IN THE NAME OF ALLAH, THE BENEFICENT, THE MERCIFUL
WHO ARE OUR ADDRESSEES AND HOW TO ADDRESS THEM?
[Shamim A Siddiqi,
INTRODUCTION: Alhamdulillah, I have so far discussed about Dawah Ilallah [DI] - its concept, needs, priorities, strategies; why we should be involved in Dawah; for effective Dawah, the need of an effective da’ee and the paramount characteristics of a da’ee. It is a part of my forthcoming book: “Dawah Ilallah in American Perspective”. It is essential to tell the readers, the Da’ees or the would-be Da’ees what they have to do, what preparation they have to undergo, and what situations they will face while struggling for the Deen of Allah in this land of opportunities in order to make them effective Da’ees. These themes pertain to DI and the Da’ee. In fact, the success of DI depends on individual da’ee. It is, therefore, essential to tell the da’ee in very clear terms the process through which he has to pass, the impediments that he has to encounter and the values that he has to inculcate in his character to counteract the designs of Batil and the vested interests of the time.
I would now like to elaborate:
who are our addressees and how should we address them? The success of our Dawah
efforts and the future of the Muslim Ummah in
WHO ARE OUR ADDRESSEES? Let us first determine who our addressees are? It can be considered from two angles.
A. From the point of religion, our addressees are:
Jews, Christians, Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists, secularists or atheists, all living together on this land;
B. On the basis of ethnicity:
Caucasian-Americans [CA], African-Americans [AA], Latino-Americans [LA], Native- Americans [NA], Chinese/Koreans, Arabs and Indo-Pakistanis-Bangladeshis or Asians;
This classification of American people is essential to know the different communities in detail: about their ethnic background, their socio-cultural-religious and political affiliations, their involvement in the society, their respective issues and community problems that they are facing in the midst of a liberal society, the extent of their influence and affluence, and how far they are open minded or closed to adjust themselves against the march of time. This will help the da’ee to deal each of them at their respective community levels effectively. I will first discuss the present status of each. This description will be concise and precise. I will, then, elaborate briefly as how to approach each of them from the Dawah point of view.
THE IMPORTANT FEATURES OF EACH COMMUNITY AND HOW CAN THEY BE ADDRESSED?
I. THE JEWS - THEIR IMPORTANT FEATURES:
They are economically affluent, religiously bigoted, ethnically race-conscious, politically organized and influential and are playing a dominant role in the body politic of the country through all the five organs of a modern state - Executive, Legislature, Judiciary, Electorate and free-for-all Media. Hence, they deserve to be discussed first in the list.
* They believe in One God but He is “ The God of Israel” [Old Testament];
* They claim they follow Torah but in fact, they follow Talmud that contains 612 injunctions – only two from Torah and the rest are the rabbinical laws or injunctions. The original Torah is lost through these innovations;
* They profess to have a Covenant from God. They claim that they are His “Chosen People”. [Old Testament];
* They are an integral part of Abrahamic religion but represent its most decomposed form;
* They believe in the future coming of Messiah but they reject first Jesus [PBUH] and then Muhammad (S). They used to ask Prophet Jesus, “Are you that Prophet?” When Jesus said “No”. Jews refused to accept him even as Prophet of God. They knew that Rasulullah (S) was the Prophet of Allah and the promised Messiah but refused to accept him (S). They are still in waiting for the coming of the Messiah;
* Jews are broadly divided into: Orthodox, Hassidic, Ultra Conservatives, Reform Jews + the Zionists [Every Jew is not Zionists but every Zionists is a bigoted Jew. The affairs of the world are progressing as predicted in the Protocol of Elders, a plan envisaged by the Zionist Jews, late in the 19th century, as how to control the world, its resources and its affairs. Humanity is experiencing the development of events in the same process one after the other;
* They constitute only 2 % of the population of the USA but they have managed to be prominent in each field: education, art, science, technology, finances, banking, entertainment, media, political arena, multi-national institutions and international forums. They are enjoying rights and privileges much more in proportion to their population in this country. It is causing heart burning in many sectors of this country;
* Prominent Jewish festivals: Rosh Hashanah [New year], Day of Atonement [Yom Kippur], Hanukkah [Dedication], Tabernacles [an autumn harvest celebration], Pentecost [A festival to celebrate corn harvest, seven weeks after Passover], and Sabbath Day, every Saturday of the week;
* The History of Bani Israel [the Jews]: It is full of favors from Allah and their constant ungratefulness to Him. [Surah al-Baqarah, Verse 40 to 108 contains a charge sheet [or a list of crimes] of 27 charges from Allah (SWT) against their misdeeds]. It is a history of their transgression. They never fulfilled their covenant with Allah and so “disgrace and homelessness’ was destined for them as a mark of punishment from Allah, except when Allah Himself or some people out of human sympathy favor them [Ref: Al-Imran - 112]. They sustained this state of ignominy from 78 AD till 1948, when the State of Israel came into existence with the connivance of USSR, USA, Britain, France and International Zionism. It brought forward a different situation for Muslims to bear under duress. It is an illegitimate child of all the forces working against Islam and Muslims, irrespective of whether they are within the Muslim world or outside. Hegemonies are being nurtured around the world to accept the State of Israel “by choice”, at least by its neighbors. The only bone of contention now is the land of “Qudus” and America is applying all the pressure tactics on Arafat to compromise with Israel on this count too. But it is a hard nut to crack for all concerned. Jews came to America with Columbus after paying 5,000 Guineas and settled down at various places in the USA. They gradually took possession of the resources of this country in different fields. They dominate its financial institutions and hold a balance of power in the political arena.
This is a short synopsis about the Jews. I have pinpointed only the salient features. A da’ee has to study and comprehend all the aspects of the presence of Jews in America and their all round involvement and efforts to transform this country into a “Jewish State” early in 21st century in order to quench their age-old thirst for land and dominate the world through the vision of their Elders. From Dawah point of view, individual Jews can be approached with the following in mind:
HOW TO ADDRESS THE JEWS:
1. Jews take Prophet Abraham (AS) as their Patriarch only and Prophet Solomon and David (AS) as their Kings whereas they are the Prophets of Allah. The Qur’an corrects the history of the Jews and of their Prophets. It should be brought before them direct from the Qur’an.
2. Our common denomination is Tawheed, Akhirah, Prophethood and the common history from Adam to John, the Baptist. But they have their own interpretation in each case. The concept of Tawheed, Akhirah, Amanah, the need of Prophets and their continuity is to be kept before them in their true perspective and in wider connotation as the need of our time.
3. Judaism does not provide any model of Islam as a way of life as they had lost it long ago. It has only some dogmas, rituals and rabbinic injunctions. That is why the Jews are mostly secular, capitalistic, conservative and practice liberal democracy in their day today life. They have denied Islam as a way of life by choice and so they are suffering and will suffer till they submit to Allah totally. A Da’ee can put before them Islam as the only way of life in the present context of the world. It is to be emphasized that all their worries, trouble, ignominy is due to neglect of Allah, His Prophets and His Deen, Al-Islam which is now a common heritage both of Jews and Muslims.
4. The Jews were in waiting for the appearance of a Prophet from the Arab land. The Seerah of Rasulullah (S) by Dr. Ta’ha Ya’seen of Egypt gives a detailed account in this respect. That can be quoted with authority. What a great tragedy it was that when he (S) appeared, they apposed him with all bitterness as he (S) was not from their ancestry but from Bani Ishmael. Now they can realize their mistake and accept Rasulullah (S) as their Messiah, failing which they will suffer till eternity.
5. A da’ee should have all the historical facts that Jews enjoyed their hey days only when they were under the protection of Muslims. Christians treated them very scornfully and they forced them to live in Ghettoes. They will not be able to deny the historical facts. So they should be a part of the process of Islamization in Muslim countries and elsewhere in the world. Only Islam can be a boon for them. If they do so, they will enjoy a better life in Muslim countries and can live in peace in this world. It is to be impressed upon them that their dream to control the world will never be fulfilled as it contradicts the will of Allah. They will face a lot of insurmountable pitfalls both in America and abroad and they will succumb to it.
