Are Elections Haram?
Says Who? And Based on What?
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
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(16) Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah: A Fuller Story
- Western and Muslim: Both at the Same Time
- Practical Implications of Tauhid
- Practical Implications of Hijrah
- Working in a Non-Muslim Environment
- Example of Joseph, Alaihis-Salaam, in the Qur’an
- A Joint Muslim-Non-Muslim Platform
- Something Called Istihsan or the Pursuit of Common Good
- A Major Speech on Islam and the West
- A Joint Soviet-American Handshake for Islam and Muslims
- A New Paradigm for Cooperation and Coexistence between Muslims and Non-Muslims in the West
- As Old as the Qur’an
- A Glorious Common Future
- Wishing, Hoping for General Access
- Logical Outcome
- Mystery of the Missing Tapes
- What Drove that Decision?
- An Ideological Alibi for Muslims
(17) Mindless Kaafirbashing
- Generations of Innocent, Defenseless Muslim Children
- Lonely, Heartbreaking Times
- Missing Mission of Taking Islam to Non-Muslims
- Canaries that Won’t Sing
- One Canary with Special Gift of Song
- Cultural Rejectionism and its Negative Effects
- Underprared Muslim Muftis
- Returning to Roots
- A People Created for other People
- Muslims’ Western Qawms
(18) September Eleven: A Wakeup Call?
- Allah’s Way
- Divine Punishment
- An Unmitigated Disaster
- Rewards of Research
- Building a New Future Together
16. Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah:
A Fuller Story
It was thereabouts – in the early 1990s, or was it the late 1980s? – that I started to talk publicly about the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah.
I laid out that concept in considerable detail in two days and several hours of speeches in a major international Islamic convention in Guyana, West Indies, in which I was the main speaker.
By the expression Western Wing I meant that Western Muslims were now poised to have the best of both worlds in their new home in the West – Islam as well as the West – just as they were so far enjoying the best of both worlds “back home” in the East – Islam and Egypt; Islam and Indonesia; Islam and Pakistan; and Islam and something else.
Western and Muslim: Both at the Same Time
In that convention, I took considerable pains to point out that the Muslims in the West had two things going for them. On the one hand, they were as Western as possible. And, on the other hand, they were also, at the same time, as Muslim as possible.
And that no one could take either one of those two components of their unique Islamic-Western composite identity away from them.
And that these two components, though seemingly distinct, were in reality one and the same. And neither could be separated from the other. For, that was the nature of Islam: to integrate all aspects of an individual’s and a people’s existence into one composite whole.
Practical Implications of Tauhid:
To me it was all part of the practical implications of the amazing Islamic principle of Tauhid – unity or oneness: one God, one world, one common human family, East and West, Muslim and non-Muslim.
The Western part of their identity, I argued, came from their choice (or accident) of geography and culture, whereas the Islamic part of their identity came from their choice of (or birth into) Islam as their Deen. And I don’t see how anyone can separate the one from the other.
Yes, separation does occur later in life when you consciously and rationally trade your bondedness to a particular soil or territory in favor of bondage to the creator of all of the earth and the entire universe.
Practical Implications of Hijrah:
That again to me was part of the practical implications of the most amazing Islamic concept of Hijrah – migration: geographic, psychological, emotional and spiritual migration and mobility.
Thus, to me, being a Western Muslim – or being Western and Muslim – was no different from people being Egyptian and Muslim, Indonesian and Muslim or Moroccan and Muslim.
Thus, I argued, at considerable length and in great detail, that Muslims of the West were the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah and there was a pressing need for them to understand this and determine their role in the West accordingly.
Not separate or cut off from the rest of the Ummat of Islam throughout the world, I pointed out quite clearly and forcefully, but still with their own distinct and unique identity, issues, weaknesses, strengths, problems, projected solutions and opportunities – in the West.
Working in a Non-Muslim Environment:
A major thrust of my analysis in that convention was how Muslims in the West needed to learn to work in and with a non-Muslim environment.
I pointed out how in a democracy we were all stakeholders – Muslim as well as non-Muslim alike – with equal and mutual responsibilities, claims and rights.
I recall how a local young man, robed in black, who had returned, I was told, with some Islamic education from overseas, stood up at the back of the hall and demanded to know my authority for saying that Muslims must cooperate with their non-Muslim society, surroundings and government.
Example of Joseph, Alaihis-Salaam, in the Qur’an:
I pointed to the example of Joseph, son of Jacob, may Allah bless them both, in the Qur’an – how Joseph, Alaihis Salaam, a prophet of God, and therefore a Muslim par excellence, actually offered his services to the ruler of Egypt, who was not a Muslim.
The young man’s answer to this was: But our prophet’s Shri’ah (law) cancels and overrides the previous Shari’ahs (laws).
I took this to mean that what may have been good enough for Joseph, son of Jacob, son of Isaac, son of Abraham – a fourth-generation prophet of God, Allah bless them all – may not be good enough for people like us, who are the followers of the latest and last prophet of Allah, may Allah bless him, Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
That was quite a shocker. I haven’t forgotten that experience to this day.
A Joint Muslim-Non-Muslim Platform:
That principle, however, does not apply to the case in point. In fact, the Islamic law points in quite the opposite direction. For, Islam requires its followers to seek common ground with the followers of other laws – other Shari’ahs – as much as they can.
In fact, Islam instructs it followers to take the initiative in seeking cooperation with non-Muslims for the attainment of shared goals and ideals.
Tell the non-Muslims, says the Qur’an:
Come, let us evolve a common basis – a joint
platform – to work together!
