[Chapter 40] Darul What, Muslims?

Dec 23, 2010

It is only natural that Hijrah should be declared unnecessary after Allah opened up Makkah for Islam and Muslims – after Islam’s final triumph in Arabia. Can you imagine what would have happened if everyone in Arabia had decided to migrate to Madinah after Fath Makkah? Madinah would have become an out of control urban sprawl. So that Hijrah – “theHijrah – is over and done with, but other mini and local Hijrahs will continue so long as there is persecution of Muslims in their native lands.

Those things, properly conceived and articulated, would have given us ownership of the West and made us leaders of the Muslim world. But I am afraid we were too closely tied to the apron strings of land, culture, tribe, tradition, money, influence and political interests in the Muslim world to dream those dreams or work to make them a reality. Our hidden and sometimes not so hidden racist and nationalist tendencies – Pakistani nationalism, Egyptian nationalism, other land-and-people-based nationalism, even something I call Muslim nationalism in general – kept us from turning those dreams into a reality in our new life in the West. We were driving through the highways of life in the West with our eyes glued to our rearview mirrors. Given that wind of our Egyptian, Pakistani and other forms of Muslim nationalism that we sowed not so long ago, now we are reaping the whirlwind in our new Darul Hijrahs throughout the West.

I even have reservations about the expression 'Muslim world’ being used today indiscriminately. Which part of the world is it? Is India a part of it – with its tens of millions of Muslims? Is Nigeria a part of it? If India is, and if Nigeria is, then what is wrong with America, U.K., Europe and Trinidad? Why aren’t these places, with millions of Muslims, a part of the Muslim world? If those other places are the old Muslim world, why aren’t these places in the West the new Muslim world?

Do you see what I mean? Our thinking has not kept pace with the changes that have occurred in the world in the recent past. These are problems of thinking and ideas and ultimately of leadership. And leadership has been the Muslim world’s Achilles heel for a long time.

In any case, how should Muslims act in all these places in the West, if these places are home to them? They should act like any good, decent, conscientious, caring, responsible and proud – proud in an Islamic sense, humble if you want – homeowner would. Do we need to resurrect Socrates from his grave to tell us this? Islam begins where Socrates ends.

Some of these ideas were first expressed in organized form in several hours of lectures in Guyana in South America in 1990 or so – the date escapes me. It was one of the early, main and landmark camps – the organizers called it their convention taking their cue from North American Muslim organizations – that I ran on this ever-lasting, never-ending theme of working for Allah. At least that was the theme in my mind – working for Allah right here in the West, or, stated simply: being a Muslim in the West. To me they both mean the same thing.

That is how the concept of the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah came about.

But all my attempts to date to secure my tapes from the organizers of those lectures in Guyana have failed. May Allah grant those people guidance and reunite me with my taped lectures, Ameen, which are really my property and a trust – Amanah – in my hands of the Ummah. Maybe if anyone of them reads this book, that person will find the compassion in his heart to return my tapes to me – or at least explain to me what happened to those tapes. Lives of Muslims are full of greater miracles – even the lives of sinners and flawed people like us.

It was then, in Guyana in the West Indies, that I argued quite forcefully that the Muslims in the West were an extension of the Muslim Ummah – they were in fact the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah.

That means, to my way of thinking, Muslims in the West were not mere birds of passage. They certainly were not a fifth column secretly working for a distant land where everyone looked like them, spoke their language and participated in their cultural practices. Nor were they an alienated fringe group conspiring to take over the place at the first opportunity they get.

To me these Muslims in the West were plain and simple owners – proud and proper, all in the proper Islamic sense – of the West who shared this fantastic blessing of ownership with every other Jewish, Hindu, Christian, atheist or other fellow-owner of the West. For, it is indeed a blessing to be placed by Allah on a certain part of his earth – remember the plantation concept? – and told to be his Khalifah or vicegerent. What greater privilege or blessing can you think of?

What lends this tragedy a touch of comedy is the fact that these Muslims have been living in Guyana and Trinidad for close to 150 years – ever since slavery was abolished in different parts of the Western Hemisphere and the British needed warm bodies to take the place of Africans on sugar plantations.

These simple Muslims had built hundreds of mosques and held on valiantly to their own special version of Islam – much of it beautiful. It is to their children’s children’s children that I was now – in 1990 or so – trying so desperately to explain that, Muslim or not, that place was their home. Do you see the irony and the tragic-comedy of this?

My views were not allowed to go unchallenged. One young man, who had as a young lad escaped to an Islamic society and had returned with several years of “Islamic” education under his belt, told me I was wrong in wanting to work hand in hand with the non-Muslims around me, within the system they had built.

Allah bless him, I pointed out to him the case of Hazrat Yusuf Alaihissalam, how he had asked a non-Muslim king to put him in charge of the place. He said, the earlier Shari’ahs were cancelled and overridden by the new Shari’ah of Sayyidina Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.

Another funny aspect of this story is that the system that I referred to earlier as having been built by non-Muslims was also the system for the building of which the Muslim ancestors of this young man – and the ancestors of other young men and women in Guyana and Trinidad – had broken their backs for well over a century.

Do you see now why Allah made common sense and a certain minimum level of intelligence a requirement for the understanding of Islam and for coming to Islam? Wa Ma Yadhakkaru Illah Ulul Albab Qur’an (3:7)

So, in my case it is not a quick conversion to these ideas in the wake of the pressure and the Qiyamat Sughra – a mini Dooms Day – generated by the events of September 11. It is a long-standing and carefully thought-out commitment to them for a very simple reason: Because it is the Islamic imperative, because it is the right thing to do.

It is this vision – now greatly complicated after September 11, 2001 – of Islam in the West that I want to share with you in this camp or seminar or convention in Manchester. It is part of a long-standing and ongoing effort.

It is the mercy of Allah that I had absolutely no difficulty in seeing this picture of Islam in the West – going as far back as the early 1970s. Ever since it has been a struggle – mostly a lonely and at times a heartbreaking one – to convince my colleagues and fellow-Muslims of the same. For, it is often hard to break through the barriers that our collective and individual Nafs of organizational fidelity and Jama’ah filialness as well as the pursuit of personal goals and agendas created between Muslims.

image_printView All

Comments are closed.