Tag Archives: Hadith

Model Communities Are Built First Upon Model Citizenship

“We have indeed created man in the best of molds. Then do We abase him (to be) the lowest of the low, except such as believe and do righteous deeds: For they shall have a reward unfailing.”The Noble Qur’an, 95: 1-8.

On the authority of Abu Abdul Rahmaan Abdullah (r), the son of Umar ibn al-Kattaab (r) who said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (s) say: “Islam is built upon five [pillars]: testifying that there is none worthy of worship except Allah (the Creator of the heavens and the earth) and that Muhammed is the Messenger of Allah, establishing the prayers, giving charity, making pilgrimage to the House and fasting the month of Ramadan.”

“We can’t rise up in the eyes of the world as a civilized Community, and a productive people while carrying chinchilla coats, Super-Fly pimps, sissies, dope peddlers, wine drinkers and vulgar talkers who are just satisfied to stand on the corner and talk nasty for 16 hours, go home and sleep eight hours, get up and get right back on the job again and talk nasty for another 16 hours. Dear beloved people, we can’t get up like that. And I’m telling you, we can’t accept the responsibility to change until we know how we got in this shape…We talk about the cruelty of the slave-master, years ago, and we don’t want our people to forget that cruelty but some of us are meting out cruelty to each other that equals the cruelty that the slave-master was meting out to us in those days of physical bondage. How are we going to rise? We can’t rise until we strip off this kind of self-inflicting ignorance and filth that we have on us that’s maiming us physically, morally and spiritually.”—Imam Dr. W. Deen Mohammed (ra)

“When we consider the ten million American Negroes from the standpoint of their daily conduct and personal morality, what sort of folk are they?”Morals and Manners among Negro Americans by Augustus Dill and W. E. Burghardt Du Bois

Is there more than one way to build a model community? The answer is likely yes, since there is usually more than one acceptable way to accomplish the same desired outcome. This week we examine how model citizenship can be a fundamental strategy and an interim step to building a model community.

For many persons, the model community evokes physical infrastructure like buildings and streets and the bustling activity that characterizes a successful community. Moreover, the vision of the model community extends even to ownership of the physical infrastructure. But for the purpose of this discussion, I’d like us to focus on the more fundamental component of the model community and it is of course the model citizen which I propose is a prerequisite to model community. That is the person who has to live, thrive and help support a model community and in turn be supported by that model community, must first invest in the concept of model citizenship.

To more fully appreciate the idea of model citizenship as a prerequisite, we have to expand the concept of model community.

If we embrace the notion that the “potential” model community extends beyond just our faith community, but in fact is much broader and encompasses our neighborhood and city, then we begin to see the power in the concept of model citizenship as a stepping stone to model communities.

Let me give a practical example. Let’s say as far as your faith is concerned, you are the only person or family in a defined geographical area of a particular community or town. How would you go about building the model community there? And what do you envision by the term “model community?” If it means faith-based, ethnic or other identity-based ownership of the buildings and streets and personal operation of the major centers of productivity are the attributes or tell-tell signs that you have attained the model community, then how would you accomplish that given your available human and material resources? How much time would it take you to reach your goal of establishing the model community?

Now paradigm shift…what if the model community was already there, but just lying dormant in the status quo? In other words, is it possible that by your influence as a productive citizen modeling high standards in:

family life, business and employment relations, educational commitment and achievement, cultural expression, interfaith relations, volunteerism and civic commitment, personal financial management, health and wellness, and
other aspects of an “individual” community life, that you could usher in the model community?

What might “high standards” resemble for the above referenced model citizenship?

Well in family life for example, our commitment to our marriages and parenting would be viewed by others in the broader community as a model of excellence. There is no infidelity and domestic violence. No out of wedlock pregnancy. Our children wouldn’t be in the criminal justice system or involved with drugs, or absent from the academic rigors of school life, and they wouldn’t be teenage single parents with their own at risk children headed for statistical failure and a generational cycle of learned helplessness. We’d look out for our elderly, sick and disabled…that’s just for starters.

In business or employment relations, we would be a productive member of our community, gainfully employed or employing others in an honest day’s work. There would be no criminal activity for the purpose of earning a living. There would be a demonstrated commitment to career development.

In the educational arena, as parents we would be committed to constant and continuous self-improvement in any area of learning including self-help, faith-based curriculum, and enrollment in community college to doctoral programs for educational attainment. As parents we would in turn be modeling to our children the importance of learning and self-improvement. Our children would in turn be striving for excellence in the classroom and developing a life-long commitment to learning.

