Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Lights, Camera... ACTION!

Most of the time, when a group of Muslims get together and start talking about stuff like reform and activism, they usually conclude with saying that they need to create an organization of some sort. As a result, we have many, many Muslim organizations - CAIR, ISNA, ICNA, to name a few; and of course there are a zillion and one other such organizations out there.

While organizations and committees are all well and good, I don't think that they're so absolutely neccessary in order for we Muslims to bring about reform within our societies (note that I say reform of SOCIETIES, not reforming ISLAM). I think that we place too much importance on these organizations, and the big titles that come of being members of such organizations, instead of truly focusing on what we should be doing: improving ourselves, and improving our Muslim communities.

Yes, organizations are an excellent way of doing things for the Muslim communities. But they are NOT absolutely necessary. To initiate change of any sort, all that is needed is a will, and then insha'Allah there will be a way. It will start with one person - just one! - and by the will of Allah it can spread throughout the earth. Start also with the absolute bare basics, and don't worry about the really big issues (like global warming and peace on earth).
After all, isn't that what happened with Islam?

I think that right now, the absolute BEST way to do anything for our Muslim communities is for US, as individuals, to devote ourselves whole-heartedly for the sake of Allah and dedicate our time and efforts to doing whatever little we can do.

We must begin by educating ourselves. Most of us know much less about Islam than we should – than we need. How many of us really know the basics of Islam? The true meaning of them? How many of us know the conditions of the shahaada? How many of us know the correct way of performing the salaah, according to the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him)?

Our Islamic education is something that each and everyone of us is responsible - but for adults, and subsequently parents, it is even more so. The shaping of the next generation is in your hands. Arise, O people, and fulfil your obligations to Allah and to the Muslim Ummah!
Keep in mind also that 'Islamic education' does NOT only refer to sending your kids off to the Madrasah once a week. It means instilling Islamic values in your child/ren at HOME, enforcing Islamic rules at HOME, abiding by those Islamic rules yourself.

As with pretty much everything else, we have to begin with OURSELVES, and work from there. Of course, Jihad an-Nafs - the struggling and striving against our own whims and desires and suchlike - is a lifelong thing, so while we're engaged in it we should also be doing other things.

Here's what I propose:

That each of us sit down and have a good long think. First, let's look at ourselves, let's evaluate ourselves. Be brutally honest. What are our faults? Our weak points? Things that we should be improving within ourselves? And then, either draw up a plan, or make internal resolutions to start dealing with those things, starting NOW.

After that, I think we should also try to evaluate the conditions of our respective Muslim communities. No doubt we'll be able to find out plenty of things that we'll take issue with - but the hard part then is, trying to figure out what WE can do about it.

It could be something very small - volunteering to clean the Masjid once or twice a week - but extend to doing things like volunteering at the madrasah or special events and programs, or helping out new Muslims, or whatever. See what your skills and strengths are, and see what you can do with them to help out your Muslim community.

It's time for US, as INDIVIDUALS, to stop complaining about the problems we Muslims have, and to start DOING something about it!

Having been quite involved with things at my old Islamic centre, and even in this new city I'm helping out my dad with the stuff he's hoping to start up here insha'Allah, I know just how difficult it is when a small group of people are burdened with the task of doing EVERYTHING, both big and small - from cleaning the toilets to organizing conferences. You have no idea how much a helping hand is appreciated!

So PLEASE, I beg of you, for the sake of Allah, PLEASE go out and do whatever little you can for the Muslim Ummah! Start with yourself, and your home, and then with your local Masjid or Islamic centre. It's the small things that will lead to the big things... so PLEASE, pretty please with a cherry on top, come on and let's do something already!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Hey Tigermouse,
Heard you were going to do something on Sufism. Please at least check out Hazrat Inayat Khan:
a truly beautiful man of truth,love,joy,
and wisdom.
Also Al Hillaj Mansoor!(The story of his martyrdom is unbelievable!)

AnonyMouse said...

Datta - nope, I'm not the one doing it; Molly is... I just gave her a couple links... :)

Anonymous said...

Agreed. More individuals need to take responsibility and act. 'Little' acts tend to get overlooked which is rather unfortunate because you never know which act might become pleasing to Allah (eg. prostitute giving a thirsty dog water and being forgiven for that).

Organizations are needed because the believers are advised to work together..."Allah's hand is with the jama'h." :-) There are more blessings in working together just like it is better to pray in congregation.

Of course, some if not most orgs get caught up in silly little things and defeat the entire purpose of having an organization :-(

websurface said...

I agree. The value and contribution of organizations to Muslim society can never be overlooked.

Individual effort will have only so much bearing on the society. Cleaning one masjid will certainly be rewarded by Allah. But if that time and effort is put together in organizing a group that will come up with a plan on how to keep masajid clean and worked on implementing it in several masajid, then that is a better planned effort.

Even the simple effort of posting a blog on the net invloves so many "organizations" without which we could not even post this message. Then how can we expect to bring about a change in the Muslim Ummah without organizating? We are no prophets.

Molly said...

Datta, I took your and Mouse's advice on posting. And yours on sufism in particular. :)

Molly said...

Mouse, do you believe it's more important to help Muslims than humans in general?

homogenized prozac fairy said...

when do u have time to do these huge articles? ur supposed to be doing school work tsk tsk =P (how did my tsking sound? lol weird i know)

AnonyMouse said...

Anonymous: “Organizations are needed because the believers are advised to work together..."Allah's hand is with the jama'h." :-) There are more blessings in working together just like it is better to pray in congregation.”
Good point!

Websurface: Another good point… but what I’m trying to say is, I think it’s time we stopped depending on organizations to do everything, and for us as individuals to take responsibility for something, even if it be something very small.

Molly: Hmmm… good question… Personally, I think that it’s important to help EVERYONE in need, Muslims and non-Muslims, whenever and wherever we can. I don’t think it’s necessarily “better” to help Muslims over non-Muslims, though…

Homogenized Prozac Fairy: School? What school? *Shifty eyes* :P :D

Anonymous said...

Great post. We should start an organization called MBWGI (Muslim Bloggers with Good Ideas) to see this done.


I'm kidding, of course.

In all seriousness, I used to also get frustrated by the sheer number of organizations we have particularly in North America, but then I realized that this is, in many ways, a blessing. I think people approach things differently, and have different temperaments such that one organization might work for them while another one won't. Of course, there are lots of bad ones too, but as long as the good ones aren't fighting amongst themselves, I think it's okay.

Either way, you're right, that there's so much we can still be doing as individuals that we don't do. May Allah help all of us.

Anonymous said...

In my humble opinion, there are many organizations because there are many different ideas and interpretations, and too many egos getting in the way of the truth.....

Only when each individual is truly finished doing their own work in finding the truth should they purport to tell the truth to others.

It takes a very great man to understand when he KNOWS the truth. It takes a very small man to THINK that he knows the truth.