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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(23) Muslims and their Issues and Problems
- Forces that Would Want to Keep Muslims Ignorant and Backward
- Iqbal on Muslim Problems
- Being Human Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
- Cataloguing Muslim Ills
- More on How Muslims Make a Mess of their Lives
- Even More Muslim Deficiencies
- Knowing and Understanding Issues Is Key to Solving Them
(24) Muslims' Good Standing with God
- More Reasons for Muslims to be in Good Standing with God
- More on How Muslims Are Good People -- Really
(25) The American Turf: Muslims Cannot Afford to Surrender It
- Cacophonists of Hate and Half-Truths in the Media
- Muslims Are Stakeholders in America's Future -- And its Present, not to Say its Past!
- Competing for America's Soul
(26) The Real Question
- From Before Nine-Eleven
23. Muslims and their Issues and Problems
For years -- decades really -- I have been telling the Muslims to list on paper some of what they perceive to be their major problems and issues -- and then work from there. No one to my knowledge has taken me up on that.
Generally, that is not how Muslims work. At least, that is not how Muslims used to work. Maybe some of the newer kids coming up on the block will bring in some of those much-needed skills.
Muslims are mostly interested in solutions -- ready and instant solutions -- and not in problems. Nor are they interested in a serious analysis of those problems. As for the causes and contributing factors to those problems, Muslims are mostly clueless.
Clearly, someone forgot to tell the Muslims that in life problem identification and analysis must precede any meaningful attempt at finding solutions.
As a result, we may see many Muslims rushing to propose solutions to problems they barely understand. At the same time, many Muslims would also demand that any proposed solution be a "practical" one -- meaning, I suppose, it must yield immediate and concrete results.
Often, there is no analysis; there is no research; there is no theory; there is no logic or systematic reasoning; and there is no focus on clarity or understanding. Generally, ad hoc speculation, personal opinion and directionless talk take the place of all of the above.
I have spent considerable time giving speeches on how Muslims were seriously lacking in the department of theory -- and research -- and proposing some new theoretical models of how Muslims needed to look at their role in the world, especially in the West.
Some good Muslims made the entire set of the videotapes of those several hours worth of speeches disappear. Had those tapes been available, they would have provided an effective alibi for the Muslims of the West in the face of some of the suspicion and persecution that was let loose upon them by the government following 911.
Forces that Would Want to Keep Muslims Ignorant and Backward
It is as if there are forces in the universe that would want to keep Muslims from learning to think through their problems rationally and analytically.
Anyone can see why.
If Muslims learn to identify their problems successfully, and are able to analyze and understand them scientifically, then they will be on their way to solving them. And that simply may not sit well with those who may have a vested interest in keeping Muslims ignorant, backward, demoralized, floundering, lost, bonded and beholden.
For a lot of people in this world Muslims are what some would call a "cash cow." They are the proverbial goose that lays the golden egg. That means there is money to be made in and through Muslims -- big money.
Therefore, buying and selling Muslims -- and robbing them in the process -- can be lucrative business.
So, why would those who may be used to trading in Muslims for huge personal, political and economic gains, want their prize commodity -- Muslims -- to learn to solve their problems? That would kill the cash cow -- or the goose with the propensity to lay golden eggs.
Let me try to provide a list of what I consider to be some of the problems that plague Muslims. The list, however, is a quick, random and partial one.
Iqbal on Muslim Problems
Reading Iqbal could be both invigorating and saddening. The fire of divine love in his poetry acts on you like tonic. But at the same time, his penchant to say things exactly as he sees them could also leave you dejected and dispirited.
For those of you who may ask who or what is Iqbal, I would suggest you read my piece on Iqbal in www.IslamicSolutions.com.
And Iqbal does not mince words when it comes to critiquing Muslim conduct and conditions. The whole of Jawab-e-Shikwah is in effect an unvarnished indictment of Muslims by a voice from God Almighty himself.
It is Iqbal's Muslim version of J'accuse!
But what did the Muslims do in response to Iqbal's criticism? Did they go, one by one, over the problems identified by Iqbal and seek ways of addressing them? No, not to my knowledge!
Muslims marched on to other and newer excitements in life as history moved on and as Iqbal became a fading memory in the Muslim mind. The Muslim problems Iqbal had identified, using the voice from heaven as his mouthpiece, remained as they were.
In some cases at least they got worse.
