Training of the Heart: Three Radical Loves

The messengers and prophets he sent were great examples of how to manifest our love for Him. When the heart is ready to give up and the soul cannot be burdened with one more pain, remembering the Source of ourselves makes it easier, doable, and the seemingly impossible, possible.

Recently, I had the honor of training a group of emerging young Muslim leaders and I thought of three points that resonated for me whenever I have the opportunity of engaging with future, current and elder leaders of my community.

What are three pieces of advice I wish I had heard when I was embarking on my activism?

In our increasingly networked reality, activism can make one person a celebrity. What are the real loves and actions of the heart that can ground us in a purpose and lend coherence to self and reasons for altruism?

What were the three most important forms of love I wished to be reminded about? Well…here goes…add your own!


This seems so incredibly simple. So pure, so easy, so natural.

Yet often in my meanderings between juvenile justice, conflict resolution, domestic violence prevention/advocacy (the list goes one for me as I am sure it does for you), I sometimes needed to be pricked gently to remember that ultimately, the Ultimate was the purpose of all of this work.

Allah (God) is not just the Reason for activism to make the world a better place. He is also the source of Mercy, Compassion and Justice in infinite terms and boundless amounts.

The messengers and prophets he sent were great examples of how to manifest our love for Him. When the heart is ready to give up and the soul cannot be burdened with one more pain, remembering the Source of ourselves makes it easier, doable, and the seemingly impossible, possible.

Especially in times when one’s own faith is the target being attacked, remembering that reflection and time to find solace in the very part of one’s identity that others think can only cause pain is an act of radical love.

Remember that faith is a form of identity, but it is deeper, it is not merely a box to tick off on a list. It is a conviction, a state of being, a state of believing, a state of joy and a state of elevated consciousness.

Without it, actions are empty, intentions (niyah) are ego driven and we lose the ethics of evaluating means towards a compassionate end.


Understandably, activists for any type of cause get mired in actions that often make people angry on one end of a spectrum or another. Remember: To Live in Community is to Live in Conflict.

We cannot be in community with others unless we are also willing to engage deeply enough to have conflict and disagreement.

Whenever a client of mine says, “We have no conflict in our organization,” I worry greatly because it means they have shallow relational ways of operating. They don’t care to even know each other enough to fight over the things that they care about.

Now I am not saying this is easy…however, to expect that we will not have disagreements and difficulties with each other does not allow us the opportunity to grow together. What is important is how we disagree.

So radical empathy is needed, walking a moment in the shoes of one another to hear those stories that reflect back to us ways that we might grow together. We must learn to be both complimentary and complementary at times.

When harshness is the only MO then the sweetness of brotherhood and sisterhood evaporates.

Take a moment to start with a good thing you appreciate about your colleague, share the critique too, however start with some thoughts of love that can bridge a bond deeper than just constant bickering.

Celebrate the achievements of your colleagues — it serves to keep you humble and recognize the talents of a community as a whole.

 Love your family, love yourself!

I grew up in the belly of the Muslim community. I was present at dinner tables where we sat and asked, “How did you serve both the Muslim community and people of all faiths constructively?”

It is beautiful to have such a calling and noble to serve one’s community. For this I am thankful. The family we go home to can be the source of either pain or happiness. Love your spouse, love your children, love yourself.

The home is the foundation for nearly everyone’s state of mind. As the Qur’an reminds us spouses are garments one for the other. We are protection, support, comfort, care for one another.

This is the foundation of any activist community, if the garments of family are torn, full of holes and bedraggled then the rest of the community suffers on the outside of this most sacred partnership.

With our children, giving and co-creating joy is important as well. Religion is both teaching knowledge and teaching how to love.

A radical form of love is to demonstrate to our children that our faith also guides us to be gentler parents, compassionate parents imbued with rahma (mercy) and good listeners. If our children associate activism with bitterness, pain and hatred of others, they too then associate religion with those qualities.

So begin to love these radical loves. May Allah protect us all and guide us to improve our state of iman to serve his Purpose and with joy serve humanity as a whole to collectively support Beauty, Justice and Mercy in small and great gestures.


About Abdullah

Analytical & Creative. --- I'm not a Sheikh or a scholar, I'm just a regular guy in love with this Deen. Don't praise me for practicing my Deen. But pray for me, for the errors, that you haven't seen.

Posted on October 3, 2012, in Articles and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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