[Chapter 19] Why Are the Muslims the Way they Are?

Dec 21, 2010

Chapter 19
Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology

Why Are the Muslims the Way they Are?

Are you one of those hundreds of millions of Muslims who ask themselves this question, who knows how many times a day, or week or in all their lives: Why are the Muslims the way they are?

If you are, then right there you have it. Right in your question is your answer. Muslims are the way they are, because they are the way they are. Let me explain.

By the first the way they are you probably mean their condition – the terrible condition the Muslims are in; the awful reality of Muslim life in much of the world. And by that you mean the following: Why are the Muslims poor, backward, dominated, divided, unable to work together, conquered, lowly of the low in the world, hunted and hounded everywhere, persecuted, unable to defend themselves or their Deen or their lands, prey to every tyrant and exploiter and always on the defensive, always on the run, and a few other similar things? That is what you have generally in mind when you ask why are the Muslims the way they are, right?

What I mean by the way they are – the second the way they are – is who and what we Muslims are as people: our actions, behavior, performance, values, knowledge, intentions, understanding, dealings and social relations. Did you notice something – I have taken a huge detour around the fixation, so traditional in some quarters, on belief and Iman, even though belief and Iman are at the bottom of everything?

Take a careful look at Muslims everywhere. Take an inventory of their ideas, values, habits, culture, social interactions, collective conduct, institutions, priorities and general behavior patterns; and you could easily see that this kind of lifestyle – the second the way they are – is bound to lead to that kind of personal, social, political, economic, cultural and other fruits and outcomes – the first the way they are. That is why we are the way we are because we are the way we are.

Let me explain further drawing upon some of what I said earlier: If Muslim hearts are full of Hasad and Kibr, how do they expect to have successful social relations? How do they expect to work together with one another?

If Muslims are given to Bukhl, how do they expect their public affairs to run well or to alleviate poverty in their society?

If Muslim get-togethers and social encounters are an exercise in Ghaibah, just how do they expect to ward of Allah’s curse from their lives?

If their values do not reflect a high priority on education, how do they expect to break out of the iron hold of ignorance in which they have been locked over the past who knows how many years?

And if Muslims are not trained to think and analyze and make rational decisions based on research and evidence and theory under the guiding light of the Qur’an and the model of the Sunnah, just how do you expect them to be a successful and positive force in the world?

You get the picture? I could go on like this – item by item by item. But now that I have shown you how, you can do it yourself. Do it and you will see why we are the way we are. We are the way we are because we are the way we are.

Shouldn’t we, you may ask at this point, just try to be good Muslims and pray to Allah and let his mercy – Rahmah – resolve all these issues – totally transform the way we are?

Absolutely! Remember, always and with regard to everything, it is Allah that makes the changes. It is he that controls and runs this world. And Du’a – prayer – is the way to ask him to do us favors – in addition to all the other favors that he routinely throws in our direction every second of our existence. In fact, Du’a is so powerful that if anything could change human destiny, it will be Du’a.

But what we should not forget is the fact that for our Du’as to be accepted, we must also pay attention to some of the things that Allah asks us to do. That list of things to do is what we are talking about here in this book – and we hope to talk about in the seminar.

So, here is the answer once again: We are the way we are, because we are the way we are. That means, if we change the way we are, Allah will transform the way we are. Go read your Qur’an – (13:11), for example – and see how far off we are on this point – Innallaha La Yughaiyiru Ma Bi-Qowmin…….

Why Is the World the Way it Is?

I don’t know if you ask yourself this question or not. If you don’t maybe you should – try it, just for size, as they say.

The answer is simple and short: Because Muslims are the way they are.

Allah made us the keepers and custodians of this world. He made all humans his Khalifah – his representatives – on earth. And then he raised up a special group of people to make sure the Khalifahs themselves did their job and did it right. We Muslims are that elite unit of Allah’s people. And those of us who are a bit more conscious and concerned and committed than some others form an even more special unit within the elite corps of Allah’s people.

We are Allah’s military police. Our job is to make sure human beings are doing what they are supposed to be doing – that they are doing what Allah created them to do. Not through coercion, force, guile or deception but through love, compassion, fairness, justice, logic, evidence, gentle persuasion and the use of better, nobler and superior and more beautiful means.

And where are we Muslims on this?

You know where we are: Some of us are lolling in our golden baths and spas or busy filling ourselves with food from questionable sources; some of us are lost in our jobs and families; some of us have taken to the hills and hidden in caves; some of us are pining away for our little pieces of real estate “back home”; some of us are deeply engrossed in “worship” and prayer and shut the world out; and some of us have turned into military marshals wielding batons and beating up – with their words and attitudes – on people.

In the same way, some of us will not move out of our rocking chairs unless the right Shaikh, Mowlana, leader, organization or Jama’at tells us to do it; some of us want to make sure that no matter what happens to the world, women stay where they are supposed to – in the true and pure teachings of Islam; and some of us simply pine away the day when we would be able to recreate on the streets of London and New York our own private little ethnic and cultural enclaves from Karachi and Cairo, Bombay and Baghdad. That is the way we Muslims are – many of us.

