[Chapter 40] Darul What, Muslims?

Dec 23, 2010

Some of these ideas are also laid out in my Golden Triangle of Islam writings part of which came out of another camp on the same theme of working for Allah that I ran in Miami, United States in the early part of 2001 – before September 11. Those who want to see a more thorough and a more scholarly approach to some of these questions, however, may access my article on Muslim cultural theory in the Sage publication Media, Culture & Society, Summer, 1993.

These are parts of the theory of working for Allah that you must clearly understand. For, if you are unclear on this basic theoretical question, chances are you would end up being a loose cannon. In that event, you would be dangerous – most of all to your own well-being as well as to the well-being of the world around you.

This should give you a flavor of what I mean by the role of theory in Islam in general and in the matter of working for Allah in particular.

While we are on that topic, and for whatever it is worth, let me leave this thought with you: At one level, Islam is the upper limit of theory.

This last statement itself is a theoretical model – quite a significant one if we fully understand it.


Events of the past decade lend my arguments some empirical validity. The fact that many others have clambered on this bandwagon lately – some of them after furiously attacking me for being guilty of it in earlier times – is further proof that those ideas have merit. There will be plenty of blessings for all concerned – including for the work itself – if latecomers recognized the contributions of those thinkers who were among the first off the starting line.

In Islam this is called Sabiqah – the pioneering role of those who did it before you decided to get on the bandwagon. Recognizing Sabiqah brings a lot of blessings in its wake. Muslims need to train themselves to do it. This is something I myself don’t do to the extent I need to do. I mean I don’t search out everything everyone else has said or done before me before I formulate my opinions or make my statements. It is largely a matter of resources and time – and not at all a sign of disrespect to others.

In part this is due to the fact that I have been driven over the past several decades into taking my marching orders – my ideas and views – directly from the Qur’an and the most authentic among the Hadith such as Bukhari Sharif. When I say “driven” I mean, having looked at a lot of what other sources had to offer, I was left with no other alternative but to turn to the Qur’an and the Hadith for more complete and superior answers to my questions.

As a result, when I make my statements, I may not be aware what some other Muslims may be saying on the subjects that I address at a particular time. If my views match theirs it is a matter of joy for me. If the views of all of us fit the Qur’an, who can ask for anything more? If, on the other hand, what I say is not in agreement with what some other Muslims may be saying, then I put myself to two tests:

One, is what I say directly or indirectly derivable from the Qur’an and the Sunnah?

Two, does what I say make sense, and is it therefore sustainable – based on the canons of science, logic, common sense, research, evidence, human experience and history – such as it is?

Sometimes some non-Muslims do a better job of this than we Muslims do. That is because they have created a professional culture that both requires and allows them to do it. For example, some years ago, one non-Muslim scholar in a university stopped one Muslim Ph.D. student from going ahead with his thesis on freedom in a certain Muslim country till he had gone and reviewed my work first.

What I consider outrageous – and what is also personally hurtful – is that I have encountered Muslims over the past 32 years who listen to my ideas, either stay quiet or oppose them at the time, and then after several years, and after doing a bit of growing up in the West, start talking about them or practicing them with an air as if these were their own original discoveries. That is not how things are supposed to work. It is sad and it is unfortunate. Also, we burn out all Barakah that way.

What lies behind attitude and conduct of this kind? A number of things, among them the following:

  1. Personal ambition and lack of scruples.
  2. Ignorance and a general lack of culture.
  3. Lack of understanding and knowledge.
  4. Lack of professionalism and ethics.
  5. Lack of integrity and standards.
  6. Blind subservience to individuals and organizations.
  7. Racial, ethnic and cultural filters and commitments.
  8. Our failure to address these issues in our education.

But over and beyond everything, no matter how you cut it, such attitudes and conduct reflect a basic lack of connection with Allah. May Allah forgive us and have mercy on us.

Suffice it to say that some of what some of the Muslims are saying now – in the past few years and after September 11, 2001 – is what I have been trying to articulate for the past at least two decades. It is also some of what some of them have been opposed to when it came from me when it did so many years ago. Just as some of them are opposed to some of the things I say now – things, I have a feeling, they will make their own with the passage of time and with the mounting of pressure.


How do you know all this is true? That is a methodological question.

How do you put any of this in practice? That is another methodological question.

Methodology is what comes after theory. Often it is a child of theory. Meta-methodology is discussion on the subject of methodology, which is what we are doing here.

At one level, it is the stage of practice or application or action or operations. These are questions that say: Show me how to do Wudu. Or show me how I should make Sajdah.

Islam is a perfect combination of both aspects of life – theory as well as practice. This is quite an earthshaking thing to say or believe. For, nothing in life is quite like that. Things are either theory or methodology. Both aspects are not generally tied together in one neat bundle except in scholarly research that appears in the form of journal articles, books or technical reports.

But to think that a global ideology of this wide a spread comes complete with theory and methodology all rolled into one is to call it either an impossibility, and therefore a false claim, or simply speaking to call it a miracle.

And anyone with any understanding of history or of the contemporary world, or of psychology or sociology, or of politics or economics, and anyone with any ability to discern reality either past or present, can easily see that Islam is anything but a false claim.

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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