Our religion is dying. Every day. Every night. Slowly but surely, Islam is on a steady decline throughout the world. Call me a pessimist, or whatever you wish, it doesn’t concern me. It’s time to put aside comfort and time to face the reality of the situation.
When Prophet Muhammed (s) came forth with Islam, he came not as a theorist, nor a jurist, but as a revolutionary and a visionary, who changed the society within which he lived for the better on every single level. Not one section of society was left unattended by the religion, whether it be culture, politics, economics, education, work, relationships, family, livelihood, or sports. The Islam of RasoolAllah (s) and the Islam of 2015 are two very different things. Some may feel uncomfortable with me using the word ‘Islam’, because “Islam is perfect but Muslims are not”, therefore it shouldn’t be criticised. This is a misconception. I’m not criticising the religion of Allah. I’m criticising what we’ve made the religion of Allah. I’m criticising the process that it has been through in the last 1400 years, that has turned it from a revolutionary force that saw an entire region go through a golden era of developments in the fields of science and mathematics while Europe rotted in darkness, to a religion that lives within its own bubble and is unconcerned with anything outside of it.
If you’ve known me for at least 3 years, you would know I was very outspoken in my irritable and hateful feelings towards unity. Sometimes though, you have to go to that place to get to this one.
The religion of Allah came to serve humanity. It came with solutions for the problems of the world. We claim Islam is timeless, and that it can suit the needs of every society. Where is this Islam? What have we done with it? Rather than being a driving force of positive change in the world, we have surrendered to tides of multiple forms of oppression, and rather than finding solutions to our problems, we mourn what we have lost and pray that Allah sends us an Imam to solve all of our problems for us. On so many occasions, I’ve heard Muslims say “It is what it is and we can’t change it until the Imam returns”. I cannot emphasise how much I oppose such a statement. We should not be waiting for the Imam, we should be preparing for him. Now, the million dollar question is, how do you prepare for him? Being a good human being isn’t good enough. It’s something we should be doing anyway.
When you want to change the world, you have to start within inner circles, and steadily move out. In regards to the West, what is our position? How many political strongholds do we have in the countries we live in? How much representation do we have on a national and international level? How much influence do we have on any laws that are being passed in our countries? On a practical level, i.e. in terms of representative we are powerless. It is a grim reality to accept, but the truth needs to be stared into the eyes so that we can actually begin rebuilding this religion, one step at a time. So, what barriers stand in the way?
Divisions. So many divisions.
You know what I find amusing? A lot of Muslims dislike Jewish people, mostly out of hatred of Israel, they tend to be confused about the differences between Judaism and Zionism. In any case, they dislike them, and dislike the power and influence that they have in the modern world, but they never stop to question what their source of strength is. Unity, my friends. Unity.
“The cure is within you, but you do not reflect. You think you are but a small entity, but within you lies an entire universe.” Imam Ali
If you’ve known me for at least 3 years, you would know I was very outspoken in my irritable and hateful feelings towards unity. Sometimes though, you have to go to that place to get to this one. Jewish people remain united over one common cause: there is a lot of hatred towards us in the world, and we need to stay together. Sound familiar? Now take a look at us. You’re Sunni, you’re Shia. You wear hijab, you don’t. You’re religious, you’re not. You follow this scholar, I follow that scholar. We go out of our way to fight over every largely meaningless difference between us while the world around us burns. This needs to stop, and it needs to stop now.
We have a common cause, and we need to unite. Unite for God, unite for love, unite for whatever you hold dear in this world, just unite, because united we can stand, but divided we will fall. Now, this problem is not a Shia one, and though I speak as a Shia, this is a problem for all Muslims: our religion is declining. One may ask, “How? Islam is the fastest growing religion in the world? We’re everywhere, and our numbers are steadily increasing.” Yes, but:
A) Each one of those Muslims is going through an identity crisis because we’re a divided community
B) Our numbers growing and we’re everywhere, but on a practical level, what are we doing with them? If there are so many of us, why are we so powerless to defend ourselves against hate crimes and Islamaphobic abuse, let alone against discriminatory legislation, like the hijab ban which still exists in France? This brings me swiftly on to my next point.
Hussain: The untouched treasure
We can sit back and pretend everything is fine, but in 100 years’ time, when our bodies lay in the ground, it is our children, and their children who will suffer as a result of our silence and inactivity.
Why did Imam Hussain die? To restore the religion of RasoolAllah (s) which had been corrupted and had deviated from its original purpose. But what was the religion of Prophet Muhammed (s)? Was it not to serve humanity in every scope of life? This leads you to question further, why, then, do we mourn over Imam Hussain, then shun the very values which he died to restore? I don’t have a problem with cultural practices which commemorate the martyrdom of the Imam, what I have a problem with, is when these practices become the spearhead of a religion which is supposed to be the driving force for change in the world.
For many years I religiously attended majalis, and swallowed the words of multiple speakers eagerly, hoping it would go somewhere productive, but it never did. Every year, the same routine occurs. We attend majalis, within which lectures repetitively focus on basic ethical codes and why we should practice them, rather than discussing what we should be doing to restore the religion of RasoolAllah (s) in the modern world on a practical basis. We have turned Imam Hussain into a tear drop. Into a latmiya. Into a poem. Into a gathering. We’ve completely ignored the reasons why he died in the first place. Understand that I do not oppose mourning practices or gatherings, if they genuinely motivate you and teach you how to go about reviving this dying religion. But do not allow yourself to believe that attending these gatherings is the change, because these gatherings have been occurring for over a century, and we are still powerless in 2015. I’m not asking you not to mourn Hussain, I’m asking you to use your mourning as a motivation to be Hussain. I’m genuinely surprised when people say “Christians mourn Hussain too”. We have become so cocooned within our own bubble, that we’ve forgotten Imam Hussain was the guardian of a global religion. Of course Christians will mourn him. He died for them and every other human being as much as he died for us. Islam is not for Muslims, it is for the world. The sooner we understand that, the faster we’ll realise where we’re going wrong.
We need to change, and we need to change now. We can sit back and pretend everything is fine, but in 100 years’ time, when our bodies lay in the ground, it is our children, and their children who will suffer as a result of our silence and inactivity. You can already see the seeds being planted. The rising disinterest in religion, political apathy, cultural alienation and identity crises. Generations of Muslims have turned Islam into what it is today. We can change it back. Perhaps it will not change within our lifetime, and we won’t live to see our seeds grow, but at least when we return to Allah, we can genuinely say “I did what I could”. And that’s all He expects; for us to do what we can, in the time we’re given.
To those who doubt we can make a difference, I ask, why do you doubt the power you have as a human being? Why do you doubt your own potential to do incredible things? Allah (swt) created every single human with the ability to do wonderful things, if only we tap into that potential. Imam Ali (as) says “The cure is within you, but you do not reflect. You think you are but a small entity, but within you lies an entire universe.” My friends, believe in yourself, believe in Islam, and believe in our ability to bring back the real religion of RasoolAllah (s) in this ever-changing modern world.
“It gets to a point when silence becomes betrayal”
My friends, it’s time to rise.