Whither Indian Muslims
– Part Two
(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It --
And which One Does Not?)
Education and Character: A Twin Approach to Changing Muslims and Changing the World
Question: So, how do we change the condition of Indian Muslims then? And how do we change the world?
Answer: Take all the things I suggested above and pour them into two simple categories: Education and Character.
And then watch the results. You will have automatically, and without fail, changed the condition of Indian Muslims. And changed the world.
That means, absolutely, most assuredly and without a doubt. That is what Inshallah means – God Willing. It is your passport to the future. It is your key to the unknown. It is your lifeboat to cross the ocean of uncertainty as you set sail for the future.
So don’t leave home without it as they say. Don’t leave your present and plunge into your future without it.
So, give Muslims and the world education and character and see how everything changes. It is as simple as that. And it is most eminently doable
Change character and you will change individuals, groups, nations and societies. Open the doors to education for all and your will change the world and change the course of history. You will then write your own history.
That is precisely how Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, did it. He changed Allah’s world, even as Allah’s world stood around and watched. And he changed it in the blink of historic time. In about two decades or less.
And he built a whole new world in its place that has already lasted a millennium and a half. A world that is built on his image; on the image of his God; and based on the plan that his God laid down in the noble and wise book that his God gave him: the Qur’an.
Or “Our Holy Book,” as Muslims loosely refer to it – or libel and slander it in fact. For, God does not call his book “Muslims’ Holy Book.” He calls it “The Book” – or “That Book” in fact.
So, that is the book Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, used as blueprint to change the world during his time. And that is the book that we need to use as blueprint to change the world – and of course change the Muslims in India and elsewhere – now during our own time.
And that is the world in which we live today. It is the world that Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, built and left behind – using the Qur’an as his blueprint and model. But it is a world that Muslims have allowed to deteriorate over all these centuries and come to its present sad and dilapidated state.
Yes, it is the fault of the world that it ended up where it did. But make no mistake it is also the fault of the Muslims that they allowed this to happen. And the Muslims did this by neglecting the twin-pillars of success and civilized living on earth: character and education. Both for themselves and for the world.
Nature of this World
At the same time, we should not forget that this is the world that fought Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, every step of the way, as he tried to change it and continues to do so to this today. That is how the world is. That is the nature of this world. That is how it was then; that is how it is now; and that is how it will continue to be in the foreseeable future.
Maybe it is more accurate to call it the non-Muslim world. And this non-Muslim world, even as it was fighting him and his teachings, nevertheless often turned to his teachings and methods and embraced them. And it did so often grudgingly and only when it was left with no other alternative for escape or survival.
It is a world that, even then, embraced his teachings only reluctantly and half-heartedly. And often did so without attribution and without giving him or the book he brought from God any credit. Nor did this reluctant world give his followers any credit. And yet this world took his teachings and used them at will when doing so suited its purposes. And often it did so when it was left with no other alternative and when it had tried everything else – and failed.
But still it is this same world that took his universal call “Read!” and turned it into its own personal passport to worldly success. It is a world that took his clarion call to universal education – Ta’aleem – and made it its own battle cry in the war against hunger and poverty.
And yet it is a world that approached his call for universal character reform – Tazkiyah – only warily and with considerable reluctance, reservation and trepidation. This world in some selected ways did embrace the notion of truth – Haqq and Sidq – that he used to guide his actions and pronouncements, not because it was the right thing to do but mostly because it found honesty to be the “best policy.”
Because honesty paid dividends in the long run.
Thus, this world adopted a policy of honesty and truthfulness mainly because it thought such a policy would turn out to be profitable in the long run. Similarly, this world was also forced to turn to abstinence outside of marriage, not because that was the divine command, (remember the Bible and the Ten Commandments: Thou Shalt Not Commit Adultery?) but mostly because it was frightened of deadly diseases such as AIDS and other sex-related diseases such as Syphilis and Gonorrhea.
The world was forced to concede a smidgeon of human rights and civilized treatment to prisoners of war because it was frightened of the possibility of what might happen to its own prisoners in enemy hands if it did not. Even then it threw those concessions aside – many of them generally lumped under the label of Geneva Conventions – whenever it thought doing so would better suit its purposes.
And then this world set about inventing the most bizarre, corrupt and foolish rationalizations and justifications for doing so and the flimsiest of fig leaves to cover its utter moral and spiritual nakedness and bankruptcy in this regard.
That is the kind of mixed up world it is in which we live today.
Allah bless Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, his progeny and his noble and glorious Companions, as he liked to called them for the blessed and most wonderful change they brought into this world. What a change that was in itself: calling your most devoted, obedient and ardent followers with the exalted title of “Companions,” not “Followers,” as everyone else did and does.
Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and his Companions changed the world using the twin-message and the bi-variate model of the Qur’an: Education and character.
While those whose heads overflow with ignorance and or whose hearts are brimming with hate, anger, malice and prejudice insist that he spread his message with the sword, those who are blessed by God Almighty with even an iota of honesty and decency know that he did it using not the sword but the pen – using the twin formula of character and education.
Let me repeat those words: Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, totally and thoroughly transformed the world using the twin formula of universal education and character building, and not through coercion or force.
Lies and Propaganda
The charge that Islam was spread by the sword is part of a malicious and hate-filled propaganda that was let loose against Islam, Muslims and Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, by all sorts of enemies, including, sadly, the Christian Church and Western governments. The list included the Orientalists. These were people like Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Bernard Lewis and others who studied Islam mainly to uncover what they perceived to be its weaknesses and publicize and attack them.
The Qur’an itself anticipated the lies, propaganda, hate and hostility that the worshippers of money, power, race, religion, country and self-interest would direct at the truth that the Qur’an embodied and which Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, practiced, preached and used to change the world.
It is “The Pen” – al-Qalam – and education that will teach and change the world, the Qur’an proclaimed, through gentle persuasion and reasoned discourse, and not through coercion or force symbolized by the sword. And yet the enemies of Islam and Muslims, and the enemies or truth and honesty, never noticed this teaching of the Qur’an. They were busy inventing the lies they did to malign Islam and its teachings as well as to deny and diminish its many glorious accomplishments throughout history.
