It is upon each one of us, to be a source of strength and mercy, to ourselves, and to our fellow believers.
Watching a kid pick up a new sport is fun. Watching an adult pick up a new sport is even more fun. I understood the latter, when I first started playing table tennis, well past my childhood. In the beginning, I struggled to place the ball, and myself around the table. But eventually the effort paid off and I found my groove.
Cut to the present, when again in a later initiation of sorts, I began to learn a new language. Was I late to the party? Surely not, but every time I struggled to find the right words, I was reminded again of the familiar sensation. Of being somewhere near to both excitement and shame.
This is not a unique situation. All of us, at different times have experienced the joy and anxiety that comes with diving into something new. There are niggling doubts to be placated in one’s own mind. Then there is the consciousness of how we would be perceived by others.
Even after a person has made up his mind to switch from place to the next, there is a zone of uncertainty in between the two. One wrong push, from the self, or from others at this point can derail the person. So even a person about to set upon the right track, can fall remiss.
This is where how we build our communities, how we respond to the journeys of others, different than ours, comes into picture. How often do we fall short in our husn al – thann for others? How often do we jump the gun, and refuse to provide second chances (https://seekersguidance.org/articles/general-artices/making-70-excuses-for-others-in-islam-a-key-duty-of-brotherhood/) to others? Are our mosques, our community centres, our hearts, are they the safe spaces we urgently need? Are our spaces inviting, as opposed to being intimidating? And to those of us in transitions, as often we are in life, are the spaces facilitative of our change for the better?
Safe zones enable meaningful transitions. We veer naturally towards them, even if we don’t realize their importance. This is where the catch is. If the congregation is not the safe space the person requires, he or she may just drift away to a place that’s more understanding. And that other place may just spell the doom of their akhirah.
A person may be battling personal traumas or just general confusion regarding the world. Community has to be the enabling space for them to set their compasses right. If not, both the individual and the community lose out. The task to remedy this is confined not just to community leaders. It is upon each one of us, to be a source of strength and mercy, to ourselves, and to our fellow believers.
Saad Razi Shaikh is an Indian journalist based in Istanbul. He writes on popular culture and community initiatives.