Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Muslims stand up by Wael Abdel Gawad|
|10/13/01 at 22:04:13|
Asalamalaikum, I totally agree with this and have felt this
way since the attacks first happened. the brother has put this so
Muslims, Stand Up! (And Stop Being Apologetic)
By Wael Abdelgawad
All praise is due to Allah, who has guided us to the religion of truth,
and made us Muslims.
Fear and Terror
In the days since the World Trade Center attack, Muslims in the U.S.
and around the world have fallen over one other in the rush to be the
first to condemn the attack and express sympathy for the victims. That's
welh and good. Such an act deserves condemnation, and as Muslims we
should be compassionate by nature. We should love and respect all of
Allah's creatures, and we shoud oppose evil in any guise.
The statements of many Islamic organizations and Muslim leaders,
however, do not stop at condemnation, but proceed to apology and even shame.
As the mad acts of retaliation against Muslims (and Sikhs, and Arab
Christians) have begun, another emotion has been added to the mix: fear.
Terror, even. Masjids in the U.S. have been abandoned and stand empty
during prayer time. A few scholars have exempted Muslim women in the West
from wearing hijab in public, and told the men to shave their beards
and not to wear distinctive Islamic clothing in public.
And so here we are. We have become a community of frightened sheep. An
ummah of assimilationists, stripping ourselves of Islamic emblems and
trying to "pass" as non-Muslims so that we will not be subjected to
insults, the blows of fists, or yes, even bullets.
Muslims, no matter what the disbelievers may do, this fear cannot
continue. Muslims, stand up and be strong men and women! Be glad of our
beautiful deen, which is the religion of Allah and the religion of truth.
Allah has said in the Holy Qur'an,
"This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor
upon you, and have chosen for you Islám as your religion." (Qur'an 5:3)
And Allah says,
"And believe in what I reveal, confirming the revelation which is with
you, and be not the first to reject Faith therein, nor sell My Signs
for a small price; and fear Me, and Me alone." (Qur'an 2:41)
I do not wish to insult or hurt anyone. What I want is to encourage all
of us in this difficult time to be strong, to remember our priorities
as Muslims, and not to be afraid. Do not be discouraged. Let us hold our
heads high and our shoulders straight. Let us be happy that Allah has
blessed us with Islam. Let us fear Allah more than we fear the people.
A Time of Testing
Brothers and sisters, we've had it easy here in this comfortable
environment of the U.S.A. and in the West. Al-Hamdulillah, we have formed our
M.S.A.s, opened our Islamic centers and masjids, preached Islam, begun
to develop Islamic institutions and begun to gain influence in this
society. But we have become complacent and arrogant. We have become soft
For years now I have heard some Muslims in the West proclaiming that
they represent the new leadership of the Muslim ummah. They claim that
the "old-world" Muslims of the East are mired in ancient conflicts and
bogged down in cultural habits. This always struck me as presumptuous -
the arrogance and ignorance of the young. Don't they know their history?
Don't they know that these "old-world" Muslims have survived the
khawarij, the crusades, the Huns, the Tatars, the black plague, the collapse
of the Khilaafah, colonization, occupation, and the rule of dictators?
They have been tested, and yet they have maintained their faith in the
face of all opposition. Activists in the Muslim world have been
arrested, imprisoned and even executed. And yet the "old-world" ummah
continues to produce great Islamic thinkers, scholars and martyrs.
What tests have we suffered in the West? What persecution have we been
subjected to? I have always believed that the growth of Islam in this
country would be tested, and tested hard. That is Allah's way, and
Allah's way does not change:
"If a wound has touched you, be sure a similar wound has touched the
others. Such days (of varying fortunes) We give to men and men by turns:
that Allah may know those that believe, and that He may take to Himself
from your ranks Martyr-witnesses (to Truth). And Allah loves not those
that do wrong." (Qur'an 3:140)
Read these verses and take heed! "that Allah may know those that
And Allah says,
"Be sure we shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss
in goods or lives or the fruits (of your toil), but give glad tidings
to those who patiently persevere." (Qur'an 2:155)
It is no longer a question of whether the test will come. It is here.