6. Let all the Abrahamic faiths work together and transform this world into a cradle of peace and tranquility. It is their obligation. If they don’t, they will continue to meet disgrace in this world and will return to Akhirah to face the worst type of humiliation as ordained by Allah (SWT) in Verse 85 of Al-Baqarah.
II. THE CHRISTIANS - THEIR IMPORTANT FEATURES:
* Christianity is the creed of the majority of people in this country. They are over ninety percent of the population. The overwhelming voters are Christians. They follow Jesus Christ in one form or the other. There are countless versions of Christianity and everyone believes that his or her sect is right and he will get salvation only following the creed of his or her church.
* Monotheism: Instead of believing in One Lord God, Christians believe in Trinity- God the Father, God the son, God the Holy Spirit [Three in one and one in three] Christianity created a “human-god”, as approved by the Council of Nicea, presided over by King Constantine in May 325 AC. It became the creed of Christianity that replaced monotheism with idolatry, making partners with Allah.
* Original Sin: It refers to the story of Adam and Eve in Jannah [Paradise] before their descent on earth. Both Adam and Eve forgot to follow the directives of Allah and committed a sin. They begged His pardon and God, the Almighty, graciously pardoned them but St. Paul introduced the dogma of the original sin. In the opinion of Paul, Adam and Eve brought with them this guilt to the earth and God had to send His son to this earth to shed his blood on the cross in lieu of the original sin of man. But since God, the Almighty, had already pardoned their sin, as narrated by the Qur’an, there was no need of sending any son to earth. It is, therefore, a self-created dogma propounded by Paul.
* Vicarious Atonement: Price of original sin.
* Salvation: One, just by believing in Jesus, can get salvation. Thus, they get rid of A’ma’l [good Deeds]. Here, Paul has given due emphasis on deeds.
* Crucifying of Jesus [AS]: Qur’an does not confirm this at all. [Ref: Al-Nisa: 157 –158];
* Second Coming of Jesus (AS): Traditions of Prophet (S) confirm it. First the anti-Christ, Dajjal, will appear on the scene. Prophet Jesus (SA) will then appear in Damascus. Battle of Armageddon will take place and he will kill the anti-Christ near the existing airport of Israel at Lud. However, according to Bible, Jesus (AS) will descend from heaven and destroy all the false religions and then rule this world for a thousand years.
* Christian Festivals: Christmas, [the birth of Christ, supposedly it falls on December 25th]; Easter [Rising or resurrection of Jesus from the death]; Goof Friday, the day on which Prophet Jesus was supposed to have been crucified.
* Major denominations of Christianity: Roman Catholicism; Eastern Orthodox; Protestantism started by Martin Luther of Germany.
* History of Christianity: When Christ lived in Jerusalem, he did not establish any new religion. He did not reject the Torah of Moses. He claimed that he had come only to fulfill the Laws given to Moses by God Almighty. He never preached that he was God incarnate. He preached that salvation was to be achieved by belief in One True God and doing good deeds. Jesus Christ said that he was sent only to the Lost Sheep of the House of Israel. He had nothing to do with the gentile world.
After the ascension, Paul who had never met or heard Jesus came on the scene, claiming that he saw Jesus in a vision telling him to go and preach Christ-Crucified to all the nations. Paul did not have cordial relationship with the apostles of Jesus. He was always at odds with them. He preached that the blood of Christ was shed on the Cross for the salvation of fallen humanity. The Christians, against the teachings of Jesus (AS), are now preaching throughout the world that the people were born sinners and only the blood of Christ can save then from perdition.
Jesus Christ was not yet officially deitified till the Council of Nicea in 325 AC with the help of Constantine, the pagan Emperor of Rome. Later on, Christianity was divided into several sects. At present, there are dozens of Christian denominations, many of which differ in important aspects of Christian doctrines. The majority of the Americans belong to the Protestant churches that were originally founded by Martin Luther of Germany in the sixteenth century AC. South America has a larger percentage of Roman Catholics who believe that Pope in Rome is the Vicar of Christ on earth. Hence they are called Roman Catholics.
HOW TO ADDRESS THE CHRISTIANS?
The Christians dominantly populate this country. They are orthodox, conservatives, born again or reborn Christians. They are radicals and often stubborn in their faith or creed. They are the blind supporters of their respective Churches and are not prepared to listen to any talk other than to their dogmatic beliefs. However, there are lots of Christian brothers and sisters who are open minded, willing to talk to others and try to understand about other religions/faiths and are eager to find out where their Salvation lies. Who holds the truth, and how they can get the solution of their problems. They are the targets of the da’ee. They are our first addressees. Later on the diehards will come in contact when their own kith and kin will bring Islam and its message to their respective families in an intimate manner. Let us discuss how we should approach our Christian brothers and sisters and present Islam as the only way of life acceptable to their Creator and Sustainer. [Ref: Al-Imran: 19, 83 and 85]
1. Common Beliefs: A Da’ee is to find common denominators between Islam and Christianity in respect of Tawheed, belief in resurrection, accountability in Akhirah, common ancestry from Adam, Eve, Abraham to Moses and Jesus [peace be upon all of them], continuity of Prophethood, need of Divine Guidance, Second Coming of Jesus etc. At each point Christians are more akin to Islam than the Jews. Jews opposed Prophet Muhammad (S) because he (S) was not from the chronology of Bani Israel whereas Christians have no such bigotry to breed hate against Islam. The entire historical background of Islam, from Adam to Prophet Muhammad, needs reorientation towards development of the process that God, the Almighty, adopted or preferred, culminating the Prophethood in the life pattern of Muhammad (S) and the Guidance in the form of the Qur’an. In the present context of the world, man needs both the Guidance and the guide in their most perfect format.
Let our Christian brothers and sisters think what they got by stopping or terminating the march of humanity towards perfection? With the departure of Prophet Jesus from the scene, in the wake of Jewish conspiracy to get him hanged on the gallows under the command of Pontius Pilate, they severed their relation with the march of time, in spite of clear prophesies of the arrival of Prophet Muhammad after Jesus (AS). Due to this self-denial attitude, our Christian brothers got nothing, except some dogmas and rituals. It was God’s will that Jesus was elevated to heavens, as a sign of miracle from Allah and he will come again for the deliverance of mankind at the appointed hour. Both Christians and Muslims believe in it. Jesus (AS) will kill the false imposter and Islam will become the Deen of the day. Our Christian brothers and sisters should cherish that day of reappearance of Jesus (AS). Let the Muslims work it out and present the entire scenario in an orderly fashion in the light of Ahadith of Rasulullah (S) that are quite significant for both Abrahamic communities. The Qur’an advocates such kinds of dialogues with Christians, originating from the points of common beliefs.
When the Christians of the Tribe of Najran came to see Rasulullah (S) in the ninth year of Hijrah [the A’mul Wafud – the year of delegations], he (S) presented Islam before them in these words of the Qur’an, “ O the people of Scripture! Come to an agreement between you and us: that we shall worship none but Allah and that we shall ascribe no partner unto Him, and that none of us shall take others for Lords beside Allah. And if they turn away, then say: Bear witness that we are they who have surrendered [to Him]”. [Al-Imran 64]
2. Qur’an should be the means to present the message of Dawah Ilallah. There are a lot of Verses and Surah in the Qur’an that present the facts, events and the history of Christianity in its true perspective. The story of Mary and the birth of Jesus [Surah Mary: Verses 16 –40; Al-Imran: from verses 42 – 71]; the correct version of the supposed death of Jesus on the cross, his elevation to heavens and the negation of Trinity [Surah Al-Nisa: Verses 156 – 172] are the most effective pieces of Divine Guidance for discussion with our Christians addressees. I have found that these quotations from the Qur’an are very effective means of Dawah Ilallah.
3. The Qur’an emphasizes time and again to argue with the People of Scriptures in a nice and decent manner, “ Call unto the way of thy Lord with wisdom and fair exhortation and reason with them in a fair manner or in a better way”. [AL-Nahal: 125]. This will help in maintaining an atmosphere of cordiality, understanding the viewpoint of each other and keep the room open for further dialogue in a friendly environment.
