The Unique Muslim in the West

October 9, 2009

By CoolnessofHind

In an age where “scholars” compromise there own understanding of Islam for the sake of external influences, it is sometimes important to stop and think about where one’s understanding of Islam is heading and how one fits in society.  It is important to understand the responsibility of a Muslim within the Western social contruct and one’s level of adherence to the Deen.

This post is particularly important for university students who are plagued by organisations all around them who are purportedly “traditional” yet promote mixing and matching of fatwahs on a dangerous scale. The watering down of the Deen as a response to an instigated atmosphere of “radicalisation” is threatening the very essence of Iman. Unfortunately the words of people like the great atba-Tabi’i (successor of the successors) Sulayman Taymi al-Basri (d.184/800) Rahimahahullah are forgotten.

“If you take advantage of concession from slips of every scholar then you will collect all evil”. (Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyyah, Ighaathat al-Lahfaan, 1:260)

What lacks is an absolute conviction in the words of Allah (SWT), for what other reason would one want to fatwah hunt an issue which either does not fit one’s frame of mind or makes their life apparently ever so slightly difficult.  Our guides are the the Book, the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam and the those who came after him.  If we delve into the lives of the inheritors of the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam , examples of confidence in the Deen, undeterred belief in the Akhira and shunning of earthly concerns are replete in the books of history.  It was this quality, this lack of compromise in the practice of their faith and the unshakable Iman in the words of the Prophet which elevated the Arabs to the loftiest of ranks.

One can see this when Rab’i bin Amir Radhialla’anhu was sent to the Persians.  The man next in command after the Persian emperor himself, Rustum, asked the commander of the Muslim army Sa’ad bin Abi Waqas Radhialla’anhu to send someone who would explain to them why the nomad Arabs had come to the Persian lands of wealth and power.  Understand that Rab’i bin Amir Radhialla’anhu was a man who did not have much to his credit, but the little he had in reputation was made up for by his tremendous faith displayed before Rustum and thus history recalls his eloquence and valour for the Deen 1400 years later.

Rab’i bin Amir Radhialla’anhu appeared before Rustum’s court, dressed in patched, battered clothes, carrying a simple sword and shield and riding an unremarkable horse.  He walked in this state, crushing the plush diamond encrusted carpets.  He tied his horse and approached Rustum.  The guards asked him to lay down his shields but a resilient reply came from the noble Rab’i bin Amir Radhialla’anhu, “I have not come to Rustum of my own accord, rather, it is he who invited me.  If you do not let me enter as I am, I will return to camp”.  Rustum allowed him in with his weapons.

Underwhelmed by the pomp and the glory on display, Rab’i bin Amir Radhialla’anhu approached Rustum unaffected and with great confidence.   Rustum asked him for what reason had brought the Arabs to Persia.  With an air of indomitability and conviction which could only originate from the words of Allah (SWT) and His Messenger Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam, he eloquently replied,

“Allah (the Almighty) has sent us so that we may liberate fellow human beings from subservience to other fellow human beings and bring them to obedience to the One True God. We are here to take them from the narrowness of the world to it’s spaciousness. Our aim is to free them of the persecution perpetrated against them by other religions. We want to bless them with the justice and equity of Islam.”

Such penetrating words affected Rustum to the extent that even he could not but help comment upon the sheer eloquence and confidence of the unremarkable-looking man.

There are numerous nuances which stand out and are a lesson for Muslims living in a predominantly non-Muslim land.  Compare the response of this Sahabi to ourselves and honestly question whether we reflect the same conviction and strength towards the Western culture, civilisation and hegemony.  Their attitude was so strong such that it left an impression on those around them.  Similarly the intention of the Muslims to go to Persia was not to gain wealth and pomp but the concern to to liberate the hearts and minds from the bondage of man and his desires to the justice and equity of Islam.  It reminds me of the famous contemporary Da’i brother Jahanni al-Libbi, who would approach any non-Muslim and explain to him his genuine concern to save him from the fire of hell and would then present Islam to him as the solution.  No fancy euphemisms.  No beating around the bush.  He would tell the reality as it ought to be told.  Just like the Muslims who had a selfless attitude and were neither driven by fame or fortune.

The method of compromising one’s Deen in order to please the people around Muslims is alien to Islam. Indeed wisdom is applied to every situation which arises where one’s situation becomes difficult, however letting go of the Deen and looking for the easiest way out is not the solution.  As a Muslim one should play a fundamental role in society where one’s life becomes an Islamic ideal which draws the attention of others and stimulates the minds of non-Muslims who may eventually compare their lives to that of Muslims.  If one contrarily morphs one’s beliefs and practices to imitate that which is alien to Islam then there is no distinction between oneself and the non-Muslims. One’s personality will be like an empty gas, which is neither distinct so as to attract attention and neither is solid enough to withstand the tests of time and instead changes its state, giving into whatever the shape of the containment it is place in.

There was a reason why the Prophet Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam was very meticulous in how rituals in Islam were conducted, many a time differing with the Jews and the Christians in order to ensure and preserve the unique identity of Islam.  Take for example the Adhan – call to prayer.  The great Hanafi Mujtahid jurist and socio-political thinker Shah Walliyullah Dehlwi Rahimahulla explains,

“When the Companions Radhialla’anhum learned that congregational Salah is required – and it is not easy to gather people in one place and at one time except through announcement they discussed ways of making this announcement. Some suggested a fire be lit. The Messenger Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam rejected this for it mimicked the magicians. Some suggested use of horns. He rejected that for it mimicked the Jews. Some suggested the use of bells. He rejected that for its mimicking of the Christians. Then Abdullah bin Ziyad Radhialla’anhu saw the adhan and iqamah in his dream. He mentioned it to the Messenger Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam who said this is a valid dream” (Shah Walliyullah al-Dihlawi, quoted in Usmani, Takmalah Fath al-Mulhim, 3:267-68)

It is for this Uniqueness, Allah (SWT) in his book has chosen to describe Islam as Sibghatullah, the Colour of Allah (SWT),

“The Colour of Allah: and who is better than Allah at Colouring.” (2: 138)

Remember that it was the Jews in Madinah who tried to make fun of the fact that the Messenger Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam taught the Muslims everything and it was a Companion Radhialla’anhu who understood its implications – the compromise of the unique identiy of the Islam – and responded in the affirmative, stating that he even taught them how to clean themselves after attending to the call of nature.

There are numerous Hadith which speak out against imitation.  The psuedo traditionalists will probably start shouting “urf! urf” at this point but, the knowledgeable understand that Urf cannot ever contradict the Qur’an Sunnah, Ijma and Qiyas, and all the other sub sources and principles which are established in the four madhabs.  In other words, custom of the society is at the bottom of the list when taking into consideration an issue.

Through assimilating and taking everything lock stock and barrel due to some pathetic inferiority complex or otherwise, the opportunity to become the role model for non-Muslims fades and so does ones duty to discharge the obligation of inviting to Islam. As a friend of mine once said,

“Be embarrassed of your religion today, and Allah (SWT) will be embarassed with you on the Day of Judgment”.


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