Said the Qur’an about God Almighty that he was the one who used “The Pen” to teach the world: Alladhee ‘allama bil-Qalam! There simply is no parallel to this in the annals of human discourse.
So that is the message of the Qur’an, and that was also the tested and tried method of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam: universal education on the one hand and the most thoroughgoing character training and transformation on the other hand.
Universal education and character training! That is the message and that is the method. The Qur’an refers to the education part as Ta’aleem. And it calls the character part Tazkiyah.
Using these two divine tools that God gave him, Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, single-handedly, gave the world a most comprehensive and thorough-going education on every physical and spiritual front. And thus did he pluck the world from the Dark Ages of Jahiliyyah – compound and calamitous ignorance and backwardness that surrounded the world on every topic from God to his creation – and propel it to a new era of lasting enlightenment and progress on every count and in every way.
And, believe it or not, he did all this in about 20 years or so.
The Mission of the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam
Hear the Qur’an provide a sketch of the glorious mission, the goals and purposes, for the accomplishment of which Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was sent in this world: Wa Yu’allimuhumul kitaaba wal hikmata wa yuzakkeehim.
Here is a paraphrase:
- He educates “The People”; he teaches them; he imparts to them knowledge: Yu’allimuhum.
- He teaches them all things theoretical, abstract and from the book: Al-kitaab.
- He trains them in all things practical, useful and pragmatic: Al-hikmah.
- He molds and shapes their character in the most pure, perfect and productive manner: Yuzakkeehim.
To sum up: Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, thus, teaches people the knowledge of the Book and all the wisdom required to translate the principles and teachings of that Book into practical, operational models of everyday living.
That means, mark you, all things, pertaining to this world as well as to the next world. It is not just this world or just the next world, but both worlds: Dunya as well as Aakhirah.
So, knowledge of Kitaab and Hikmah plus Tazkiyah is what changed the world then. And it is precisely this combination that can and will change the world again.
And it is, believe it or not, precisely this combination and this formula that can and will reshape, recreate and regenerate the world in every age and in every place. For every people, nation and society on earth for as long as the world lives.
Ever since the passing of the Great Dark Ages of Jahiliyyah, the Arabs reached an age of unparalleled enlightenment using this formula. The Egyptians did it. The Spanish Muslims did it. Iraq and Syria did it. Indian, Chinese and Russian Muslims did it. The Turks did it.
The great societies of Mali, Timbuktu and other places in Africa did it. And everyone, everywhere did it.
Even those who were not Muslims such as those in Europe, America, Japan and other places, made progress and transformed their lives, cultures and societies using the teachings and methodologies of the Qur’an and the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. Even though they did so only piecemeal and partially and without giving any credit or acknowledging any debt to the Qur’an or the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. Or the Muslims.
As a result, even as these non-Muslim societies made phenomenal strides on the path of knowledge using the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam – and eventually on the path of progress and development – they also could not help letting loose a reign of oppression, exploitation, conquest, terror and plunder on God’s world, including the Muslim world, that is probably quite unprecedented in human history.
That is because, generally speaking, their knowledge was not accompanied by appropriate character education and reform. That is, their Ta’aleem was not wedded to Tazkiyah. It was not built on the foundation of the moral values that the Qur’an teaches to go along with education. Values that Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, embodied in his own life and on which he raised a generation of 10,000 saint-like followers as the Bible calls them.
The character of Europeans simply could not keep pace with the knowledge and education they rapidly acquired following the Islamic model. As a result, they gave rise to a New Dark Age of Neo-Jahilliyyat as it were, that in many ways rivals and puts to shame the earlier Pre-Islamic Paleo-Jahiliyyah.
The Lesson that Muslims Forgot
In the meantime, the Muslims slowly but surely forgot the lessons of Kitab and Hikmah that Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, taught them. They confused and jumbled up the theory and they diluted and mixed up the practice. And in most cases they were left with only the empty shell of the pure and perfect teachings of Islam, chief among them character (Tazkiyah) and education (Ta’aleem) that he had left them with when he said goodbye to them 1400 ago. In most cases, the meat and substance of those teachings were gone.
As a result, Muslims ended up being among the least educated people of the world. They no longer knew either theory or practice of this world or how to practice Islam in this world. They ended up as a shadow of their past self and as a caricature of most things Muslim and Islamic.
Muslims thus became mostly a people who had neither knowledge nor character. For all practical purposes, they became social, political, cultural and educational zombies.
Muslim debates and discussions became increasingly abstruse and removed from reality. Instead of being practical and pragmatic, they became pointless theological disputations and hairsplitting. And Muslim lives and societies became pale and powerless shadows of their earlier selves, unable to control their own destiny or impact and shape the destiny of the world.
Their time and energies were spent arguing endlessly about what kind of knowledge was Islamic and what kind was not and who were really good Muslims and who were not. Many Muslims became heavily preoccupied with subjects such as ‘Aqeeda. And ‘Amal (read it character in its broadest sense) to many of them became more of the same: more namaz; more roza; and more dhikr.
And of course purer and more ‘Aqeedah.
In the hands of these super-purists, Islamic ‘Aqeedah or core creed that Allah and his Rasul, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, had summed up in no more than seven words – Laa Ilaaha Illaa Allah, Muhammad Rasul Allah – now became the mother of all tomes and treatises, consuming everyone’s time and sucking up all Muslim energy and creativity.
Some of those whom Allah had blessed with wealth and resources thought Islam meant going to Hajj over and over and over again as if Baitullah meant, may God Almighty forgive me for uttering such nonsense, Ma’adallah, that it was the place where God lived.
They forgot that Hajj was a Fareedah – a requirement – only once in their life. Thereafter it was extra stuff that you do when you have nothing more important or urgent to do in your life such as, for example, the following:
Taking the Qur’an to every home and heart that needs it – and which one does not.
Feeding every mouth that was hungry.
Clothing every body that was naked.
Protecting every orphan.
Ensuring honorable remarriage options and opportunities to every widow.
Making sure every child – male as well as female – received the best education possible.
Stopping every oppressor.
