Why should Imams and Community Leaders be more outspoken?
Generally speaking, because of the principle within our Deen to speak the truth. Though, this is not the focal point of the article, it is an important issue. There may be many reasons why Imams don’t speak out about the injustices of today: fear, misunderstandings, lack of political knowledge, unable to articulate themselves with the terminologies/debates, not understanding the benefits, not understanding the obligation & responsibility, uncertainly as to a follow-up and how it will help the community, lack of knowledge about current affairs, resources and references, perhaps they weren’t trained by their teachers, etc. And in some instances, it could be a misunderstanding on the community’s perspective and that Imam has in fact spoken out and/or due to some Islamic wisdom known to them….
That being said, the focus of this article is “why” and what can come about if more Imams were outspoken…
- RelevancyThe Qur’an and Sunnah today is taught in a historical sense, as if it’s traditions and stories for a period of time that no longer applies today. The audience is forced to make connections in their head. By speaking out about the immorality of things like the LGBT movement, civil liberties of Muslims, economics/military/psychological invasions of Muslim countries, the moral decay of society (sex, divorce, lack of family respect, desensitized humor, insensitivity), oppression, media, music, free mixing, the spread of zinaa, the economic injustices, the negligence towards the homeless, etc…these Imams can actually make ISLAM RELEVANT to their audience….and if Islam appears relevant to the audience (brothers, sisters, youth, adults…) their confidence increase, they want to learn more about their deen, and they’ll want to participate more in the masjid.
- Pacifying the next generation, creating a generation apathetic to Islam…Many Imams complain…when they try to initiate grass roots efforts, it’s very rarely sustainable. For example, they start a local halaqah with a big vision. The youth come for a a few weeks, and then all of a sudden, the project dies. How many times have you see this? Now let me be clear, a project failing is not failure in of and itself. Failure can be a good thing because it helps us learn, even if we fail 100 times. True failure is not learning from the mistake or giving up itself. And much of the community has given up on the youth. The only way we’re able to attract them is with big conferences and big names. But the problem with this is that you can’t build people, mold them, and develop them with conferences and seminar. Those forms of education are for inspiring and exposure to ideas. What’s required to build a da’i, one who defends and/or spreads Islam, are regular initiatives. But what if those regular initiatives seem to lack relevancy, because those Imams can’t speak freely about certain topics…One of the reasons why youth flock to the internet for Islamic knowledge more than they do their local masjid, is because their local masjid doesn’t make an effort to address issues relevant to young Muslims. In fact, they often dictate what should or should not be relevant. The problem is, if you leave out Islam at the personal level/spiritual level, or societal/cultural level, or political/economic level (the institutional level), you’re going to lose people. Because all of those three level apply to your audience. They see the secular-liberal or capitalistic ideology being applied at the institutional level (school, work, government offices, media) and they don’t understand how to respond or even think about the munkar they encounter. And so what’s happening, is that the next generations is being pacified. They see Islam like 2nd identity (like being Desi, Arab, or East-African) instead of seeing Islam as a world view, as an absoltute aqeedah.
- Shariah and contemporary pressure for Muslims to mold and reform. Ask any Muslim student today who has been through the public school system, college or University. Ask any person between 15 and 35 if they’ve ever had doubts about Islam. Due to anti-Islamic websites, news and print media, YouTube phenomenon, and social media, Muslims today are being asked questions by everyone about their Shariah, the Qur’an, and their Prophet. They’re being asked by Christians, Jews, Atheists, Agnostics, etc. Now, to put things in perspective, Jewish and Biblical Law is actually a lot more harsher than the Shariah. In fact, the Shariah is fairly moderate/liberal compared to the Biblical Law. Moreover, if you look at Western Wars and Modern Warefare purpostrated and supported by secularists, liberalism, and the new atheists movements, in the last 100 years, we’ve probably seen one of the most violent periods of history – in some cases equally as bad as terrorism, in other cases worse: WWI, WW2, Hiroshima, Viet Nam, Soviet War, Cold War, Wars and Invasion in South America, Global Poverty, Globalization and the exploitation of 3rd world countries, Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Kashmir, Mali, CAR, etc. On top of this, the USA domestically is one of the most violent countries with its countless mass shootings (by non-Muslims), Britain with its domestic abuse, rape and pornographic culture, etc. Don’t get me wrong, the West has good in it, but the point I’m making is that it’s not free from injustice, even if it is technologically advanced or more advanced than Muslim countries in the areas of the justice system (lack of bribery), organization, education, environment and business innovation (this is a downfall on the Muslim world no doubt due to a lack of Islam, and the trickle-down effect). Muslims leaders speaking out about these issues in the non-Muslim environments doesn’t mean they’re trying to poke holes in Western culture for the sake of it. But rather, it’s about speaking of a reality. A reality that exists. Even many Western academics, journalists, and politicians would agree. For example with the recent financial crisis and wall street corruption scandal. When a Muslims encounters XYZ incident from the Seerah…for example marrying many wives….they may feel pressured to say this is wrong. However, when they learn that in the West, 70% of men cheat on their spouses, they may understand the divine wisdom of polygamy. If you look at how rampant pedophilia and pornography is in the West, a Muslim should never have to feel guilty about how Islam treats women. Keep in mind I say this not in the comparative sense (i.e. we’re not as bad as you), but rather Muslims see the divine wisdom of how Islam protects women, and how secular-liberalism exploits women. Today, Muslims should actually have more confidence in Islam and the Shariah than anything. Because we can see living and contemporary proof of what happens to human beings when you don’t follow the rules and wisdoms set by Allah.4. Seeking the pleasure of Allah subhana wa t’ala whether it’s controversial, popular, unpopular, supported by the masjid board or not, etc. and trusting Allah that the truth is has baraqah in it. That by upholding the truth, enjoining good and forbidding evil, this is what’s missing from the Muslim community, and by following this divine prescription and order, be confident that there will be khair in it. Will this path have hardships? Will you face backlack from the media? Will you face threats? Perhaps. But this is my answer: what was the path of the prophets like? And to be clear, I’m not calling for Imams to scream and yell all the time (although they should raise their voices sometimes). I’m not calling for them to create chaos unnecessarily. Islam is not a pro-anarchist faith nor does it comply and tolerate oppression. It’s a balanced faith.5. Speaking about about important issues helps build unity in the community. When Muslims forget what their real objectives or, or what the real problems and challenges are, they begin to bicker among themselves. Analogy: imagine a group of friends playing on a soccer field. They’ll play casually among themselves and will only get serious until an opposing team comes on the field. The principle of unity and mobilizing the Ummah is a theme in the Qur’an Muslims shouldn’t forget.6. Being able to mobilize the community, because now they respect you.