4. Now it is a known fact that the original Bible stands lost. It is nowhere available. There are more than sixty versions of the Bible. It is said that the version of King James is the most authentic translation in English but it too carries a lot of contradictions. So the Christian community could not present their Deen as a way of life to meet the growing demands of Industrial era and modern complex societies. Hence almost all the Christian countries have adopted secularism, capitalism and liberal democratic values as their Deen or the way of life, restricting Christianity to some beliefs and dogmas. But the Creator and Sustainer had sent a complete cod of conduct in the form of the Qur’an for the humans to live in peace, harmony and lead a balanced life on earth. Muslims are to invite our Christian brothers and sisters to study the Qur’an as a system of life that covers the entire socio-economic-political spectrum of human society and the life. The Prophet Muhammad (S) as the most accomplished guide and model for all of us to lead a peaceful life on this earth. This will be the alternative to what they believe. One who studies the Qur’an will get the truth and the way towards the salvation. Let Qur’an be the master guide for Muslims for DI in this Judeo-Christian dominant society.
5. It is to be emphasized that all Prophets, before and after Jesus (AS), came with a code of conduct [Shariah] for their people to live by it. Jesus (AS) was the Prophet to Bani Israel with Injil as the Scripture. He was to revive the teachings of Torah. Unfortunately, Both the original Torah and Injil stand lost. The salvation depends on A’ma’l [deeds] and not on belief and dogmas. Paul had also given due emphasis on A’maal [Deeds]. Mere belief in Jesus or his supposed death on the cross for the salvation of man appears illogical. If one disregards good deeds, then who should be tried in any court of law for his or her bad actions and deeds? All the criminals be set free as all do believe in Jesus and their sins have already been commuted by Jesus dying on cross. Will any logic accept this argument and set free all the criminals? Let our Christian brothers think over the fallacy of this approach. Let us all make A’maal as the basis of salvation and for that we need a complete Shariah [a code of conduct]. When we search for a Shariah, our Christian brothers and sisters will have no choice but to accept the Qur’an and the life pattern of Muhammad (S) to serve as code of conducts for humanity till the doomsday. The Da’ee should invite his Christian addressees to think over it and accept it as the only way left with them.
6. Both the Christian and Muslims have been designated or assigned by their Creator and Sustainer to struggle for the establishment of the Kingdom of God on earth. It is not a slogan but the most logical sequence of their faith [Iman] in Allah, His Prophets and the accountability in Akhirah that they must strive hard to make it a reality. In the American perspective, Muslims alone cannot do it. But if the Judeo-Christian-Muslim community struggles for this cause hand in hand, soon the atmosphere of this country will start changing in favor of their common goal. Let our Christian brothers and sisters make up their mind to this end. They will find the Muslims by their side with all that they possess for sacrifice in this way. That will be the red-letter day in the history of America. Humanity will then experience the real peace on earth. Let Muslims take the initiative and put Islam in a different perspective as the need of this country and urge the Judeo-Christian Muslim community of America to struggle for its sake ceaselessly, jointly and courageously.
7. There are other considerations from the Dawah point of view which a da’ee should keep in mind and must try to avoid discussion on these points: age old prejudices against Islam and Muslims; animosity that persists against Crusade wars; challenging the authenticity of Bible and the innumerable contradictions that it contains; the aimless and fruitless killings in ME, Asia and Africa etc. Our Dawah should be “with the Qur’an” [Ref: Verse 45 of Surah Qa’f], positive and direct to the common mission of all the Prophets of Allah. The contents of the Verses from the Qur’an: 83 of Al-Imran; 36 of Surah al-Nahal and Verses 109 to120 of Surah Al-Ma’idah may suffice a Da’ee to convince a Christian addressee to think about Islam as the only way of life and then embrace it in due course of time as the best bargain of his or her life.
Next, I will address the Muslims of America, especially in the perspective I have elaborated for the Jews and the Christians. May Allah give me Tawfeeq to do it in the right earnest!
III. THE MUSLIMS:
Alhamdulillah, out of the three predominant Abrahamic Faiths, I have so far discussed the salient features of Judaism and the Christianity and then elaborated how these communities are to be addressed from Dawah point of view, especially in American perspective. If that program is followed both in words and spirit in practical Dawah field, encouraging results can be expected soon. Now I would like to take up the third Abrahamic Faith, the Muslims of America. However, for Muslims, the word Dawah is not the proper phrase to be used. They are already Muslims, have accepted the authority of Allah and His Prophet Muhammad (S), believe in His angels, His Scriptures, all His messengers - from Adam to Muhammad (PBUT) and the accountability on the last Day of Judgment. They don’t need the Dawah approach but exhortation and reminder that, when they have accepted Islam as a way of life, they are to live, act and behave like a Muslim and Muslimah. Hence, the Muslims will be dealt with different angle or approach.
Let us first understand and review their existing position, their important features, both in American and global perspective. I will, then, share with readers what they are to do to improve their own position as Muslims and what they are to do to introduce and spread the Deen of Allah in the Continents of America.
IMPORTANT FEATURES OF THE MUSLIMS OF AMERICA:
i. There are 52 Muslim countries in the world but Allah’s Deen is not found in the body politic of any of these countries. They are dominating in many regions and control vast tract of land but the Kingdom of God is nowhere traceable, though they believe in it and are commissioned by their Lord to do so.
ii. Muslims are about 1. 3 billions, almost 1/4th, of the world population. They produce most important industrial raw material, hold lifeline of the present day industry, trade and transport and control almost all the strategic straits of water but have no say in the affairs of the world. A small portion of that big population, about eight millions, now lives in America/Canada. They are well educated, technically well equipped and are mostly affluent. They had come over here for the betterment of their lives but, unfortunately, have forgotten their mission of Islam. It is the integral part of their existence that they will have to rediscover themselves, while living in the midst of this liberal society.
iii. The bulk of the Muslim population of America is immigrant, from the Middle Eastern countries, Indo-Pak-BD- Subcontinent, African countries and some from the Balkan region of Europe. The local indigenous population constitutes African-American, Caucasian-American and Latino-American communities. The Native-Americans are just a few in numbers. The Muslim population represents all sects and schools of thought [Mazaheb] of the Ummah and they are all developing their respective institutions in this country. Most of them are, however, traditional Muslims [nominal Muslims]] and only a few are Dawah oriented.
iv. Muslims of America have developed and are in the process of developing mosques, Muslim community centers, schools, religious institutions, utility services, grocery stores, hotels and restaurant to cater to their cultural, religious and ethnic needs. But the most alarming situation is this that hardly 15 % of the Muslim population is attached to these mosques/communities and their activities. The rest are lost or are in the process of being lost in the melting pot of the dominant culture of America. Their greatest number is visible only on two Eid days but that does not make much difference to the proportion of active Muslims. The “lost portion” of the Muslim population is to be retrieved from the enticing clutches of this liberal society. That is the most challenging job for the leadership of the Muslim Ummah of America to perform within a reasonable time frame before they are lost for good.
v. Muslims have developed some nationwide organizations. Islamic Society of North America has transformed itself into an umbrella organization, representing more them five hundred Masajid and Muslim communities and rendering useful services to the Muslim community of America. Imam Waris Deen Mohammad and Imam Jameel Al-Amin have organized their respective African-American communities on national basis. The Dawah-oriented Muslim brothers and sisters have developed a nationwide organization in the name of Islamic Circle of North America to introduce and spread the Deen of Allah in America to its logical conclusion. So is the case with MAS. At the top, all the four organizations have formed the National Council but it is still in its nascent stage. Nothing positive could be achieved through it so far. They have the ambition but not the will. Some other institutions like CAIR, MERCY, and HELPING HAND are working hard to render humanitarian services to the community. Some individuals and political action committees are actively advocating, getting the Muslim community of America involved in the election process of this country. Thus, the Muslims stand disorganized, have no central leadership, no united platform, have no political muscle and have developed no vision to develop a common destiny of American people on the lines advocated by the Qur’an and the Sunnah of Rasulullah (S).