Guaranteeing the rights of every oppressed.
Ensuring peace and security to every human being that was fearful.
Protecting every animal from abuse.
Saving every forest from wanton destruction.
Keeping every body of water safe from pollution.
Safeguarding every natural resource from waste or abuse.
Keeping every people and region of the world safe from domination and exploitation by others.
Keeping earth and its environment safe from pollution.
Reshaping a dysfunctional and archaic educational system.
Working to usher in more freedoms to their own people.
Doing something, anything, to relieve the chokehold of feudal structures from the throats of Muslims.
Working to break the stranglehold of usury, interest and Riba on the lives of those around them.
Making arrangements to provide interest-free loans to the people in their communities and neghborhoods – both Muslim and non-Muslim.
Trying to replace the tyrannies in their societies with political structures and institutions that were more open, responsive and accountable to “The People.”
Working tirelessly to replace the various dictatorships in their midst by individuals and power arrangements that were freely elected by a well-informed citizenry.
You can add your own list of priority items here in the light of the Qur’an and Hadith – And Sunnah of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
And common sense, for, a great deal of Islam is common sense.
Supererogatory Refuge of the Pseudo Super-Pious
These are all compulsory things in the sense that they are all required of all Muslims. They are thus moral, social and “religious” obligations. And they are political and survival and success imperatives in any society.
But these pseudo super-pious Muslims in search of a purer ‘Aqeedah and a clearer and more direct shot at Jannat keep boosting up their credentials with multiple extra-Hajj and other supererogatory rituals, while forgetting the obligations they have toward the widows, the hungry, the needy, the poor and the orphans in their midst.
And they forget those groaning under the burden of crushing and impossible debts right before their eyes. They forget that helping people to pay off their legitimate debts is an Islamic obligation.
They ignore the most pressing social and political issues in their societies. They develop myopia about the dictatorial, tyrannical and corrupt governments and power structures that dominate their lands.
They rarely if ever stop to shed a tear or move a muscle about reshaping the shamefully derelict educational systems that prevail among them.
They see Riba- or interest-based economies and dealings engulf them from every side and do little to change that state of affairs. They see the poor and the hungry and the sick claw at their clothes constantly and brush them aside and keep on walking.
In a place like India they see a curse like Dowry dominate Muslim social life and blight the marriages of young Muslim maids and the lives of their hapless parents, and they pretend as if they were not even aware of it.
They see near-total illiteracy define the culture of places like Afghanistan, and they do not shed a tear. Nor do they lift a finger to change that situation. In places like Pakistan they see and live in the middle of a gaping social, educational and cultural black hole where a dynamic, most up-to-date and creative educational system should have been, and it does not bother them.
They see oppressive feudal social and agrarian structures dominate places like Pakistan, reducing hundreds of millions of Muslim men, women and children to generational serfdom and slavery in modern age and sowing the seeds of corruption everywhere, and they do not say or do anything about it.
They see Muslim resources plundered and squandered by Muslim rulers and their non-Muslim cronies, masters and mentors and they pretend it was not happening. They seem to hold the view that it was not their business.
Their oil – Muslim oil – ran and powered the world and acted as the life-blood of modern civilization for decades. Yet that oil sold for $2 a barrel for the longest time. The money from that oil was used to support a life of personal, moral and social decadence on the widest scale by those in power in their societies.
And to service and sustain the faltering economies of the lands and societies that controlled and protected them.
That money was used to turn their lands into slave-holding pens and concentration-style labor camps of the like the world had never seen in centuries using mostly cheap labor from impoverished Muslim lands, while “expatriates” with second- and third-rate qualifications and dubious pasts and questionable motives and intentions lived like lords and princes in their midst as supervisors, guests and visitors.
They see Muslim land after Muslim land lapse in the grips of the worst political and socio-cultural tyranny and dictatorship in centuries and they do not even complain or protest about it. Not even in private. Not even, it would appear, to their God. They simply go about their lives as if it was all business as usual.
To many of these super-Muslims it was all about so-called ‘Aqeedah and ‘Amal and it had nothing to do with common sense or reality or rationality or everyday practicality, things that constitute the very essence of Islam in the Qur’an and in the life of the most blessed Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
These pseudo super-pious are thus quite comfortable, in fact quite smug, in their imagined supererogatory refuge. They seek refuge in what they consider to be the “religion” of Islam from the very Deen of Islam that Allah sent into this world to help human beings run and manage the affairs of this world in the best possible manner.
Go West, My Dear Muslim!
This is how mostly many of the Muslims were. And continue to be. They cloaked themselves in garbs of pseudo super-piety and turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to the hard and pressing demands of reality that were clamoring around them everywhere.
And then the winds shifted.
And, all of a sudden, and out of nowhere as they say, Allah opened up the West for them. And Muslims made a beeline for Europe and America. Of those who went westward, the poor and less-educated ones among them who found their way into Europe tried to hold on to their old mix of whatever little Islam they knew and all the cultural accretions they had collected over decades and centuries.
The more educated and better-off ones went to America. There they saw a land of plenty and freedom. And many of them simply ran amuck. Now all of a sudden, many of them became what some people in India would call chhoon-choon ka murabbah, neither fully “Old Country” nor fully “American,” but a strange mix of both.
Those who muscled their way to positions of leadership among them became a law unto themselves. It was a case of the Wild Islamic West. Some of them even worked hard to build Islam from scratch, and did a pretty good job with it in many ways – at least in the initial stages.
But they had a fatal flaw.
Their focus was not really America – and the West in general – but “Back Home,” whatever that meant and wherever it was. Thus, the Egyptians among them lived in America but worked to “establish” Islam in Egypt, while those from Pakistan had the same orientation with regard to Pakistan.
The others did the same with their face pointing toward the “Qiblah” of their own respective “motherlands,” even though in Islam land is not your mother, no matter how much you may love it. So, pretty much it was all about me and my native land – Pakistan, Egypt and all else. As for America – and the West in general – it was a case of May-the-Devil-Take-the-Hindmost, or of an Islamic version thereof, whatever it may be.