Being Human Can Be Hazardous to Your Health
Many of these problems arise from the fact that Muslims are, after all, human beings -- like everyone else. As children of Adam, Alaihis Salam, Muslims have a great deal in common with the rest of their kinfolk -- and they have inherited from their father Adam a common tendency to err, and sometimes err in all kinds of disastrous ways.
And from that point of view, Muslim or non-Muslim, being human can be fairly hazardous to your health.
But in some cases, being the kind of Muslims we are seems to compound our human predicament and hand us a slate of problems that are uniquely and powerfully our own -- as Muslims.
That means we share with others some of the common problems endemic to the human race as humans -- qua humans. But at the same time, as Muslims, we have some problems of our own that are different from -- and that are over and above -- the problems of others.
So here it goes. My tentative and quick list of some of the problems Muslims face.
Cataloguing Muslim Ills:
Muslim ills -- call them problems, issues, headaches, challenges, whatever -- stated here in no particular order, and without distinction of the individual and the collective -- include, but are not limited to, the following -- and don't mind the overlap either:
- Egos and ambitions;
- Selfishness and arrogance;
- Greed and lust;
- Naiveté and foolishness;
- Mutual rivalries, turf-fights, power struggles and intrigues;
- Hunger for name and fame and wealth and privilege and power;
- Betraying, double-crossing and back-stabbing one another;
- General reluctance and inability to build coalitions for common causes and arrive at working compromises;
- Failure to produce united fronts to face common issues -- like an iron-clad wall: Bunyaanum Marsoos;
- General lack of education and skills;
- Pervasive economic, educational, social and political backwardness.
- And generally warped, rigid, feudal, tribal and primitive thinking on most matters.
More on How Muslims Make a Mess of their Lives
Some of the other ills, issues and problems that have dogged the Muslims include the following:
- Often stunted, abortive, unimaginative, self-serving and querulous leadership;
- Generally blind, naïve, emotional and sheep-like masses;
- Pervasive lack of foresight;
- General inability to plan for the future;
- Serious cognitive deficiencies;
- Spiritual poverty;
- Moral bankruptcy;
- Serious character flaws in matters such as truthfulness, honesty and integrity;
- Economic duplicity and corruption;
- Mainstreaming of Riba as an accepted way of life by calling it by different names;
- Turning their back on the institution of Qard Hasan;
- Profligacy, spendthrift lifestyle and brotherhood of Shayaatin as the Qur'an describes it;
- Abandoning their pervasive social reformist and activist mission on earth as Khair Ummat;
- Lack of involvement in society;
- Lack of involvement in politics, which is changing after 911, but toward what ends remains to be seen;
- Addiction to superstition;
- Widespread practice and legitimation of tyranny as the norm in their personal, cultural, social and political lives;
- And perpetuation of sundry forms of social, political and economic oppression, injustice, exploitation and Zulm in their societies, cultures and personal relations and dealings.
Even More Muslim Deficiencies
Here are some more things that can be added to the list of Muslim ills, issues and problems that make Muslims what they are today -- and that to me are the real enemy of Islam and Muslims:
- Generally turning their back on education, literacy and excellence;
- Lack of a culture of research, analysis and critical thinking -- call it Ijtihad if you will;
- Low tolerance for difference of opinion;
- Hypocrisy and double standards;
- Fear of seeing, speaking and facing truth;
- Inability to reason and make sense of their surroundings;
- Lack of a vigorous culture of knowledge and education;
- A generally folklorish, cliched and nonscientific way of life;
- Inability to positively and proactively define their role in society and the environment in which they find themselves;
- Lack of a general culture of transparency and accountability;
- Failure to create a general culture of spending -- Infaaq;
- Withdrawal into a monkish culture of excessive personal piety;
- Unwillingness and inability to negotiate, to accommodate and to work together with one another and with their perceived enemies on common causes;
- Widespread racism and cultural and linguistic chauvinism;
- Deep-seated class and caste consciousness and tribalism;
- Entrenched feudal social, economic and political structures;
- Lack of initiative and proactivity;
- And often flawed, outdated, primitive, useless and unresponsive -- educational systems.
The list is a mile long. And not too many of these things have the Muslims bothered to put on the table and discuss seriously, honestly and openly.
Knowing and Understanding Issues Is Key to Solving Them
That means the Muslims are nowhere near solving their major issues. That is because knowing and understanding issues is the key to solving them.
And Muslims have not made much real progress in identifying what those issues are and in analyzing and understanding them.
Nor have they spent any serious time, energy or resources in coming to grips with the short-term and long-term causes and effects of those issues.
