By Mohamed Haroon Sait
Alhamdulillah Allah blessed us to be Muslims, some by birth and some by choice. With that blessing comes huge responsibilities and great rewards. Allah (swt) said, addressing us;
Thus, have We made of you an Ummat justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves; (Quran 2:143)
Being witnesses for people involves presenting the truth, approving what is right and speaking against the wrong. People should look up to and learn from us excellence in the matters of faith and living just like we look up to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). Such witnesses cannot be selfish and must wish only good for people. Only then we will be able to perform in that role effectively.
On a level field, all aspects of Islam and its messenger will shine forth by itself for every onlooker. Unfortunately now we are on an uneven ground. Relentless terrorist attacks on innocent civilians are attributed to Muslims and hence Islam is accused of being an inherently violent faith. The Qur’an is called a manual of terror and the messenger who is a mercy to all mankind is attacked and portrayed as the exact opposite. The incidents related to terrorism have become so frequent and widespread that many Muslim Americans find themselves busy apologizing for global events which they hold neither control nor responsibility for. Additionally, they struggle in defending the faith, let alone presenting and promoting it as a gracious way of life.
Fortunately most Americans understand that every nation has bad apples and that Islam cannot be blamed for everything that is attributed to Muslims. Unfortunately in America we are not strangers to indiscriminate killings in schools, malls and public places. No one with the right state of mind attributes them to any specific faith.
As Muslim Americans we are asked questions on Islam and the world events almost every day at work. It is a fact that some misinformed Americans perceive Islam as the cause of all the trouble. We cannot let this perception grow as this will affect the lives of future generations of Muslim Americans. Silence and inactivity can only cause more damage. When our backyard is on fire we cannot rest peacefully engaging in regular entertainments of life. Rather, that is the time we must use our utmost energy to put out the fire. This unexpected turn of events demands that every Muslim become a “firefighter” alongside his already assumed responsibility of the witness. This demands knowledge and activism.
Allah (swt) chose every word in his book with a purpose; the first revelation of the Holy Quran to start with the command to “Read” deserves our attention. Understanding the message of Holy Quran is of utmost importance for every Muslim who represents Islam.
“Are those who know equal to those who do not know” (Quran Zumar 39:9)
Holy Quran strengthens Muslims in many ways.
“And We have sent down to thee the Book explaining all things, a Guide, a Mercy, and Glad Tidings to Muslims.” (Al Nahl 16:89)
The book revealed by The knowledgeable naturally contains all the explanations that we need. So it is logical to say that one who does not care to know the message of Holy Quran misses out on things that our creator sent us down in his book.
The situation we are facing at this time as an Ummah is not any different from those faced by believers of the past. The Devil was created before man, he has influenced human beings from the day of inception. All the great Prophets of Allah and their followers had to go through plots of the devil and his supporters. When the Holy Quran explains their plight, it is never intended as tales of woe, but as lessons for us in case we must endure such challenges.
“Or do ye think that ye shall enter the Garden (of bliss) without such (trials) as came to those who passed away before you? they encountered suffering and adversity, and were so shaken in spirit that even the Messenger and those of faith who were with him cried: “When (will come) the help of Allah.” Ah! Verily, the help of Allah is (always) near!” (Quran Al Baqara 2:214)
Our next source of inspiration and knowledge is the biography of Prophet Muhammad (saw).
“We sent thee not, but as a Mercy for all creatures” (Quran Al Ambiya 21:107)
The biography will help us look closer the Arabia of 600 AC (After Christ) and we can see all what Prophet (saw) did falls in its right places and an excellent example as Allah (swt) instructed us in the Holy Quran.
“Ye have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah.” (Quran Al Ahzab 33:21)
Understanding Holy Quran and the biography of Prophet Muhammad (saw) will give us the inspiration and confidence to address the concerns our friends and neighbors raise on Islam.
Muslim Americans are going through a difficult time. We have to rise to the occasion and deliver the message of Islam with wisdom and beautiful talk. Allah (swt) has commanded us to invite all to him;
“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 knoweth best, who have strayed from His Path, and who receive guidance.” (Quran An-Nahl 16:125)
We cannot achieve any of the above without making sacrifices. We have to spare our time to seek knowledge and to be around knowledge seekers. Join the local masjid da’wa programs if they already have; create one if they do not. Read books on Islam written by non-Muslims highlighting the different aspects of Islam.
Prophet Muhammad (saw) and His companions strived and struggled to deliver the message of Islam to us. Now it is our turn, we all have to ask ourselves, “What will be My Legacy?”
The project of Muslim American is our humble attempt to provide information and guidance for Muslims living in North America in coping up with the day to day needs. The Muslim American magazine and the website www.MuslimAmerican.com will provide a platform for learning and networking. We seek the pleasure of Allah (swt) and request your supplication for the success of this project.
Recommended reading material.
Meaning of THE HOLY QUR’AN by Abdullah Yusuf Ali
Muhammad: His Life Based on the Earliest Sources by Martin Lings
The 100: A Ranking of the Most Influential Persons in History by Michael H. Heart
How to Tell Others About Islam by Yahya Emerick