These folks – many of them highly educated and sophisticated individuals and many of them nice, wonderful, good and extremely talented people – forgot that the nature of this Deen was peripatetism: a restless moving about from place to place. Call it Hijrat if you will.
Hijrat Defines the Soul of This Deen
Hijrat – migration – always defined the soul of this Deen from the time of Noah and Abraham to the time of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam.
Nooh, Alaihissalaam, was shipped off in an ark to go and found an Islamic colony and civilization in a new and more receptive place. Ibrahim, Alaihisalaam, was made to march back and forth the few miles – or was it a bit more than that, maybe a few thousand – that separated the land of Sham – Syria and Palestine – from the land of Hijaz – Arabia – as if he was taking a stroll down the street.
Musa, Alaihissalaam, was made to wander the four corners of the desert from Egypt to Palestine for years and years before he and his people were allowed to enter the Al-Ardal Muqaddasah on which their name was already written.
And the glorious Deen of Islam under the pristine, culminating and final leadership of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, did not take root in its “birthplace” or “native” soil of Makkah but in the “foreign” land of Madinah where it was transplanted in its late adolescence. Muslims, under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, left Makkah and never looked back.
The name of the game in the Deen of Islam whether during the times of Nooh, Ibrahim or Musa, Alaihisalaam, or during the time of Sayyidina Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, is Hijrat, which means immigration. All right, call it emigration, with an “e” if you want to make bones about it.
But most certainly “flight” it was not, as the colonialist translators make it out to be.
He became invisible to his would-be assassins as he walked right past them. If he wanted to, he could have made them disappear instead, don’t you think? So, he was not “fleeing,” as your pseudo history books told you, he was walking out in full majesty and glory, right before their eyes. Except that their eyes had been rendered blind so they would not seem him go by.
Musa, Alaihissalam, was not “fleeing” from the forces of Pharaoh. He was laying a trap for them which neither he nor Pharaoh saw and which he himself did not realize. It was part of a meticulous plan to lure Pharaoh to his final reckoning.
What is the matter with you people? Can’t you see? Or think? Islam is for thinking people you know. Can’t you see that seas don’t part for those “fleeing” in panic and fear from their enemies?
Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, was not “fleeing” from the would-be assassins that surrounded his house in Makkah with naked swords. Those who “flee” in fear and confusion, do not pause to pick up a fistful of dust from under their feet and throw it toward the ring of the killer contingent in front of them making it temporarily blind and thus completely neutralizing it.
Hills, caves and rocks do not greet “fleeing” people and offer them their hospitality. Sand dunes do not swallow up the legs of enemy horses when they get too close. Barren goats do not fill their vessels with fresh milk.
What world do we live in, people?
This was no mad dash to escape the enemy. This was no “flight.” This was a most majestic and glorious Hijrat to save the world, including those and the children of those who had turned up to kill him. Migration; immigration; emigration; whatever you prefer. I am not unaware of the distinctions in meaning and connotations, it is just that at this time and in this context they do not really seem to matter.
Here they all mean one simple thing: what was taking place was a carefully and minutely choreographed transplanting of the sapling of Islam in our age and time – starting in the middle of the 7th Century – from its place of birth in Makkah to its new home in Madinah, where it will grow to its fullest height and might, and from where it will cast its shadow of universal love and mercy, justice and equality, freedom and liberty, all around the world – for all people of the world.
That is what was happening.
And that is the nature of this Deen then and now and forever. It is called Hijarat. It is free from a worldly type of Shirk of divided loyalties. It is total focus on the new place and people of adoption. It is complete integration into the local scene and culture, except where they are in direct and fundamental conflict with the core teachings of the Deen itself.
Hijrat is thus inclusive and integrative. It is forward looking and not backward looking. Most of all, Hijrat has its roots in the most basic principle of human equality regardless of race, religion or gender. It is an engine for human liberation and uplift everywhere. It is not a tool for the conquest, domination and exploitation of the weaker sections of humanity anywhere.
Hijrat vs. Colonization: Two Radically Contrasting Cultures
As I said earlier, this is Hijrat, that is, Immigration. Or Emigration, if that is the word you prefer.
It means leaving your hearth and home and moving lock, stock and barrel to become part and parcel of a new land, people and culture. And, thereafter, living the rest of your life sharing their joys and sorrows as well as their triumphs and failures. And working mightily all the time to make life better for them as well as for you.
And for everyone else.
And this stands in sharp contrast to Colonization, which refers to a set of people temporarily leaving their native land, that to them is their “Mother Country,” and then going out and conquering and colonizing others, mostly weaker and less privileged than them, and turning those conquered lands and places into “Colonies” with a view to plunder and exploit them and transfer their wealth and natural resources to the “Mother Country.”
Thus Colonization ushers in an era of darkness and cruelty during which the colonizers pillage and plunder the lands, resources, wealth and treasures of the colonized people and ship them off to their “mother countries.” Furthermore, the colonizers set themselves, right there in the heart of their colonized lands and cultures, as a privileged and exclusive club of people, a superior class or race as it were, in whose midst there is barely any room for the natives or their ways, manners or cultures.
Natives are thus reduced to serfdom or to a status of second-class citizenship. The story of pervasive domination and exploitation that follows is world changing in most fundamental ways.
Here is one of history’s greatest and starkest contrasts: Muslims instituted the concept and culture of Hijrat in the world while Europe gave the world the dubious gift of Colonization.
Colonization thus changed the world forever.
It did so by destroying the native populations of the Americas, Australia and New Zealand and replacing them with the European colonizers and their descendents. Colonization transferred wealth, resources and raw materials of mammoth proportions from the colonized lands to the colonizing lands in Europe.
This fundamentally transformed both European mother countries and their colonies, enriching the former beyond their wildest dreams, while at the same time robbing and impoverishing the latter beyond their darkest fears and nightmares.
This wealth and these resources and raw materials that went to Europe from the colonies then ushered in the age of industrialization in Europe and further consolidated the power, reach and domination of the European colonizers around the world.
Colonization Ravaged Muslim Homeland
Colonization also weakened, impoverished, splintered and reshaped the Muslim world in equally fundamental ways. It conquered and subjugated the Muslim world through persistent onslaught. It changed the culture of the Muslim world and turned Muslim societies into vassal states.
