Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Sheikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah's Advices to Muslims Living in the West

1 : Prosperity on earth by means of building and cultivating in the land

Cultivation of the world has 2 implied meanings here – material and spiritual. Material in a sense that God has given man every thing he uses today from the earth he walks on (Subhanallah), this includes wood, metal, oil, glass, etc… And spiritual from the perspective of ‘how we live together’ and ‘how we deal with each other’. The key point to note here is ‘how we live and deal with each other’, notice that it does not say ‘how we deal with Muslims or Christians or Buddhists but rather how we deal with each other as humans and how we use that which God decreed for us (material) to better our interaction with each other. This (believe it or not) is apart of how we as Muslims worship Allah (SWT) which is the essence of what the 1st condition means.

2 : Faith – Iman and submission to Allah (SWT)

Here is the part that focuses on strengthening our Iman and our system of belief. The challenges today come in being a part of a community that does not believe in what you believe in. How can we believe with full conviction and not fall into the current culture? How does man worship? And how do you implement this in your own life? Implementing religion is found in the 5 pillars (Testifying with conviction that there is no god (or deity) worth worshiping but Allah (SWT), Praying, Fasting, Charity, and Hajj (for those able to perform the pilgrimage)). But you couldn’t do them unless you know things such as the time of prayers, and how many prayers are due at which time, and what is involved in fasting, etc…). These Ibaddaat (acts of worship) are all due to Allah (SWT). If you merely say kind, gentle, peaceful words while failing to do and implement Islam then this becomes faulty. There is creed and deed, these 2 have to be present in Islam. They are necessary for us to establish our relationship with Allah (SWT). Allah (SWT) says it is binding upon humanity to make a pilgrimage to the house but to do so you need the knowledge on how to do it. Your beliefs (La Ilaha Ila Allah) are elevated (not by your words but…) by the actions you do (i.e. praying, fasting, being charitable, etc…) without these your beliefs do not elevate.

3 : Muslim house

This doesn’t necessarily mean that all the occupants in your house must merely be Muslim. A Muslim house is a house that implements Islam. This is a big challenge. Some fathers nowadays let there children go to college without understanding their Deen. The collective spirit of the house should be a spirit of Islam (i.e. the Muslim house will recite Quran during one day of the week as an example to ensure that collectively there is an Islamic practice taking place). The idea is not to leave your wife (hypothetically) and focus on yourself only. This is Wrong. Because it’s about the familial ownership of the total spirit. The cooperation of the husband and wife is very important in order to set an example for their children. The Muslim is not selfish by nature and your first concern should be family. This is the 1st brick of the Islamic spirit.

4 : Muslim Community

This is pivotal because of their cooperation to build mosques, Islamic schools, etc… These will be the initial steps to teach new children how to build relationships with Allah (SWT). However, this does not mean that you shouldn’t cooperate with others. You can have a Muslim house but you must belong to other Muslim houses to build an Islamic spirit. The idea isn’t to close in on yourself and become ghettoized. Allah (SWT) said ‘let there be among you a community that enjoins in good and forbids evil.’ Encouraging each other to be patient because when you’re in the minority and calling out to people to build this community people will back lash.

5 : Learning Islam

How do we learn about wife/husband relationships? Halal and Haram, etc… There must be schools that teach (in the west) the way of Islam. How do we apply Fiqh to our life and transfer it to our youth so that they don’t fall into extremism. Fiqh means a deep understanding and this is firm rooted which not only takes time but also a firm mentality. This challenge of creating institutions that convey this is pivotal. What distinguishes the Muslim from the non-Muslim is knowledge (through knowledge we pray, etc…). There are communities that already exist but how do we indigenize (ingrain) people to Islam? People have to understand that Islam hasn’t come here to pass by; it has come here to stay. But in order for us to be able to make appropriate decisions in the west we need scholars that understand the conditions of the west so that they may be able to pass on rulings that are fit for our environment. This doesn’t mean changing the religion but it rather takes a scholar who is well versed in the Quran, Seerah, Sunnah, Hadiths, Aqeeda, Fiqh, and the life of Muslims in the west in order to be able to pass on Fatwa’s (religious rulings) that are fit for these Muslims. This is more specifically referred to as ‘fiqh ul’ qilah’ (The Fiqh of minorities).

6 : Building Bridges and relationships with others

The Muslim should never view himself/herself as a guest on the earth but as the permanent resident in order for him/her to perform his/her duties as such. Some Muslims live in foreign lands and don’t care much about the politics and way of life. That is wrong. The Muslim shouldn’t abandon the worries of his neighbor and fellow citizens. The good Muslim is a good citizen and this is only understood by telling others (Muslims) that your religion promotes interactions with others and makes it a law to do so. We have to develop means by which we engage the people around us. We should be happy for what others have and at the same time share their difficulties and problems. The Muslims isn’t only encouraged to work with other people but also to share in their prosperity! This is building the bridge to other communities.

7 : Becoming an active participant of the community

This condition is about reaching the stage of Yusuf (AS) when he said ‘make me in charge of your cabinets (finances)’. This wasn’t a Muslim society or a Muslim kingdom yet he stepped forward to aid in their political system. Muslims must be active among other communities only to be known as ‘active people’. This means running in elections, voting, participating in community/city forums, etc… There are others that criticize the participation of Muslims in a non-Muslim political system but this is a rather harsh way/response. Islam is but a gentle way of life. But in order of us to be involved in our communities we must be people of shared interest to our fellow citizens. In ancient India, Muslims ruled it while the country maintained its own religion – how did this happen? – the people of the land were simply fond of the Muslims and wanted them to rule.
Courtesy: Khaled Al-Qinneh