Our faith would be reflected in our cultural expression in what we say, how we dress, what entertainment venues we frequent. There would obviously be no profanity and ethnic disparagement of our own or another’s ethnic group or gender; we wouldn’t wear our pants below the buttocks or our skirt line nearly to our waist and there would obviously be no loud profane music thumping at the most extreme decibel from our ride or living room window; we wouldn’t be at nightclubs and consuming alcohol or drugs and potentially subjecting ourselves to the legal issues of intoxicated driving or drug use and the consequent system of criminal justice and corrections. Others would view our cultural expression as a model and they would want to see, hear, and read our poems, music, literature, plays, and rap and they’d want to sample our cuisine free of poor food choices and be in our entertainment environment free of cigarettes and other health robbing practices.

Our circle of friends (not wali) would include people of other faiths and ethnicities because we realize that in reality, we’re all part of the model community. And the more we know one another and can empathize with one another, the more special and considerate the model community would be for everyone. We would also have the greater potential benefit of hearing perhaps first hand from someone with beyond-our-national-borders-experience share what it’s really like “over there” as compared to the nightly news broadcast here.

Our civic involvement would be sought from the school board to the Mayor’s office because of the goals and standards we have set and live by in other areas of our life. Others would appreciate our participation and leadership because of how we accept responsibility for our personal and community life.

On the personal financial front, we would be neither niggardly nor ostentatious. We’d live modestly appreciating: homeownership over fancy cars, designer clothes and renting; delayed gratification and saving over instant “have to have now” buying habits with usurious interest; saving for the succeeding generation’s college expenses while they’re teething; and planning for emergency savings and long term goals including our last rites and the welfare of our family in the event of our unexpected loss.

Now remember, standards set the ideal state. If I haven’t reached my ideal, then I shouldn’t lower the standard. I should just admit I have not met my ideal standard and I should keep working for the ideal and improving upon the status quo every day, every week, every month and every year.

Imagine the model citizenship envisioned above in any community setting–that type of citizenship has the power to influence the existing standard. In fact, by the record of history, one model citizen can change an entire village, town, country, nation, and the world.

So I don’t have to own every brick, factory, and store to accomplish building the model community from the ground up. In fact, if I did wind up owning the bricks, factory and the store, but in the process I lose my children and family life to the same negative influences affecting many in the broader society…you know crime, drugs, divorce, domestic violence, teen and out of wedlock pregnancy, and poor education, etc., while I was sharply focused on building the model community, then what good would the model community be?

What’s the trend in your area while you’ve been working on building the model community? Have you been able to establish and sustain model citizenship while you’re trying to bring into existence the model community?

Islam is built on five pillars. The model community is also built on pillars–you and me. Let us be pillars in our existing community first…it’ll then be easier to build that model community. I’m just saying, first things first.

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,

Mukhtar
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Dying to Learn: Why Malala Yousafzai’s Cause is a Fard Kifaya for the Worldwide Ummah – Part 3

“We created man from sounding clay, from mud molded into shape.”
The Noble Qur’an, Sura Al-Hijr, Ayat 26

“The seeking of knowledge is obligatory for every Muslim…Whoever has a daughter, tutors her on good morals, educates her well and feeds her properly; she will be a protection for him from hell fire.”
–Prophet Muhammed (s)

“I think of it often and imagine the scene clearly. Even if they come to kill me, I will tell them what they are trying to do is wrong, that education is our basic right.”
–Malala Yousafzai on confronting the Taliban

Includes adaption from Genesis of New American Leadership – The Book

(Continued from Part 2)…The Power of the Pen in the Role of Education

“Proclaim! (or Read!) in the Name of thy Lord and Cherisher, Who created—Created man out of a mere clot of congealed blood.. Proclaim! and thy Lord is Most Bountiful,—He Who taught (the use of) the Pen,—taught man that which he knew not.” Al-Qur’an, Surah Al Alaq, Ayats 1-5.

The verses which introduce this section are the first five verses revealed to the Prophet. Since our Creator in the Final Revelation and the Seal of Scripture revealed these verses first, it is logical to surmise that they must be very significant on the notion that the beginning must lay the foundation for all that is to come after. The first command revealed in the Final Revelation is Iqraa! The word has dual meaning of an action taken to receive and impart the Divine Word. The historical account of this ultimately indescribable event relates that the Prophet was frightened, severely shaken, and that his reply was “I cannot read” whereupon he was pressed three times by the Angel Jibreel to read and recite, and thereafter the Prophet under the command and guidance of the Creator, began to read and recite.

In Surah Al-Alaq, Allah (SWT), the One Who created everything including man, says Read in His Name. Our Creator then relates how He grows man from a mere clot, something small, simple and insignificant to become His Crown of Creation the most complex creature to whom is given the responsibility to manage his life and his environment. Surah Al-Alaq simultaneously points to one of the gifts for man’s intellectual evolution and the blueprint for the progress of mankind—the use of the pen.

It is difficult to imagine what life would be like without the technology of writing. In fact, modem civilization, including the much talked about “information age” owes its very existence to the pen. Although today we may casually take these powerful abilities for granted, reading and writing changed the dynamics of communication and interaction, and essentially altered the human experience of cause and effect.