From the foregoing features of the Muslim Community of America, it appears that they have to go a long way in order to organize themselves into a thriving and vibrating community of America, develop a unified command and a united political platform, create a consciousness among each and every Muslim of America about his obligation of “Shahadah AL-Annas” and meet the responsibilities of Dawah Ilallah towards the people of the land, failing which their stay in America will become a source of displeasure of Allah in the Akhirah.
The especial situation of Muslims in America, as depicted above, demands two positive and simultaneous actions: to make them conscious Muslims and to involve them aggressively in the Dawah process, both individually and collectively at local and national levels.
I have discussed the salient features of the Muslim Ummah of America both in continental and global perspective. By their faith, they are the torchbearers of Islam and the ambassadors of the Messenger of Allah. But their geo-political and ideological condition demands that they first be organized as a disciplined and a conscious community. They are to be reminded of the position that they hold in the community of nations as the Middle and the Best. They are to serve as models for the rest of the humanity in each and every walk of life. They are the champions of human rights and they are raised to deliver justice and fair play [Al-Adl wa Al-Qist] to the suffering humanity. They are the salt of the earth and the lamp of the mountain.
Can the Muslims of America do it and meet the challenges of their Iman and display the fragrance of their moral character in the midst of such unfavorable condition? Yes. It would not be a distant dream or something impossible to attain. They can do it and they can succeed, if they meet the only one condition prescribed by Allah for us that we are Mumin [Al-Imran –139]. This is Allah’s commitment and who can fulfill the commitment better than Allah [Ref: Al-Tawba: 111]. The demands of Iman can be fulfilled only when the Muslims meet its following three requisites.
1. When Muslims live, act and behave like “conscious Muslims”. This is the first stage of Dawah amongst the Muslims. It can be pronounced as “Dawah to self”.
2. When they transform their sweet homes as “model Muslim families” for their friends, relatives, neighbors and visitors. This obligation should be popularized amongst the Muslim community as “Dawah to the family”.
3. They cannot maintain their individual integrity as Muslim and the status of their houses as “model families”, unless they go out and clean their neighborhood and the society in which they, their wives and their children pulsate day in and day out. This process of cleaning the society can be termed as “Dawah to the society”.
This inherent demand of Iman to bring self, family and the society within the purview of Islam presents a scenario of a continuous process pf Dawah Ilallah within and out side the bounds of Muslim families. It will be possible only when the Muslims lead a life of a conscious Muslim and Muslimah in the midst of this liberal and free-for-all society. Without attaining this consciousness, they cannot fulfill the mission of DI in the continent of America. Now the question arises as how to make them conscious Muslims and who will do this job?
LET US BE CONSCIOUS MUSLIMS:
Before I elaborate this point, I would like to add that those brothers and sisters who are suffering from the complexities of expediency and want to throw the Muslims of America to the vagaries of the political system of this country must know that in the context of the American firmament they are just raw fodder with no political muscle of their own. The Muslim leadership will get nothing, not even a single seat on national level or get a person elected of their choice, if they do not plan to organize them first as Muslims who are conscious of their position and the part that they are destined to play in rebuilding this nation and the humanity at large on the doctrine of Monotheism [Tawheed], Prophethood [Risalah] and Akhirah [accountability on the last Day of Judgment].
It reminds me of a couplet from the poet Iqbal: “Apni millat per qayas Aqwame Maghrib ka na kar * Khaas hai tarkeeb main qaume Rasuley Hashmi” [Translation: Don’t treat the Muslim millat in terms of the Western nations. The constitution of the millat of Rasulullah (S) is special and different from others]. The Muslim leadership is first to transform this “raw material” into 24- karat gold. Only then, they will be able to play their destined role in this society.
Let us see how this gigantic task of organizing the Muslim Ummah of America can be accomplished and through what process? How can they be prepared to undertake the responsibility of Dawah Ilallah in American perspective?
However, it must be noted that no single individual, or a solitary institution or a Political Action Committee, howsoever great it may be, can do this job alone in its own way. It would be a joint and concerted effort of the entire Muslim leadership, Masajid and their Imams, Muslim educational and religious institutions, local and national Muslim communities to work together with only one agenda, supreme in their minds and thinking process, as how to make each of us to live, act and behave like a conscious Muslim and Muslimah. For the attainment of this objective, the Ummah as a whole is to work on the following process.
1. MASJID – THE CENTER OF GRAVITY: The starting point will be the Masjid. Muslims are attached to Masjid, though in limited numbers. They attend the Friday sermons, weekly Qur’anic sessions, Hadith classes, Sunday lectures, observe various days, listen guest speakers from abroad, participate in different training programs and various other activities round the year. They are in direct contact with our local Imams and Muslim leadership. On all these and many other occasions, Muslims are to be educated and exhorted that they live, act and behave like a Muslim, regardless of where they are, what positions they hold and with whom they come in contact. If they are constantly reminded, educated and trained in this way, they will gradually develop the consciousness that they are Muslims and they are accountable to Allah for what they do and act. Hence they must act like a benevolent neighbor and a responsible Muslim citizen of this country. They are not like ordinary men and women. They carry a big responsibility on their shoulders to fulfill the obligation of “Shahadah Al- Annas” to the people of the land. A continuous conscious persuasion and ceaseless efforts on the part of our Imams and the community leaders will gradually make a big difference in between what they are today and what they will become within a few years.
2. NASIHA – REMINDING TO EACH OTHER: Simultaneously, each Muslim should be exhorted to remind to his Muslim brother and sister as and when they meet and depart that they are Muslims and that they have a responsibility as such. They should be advised/reminded on a regular basis to revive the spirit of Sahabah [may Allah bless them] who used to recite and remind to each other with what Surah 103 [Wa Al-Asr] contains, when meeting and when departing: “ By the time! Man is in the state of loss; save those who believe, do good deeds, exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance”. This conscious exercise will create the spirit of readiness to sustain the responsibility of a Muslim and Muslimah, compete in Dawah activities and mould their lives in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. If this habit of reminding each other is carried out in a continuous process all around and every where, it will make each Muslim and Muslimah self conscious, both individually and collectively to make themselves active Muslims, change their life pattern, remodel their family lives and be involved in Dawah activities in and around the Masjid and in their respective communities at public level. Thus, creating self-consciousness in the Muslims will lead to self-development of the Islamic values and the character that are desirable to be inculcated in each of us.
3. A CONTINUOUS PROCESS TOWARDS CHANGE: On one side, Muslims will get the Islamic education form our Imams and Muslim leadership and on the other, they will be reminding themselves to correct their affairs and be involved in Dawah activities to the rim of their capacities, at local and national levels. If this process is followed meticulously for two to three years at each community level, Muslims of America will get the proper opportunity, education and exhortation to meet the challenges of the time. In this process, they will learn in detail about their faith, understand the country where they live and get the opportunity to transform themselves and their families in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. This is a challenge to the ingenuity of Muslim leadership and our Imams. I am more than sure they will certainly resolve to struggle for this goal in a continuous process. That will be a turning point in the history of America
As mentioned earlier, Dawah amongst Muslims is to be conducted in two stages. First Muslims are to be organized as an Ummah within their own bounds and then they will be inspired to undertake the mission of DI to non-Muslim communities of this land. For their own reorganization, I have elaborated above the three important measures. Now the organized and the conscious members of the Muslim community will have to do some homework within and outside the community from Dawah point of view on the lines as discussed below.
1. RECLAIMING THE LOST SHEEP: Muslims have to find the lost sheep of this Ummah that are scattered here in this country, in the midst of the liberal society. The bulk of the Muslim community of America [MCOA] about 85 % is to be salvaged through persuasion, exhortation and good Nasiha. They are to be made an integral part of the community through participation in Masjid and community activities, offering Salah in congregation, educating themselves, their children and their spouses more and more about Islam. Masajid and the Muslim communities are the safety valves for these people. If a proper search is carried out through out the country in the form of a campaign, most of them can be won over or regained easily to become the integral part of the streamline of Muslim Ummah. If the active Muslims and their leadership do not do this job on priority basis, they will soon be absorbed by the liberal society of America.
