Quarterly: Issue No 77
All Praise is due to Allah, Glorified be His Name, and the Blessings and Mercy of Allah be upon His beloved Messenger Muhammad, his family and all his companions. Ameen.
Islamophobia is a cumulative effect of the works of Secular Fundamentalists, Zionists, Fundamentalist Christians, pseudo-Islamic cults and, in some cases, Muslims themselves. Please read the book by Nathan Lean titled “Islamophobia Industry-How the Right manufacture fear of Muslims” which explores the tactics and motives of politicians to encourage Islamophobia for their own personal interest. Unfortunately, Islamophobia in the western world has become acceptable, if not respectable. Anyone pointing fingers at Islamophobia is the one who is targeted and condemned.
The recent months have been tragic in the way that we have become all too familiar with – violence, violence wrought in the words of those who use hate as a shield and a sword. Whether in labeling a clock-building child as a potential terrorist, holding up the niqab as a symbol of evil and despair in Canada, or noting the inadmissibility of a Muslim to become the American President, the spectre of anti-Muslim bigotry looms over Europe, Canada and North America.
In the midst of this trend, our leaders have taken to the airwaves, attempting to debate, shut down, or discredit those who blister with hate. We fight fire with water, attempting to calm, and dispute with those who would turn fear against a minority that is at a dangerous point in Europe, Canada and America.
This battle to defend the civil rights of the oppressed, whether in the workplace, at schools, or on the streets, is a noble one. As Muslims, we cannot allow ourselves to be treated as second class citizens. Those Muslims who are there in Europe, Canada and America; many of them were born there; the vast majority of them will die here. These are countries where they give their blood and sweat in labour. Therefore, their fight against anti-Muslim bigotry and to live their lives in peace in countries they are proud to call their own, is a highly important battle.
Unfortunately, this battle against Islamophobia has largely missed the central point. If Islamophobia is about fear and hate directed against Islam, we need to ask ourselves a simple question: Why do people hate Islam? The answer is obvious. People do not fear in isolation. People fear what they do not understand. As the hadith is narrated:
Abdullah Ibn Mas'ud (RA) reported that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu Alayhi Wasallam) taught his followers: “Narrating the account of one of the prophets (of Allah) who was assaulted and wounded by his people; while wiping the blood from the face he prayed: 'O Allah! Forgive my people because they do not know.'” (Riyadh al Saleeheen)
We must take on this Prophetic solution and teach them about Islam. Help them understand. Help them understand beyond the obvious lies and fear-mongering that they see all around them. Unfortunately, this is impossible as we stand today. And it is impossible for reasons that are far graver than the trend of Islamophobia facing us. Why is it impossible? It is because to teach someone else about anything, you have to first understand it yourself.
We live in a time where knowledge of our Deen, real knowledge, is virtually non-existent amongst Muslims generally. Most Muslims do not know the fundamentals of aqeedah, the usul- al-fiqh or the maqaasid-al-shari'ah.
In other words, if our focus is just on “making Muslims seem normal” i.e. if we think our biggest problem is Islamophobia not only will we be unable to effectively respond to it, but we will- in effect - ensure that Islamophobia wins.
We are Muslims because of our choice. We are Muslims because of our faith. So the question arises for most of our young people today is: Why choose to be identified as Muslim? Why choose this faith that you do not understand? Why choose this faith that is universally hated? One merely has to change their name from Muhammad to Moe and their transition from being a despised Muslim to being an at least tolerable minority is complete. And whether we would like to admit it to ourselves or not, the vast majority of our youth are taking this path. Muslims today, whether formally or only within their souls, are finding little meaning in prayer, charity, the pilgrimage, etc.
In other words, if we do not educate ourselves, both young and old, about what Islam really is, then the fight against anti-Muslim bigotry will be, sociologically speaking, an unresolved one. Who will be left there on the ground to defend Islam when there are no more identifiable Muslims in two or three generations from now?
Our only solution is to go back to a deep reading of the Noble Qur’an and Ahadith; to an engagement with the sources of shari'ah; to a critical analysis of our scholarship; to a deep understanding of the Arabic language. The belief of ensuring that our children can read the Surah Al-Fatihah correctly with tajweed as being the only goal in Islamic education has to come to an end.
If we do not educate ourselves and our children, then the fight against Islamophobia will be non-existent. If our children do not choose Islam, there will be little gain in appearing on radio talks to shut down Islamophobia. If our children do not understand Islam, how can we hope to battle Islamophobia by calming down the fear of Europeans, Canadian and Americans, in general, through understanding Islam?
We must begin with our own families first - in the name of Allah. As we sit together over dinner, we must begin to discuss Islamic education, and how to reinvigorate Islamic education amongst Muslims generally.
We Muslims must realize the essence of rituals. They are not ends in themselves, but they are means to make the person a better Muslim.
If observing rituals does not help us to be humble, virtuous and truly God-fearing, then we are not real Muslims. The qualities a Muslim should develop within him/herself are mentioned in the Quran and hadith repetitively.
For example, in Surah Al-Mu’minoon, Chapter 23, verses 1 to 11, Allah says:
Those who humble themselves in their prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are active in deeds of charity, who abstain from sex except with those joined to them in marriage or (the captives) whom their right hands possess, for (in their case) they are free from blame. But those whose desires exceed those limits are transgressors. Those who faithfully observe their trusts and their promises; who (strictly) guard their prayers (salawaat): these will be the heirs who will inherit Firdaws (Paradise), to dwell therein forever.
The Messenger of Allah (SAW) said:
A true Muslim is one from the transgressions of whose tongue and hands, all other Muslims are safe; A true Mu'min is one from whom people's lives and wealth are secured; And a true Mujahid is one, who subdues his inner self and forces it into Allah's obedience; And a true Muhaajir is one, who leaves everything that Allah has disapproved. (Bukhari; Muslim; Tirmidhi; Abu Dawood)
This narrative should be seen as describing the necessary effects of accepting Islam, of being true in one's faith and of the true spirit of Jihad and making Hijrah.
May the Peace and Blessings of Allah be upon His Messenger Muhammad, the WITNESS to all Mankind. Ameen.
O Allah! Your Forgiveness is far greater than my sins and I have more hope in Your Mercy than in my own deeds.
Requesting your humble duas!
Abdul Haq Abdul Kadir
Kyalami Glen, Gauteng
Johannesburg, South Africa