A L B A L A G H
N E W S L E T T E R
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Surviving the Melting Pot
Muslim immigrants first came to the western countries more than a century ago. In
Australia they went as Afghan camel drivers. In the U.S. they went variously as Lebanese
autoworkers and Punjabi farmers (not to mention African slaves). These earlier Muslims
worked very hard to serve these lands. They built roads, opened access to mines, and
performed grueling work to till the land or run the factories. Their great contributions
and economic successes aside, they had one glaring failure: they failed to build Muslim
communities that could last. Their descendants disappeared into the melting
pot. Today one cannot find the Muslim children of these earlier Muslims.
Another wave of Muslim immigration started after the Second World War and gained
momentum during the last three decades. Will the children of these immigrants survive as
Muslims in a land that has a history of assimilating people of all faiths? Or will they
too meet the fate of the children of earlier immigrants? Today the melting pot
is hotter than ever, the popular culture is stronger than ever, and the influence and
reach of the media in promoting the popular culture is greater than it ever has been. What
is the chance of survival for those being raised in the eye of the storm?
It can happen. But it wont happen without properly guided effort. Here is the
advice from the scholars.
- Religious Obligations
Salat (obligatory prayer) is the most important of a
Muslims obligations. It is impossible to build a wholesome life without this pillar.
As the Hadith says, Salat is the pillar of religion. Whoever destroys it has
destroyed the entire religion.
In the ex-Soviet Union and other Communist countries, it was a crime to
offer Salat. Those who prayed did so secretly and at great personal risk. In the Western
countries, there is no such barrier. Those who fail to pray regularly have nothing but
their own laziness or weakness of faith to blame.
We should be regular in performing other religious obligations as well. In addition we
must allocate time for reading the Quran and good religious books in our daily
schedule. To survive in a non-Muslim environment, says Maulana Yusuf Ludhianvi, all
these are as important as food and medicine.
A concern for Halal and Haram consumption is not only an important
obligation; it is a prerequisite for building a wholesome Islamic life. The Quran
says, O Messengers! Eat things good and pure and work righteousness. [An-Nahl
16:53] At-Tayebat (good and pure) is a beautiful way to refer to Halal as Haram things are
not good or pure. This verse teaches us a very important fact: Physical actions have moral
and spiritual consequences as well. Thus eating Halal is necessary for leading a life of
Science, by definition, cannot go beyond the physical world in its explorations. Those
who are ignorant of the limitations of science and therefore seek guidance from it in
areas where it is unable to provide any, get easily confused on this issue. Why pork
is Haram? they might ask. Answer: Because Allah said so. And He said so because it
is bad for our moral and spiritual health.
A glass of water may look clean, but if somebody tells us that it contains a poison or
virus, we would not touch it. Haram is the same way, only more so. Whatever Shariah has
declared as haram is as unsafe as poison, although its poisonous consequences will be
apparent in the Hereafter.
Today the entire world is in the grip of rampant materialism. But
it is more corrosive in its birthplace. In the Muslim world materialism is rampant but is
considered a vice; people are not (yet) presented as role models simply because of their
wealth. Over here it is a virtue; the life styles of the rich and famous are an object for
Additionally Maulana Yusuf Ludhianvi cautions: Never allow yourself to be
impressed by the great worldly possessions of a non-believer. If you realize the eternal
doom that unbelief promises, you will feel pity rather than envy.
- Q & A
The tremendous interest in question and answer columns in newspapers,
magazines, and on the Internet is a sign of the concern of Muslims for religious guidance
and for doing what is right. The downside is that all sorts of experts have
also sprung up to dispense legal opinion and religious guidance.
This state of affairs is a result of general ignorance of even basic religious
teachings among todays educated Muslims. Additionally, there is a
commonly held opinion that the person giving a wrong fatwa is responsible for it, not the
one who follows it.
Actually, we are responsible for searching for the authorities carefully before
we put our trust in them. We do so in other realms of life. We do not accept medical
advice simply because the giver appeared to be a doctor. We ascertain qualifications
before we accept advice. Fortunately, that profession is generally regulated and we
dont have to deal with unqualified practitioners very often. In case of religious
guidance, it is up to us to exercise the same caution.
Justice, honesty, integrity, kindness, sincerity, and truthfulness are
important qualities of a good Muslim. He should be a man of principles, a source of good.
According to one hadith, the believers are like rain, spreading their goodness wherever
It was these qualities of the Muslims that opened the hearts of millions of people in
Asia and Africa to the truth of Islam. People knew the tree of Islam by the fruits of the
good conduct it produced in its followers.
The above are necessary for building a strong Muslim home. However, we
need to do more to insure that our children do not step out from our tiny islands only to
drown into an ocean of Godlessness. Two of the greatest bad influences come in the name of
entertainment and education. First is television and we must protect our children from it.
The second is the secular education system that forcefully promotes ideas that are totally
anathema to Islam to those most impressionable and least able to question them. Muslims
must develop their schools that teach all subjects in an Islamic context. On both of these
issues we have shown scant awareness.
Yes, we can survive as Muslims in the West, but it wont happen without properly
guided effort. And the time to act is now.