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Muslims living in the West
By: Dr. Shacabi, California, USA
Divided we fall, united we stand," said former US President Abraham Lincoln. How true are his words when applied to the situation of Muslims today? We are separated and divided on petty issues, and we are so weak that the Western World is playing with our lives like a football. We invite them play with us. In the past, the Muslim world was under occupation and colonialism. Today, it is under cultural imperialism and controlled by Western economies. Today, we have immorality spreading like a contagious disease. Ignorance and poverty abound in some Third-World countries. Ignorance meaning not only illiteracy but also ignorance of their own religion. Even Muslims living in the West are subjected to racism and hate crimes. They do not always get their full rights or even full respect as human beings. Yet, who is working to change all the problems Muslims are facing? When will all Muslims unite and take their rights and freedom? This is the problem. We are divided and falling deeper and deeper into a dark abyss. We need to unify and rescue ourselves. Though it is not easy to do, it is possible if we do a few things. We first have to change ourselves, and then Allah will change our condition. To unify we must increase morality and closeness to Allah, build an Islamic economic base, break prejudices between Muslim groups, get rid of tribalism and nationalism, create an environment for an Islamic culture to grow, in a foreign country be an active group, make dawah to non-Muslims to unify humankind as well as to Muslims to bring them back to Islam, and most importantly be proud and confident as Muslims as well as to educate our children well.
We must increase the morality and practicing of Islam by Muslims worldwide. We must teach all Muslims their religion correctly. We must support each other in the practice of our religion. We must pay special attention to new Muslims and give them the needed help to grow in Islam. They are like tender flowers that need protection and nourishment. It is our duty to take care of their needs. We need to bring straying Muslims back into the fold of Islam. We must support and sacrifice for each other and really live as brothers and sisters in Islam. The problem is Western individualism has divided us and caused many to become selfish and "me-conscious." A Muslim must care about those around him and sacrifice for them. His reward comes from Allah. If we unite in brotherhood and strengthen our faith then we will come closer to Allah. If we always remember Allah, then certainly He will remember us, and He will help us and rescue us from our dire situation. Unity is through brotherhood/sisterhood and through worshipping Allah together as well as through Islamic work and projects we do together.
Muslims in the world are also weakened by having to depend on a non-Muslim economic base that is designed to work against Islam and to hold back developing Muslim countries. Muslims living in a non-Muslim society are trapped by this economy. We must bring our best Muslim economists and Muslim scholars together to discuss ways of developing an Islamic economic base and system that can work independently from the Western economic base. If we can ever free ourselves from their economy, then they have no pressure to force us to work against other Muslim countries or to go against Islamic laws. If we can produce a united Muslim economy, we can make it 100% halal and be self-independent. This may be a long way off, but we must begin now and work towards this. If we unite in economy and in business, then Insha- Allah this will lead the Muslims to unite in other ways, too.
We divide ourselves even more than outside forces. Different Muslim groups or schools fight over petty differences and won’t even work together. They should be ashamed of themselves! What would the Prophet (peace be upon him) say if he could see them now? Islam is a religion of balance, and the Prophet (p) told us to balance things in our lives. We should not go from one extreme to another extreme. Islam is an easy religion; Allah is merciful so he gave us some differing opinions that are all based upon Qumran and hadith, so all are valid. We must respect all schools whether we agree with them or not. Instead of dividing on small issues, why not unite on common ground with the main things of religion? If one says the shahadatain: "Ash hadu Ana la ilha illa Allah wa ash hadu ana Mohamedan Rasoolluh," then he is a Muslim. We have, for example, some from Shafi School who won’t pray behind a Hanafi. This is ridiculous! We are all Muslims praying to the same god, Allah, so we should be united in faith and spirit. We should love one another and overlook and accept valid differences. If there is something a Muslim is really practicing wrong, and then in a nice way teaches him Islam by showing him in the Qur’an or hadith the correct way. If it is a difference of schools, then Muslims need to educate themselves on the views of all the schools.
We need to learn to make dialogue together without yelling, fighting or hating and without having wars. The enemies of Islam like to see us fight and sometimes they stir up trouble to drive us to fight each other. By the way, the Prophet (p) said that when two Muslims draw swords and kill each other, they both go to Hell. So this should remind us not to fight each other! Even Sunni and Shia must learn to work together. I am a Sunni Muslim, but I have met and know some Shia and they practice Islam just like me. True there are different sects of Shia and some are close to Sunni, but maybe before Muslims spread more gossip about Shias they should try to really learn what they believe. Someone, for political reasons, has tried to turn Sunni and Shia against each other just to weaken the Muslims. Yes, there are some sects of Shia who may have innovated and yes there may be some who are outside of Islam. But the majority just has a few differences, like a school. So, what Muslims need to do is to learn to stop hating and to cooperate against the common enemies. As long as one says the "shadahtan" he is still a Muslim though he may be misguided or a sinner. We need to peacefully sit down together and have dialogue among ourselves and get everyone back on the right track by following only the Qur’an and Sunnah. So, let us first unite, conquer our enemies, build our Islamic State and then educate our Muslim society in the correct way. We can’t solve the problem or our differences if we don’t even have the Caliphate. We all must share in this jihad (struggle) through all different means available whether speaking, writing, teaching or even fighting when necessary.