If this job is not undertaken now, they will soon be lost. Even their names and nomenclature will sound different than that of a Muslim origin. So the Muslim Ummah has to work hard for this reclamation job forthwith. It reminds me of the fate of thousands of Iran-Iraq Kurdish Community who were brought here with its leader, Mullah Mustafa Berzani, and rehabilitated in Yonkers [Upper NY State] during the Second Great War. They are no longer traceable, even observing through a magnifying glass. They are totally lost and stand integrated in the American society. This may be the fate waiting for the Muslims who are not attached either to any Masjid or community and are living on their own. Each conscious Muslim and Muslimah should do this job. It does not need any expertise. Only it is to be given the shape of a continuous campaign.
Further, it is to be noted with concern that if they are not fast reclaimed and won over, the Muslims of America will become the most insignificant minority of this land. They will, then, never be able to become the balancing political force of this country and the projected consolidated voting power of a couple of millions, as envisaged earlier, will be doomed for ever. So the reclamation process of the “lost sheep” should be the priority Number One of the Muslims of America.
2. DAWAH AT COMMUNITY LEVEL: The second great stride for the organized and self-conscious Muslim community to undertake will be a wide ranged Dawah contact program at community level. Our Imams and local Muslim leadership, who are men of letters and are well educated in the art and sciences of this country, get countless Dawah opportunities, every now and then, to call their contactee - teachers, professors, doctors, attorneys, police officers, jail and hospital authorities, civil officials, local religious, social and political activists, to the fold of their Creator and Sustainer. If the Muslim leadership and our Imams are conscious of their position and responsibilities as Muslims, they can create a lasting impression on each of them through their moral behavior, Islamic etiquettes and manners and do-good-to-the-society attitude as benevolent Muslims. This will nullify the anti-Islam and anti-Muslim propaganda going on through the prejudiced media day in and day out. Gradually, the local Judeo-Christian community will realize that the Muslims are different people than what is being depicted by the press and public forums. Equally, this will be the best prelude to carry out Dawah activities at the grass root level to the non-Muslim communities of the area. They can invite their leaders to our schools and Masajid to participate in different functions and even offer them to speak at important events. This will open the course of dialogue and better understanding of each other in a friendly atmosphere. Later on, those who are found interested to know more about Islam would be involved in detailed talks. This will be one of the most effective processes of Dawah Ilallah in the Judeo-Christian Community [JCC] of America.
Just think for a while that when this most natural and conscious process of DI is being practiced and pursued all over the continent of America, it will open a floodgate of Dawah opportunities to the Muslims of America. It will be interwoven with activities at community level and each Muslim and Muslimah will be an integral part of this process. When Muslims will open the gates of their Masajid and institutions to their non-Muslim brothers and sisters, they will get equal opportunities to visit schools, churches, synagogues and other institutions of the JCC and give talks on different issues of the communities with clear contributions that Muslims could make in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah.
To accomplish this job efficiently on regular basis, the Muslim leadership and the Imams will constitute a Dawah committee of their own on city level, prepare the list of contactee, divide themselves in groups of twos or threes as the situation warrants, seek the prior appointments where necessary and then follow their respective contacts or meetings to its logical conclusion. The contactee can be invited on dinner or some get together can also be arranged. Insha Allah, this extra ordinary Dawah activity at community level would create a tempo in the city. That will go a long way towards demolishing many prejudices against Muslims and Islam and pave the way in creating better understanding between different communities, opening doors of immense opportunities of Dawah Ilallah, Insha Allah.
3. ACTIVATING THE COMMUNITY POLITICALLY:
About seven million Muslims are now living in America and their number is ever increasing due to new converts to Islam and higher birth rate. They are to enter into the mainstream of national politics by participating in the ward/local politics, involving in the humanitarian services and getting each matured Muslim and Muslimah registered as voter. It should be given the shape of a campaign both at local and national levels. Each member of the community is to be exhorted to the effect that his voting right is an Amanah and he or she is to use it very judiciously only for those who are worthy of it. The Muslim votes are to be cast in a block and to whom? The Central Leadership of the Muslims of America will decide this issue, keeping the better interest of the Ummah in mind. The Muslims are to be made self-conscious of this predominant fact that their voting right is a very powerful political muscle and they have to use it as a bargaining chip to get political strength in this country. They will have to vote in block and form political alliance with the Party that supports views and concept about fair dealings with Muslims at home and abroad, especially with the Muslims around the world. If Muslims are able to muster around three million votes by the next Election –2004 and beyond, no Hillary will dare to refuse their helping hands and no political party of this land will be scared of the Jewish votes and the Jewish lobby. Rather, the candidates and the contesting parties will come to Muslims respectfully begging for their votes. This is not a dream. We can attain it, provided we, the Muslims and our leadership has a will to do it.
Along with the consolidation of political power under the guidance of an enlightened God-fearing Muslim leadership, Muslims and their leadership have to do two more things to be really effective in this country. They have to build up gradually an “Ummah Fund” [UF - for Muslim’s exigencies], both at local and national levels and a team of “Muslim Volunteers Corpse” [MVC] for rendering socio-political-humanitarian services at home and abroad]. If the Muslim leadership of America can prepare the community for these three functions [Mass Registration as voters, raising Ummah Fund and building a nation wide team of Muslim Volunteers Corpse] along with Dawah at community level, Muslims will, Insha Allah, enjoy a formidable future in this country. However, there are many more complexities of this process. It is not desirable that we discuss these at this stage. The leadership will think about it when some groundwork has been done and there are vivid signs of the emergence of Muslims as a united voting block of this country.
4. SERVICE TO HUMANITY: Allah (SWT) ordains the Muslims:
“ O ye who believe! Bow down and prostrate yourselves, and worship your Lord, and do good [service to the humanity], that haply you may prosper”.
[Surah Al-Hajj: 77]
Service to humanity is the most desirable assignment of a Muslim. It has been made incumbent upon us by Allah. Rasulullah (S) was himself the best social worker of his time and for all times to come. A conscious Muslim and Muslimah is to be recognized, through his/her social services in the ward and neighborhood as the person who comes to help to the needy, to the poor, to the incapacitated and to one who seeks help in times of distress. A Muslim in his individual capacity, and collectively where possible, should be recognized as “the man of need” at the place where he or she lives. He has to create an “oasis” of “service to the people” in the midst of Kufr and shirk. This will make him a loveable personality, both by the downtrodden and the common man of this country. This will in turn create immense goodwill and opportunities of Dawah Ilallah to the millions of this country. Our Imams and the Muslim leadership had to exhort the Muslim masses for humanitarian services every now and then and develop a continuous process of evaluating the pace of progress on periodical basis.
5. FIGHT AGAINST MUNKAR: The Muslim Ummah has been raised as the best of the nations to eradicate the Munkar [evildoings] from the society and establish the Ma’roof in its place [Ref: Al-Imran –110]. The American society is infested with hundreds of Munkar all around. They are multiplying at an enormous speed. Our own sons and daughters are falling prey to it in schools, colleges and everywhere. Our homes are under its direct attack through TV, radio and Internet. It is the religious obligation of the Muslims of America to mobilize people’s opinion against different kinds of Munkar, educate them with its dire consequences on self, family and the society and build a tempo for a common fight against each Munkar. It is a gigantic task and needs a lot of planning, programming and resources. Imam Siraj Wahaj did it once in Brooklyn, NY around Masjid Taqwah in close cooperation with the Muslim, Jewish and Christian communities and we can do it again on greater scale both at local and national levels. I will develop this theme separately as and when time will arise. Alhamdulillah, I have done some homework for this undertaking and will share it with the community when the situation would warrant.
