Since 9/11 I have been following the media about Islam carefully and have also browsed the Internet to find out what Muslims are like today. I have questions regarding the state of Muslims today:
- I sometimes read very good book about comparative Islam and then find out about the author. When doing so I assume that the author is a strong Muslim who has a beard and a turban. However in the end I find out that the person is a clean-shaven lawyer. When I read books by Maulanas I usually find information about daily Islam (e.g. how to do Ghusl) and with the occasional critical remarks of other Muslim sects.
The point I am trying to raise is that from my experience I find the person who is clean-shaven and in a businessman suit to have more understanding of Islam, but does not implement Islam like the Maulanas. I hope you understand what I am trying to get at!
- Too many people criticize that Muslims today are going astray, we are this, we are that etc. Many people think that when every Muslim is perfect, all our problems will be solved. However I disagree because if you look throughout history you find that Humans will always have weaknesses, the real problem is finding the best leaders. What is your opinion?
I appreciate your emotions and feelings for the Muslims and that you have begun to take profound interest in matters relating to your religion, Islam.
You have pointed out rightly the tragedy that has struck the Muslim Ummah. With the advent of modern life of comfort and luxury, our preferences and ideals have changed altogether. Many of us who want to delve deeper into the fundamental sources of Islam and wish to serve the religion of their Lord are discouraged by the prevailing circumstances since theology has no longer remained a career job. As an obvious corollary, the intelligent minds of this Ummah are attracted toward becoming a doctor or an engineer or a lawyer because these career jobs help them live a comfortable life and easily fulfill the needs of their family. Although I am really appreciative of them that they strive to earn their livelihood through honorable means, it saddens me to see that the intelligentsia of the Islamic Ummah has become alien to the objective of developing a career in Islamic disciplines. Consequently, as the brain drain leads a country to devastating circumstances, this disregard toward Islam has created a serious situation.
I, however, would like to place before you that wearing a beard or adorning your head with a turban is no criterion to judge the personality of a Muslim. As I mentioned earlier, conducting academic work on Islamic sciences is not encouraged by the Muslims themselves. Consequently, sincere Muslims too are compelled to choose some other career than theology. I daresay we must be appreciate of such people who give attention to their religion and write on various Islamic topics even when they are burdened with other responsibilities of worldly affairs. They deserve praise and commendation and not disapproval and condemnation.
I completely agree with you that no person can be perfect whatever religion he may place credence to. Be it a Muslim or be it a Christian, every person has many frailties and is bound to err. The right attitude in this regard is to repent before your Lord after realizing your mistake and resolve sincerely to never let it happen again. As far as the matter of hurling allegations against the Muslims is concerned, it needs to be kept in mind that the allegations are not wrong at all. The moral status of the Muslims is not hidden from you and me. They are too engrossed with achieving what their hearts desire without giving a notion to what their Lord expects from them. A nation only prospers or deteriorates according to its moral status. Those who are unwilling to conform to moral and ethical ideals deserve to be criticized and censured. We the Muslims want to change the whole world but we don’t have the guts to eradicate the moral blemishes from within our own households and, sometimes, even our own selves. Moreover, I don’t believe we would be able to find a good and a sincere leader unless we change ourselves because, ultimately, the person chosen as our leader is going to be from our own selves. Hinting towards a law of God, relating to the rulers, the Prophet (pbuh) is reported to have said:
إن الله يقول أنا الله لا إله إلا أنا مالك الملوك وملك الملوك قلوب الملوك في يدي وإن العباد إذا أطاعوني حولت قلوب ملوكهم عليهم بالرأفة والرحمة وإن العباد إذا عصوني حولت قلوبهم عليهم بالسخطة والنقمة فساموهم سوء العذاب فلا تشغلوا أنفسكم بالدعاء على الملوك ولكن اشتغلوا بالذكر والتضرع إلي أكفكم ملوككم (مشكوة المصابيح، ج 2، ص 1098)
God says: I am the One God, there is no god except me; I am Owner of the rulers, the King of the rulers. The hearts of the rulers is in My hands. When people obey Me, I divert the hearts of their rulers towards mercy and kindness and when they disobey me, I alter their hearts towards hardness and oppression, thus subjecting them to painful punishments. Therefore, [when faced with an oppressive leader] you should not pray against these rulers, on the contrary, you should involve yourself in remembering Me and praying to me; I shall suffice for you against your rulers.
April 5, 2003