Maybe it will get better, maybe it will get worse. Only Allah knows. The
question is, how will we perform in this test? How will we respond?
Will we, at the first sign of trouble, close our masjids, shut our
da'wah booths, cancel our Islamic events and hide like mice? Laa hawla wa
laa quwwata illa-billah. Our sisters in Turkey are imprisoned for
wearing hijab. Our brothers in Uzbekistan are arrested and tortured for going
to the masjid. Our Imams in China are executed for teaching Qur'an.
Still they persevere, because to do otherwise would be to abandon their
obligations to Allah and to themselves, and to let Islam die like
withered fruit on the vine. To do otherwise would be to fear the people more
than they fear Allah.
This is not an issue of hijabs or beards. If a Muslim sister has no
other options - if she cannot be escorted, or move to a safer place - and
her life or safety is in danger, then take off the hijab and be safe.
No one wants to see Muslim people being killed or injured.
But as I said, it is not at heart an issue of hijabs and beards. The
central issue, rather, is one of steadfastness in Allah's cause. Will we
be run in fear at the first sign of danger, or will we stand up tall
and strong as Muslims? Will we seek solutions to guarantee our safety, or
will we simply hide? Will we reach out to the non-Muslims to educate
them, or will we change our colors like chameleons and pretend to be
non-Muslims? Maybe this climate of hostility will pass, or maybe not. How
will we respond? What kind of people will we be?
Muslims, stand up! Stop cowering. This is not the time to hide. This is
the time to reach out to our non-Muslim neighbors and co-workers, not
to apologize, but to educate and enlighten them about Islam. This is the
time to organize multi-faith events. This is the time to write to the
newspapers and magazines. Organize a donation drive for the families of
the New York victims, many of whom were Muslim, by the way. Bake some
cookies for the neighbors. Send a thoughtful memo at work. This is the
time to open our da'wah booths, and if a few people hurl insults at us,
then so be it, and if in some rare instances they attack us, then so be
it. Let the strongest of us assume the most difficult positions. We
defend ourselves as best we can and we deal with it. This is what it is to
work for Islam. This is what it is to persevere.
Do we know that this is an opportunity in so many ways?
It is an opportunity to grow as Muslims, because when Allah wants his
servants to become better, stronger and wiser believers, He tests them.
There is no other way to grow. Spiritual struggle is a gift from Allah
to the persevering Muslim.
It is an opportunity to engage the non-Muslims and educate them about
Islam. I have seen many news stories in the last week attempting to
explain to the public what Islam really is. Muslim leaders are in demand by
the press. I myself was interviewed recently by the San Jose Mercury
News. Even if it stems from anger and misunderstanding, the fact is that
Americans suddenly want to know what Islam is and what it wants from
them. Use this opportunity to reach out to them and teach them. But we
cannot do that if we are passing, dissimulating, and doing everything we
can to avoid being identified as Muslims.
Dr. Harold Bursztajn is co-director of the program in psychiatry and
the law at Harvard Medical School. He has profiled terrorists and often
testifies as an expert witness in mass-murder trials. He recently gave
an interview to abcnews.com in which he says the only way to spot anyone
affiliated with the hijackers is to "beware of those who celebrate the
mass murderers and those who apologize for them," perhaps indicating
some sense of guilt by association.
Beware! You may think you are doing something good by apologizing, but
the disbelievers will presume that you are guilty.
I make this statement once because it needs to be said only once:
We have done nothing wrong. We have nothing to apologize for. We have
nothing to be ashamed of.
The World Trade Center was not attacked by Islam, it was attacked by
individuals. Their religious persuasion is irrelevant. Does Christianity
apologize for Timothy McVeigh? Does Christianity apologize for the
Reverend Jim Jones, the KKK, Nazism, colonialism, or slavery? Christianity
does not apologize for these atrocities because Christianity did not
commit them, individuals committed them.
