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May 10, 2004
Change Starts at Home

by Faisal Akhtar

The problems of this Ummah are many but since the change starts at home, let me tell you my own story. Day after day I used to read news about Muslims in other countries. Today Israel killed this many Palestinians and such and such happened in Gujrat, Kashmir and Chechnya. My rage over what was happening would turn me blind to my surroundings. “I can’t sit around while other Muslims are dying, I need to do something” was my usual reaction. I would do whatever little I could but in the end, it never seemed enough. Going to rallies, sending letters to congressmen, and many others things I tried doing for my fellow Muslims abroad just seemed to accomplish nothing. The end result of all this strife was usually exhaustion and a feeling of impotence. The more I pondered over my actions, the more I realized how little I had really accomplished with them. One of two feelings usually followed this pondering. Cynicism or even more rage that resulted in even more desperate efforts and the cycle continued.

I talked to Sheikh Sami at MCMC about this and in his broken English he explained to me something very profound. He said that the best way for me to help my Brothers and Sisters around the world was for me to focus on myself and my Islam and improving my own family and helping my community. I had heard this statement far too many times before so I was not impressed but Sheikh Sami further explained that improving myself did not mean that I stop trying to help in whatever way I can, it only meant that after I had expended all my effort in whatever way I could, my job was to resign the rest to the will of Allah (Glorious and Exalted). “Send money and help whatever way you can but after you have done your utmost, put your trust in Allah (glorious and exalted)”. The reason I didn’t understand why many Shuyukh made this statement repeatedly was that I thought it meant taking a resigned and fatalistic attitude towards the world when it means the exact opposite.

Our Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) truly was an effective individual. It was his job to deliver the message of Islam to the world and he did that job well and we (his ummah) are to carry on that responsibility but how did he go about doing it? After he received the revelation, who was the first one he invited to Islam? Why did he focus on purifying his intentions and his actions before he invited anyone else to Islam? Why did he not try to spread the word to everyone immediately? The answer is simple. All change must start from us. Before our Prophet invited world leaders to Islam, he invited tribal leaders. Before he invited tribal leaders, he invited his own family. Before he invited his own family, he invited himself to Islam. First he focused on perfecting his Islam, then that of his family, then that of his tribe then that of his country and then that of the world. By focusing on his own Islam first, he was successful in achieving his goals.

We need to follow his example and focus on ourselves first, then our family, then our community, then our country and then the world at large and if one Muslims, even one Muslims, is able to successfully submit to Allah as our Messenger did, all the problems our Ummah is facing will be solved. I found a tendency in myself to follow the Sunnah in an illogical order. I worked top down instead of bottom up and that way, I would never have accomplished anything but at least there is hope for me now.

This tendency to work backward can take many forms. For example, we find ourselves giving dawah to non-Muslims by sitting at the dawah table, writing for Nasihah and Hidaya, and trying to invite our non-Muslims friends to come to ISRU but when we go back home, we don’t even ask our little brother or sister to join us in prayer or to read the Quran with us. We give dawah to everyone except the people who deserve it the most from us i.e. our families.

(This point Riyadh-ul-Haq made in one of his tapes) We also become enraged at the injustices being done to the Muslims all over the world. We become angry when we hear the news. “Oh! The Kuffar are doing this and the Kuffar are saying this. Shayateen! Malu’nin!. May Allah curse them. May they burn in hellfire” etc. We jump up and down. We shout and scream. We thump walls. However towards another Muslims, who may not be from Chechnya or Kashmir but at least we know that he attends the Masjid regularly and is punctual in his salah, we hold malice in our hearts for trivial and personal reasons. We even fail to return his salam. So basically we are saying that “if a Muslim lives thousands of miles away from me, I will organize rallies for him, I will send money to help him and I will make dua for him but if he comes and lives three doors down from me, I don’t want to know him”. Such is the inevitable conclusion of our attitudes.

So Brothers and Sisters, the change needs to start at home first. Focus on yourself and your own Islam, then that of your family, then that of your community and then that of the world at large. I am not saying we shouldn’t do whatever we can to help the suffering Muslims of this world. All I am saying is that once we focus on improving ourselves, we will become strong individuals as our Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) was. With that strength of Eman, we will be able to help our Brothers and Sisters all over the world with much more effectiveness than we can right now. May Allah help us all follow his deen as his beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) did. Ameen

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Nadia said

Wow, Mashallah Br. Faisal. This article was definitely an eye opener for me. "For example, we find ourselves giving dawah to non-Muslims by sitting at the dawah table, writing for Nasihah and Hidaya, and trying to invite our non-Muslims friends to come to ISRU but when we go back home, we don’t even ask our little brother or sister to join us in prayer or to read the Quran with us." So true.
I also liked the whole paragraph about how the Prophet (peace be upon him) went about spreading his message. Mashallah, such a meticulous analysis on your part.
"May Allah (swt) help us all follow his deen as his beloved Messenger (peace and blessings be upon him) did". Ameen, Thumm Ameen.

on May 11, 2004 9:39 AM
Saima said

Masha'Allah, an important topic indeed.

Just a tangent to this, I've also seen that many people bring their opinions up against their responsibility of being open-minded and working towards knowing and helping their muslims brothers and sisters. Knowledge is from Allah subhanawataalaa, however, many people want to learn only a specific version of knowledge.. a specific perspective.. and all others who have different perspectives are null and void. It's a very gray area.. but that's why if you begin with the basics... and work upwards... we can accomplish a lot more insha'Allah.

on May 11, 2004 12:22 PM
Faisal Akhtar said

JazakAllah Khair Sister Nadia for the the reinforcement. It is good to know that what I write had some positive impact.

Sister Saima, what can I say? You are absolutely right. There is no room for debate here.


on May 11, 2004 10:27 PM
Saima said

so why do people argue for the sake of opinion ? like there's a difference between arguing and discussing different perspectives (or debates) where both sides still respect each other in the end. I've seen 1 too many times where people want to just BE right.

why is that ? if they have the knowledge.. do they lack wisdom ?

on May 11, 2004 10:43 PM
Saima said

or is it arrogance... hmm.. scary.

on May 11, 2004 10:44 PM
Justoju said

excellent article brother Faisal...and timely as well mashaAllah...

I am going to try to implement your wisdom...but it will be real hard since I really like the jumping, spitting and thumping on walls...

May Allah (swt) give us all strength. Amin.

on May 11, 2004 11:46 PM
Faisal Akhtar said

Sister Saima, it is very difficult to accept that one is wrong. Even if the person knows they are wrong, they sometimes will not concede due to ego problems. The classic way of looking at an argument in a western perspective is that you have to beat your opponent at the argument. It doesn't matter where the truth lies, it is you vs him.

on May 12, 2004 2:01 AM
Justoju said

wow, the extent of jahilliyah. One argues against something one knows is right for the sake of one's nafs and duniya...

No wonder Abu Lahab is in the hellfire...

on May 12, 2004 2:59 AM
Saima said

what about whem it happens amongst muslims ?

on May 13, 2004 7:56 PM
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