And most of us are in perfect and vociferous denial – at least in public – about any or all of this, which tells you why we are unable to fix a lot of these things. You get the picture?

So, what do you think is going to happen to a world whose custodians and care-takers and guardian angels are absent without leave – AWOL; or are asleep on the job; or have no idea what their duties are; or have forgotten how to do their job; or are busy entertaining themselves doing this “worship” or that “prayer” or some other deeply “religious” or devotional act; or sometimes simply being a nuisance and a hindrance in the way of the world getting on with its life and going about its daily business?

Let me ask you this: What do you think is likely to happen to a hospital – and its patients – whose doctors are either ignorant, incompetent, negligent, indifferent or simply absent from the job? That is what many of us Muslims have become and that is what we have done to the world.

Let me now ask you a simple follow-up question: How many of us have taken the message of Islam to the people of Britain? And – let me be blunt – to the White and so-called middle-class people in Britain in particular? How many of us have taken it to the middle-class and educated black people? Or to the Asian people? Or to some other people – all of whom children of this beautiful land we call the United Kingdom – that Allah has given to us as our home and our place of work; where we are supposed to work not only for our Dunya, but also for our Deen and Aakhirah, knowing full well that our path to Aakhirah must necessarily pass through Dunya? And how many of us have done the same thing in the United States and in Europe?

There are some people among us who want me to address practical issues – tell them what to do. If such people only listened with some attention to what I am saying, they would realize that my message is as practical as it gets. I am calling on Muslims to work to effect a complete culture change – in themselves as well as in their organizations, associations, communities and societies. It doesn’t get more practical than that.

In any case, here is another practical thing you can do: Start hurting in your heart about the state of the Jum'ah Khutbah in our communities. Take a city like Manchester, U.K., where many mosques insist on giving Urdu Khutbahs. Urdu is a beautiful language – and it is a Muslim and Islamic language, whatever that means. But in a place where more than half of the population – most of them young people – does not understand Urdu very well, how on earth do you justify this travesty of Islam, and this breach of common sense? I don’t know how different the situation is in Glasgow, Birmingham, Liverpool and London. I have seen London’s Jum'ah and my tears haven’t stopped.

You want something practical to do? Here it goes: Start canvassing the mosques – their leadership as well as their membership – to make Khutbahs English and get the best and the most qualified and effective people to deliver them. At the same time, start also training Muslims to be able to give good and effective Khutbahs in English. How many decades or years do you want for this project? I would give myself no more than a year. How many of you will accept my challenge to work actively for this change in our communities?

I am using Manchester as an example. What I saw at one of the largest and most famous and central mosques in London left me crying blood for weeks. So you want practical things to do, go after some of these atrocities that are being perpetrated on Islam and Muslims in the name of Islam and change them – but do so with love, with respect and compassion for all, and with great patience and perseverance. Make the world of Allah a better place for all of Allah’s creation.

What is the matter with us, Muslims? If Allah did not want us to have anything to do with Dunya, he would not have put us here in the first place, would he? Nor would he have created us to be his managers and deputies on this lovely plantation that we call earth, would he?

Last time I gave a program in Manchester, I asked who is responsible for our ghettoes and for our poor. Who is responsible for taking the message of Islam to the people around us, I asked. I warned about the consequences of our turning our back on our divinely appointed mission of taking the message of Islam – and being of service – to every single man, woman and child in the U.K. Bradford exploded before I even left town to return to my own little cubbyhole in the U.S.

In a previous camp in this series of Working for Allah, held in Miami, USA – was it March or May of 2001 – I bluntly told the Muslims if we did not shoulder our responsibility of taking the message of Islam – and being of service – to every American, we will face serious punishment from Allah. The whole world came crashing down on September 11.

I am telling us again: If we really want a bright future for ourselves, and for the world, let us get out of the bags and boondoggles we are in and hit the road with the message of Islam – and service – to every Briton and American and West Indian and European and Western man, woman and child. Do the work of Allah, and see the world of Allah change – right before your eyes. But don’t forget one simple detail: ALWAYS DO IT RIGHT.

That is the difference between Kufr and Islam; between Haqq and Batil; between truth and falsehood; between Jannah and Jahannam; between us and them – we are supposed to DO THINGS RIGHT. And we are supposed to do them right regardless of who else does what. And we are supposed to do them right both in front of God and in front of human beings.

We are supposed to do them right because we are focused not only on this world, but also on the next world. This world to us is not the end; it is the means – it is a means for taking us to the next world. This world is important to us because it is what we do in this world that determines what will be done to us in the next world.

We are supposed to do things right because we answer to a higher authority – because we answer to God Almighty, the maker and master of the worlds, the owner of the Day of Judgment.

Yes, my dear fellow-Muslims, the world is the way it is because you and I – Muslims, especially the so-called good Muslims – are the way we are! If that sounds demoralizing, don’t panic. Don’t give up hope. For, there is good news on the horizon. The good news is if we change our ways, Allah will change the world. What more do you want? And who but Allah would give you that kind of a guarantee? All we need to do is to change ourselves.

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.

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