Thus, in the ultimate analysis, Muslims are, to a significant degree, the victims of their own Nafs and Hawaa -- of their own personal, intellectual, moral, social, economic and political shortcomings and excesses; of their own countless omissions and commissions.
Thus, Muslims are, in some serious ways, their own victims. If someone asks what is wrong with Muslims, we can almost say Muslims. That is what happened to Muslims.
Muslims happened to Muslims.
As a result, the Muslims are mostly hoist on their own petard.
They themselves are -- and always have been -- their own worst enemy.
And of course they are, as human beings, open and vulnerable to the daily depredations of that other standard enemy of the human race: Shaitaan.
All the Shaitaans of Jinn and Ins -- bad ones of the human and Jinn variety.
That means sometimes Shaitaan in the form of Jinn -- that other fiery creation of God, besides humans and angels -- gets them.
And sometimes various human agencies, also acting on the behest and in the role of Shaitaan, get them.
24. Muslims' Good Standing with God
Yet, the fact remains Muslims are in general good standing with God Almighty. It is a huge topic and needs a great deal of time and space to explain.
But suffice it to say at this point that the Muslims are in good standing with God Almighty so long as they say -- utter with understanding and belief -- that amazing threshold formula for success and salvation both in this world and the next one: Laa Ilaaha Illallaah!
That no one else is willing to say that clearly and openly and unequivocally.
That utterance is Muslims' -- and everyone else's -- ticket to God Almighty -- and to Paradise in the next world -- regardless of how they may manage to ruin and botch their earthly existence.
Thus, Muslims are in general compliance with Allah's commands and in general good standing with Allah so long as they -- just to name a few things out of many likely candidates:
- Say their Kalimah Tayyibah --Laa Ilaaha Illallaah, Muhammadur Rasulullah.
- Pray, fast and do the other mandatory things;
- Practice any of the social graces enjoined by Islam;
- Utter routinely or from time to time any of the utterances taught to them by Allah and Rasulullah, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, such as Alhamdulillah or Subhanallah;
- Start their meals with Bismillah and finish them with Alhamdulillah;
- Commence their sex acts with their spouses with Bismillah;
- Start all their other activities with Bismillah;
- And say Assalaamu Alaikum to one another.
More Reasons for Muslims to be in Good Standing with God
That is not all.
There are more reasons why the good standing of Muslims with God Almighty would continue. For example, God would look favorably upon Muslims if they:
- Are nice to their family;
- Realize that Paradise is under the feet of mothers;
- Are particularly nice and kind to their daughters;
- Are particularly nice to their wives;
- Observe any of the hygienic habits required of them such as frequent washing of their hands;
- Bathe their dead as shown by the model of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam;
- Bury their dead in simple white cotton wraps;
- Perform daily Salaah facing the Ka'abah and in congregation in mosques;
- Form straight lines for congregational Salaah;
- Don't miss their Jum'ah prayers;
- Control their anger;
- Forgive people;
- Eat meat that is purified and made lawful and permissible in the name of God;
- And stay away from drinking alcohol and eating pork and maybe even smoking cigarettes and other tobacco products.
More on How Muslims Are Good People -- Really
The story continues -- the story of how the Muslims, even in some of their darkest hours, can be and indeed are really good people.
This list also is a mile long! And what a list it is!
Muslims are or will be in general compliance with Allah's law and the model of his Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam -- that is, they are in good standing with their creator -- so long as they:
- Marry and divorce in keeping with the broad mandate of the Sunnah -- teachings and practice of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam;
- Say "Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam" every time they either utter or hear the name of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam;
- Read the Qur'an and teach it to their children;
- Celebrate the two Eids of Ramadaan and Hajj;
- Circumcise their men;
- Treat their parents and elders with respect and their families and children and younger ones with compassion and kindness;
- Seek knowledge and work to disseminate it either as amateurs or by working in any of the knowledge-related fields as professionals;
- Walk on earth gently, as the Qur'an says they should;
- Turn away from foolish and unnecessary provocations and confrontations with proclamations and protestations of "Salaam!" on their lips -- meaning, to say the least, peace, we want no trouble;
- Reach out to neighbors and others with service and solicitation;
- Show hospitality and respect to guests;
- Treat animals humanely;
- Treat their waters, forests and environment in a responsible manner;
- Speak the truth;
And support and uphold the principles of justice and fairness in their dealings with others.
25. The American Turf:
Muslims Cannot Afford to Surrender It
All this means one thing: Muslims cannot and should not allow America or anything or anyone else to become the permanent and standing enemy of Islam and Muslims.
