[Chapter 1] Disclaimers
Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology
It is a reflection of the state of the world as well as of the Muslim Ummah today that I have to begin this book with a set of disclaimers. I lay out my disclaimers under three categories.
I want everyone to know that my seminar has the support and backing of several Muslim and Islamic organizations in U.K. It is mostly moral backing and I am not aware of any financial involvements by anyone other than the fact that this seminar will be financed with the fees paid by participants.
Some of these organizations and some individuals associated with them, I know; many I don’t. Some have made an effort in the past to meet me; others have been warm and gracious in their support and hospitality; others have not found it convenient to do so. I reciprocate the sentiments of each category. I am open to meet those who want to meet me; I am grateful to those who have shown graciousness and hospitality; I have no time for those who have no time for me. To Muslims of all stripes I say, may Allah guide us, help us and have mercy on us all.
However, my running a program or otherwise participating in a program that has the support of any particular organization or individual should in no way be construed as my supporting or agreeing with the goals, objectives, modus operandi or activities of any of those organizations or individuals.
In general, I support the work of Allah that is open, participatory, democratic, peaceful, legal, civilized and entirely respectful of the rights and sensitivities of individuals, groups and societies. In the West – refer to my concept of the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah in the following pages – I insist that this work be in keeping with the special culture and temperament of the Western societies.
To me this is the core of Islam. As a result, I reject all efforts and activities that are in any way coercive, secretive, manipulative, deceptive, violent and authoritarian as a travesty of the noble teachings of Islam and of the glorious example of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
As a policy matter, my focus on Islam is local and domestic, even though by its very nature Islam is global and timeless. I want to be highly selective in my foreign policy priorities. As a result, I have long rejected the notion of subordinating the life, goals, activities and future of the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah to the politics of the Middle East or some other part of the Muslim world – no matter how desperate the situation and no matter how powerful or deserving the Muslim case with respect to any of those situations.
I want it known that thoughts and views I express in this book, or in this seminar, are entirely my own. In expressing them, I represent or speak for no individual, group, organization, institution, society or culture. My words and activities are entirely those of a free citizen – of the West; of the world; of the Muslim Ummah; of Islam. And that is where the buck stops.
So, here I am – with malice toward none, and with charity and a message of Allah’s mercy and blessing toward all – trying to do my infinitesimally tiny bit to justify, at least in my own mind, my existence on Allah’s earth as a human being and as a Muslim, no matter how flawed. That is all I am trying to do in this book – and in this seminar. And that is about all I try to do in practically everything else that I do. It is part of a struggle trying to get by each day without being branded by Allah’s Ash-haad (witnesses) as the worst of Allah’s creation – Min Ashqa Khalqillah.
By the same token, I have authorized no one to speak for me or in my name without my full knowledge or prior approval. I am in no way responsible for what others may say about me, or in my name, orally, in writing, on tapes and CDs, or on Web sites, or in one form or another on the Internet or elsewhere.
This is all part of setting standards of excellence for our conduct and behavior as first-rate Muslims. It is part of teaching us a sense of responsibility and accountability in our dealings with the world – including our Muslim brothers and sisters. For, Islam is a divine code for mutual dealings.
What I am saying here, therefore, is part of a modest effort to effect a culture change among Muslims in the direction of the best Muslim social conduct. It is trying to teach the Muslims that as Muslims they must set standards that match if not exceed the best and highest professional standards in any field of human endeavor.
Nothing less is acceptable. And frankly the world has no use for anything less. Neither has Allah.
That is what the Qur’an teaches; that is what the Hadith records; and that is what Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, practiced in his own life. And that is also Islam for the 21st century – in the West, for the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah – just as it was Islam for the past 1400 years, and forever. From that point of view, nothing has changed; and nothing ever will.
Excellence in everything one does – Itqan – is Islam’s universal and timeless imperative. Given the fact that Islam is the system for the running of the world, from the maker of the world, it could not be otherwise. Take a careful look at the heavenly creation of Allah. Consider their design. Do it again and again. What flaws do you see?
Hal Tara Min Futoor? Qur’an - (67:3)
You want proof of some of what I am saying here – trying to make Islam sound as if it is part of American and Western corporate culture? Here it is. Here is the proof, right out of the Qur’an. Here are two principles that are derived directly from two relevant Aayaat of the Qur’an:
- Principle One: It is almost a direct paraphrase of the Aayah 2:267: Don’t go looking for the worst things to spend.
Naturally, the reference is to your treasures and possessions – things that you have and own; things that you are in a position to spend; things with which you can reach out to people; things with which you can make a difference in people’s lives; things – qualities, commodities and assets – with which you can make a positive contribution to this world; things with which you can enhance the quality of life for the people of this world; efforts you can make toward the advancement of good (Ma’ruf) on earth. The list is endless – if only Muslims would look outside the boxes in which they have locked themselves. One clear meaning, therefore, is this: Always make your best effort and always try to set the highest standards no matter what you are doing.
La Tayammamul Khabitha Minhu Tunfiqun – don’t go looking for the worst things to spend (Al-Baqarah). (2:267)
- Principle Two: It is almost a direct paraphrase of the Aayah 3:92: You will not make the grade until you spend from what you love most.
One clear meaning: Always put your best foot forward in everything you do.
Lan Tanaalul Birra Hatta Tunfiqu Mimma Tuhibboon (Aal 'Imran).
So, the option of indifference, drudgery, perfunctoriness and sloppy work has been taken away from the Muslims. And it is Allah himself who has done so. The idea is, if we are the slaves – this will come later – of the finest master and creator, then we better behave and conduct ourselves as the finest workers – slaves – in the world.
Fa-Tabaarakallahu Ahsanul Khaliqeen (23:14).
Blessed be the most beautiful creator!
It is also what Islam (in the sense of Muslims’ day-to-day practice) ought to have been, and in most cases was – for the past 1400 years, all over the world.
That is why Islam rose as quickly and dominated the world as widely as it did: Because Islam offered the world the best alternative in everything – providing not just theory but actual, practical demonstration of it in everyday life. When Muslims compromised those standards, Allah compromised their fate in this world. That is Allah’s invariable law in his creation – and what a noble, right, just and fair law it is, from the kindest and most just of all masters.
I wish I could quote here in detail a letter that Aurangzeb Alamgir, one of the last great Mughal emperors of India, wrote to one of his teachers lamenting the lack of standards in Muslim education – in the 18th century. The original letter is in Farsi and it makes instructive reading. It is an eye-opener for us today.
Wa In 'Uttum, Udnaa, says the Qur’an (17:8). Implication: Were we the Muslims to continue doing that, Allah will continue doing the same thing to us. Although the Aayah has a special focus, as it was originally directed at transgressors among Jews, its implications are general.
The point is there is no mystery about Islam; Islam is as clear as daylight. What we need – what we often don’t have – is a clear understanding of it. And that is all I seek, aspire or endeavor to do: to enhance Muslim understanding on things, questions and issues Islamic, especially in the context of the times and place and culture in which we live in the West today – we of the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah that have made the West our home.
END OF CHAPTER 1
Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology
© 2003 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.