6. ROLE OF MUSLIM NATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS: The role of these organizations is very important and an all- encompassing phenomenon. As discussed earlier, the Muslim Ummah of America is to be organized as a Community, to be ever conscious of its position and responsibilities assigned by Allah (SWT) as the Best and the Middle of the Nations. The role of our Imams, local Masjid and communities and their leadership has already been expounded and discussed in detail. However, the role of some big Muslim organizations like ISNA, the Organizations of Imam W D Muhammad and Imam Jameel and ICNA, constituting the Council of Leadership, needs to be elaborated in brief. Their role would be vital and epoch making towards the emergence of Islam and Muslims as a force to be reckoned with in this millennium. These national organizations have a multi-dimensional role to play, both individually and collectively in the shaping of a campaign on national level. I will discuss the role of each separately in brief.
I. ISNA: It is a nationwide umbrella organization of the Muslims of America, representing more than five hundred mosques and attached Muslim communities, spread throughout the country. It superbly controls their affairs, provides legal expertise, gives input as and when required, comes to their help at time of distress and arranges financial support in acquiring propriety rights. It holds lien on each member’s property. As such, it can motivate their Imam and leadership towards reviving the fate of Muslims of America, if it communicates its functions effectively and imaginatively. Keeping in view the paramount importance that ISNA can play in re-orientation of Imams and communities under its direct umbrella, the writer personally visited ISNA HQ at Plainfield, Indiana in April 1999. He had a detailed discussion with our beloved Br. Dr. M. Sayeed, Secretary General, ISNA and respected Br. Nazimuddin Ali, GM, NAIT about the role that Imams of the Mosque and community leaders under their control can play. I shared with them the basic three points: developing consciousness in Muslim men and women, getting them politically activated as Registered Voters and exhorting them to do Dawah amongst the Judeo-Christian socio-religious-political activists and civil officials of the community as a team. They agreed but what they did in that respect, I don’t know. I am more than sure that if the leadership of ISNA becomes conscious of these urgencies, they can help in changing the situation at an accelerated pace.
Through their Journal, Islamic Horizons, regional and local chapters and annual convention, the leadership of ISNA comes in contacts with thousands and thousands of Muslims each year. They can exhort and educate them to live like conscious Muslims, and present a good model of Islam before their neighbors and local residents. ISNA can conduct especial classes at its Center and at each Masjid under its control to educate the Muslim masses to this effect. That would be the best Dawah in the field. Each Muslim and Muslimah will himself/herself become a walking Da’ee.
II. ORGANIZATIONS OF IMAM W. D. MOHAMMAD AND IMAM JAMEEL: African-American Muslims are very much attached to these national Organizations and many more to Masajid and communities at local level. On similar lines, as discussed above, all can work in unison to get the Muslims conscious of their position on earth and what part they are to play as conscious Muslims in the midst of the Judeo-Christian Community to the extent that it creates a tempo all around in this country. By making them conscious Muslims, they will be enthusiastic to use their voting rights en-block in conformity with the recommendations and directives of the united Muslim Leadership of America. Along with it, when a comprehensive Dawah campaign is undertaken simultaneously, as advocated earlier, the scenario of the Muslim Community of America will be quite different than what it looks today. Muslims will have the bargaining power in their hands and they will use it with dignity and for justice to all. What they could not achieve today, they will get it done tomorrow at ease, if the aforesaid three-point-agenda is carried out with will, wisdom and sagacity. Muslims of America will do the job assigned to them by Allah and in turn Allah will pave their way to success in both the worlds.
III. TABLEEGHI JAMAAT & TINA: These are also two important organizations of the Muslims of America. They are actively involved in the Muslim community. They may not be interested in the politics of this country but carry a good following among the Muslim masses. Hence they can help a lot in getting the Muslims organized as envisaged above. I am more than sure they will use their good offices to accomplish the process of consolidation of the Muslims of America when approached properly.
IV. ICNA: ICNA has a unique position in America. It is a Movement-oriented organization of this country. It stands for Iqamatuddeen [establishing the Deen of Allah] and works only for the pleasure of Allah (SWT). It has a tremendous responsibility to fulfill in respect of what I have advocated so far towards the revival of the fate of Muslim Ummah. It cannot remain oblivious of the needs of Muslims of America. On the one hand, it has to be actively involved at each level for the three points agenda I have proposed and dealt with as above. It has a grass roots organization throughout the country. It would use its Neighbornet/local units to work with Masajid and local community leadership for transforming the Muslims into “Conscious Muslims”, help to educate them Islamically and provide facilities to produce effective Muslim Da’ees at Community level.
On the other hand, ICNA will undertake to produce basic Dawah literature/material and build the requisite team of dedicated, committed and trustworthy Da’ees in American perspective, on the pattern that Rasulullah (S) did in his lifetime, for carrying out and deliver the message of Islam to the people of the land, both the intelligentsia and the masses at the grass roots level. Simultaneously, it would strive hard in close collaboration with the Muslim leadership of America, both indigenous and immigrant, to bring them at one united platform. It will create uniformity of thoughts and action at each level of leadership. In turn, it will enhance the organizational strength of the Muslims and, then, they will be able to use their voting rights en-block for the Presidential candidate or the party on clear directives from the united command of Muslim Leadership. Muslims and their leadership lack this position today and hence they are ineffective.
V. LEADERSHIP COUNCIL: It will streamline the Islamic education in the country, synchronize Dawah activities, especially in jails, develop a comprehensive program of workers training, take care of the new Muslims, especially their relocation in the Muslim society, and develop means and funds to cater to the various educational, intellectual and spiritual needs of the Muslim Ummah. It will constitute a bridge between the Judeo-Christian community and the Muslims of America, both at local and national levels. It will work systematically to bring the entire Muslim community of America on one platform and help in creating a trustworthy leadership at different levels of the society. These are the essential goals to attain and are to be accomplished, if Muslims are to play their role as the Best of Nations and achieve respectability in this country and abroad.
CONCLUSION: This is the program and the process that I have been advocating throughout Elections –2000. This is the program of Dawah Ilallah for the Muslims and through the Muslims for the people of the land. If the Muslims of America do not act accordingly, they are going to get nothing out of their present state of affairs. At present, practically, the Muslims have no voice. But tomorrow, if the Muslim Ummah is rejuvenated, becomes conscious of its position and stands united behind a central command, Muslims will be the most respected people in this society. They will muster and use their political strength to the benefit of the community and the Ummah at large. Let us all - Imams, Muslim leadership, Muslim Organizations, Muslim communities and Muslim masses, work together and fulfill the three-point-agenda on the lines developed in this paper. If we work together intelligently with wisdom, the scenario of Elections 2004 and beyond will be quite different than what it looks today. May Allah bless all of us and give us Tawfeeq to work together as envisaged. United we stand, divided we fall. Allah (SWT) ordains:
“And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah [the Qur’an] and do not be divided”.
[The Qur’an - Al-Imran: 103]
“Faint not nor grieve, for you will overcome them [be successful over your adversaries] if you are indeed believers [Mumineen]”.
[Al-Qur’an – Al-Imran: 139]
Alhamdulillah, I have so far discussed the Dawah amongst Jews, Christians and Muslims of America. I have elaborated the important features of each Abrahamic religion in American perspective and then shared with our readers how the Da’ee should address them. I have dealt with the Dawah amongst Muslims in detail. They are the torchbearers of the mission of Prophet Muhammad (S). As such, Muslims are to be organized as an Ummah that stands for Iqamatuddeen in this country and prepared to uphold the position that Allah has assigned to them. They are here in America to fulfill their obligation otherwise their existence on earth and in this country will become meaningless. I am more than sure that if the program, as envisaged above, is followed meticulously, it would yield great results within a few years time. It will, Insha Allah, galvanize the Judeo-Christian-Muslim community of America unto a path towards establishing the Kingdom of God on earth. It may pave the way in creating harmony in our socio-religious-political relation towards our common goal to please our Creator and sustainer.
