By Hamid Choudry- The London 2012 Olympics have now finished. These Games captivated the entire nation…nay, the entire world, for weeks with the collection of the worlds sporting elite, all vying to prove their superiority against fellow competitors.
To be remembered as ‘true Olympians’ in winning medals at consecutive games. We will recall Usain Bolt’s performances in the sprint events.
To be remembered as Olympic legends for their total medal hauls. Chris Hoy for Team GB. Michael Phelps, the American swimmer with 22 Olympic medals.
To proudly represent their respective nations. Jessica Ennis was ‘the face’ of London 2012 for Team GB. Andy Murray, who eventually overcame arch-rivals to claim Olympic gold.
To be remembered as pioneers for their nations. Recall Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Brunei, who sent female competitors to the Olympics for the first time ever.
On to Brazil. Who host the next Olympics in 2016, where it will all begin again…..
….Or should I say continue. For this is never ending. Competitors who won, lost or faltered will already be making preparations for the next gathering of pomp and celebration.
You may think from the above I have been infatuated with the games myself over the past weeks… fortunately not, these are merely passing headlines.
I have been consumed with a more pressing competition. One which still has a few more precious days (and nights) to run. One wherein a true and ever-lasting victory can be attained. So what is this competition?
The noble hadith where the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allaah be upon him) ascended the minbar and said: “Ameen, ameen, ameen.” It was said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, you ascended the minbar and said, ‘Ameen, ameen, ameen.” He said: “Jibreel (peace be upon him) came to me and said: ‘If Ramadan comes and a person is not forgiven, he will enter Hell and Allah will cast him far away. Say Ameen.’ So I said Ameen.
Such is the opportunity that is passing us by. We are now entering the closing ceremony of this auspicious occasion called Ramadan. The odd nights of the last ten are upon us. Can we afford to miss this ceremony wherein the blessings of the Almighty are abundantly available to all who wish to avail? Where everyone can be a winner, and no one needs to lose.
Allah (swt) sums up the reality of this life and the next in astounding eloquence and brevity in Surah Hadeed. This Surah was revealed during the early period in Madina, when the first Islamic State was a fledgling community, ill equipped, and in need of sacrifices from the Muslims, both in terms of their wealth, their time and their lives. The brilliance of the Quran is that these same ayaat, which were relevant to the community of believers over 1400 years ago, are just as relevant to the community even today.
‘Know that the life of this world is but amusement and diversion and adornment and boasting to one another….’Surah Hadeed (57-20)
SubhanAllah, does this not sum up the extravaganza called the Olympic Games? Could we describe in a better way the extravaganza that has just passed? The amusement for all involved – competitors, spectators, the obsession at the national and international level, recall the Olympic clock which was running for the last eight years or so counting down the onset of revelry. The diversion from the serious issues of life – the abyss the economy is heading towards, the breakdown in social order, the unending conflicts around the world, the dire poverty and hardship which are forgotten. The adornment of the Olympic stadia and the numerous other venues purpose built to host this party. The boasting of not only the individual competitors, but the host nations themselves, in their claims to have hosted the best Olympic party ever.
‘…like the example of a rain whose resulting plant growth pleases the tillers; then it dries and you see it turned yellow; then it becomes scattered debris….’Surah Hadeed (57-20)
Recall the amazing ‘Birds Next’ stadium built to host the 2008 Beijing Olympics, is now a derelict monument to this phenomenon of extravagance, overgrown with weeds and surrounded by homeless and jobless citizens. The same legacy has befallen Greece (2004 Olympics) and South Africa (2010 World Cup), both of whom spent to excess for pomp and boasting, whilst their populace struggle to make ends meet. We await to witness the fallout of London 2012 in the years to come.
‘…And what is the worldly life except the enjoyment of delusion.’Surah Hadeed (57-20)
Allah (swt) instructs us to strive and compete in this world. But the striving is not for this world. Why strive for something which will eventually wither and perish, when we can strive for something which is everlasting, and which never fades?
‘Race (i.e. compete amongst yourselves) towards forgiveness from your Lord and a Garden whose width is like the width of the heavens and earth, prepared for those who believed in Allah and His Messengers.’Surah Hadeed (57-21)
Whilst we all compete in the mutual rivalry of this world – who has the flashiest set of wheels, the latest designer gear, the biggest house, the most wealth etc etc…how many of us compete in attaining forgiveness from our Lord?
How do we do this? Giving in charity. Helping those in need – the sick, the elderly, and the less well off. Supporting our communities. Spreading the truth of Islam to non-believers. Encouraging each other in these.
As well as our acts of worship, whether recital, understanding and implementation of the Qur’an. Performance of Salaah. Sincere and lengthy supplications in solitude. Contemplation. Reflection. Repentance.
So let us not forego this opportunity. We may not be blessed with the opportunity again. Let us compete for the true and everlasting victory. No gold, silver or bronze for me…
‘That is the bounty of Allah, which He gives to whom He wills, and Allah is the possessor great bounty.’Surah Hadeed (57-21)