7. Appearing intelligent – economics…documentary
Because you can. We have much more freedom of speech…Empathy
Ultimately the question may be: I want to speak out more, but I don’t know how, I don’t know if it’s in personality. It is. Trust me, it’s there. I want to revert back to point #4, that Allah subhana wa t’ala will help you speak out. Look, we are a community, one Ummah. I don’t think it’s healthy at this stage for those who are disappointed in our Imams and Community Leaders to call names and accuse each other of hypocrisy.
RESOURCES YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION TO:
The next step…
Below I have made a sincere and solid effort to collect some of the most active Muslims out there. These Muslims specifically are active on social media, YouTube, Facebook, Blogs. Many have insights and knowledge of social, political, and economic issues We/I do not does not necessarily condone all the ideologies, messages, theological opinions and views of the speakers.
Ustadh Abdus Shakur, student of knowledge (Canada/Africa):
Adnan Rashid – Debates, Researcher, Hittin Institute:
Abdul-Latif Halimi and IlmFeed
Cage UK, Moazzam Begg, Asim Qureshi:
Recent Work: http://www.youtube.com/user/CagePrisonersLTD/videos
Film: Road to Guantanamo
Documenting Oppression Against Muslims:
Shaykh Zahir Mahmood and Shaykh Ahmed Ali:
Sh Zahir Mahmood – Heroes of Islam
Sh Zahir Mahmood – Life of Salahuddin Al Ayubi
Sh Ahmed Ali – The Need for Unity
Dr Abdullah Hakim Quick – Understanding your condition, Reviving Islam, War on Muslim Women
Haitham Al-Haddad (Dr. Shaykh):
Debate: extremism and modernism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CR7U42wf7zY
Living Islam in the West series: http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLIgUzcnbbNNUNKK4tdO8cavzsRorkglYp
Amazing article: the origins of Western society: http://www.islam21c.com/islamic-thought/a-note-on-understanding-islamliberalisms-origins-a-the-superimposition-of-a-specific-european-experience/
Debate on Seculari Liberalism: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g6u7-hvHDis
Free Dawah Course (GORAP): http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0l3xlkh7UnvUed8fwDdDSJ3KGWBrNwjF
Best da’wah course (shahadah in 10 minutes): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Hc9DiDOjJk
See also: Fiqh of Dawah by Muhammad AlShareef
Jonathan AC Brown (Dr.)
Defending the preservation of hadeeth from critics (see videos)
Mufit Taqi Usmani: Book: Islam and Modernism
Dr. Bilal Philips – Modernism, Class of Civilizations
Brother Shiplu Miah:
TheCult.Info – Refuting Qadiyani Propaganda
Government intervention in the Muslim Community (GIMC): www.youtube.com/channel/UCcoF9CPsquV2b_jrood2mkg
Nahda Productions: www.youtube.com/user/nahdaproduction/videos?sort=p&view=0&flow=grid
Yawar Baig (Shaykh):
Leadership Lessons from the Seerah (Prophet Muhammad, salalahu alayhi wasalam)
This series is very beneficial for remaining spiritually steadfast:
Courage and Commitment: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mVbTWD0Z74
American Foreign Policy and the Rise of ISIS:
No Doubt AlMaghrib Course: http://almaghrib.org/seminars/islamic-theology/no-doubt#info
Zahir Mahmood (Shaykh):
Release Moazzam Begg: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mFdxQfMPV4w
Asghar Bukhari, MPAC UK:
Abu Adnan (Shaykh):
Types of Scholars: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yD8LeOEIaKM
Dr. Zakir Naik – Media & Islam War or Peace
Shaykh Abdul Azeez At-Tarefe:
Shaykh Jaafar Idris: