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Muslim seeking the pleasure and mercy of Allah, Most High... Sunnah style!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Vision of Muslims In the West

Bismillah, wa-Salaatu wa-Salaam 'ala Rasulillah.

Peace unto those who heed the righteous guidance. The Mercy and Forgiveness of the Most High unto those who turn to Him with a sincere and sound heart after having turned away. Our beloved, holy prophet, the greatest worshipper and human example to exist on this planet, and Allah's final messenger to man has taught us that there is not a single descendant of Adam (alayhi salaam) except that he or she is a sinner, but the best of sinners are those who repent. Muhammad ibn Abdullah has told us that everyone will go to Jannah (Paradise) except those who do not want to go. With befuddled ganders from his companions, the Sahabah, he was asked, "Ya Rasulillah" (O Messenger of Allah), who doesn't want to go to Jannah?" To which the response of our beloved prophet was: "those who do not want to obey their Lord."

O Muslim, do not be shy or apologetic about our Deen. We know it is the answer and solution to humanity. The only way to Allah and the only way He has sent down to His prophets and messengers that we should adhere. The only means to achieve true peace, success and happiness in this life and the Hereafter. Not just temporal peace and happiness, but inner and outer, complete and lasting peace and happiness whose side effect is only unfathomably greater peace and happiness. Not hangovers or guilt. May we be grateful and proud of being Muslim in this day as we will, in'sha'Allah, on THAT Day. May Allah continually increase in iman, taqwaa, hikma and knowledge of His Deen whosoever wants it. Ameen.

Indeed Almighty Allah, azza wa jall, is praised whether we praise Him or not, yet humbly we praise Him and are penitent to Him. We seek refuge in Him from the evil of ourselves, our own desires and ego in that we aren't so invested and concerned with the dunya, even the helal, that it distracts us from al-Akhira. Recalling our purpose and responding to our goal. For what good is knowing when we act as though we know nothing at all? We seek refuge in Allah from the evil consequences of our deeds. Whomever Allah, who is independent of all while all are dependant on Him, guides none can misguide, yet whoever Allah allows to be lead astray none can guide. And whoever is left to their own path will always be misguided. I bare witness that there is nothing, not a deity, object, entity or organism worthy of worship except Allah. And I testify that Muhammad, alayhi salaatu wa salaam, is the best among His servants and final Messenger.

To proceed...

My intention here is to share a direct challenge to us, Muslims in the West, from respected speaker Sh. Yasir Qadhi as to what our goal should be as a religious minority in secular lands. Establish Hijrah? Establish a Caliphate? I believe in a land where secured the right to follow Deen ul-Haqq (the way of Truth), to practice the religion of Allah through the submission and worship of Allah, then we should do precisely that. The more we practice by not only praying, fasting or giving charity, but by assisting others in need and standing for justice. Even cooperating and protesting alongside non-Muslims in matters of justice and righteousness as Allah urged us in ch.50 v.2 of the Qur'an where He has said what means: "help ye one another in righteousness and piety..." By exhibiting our disproval of injustice and oppression, exhibiting our desideratum for peace, fairness and goodness among humanity and animals as Islam calls us to will only intrigue and draw others to the perfect guidance.

The best dawah and our finest argument is indeed the practice of our beautiful religion. Through the implementation of Islam will others more effectively become receptive to the message of Islam. And what is naturally to occur in a secular dimension where the majority has embraced the perfect guidance of Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala? This goal is only theoretical at this point and what's immediately critical is that we simply exercise our right to be Muslims. Not all of us are in consensus on this issue, but it is good to engage in a respectable dialogue as to reach a conclusion. Brother Yasir Qadhi puts it very well in his speech I will include below, enjoy:

I encourage feedback and ideas of all sorts among our Western Ummah with regards to this matter. Jazakum'Allahu khayran.


Anonymous said...

Assalaamu aleykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh,

I'm so happy to see you post this. This is something I have thought about a lot, especially over the last few months. I want to preface my response by saying that I'm not looking to debate; I'm certainly open to challenges to what I think, but I don't wish to get embroiled in argument over my views on this subject. Also, I am very new to Islam and very uneducated, so please keep that in mind!
I love how the Shaykh mentioned that Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala WILL preserve Islam. I'm not saying we should not work to preserve it as well, but it bothers me that many Muslims get so defensive about their faith and keeping it "uncorrupted" or "unWesternized" or whatever. As the Shaykh mentioned, Islam exists in the cultural context that we as Muslims practice it, and our focus should be more on living our lives as Muslims and how we are going to do that than trying to preserve some specific ideal of what Islam is supposed to be - we don't have that kind of power or understanding! (Alhamdulillah, that is too heavy of a burden to carry!)
One of the biggest issues I think we face is the fact that Muslims in America benefit very much from the separation of church and state. Normally when this is violated in America, it's for the benefit of Christianity to the exclusion of other religions, so I feel it is in our benefit to try and preserve laws and such that don't specifically privilege Christian views over other views, because the erosion of separation of church and state for any minority in America eventually leads to discrimination against other minorities as well. This is why on a recent Facebook discussion I argued that I don't think we, as Muslims, should vote for discrimination against GLBT Americans. That discrimination is based in a specific Christian worldview and rhetoric, the same worldview that constantly challenges our own right to exist as Muslims, and the right of any other "deviant" minority to exist as well. No matter what our personal or religious beliefs are on certain issues, I believe that if it doesn't directly affect individual rights (I'm not saying we should campaign for the removal of laws against murder!) it's in our best interests to do what we can to protect everyone from the separation of church and state, as long as we live in a world and a situation where the ideal of an Islamic state cannot feasibly be recognized where we are now. Another issue is that for me it is hard to argue against the separation of church and state just from the basis of Islam because I would not BE Muslim were it not for the fact that we have separation of church and state. I would have never been able to learn about Islam or convert to it. So I think that it's kind of hypocritical for someone who has obviously benefited from this separation by becoming Muslim in the first place to turn around and say that the separation of church and state is an awful terrible thing. Obviously it has pitfalls...but we would not be able to be Muslim in this country did it not exist, and it's the very erosion OF the separation of church and state that visibly has made it more difficult to be Muslim in this country.