Often the colonizers replaced the Muslim world’s ruling elites with colonial quislings, vassals and agents who placed a chokehold around the necks of the Muslim people everywhere. Corrupt tyrants and inept rulers foisted on Muslims everywhere by the colonizers set about with gay abandon plundering and squandering Muslim wealth and resources, often at the bidding and in the service of their colonial masters.
Whenever the Muslim people organized and took steps to free themselves from the clutches of their traitorous leaders and rulers, their colonial masters rushed in to save and protect them and thwart any attempt on the part of the native Muslim populations to dislodge them.
Thus, Colonization totally ravaged Muslim lands everywhere and forever changed them in ways that were detrimental to them and favorable to the colonizers.
Bad by Any Name
I am not interested here in the technical differences between such names and titles as colonialism, imperialism, neo-colonialism and neo-imperialism that some people may insist upon to describe the scenario I have sketched above. To me, in the context of the central point I am trying to make, these technicalities of nomenclature are the hobgoblins of minds and souls enfeebled by prolonged colonial domination.
They are functional equivalents, all of them, and they all seek, albeit maybe in different ways, the same common goals of forcible colonization, domination and continued exploitation of other peoples and places for their own benefit, advancement and continued prosperity.
Colonialism and its conceptual, philosophical and methodological cousins that share its moral, intellectual and spiritual lineage and bankruptcy (e.g. imperialism and the rest) robbed and denuded the lands and peoples of Africa of solid chunks of the finest flowering of its youth, male as well as female, and of some of its greatest and most bountiful treasures and resources. Europe and America got rich by robbing Africa of its sons and daughters and selling and using them as slaves.
So, these are just some of the distinctions that separate the glorious, divine and Islamic notion of Hijrah from the devilish and morally and spiritually corrupt and evil philosophy and worldview in which the notion of Colonization and its equally wicked and evil relatives such as imperialism have their home and origins.
But sadly, the movers and shakers of early Islam in America – 1960-1985 – forgot that the nature of this Deen was Hijrat or immigration and not colonization.
Hijrat Builds a Better World
As I said earlier, there is a clear difference between the two. Immigrants/Emigrants – call them what you will, but these are the folks who leave their native homes and lands to go and settle and build a life elsewhere – pack their bags, kiss their people and their land goodbye, load everything on their mules, camel carts, trucks, lorries and airplanes and leave.
They don’t look back and they don’t have an umbilical chord tied to their native land.
We invented this game of Hijrat (Immigration/Emigration) and the resulting integration and transformation of the world and its peoples. We hold the patent on it. And through it we changed the world for the better. Using it we built a better world.
If you don’t believe me, look at five-times Namaz in any city in America and see how a perfectly integrated cross-section of humanity with all the colors and races of the rainbow blends into a beautiful bouquet of divine blessings on earth: young and old; black and white; and rich and poor.
See how they all jostle each other in the same Saff or line without the distinctions of race, color or status.
Aiyk hi saff mai khaday hogaye Mahmoud-o-Ayaaz.
Na ko-ee banda rahaa, no ko-ee banda nawaaz.
All too often Muslims don’t give themselves credit for all the things they do right. And this is one of them.
Compare Muslim Jum’ah in any part of the world with Sunday services in churches, for example, in a place like America. See for yourself how church services are racially sorted and segregated to this day and also see how a Jum’ah congregation looks like a whole bunch of races and ages had been thrown in a blender and stirred.
That is the contrast between the Islamic notion of Hijrat on the one hand and the world it built and the European notion of Colonization and its long-lasting effects in the world on the other hand.
That is a little bit a khurchan, as Pundit Sundarlal, a disciple of Gandhiji, used to say, left over from this amazing Days of “racial parity” and mixing that Muslims accomplished nearly a millennium and a half ago and continued down the road to this day. While others sought “racial purity” and turned God’s earth into a virtual hell, we Muslims pursued the goal of “racial parity,” equality and integration and turned the same earth of God Almighty into a virtual heaven.
We showed the world how to do it: how to eliminate racial disparities and create a sense of equality and unity among a mix of people that were welded into one unit from all kinds of races, religions and nationalities. To create, you can say, a sense of Ummahood.
And it has lasted all these 1400 plus years, even though lately it is getting frayed at the margins due to all kinds of corruption that is creeping into the lives of Muslims from so many different directions and sources, some internally generated and some externally foisted.
“One Nation under God” – A Quintessential Islamic Expression
“One nation under God!”
Whoever said this took it directly from the pages of Islamic culture with its roots in the Qur’an. And he took it from the ways and teachings of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam. It would have been nice if this debt to Qur’an and Sunnah had been acknowledged openly and unreservedly.
Not only would it have been the honest and the right thing to do, it would also have filled this effort with God Almighty’s choicest blessings. But that is who human beings are. They often steal from each other and seldom give credit where credit is due.
Let me change that word “steal” to “borrow.” They borrow from one another but forget to remember that fact or mention it to others, even though there are blessings in doing so. So this beautiful expression “One nation under God!” is a quintessential Qur’anic expression.
And here is how the Qur’an outlines this concept in Aaayat 92 – what people call verse – of chapter 21:
Inna haadhi-hi ummatukum ummatan waahidatan wa a-na rabbukum fa’budoon.
“This nation of yours is indeed one nation and I am your lord, God and master, so obey and worship me.”
What is noteworthy also is the fact that this particular Aayah is preceded by the mention of the miraculous virgin birth of Jesus Christ, Alaihis Salaam.
Does it sound like a direct translation from the Qur’an then? Of course it does. But was it done knowingly and deliberately? I don’t know. But could it have been? Sure it could have been. The pioneers of the American Revolution and the founders of the American nation were men of great learning and erudition.
Thomas Jefferson kept a copy of an English translation of the Qur’an – and apparently used it. It was the same copy on which Keith Ellison, the Congressman from the state of Minnesota, first Muslim elected to the American Congress, took his oath of office. So, human beings have always borrowed ideas and cultural expressions from one another. But they have not always been candid about it.
