by Dr. M. Amir Ali, Ph.D.
Do you agree with the vision of removing the negative image of Islam and prejudices against Muslims in America by the year 2010? Would you like to see an Islamophobia-free world? Muslims must have a vision for America beyond the year 2010: for 2025, 2050 or even 2100! Muslims must have a vision for the world through the eyes of the Quran and Sunnah.
A commonly quoted figure is that in the U.S. over six million Muslims live, of which 3.5 million are immigrants and their children and 2.5 million are native born American converts to Islam and their children. However, there is a dearth of respect for Muslims they find themselves in the midst of a hate campaign which is growing by the day. The influx of the Jews to America preceded the Muslims by a century. Respect for the Jews one hundred years ago was very bad and they found themselves in the midst of hate which still persists in some pockets of the American population. However, the Jews took advantage of constitutional guarantees of freedom in America and they used them. The Jews developed a vision for their place in American society and immediately began working on their projects. They became so successful that they could dictate to President Harry Truman the recognition of the State of Israel in 1948 despite opposition everywhere, including his own Secretary of State and a majority of his cabinet members. Now we find Jews dominating politics, economy, media and the entertainment industry of the U.S.A. It is said that almost 42% of former President Clinton's appointees are Jews despite the fact that only 2% of the American population is Jewish. The story of the success of Jews in America is fascinating and Muslims can learn something from it. The Muslims in America must have their own vision and an Islamic approach to carve out their place in the American society.
Communities without a vision are doomed to ignominy living as subjects of those who have a vision. Similarly, individuals who do not have a vision are doomed to ignominy. We all have a vision for ourselves and we strive to turn our vision into a reality. Some see themselves as politicians, corporate managers, doctors, engineers, journalists and so on. Some try. Many succeed but some fail. Karl Marx theorized establishing a communist state and Lenin made it a reality. Americas vision to defeat communism and become the sole super power came true. Theodore Herzl had a vision of establishing a Jewish state. Americans had a vision to put a man on the moon, survey the solar system and to go beyond. Allah grants many people what they desire and work hard to get, even if it is against Allah Himself. For example, secularism is a way of life which denies Allahs sovereignty; Allah is giving secularists success after success because they persevere. Now, the West, in general, and the U.S., in particular, have a vision of seeing the world freed of Islam as a deen. Are we, the Muslims, going to allow this to happen?
Prophet Muhammad(S)s Vision
We can cite at least two occasions when the Prophet(S) talked about his vision of victory and establishment of Islam in a land where an overwhelming majority of the people were mushrik. The mushrik leadership opposed the Prophet, his religion and persecuted his followers. In comparison, American Muslims are 2% of the population, and as of now there is no serious persecution as freedom of religion and speech is constitutionally guaranteed.
1. Mid-Makkan Period
Khabbab( R ) ibn Arat and the Prophet(S) were sitting in the shade of the Kabah. The persecution of the Muslims was severe and many of the companions had already migrated to Habashah, modern day Ethiopia and Eriteria. Khabbab humbly requested the Prophet to pray to Allah for freedom from persecution and success of the Muslims. The Prophet replied that true Muslims have to go through suffering. In ancient times, the Muslims were buried alive up to the neck in the ground and their heads were sawed off in the middle. Some had to suffer the combing of the flesh from their bodies. The Prophet said that the time will come when the deen will be established and an old lady will travel from Sana (south Yemen) to Hadr Mawt (north Yemen) and will have nothing to fear but the fear of Allah. The Prophets vision of making Islam the way of life in the Arabian Peninsula, including Yemen, would bring peace and security for all. At that time he did not have even one hundred followers. If we estimate the population of the Arabian Peninsula before hijira to be 500,000, the population of Muslims was only 0.02%. Historians tell us that at the time of Farewell Hajj over 120,000 pilgrims were present which should provide us with some basis for estimating the population of Arabian Peninsula.
2. Thirteenth Year of Prophethood
The Prophet(S), with a booty of one hundred camels on his head, was migrating from Makkah to Madinah in the company of Abu Bakr( R ) and his guide. In a coffee shop in Makkah, Suraqa(R) ibn Malik learned about three persons travelling north. Suraqa got on his horse and went on a chase to catch the Prophet. As he came near the Prophet, his horse began floundering in the sand. Suraqa realized his mistake and asked Prophet to rescue him, promising in return to misguide other potential bounty hunters. The Prophet told Suraqa that if he kept his promise, he would wear the gold bracelets of the king of Persia. The Prophet envisioned that Islam would spread in the Arabian Peninsula and Persia in the life time of Suraqa. At this time he had less than 300 followers, that is, under 0.06% of the Arabian population.