The American society, however, is not only inhabited by the Abrahamic religions but also Hindus and Buddhists live here prominently with their saffron culture and idol worshiping. They brought with them their centuries old religious believes/dogmas and practices and are leading clearly a different culture in the midst of this secular and liberal country. I should, therefore, discuss about Hinduism with equal importance as a growing community of this land. However, for the sake of discussion, both Hinduism and Buddhism can be categorized together as both are idol worshippers and were originated on Indian soil. Hinduism, in fact, absorbed Buddhism in its fold, in so much so, that it is rarely visible in the sub-continent of India, except in some monuments relevant to Gautum Buddha. However, for the sake of clear identity, I will discuss with Buddhism separately.
IMPORTANT FEATURES OF HIDUISM:
* Hindus believe in many gods, representing different power and in One God too. He is known as Brahmmah [Lord God]. They believe and practice idolatry. They worship stones, sun, moon, rivers, trees, cows, ling [male organ] and any thing that holds or manifests power or can cause harm. In idolatry, they look and behave like the Arabs of old Jahiliyah [ignorant].
* Aryans, the nomads of Central Asia, enter into India as invaders about 1500 BC and drove back its original inhabitants, Dravidians, who were black, to the south of the Sub-continent. They settled down in Northern plains of India and developed their pagan culture, mythology, religious rituals and dogmas in due course of time. Aryans were white and considered themselves superior as created out of the head of the Brahmmah. Within a millennium, they produced their four books of religion called Vedas: Rig Veda, Sham Veda, Yajur Veda and Athur Veda. It is difficult to ascertain the composition of each. However, they were all available by fifth century BC. These people were called Aryans. Later on it was called Hindu. The river Indus was called by Muslims as Sindhu. From Sindhu, it became Hindu in Persian and from it, the country inhabited by Hindus was called Hindustan and the language spoken by them was called Hindi.
* Religious books of Hindus are: the Four Vedas, Geeta and Manusimarti. Geeta pertains to that period of Arians when there domination was completed over the Northern India and its two dynasties were fighting together for their respective superiority over the Aryavarat and contains the philosophy of war as dictated by Krishnji to Arjun during the war of Mahabharat. Manusimarti is the collection of religious, social and cultural laws of Arians and the rules of war and the rights and obligation of the vanquished nations. The other religious book of Hindus is Ramaain. It contains the story of Ramji. Islam came to India early in seven century AC and dominated it politically for about a thousand years till British people conquered India and ruled it for about 200 years and left for good in 1947.
* There are four casts in Hindus. They are Brahman, Chattrys, Kashtrys and Shudras. Brahmans are the highest and the Shudras are the lowest. This demarcation is eternal and one cannot overcome the other. Intermarriage is totally disallowed. Shudras are the Delit or the untouchables of India. In spite of many reformation movements in India, the position of Shudra or the scheduled cast virtually remains unchanged. The Brahmans dominate the Indian political scene since its independence in 1947.
*. Holidays: Holy, Dashera and Devali are the prominent festivals of Hindus. They are celebrated at the threshold of each season, like the Greek pagans.
*. Position of women: Husband is the wife’s god. She cannot remarry after her husband dies. She has to die with her departing husband. This ceremony is called Sati. It is still being practiced in India often and on.
* Hinduism has no concept of life after death. Soul reincarnates in some other body, after death, and thus it has no end. It is termed as transmigration of soul. [It denies the concept of accountability and hence the humans become reckless and behave like irresponsible creatures].
* Position: Most of the Hindus reside in India but, due to migration and job searching pursuits, they are now found everywhere in the ME, Far East, Europe and America. They feel proud of their Indian origin, Hindu mythology and religious customs, dresses, traditions, festivals and they celebrate each occasion with festivity in American perspective with great pomp and shows. Hindu cults are attracting a lot of white Americans and they are visible in saffron cloths in and around NY. They are die-hard in their beliefs and very secular in approach. They are getting prominence in American society in various fields of life and serving their mother country, India, in many ways.
I have so for discussed the salient features of Hinduism both in Indian and American perspective. They are getting prominence in America with the growing trade and cultural relations between the two largest democracies of the time. Different cults of Hinduism are attracting many Caucasian-Americans to get easy way to Nirvana [deliverance] through meditation and worshipping some idols. Hindus are visible everywhere. Therefore, it is essential that I should elaborate as how to spread the Deen of Allah to the followers of Brahmanic religion of India and call them to the fold of their Creator and Sustainer.
HOW TO ADDRESS THE HINDUS:
1. Apology for the past neglect: Muslims have dominated over India for about a thousand years but, practically, they did nothing to spread the Deen of Allah in that country. Hindus have not forgotten this period of their history. They are taking it as stigma and an insult to their national instincts. A da’ee should apologize for the neglect of Muslims that they did not present Islam to their forefathers and kept the blessings of Islam secret to them. Thus causing gulf of difference between the two communities of the sub-continent. Hindus expressed this negligence of the Muslims more vociferously during the weeklong campaign of JI Hind, UP Branch in November 1998, when it was introducing “the Qur’an is for everyone” to the people of the land. There were innumerable scenes when Hindus were crying and complaining that why you [the Muslims] kept this guidance [the Qur’an] form Allah hidden from them for a long 1000 years. They vehemently asked Muslims, “Who will be responsible for those who have already died in ignorance”? Muslims have no answer except acknowledging the bear facts of history with tears in their eyes and heads down. At present there are about fifteen thousands cast Hindus who are studying the Qur’an in UP, India alone. So the Muslims of America when they meet some Hindu brothers from Dawah point of view, they must first apologize for their negligence and the omission of a thousand year. This will pave the way of a cordial dialogue, demolishing the centuries old barrier with one regretful apology from the heart of a Da’ee Ilallah. It is my experience that this expression of regret has worked a lot for Dawah amongst the Hindu community both in India and in America. Jamaat-e-Islami of India has rendered the translation of the Qur’an in almost twelve regional languages of India. The Da’ee should use these translations for Dawah amongst the Hindu brothers and sisters in America.
2. Worshipping the inanimate objects of nature: Hindus worship “ every thing which is impressive by its sublimity, or is supposed capable of affecting us for good or evil may become a direct object of adoration” like mountains, rivers, springs, trees, cows, etc. [Religions of India –By A Barth]. For centuries Hindus are worshipping the inanimate objects of nature. It is to be brought before them that these objects are created for the benefit of man and man has every right to use them the way he or she likes. The Qur’an vividly describes the objects of nature and invites man to think about the chemistry of each to come to the conclusion that they are created for the service of the man and not for worship. Just refer the verses Al-Imran 190-191, Al-Ghashiyah 18-20 and see how forcefully, Allah (SWT) has exhorted humans to think about this vast universe and what it contains.
Before the advent of Islam, these objects of nature were worshipped but when Islam advocated its followers to ponder over them, Muslims made human efforts to conquer the objects of nature and harness these forces to the service of man. Within a century, Muslims made imprints on different fields of nature and tried to make them subservient to man. During my recent visit to India [October/November 1999], I met a Hindu graduate student, who was traveling with me. We discussed a lot of socio-cultural and religious problems of Hindus and Muslims. While discussing idolatry of Hindus, I asked him, “Why you worship the things that God created for you, for your service and for the benefit of mankind”? He put the same reason that I have quoted above. I, then, in order to explain him more explicitly, told him about the idol worship of Arabs before Islam. I told him that Arabs used to carry Saweeq [pounded gram] with them while traveling. They used to make an idol of this material, bow down their heads before it as a mark of worship and when they were hungry they used to dilute it in water and eat. That brother, whose name was Shubhash was very much perturbed and said, “Ram Ram! How could they eat that what they were worshipping a while ago?” He really felt disgusted from the very concept of Idolatry. I then enlightened him about the concept of Tawheed [Oneness of God]. He went with me to the office of Jamaat, I introduced him to the local Amir. He is now studying Islam.
I have cited this personal incident to tell the readers that if we put the things in right perspective, Dawah in Hindu brothers and sisters will not be a difficult job, especially when we will be able to remove the centuries old prejudices on the lines suggested above.
