Some of their scholars, leaders, busybodies and activists produced all kinds convoluted social models in the name of Islam some of which taught Muslims everything about how to make do in the alien and hostile environment of the West and virtually nothing about their natural obligation to build a permanent home and a future for themselves and their children in their new place of immigration.
As a result, many Muslims lived in the West – and hated the West. Many of them took advantage of the educational, economic and financial opportunities in the West – and cursed the West.
Many young Muslims were fed diets of messages in the name of Islam that over time distanced and alienated them from proper grounding in their native Western environment. Some of these young people went scampering to deserts and mountains back home – wherever that was and whatever it meant – in search of purer and more perfect and nourishing Islamic pastures.
Others – with an eye on the color of money and also with a desire to be of service while the going was good – simply dedicated themselves to tapping into the increasingly deep and rich pockets of the Muslims and the captive market that the Muslim consumers of the West offered.
Halal food, Islamic books, services and conventions and Muslim trinkets thrived. Dead or alive, Muslims were good for business.
Islam became big business.
Yet others saw in the growing wealth of Muslims in the West a boundless opportunity for raising funds for their favorite causes and charities – once again, back home – and exploited it with single-minded concentration.
Jum’ah Khutbahs, as if they were not already stillborn and perfunctory on most Mimbars in most places in the world, were given a final blow by turning them into blatant pleas for dollars, pounds and other hard currency – for any cause or purpose anywhere.
Lost in the midst of all this excitement and flurry of Islamic enterprise was a simple question: What kind of future were the Muslims building for themselves and their children right here in the West – five years, fifteen, fifty, one hundred years from today?
But time and tide wait for no one. Allah turned the wheel of time – as he always does. And all of a sudden the roof came down on the heads of the Muslims in the West.
The environment in the West – and all over the world – changed suddenly to make Muslims the victims of doubt, fear, suspicion and manhunt.
There were no large-scale barbed wired compounds and corrals for the Muslims – at least not yet and certainly not in the traditional sense, but the Muslims were now being herded in increasing numbers into electronic holding pens with electronic fences and monitoring devices – but life for Muslims in the West, or anywhere else, was not to be the same again.
Then on a clear day, out of a blue sky, came thunderbolts of divine wrath targeting Muslim torpor, misdeed and misdirection.
From that moment on, life changed for the Muslims in the West: at the airports; on board the airplanes; at embassy counters during entry and exit applications; at customs and immigration checkpoints; on the road; on college campuses; and practically everywhere else.
Remember Soorah Wal ‘Asr? Remember how in that Soorah Allah evokes the powerful notion of time to warn human beings to get their act together as it were?
All of a sudden – as if Allah had not warned the Muslims along with the non-Muslims – Wal ‘Asr happened to the Muslims in the West.
In any case, the presence of Islam and Muslims in the West, therefore, is not a new one. It is an old, old story.
Many Muslims don’t realize this. But what most Muslims generally don’t ask is, if the story is an old and oft-repeated one, does the ending always have to be the same.
And that is a function of flawed leadership.
For, that is what leadership is all about: the ability, the foresight, the understanding and the skill to ask the right questions at the right time and to offer answers that point the way to success – for Muslims and for others; right here in this world as well as in the next world.
Muslims were, after all, the ones who were sent into this world with the golden key to the ultimate win-win solution to every human problem.
Alas, how easily Muslims tend to misplace that key at every opportunity they get!
From being a potential win-win – win for Muslims and win for non-Muslims – the situation in the West fast turned on its head and became lose-lose for both.
The Qur’an, once again, proved itself right.
A Premium on Truth
Today, in this emerging brave new world of ours, as Huxley once called it, truth is at a premium.
Truth about Islam and Muslims – and about much of the rest of the world.
As a result, there is no nobler goal for anyone to pursue in these troubled times than truth.
For the pursuit of truth is, ultimately, none other than the pursuit of the divine.
Everyone, therefore, needs to turn to truth – beyond political expediency and personal preference – to bring to themselves and to the rest of the world a better understanding of themselves and others.
Part of this general pursuit of truth is the indispensable attempt to promote truth and clarity about Islam and Muslims. In the context of the events of the past several years, this has become a universal imperative in today’s world – whether for card-carrying academics or for the lay public; and whether for Muslims or for non-Muslims.
The following pages are an attempt to shed a little light – and bring, hopefully, a bit of truth to bear – on the all-important question of leadership from a checkered perspective that includes common sense on the one hand and Islamic teachings and examples on the other hand.
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