Once we understand the natural order that God wants, we can make real progress as an individual or a group. Many developments during the last part of the twentieth century are manifestations of the natural development toward interdependence. The specialized sharing of information in cyberspace via the world-wide web, the interlinking of macro-economics among the nations, and the emergence of free-market economies and democratic reforms are not accidental. These interdependent characteristics are an outgrowth of the natural development toward mutual cooperation, shared outcomes and the gradual elimination of virtual domination by the few. Allah (SWT) denies domination to all who seek it. Interdependence is not served by racism, extreme nationalism, ethnicism, religious intolerance and other xenophobic tendencies.
Now if the world is beginning to recognize that to win is no longer a zero-sum game, but that my success is intricately linked to your success, and if interdependency exists at every level, then what makes some of us (as individual Muslim communities) overlook the importance of being interdependent? What am I talking about? In some of our cities, we may have two, three or more masajid struggling to make progress, yet an entire year will pass without a meeting of its leaders or without an effort made to work jointly on at least one project that will benefit all of the communities. In too many instances, instead of our exploring opportunities to impact local government and influence corporate and local school board policies so that we might (for example) facilitate believers’ attendance at Salatul-Jumah or our children’s celebration of the two Eids, we are expending energy debating whether we should have a joint Eid with this masjid or that masjid.
There are some Muslims who are perfectly content to remain isolated for fear of losing their identity or some other superficial reason that is partly an expression of an acute inferiority complex. We must come out of our small thinking, reveling in decentralization and autonomy at the expense of unity and mutual cooperation. Imam Mohammed did not bring us to the proper concept of Allah (SWT), Al-Qur’an, and Muhammad’s example to now adopt a position of isolation and inferiority or superiority. The Imam wants us to be independent thinkers: but when we act (on that thinking), we should be prepared to bring something of value to complement the group effort.
Within our Association, the development from centralization to decentralization has been referred to metaphorically (and nostagically) as the ‘‘Second Resurrection.’’ The Second Resurrection represented a period (for us) in which the individual Muslim identity, as well as the respect for the worth of the individual believer was established based upon the concept of human excellence in the Qur’an. The subsequent development of the individual’s respect for economic, political, educational, and social infrastructure within a Muslim nation or community cannot be established without the undergirding of La-Illaha-illalah-Muhammad-dur-Rasullulah (nothing deserves my worship except the One Allah (SWT), The Creator of all the worlds and Mohammed (SAW) is His final Messenger). Our liberation and corresponding shift away from autocracy to democracy urgently mandate greater individual responsibility and a simultaneous movement towards interdependence (inside and outside the masjid). The new century is urging us to rethink existing administrative and management structures to eliminate internal fragmentation caused by years of reveling in decentralization. We must progress to a higher level of organizational evolution . . . “interdependence is a higher value than independence.”
If the Second Resurrection refers to the development of the individual life of the Muslim and has been characterized by the shift away from centralization to decentralization, then the development of the Muslim community life and its infrastructure is our Third (and final) Resurrection and it must be just as definitively marked by a shift away from mere decentralization to interdependence…the task is now in your and my hands. [Based on adaption from Genesis of New American Leadership: Building the Community Life].
Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.
Sincerely & respectfully,
Editor’s Note: This post has been updated from its original posting for accuracy and comprehensiveness.