In the Name of Allah, Most Beneficent, Most Merciful; may the prayers of peace and blessings be upon the Prophet Muhammad, his family, his companions, and all those who follow his way in righteousness till the Last Day, ameen.
It would seem to me that anytime someone wanted to share with the world, literally, their thoughts and ideas, what they like and dislike etc. that it might be worth stating why such an endeavor would be undertaken. Primarily, i wanted to blog just so that maybe someone who read it and is now walking a path i once walked, might take notice, and thus have the pleasure of correcting themselves before they are ultimately and irrevocably corrected.
When I first became muslim I spent alot of time learning about what, to me, were important issues. I was seriously a rabid student of all things Israeli/Palestinian. I could tell you all kinds of useless facts and historical evidences. I debated openly on my college campus with Jewish student groups. I constantly wrote letters-to-the-editor, signed petitions, called into C-SPAN etc. I was a living testament to civic responsibility. The apt reader will note though what was missing. Learning about my new religion: Islam. I did, however, take a great amount of what I thought was a religious experience in doing all this; verbally fighting for my brothers and sisters in Palestine. In the hospital I worked in during college, I met a Resident (student physician) at lunch and as usual I launched into my diatribes against Israel and her apartheid policies and the machinations of groups like AIPAC and CAMERA (with whom I had just had a verbal run-in against). The young resident said to me calmly but sincerely, “Brother, all of this stuff you are talking about is really not going to help you. Study your religion, study Islam. You are spending your time on something that would be better spent elsewhere.” I am sure the look on my face was nondescript, but inside i was thinking to myself that this guy was some kind of traitor. “…better spent elsewhere.” ??? Inside I was stunned. We finished our lunch that day and strangely I never saw that guy again.
Most, if not all, muslims I had spoken with personally over the first 5-6 years of me being muslim were as angry as I was but therein is the rub. Whether it was Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Somalia, you name it, the average muslim was upset (But that was about it). Over the next couple of years I remained vigilantly committed to all the “causes.” I had forgotten about the Resident. And then one day it hit me. I had devoted a full decade, 10 years!! to learning everything I could about Israel, Palestine, India, Pakistan, Kashmir etc. and i realized sadly it had gotten me absolutely nowhere. I used to get depressed all the time because of everything I knew but couldn’t do anything about. Then came 9/11
I had a new found sense for my political and historical knowledge. I was called on (due mainly to my being a white american convert, surely not for my Islamic knowledge) to go and speak about Islam to churches and boy scouts and high schools and jewish clubs. I did this all fairly ignorant of Islam. I said things that I wish I could take back, not because they were rude or insensitive but because when you stand before 180 non-Muslims and you want to impress them and give them “da’wah” (inviting to Islam) you often misspeak, and you don’t convey Islam correctly. So feeling uneducated, i began to read, and during that time alot of muslims fell into reading and alot of the material at this time was glorifying fighting. It is often called Jihad in books and on websites, but its little more than revenge given an arabic name that many of these Islamic groups deal in. But i fell for it. I didn’t want to go and blow up anything, but the inherent radicalism of these groups, the feeling of despair and helplessness all coupled with the sincere desire to want to change the world for the better, led me and many other young people even still today to waste their time in politics and arguing. I started saying bad things about every muslim gov’t on the planet, if not outright calling them non-believers and all of this is back-biting and even worse – slander. And I ask forgiveness for this from Allah. Out of my ignorance, i did it because these gov’ts may have been accused of committing sins or not implementing Islam the way I thought it should be implemented or not “hardcore” enough. In my community I organized protests against the gov’t of the US, Israel, anyone who I thought was oppressing muslims. Some of you may ask what’s wrong with that, and inshaa Allah, i’ll get to that if not here then in some series of posts on what is the correct Islamic methodology for disagreeing with gov’ts and leaders. The Islam that I practiced and what most everyone practices nowadays is a mixture of socialism, communism, radical revolutionism, democratic fundamentalism, a little or a lot of secular humanism and interestingly Liberation Theology (as is popular among Latin American Catholics) all distilled and given arabic sounding names till its called Islam. This is NOT Islam.
What I learned Islam really is was hard for me to accept at first especially after having learned all I had learned thinking that was Islam. What non-Muslims see on the television today even from what are termed “moderate” muslims (we all know what they see regarding terrorism) is also not Islam and they too will be surprised and I also think it may be hard for them to accept as well what true Islam is because it is so beautiful. I have given a very very brief insight into what true Islam is in the “Methodology” section and in the “About” page. But true Islam is understanding the Quran and the Sunnah (the customs of the Prophet Muhammad, sal Allahu 3layhi wa sallam) WITH the understanding of the first three generations of Muslims. This is important because if you want to understand anything in life you always ask those closest to the source. And the Sahaba (the companions of Prophet Muhammad), may Allah be pleased with all of them were the closest to the source (the Prophet, sal Allahu 3layhi wa sallam) and their students (called Taabi’een in arabic) were the next closest etc. To understand Islam any other way is to misunderstand it. To teach Islam any other way is to misguide people. To criticize Islam, the religion, based on the actions of people who fall into the former two groups (those who misunderstand and those who misguide) is unfair, unjust and intellectually dishonest with yourself.
My appeal is to those people who think being radical, revolutionary and/or violent is Islam, or if Che Guevara is your hero, or if you think Rage Against the Machine and various other culturally and politically aware rock, hip-hop or rap groups sing “Islamic” music then be not mistaken. This is not the path. This is not Islam. This is not the way our forefathers treaded.
The Prophet, sal Allahu 3layhi wa sallam, mentioned in a long hadeeth where he had drawn a straight line (which was the path to Paradise) and lines coming off to the right and left that there were little devils standing at each of the ways that come off to the right and left calling/inviting the muslim to go on that path and all those paths lead to torment and the Fire. The scholars have said no doubt that these littlle devils are deviant groups and scholars because only they are capable of leading a muslim away. So beware of those scholars who seem to never find anything forbidden. They allow all sorts of activities and say that it’s simply a “difference of opinion.”
My Advice is to read all you can about Tawheed (The Oneness of Allah)
Know what is the criteria for being a scholar of Islam, so that you can
Know who the Major Scholars are, so that you may
Rely on the Major Scholars of Islam, learn from them and their students.
And inshaa Allah we will all be led correctly, ameen.
There will be more articles coming inshaa Allah that give more advice on these very topics.