Jobs @ MG
Muslims, donít apologise
By Wael Abdelgawad
|In the days since the World Trade
Center attack, Muslims in the U.S. and around the world have fallen over
one another in the rush to be the first to condemn the attack, and express
sympathy for the victims. That's well and good. Such an act deserves
condemnation, and as Muslims we should be compassionate by nature. We
should love and respect all of Allah's creatures, and we should oppose
evil in any guise. The statements of many Islamic organizations and Muslim
leaders, however, does not stop at condemnation but proceeds to apology
and even shame. As the mad acts of retaliation against Muslims (and Sikhs,
and Arab Christians) have begun, another emotion has been added to the
mix: fear. Terror, even. Masjids in the U.S. have been abandoned, and
stand empty during prayer time. A few scholars have exempted Muslim women
in the West from wearing hijab in public, and told the men to shave their
beards and not to wear distinctive Islamic clothing in public.
And so here we are. We have become a community of frightened sheep. An
ummah of assimilationists, stripping ourselves of Islamic emblems and
trying to "pass" as non-Muslims so that we will not be subjected
to insults, the blows of fists, or yes, even bullets.
Muslims, no matter what the disbelievers may do, this fear cannot
continue. Muslims, stand up and be strong men and women! Be glad of our
beautiful deen, which is the religion of Allah and the religion of truth.
Allah has said in the Holy Qur'an, "This day have I perfected your
religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you
Islam as your religion." (Qur'an 5:3) And Allah says, "And
believe in what I reveal, confirming the revelation which is with you, and
be not the first to reject Faith therein, nor sell My Signs for a small
price; and fear Me, and Me alone." (Qur'an 2:41) I do not wish to
insult or hurt anyone. What I want is to encourage all of us in this
difficult time to be strong, to remember our priorities as Muslims, and
not to be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Let us hold our heads high and
our shoulders straight. Let us be happy that Allah has blessed us with
Islam. Let us fear Allah more than we fear the people.
A Time of TRIAL
Brothers and sisters, we've had it easy here in this comfortable
environment of the U.S.A. and in the West. Al-Hamdulillah, we have formed
our M.S.A.s, opened our Islamic centers and masjids, preached Islam, begun
to develop Islamic institutions and begun to gain influence in this
society. But we have become complacent and arrogant. We have become soft
as kittens. For years now I have heard some Muslims in the West
proclaiming that they represent the new leadership of the Muslim ummah.
They claim that the "old-world" Muslims of the East are mired in
ancient conflicts and bogged down in cultural habits. This always struck
me as presumptuous - the arrogance and ignorance of the young. Don't they
know their history? Don't they know that these "old-world"
Muslims have survived the khawarij, the crusades, the Huns, the Tatars,
the black plague, the collapse of the Khilafah, colonization, occupation,
and the rule of dictators? They have been tested, and yet they have
maintained their faith in the face of all opposition. Activists in the
Muslim world have been arrested, imprisoned and even executed. And yet the
"old-world" ummah continues to produce great Islamic thinkers,
scholars and martyrs. What tests have we suffered in the West? What
persecution have we been subjected to? I have always believed that the
growth of Islam in this country would be tested, and tested hard. That is
Allah's way, and Allah's way does not change:
"If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the
others. Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns:
that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself
from your ranks Martyr-witnesses (to Truth). And Allah loves not those
that do wrong." (Qur'an 3:140) Read these verses and take heed!
"that Allah may know those that believe..."
And Allah says, "Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and
hunger, some loss in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give
glad tidings to those who patiently persevere." (Qur'an 2:155) It is
no longer a question of whether the test will come. It is here. Maybe it
will get better, maybe it will get worse. Only Allah knows. The question
is, how will we perform in this test? How will we respond? Will we, at the
first sign of trouble, close our masjids, shut our da'wah booths, cancel
our Islamic events and hide like mice? Laa hawla wa laa quwwata
illa-billah. Our sisters in Turkey are imprisoned for wearing hijab. Our
brothers in Uzbekistan are arrested and tortured for going to the masjid.
Our Imams in China are executed for teaching Qur'an. Still they persevere,
because to do otherwise would be to abandon their obligations to Allah and
to themselves, and to let Islam die like withered fruit on the vine. To do
otherwise would be to fear the people more than they fear Allah. This is
not an issue of hijabs or beards. If a Muslim sister has no other options
- if she cannot be escorted, or move to a safer place - and her life or
safety is in danger, then take off the hijab and be safe. No one wants to
see Muslim people being killed or injured. But as I said, it is not at
heart an issue of hijabs and beards. The central issue, rather, is one of
steadfastness in Allah's cause. Will we be run in fear at the first sign
of danger, or will we stand up tall and strong as Muslims? Will we seek
solutions to guarantee our safety, or will we simply hide? Will we reach
out to the non-Muslims to educate them, or will we change our colors like
chameleons and pretend to be non-Muslims? Maybe this climate of hostility
will pass, or maybe not. How will we respond? What kind of people will we
Muslims, stand up! Stop cowering. This is not the time to hide. This is
the time to reach out to our non-Muslim neighbors and co-workers, not to
apologize, but to educate and enlighten them about Islam. This is the time
to organize multi-faith events.