That means Muslims of America should not supinely surrender the American turf -- their American homeland -- to the Right-Wing extremists, fanatics and fundamentalists in America -- either of the religious or of the garden-variety racist type or of the political or academic type or a combination of all of the above.
Or to anyone else of any stripe or description.
Cacophonists of Hate and Half-Truths in the Media
That means Muslims should not automatically roll over and play dead to sundry fanatical, fascist-type hate-mongers and promoters of personal, domestic or foreign interests and causes at the expense of genuine and broader American interests and wellbeing -- and truth.
Nor should they, specifically, allow themselves to be cowed down, demoralized or browbeaten by media bullies -- the merchandisers, among them, of prejudice and half-truths, and the strident cacophonists, in their midst, of hate, anger, venom, falsehood and malice in radio, television and newspapers -- or over the Internet.
Muslims Are Stakeholders in America's Future --
And its Present, not to Say its Past!
The fact is America has incalculable potential for good and much of it remains untapped and unclaimed. And Muslims are important stakeholders in America's future.
And its present. Not to say, its past as well.
America is a free, wealthy, powerful, polyglot nation of diverse social and political strands and savagely competing interests and influences. America generally goes where its powerbrokers, after endless wrangling and maneuvering, manage to take it.
But at no point is the trajectory of American politics and policy carved in stone. It is a continually evolving, shifting process, as, of all people, Muslims should know.
If America today appears to be on a Muslim turkey-shoot, and appears to be targeting Islam also in the process, the day is not far off when America will find its way to being a good friend of Islam and Muslims.
While it remains primarily America's own responsibility to do so -- if for nothing else, for the sake of its own millions of citizens -- it is also the job of the American Muslims to see that it happens -- and in the quickest possible time.
Competing for America's Soul
Therefore, what the Muslims need to do is to become participants and competitors in this process of seeking a role in shaping and impacting America's soul and psyche, rather than sulking from outside and allowing America's military, social, technical and financial resources and might to be stacked up against them as their natural-born enemy.
Muslims must realize that God may not forsake America just because America killed a large number of Muslims or threw a few thousand of them in jail without due process. God will turn against America decisively only when America openly and completely abandons all pretensions of justice, truth, integrity, fairness, honesty, transparency, compassion, Godliness, "religiosity" and common decency.
While America has made some rapid strides in that direction in the wake of September 11, and earlier, she is still a long way from reaching the end of that road. It is the job of the American Muslims to come America's rescue.
American Muslims must compete not only for the worldly wealth that America has to offer, but also for America's soul and destiny before God. They need to work to save America from its own follies and excesses, not only from a worldly point of view, but also from the point of view of accountability before God Almighty and in the hereafter.
In this sense, what is true of America could also be said be largely true of the West in general.
26. The Real Question
So, the real question before both players in this epochal human drama -- Muslims on the one hand and America (and the West) on the other hand -- now is how they can work out a method of coexistence and cooperation with one another -- a modus vivendi -- that will ensure the maximum wellbeing of both sides in the decades to come.
And beyond that, how they can innovatively and imaginatively link their lives, fortunes, interests and destinies together to build a new future of peace, security, justice, compassion, felicity, prosperity and blessing for all of planet earth and its many occupants for at least the remainder of this century.
From Before Nine-Eleven
If some parts of this writing read strange or different that is because they were written before 9-11 was even a possibility in anyone's mind.
They are left standing here to provide some kind of perspective on aspects of Muslim thinking in America way before 9-11 happened.
Allah knows best.
Allahummarham Ummata Muhammadin, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
Ya, Allah! Have mercy on the Ummat of Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam!
This brings us to the end of Part VII of Are Elections Haram? Says Who? And Based on What?
Next: Inshallah, we will bring you Part VIII as soon as Allah enables us to finish working on it.
Du'a: Please do not forget me, my parents, my teachers and my ancestors in your Du'a.
Drafts: And do please bear in mind that our manuscripts are mostly drafts in need of further research and revision, which we are often unable to undertake or complete due to time and resource constraints.
Visiting: You are visiting www.IslamicSolutions.com.
E-mail: Write to us at DrSyedPasha [at] AOL [dot] com
Allah: Allah be with you -- where and how you want.
End of Part 7 of 8
Written, January 2001
Modified, 2004, 2005, 2006
(To be Revised)
© 2006 Syed Husain Pasha
Dr. Pasha is an educator and scholar of exceptional
talent, training and experience. He can be reached at DrSyedPasha [at]
AOL [dot] com or www.IslamicSolutions.com.