Still Working for Allah in the West: Theory and Methodology
Darul What, Muslims?
INFUSING A BIT OF THEORY IN WORKING FOR ALLAH: ESPECIALLY IN THE WEST
If you are serious about working for Allah, you need to base your knowledge on some solid theoretical foundations. Right here is one solid theoretical question for you: What is the nature of the place where you want to work for Allah?
The role of theory here is so powerful that everything that you do from now on will depend on the theoretical answers you provide to that fundamental question.
Unless you have this sorted out fairly clearly in your mind, you are likely to make a mess of things – somewhat along the lines that we have done in the West over the past four decades, would you say? I wish I had the time to document in some detail some of our more serious follies in this respect.
But I will try to explain here one small part of that question. For a long time Muslims had divided the world into Darul Islam and Darul Harb – basically meaning friends and foes; good guys and bad guys.
This was then. But many Muslims stuck to this outdated concept like a leech. The good news is that some of them have started to revisit and rethink this typology.
I have myself given this matter some serious thought over the past at least 20 years and I have several things to say on the subject, even though I may not be able to explain any of them in any great depth at this time.
First, what most people don’t understand is the fact that this typology is more a political one than a strictly Islamic one. That means, by definition, it is subject to change with changing political realities. At one level, it is as simple as that.
Second, what makes a place Darul Islam? And what makes some other place Darul Harb? I wish I had time to get into a more detailed discussion here. Is it the existence of Islamic institutions, infrastructure or large numbers of Muslims that makes a place Darul Islam? Do you see, in some ways, to raise these questions is also to answer them?
If it is infrastructure, which part of it makes a society part of Darul Islam? If it is institutions, which ones give that society right to call itself Darul Islam? Are some Islamic institutions – and practices – more important in Islam than some others? Which ones as compared to which other ones?
And if it is the number of Muslims in a society that makes it part of Darul Islam, then are we talking about absolute numbers or ratios and percentages? Furthermore, when is a critical mass reached in a society that allows that society to be called Darul Islam based on the sheer weight of numbers?
Third, some people have advanced the notion of Darul Da’wah or Darul Shahadah to describe the West, which is an advance over the Darul Harb notion. But still it is an escape from reality and as a result it is not entirely helpful. And what Muslims need right now – and always – is to make a clean break from their escapist mentality. They need to move out of their traditional comfort zones and face hard facts.
First of all, how many Muslim are here for Shahadah or Da’wah purposes? How many of them live with that consciousness or carry out its mandates?
Next, it is an interesting argument to say or imply that the Christians in the West are in need of our Shahadah and Da’wah but not the deviant and degenerate Muslims of the Muslim world. This makes the present Muslim world the ideal or the model for the rest of the world to follow, which to say the least is troublesome?
What we are saying in effect is make the whole world look like Cairo, Karachi, Bombay or Baghdad, and I have a problem with that. We are missing the point that the greatest and the wildest dream of Cairo, Karachi, Bombay and Baghdad is to look like Atlanta, Chicago, Seattle and Toronto. And we, while happily ensconced in New York or London are throwing away the opportunity to make New York and London better by making them more Islamic in the true sense of that term.
Does any of this make sense to you?
I am not against Shahadah. How can I be? After all I am running this seminar on working for Allah, which is what Shahadah is all about. What I am against is our unwillingness to subject ourselves to a hard and tough-minded reality check and let facts take us where they will.
Several years ago, I offered a very different approach to this question. To me it is home – pure and simple. So, Muslims must do here whatever it is that they are supposed to do in their home turf – including Shahadah and Da’wah and everything else.
But to understand this concept you must have Islam as your home and humanity as your family – not your respective tribes back home, wherever that back home is.
But unfortunately that is where many of us seem to have our anchor – back home. Too many of us are prisoners of Egyptian, Pakistani, Sudanese, Bengali, Indian, Arab and other forms of racial, ethnic and cultural nationalism. It is these various geography, culture and language – tribe – based national identities that we pass off as our Islamic identity.
One way to prove to ourselves, and to proclaim to the rest of the world, that we Muslims in the East are better than the Christians in Britain and America and Europe is to call ourselves Darul Islam – the place to be – and call everyone else Darul whatever.
Over the past decade and a half I have been attacked and insulted and called names for saying that America to me was home. And as home it was my Darul 'Amal – just like the rest of the world. That means wherever you are on this earth, you do what you are supposed to do – wa Quli’malu.
So, Darul 'Amal – among a few other things – is what U.K. is; that is also what all of Europe and the U.S. is and Canada is; and that is also what Trinidad and the rest of the West Indies is – in my Golden Triangle of Islam concept. It is, most plainly put, home to those who have made it their home. You should go a step further and develop the courage, the imagination and the resourcefulness to make the West – your present and permanent home – also your Darul Islam and Darul Khilafah.
I wish all or most of us had, from the very outset of our immigration into the West, looked at the West with an open mind and asked ourselves, if we are making a Hijrah to this new part of Allah’s world, where our persons, properties and practices are safer, should we not be calling it our Darul Hijrah? I did. I never had a doubt in my mind that the West – the United States in particular – was to be my refuge from persecution of Islam and Muslims in many other parts of the world. I understand and share your reverence for Madinah as the Darul Hijrah for this Ummah. Which Muslim would not? But Hijrah is an ongoing concept; it is part of human life; and it is inherent to the human situation – read the Qur’an. Or read what people call history. And the continuity of the practice of Hijrah automatically implies the existence of Darul Hijrahs in different places at different times.