Ta’aalau Ila Kalimatin Sawaa-in
Bainana wa Bainakum!
Something Called Istihsan or the Pursuit of Common Good:
And there is something else. “Istihsan,” the pursuit of common societal and human good in all matters of law, and taking into consideration the general public interest and welfare, is a firmly established principle of Islamic jurisprudence.
So, there is nothing in the Law of Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, that says that Muslims should not cooperate with non-Muslim individuals, groups, organizations, powers and institutions of the day.
A Major Speech on Islam and the West:
Such a common platform is exactly what emerged when, as part of that same convention, I gave a major speech to a hall full of ambassadors from the U.S., Soviet Union, Britain, Canada and other countries, and also attended by the Prime Minister of Guyana – President Cheddi Jagan was taken ill and could not attend – on the topic of “Islam and the West.”
In that speech I outlined the role of Islam and Muslims in the modern West in keeping with my concept of Muslims of the West as being the Western Wing of the Muslim Ummah – very much Muslim and very much part of the West: inseparable from the Muslim Ummah and yet at the same time integral to the Western world. And using, at the same time, the universal and eternal principles of Islam to serve and advance the best interests of Islam and Muslims on the one hand and of the West and the rest of humanity on the other hand.
That talk received a most enthusiastic reception not only from the Muslims but also from the diplomatic crowd present.
A Joint Soviet-American Handshake for Islam and Muslims:
In a moment that combined considerable collective excitement and drama for Muslims with some personal embarrassment for me, both the American and the Soviet ambassadors jumped on the stage to congratulate me on the speech.
Both of them then began to vigorously shake my hand for what appeared to be a never-ending length of time.
This struck me as a moment of considerable glory and success. Not for me as an individual, but for the Muslims in general and for that Muslim convention in particular.
And more importantly, it was a triumphal moment for the natural beauty and simplicity of Islam that, when presented with a semblance of clarity and confidence, could have such a profound impact on an audience of that kind and caliber.
A New Paradigm for Cooperation and Coexistence between Muslims and Non-Muslims in the West:
What I had outlined in that speech – as well as in my other speeches in that convention – was a full-fledged new paradigm incorporating a solid theoretical framework for the mutual coexistence and cooperation of Islam, Muslims and non-Muslims and their faiths and ideologies in the West.
It was a paradigm that was based on the joint stewardship of this world among Adam’s children – Muslims and non-Muslims alike – in the West and elsewhere, for the common benefit of all.
As Old as the Qur’an:
Though this paradigm may have come across as new in the way it was presented, to me it was as old as the Qur’an and Hadith. And it was as old as the history of humanity in this world.
All I had done, I think, was to outline what I believed to be the position of Islam on these matters based on that most amazing Aayat of the Qur’an that I cited a few paragraphs earlier:
Ta’aalow Ila Kalimatin Sawaain Bainanaa Wa Bainakum.
Come, let us work together based on what we have in common!
A Glorious Common Future:
I believe this model contains in it the seeds of a glorious common future of cooperation, co-existence, prosperity, peace, success and felicity for the entire world – Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
It means: Work out your differences, find the common ground and come to an agreement! That is what God Almighty is saying in the Qur’an, as would a loving father to his squabbling children.
Translation: Stop fighting and make peace on the basis of what you have in common!
How do you top a formula like that?
Wishing, Hoping for General Access:
I was hoping, and I deeply wished, that that speech – and the new paradigm of the role of Islam in the West that I had outlined in such detail and depth – would be given broad general access.
That it would find its way, along with the rest of my tapes from that convention, to the broadest Muslim and non-Muslim audiences throughout the West – and throughout the world, including the Muslim world.
I expected that to be one of the most natural, logical, urgent and important outcomes and follow-ups from that convention.
And I saw my speeches in that convention, overall, as a landmark of some kind, as a turning point, in the history of Islam and Muslims in the West. What I did not expect, however, was that all trace of every one of my speeches from that convention would disappear as if those speeches had never come into existence in the first place.
Mystery of the Missing Tapes:
Sherlock Holmes biographer, Dr. Watson, would have called it The Case of the Missing Tapes.
And that is exactly what happened. Mysteriously, tapes of all my speeches in that convention were made to disappear, without a clue as to what happened to them.
Or maybe in hindsight it was not so mysterious after all.
Ever since, all my attempts to track down and obtain a copy of those tapes have been to no avail, even though for quite a while I kept getting reports of their sightings in different places from different sources.
Even when I took up the issue with the organizers of that convention at a subsequent conference in Toronto – I think it was Toronto – I never got a satisfactory reply.
What Drove that Decision?
What happened to those tapes?
Why was it decided not to give me a copy of my own speeches?
Whose decision was it? And what were some of the considerations that drove that decision?
And why were those tapes and their transcripts not made available for broader circulation among the Muslims and non-Muslims of the Western Hemisphere?
Allah alone knows the answers to these questions.
Of course those who were behind the disappearance of those tapes know what exactly happened to them and why.
An Ideological Alibi for Muslims:
The sad thing is that those tapes would have provided a conceptual and ideological alibi for the Muslims if they had been widely circulated.
I am not saying those tapes, if they had been given wide circulation, would have prevented the bloody horrors of September Eleven or the even bloodier horrors of its aftermath.
But I do believe that given wide circulation among both Muslims and non-Muslims, those tapes would have been a significant and fairly compelling alibi for Muslims in general and for Muslims in the West in particular with regard to the ideological background of those horrendous events.
And they would have constituted a strong argument against Muslim involvement and culpability in those bloody and barbaric events.