Western cultures, societies and civilizations have been particularly guilty of blatantly plagiarizing and thieving from the rich treasures of other cultures and then either concealing that fact or lying about it. That is why you never hear about the debt the famous European socio-cultural movements and phenomena such as Reformation, Renaissance and Industrialization owe to Islam and Muslims.
And that is also why you do not hear about all the wonderful scientific and other accomplishments of the Muslims that spawned nearly 800 years from the 7th Century to the 15th Century. Instead, Europe refers to this radiant period of Muslim glory and achievement as the Dark Ages.
A Culture Called Truth
Hence Islam’s emphasis on truth, whether you call it Sidq, which in some ways you may consider to be small, everyday, even conversational and verifiable truth at a more human and worldly level. Or you call it Haqq, the big and all-inclusive transcendental truth that ultimately ends in God Almighty himself.
As the Qur’an says, Annallaha huwal haqqul mubeen: God Almighty, he is indeed the clear and open truth!
What a statement! What an assertion! What an aayat! What a miracle! What an amazing proof that this Qur’an is indeed from God Almighty!
Regardless of which one of the two expressions you use, Sidq or Haqq, truth is the panacea Islam proposes to heal the many ailments that plague humanity, including all that may be wrong with the Muslim situation. For example, Islam enjoins truth as the basis for all dealings among all human beings, whether that is among neighbors; among friends; or among members of a household including husband-wife and parent-child duos.
Islam also requires that Muslims make truth the foundation of all their dealings with their fellow-Muslims in general – from speech to behavior: speak to them and deal with them truthfully and honestly. And do so all the time and with regard to everything.
So also Islam makes it clear that truth must form the basis of all dealings and interactions – personal, professional, social and business – between Muslims and non-Muslims.
Allahu Akbar, it is mind-boggling, this emphasis that Islam places on truth in every aspect of human life. And in many ways that is what sets Islam apart from many other systems of thought, belief and behavior that are out there in this world.
Furthermore, Islam makes it clear that the only conversation or relationship between God and human beings that has any merit is one that is based on truth. That means it is a relationship in which one’s mind, body and soul are all in synch with one another and where all three are completely grounded in and buttressed by truth.
That means the only human cry God pays attention to is the one that comes from the depths of your heart, not the one that issues merely from your lips.
This alone is proof that Islam is a divine and not a man-made system. For, systems of thought and action pieced together by human beings would tend to place greater emphasis on the ritualistic and conformist aspect of a deed, things that human beings can watch, observe and monitor, whereas in Islam almost the entire emphasis is on the true nature of the feelings, motives and thoughts from which that deed springs.
“Innamal a’amaalu binniyyaat,” is the very first item in that most amazing compilation of Hadith – verbatim first-person accounts of the sayings and doings of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam – compiled by the 9th Century scholar, Al-Bukhari, may Allah bless him.
And who but God can know what the hearts conceal? And what lies buried deep within the recesses of the human mind.
Man-made thought- and life-systems generally fear and shun truth, whether they are political, economic or so-called religious systems. To divine systems, on the other hand, truth is mother’s milk. Truth is the since qua non – the absolute requirement – of all systems with any claim to have a divine origin.
In fact, truth is so fundamental to human life and to reality in general that you separate truth from happenings in this world and from reality, what is left is garbage, rubbish, trash.
This holds true whether in science or in so-called religion. For, the basis of science is unending search for truth. So also, the foundation of anything claiming to have a divine origin or connection in any form or fashion must also be truth.
That is what sets the Qur’an apart from all the other so-called religious claimants of any kind. It is something that conclusively proves, as much as it is possible for anything in this world to be given the status of absolute and unshakable “proof,” the fact that the Qur’an is indeed from God: the Qur’an’s preoccupation with “truth” or Haqq.
Can you believe it that the Qur’an uses that expression “Truth” or Haqq well over 200 times?
Therefore, truth also is the only remedy for all human problems, including Muslim problems. For, some of these problems are so big and so entrenched that their roots run deep in the human and Muslim psyche through centuries of neglect.
That is precisely the reason why those who have no real connection with God fear truth the way they do. These individuals and groups include those who claim to profess various forms of so-called religion, but would not risk a truthful and sincere encounter with or evaluation of their beliefs and behaviors.
And it also includes hordes of modern-day politicians and media professionals. Even though many of them pay lip service to truth, their real relationship with truth is that of water and fire. Truth to them is often anathema, for, all too often the houses of cards they erect in their religious places as well as in their media such as newspapers, radio and television are a tissue of lies, distortion and fabrication.
It makes no difference whether the lies the media tell are deliberate or merely a product of expediency. What matters is that they are lies. And it explains at least in part why some of their facts, statements and commentary are directly antithetical to the Qur’an.
The reason is because the Qur’an, and by extension Islam and to a lesser extent even the Muslim story, are all based on truth. And media’s tall tales are all too often just that: tall tales with their home in falsehood of various kinds and degrees.
Whereas media people’s values, agendas and interests shape and drive their alienation from truth, God Almighty’s concern with the wellbeing of the entire human family emerges in the form of an overwhelming preoccupation of the Qur’an with truth.
Thus does the Qur’an seek to foster in this world a culture of truth for not only Muslims but also for the whole world. For only a culture of truth can save humanity from the peril it faces. And only truth can set Muslims free from their many ailments, which is essentially the statement attributed to Hazrat Jesus in the Bible: “…you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”
This also shows why those who want to deny humanity, or significant sections thereof, freedom and liberty shall also deny them access to truth and why they themselves fear, abhor and shun truth in their own pronouncements and actions. For, truth means freedom for people, whereas falsehood is an elaborate methodology to keep humanity in bondage.
Hijrat Is Truth, Colonization Is Lies
And that is also why Islam considers truth to be the critical difference between Islam and non-Islam: Haqq. Islam is all about truth, not only in terms of finding it, but also in terms of using it as the means to salvation and success right here in this world as well as in the next world.
In Islam the path to Paradise is not paved with falsehoods and trickery. As a Muslim, you cannot lie and deceive to make the world believe the way you do and come to Allah, even if you had all sorts of guarantees from all kinds of experts that your lies and deceptions will work.