This is the time to write to the newspapers and magazines. Organize a
donation drive for the families of the New York victims, many of whom were
Muslim, by the way. Bake some cookies for the neighbors. Send a thoughtful
memo at work. This is the time to open our da'wah booths, and if a few
people hurl insults at us, then so be it, and if in some rare instances
they attack us, then so be it. Let the strongest of us assume the most
difficult positions. We defend ourselves as best we can and we deal with
it. This is what it is to work for Islam. This is what it is to persevere.
Do we know that this is an opportunity in so many ways? It is an
opportunity to grow as Muslims, because when Allah wants his servants to
become better, stronger and wiser believers, He tests them. There is no
other way to grow. Spiritual struggle is a gift from Allah to the
persevering Muslim. It is an opportunity to engage the non-Muslims and
educate them about Islam. I have seen many news stories in the last week
attempting to explain to the public hat Islam really is. Muslim leaders
are in demand by the press. I myself was interviewed recently by the San
Jose Mercury News. Even if it stems from anger and misunderstanding, the
fact is that Americans suddenly want to know what Islam is, and what it
wants from them. Use this opportunity to reach out to them and teach them.
But we cannot do that if we are passing, dissimulating, and doing
everything we can to avoid being identified as Muslims.
Dr. Harold Bursztajn is co-director of the program in psychiatry and law
at Harvard Medical School. He has profiled terrorists and often testifies
as an expert witness in mass-murder trials. He recently gave an interview
to abcnews.com in which he says the only way to spot anyone affiliated
with the hijackers is to "beware of those who celebrate the mass
murderers and those who apologize for them," perhaps indicating some
sense of guilt by association. Beware! You may think you are doing
something good by apologizing, but the disbelievers will presume that you
are guilty. I make this statement once because it needs to be said only
once: We have done nothing wrong. We have nothing to apologize for. We
have nothing to be ashamed of. The World Trade Center was not attacked by
Islam, it was attacked by individuals. Their religious persuasion is
Does Christianity apologize for Timothy McVeigh? Does Christianity
apologize for the Reverend Jim Jones, the KKK, Nazism, colonialism, or
slavery? Christianity does not apologize for these atrocities because
Christianity did not commit them, individuals committed them.
* Don't apologize for the Taliban, because the Taliban have nothing to do
with our practice of Islam elsewhere.
* Don't apologize for "Islamic fundamentalism," because there's
nothing wrong with practicing the fundamental tenets of Islam.
* Don't apologize for the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are our
brothers and sisters who we love and who have been horribly oppressed.
* Don't apologize for Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Libya. In every case what was
done to these nations by the West is far out of proportion to any wrongs
they may have committed.
This need to apologize stems from a deep inferiority complex which binds
many Muslims. Most of the Muslim world was colonized by the West after the
collapse of the Khilafah, and many Muslims still harbor the inferiority
complexes that are typical of colonized peoples. The hallmarks of that
inferiority complex are shame of one's own religious background, despite
for one's co-religionists, and pure admiration of the colonizer. The
inferiority complex expresses itself in a pleading tone of voice:
"See Mr. Westerner, I'm not a bad, religious Muslim like those
people, I'm a good, westernized Muslim! I'm not a crazy fundamentalist,
I'm a secularist like you. Pleaaaase, Mr. Westerner, approve of
me..." They will never truly approve of us, nor will they ever fully
accept us. As
Allah says, "Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied with
you unless you follow their form of religion. Say: "The Guidance of
Allah,- that is the (only) Guidance." Were you to follow their
desires after the knowledge which has reached you, then
wouldst you find neither protector nor helper against
Allah." (Qur'an 2:120)
However, if we present an image of strength and confidence, and if we
express the truth of Islam in our actions, I guarantee that even if they
do not approve of us, they will respect us. So don't apologize. Especially
if you are in a da'wah setting, don't be drawn into a discussion of Osama
bin Laden or suicide bombers. Control the forum, direct the talk. Steer it
into a discussion of the beauty and truth of Islam: "Invite (all) to
the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with
them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy Lord knows best, who
has strayed from His Path, and who receives guidance." (Qur'an
Control the Forum
Stop defending Islam, as if Islam is a criminal and needs a defense
attorney. I realize that those who are doing this have the best of
intentions, but when we continually defend a thing, people come to believe
that it is culpable. When we constantly proclaim our innocence, people
begin to suspect our guilt. Instead of defending Islam, promote it.
Discuss the beauty of Islam, its power, and its truth. Be positive, not
negative. Be self-assured, not defensive.
