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['Aalim Network QR] Our Role in the West

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|       In the Name of Allah, the Compassionate, the All-Merciful       |\
|  Greeting of Allah be upon Muhammad and the pure members of his House |\

Salamun alaykum,

	The reply to the following question was kindly provided by Mulla Bashir.  
If members have any comments or questions on the topic discussed below, 
they may submit this to the 'Aalim Network.   


Mustafa Rawji
Moderator, 'Aalim Network


What should be the objectives in life for a Muslim living in the West from 
the political, social, econonomic and spiritual points of view?


Allow me first of all to thank you for asking this very important
question. It has strengthened my conviction that our community in the West
is very conscious of the difficulties confronting them, especially the
youths. This is definitely a testimony of the fact that they have a right
to some guidance from the scholars and that the scholars should not
hesitate to give them the right guidance. I do not pretend to be a
scholar. I am just an ordinary Dhakir but I shall try and help you as much
as I can and if you have any further questions please do not hesitate to
post them to the Alim Network. 

Allah (SWT) says in the Holy book, Chapter 49, verse 13: 

	"O mankind ! Indeed we have created you male and female, and have made 
	you nations and tribes so that you may know one another. The noblest of 
	you, in the sight of Allah is the one who has "taqwa". Indeed Allah is 
	the one Who Knows all is Aware"

The word 'Taqwa' defies a literal translation in English. It has several
components. Primarily belief in Allah, total awareness of one's
accountability to Allah for all one's actions, total commitment to the
worship of Allah, belief in all the messengers and messages from Allah and
finally willingness to spend from one's wealth to help others out of love
for Allah. ( II:3,4 &5).

The holy Prophet has defined taqwa as "not to be missed from a place where
Allah expects you to be and not to be seen at a place where he has
forbidden you to be." According to Hadhrat Ali (A.S) taqwa is the innate
awareness of Allah in all one's deeds, words and thoughts. 

Much as I am tempted to go on discussing the concept of taqwa in Islam I
must revert to your basic questions. What I have stated above will I am
sure give you an idea of what taqwa in its simplest form means. 

For a Muslim living in the West if he can hold on to his taqwa then the
West should be a welcome challenge. He now assumes the role of an emissary
of Islam.  He must reflect his taqwa in all his interactions with others
and influence the thinking as well as the life style of his hosts.
Obviously he can NOT do so by being insular and surround himself with a
mental ghetto. He must step out of the stifling confines of his cultural
prejudices and rituals not founded on shari'ah and let the world know that
as a Muslim he is bound to his Allah to demonstrate his commitment to
taqwa. He must be honest and not succumb to a life style of pub culture,
dishonest dealings in an unholy pursuit of illicit wealth or the cultural
malaise of the West. He must always remember that although most of the
Western countries like to be known as Christian countries at individual
level spirituality is almost dead. The Church has a minimal role to play
in the life of the citizens. It has lost its place as the guardian of
moral and basic values. At best it has become a centre of nostalgia for
the elderly and the place where the worshippers gather for christening,
marriage and funerals. Even marriage as an institution is derided and if
not salvaged could disappear forever. 

Well, we have two alternatives. Either follow the West and destroy our
faith or hold on to our taqwa and show how a God fearing society can help
not only themselves but also their hosts. The choice is ours.

Our objectives from the social, political and economic points of view
should therefore be to reflect our taqwa all the time and influence the
thinking of the country we live in. We must do so by the example of good
deeds and through the employment of the most beautiful language. 

We do have a vast opportunity to shape the spiritual life of the society
we live in. I feel strongly that it is our duty to do so because that is
the only way we can guarantee a spiritual atmosphere for our progeny and
prevent them from being sucked into the mire of the Western immorality. To
this end we should try and join hand with the church. I know this can be
done as the Wessex Jamaat has forged links with the local churches and we
are now moving towards exploring the possibility of setting up several
joint committees to ensure the revival of spirituality amongst the youths
of the society, to try and have an influence in the teaching of religious
studies in the primary and secondary schools and other similar areas. We
must always make it clear that we are not prepared to compromise on the
principles but at the same time we should make full use of the traditions
we share e.g. the immaculate conception, the purity of Mary and the
miracles of Jesus. Here in Wessex we have a few joint celebrations
notably, the birth of the Holy Prophet, the birth of Jesus and Imam
Hussain Day. At the last gathering for the birth of Jesus, the Provost read
from the Holy Qur'an the verses relating to the birth. This is the lesson
that Hadhrat Ja'far ibne Abu Talib taught us when he read Suratul Maryam
in the court of the Emperor of Ethiopia. 

The reason I have suggested joining hands with the churches is that it
will help eradicate any vestige of Islamaphobia which may exist in any
host society. Also at this stage, the church's role being under question
from their society, they will welcome a partnership with us to combat the
growing ranks of agnostics and atheists and the erosion of the basic
values. Together we can achieve a great deal.

At political level also we have a role to play. We must always remember
that when we do get a role to play we do not indulge in self-glorification
but treat the position as one held in trust for Allah. I can foresee
considerable advantage in first concentrating on local government. The
central government we should try and influence through the members of
Parliament whose friendship we must cultivate, invite them to our centres
and give them opportunities to address us and answer our questions. Very
often we frighten people away by being too confrontational. We must first
try and consolidate our position, and build up our credibility as a
community who has an intellectual role to play. In this connection I would
advise a careful study of the recent interview of the President of Iran,
Sayyid Muhammad Khatimi, which some of the members may have undoubtedly seen 
or read about.

We must now consider how best we can safeguard our religious heritage. We
cannot think in the terms of integration as that may lead us to losing
that heritage. Our objective should be to attain amicable interaction to
neutralise any animosity towards us for any reason. We should always
remember who we are and protect and nurture our ethos. To ensure our
social, economic and political upliftment we must embark upon a programme
of ensuring that our youths pursue education at schools and universities
which will place them in the upper ranks of those who will be the opinion
Above all we must never lose sight of the importance of educating our
youngsters in our fiqh, usool, history and ethics (akhlaq). This is an
area about which we can not afford to be lax. Indeed any laxity on our
part will be an unforgivable sin.  We have only two fora for achieving
this purpose - the madressa and the minbar. We must ensure that these
institutions are manned by able people. The minbar is not a symbol to be
worshipped nor a stage for the entertainment of the sudience or for
pandering to their obsession with nostalgia. It is a potent forum for the
dissemination of knowledge and has the most important role in the
perpetuation of the Islamic heritage and the Shiah ethos.

If you have any specific questions please do not hesitate to post them to
the Alim Network. 

With salaams and du'aas from a humble servant of Ahlul Bayt and their
followers, and with a request to be remembered by you in your prayers,

Bashir Rahim

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