Don't apologize for the Taliban, because the Taliban have nothing to do
with our practice of Islam in the West (see "Stop Defending" below).
Don't apologize for "Islamic fundamentalism," because there's nothing
wrong with practicing the fundamental tenets of Islam.
Don't apologize for the Palestinians, because the Palestinians are our
brothers and sisters who we love and who have been horribly oppressed.
Don't apologize for Iran, Iraq, Sudan, or Libya. In every case what was
done to these nations by the West is far out of proportion to any
wrongs they may have committed.
This need to apologize stems from a deep inferiority complex which
binds many Muslims. Most of the Muslim world was colonized by the West
after the collapse of the Khilaafah, and many Muslims still harbor the
inferiority complexes that are typical of colonized peoples. The hallmarks
of that inferiority complex are shame of one's own religious
background, despite for one's co-religionists, and pure admiration of the
colonizer. The inferiority complex expresses itself in a pleading tone of
voice: "See Mr. Westerner, I'm not a bad, religious Muslim like those
people, I'm a good, westernized Muslim! I'm not a crazy fundamentalist, I'm
a secularist like you. Pleaaaase, Mr. Westerner, approve of me..."
They will never truly approve of us, nor will they ever fully accept
us. As Allah says, "Never will the Jews or the Christians be satisfied
with you unless you follow their form of religion. Say: "The Guidance of
Allah,- that is the (only) Guidance." Were you to follow their desires
after the knowledge which has reached you, then wouldst you find
neither protector nor helper against Allah." (Qur'an 2:120)
However, if we present an image of strength and confidence, and if we
express the truth of Islam in our actions, I guarantee that even if they
do not approve of us, they will respect us.
So don't apologize. Especially if you are in a da'wah setting, don't be
drawn into a discussion of Osama bin Laden or suicide bombers. Control
the forum, direct the talk. Steer it into a discussion of the beauty
and truth of Islam:
"Invite (all) to the Way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful
preaching; and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious: for thy
Lord knows best, who has strayed from His Path, and who receives
guidance." (Qur'an 16:125)
Control the Forum
Stop defending Islam, as if Islam is a criminal and needs a defense
attorney. I realize that those who are doing this have the best of
intentions, but when we continually defend a thing, people come to believe
that it is culpable. When we constantly proclaim our innocence, people
begin to suspect our guilt. Instead of defending Islam, promote it.
Discuss the beauty of Islam, its power, and its truth. Be positive, not
negative. Be self-assured, not defensive. Don't allow yourself to be drawn
into protracted discussions about Osama bin Laden, or the Taliban,
because these issues are irrelevant to our da'wah and our practice of Islam
in the U.S..
For example, let's suppose you are staffing an Islamic booth in the
free speech area at your university, or maybe you are taking a break in
the lounge at your workplace. Someone comes up to you and says,
"Why do you Muslims support terrorism?"
You don't respond with denials and apologies. You bypass all of that
and you say,
"Islam is a religion of peace. Everything in Islam centers around
submission to God. We practice brotherhood and sisterhood, and we work on
our spirituality. We believe Islam is the true religion. It promotes
justice and equality for human beings everywhere."
Do you see how this statement is positive rather than negative? It is
an expression of strength, not weakness.
If the person allows you to continue, you might go on to give examples
of the brotherhood you have experienced in Islam, or of what Islam has
done for you personally. You could talk about Salat or Sawm or Hajj, or
any of the beautiful aspects of Islam.
But let's suppose the person is persistent, and he won't let the
subject go. He interrupts you and says,
"What about the World Trade Center then? If you believe in peace, then
why did you kill all those people?"
You say, "Why did you bomb the federal building in Oklahoma City?"
He says, "I didn't do that! Timothy McVeigh did it, everyone knows
You say, "But he was a Christian."
He says, "So what, that doesn't mean anything."