That is not how Islam works. Islam is truth – Haqq – and it only permits the most honest and honorable of means to be used in its service. How can it be otherwise when God himself is Truth – Haqq? Therefore, the farther you go from truth, the farther you get from God.
This is a lesson the Western culture and civilization, and their adherents and practitioners in the world, including many Christian thinkers and scholars, never learned. They often operated under the assumption that the ends somehow would justify the means.
Muslims Are One Nation
As we explained earlier when we were talking about the concept of Hijrat in Islam, Muslims are an Ummah – one nation under God. They are a composite nation that incorporates and shelters under its big tent all racial and ethnic differences. This nation then molds and shapes them all into a single human family whose striving in this world is identical and whose destiny in the next world is also identical.
They are all truly of a body. They are all one single body whose parts are organically welded to one another. And Hijrat is the Islamic process that creates, fosters and nurtures this dynamic new unified identity of the Ummah.
Therefore, when Muslims set out on Hijrat, the new unknown lands and unchartered seas become their home and all they have from the familiar old landscape is their fading memories. The migrating Muslims thus plant themselves, body, soul and mind, in their Newfoundland and strike root. They become part and parcel of the new land and environment.
They intermarry and procreate and they produce children and form families that are part native and part immigrant and wholly bonded and welded together. What a beautiful vocabulary has emerged from this natural fusion of the locals with the incoming outsiders: Ansaar and Muhajirs.
Thus do the Muhajirs and Ansar together bring into this world a whole new breed of people, truly a breed apart. They spawn a whole new culture and civilization. And in the process they build a whole new world. A world and culture that are inclusive of all – immigrants as well as natives.
Thus, they eradicate that curse that has plagued this world forever: the curse of dividing people, places and objects into US and THEM and doing everything to build the US and denigrate and destroy the THEM.
But Muslims generally forgot this all-important lesson of history and of their Deen. They forgot that they were part of the process of Hijrah and not of Colonization. As we explained earlier, these two concepts are diametrically opposed to each other.
And they have very different objectives and methodologies. And they produce very different consequences and outcomes, for themselves as well as for the native lands and peoples that they visit. Hijrat liberates, uplifts and elevates the locals. Colonization, on the other hand, enslaves, dominates, denigrates, exploits and plunders the locals and their wealth and resources.
So, many of the Westward bound Muslims of the second half of the 20th Century forgot this important lesson Hijrat. Furthermore, some of them became so bewitched by the dazzle of their new home that it went to their head. They could barely handle the freedom and opportunity that greeted them, coming as many of them did from lands that generally lacked both.
While some of them went about doing Allah’s work in whatever form they could, some others got power-drunk, ran amuck and did pretty much what they wanted to do and how they wanted to do it without much regard for logic or rationality or for Islamic principles or practical imperatives.
This was pretty much the same thing that happened to them earlier on – several centuries ago. At that time, they gave the world education and themselves decided to lag behind. They lost the spirit of innovation and they lost their creativity. As a result, they also forgot that they were a unified nation, more united in their belief and behavior than any other group of people on earth.
As a result, they quarreled among themselves. They conspired against each other. And they betrayed and fought each other. Their life became an unending saga of internecine warfare, a generalized Muslim fratricide. They forgot that these were the very things Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, had warned them against.
In a word, they lost their Islamic character. And they lost all other qualities that truly make a winning and successful character in this world.
Lost Character Leads to Slavery and Bondage
For the Muslims, with the loss of character – and of course education – came the loss of leadership in the world. In fact, leadership gave way to slavery and bondage: economic, military, political, and of every other kind. Non-Muslims from the East and the West then conquered, colonized, pillaged, plundered and enslaved them, often with help and connivance from their own so-called Muslim people, who betrayed and sold them out to their enemies for money, land, power or position.
This was not very different from the way things are happening in our own time – with the same results and consequences.
The downhill slide on the education front continued and got worse. Instead of acquiring all kinds of education even if it were in China, as Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, is reported to have ordered them to do, they sat around arguing and hairsplitting endlessly about what kind of education was Islamic and what kind was not.
I know, because I am a victim of that same abortive debate. I have personal and painful knowledge and memories of it.
As a result of all this, Muslim leadership passed in the hands of all kinds of tyrants and dictators, some hereditary and some temporary, who paid homage to their often foreign masters and duped and fooled Muslim masses using the sweet name of Islam as a Talisman, for which they often employed hordes of so-called Muslim scholars and preachers who were ready to do the bidding of the hand that fed them.
Ulama’ Soo’ – Mullahs for hire or scholars without conscience or character is a well-known concept of Islamic history. And they have been a bane of Muslim life, liberty and progress forever.
For the longest time, the mission and specialty of these Bad Ulama’ have been to deliver the Muslim masses, as well as the truly God-fearing and smart Islamic leaders and scholars, bound hand, foot and mouth to the princes, dictators and tyrants who greased their palms and conferred upon them land, power and honor.
And yet, in spite of all this, whenever the Muslim masses tried to get away, and whenever truly devoted, courageous, noble and wise leadership sprang new shoots among them, and appeared likely to liberate the Muslims and usher upon them a new era of personal, social and political liberty and economic self-determination and independence, their domestic masters, often with active assistance from their own foreign mentors and masters, crushed them ruthlessly and returned them to their yoke.
Examples are too numerous to count here. One such example is what happened to Muslims in Algeria who won the first round of elections fair and square in 1991 before the army stepped in and cancelled the election. Years of Muslim bloodbath and torture followed.
Muslims of Algeria are still paying the price in blood and money of that betrayal by the so-called Muslims in the Algerian army at the behest of their foreign masters and minders who never stop mouthing clichés about liberty and opportunity for all. But their profession of these noble – and in fact Islamic – ideals is a bald-faced lie when it comes to extending them to the Muslim peoples and societies of the world.
Change Character, You Will Change People
So, character is the key to success, both in this world as well as in the next world. That means change character and you will change the people. Muslims lost their character, no matter how you look at it. Their Dunya was snatched out of their hands.