One may raise the objection that being a Prophet, he had foreknowledge. That is wrong. It was his wish and vision. We find that in 2 A.H. at Badr he was weeping and praying to Allah for victory at Badr. His duaa included some words to the effect that if the Muslims lost, there would be no one left to worship Allah. If he had foreknowledge, the Prophet would not be begging Allah so much. Allah made the Prophet(S) to declare in the Quran: "Had I knowledge of the Unseen, I should have abundance of wealth, and adversity would not touch me" (7:188). There are more verses in the Quran giving the a similar message.
The Prophet established a city state and expanded it through dawah, defensive wars and preemptive strikes against his enemies. The equivalent of that city state in America would be Islamic organizations and Muslim neighborhoods. We should promote Muslim neighborhoods in all major cities of the U.S. to serve as nuclei and expand them through conversion and migration to the Muslim enclaves. The development of enclaves would give us control over the schools, local politics and help in establishing necessary institutional infrastructure. As these enclaves grow in size through conversion and immigration, the Muslims will have some say in national politics and perhaps even be able to elect Muslims as congressmen and senators. Naturally, at some point in time, we will be able to elect a Muslim as President in the White House. In time, we will be able to do what we cannot even say at this time. Defensive actions in our time, analogous to the defensive actions of the Prophet, would be to respond to the attackers on Islam in literature and the media. Preemptive strikes against the enemies of Islam, analogous to the preemptive strikes of the Prophet, would be ideological exposure of falsehood of secular humanism, secular nationalism, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism and other religions and cults. However, in many cases mere presentation of the truth of Islam aggressively but rationally will be adequate to defeat the falsehood; Muslims may not need to attack other systems and religions.
This is a vision; without a vision we have no destination to travel to.
Why are Muslim leaders so myopic about the future of Islam in America and the world? Why has the Muslim leadership failed to come up with a vision for America?
Theodore Herzls Vision
Notably, Raphael Patai has mentioned in his book, THE MESSIAH TEXTS, introduction, page xlviii:
This was before World War I, when Khilafat-e-Osmania ruled Palestine and most of the Arab world. The Jews were being persecuted everywhere in Europe. Herzl went to all major Jewish financiers for help and was turned away, including the Rothschilds, a major financial institution in Europe. Under those conditions Herzl neither considered his vision to be simplistic nor did those few Jews who supported him. History bears witness that Herzls vision came to reality in 50 years.
Vision is the Motivation for Progress
All advanced and progressive societies have visions. All inventors in science are visionary people. They see a problem and they want to solve it. As it is said, necessity is the mother of invention. Some may say it is the greed of getting rich fast. Well! Vision of getting rich is still a vision but on the way to riches, inventors permanently alter societies.
Let us look at history. Prophet Muhammads vision was shared by his successors: Umar ibn Al-Khattab and Uthman ibn Affan carried out the mission of defeating and destroying the two super powers of the time, the Byzantine and Persian empires. Their successors carried the mission to the borders of China and the heart of West Europe. These Muslim leaders were visionary optimists. Alas! Muslims in America have no visionary leadership. The most that the Muslims in America have been able to do is to organize conferences, conventions and seminars. If these seminars and conferences are used to recruit Muslims as workers and motivate them to work for Islam then these conferences, etc. are a good start, but only a start. Conferences as an end by themselves are a waste of money, time and energy.
Alexander the Great had a vision of ruling the entire known world. He conquered almost half of it and appointed his governors in various countries. The Founding Fathers of the United States had a vision of building an independent country free from colonialism where there would be freedom of religion, enterprise and expression of thought. Most of the recent immigrants to the U.S. had the vision of education, career and prosperity. Most of them are living economically better than their counterparts in their home countries. Vision and optimism combined with struggle, patience and perseverance give success. Those who have lived in slavery or inherited slavish minds live very selfish lives; they may have optimism in their individual visions but collectively lack vision and are pessimists.
