Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology
A Word on Style, Grammar, Spelling,
References and Such other things
On these issues I want to say one thing: Just let them ride! Technical perfection is not what I am trying to achieve in this book – even though that should always be our goal in everything we do. But I do not at this time have the means, the resources and time to deliver that level of professionalism that I demand, teach and preach.
All I have are a few quick hours and days in which to pour out my heart and mind – and my years and years of pouring over the Qur’an and the Hadith – and world scholarship – and pondering over the state of the Muslim Ummah and the world. All I am doing is using my forthcoming seminar as an opportunity to reach your eyes, ears and hearts – and hopefully to stir up your souls.
I do not have access at this time to assistance of the kind of work that this kind needs – hardware, software, technical support, secretarial and other resources without which quality work of any kind at any level cannot really be successfully produced or delivered. What I have in front of you now is what I can afford to offer at this time, within the scope of the time and energy and resources that are available to me after meeting my own personal and professional obligations as a full-time university professor.
See, how we end up becoming part-time workers for Allah? That is why I am not an Islamic worker, but a worker for Allah. There is a difference. That makes every aspect of my life – and everything I do – part of my working for Allah: my personal life; my home life; my university teaching; my civic duties and commitments – everything. They are all obligations imposed on me by Allah – through the medium of Islam. This makes me a full-time worker for Allah, and not a part-time one.
In meeting my obligations – under those multiple categories of life – I try to hold myself to the highest standards I am capable of – before Allah as well as his creation. To me that is the way Muslims are supposed to operate with regard to everything they do.
But a lot of times, when it comes to writing books or giving speeches on the so-called Islamic topics, we are often obliged to do so without adequate resources and support – something that most people engaged in most other professional activities in the West take for granted. The writing of this book is no exception. All I have to work with is a little bit of time Allah has given me; a little bit of energy he has put in my body and mind; and a tiny little computer he has placed at my disposal for the time being.
In other words, like so many Muslims in so many different parts of the world at so many different times, I am one of those Muslims who are trying to climb the Himalayas in my sneakers. Writing of this book at this stage is a one-man operation with one or both hands tied behind his back. I have a choice of doing or not doing it. I choose to do it. And that is a clear nudge from Allah.
Wa Maa Towfiqi Illa Billah! 'Alaihi Tawakkaltu wa Ilaihi Uneeb! Qur’an (11:88)
My support comes from Allah; it is on him that
I depend; and it is to him that I turn.
I can always say I don’t want to do it unless I can get it to measure up to the highest standards that Muslims must hold themselves to. But do I really have a choice? Can I really say that? What happens if I don’t somehow pound out some of this stuff with aching hands, hurting back and shoulders, swelling feet and ankles, with eyes squirting blood for tears and with a heart about to burst? What happens if I just say to you or to me: No, I can’t do it?
Nothing. That is what happens. Nothing. Not a thing happens. You and I go on living our lives happily – doing things the way we always do them. Talking the same old language; thinking the same old thoughts; making the same old mistakes; paying the same old price that all those who never learn from their mistakes are called upon – and doomed – to pay by Allah in his world. Right? I am afraid so.
As a result, rather than become a part of the solution, as Malcolm, Rahimahullah (may Allah bless him) once put it, I think it was he who said it, we continue to be a part of the problem. And that is not what I want to be. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to be a part of the problem; I want to be a part of the solution. Allah’s world is too beautiful a place for me not to work to make it better and more beautiful every second of my existence. That is all I want to – and am trying so desperately – to do.
I am Allah’s fully owned and operated slave. Let us not make any mistake on that account. My job is maintenance and management and custodial services on Allah’s plantation earth – or if it makes you feel better, let me say Allah hired us all for that purpose, you and me. He is the kind of master who pays his slaves – and pays them well. So, where is my choice? Or where is yours, in whatever you are called upon to do to make Allah’s world a better place for all?
All I want to do, therefore, is, in whatever condition and situation Allah has placed me, within all the constraints of my life and work on earth, I want to polish off some of the dust from the radiant face of truth on Allah’s earth – Qur’an, Hadith, Islam, Muslims, the West and human life and habitat in general. I stake no claims and make no pretensions beyond that.
As Shu’aib Alaihis Salaam, may Allah bless him, said:
In Ureedu Illal Islaha MastaTa’tu, wa Ma Taufiqi
Illa Billah Qur’an (11: 88)
All I want to do is help in whatever way I can; I have no recourse or source of support other than Allah.