I don’t know with a lost character how Muslims can lay claim to leadership in matters pertaining to the Aakhirah. A slave people really has no Deen, except maybe the Deen of its worldly masters.
That is partly why there is so much confusion among Muslims about everything, whether it pertains to the Deen or Dunya, and whether it pertains to education or character.
So, want to change Muslims? Work to change their character. Change it from a loser to a winner character.
Now, that is almost directly from the Qur’an: Change the character of a people and you will change their condition. Here is the Qur’an: Innallaha laa yughaiyyiru maa bi-qawmin hattaa yughaiyyiroo maa bi-anfusihim.
So, what is the solution then? To Muslim problems I mean.
The solution is the same thing that the Qur’an came to impart and using which Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, transformed the world: Ta’aleem and Tazkiyah.
That is (a) Education and (b) Character Building, both these terms to be understood and used in their widest and most inclusive connotations and not as tired clichés and meaningless shibboleths subjected to endless and futile Muslim pseudo-theological disputations.
That means, beyond all the talk about what ails Muslims in general and Indian Muslims in particular, it is time to talk precisely and practically about how to cure some of those character ills that have become so common among Muslims of India and the world. And do so from an Islamic as well as practical worldly point of view, both of which to me are one and the same.
There is little doubt that over the past half century or more the sky has indeed fallen on Indian Muslims: their life and limb, their honor and dignity, their economic wellbeing and progress and their social cohesion and political advancement have all been in peril.
And what keeps happening to Muslims around the world in so many different ways is nothing short of a wave after wave of tragedy and calamity.
Call it Kaarithah if you want. In the Indian context as well as in world context.
But to me, looking at this host of problems Muslims are facing, nothing compares in seriousness and urgency to the educational and character – want to call it moral, feel free to do so – backwardness Muslims have suffered over the past few decades.
By moral backwardness I mean a general lack of character. And by that I mean lack of mental toughness, spiritual growth, adherence to the eternal principles of honesty and integrity, commitment to sustained hard work and creative potential and innovative spirit.
From an Islamic point of view, morality and character are intertwined. Together, they encompass mental toughness and resilience as well as spiritual purity and loftiness. The Qur’an calls this type of all-round character building Tazkiyah.
It was character – before Islam and after – that made Abu Bakr a Siddique: that is, a man who gave his word to the Prophet, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, and never looked back.
It was character – before Islam and after – that turned a ferocious Umar into the most ardent and compassionate guardian of the poor, the voiceless and the powerless.
It was character – before Islam and after – that would not allow the most powerful ruler of his time in the world to raise his sword in self defense, or let anyone else to do so, for fear of shedding Muslim blood and unleashing chaos, anarchy and Fitnah in the Muslim world. Uthman, thus, sacrificed his own life, so peace and social stability will have a new lease of life.
His blood soaked the pages of the Qur’an he was reading, as people with Muslims names – but without Muslim character – assassinated him in his own house.
And it was indeed character – before Islam and after – that made Ali the kind of hero that he was and that at the same time got him to walk away from a subdued foe after he, the conquered foe, in an act of desperation, spat on his face.
Here is how we can paraphrase that situation.
“Ali,” said the surprised man. “Why would you walk away from me and not kill me when I spat on you?”
“It is simple,” said Ali. “When we battled each other, you fought for your self-interest and I fought for God Almighty’s sake. I had no other reason. I had no personal stake in our fight. And I had no reason to hate you as a person. But when you spat on me, you made my blood boil and you made me furious over this personal insult the kind of which I had never suffered before.”
“If I had killed you at that moment of rage,” Ali continued as his conquered combatant listened in utter bewilderment and stupefaction, “that would have been a pure act of personal revenge on my part. My killing you in that state of personal anger then would not have been in the service of the higher cause of justice, human equality and universal peace to which I have dedicated my life.”
To control that towering rage, to resist that provocation, and walk away from a conquered foe! That was Ali’s character before and after Islam. Ali was a mere boy when he came into Islam with that character, which was later nurtured and built personally by none other than the Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, himself.
Focus on Changing Character
So, the cure for Muslim ills is character. But Muslims fail to come to terms with questions of character by confusing it with Iman, even though Iman is inextricably intertwined with character.
In fact, Iman is the best and surest foundation upon which to build character.
But in a certain sense people can have character without Iman Billah or belief in God. They could have a generalized kind of strong belief – in anything. That will give them character, albeit not Islamic character.
That is why I kept repeating the words “before Islam and after” in previous paragraphs. Those words are almost a direct translation of a Hadith that can be paraphrased as “Gold before Islam, gold after Islam.”
Khairukum fil jaahiliyyah, khairukum fil Islam.
Thus, it is entirely possible for those without Iman Billah to possess superior qualities of heart and mind – character. But the best and highest level of character exists when it is rooted in Iman Billah.
And no character was more solid or supreme than that of Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, which was not only grounded in the teachings of the Qur’an but which was a full and complete embodiment of the entire Qur’an.
Innaka la-‘alaa khuluqin ‘azeem, says the Qur’an: “Your character indeed is great.”
“His character simply was the Qur’an,” says the Hadith: Kaana Khuluquhul Qur’an.
Thus, if the Muslims make claims of Iman, then that claim must be backed up by a solid personal character on the ground. They must embody the best and highest qualities of human character.
Muslims must embody the Qur’an. Nothing less is acceptable.
That, however, is not generally the case. Not because Muslims don’t have it, but more because Muslims generally don’t even seem to be aware of it. By and large, they simply seem to have no understanding of what character really means and how to go about building and acquiring it.
So, if character is a fatal flaw among Muslims, the way to fix that flaw is to start building character. Merely trumpeting claims of Iman, while neglecting to focus on the question of character, will not cure Muslim ailment on the character front.
That means the Muslim situation will not change, as the Qur’an makes it clear, till Muslims change their character: Hattaa yughaiyyiroo maa bi-anfusihim.
Let me repeat: Till Muslims change their character.
While Muslims around the world need this new lesson in character, in some ways Muslims of India may need it more urgently than the others.
© 2009 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.