You say, "Right. Just like it doesn't mean anything that the
individuals who attacked the WTC might have been Muslims. It has nothing to do
with the ten million Muslims who live in this country, or the billion
Muslims who live around the world. This is what Islam is about..." And
then you elaborate on any Islamic subject that you like, such as the
Oneness of Allah, the Prophet Muhammad, Salat, brotherhood, or Zakat.
In doing this, you are not avoiding the topic of terrorism or the
Taliban or whatever, you are simply making it irrelevant to your
presentation of Islam, and thereby severing the mental link between terrorism and
Islam. Your da'wah booth is not a forum for a discussion on terrorism.
You are there to promote Islam, and one has nothing to do with the
Fear Allah, not the People
It's time to come out of our houses. Fill the masjids. Invite our
non-Muslim friends to Islamic events. Stop hiding. When we hide, two things
People begin to think we have something to hide. After all, we must
have done something and we feel guilty, or we wouldn't be hiding, right?
Bad people, those who would harm us, see it is a confirmation of our
weakness, and this gives them a green light to oppress and intimidate us.
Fear Allah, not the people. The Messsenger of Allah (pbuh) said,
"Be mindful of Allah, you will find Him before you. Get to know Allah
in prosperity and He will know you in adversity. Know that what has
passed you by was not going to befall you; and that what has befallen you
was not going to pass you by. And know that victory comes with patience,
relief with affliction, and ease with hardship." (related by Tirmidhi)
Fear Allah, not the people, because we will get only what Allah has
prescribed for us and nothing more. Stand up! Be strong and morally
upright. "Say: 'I believe in Allah', and thereafter be upright." (related by
I am not saying we Muslims should not take precautions. We should have
twenty-four-hour security at masjids, Islamic centers and Islamic
events. Muslims should not travel alone. Sisters in hijab should be escorted
whenever possible. M.S.A.s should form an escort hot line for the
Muslim female students. Set up a phone tree in your community. Lock your
doors, buy a cell phone, be aware of your surroundings and don't go out at
night. If you are harrassed, report it to CAIR
and to the police, and to your employer if it happens at work. Yes, we
should continue with our lives and take precautions. This is a sign of
strength and determination, while hiding in the house or trying to
conceal one's Islamic identity is a sign of weakness and spinelessness.
Lastly, do not forget to always make du'aa to Allah subhanahu wa
ta'aala. This is the most important security precaution of all. Ask Allah to
keep you and your family safe, and to protect all Muslims all over the
Present the Beauty of Islam
The apologists and defenders expend all of their energy proclaiming
what Islam is not, while never bothering to explain what Islam is.
I don't think I need to elaborate too much in this section because we
all know what is beautiful, powerful and wonderful about Islam. Present
these aspects of Islam in your talks with the non-Muslims. Talk about
such issues as:
The importance of worshipping Allah alone.
The forgiveness which Allah offers to all his servants.
Honoring all the Prophets, including Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus and
Muhammad (peace be upon them all).
The noble character of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).
The incredible changes that Islam brought to the jahiliyy Arabs.
The miraculous nature and beauty of the Holy Qur'an.
Islam's golden history and its influence upon the modern world.
Brotherhood and sisterhood in Islam.
Islam's emphasis on justice, fairness and racial equality.
The importance of mercy and forgiveness in Islam.
Sincerity in Islam.
The significance of prayer, fasting, Zakat and Hajj.
Your personal experience with Islam and what it has done for you.
Let these issues define Islam in the minds of your listeners. Remember,
don't apologize or defend. Rather, control the forum and present a
beautiful picture of Islam.
And may Allah guide us to the best of deeds at all times. Ameen.
|Re: Muslims stand up by Wael Abdel Gawad|
|10/14/01 at 04:16:36|
Living in the West does sometimes make me forget the pain and suffering my brothers and sisters face, but my pain is nothing in comparison to theirs.
When I remember the pain my fellow muslims face I walk out and I am PROUD and not scared to be a muslim. Whatever belittling, abating I may face so be it. I know in this life it may seem there is little justice for our brothers and sisters but at the end of time Allah will reward us for the pain we suffer and he will punish those who deserve it.
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