Don't allow yourself to be drawn into protracted discussions about Osama
bin Laden, or the Taliban, because these issues are
irrelevant to our da'wah and our practice of Islam in the U.S.. For
example, let's suppose you are staffing an Islamic booth in the free
speech area at your university, or maybe you are taking a break in the
lounge at your workplace.
Someone comes up to you and says, "Why do you Muslims support
You don't respond with denials and apologies. You bypass all of that and
you say, "Islam is a religion of peace. Everything in Islam centers
around submission to God. We practice brotherhood and sisterhood, and we
work on our spirituality. We believe Islam is the true religion. It
promotes justice and equality for human beings everywhere."
Do you see how this statement is positive rather than negative? It is an
expression of strength, not weakness.
If the person allows you to continue, you might go on to give examples of
the brotherhood you have experienced in Islam, or of what Islam has done
for you personally. You could talk about Salat or Sawm or Hajj, or any of
the beautiful aspects of Islam. But let's suppose the person is
persistent, and he won't let the subject go. He interrupts you and says,
"What about the World Trade Center then? If you believe in peace,
then why did you kill all those people?" You say, "Why did you
bomb the federal building in Oklahoma City?" He says, "I didn't
do that! Timothy McVeigh did it, everyone knows that." You say,
"But he was a Christian."
He says, "So what, that doesn't mean anything."
You say, "Right. Just like it doesn't mean anything that the
individuals who attacked the WTC might have been Muslims. It has nothing
to do with the ten million Muslims who live in this country, or the
billion Muslims who live around the world. This is what Islam is
about..." And then you elaborate on any Islamic subject that you
like, such as the Oneness of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, Salat,
brotherhood, or Zakat.
In doing this, you are not avoiding the topic of terrorism or the Taliban
or whatever, you are simply making it irrelevant to your presentation of
Islam, and thereby severing the mental link between terrorism and Islam.
Your da'wah booth is not a forum for a discussion on terrorism. You are
there to promote Islam, and one has nothing to do with the other.
Fear Allah, not People
It's time to come out of our houses. Fill the masjids. Invite our
non-Muslim friends to Islamic events. Stop hiding. When we hide, two
1. People begin to think we have something to hide. After all, we must
have done something and we feel guilty, or we wouldn't be hiding, right?
2. Bad people, those who would harm us, see it is a confirmation of our
weakness, and this gives them a green light to oppress and intimidate us.
Fear Allah, not the people. The Messenger of Allah (pbuh) said, "Be
mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. Get to know Allah in
prosperity and He will know you in adversity. Know that what has passed
you by was not going to befall you; and that what has befallen you was not
going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience, relief
and ease with hardship." (related by Tirmidhi)
Fear Allah, not the people, because we will get only what Allah has
prescribed for us and nothing more. Stand up! Be strong and morally
upright. "Say: 'I believe in Allah', and thereafter be upright."
(related by Muslim).
I am not saying we Muslims should not take precautions. We should have
twenty-four-hour security at masjids, Islamic centers and Islamic events.
Muslims should not travel alone. Sisters in hijab should be escorted
whenever possible. M.S.A.s should form an escort hot line for the Muslim
female students. Set up a phone tree
in your community. Lock your doors, buy a cell
phone, be aware of your surroundings and don't go out at night. If you are
harrassed, report it to [CAIR] (your local
community) and to the police, and to your employer if it happens at work.
Yes, we should continue with our lives and take precautions. This is a
sign of strength and determination, while hiding in the house or trying to
conceal one's Islamic identity is a sign of weakness and spinelessness.
Lastly, do not forget to always make du'a to Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala.
This is the most important security precaution of all.
Ask Allah to keep you and your family safe, and to protect all Muslims all
over the world.
Present the Beauty of Islam
The apologists and defenders expend all of their energy proclaiming what
Islam is not, while never bothering to explain what Islam is. I don't
think I need to elaborate too much in this section, because we all know
what is beautiful, powerful and wonderful about Islam. Present these
aspects of Islam in your talks with the non-Muslims.
Talk about such issues as:
* The importance of worshipping Allah alone.
* The forgiveness which Allah offers to all his servants.
* Honoring all the Prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and
Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
* The noble character of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
* The incredible changes that Islam brought to the jahili Arabs.
* The miraculous nature and beauty of the Holy Qur'an.
* Islam's golden history and its influence upon the modern world.
* Brotherhood and sisterhood in Islam.
* Islam's emphasis on justice, fairness and racial equality.
* The importance of mercy and forgiveness in Islam.
* Sincerity in Islam.
* The significance of prayer, fasting, Zakat and Hajj.
* Your personal experience with Islam and what it has done for you.
Let these issues define Islam in the minds of your listeners. Remember,
don't apologize or defend. Rather, control the forum and present a
beautiful picture of Islam.
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