3. Life after death – the concept of accountability: Whatever man possesses - life, time, talents and resources are a trust in his hands. Whatever created by God and whatever this cosmos contains, all are trusts in the hands of man. Man is responsible for all of his actions and deeds and accountable for his trust the way he uses them as trustee. There is no “free lunch” form the Creator. For his very existence on earth and what he uses for his survival, he is accountable to his Creator. For what good he has done, he must be rewarded and what evil things he has done, he must be punished. Every individual will be paid in terms of his Karma [deeds]. There is a day fixed for that inevitable moment. If he has done well in this life, he will get paradise, salvation [Nirvana] but if he has done wrong, he will be thrown in the hellfire. That is the end of the only life that has been given to him on this earth. There is no coming back to this earth or there does not arise any question of transmigration of soul. Man has been given only one life and he must try his utmost to earn salvation through good deeds while living on earth. That makes the man responsible and makes him to behave well in this life. This concept of Akhirah cuts the very root of reincarnation and needs to be presented well before our Hindu brothers. Transmigration is the innovation of Brahmans who want that Shudra [schedule cast] should always remain low and serves the cast Hindus on eternal basis. The concept of accountability in Akhirah and the life after death will go a long way in convincing many Hindus about the absurdity of transmigration of soul. It will, Insha Allah, pave their way towards Islam.
4. Equality against cast system: The Creator is One. The universe is one. Only the authority of one God is prevailing throughout this cosmos. The humanity is one, all being the progenies of Adam and Eve, and Adam was created from mud. How then people can create distinction, one over the other. All men and women are equal in the sight of God, except those who get prominence with him on account of good deeds and piety [Taqwah- Allah consciousness]. The cast system of Hindus does not fit in this universal concept of equality, one humanity and one God. The upper cast Hindus to perpetuate their domination over the rest of the community imposed the cast system and the concept of transmigration of soul arbitrarily. The concept of equality as propounded by Islam has attracted thousands of Hindus towards Islam in India. Villages after villages were and are being converted to Islam. The process is still going on but in a very low tone as cast Hindus are creating great obstructions in the pace of conversion. But, Alhamdulillah, the pace of conversion is in full swing. So a da’ee can confidently carry out the mission of Islam to Hindu community of America with open-minded discussion on all the basic philosophies of Hinduism as discussed above.
May Allah give us Tawfeeq to introduce the mission of Islam to the Hindu community of America and enable us to compensate the negligence that our forefather committed in the sub-continent of India for centuries together.
Alhamdulillah, I have so far elaborated the three Abrahamic religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam and then discussed Brahmanism/Hinduism from Dawah point of view in American perspective. The discussion of paganisms of Indian origin will not be completed without throwing some light on the origins and spread of Buddhism in the Far East, especially when it is the predominant religion in China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand, Sri Lanka, Burma and catching the imagination of the Western countries and America with its saffron culture and fascinating advocacy of A’hinsa [non-violence]. I will first discuss the salient features of Buddhism along with its prevalent shortcomings and then elaborate how to call its followers to the fold of their Creator ands Sustainer.
SALIENT FEATURES OF BUDDHISM: Buddhism was in fact a sharp reaction of Brahmanic domination in India and its perpetual oppression through the Cast System. But the tragedy lies there that Gautum Buddha composed no book about his faith and teachings to ascertain their truthfulness.
* The Source: The only source of information is now the three books that were compiled or written about hundred years after the death of Buddha. They are: 1. Vinaya Pittak: written in between 350 and 250 BC, a collection of laws leading to an ascetic life; 2. Sutt Pittak: A collection of Buddha’s sayings and ways to get Nirvana; 3. Abhidham Pittak: A collection of Buddha’s philosophy of morality and metaphysic,
* A’hinsa: Buddhism is a religion of A’hinsa [non-violence]. Every animate object is innocent and hence should be protected. There is a great emphasis in Buddhism not to kill any living creature. Originally, there was no concept of God but later on the existence of an eternal supreme that incarnated in the form of Buddha was introduced. Originally, there was no concept of hell and heaven but subsequently, it was innovated too for the reward or punishment of good or bad deeds. The rules of the ascetic were too hard but later on they were made easy during the time of Kanishk. There are many sects in Buddhism and the largest one is Mahayana sect.
* Philosophy of Buddhism: Buddha studied life only from one point that why there are changes in human life: childhood, youth and old age, health and sickness, ease and worries, comforts and troubles, life and death? What is the best way to get out this ever-changing condition of life? From the entire human life, Buddha gave his fullest concentration only on this aspect and closed his eyes from the very fundamental questions of life: Why the man was created? What is his object of life? Where he is to go from here? What is the best way of life to practice on this earth, how and from where to get it? Giving full concentration on the question of changes in life for about twelve years, he concluded that life in itself is a trouble for man and whatever changes come, come as the manifestation of the tragedy of being created as man. To Buddha, man is born without any object. Why the man is surrounded with these troubles and worries? He says that greed, desires and caprices put him to trouble and these mean instincts bring him to life again and again, from one form to another. This process of his thinking coincides with the Brahmanic concept of transmigration of soul. How to get rid of this routine of incarnation or Nirvana lies in total annihilation of desires and caprices and severing all the relations from this world. To Buddha, this is the climax of human elevation.
* How to reach Nirvana? In this respect, Buddha prescribed eight principles that deal with the attainment of Nirvana: i. Rightful faith; ii. Rightful intentions; iii. Rightful discourse; iv. Rightful conduct; v. Rightful livelihood; vi. Rightful efforts; vii. Rightful memory; Viii. Rightful contemplation.
* For bringing the aforesaid principles in action, Gautum Buddha prescribed ten moral obligations as follows:
i. Don’t kill anyone; ii. Don’t commit theft; iii. Don’t commit fornication; iv. Don’t tell a lie; v. Don’t drink the objects that cause intoxication; vi. Don’t take food except at the appointed hours; vii. Keep aloof from music and playful things; viii. Abstain from flowers and fragrance; ix. Discard sleeping on soft and comfortable beds; x. Don’t keep gold and silver with you.
From the above teachings of Buddha, it appears that his emphasis was on self-denial and renunciation of this word. It is essential to practice it in order to attain the ultimate goal of Nirvana. There is a prescription of strict abstinence from four things: i. Physical union of man and woman; ii. Committing theft even of a straw; iii. Killing even of an insect; iv. Attributing any kind of supernatural power to self.
EVALUATION OF BUDDHISM FROM POINT OF DAWAH: There is no doubt that some of the moral principles of Buddhism are fine but its entire structure was raised on wrong concept about human life. That put Buddha on wrong quest to get rid of the transmigration of soul and hence humans should dissociate from this worldly life to get Nirvana for his self. Such religion that discards life and its all-encompassing needs could do no good towards the advancement of human society. It advocates a life of self-denial. It teaches submission to its followers. That is the reason why the mighty monarchs of India and China embraced Buddhism in the past and is being practiced by about 1.5 billions people of this earth under the tutelage of communism It is the most harmless faith on earth and produces no system of its own to run the socio-economic-political affairs of a people or humanity at large.
From a Da’ee, the followers of Buddhism need a sympathetic approach. They need enlightening primarily about life, its needs and objective, its goal and its positive end, the Divine Guidance and its need, the life of a model guide and a system of life to deliver justice to mankind. After these initial discussions, the concept of Oneness of God, the need of Prophethood and its continuity, the concept of Amanah and the accountability in the life after death should be presented with love and concern for his Akhirah. Regarding the rest, the arguments that I have advanced in dealing with Hinduism will basically serve the addressees in case of Buddhism also. It needs not to be repeated here. Basically, Buddhism overlaps Hinduism in many respects, both in belief and concepts. Hence both can be treated at par in respect of: idolatry, reincarnation of soul, Nirvana, renunciation of this world, asceticism etc. If the followers of both the religion, Hinduism and Buddhism, are entertained with Hikmah, there is every possibility they may get a true “Nijat [Nirvana or Salvation] just by entering into Islam by reciting Shahadah and leading a pious or Allah-conscious life [not of a hermit] afterward.
It completes my discussion of the most of our addressees in American perspective. Only the secularists are left.
Shamim A Siddiqi
Dated: December 4, 2000