When man began to write and translate thought into symbols, he discovered he could impact others and alter outcomes without necessarily having to be present in the same place or even at the same time. He discovered a new and higher freedom of movement superior to just physical motion; he now had the ability to transfer his thinking independent of his physical presence. Such a monumental change in thinking ultimately changed man’s expectations and redefined the possibilities of greater communication by the powerful idea of impact without physical contact.

Today we have information conveyed by such mediums as satellite, television and radio which has lead to the phrase “real time” to describe the almost instantaneous exchange of information. I submit that these technologies could not exist were it not for the paradigm or concept of projecting oneself outside of the immediate space and time of here and now. It was the pen that changed man’s paradigm and him to arrive at more sophisticated communication concepts. And it is God Who gave the pen to man and showed him how to use it to record, design, account, research, navigate, analyze, verify, discover, calculate, legislate, map, schedule, plan, construct and perform every other aspect that reading and writing has given us.

The secret to progress is no longer a secret. It is right before us in the Qur’an. Throughout the Final Revelation, Allah (SWT) gives us similitudes of how best to manage complexity and the uncertainty of the future. We are told in Surah Al-Baqara (2:282) that there is a preference or superiority of a written agreement over a verbal agreement; while the issue is directly related to trade or commerce, the benefits of writing are universal irrespective of the discipline.

Similitudes such as The Book, The Record and The Pen occur throughout the Qur’an. There are numerous references, but a few shall suffice. Consider Surah Al-Infitar (82:10-12): “But verily over you (are appointed angels) to protect you,—kind and honorable,—writing down your deeds: they know (and understand) all that ye do.” There is Surah Ya-Sin (36:12): “Verily We shall give life to the dead, and we record that which they send before and that which they leave behind, and of all things have we taken account in a clear Book (of evidence).” Lastly, Surah Al-Ali Imran (3:145) relates, “Nor can a soul die except by God’s Leave, the term being fixed as by writing…” Our Lord is constantly calling our attention to the active process of recording or writing.

In addition to the obvious advantage of accountability of written over verbal expression, there are psychological and creative advantages associated with the processes of reading and writing that impact problem identification and resolution, goal identification and achievement, and the capability of bringing ideas into reality. Often times, we cannot begin to see solutions to a problem or that a problem even exists until the details are organized in print.

Imagine what it would be like to lose all that humanity has learned over the centuries or millennia; we would have to literally recreate the wheel. The descendants of Adam (AS) have been able to organize and advance themselves spiritually and technologically under the Guidance and Mercy of Allah through Divine Revelation and through the preservation and transfer of information from one era and civilization to another.

A Balanced Education

Leaders assuming the mantle of government do not have the right to grant legal permission to read. G-d has already given that right to every human being.

The command given to the Prophet in Surah Igraa is a command given to each of us personally and to mankind in general. To learn what Allah asks of us and to emulate the Prophet’s example we must read Revelation. To learn the practical implementation of Qur’an, we must read the history of the Prophet and the Sahaba.

The early ummah managed and advanced the material world with the same book that brought them the religious knowledge. The impetus imparted in the Qur’an by the Divine Mandate to Read allowed the ummah to also read (observe) the material world and advance the information previously discovered by Greek Civilization and others.

Our Islamic ancestors became world leaders because they sought a balanced education. Unlike the fundamental error in reasoning that separated religion and science and the spiritual from the material under the scholarship of earlier Christian savants, Al-Qur’an provided man with the correct equation for education:

REVELATION + OBSERVATION (INFORMATION) = EDUCATION

To neglect the first element of the equation is to become a secularist surreptitiously defined by a working premise that man’s creativity makes him God. To neglect the second is to be practically disoriented and hopelessly fatalistic…incapable of managing our own homes, much less the larger life of a community.

There is a reciprocal relationship between education and leadership. Balanced education promotes competent leadership; competent leadership in turn cultivates an environment for balanced education. Balanced education creates an environment wherein each believer is encouraged to seek Qur’anic knowledge and worldly knowledge without the fear of losing one’s faith. There is no inherent merit in illiteracy, religious or otherwise, any more than there is in poverty.

The failure of Pakistani (and Afghan) extremists to educate the masses regardless of gender denies basic human rights, undermines the very foundation of their society and future and denies to the rest of the world the valuable contributions that would otherwise emerge from Pakistan’s group intellect that includes Malala Yousafzai and every Muslimah and Muslim in Pakistan.

If Afghanistan is to take its seat at the table of global leadership, then its people must encourage and protect the right to balanced education and broad intellectual development structured upon the foundation of Qur’an and we must encourage them to continue the fight against those who would have them and us live in the dark ages.

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”— Martin Luther King Jr., Letter from Birmingham Jail, April 16, 1963

Left open for further thought and research…Peace until next time.

Sincerely & respectfully,

Mukhtar
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