“Lowering the gaze is an exercise in resistance. Fasting in the summer and getting up for Fajr are exercises in doing disliked things (no person naturally likes getting wet at 5am or not drinking for 18 hours of heat). All of these rules and rituals are meant to make the Muslim hardy, patient, knowledgeable, rule-oriented, strong-willed and full of perseverance. A nation filled with these types of people can never be taken over by a tyrant.
“This is why whenever tyranny overcomes a land, they should thank the liberal, morally loose, pleasure-seeking and faith-less forces within it. These are the ingredients that beget a weak-willed populace. A tyrant can only prey on the weak-willed. And how will they retain any will-power when the only message they’ve been getting is: fulfill your desires, live your fantasies, manifest your whims and rebel against any authority that tries to tame your appetites. So where is the daily struggle for a cause outside of the self? Sure, in a hedonistic society, plenty of people engage in daily struggle. But it’s only struggle for the sake of my own self and it’s immediate whims. Nothing for anything outside of my self and its appetites. In this type of culture, there is no habit of daily resistance. So when a tyrant rises and it’s time to resist, the warehouses are empty. Resistance is not something you can just turn on. It’s a habit you practice everyday. My soccer coach used to say: if you don’t do it in practice, you’ll never do it on game day.
“This is why Aristotle said: the most liberal nation begets the most extreme tyranny. It’s because the individual members of that nation have all become weak-willed and faith-less, while the tyrant who comes to power possesses—like everyone else in that society—an insatiable desires for his the cravings of his ego. Except that his cravings are control and torment.
“We must look very carefully at what elements of pop-culture and pop-thought we consume. We have to be critical and analytical, not naive, blind followers. The Muslim loves knowledge and uses it to analyze his context, and doesn’t just follow the crowd. The Muslim is distinct (but not foreign) in appearance, producing confidence and pride. A Muslim gets up for Fajr, and prays five times a day with a sound wudu, making us people of will-power, constantly doing things that serve the long-run, not merely our immediate satisfaction. A Muslim is a person of family and community, which means we become patient, unselfish and versatile, learning to deal with a wide range of personalities and moods. There is no retreat. We stick to the jamaa through thick and thin by adjusting our own personalities and taming our ego. A Muslim is one who fasts regularly, learning that you don’t always get what you want, and it doesn’t kill you.
“Whoever observes these things (even tries and fails and keeps trying, never giving up), may be physically in a hedonistic society but will survive its downfall. Toynbee said: those who survived the fall of the Holy Roman Empire were not those who were far away, but rather those who eschewed Roman culture and gods and kept their own. This is what we have to do now more than ever. We have no choice. We ask Allah afiyya, sitr and istiqama (protection, covering up of flaws & steadfastness).”
-Dr. Shadee Elmasry