A couple of years ago, I read the news of a project to develop a localized version of Sesame Street in Pakistan. The cast and production were from the local people, with Elmo being the only American Muppet in the program. As always, Pakistan split right down the middle on whether or not this was a good thing. In a country with roughly 35% of its people unable to read a newspaper, this enjoyable educational program was attacked for being a Western ploy to further the “colonization” of Pakistan. It was admittedly part of a program of USAID to promote education and “tolerance” [some would say selective tolerance] among the country’s people. Pakistan has a history of sectarianism and takfir, and has been ripped apart by violent extremism in recent years. The show was canceled after less than a year although it had a viewership of over 20 million. The Pakistan-based production company working on this project was accused of embezzlement and lack of transparency in their financial dealings.
Whether or not the show would have been an improvement for Pakistan and its people may be debatable. You find similar argument in Egypt and other countries who’ve had their versions of Sesame Street for years. The question is; how could the average Western-born or Convert Muslim ever gain a clear understanding of such situations? If clarity were to be realized, what could one do about it? And if the clerics are coming from such a standpoint of radical resistance to everything “Western”, how could their fatwas and teachings ever be anything but confusing for Muslims in America? You will find many of the scholars and leaders, very devout Muslims, in Pakistan, India, South Africa, Egypt, and other places having an extreme disdain and outspoken vehemence toward even the most basic things that are commonplace in America. And in traditional Islamic teaching, it is prohibited for a Mufti (legal interpreter) or Qadi (judge) to preside in a case in which he/she has any prejudice or pre-conceived notion.
“The Messenger of Allah (Allah bless him and give him peace) said, “From the excellence of a man’s Islam is leaving that which does not concern him.” – Mulla Ali al-Qari (Allah have mercy on him) mentioned in his expansive commentary on Mishkat al-Masabih
“Some early Muslims said, “Whoever busies themselves with that which does not concern them misses out on much of that which does concern them.” –Shaykh Faraz Rabbani
Don’t Muslims living in America have enough to deal with ? We are a tiny and powerless minority whose communities are losing our children, our converts, our unity, our spirituality, our faith, our intellect, and whose Masajid fail to engage the vast majority of Muslims living here. We’re not presenting Islam in positive ways or even attempting to confront the constantly growing animosity and fear-mongering among our neighbors. We have physically and emotionally abused converts living in homeless shelters with all their children. You can’t get a “muslim” to donate 2 hours a week to community building. Arabs these days spend most of their lives watching news channels on TV. Imagine dying after spending 30 years of your life sitting and watching the perennial destruction of human civilization in general, and Muslim societies in particular.
Our communities have already been weakened and divided by external interests. We have forgotten the truth that Rasulullah s.a.w. foretold the degradation of Muslim societies and the subjugation of their countries for neglecting their obligations. We have wasted the last 30 years occupying our time, thoughts, efforts, and finances with concerns over the series of failed states in the Muslim world. Since I entered Islam in the 80’s, my “community” has been ceaselessly pre-occupied with Palestine, Iran-Iraq, Afghanistan, Iraq again, Bosnia, Iraq again, Chechnya, Kosovo, Palestine again, Kashmir, Somalia, Iraq again, Palestine again, Afghanistan again, Sudan, Algeria, Sri Lanka, Kashmir again, Chechnya again, the WTC bombing, the Khobar bombing, the WTC revisited, the shoe bombing, the underwear bombing, Egypt, Libya, Burma, Bangladesh, Syria, Afghanistan still, Pakistan still, Chechnya still, Kashmir still, Somalia still, Sudan still, Iraq still, Iran still, and Palestine still. DO WE RECOGNIZE A PATTERN YET ?
Can we not write our final summary to this story?
Muslims left Islam. Their countries collapsed and will continue to collapse. Allah visited them with a taste of what they earned. We make dua’a for them. Allah will hold us accountable to establish Islam HERE. End of story, end of discussion, end of wasted time, obey Allah’s Messenger and LEAVE WHAT DOES NOT CONCERN YOU, what does not provide benefit for you or them.
Da’wa is the effort to call humanity toward Allah, His Messenger, the Hereafter, the Truth, the Success. In times and situations like this, da’wa becomes an obligation on every Muslim. When confronted by people whose thoughts are distracted toward pointless matters, it becomes obligatory to direct their attention by making da’wa. If one does not make da’wa, his/her mind will be confounded with the already confounded concerns of others. This is how Iman becomes weak, and ‘amaal get thrown out the window.
So, when confronted with people who are pre-occupied with concerns for the disasters in Muslim countries, protect your Iman by making simple da’wa. Begin by acknowledging their concern. Say, “Yes, Brother/Sister. The Muslim situation is tragic. The truth is that these tragedies result from leaving their obligations for many generations. If they will resume their responsibilities, Allah will help them. Otherwise, their condition will only get worse. Therefore, please accept Islam as YOUR religion and busy yourself in working to establish Allah’s Deen, right here, right now.”