Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology
A Bit of Cheerleading and Calling the Game
Readers should forgive me for being so proud, for sounding almost boastful of our Islamic culture and heritage – Islam and its teachings and our true identity as Muslims. In a sense I am; but at a deeper level I am not – boastful that is. But a bit of a cheerleader for Islam, I certainly am.
It is not the pride of Indian, Pakistani, Egyptian, Malaysian, Arab, Iranian or other forms and facets of chauvinism that makes me do that. Alhamdulillah, Allah cured me of those a long time ago. Nor does it proceed from a sense of blind Muslim nationalism. Yes, that is what I call it – Muslim nationalism. To me it is an attitude that says: “I am with the Muslims and I support the Muslims regardless of whether they are right or wrong!” Masha-Allah, my Rasul, Sallallahu 'Alaihi wa Sallam, showed me what a foolish thing it was for anyone to contemplate.
In what is perhaps one of the most powerful statements of all time – to my simple mind it is nothing less than a miracle – the Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, said:
Unsur A-Khaaka Zaaliman Awu Mazlooma!
Help your brother, whether he is right or wrong.
As you can see, this confused the Sahabah, his companions – another miraculous expression in the history of human discourse: ask me sometime why I think so. They said, helping our brother when he is right, we understand, but helping him when he is wrong … that does not seem right.
To this the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, replied:
Hold his hand and keep him from doing wrong!
I don’t know about you. But as for myself, I ask for nothing more from Islam. This one thing is enough to fill one’s life with meaning, direction, energy and purpose. It is enough to build a whole new world – a world based on justice, service, compassion and equality.
Therefore, when I turn cheerleader for Islam, I do so not from a purely emotional point of view, but I do it based on a sound foundation of rationality and logic and evidence. I don’t do it because of my history or background or my psychological attachments or cultural umbilical chords. I do it because I am left with no alternative but to spontaneously burst out into cheers at the marvels with which Islam confronts me at every turn. To me the beauty of Islam is that manifest – that self-evident. Nothing compares to it. That is what I call a miracle – something that defies comparison, something that has no real parallel in this world.
All I do, therefore, is to examine the reality that is before me as carefully and honestly – truthfully – as I can and then react to it with all the power that Allah has put in my mind, heart, spirit, tongue and pen. It is a blessing that Allah has given me – to see things and call them as I see them. My parents – both my father, Allah give him Jannah, and my mother, Allah bless her every breath, gave me a head start with their unimpeachable integrity and their fearless passion for truth.
So, it became second nature to me quite early in my life to speak exactly what I thought, believed, understood and saw. And what I say about the Qur’an, about Rasulullah, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, about Hadith and about Islam and Muslims is exactly what I see. That is the reality that hits my senses, my brain, my soul, my spirit and my intellect about these things. I try to describe that reality faithfully and honestly to the best of my skills and abilities.
Now, that reality turns out to be the most beautiful thing so far as the Qur’an, the Hadith and Islam are concerned. My soul begins to dance, my senses begin to hum and my whole body begins to tingle as I see the beauty that is in Islam and the Qur’an and the Hadith, and I spontaneously burst out cheering for them, even as I talk or write about them. And I try to talk about them as truly and accurately, as honestly and faithfully, as I possibly can, for as a Muslim every other option – the option to lie and dissemble for example – has been taken away from me.
It is, however, a somewhat different story where the Muslims are concerned. With the Muslims, I find myself more in the position of a television or radio commentator calling a football game live. I am forced to call the plays as I see them; and the game is what it is – a very human affair; a very mixed product; and often a very messy one.
Sometimes, the field is muddy, and the players have dirt all over them. Sometimes, there are fouls committed by one team or the other. Sometimes, there are cards of various colors and severity that are handed out to different players. Sometimes, there are serious penalties, suspensions and ejections during the game. Sometimes, decisions by officials are wrong and biased. Sometimes, it is one team that scores; sometimes it is the other team.
Some teams have better gear than some others. Some teams are in better physical and mental shape than some other teams. Some coaches seem to have done a better job of recruiting, training, coaching and motivating than some others. Teams come and go. The game continues. The outcome of the game is sometimes in favor of one team, sometimes in favor of the other.
The game continues. Teams come and go. Muslims play on. And I call the game as I see it. So must you. That is what is expected of us.
Ya Ayyuhalladheena Aamanu ……… Qoolu Qawlan Sadeeda. Yuslih Lakum A’malakum wa Yaghfir Lakum Dhunoobakum Qur’an (33: 70-71)
O Those Who Believe! Say the right thing. He will straighten your actions (in this world) and forgive your sins (in the next world).
Is there anyone that can want more than this? Or is there anyone who wishes to, or who can, strike a better bargain than this?
Muslims are players on this field. It is a very level playing field, we must know. No field is more level, balanced or fair than the one on which Muslims play the game of Islam. We must also know that Allah’s officials are very fair and impartial and generally very strict. And the official rulebook says: May the Better Team Win. And it always does.
The commentators are hired on condition they would be fair and impartial. Their hearts may be with one team or the other, but they are committed as professionals to call the game as they see it.
So, tell me, if this is the game for which I am a play-by-play commentator, what am I supposed to do if not call out exactly what transpires on the field?
Inevitably, sometimes there is analysis and there is flashback to past games – to history and to the performance of teams and individual players and coaches in days gone by. It is all part of being a commentator. It is all part of calling a game.
That is the difference between a sports commentator and a cheerleader. Cheerleaders cheer and salute and make noise. They are boisterously partial and partisan. Commentators are required to hold their personal preferences back and tell the listeners and viewers whatever it is that is going on in the game – the good as well the bad, the pretty as well as the ugly. Thus, while I am an unabashed cheerleader for Islam, I am also a commentator of Muslim performance in their game of destiny. No Muslim can help being either.
To me this is the very essence of Islam. It is the best way to play the game – and to be a commentator or a cheerleader.
And to me there is no better game in town – than Islam. Not because that is the game I play, but rather, I play that game because that is the best game there is to play. As a result, when it comes to Islam and the Qur’an and the Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and the Hadith, I have little difficulty in being a cheerleader and an eager and enthusiastic one at that.
END OF CHAPTER 9
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.