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So onto blogging!
Go Back Home to Your Country!
This past week an interesting thing happened that brought up a subject I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time. That is the exodus of Muslims from the US back to their countries (or to other Muslim countries). The reason it came up is because a visiting shaykh to the area was asked a question about it and he encouraged all Muslims living in the US to go back to their home countries! He even went so far as to say that the only reasons Muslims were here in the West was for Dunya and ‘to make piles of money’ and that they would be asked about it on the Day of J!!! Now this was said in the richest suburban Masjid in our area where the people are all doctors or professionals and the cars are all BMWs and Mercedes (and I even saw some old uncle driving a really hot convertible to Jumah!) You can imagine the shock and the pin drop silence of everyone there. And then people started arguing saying that they are better Muslims here and that the world is a global village and that it’s not how it used to be with Islamic lands and non-Islamic lands, but he was adamant.
So what do we think about this? On the one hand I can see where the shaykh is coming from. I’m sure he gets tons of people that come up to him lamenting about their kids, how messed up they have become and how many have become non-Muslims. No doubt there are a lot of Muslims in the US that have no Islamicity whatsoever after their parents generation. Many even renounce Islam and marry non-Muslims and the children end up becoming non-Muslims. I read an article 10 years ago by Yahiyah Emerick that talked about how we were continuously losing our fist generation and the only reason Islam was surviving in the US was because of fresh immigrants that would ‘refill our stock’. I think if we all thought about it, for every Muslim we know that goes to a Mosque and really tries to raise their kids Islamically we know many more that have become non-practicing and will be completely lost after the next generation. How painful is it for us to learn about all these waves of Muslim immigrants who came to this country even in the 1920s or 1960s and there is barely a trace of them today except for a sign that might say Madina, Ohio. We only have to look to our youth today to see the extremely deterimental state we are in. Do we want the same thing to happen to us and our future generation?
So I always ask myself if these kids and their families would be better if they lived in a Muslim country? There are no doubt the same evils existing there as here and sometimes there is an even higher level of ‘dunya coveting’ and corruption, but the society as a whole tends to protect people from certain things and even if you have a bad apple or two in your children, your entire lineage is not lost because their children have a fairly good chance of being raised as Muslims by the societal culture. To find a girl converting to Christianity and marrying a non-Muslim is rare, but in the US it is sadly becoming common. Wearing hijab, praying 5 times a day, fasting every day in Ramadan is it rare or is it common in the West? And don’t forget statistics say the Mosque-going Muslims are 10% of the actual Muslim population in the US.
But does moving back make sense? What about those people who have no ties to any Muslim country, like white or African-American converts? What country are they supposed to go to? And speaking of which, what country are Muslims going to move to? Saudi has an extremely strict immigration policy as do Syria and most other Muslim countries. In fact there are groups of Muslims who try to ‘make Hijrah’ all the time and are living illegally in these countries. Even if you are legally there you do not have the same access to health care or education as the real Arab citizens do. You can’t even own property. Even if you somehow obtain a work visa and live in these countries, once your working life is over you will be sent back to your ‘original country’. There is no way single women or single mothers would be able to move overseas because the societies are just not built to accommodate them. This is coming from someone who lived overseas for a time on a temporary student basis and that was difficult in itself. And what about all of us who came from minority Muslim countries? (like India or Cambodia or wherever) Why would we just move back to another Muslim minority country? What’s the benefit there? So what should we do?
Some people argue that you can only be a true Muslim if you live in a Muslim country because only there can you practice all of your Deen. Oh really? Muslims in the West can pray, they can fast, they can pay zakat, they can go to Hajj. No doubt there are some discrimination issues there but it is possible. Is there such a thing as Dar al Islam and Dar al Harb anymore? No country in the world practices Islamic Shari’ah 100%. And every Arab country I know of is under a dictatorship. What can’t people practice here if they have the drive or effort in the West?
I think, for myself, having the experience of living in a Muslim country for awhile I can’t see myself moving overseas. I can’t see the Islamic argument for it and I wouldn’t be able to justify it for myself. That’s why when I see these great Muslim families moving overseas it just makes me really sad. They are like so valuable here for so many reasons but over there they could just be anyone. It’s just a big loss for the Muslim community here even if they feel it’s a better decision for themselves and their kids.
I know the New York Times and some other papers (Chicago?) did some articles on this, post 9/11 like in 2002 or something that talked about how there was mass migration back to home countries by Muslims and the affect it was having in certain Muslim type areas like Devon St. /Jackson Heights. But it wasn’t until about 2005 until now that I’ve been noticing a number of very well established good families moving back home. Many families who are here to study and work temporarily are going back home instead of staying like their counterprarts did in the 80s and 90s. If everyone goes back what will be left? If they stayed we could really build a strong identity, culture, foundation and institutions to allow us to be a viable thriving minority in this country.
Is the shaykh right and it’s every family for themselves. Save your family and forget about the rest? Going back to me just feels like the easy way out. When you go back what else do you have to do? Nothing. You raise your family like everyone else. You send them to school and you really don’t have to do anything. You don’t have to be active in the community. You don’t have to teach or do Dawah or anything. (In some of those Muslim countries doing Dawah can get you in a ton of trouble even!) The irony is that many families have gone overseas for the ‘economic benefit’ in these troubled times. (It’s easier for a US professional to find a job over there than here!) So what does this say about the Shaykhs argument about “dunya-lovers” ?!?
Anyway the whole thing is very complex if you ask me. I just thought I’d bring it up as a discussion topic to think about as it’s something I think about every time someone leaves or there’s a new shaykh in town that drops a hugely controversial opinion like this on ppl!!