That's a threat from outside. But there is also a huge threat from inside that I have unfortunately experienced a lot since becoming Muslim, and that is the refusal of Muslim communities to take care of their own. Alhamdulillah I have wonderful friends like you, AV, and Khadija, my Arabic teacher, and other people I've met online, because my experiences with Muslims offline have been largely unsatisfying. It's difficult to attend the masjid here, and you cannot contact them via email (you never get a response - I've not tried calling). The MSA is almost entirely made up of born Muslims, many of whom aren't particularly observant, who don't seem to care about daw'ah. I'm the only convert that I know of in the MSA, and I've volunteered a lot of time and my skills to help and I never hear back from them about anything. I've gotten some off-color comments about being so conservative, for example, in my manner of dress. I have witnessed non-Muslims asking for information about Islam, even one girl asking about converting -to- Islam, Alhamdulillah, and have watched them being turned away and essentially not given any information. It makes me really sad. If we truly want everyone to be Muslim, if we truly want to draw people to Islam, we have to first of all hopefully show them with our words and actions that Islam is something meaningful, something that can be meaningful for them. We also have to be tolerant - I'm not saying we should go against the teachings of Islam by any means, but I think all too often we get complacent or arrogant in our "knowledge" and forget that we don't know what goes on between another person and Allah, we don't know everything about the deen, and we are, as Shaykh Khalid Yasin says, "tiny, tiny creatures." The kind of absolutist, intolerant rhetoric I often hear among American Muslims, especially born American Muslims, tends to not leave any room for helping potential converts or new converts to adjust to Islam and to understand it as something that's also a personal journey for them. The other side of this is the amount in which American Muslims discourage other American Muslims FROM practicing. I know I and many of my Muslim sisters in Western countries have been ridiculed or told not to dress so conservatively. I know of sisters who've been ridiculed for actually praying all the prayers and been treated as an extremist BY OTHER MUSLIMS. If we really want to preserve Islam, we need to keep open hearts and open minds to our brothers and sisters and to possible converts, and to do everything we can to be understanding and to help others grow in their faith and understanding. I think a lot of this is accomplished by being examples ourselves - not that we have to be perfect, but often non-Muslims approach me and ask me because of the way I'm dressed or because of things that I talk about or things that I do and they want to know how I came to the place in life where I am and why I seem so fulfilled by this way of life, masha'Allah. We also have to remember that, at least IMHO, Islam is more about doing the right thing than about judging whether others are doing the right thing. IMHO, it's better to go and help the poor or visit a sick person than to sit around saying oh, this person is not a good Muslim because of this, or what not. If we have time to sit around and judge, we are not doing what (I think) we should be doing as Muslims, which is caring for other Muslims and even non-Muslims and showing them compassion.

Abdul Vakil (AV) said...

We are in magnetic agreement on this subject, A'isha. It is imperative that we guard our Islam. How will the Islam, the iman of an individual, let alone a nation, enrich, cultivate and flourish if left unattended and without maintenance? Alhamdulillah, the message of Islam, tawheed, is projecting and being accepted by open minds and sound hearts at a rate more gratifying than we know.

But personally I think the problem in sustaining Islam is our abandonment of the Sunnah. The basics such as our prayers and fasting in Ramadan, good. But what about fulfilling the bare minimum of physically assisting those in need whenever the opportunity presents itself? Smiling and greeting everyone warmly. Selfishly, we worry ourselves with the 'what if I get this reaction?' so much, we forget it's for the sake of Allah.

This abandoning of the Sunnah is affecting especially those new Muslims who are in dire need of a support system. We need to provide that support system for them. Give them our numbers, email and what-have-you to assist them in the best ways possible. We forget most of them are having to deal with intolerant close, non-Muslim, relatives, friends and colleagues in their day to day working diligently to pull them out of this beautiful Deen. But how do we keep them on the road to guarding and accelerating their Deen when we fail to tend to our own?

I know we shudder at the s-word... "strict". But the time has come we accept its essentiality. Because we all know who will always be strict whether we are or not.. the Shayateen! Shaitan is always strict, brothers and sisters, we cannot combat his efforts being relaxed.

Allah, subhanahu wa ta'ala, has made it clear to us that He will not change the condition or status of a people until they change what is in themselves.

We would be quite wise to take heed.