Dr. Pasha's International
Islamic Community Clean-up
Saturday, 19th March, 2005, 9:00AM - 3:00 PM
Werneth Park, Frederick Street, Werneth
Oldham OL8 1RB
Dr. Syed Pasha
Dr. Syed Pasha is a university lecturer who uses his Islamic background and academic training to build bridges across racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, class and gender divides. Dr. Pasha's International Islamic Community Clean-up is a practical tool that he developed for this purpose.
"There is no reason why we should not polish up this planet several times over if we really wanted to. Who is stopping us? After all, it is the only home we know or have" (Dr. Pasha).
"Clean living is a basic right that human beings have been given by God. It is also an important duty imposed upon them by God Almighty. Those of us who have been given more and know better have an obligation to reach out to those who may have been given less and don't seem to know any better" (Dr. Pasha).
Dr. Pasha has for long been a vocal advocate of Muslims in the West reaching out to their non-Muslim neighbors with the teachings of Islam and with the message of love, service and neighborliness that he says Islam embodies.
"The question - and the choice - before Muslims in the West, and everywhere else, is quite clear: It is to reach out or not to reach out. It is that simple!" (Dr. Pasha).
Inshallah! God willing!
All praise to Allah.
Wassalaatu Wassalaamu 'Ala Rasulillah!
Peace and blessings on Allah's messenger.
Why the Oldham Clean-up?
Why am I doing the Oldham clean up? There are two ways of answering that question.
One, I just happened to be there and I decided right away to do something about the way the place looked.
Two, two years ago, Allah took me there; he made me see the condition of the place; he put the feelings of empathy in my heart; he made me want to do something about it; and then he showed me what to do and made me do it.
The first, you may say, is chance and science. The second, you may recognize, sounds more like Islam. At bottom, they are both one and the same.
For those who understand, that is how it is: science done right must result in Islam; and Islam properly understood and applied must translate into science.
Personally, after a long and arduous struggle I am finally quite comfortable with the second answer. Also, it is beginning to come to me more naturally and spontaneously. So, I started to do Oldham Clean-up because Allah Almighty made it all happen - out of his infinite grace, mercy and wisdom.
Scope of the Project
What is it then that I want?
Nothing that any of us would not want for ourselves - a clean life! For me? Of course! For all those for whom I can make a contribution toward making a clean life possible? Absolutely!
Do I want it for the wonderful, wonderful people of Oldham and neighboring areas? Yes, I do, without a doubt!
Do I want it for all the immigrant communities in England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland? Yes indeed, I do.
Do I want it for all the immigrant communities in France, Netherlands, Italy and elsewhere? Yes, that is exactly what I want.
And that is just for starters.
Do I want the same then for the native, non-immigrant, indigenous populations of all these places - taking them from where they are currently and trying to move them and their communities and societies to higher levels of cleanliness and purification - as the Qur'an calls it? Yes, absolutely, without a doubt.
Do I want it for the whites, the greens, the blacks, the browns the reds, the coloreds and the colorless? Absolutely! Without a doubt!
And how can I not? For, humanity is but one family - either directly descended from Adam: so says the Bible and the Qur'an.
Or they may all have popped out of Lucey's husband's loins - the prehistoric lady to whom much of science traces the known origins of the human species.
Being civilized is being able to judge others by the same standards we use to judge ourselves and wanting for others what we want for ourselves.
Those are also the teachings of the most blessed prophets of God Jesus, son of Virgin Mary, may Allah bless her, and Muhammad.
May Almighty God bless them all!
But the common conclusion between science and Islam - among so many others - is the fact that human beings have but one shared ancestral source. As a result, they are all members of the same human family.
Therefore, no matter how you look at it, service to one of them is service to all of them. And, conversely, any harm done to one of them is harm done to all of them.
That is Islam in a nutshell.
What Drives it?
But what is driving me personally to do these things?
Call it genes if you want - a long line of ancestors seduced by the lure of selfless public service. I of course give credit to my parents, teachers, training, education and upbringing. However, in the end - and in the beginning - four words summarize it all: God Almighty's Boundless Grace.
Once you have all those things in place, it is the most rational thing - the most obvious thing - for anyone to do. The question no longer is why are you doing it, but the question is how can you not be doing it?
For, to be human is to ask more of life - to ask of it more than what most people are in general content to accept from it. It is to let oneself be driven by more than mere animal instincts of survival and satisfaction of bodily needs of hunger, thirst, sex and sleep.
Or even by so-called self-interest, which at one level is little more than animal instinct wrapped in a more resplendent and self-delusional garb.
To be human thus is to be able to ask: Why should there not be a better way for me to live?
And also for everyone else?
Not just for members of this group or that; not just for people I like or know; not just for people who look like me, live where I do and carry around the kinds of papers I do; but for every single member of the human race everywhere?
Why shouldn't life be better for all of us?
Not to ask the first question is to abandon the quest for personal development and growth. Not to ask the second set of questions is not to taste the meaning of social progress, advancement, responsibility and intelligence.
Cleanliness is Core of Human Life
"Better" could mean a lot of things to a lot of people. But for most people "cleaner" is an inseparable part of being "better."
And clean means clean in so many different ways and at so many different levels. It means the body God has placed at your disposal; the clothes you wear; the food you eat; the water you drink; the air you breathe; the ground you tread; the place where you live, work, play and worship; and everything else about you.
It means the cleaner these things are the better your life will be.
In Islam, at all or many of these levels, cleanliness is almost by way of being a fundamental human right - and duty - regardless of whether or not others recognize it as such. Islam almost invariably begins where many of the best human efforts often leave off.
And then there is the other world - the world that lies beyond the body. It is the higher world of thoughts, ideas, knowledge, mind, spirit and soul. The spiritual world, you may call it.
For, a human being is part dirt - lowest of the low - and part spirit - highest of the high.
Cleanliness or purity, therefore, is a prerequisite for the human soul to rise to its proper level and to begin to radiate with the light of God; to be bathed in guidance from God; and to submit to the will, power, love, benevolence, approaches and commands of God.
In Islam, cleanliness is thus the starting point of human life at all levels. It is the first step in your soul's - and your body's - journey to God.
"La" is the first word in the profession of Islamic faith - La Ilaha Illa Allah! - No God but Allah!
The word "La" means "No" and part of its meaning is cleaning your inside and outside from all manner of litter, garbage, filth, pollution and corruption before the divine light of "Illa" can illumine your life.
So, Islam makes cleanliness at all levels of human life a fundamental human requirement.
So, in Islam, material cleanliness goes hand in hand with spiritual purity. They are often two sides of the same coin.
That is why when Allah took me to Oldham in 2002, I think it was, I could not help but notice the way things were on the streets and on the sidewalks. I was pained and deeply affected by what I saw. And I immediately felt the need to do something about it.