wadajir bey wax ku gooyaan” literally translated it goes like this: “together the teeth can cut“. The moral of this proverb is that “unity is power”.

Nothing in life is steady. It is like a roller coaster. It has many highs and lows. Through the chaos and unpredictability of life the one thing that can save a person is faith. An individual that doesn’t have faith in something that is greater than him/her can’t simply function effectively. He/she may go with the follow in rosy times but when hard times come – and surely they will, that person will surely crumble emotionally.

True tests in life only come in challenging times. That is when you are emotionally challenged. That is when doubt creeps in your head and your judgment is clouded. You are outside your comfort zone. you are in an unfamiliar territory. At that moment uncertainty becomes the only constant in your life. This is the moment you come to grips with the frailty of being a mortal being. You realize that you can’t find answers and solutions for all the things that you seek to understand and solve.

Hence, this is the moment when faith in a higher power most likely comes to your rescue. If you are a person with faith you will have a better chance of tackling your problems in a balanced manner. You will be more resilient and be in a better position emotionally to manage the situation. You will be able to give your best shot at things and accept your limitations. Even if things don’t go according to your plan you will at least be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel.

Trust also plays a major role in the development of a society. When people have trust in each other, in their leaders and in the system the society becomes more stable. I know trust is an intricate concept as it doesn’t automatically come to us. Like all other things in life, it needs balance and constant fine-tuning. Trust is not just given, it has to be earned. When individuals trust each other, communication becomes effective and straight forward. Similarly, when there is a mutual trust between couples, they tend to understand and cooperate with each other more and as result of that enjoy a healthy relationship.

A dear friend of mine once told me that “your personality is 50% of who you really are and the other 50% is what people think of you”. Today we are in an era where perception is everything. People judge you before they even set an eye on you. If your business and dealings are not honest and are perceived as not trustworthy then you simply lose face and get relegated to the recycle bin of history.Trust is a great facilitator of things. Where there is no trust, there is cynicism. Therefore, we should  try to trust but always trust with care!


The Power of Balance

” We’re flawed because we want so much more. We’re ruined because we get these things and    wish for what we had.”

-Don Draper

If you carefully observe  the earth, heavens and the surroundings in which you live in , you will immediately realize that everything around you is in order and is functioning according to a pre-determined natural order. What may seem chaotic in the beginning may actually be part of a more balanced grand scheme.

Almighty Allah has created everything on earth in opposite pairs so that balance can be maintained . Male-female, day and night, life and death. We may think they are different things but in reality they are all the two sides of the same coin since the existence of one gives value to the existence of the other. We value life and cling on to it because of death. How can you realize the value of light if you haven’t experienced darkness?

There are many things which are good for human beings but if used in excessive manner they all become harmful to us. For instance, when thirsty one must drink water .There is only that much amount of water you need to drink in order to quench your thirsty. If you exceed that level then you know that it will feel weird in your stomach and it is likely that you will throw up as a result. Similarly, death is part of life. If everything was immortal then earth would have been overpopulated and natural resources overburdened and finally drained therefore there has to be death in order to maintain the balance, avoid chaos & destruction and continue the cycle of life.

Every religion understands and appreciates the value of balance. Almighty Allah says in the Holy Quran: “But seek, through that which Allah has given you, the home of the Hereafter; and [yet], do not forget your share of the world. And do good as Allah has done good to you. And desire not corruption in the land. Indeed, Allah does not like corrupters.” Surat Al-Qasas{28:77}

In this Ayat you can clearly see the balance that Allah is talking about. He is saying that we should worship him and do good deeds in order to deserve heaven in the hereafter which is the eternal home yet we should never forget about our share in this world since we are his vicegerents on earth and have a responsibility. yet, I always encounter many people who strongly believe that this world is not for them and is a world that is made for the unbelievers.

In order to protect the balance of power Allah has ensured that there will be no one supreme power on earth since it will lead to tyranny, oppression and injustice on earth. Through out history there hasn’t been one single supreme power!. When the Roman Empire was at it’s peak there was the Persian Empire which challenged their authority. Today the U.S is the undisputed Hyperpower in the world but it’s power is not limitless as there are other powerful nations such as China and Russia who limit its movements.

Balance is an integral part of nature but it is one of the most challenging things to achieve. A wise man who was a taxi driver once said to me that” human beings are never truly happy with any state of their lives “.I believe his expression was a true reflection of the moods of our times. Everyone wants more than they already have. We are advised to never be soft but instead be kind. What defines us as human beings is our ability to express our emotions yet being very emotional clouds our judgments and perspective on things. We are also encouraged to be generous but never be frugal. The list is unending but one thing is clear from these statements.

It is obvious now that the key to solving all the above paradoxes is ‘balance’. I think the reason we are facing so many challenges these days is because we have lost our perspective on the power of balance. We should all embrace the spirit in the power of balance. We should all strive to achieve balance in our thoughts and actions because a balanced life is life well lived.

Standing Up For What is Right

“The arc of history is long, but it bends toward justice

-MLK Jr.

Whenever I watch the news or read newspapers I can’t help but wonder why there are so many negative things happening in our society.Cultural, ethnic and religious clashes are on the rise while intolerance is spreading like a wild-fire across the world. These trends are motivated mainly by ethnocentrism, hatred and fear of unfamiliar practices & believes of others.

We know that some of these issues are just preposterous and plain rubbish. They are fabricated and used for propaganda by our enemies and critics in order to discredit us and  spread negative perceptions about us. For instance, some people  see cases of abuses against women in a Muslim country. Immediately they conclude that Islam doesn’t give rights to women.  The fact is, there is a difference between what the religion of Islam advocates for and what some people do and practice because of their culture.