Another big obstacle between Muslims is tribalism and nationalism. In the Prophet’s (p) "Farewell Sermon" he said that tribalism was under his feet. We need to tell this to Bedouins and Muslim African tribes who still shed blood for silly feudal reasons. (Also, sometimes greed and power play a part in these disputes). We must educate these people about Islam and bring brotherhood between them. We need to become as one big family. This also includes nationalism. It is all right to love one’s country and to be proud of one’s ancestors and heritage, but some people take this too far. Sure, the Prophet (p) loved Mecca but finished living his life in Medina. He was among his family the Ansar (Helpers) and the Muhajeeren (Immigrants). We need to carry this same attitude and break the borders. All Muslims are one big family and must care for each other like a family. We need to unite by all Muslims attempting to learn Arabic (at least Qur’an) at some level because of their religion while all Muslims should attempt to learn a foreign language (or two) in order to communicate with fellow Muslims from other countries. We need this communication. Islam is designed for us to live in a global world because it is universal for all times and all places. There is no discrimination in Islam. So, to advance Islam and to regain the Caliphate, we must push globalization of Islam by first starting with ourselves by reforming our souls and characters.
In becoming one big worldwide family, as Allah meant for us to be, we must create an Islamic culture. We can forget other cultures. Islam is a way of life and it should be our leading culture. Islam has everything we need. If one’s culture has something good, then keep it and share it with all Muslims, for example methods of organization, but if there is something bad in one’s culture and it is against Islam then he must throw it away. We should work towards Islam pervading all fields and really being a way of life. Islam must be in science, medicine, politics, education, literature, arts and so forth. This is the way to have an Islamic culture and an Islamic society. We can push Islamic culture to the forefront. If we change the world, then make it Islamic. Christians, Jews and others can have their own religions, but they will live under Islam. Islam will be the leader as it should be. They will have their rights; all citizens of the Islamic State will have their rights. The Prophet (p) had the Islamic State in Medina which was comprised of Muslims, Jews and even hypocrites but it operated by Islamic Law. The system of Islam must bring truth, justice, equality and fairness, as it is meant to bring.
If Muslims live in a non-Muslim country, then they should be active and confident. It is their duty to establish Islam and to unite together and to strengthen each other. They should collect money and build mosques, Islamic schools and health centers. They should buy houses and apartment buildings in the same neighborhood and collect the Muslims in one area so they can live and work together. It is best to try to live near the mosque, if possible. All Muslims, regardless of race or language should live in this community. It is the Muslim family. Men, especially, should try to go to the mosque daily. Lessons and lectures should be held regularly for men and women. Also, youth activities need to be organized. These Muslims must build a strong political voice and get involved in voting and political activities. They need a Muslim lobby so they can work for the rights of Muslims in that country as well as working to impact policies that deal with other Muslim countries.
When choosing a president, one must choose the best candidate who stands for Muslim interests; he must choose the lesser of the two evils. One day, a Muslim may even become the leader of that country and then he’ll be in a position to make positive changes for everyone in the society. A Muslim must be concerned, even about non-Muslims and he should always work for the benefit of all humankind.
Another way of not only unifying Muslims but humankind is by educating non-Muslims about the true Islam to put down their fears and prejudices as well as being able to invite them to Islam. It is our duty to carry on dawah activities. However, before individuals choose to make dawah to non-Muslims, and even to other Muslims, he must read, study and educate himself about how to invite others to Islam as well as increasing his overall religious knowledge. This will help insure success. If one approaches another in the wrong way, he may push the person away from Islam rather than attracting him to it. We also need to host and sponsor inter-faith dialogues. We must keep in mind to speak in a respectful and calm way. We should not yell or get angry. We must use wisdom, logic and eloquent language. This should also be applied even when dealing with inviting Muslims to practice Islam. Sometimes we find Muslims discussing religious topics, and they explode each one so sure he is correct. In times like this, we must remember that anger is from Satan and that Satan wants to divide us. So, we should work hard to hold our tempers and our tongues, even when the other person is wrong. We must be patient and use calm means to convince them.
Most importantly we can become strong and united when all Muslims, no matter where they live, stand up with pride and confidence and pass these feelings onto their children. Unfortunately, I’ve seen some Muslims in the West, and even in the East, who are ashamed to be Muslim and women who take off the Islamic clothing just to blend in. This is wrong. We are not supposed to blend in and get lost. We are supposed to be strong and confident because we have the truth-- Islam. We are supposed to be the leaders. We need to develop our Islamic character and self-esteem and not be afraid. We are living for Allah and not for other human beings. If we blend in and are ashamed, then how will we ever unite and be the leaders of Islam?
Also, we must unite together to make the best education for our children. We need the best methods and enthusiastic, hard-working teachers, as well as enthusiastic givers of charity to support schools and teachers, in order to develop the best religious and academic education we can offer our children-- worldwide. We need local, national and international groups working together. We need to raise the next generation to be without borders and without prejudices. We need to teach them brotherhood and cooperation. The schools and mosques can’t do everything. Parents must unite to tackle today’s problems. They must decide to educate their children at home in religion and manners, and it would be ideal to offer help in academics, too. Parents need to spend time with their children and teach them pride as a Muslim (more than emphasizing a culture). They should involve their children in Islamic activities and create an Islamic environment at home so we don’t lose our children.
Islam is our religion, our culture and our life. The next generations may be our hope and may be the unifiers, if we raise them right. However, we should not just sit and wait for the next generation to do something. We have to work towards this unification now. The result is from Allah. We are only responsible for carrying out our duties. We must be patient. It will take some time. So many Muslims are ready to fight and achieve everything in one day, but it doesn’t work this way. Look at the Prophet’s (p) life and we can see how long his mission took before he succeeded in unifying all of Arabia. It did not happen over-night. It took hard work and patience, which paid off in the end. This teaches us to keep on working and to never give up. One day, Insha-Allah, we will be united and will have the Caliphate. Then, we’ll finally live under true Islamic Laws.