All adventurers and inventors were visionary optimists. They envisioned a world different than they inherited, felt need for change and individually left their impact on world civilization and culture. Discoveries of the steam engine, electricity and the silicon chip are some of the shining examples. In the 1960's there was a serious problem of pollution someone had a vision of a pollution-free environment. Henry Ford had a vision of mass production. The development of the computer was someones vision. Every change comes from one or another mans vision despite his being laughed at by the ignorant pessimists. World progress has come through the thoughts, visions and works of optimists. Pessimists contribute nothing but discouragement and doom.
Anti-Islam forces in the world, particularly in America have a vision to defeat Islam worldwide as a deen and render it permanently a personal religion of rituals only. Are we, the informed Muslims, going to allow it to happen or are we going to have a vision of the world through the eyes of Islam? Are we going to tolerate and accept shirk and its varied manifestations, like drug abuse, teen pregnancies, out-of-wedlock children, single parenthood, adultery, fornication, incest, homosexuality, drunkenness, rising gambling addiction with destruction of more and more families, flourishing gambling casinos, rising thefts and robberies, senseless murders and so on. Do Muslims living in America have any responsibility to see that shirk is eliminated, tawheed becomes a norm and we live in a safe country where anybody could walk anywhere and anytime with no fear of any kind except the fear of Allah? I believe that we do have a duty to see a safe America for Allahs sake, for our own salvation and for our own future generations sake!
The cleaning process of America is not possible without bringing the awareness, acceptance and respect for Islam and Islamic values by an overwhelming majority of the population. It is the duty of the Muslim leadership to develop a vision for America for twenty years from now, fifty years from now or even one hundred years from now. A vision must be translated into a plan and a project and be implemented.
Where are visionary Muslim leaders in America? Is there anyone responding to the call?
A Call For Help
Those who live outside of America but have Allah-given wealth have a duty to help those who are struggling for the establishment of Islam in America and elsewhere. Those who live in America have a double duty, (a) to spend money (infaq) by helping financially those who are working to spread the message of Islam, and (b) to spend their own time and talent in calling people towards Allah (dawat ila-Allah).
Allah is calling you, will you then not heed Allahs call?
The Vision in the Quran
Allahs call to the believers
1. Reward of Power:
2. Punishment of Disgrace:
3. Condition of Change to give back the Power:
The Muslims were given promises: the Sahaba and the 8-12 generations that followed fulfilled the conditions stipulated in the verse 24:55 and Allah fulfilled His promise. As Muslims became weak in their faith and works, Allahs punishment came and, over the centuries that followed, Muslims were disgraced so much that they were made subjects of their enemies (colonial powers). On the curve of rise and fall of nations Muslims are at the bottom of the trough. Colonial powers are gone physically but their agents continue to rule the Muslims on behalf of their masters, only more brutally. At the end of 20th century Allahs promise (#2) is in effect. To go back to His promise (#1) we must go through His promise (#3). In this paper I am calling you to bring change through developing the vision of the Prophet(S) and his companions.
Some may argue that the Muslims must become perfect or better Muslims before we go to non-Muslims and invite them to Islam. This argument is rooted in ignorance of the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet. The process of correction of Muslims goes parallel with the propagation of Islam one helps the other. It is like a bicycle which needs both wheels. Some Muslims should take the job of calling Muslims back to Islam and others should call non-Muslims to Islam. Both groups need to be taught Quran and Sunnah, not cultural Islam. Muslims material and human resources should be allocated equally between the work among Muslims and the work among non-Muslims. We must use modern technology and resources in our work.
If you agree with the vision stated in the opening, join the Institute of Islamic Information & Education (III&E) for the dissemination of knowledge about Islam and Muslims to the American people, educating those who enter the fold of Islam and developing material and human resources to do the job. In addition, please support your local Dawah organization. If there is no Dawah organization, establish one for the sake of Allah.
Challenge to Action
All Muslims living in America have the duty to reach out to their non-Muslim brethren, in love and sympathy, with the message of Islam for their own sake and for the sake of Allah. To recognize their duty, Muslims need to be educated, motivated and mobilized for the task. A national movement is required. If you agree with this assessment, write or talk to your local, regional and national leaders, including those of Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), Imam Warith Deen Muhammad, Imam Jamil A. Al-Amin and others. Demand action from them individually and collectively. Demand from them a long-term vision and an active project of planned growth of Islam and the Muslim community in America. You must do it persistently and repeatedly to wake up the "leadership" and you yourself do what you can.