However, there are also some issues which are real and need to be addressed carefully. It is a widely accepted fact that our religion is being hijacked by a few misguided and ignorant minority who think that they are our only saviors, know the path to salvation and  what is good for us. Since they believe that they are the rightly guided ones no one is supposed to disagree with their tactics and question their judgment. They  use every tool and  means in their power to achieve their goals and  even mostly justify the killings of innocent people by saying it is for “the greater good”. Those who dare to go against them are simply assassinated or branded as “traitors of Islam”.

They condemn and judge before preaching and seeking the truth. Instead of listening and seeking consensus they impose and rule by force. They alienate any one they see as an outsider and alien to their culture. They gave themselves the right to excommunicate anyone whose ideas does not resemble theirs, blatantly ignoring the Islamic doctrine that says no Muslim  has the authority to question whether someone “is a proper Muslim” .

What disturbs me the most is that our intellectuals and individuals of high influence in our society are scared of speaking up and standing up for what is right and just. Hence, the voice of knowledge and wisdom is silenced and overshadowed by the ignorant and this is the main reason why we are seen as fanatics and extremists by the outside world because the only voice that is emanating from our society is the one of the ignorant.

Since this is our situation, our enemies and critics have capitalized on it and are using it against us and that is how they always intervene and meddle in our affairs.

Now you might think that we  are in a dire situation where we have to choose between the lesser of two evils: weak and corrupt governments or radical and merciless lunatics with distorted believes. I strongly believe that there is another alternative to the above mentioned scenarios. What we need to do is to take matters into our own hands. We need to speak up and always make clear to the world what we stand for and never let any one or any group hijack our faith and our values.What we also need to do is to collectively be on the right and just side of history. We need to eliminate our fears and always be ready to stand up for the truth  even if it means putting our lives in danger. The day we become bystanders and don’t go against oppression and injustice is the day we stop being  moral beings.

It Takes Two to Tango

“A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.”
Winston Churchill

Conventional wisdom dictates that one must first understand the rules of the game before deciding to play it.  Throughout  history, in times of war and peace, every nation on earth used to seek allies. The country that  was part of a strong alliance had much higher probability of surviving than the one without  and that is how diplomacy and politics have been evolving since then. Today we are in an age where one single nation cannot survive on its own.Even the U.S who is the sole hyperpower of today can’t do things on its own when it comes to certain issues. Building fortresses to protect your self is a thing of the past because leaders realized that it  will not serve any good and that  it will only work against you as it will make you a potential target, isolate you  from potential allies and invaluable information. We are in an era where one must first win the battle of ” court of public opinion”before even thinking about confrontation with others.

If history serves memory to us, the most critical lesson we have learnt from the 77′ War with Ethiopia was that we didn’t lose the war because of a lack of  military  might, courage and will power from our side. The simple reason we lost the war was because  of our feeble strategy, failed foreign policy that led to  the loss of allies  and the poor judgments  and vision of our military strategists. In a nutshell, what made the difference in that war was “allies” period. While Ethiopia’s allies came to her aid even some coming from the other side of the world we stood there defeated, isolated,  helpless and the odds were  stacked against us. What followed was history.

As they say, history repeats its self. Time and time again we have failed to understand the power of diplomacy and as a result of that we  have failed to make our arguments and cases palatable  and win allies in the courts of politics. Some argue that  Somalia is isolated because it is small and  it is located in the horn of Africa and it is bordered by countries which are hostile to it. What I say is this: It doesn’t matter if you are a big or a small country or if you live at the edge of the world- what matters is how you organize the human and natural resources God has endowed on us. What matters is how you lobby,  campaign and advocate for your rights,  how you reach out to those that matter and side  your country with those nations that will come through for us when push comes to shove.  You must always have a voice in the international arena. To put it into more perspective, New Zealand has more diplomats in the world than India!

Lately, I have been observing  a mutual consensus of disillusionment and anger  by the general public specially  by  our elders, intellectuals , and learned teenagers towards the attitude and lack of interest shown by  Muslim leaders specially the Gulf states to our country. They don’t understand and can’t digest the fact that for almost 20 years they were watching their Muslim brothers and sisters plunge into civil war ,anarchy and starvation and never came to their rescue while just last year Saudi Arabia rushed its forces to Bahrain which is another Muslim country in order to stop the violence and rebellion that was taking place there. They also hear from the  radios and watch on TVs the Arab league  reacting swiftly to the situation in Syria and trying to find a political solution. The question that always lingers in their heads is: Why this double standard?

The fact is that just because we share a common culture or common faith with some countries doesn’t mean that those countries will always come to our rescue .What we fail to understand is that as much as some of our brothers would love to help us the simple reality is that firstly, today most of the Islamic world’s leaders  don’t have  the political means and freedom   to help us as they face pressures from outside forces  and I imagine that is what made them hesitant and  forced them to mend their own businesses and look after their interests. Secondly, majority of those countries are also ruled by either dictators or monarchs  and they are just there to protect their own seats and pursue their self interest. Hence, the biggest motivating factor that is shaping  international politics today is “self-interest”. The sooner we realize that, the better we will be off.

What I recommend is that our national policy makers must design a thorough and dynamic foreign policy blueprint that  systematically takes into account the need for strategic, economic, political and ideological alliances. We need to take our fate into our own hands. We  need a policy that allows us to curve our own paths . Finally,  What Somalia needs today is a “Big Brother(s)” who  lobbies for us, who protects  us from  bullies , a brother  that has a real desire of working with us, a brother that sees us as his equals and respects our sovereignty, territorial integrity and our right of self-determination .