Therefore, please don’t get distracted by my English spelling of Arabic words – or something else of that nature – as you sit down to read this book. I do not have the time to standardize it using my own method – a method that I developed in the early 1970s, even though that method seems to be gaining ground in some Muslim writings. And I am not entirely satisfied with the other methods available in the market.
As for the English language itself, I use it to do my bidding – not the other way around. I don’t necessarily dance to its tune – or to the tune of any other language that I may know. I bend language to my purposes. If you read with a keen and observant eye other users of language such as Shakespeare in English, Ghalib in Urdu, Iqbal in Farsi and the pre-Islamic (Jahiliy) poet Imra’ul Qais in Arabic, then you would know what I am talking about. If you don’t, then, I am afraid, you will just have to give me the benefit of the doubt, take my word for it, and move on.
So, when I write something a particular way that is how I want to write it. I don’t care what the grammar books and style manuals say. I write and revise those manuals for my classes all the time, even though I am generally bound by standard professional precept and practice in the field.
All this is keeping in mind the fact that I have not had the time or the opportunity to revise my writing the way it ought to be. That means, if it is a serious error and it is something that I did not put in there deliberately, I will revise and if necessary change it when and if I get a chance – when Allah, Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, grants me that opportunity to do it.
What I don’t want is other people revising, changing or editing my work. That sort of thing is simply not done – and it is not acceptable.
I am generally accurate in my facts, and I keep my statements within the parameters of facts, as I know them. I also try to keep my extrapolations from facts within what I consider to be the bounds of reason and logic. Still, can I, do I and will I make mistakes? Of course, I can, do and perhaps will. I ask Allah’s forgiveness – and yours too – every time I do that. I also ask Allah to protect me from doing that. Never, therefore, hesitate to bring a genuine error in my writing to my notice.
As for changing voice, tone and style as I write, please let those things go – don’t waste time wondering about those things. I am not writing for the market. Even though I want people to pay for my speeches and for my writings, I do not cater to the requirements of the market. That is not who I am and that is not what I want to do.
Therefore, this is what I want you to imagine as you read this book: Consider yourself sitting comfortably in a room with me – lost in intimate conversation. We are both leaning forward – at least I am – and we have locked eyes; I am talking to you; and you are listening. We have an intent look on our faces. And the conversation strikes its own ebb and flow and its own eddies and swirls of intensity.
The whole idea is to share thoughts and feelings – all that is bubbling inside me – as clearly and in some ways as informally, personally, even intimately as possible. That is what this book is all about.
Also, I write as the mood overtakes me. Sometimes I feel these things flow out of my fingers without any serious thought or effort on my part. I see things fall in place. I just sit at the computer and go through the motions of pounding on the keys and the thing – whatever it is that may be in front of me at that time – writes itself. Then there are other times when that sort of thing does not happen. On those occasions, there is generally not a thing I can do.
And then there are topics about which I feel totally unmoved. Sometimes, these are topics some Muslims sometimes impose upon me – as if the fate of the world hung in the balance with these topics; as if these wonderful Muslims, Allah bless them, had exhausted all other topics and these were the only remaining ones; as if they had carefully reviewed everything and had come to the conclusion that these topics were the ones that were most in need of addressing. But often I find an emptiness about them that produces an equal emptiness in my own heart and mind. When it is one of those topics, I can neither write nor talk about them. So far as I am concerned they are dead topics. I am through with them before I even begin.
I sometimes quote fragments of a Hadith or Aayah in original Arabic in my writings, including this book – and I guess in my speeches. I do that in the way they jump out at me as a natural and organic part of the flow of my thoughts or arguments. When I am writing, I simply put them down on paper – even though, for fear of confusing readers (so much for my professed lack of sensitivity to market considerations) I do so only minimally.
Should I provide references of the Surah and Aayah? That would be nice if I could do that. I do, if I remember them, or when I have the time to check them. But I do not want to be tied down to doing that while I write. Therefore, I respectfully ask that you find the compassion in your heart to go and check them out as best as you can, when you don’t find them in my writing. They are generally easy to find. This way we can distribute the work a little bit.
I want you to make your own personal efforts to try to find them in the Qur’an and in the relevant body of Hadith. I want you to meet me halfway where some of these things are concerned. In other words, some of these situations from spelling to grammar to Aayaat references are there in my writing – not because I am not aware of them, but because, for the time being, that is all I can or want to do about them.
So, when I am done with my writing, and you have the written material in your hands, help me with whatever research you can, and help me to revise my work later. I invite you to become my research assistants. That is one way to solve our common problem of scarcity of resources – I do the writing and you do some of the research I need done.
END OF CHAPTER 5
Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology
© 2003 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.