Still The Distracted Ummah

The sad reality of this Ummah is that it is prone to being divisive while crying for unity. We find it so simple to speak disparagingly about the personal perspectives that some adopt, and choose to openly mock them in their absence, thinking that not mentioning names is sufficient to free us of the hypocrisy of that action.

We find it easier to highlight the shortcomings of every sect, every community, every sub-culture, or any person, but find it extremely difficult to celebrate the common ground, to build on the positive aspects that we share, or to jointly pursue beneficial programs that will contribute towards the unity of the Ummah rather than constantly hammering down on that wedge that sectarianism has created.

A strong and united Ummah doesn’t happen on its own, nor does it miraculously form through dua. Dua unaccompanied by action is fruitless, hence the very plain instruction that guides us to tie our camel AND trust in Allah, not just trust in Allah blindly without any action.

A united Ummah is a result of a united society. A united society is not possible without united communities. United communities will never be established if we have internal bickering and political agendas that make the American government look saintly. Unsurprisingly, united communities require united families to establish its foundations. A united family is not possible without committed individuals striving for harmony and understanding within the family unit. Finding the required common ground on which to build this entire structure that we all so achingly yearn for requires individuals committed to these holistic goals before they find reason to commit to selfish objectives that undermine these goals.

The simple truth is that it starts with us as individuals before it becomes a global problem. Every global problem is a result of a critical mass of idiots that contribute towards the universality of the issues that result in said problem. We need to stop pacifying ourselves against the shortcomings of others. We need to stop being creative in introducing western concepts and western agendas into Islam under the guise of progressiveness, liberation, feminism, or similar such euphemisms that belie the true nature of the courses being pursued.

Political correctness has no place in this Ummah. It has no place in Islam either. Political correctness breeds insincerity, and insincerity is at the heart of hypocrisy and disunity. If we’re forever prone towards counting our troubles and taking for granted our blessings, it’s hardly likely that our generation will see the Ummah progressing towards the noble status that we inherited from Rasulullah (SAW) and subsequently destroyed because of nothing more than infighting and selfish pursuits.

Talking about the need for a reawakening is only a distraction from actually doing it. The time to talk about the strategies is long gone. We have strategists and intellectuals crawling out of the woodwork in droves, but very few who are willing to put into practice the knowledge that they so fervently seek to acquire.

I’m often reminded of the prophecy that says that a time will come when the Ulama will be despised, and I realise that the basic assumption is that this will be so because people will despise the religious teachings that the Ulama try to establish. However, it is also entirely possible that the Ulama will be despised in the same way that unprincipled leaders are despised by their subjects. We have factories churning out Ulama by the dozens, online universities making the acquisition of Islamic knowledge easy and convenient, western institutions offering degrees in Islamic studies, and of course we have access to entire collections of ahadith and Qur’anic commentary through mediums that allow a layman to develop a critical and informed opinion on almost any aspect of Islam without leaving their favourite arm chair. Despite this massive and unfettered access to information, including students and scholars alike that have years of studies applied to acquiring this knowledge, the Ummah is in a state so despicable that we are impotent in the face of blatant persecution and abuse throughout the world, not least of which includes the so-called Muslim lands.

Yet we still have time to point out the errors of our brothers and sisters, and we also still have the presence of mind to judge who is deviant, who is kafir, and who is damned to hell, while Muslims are starving themselves to death to get us to notice that there is a bigger issue that the Ummah needs to deal with beyond the pettiness of liberalist agendas and personal preferences. May Allah have mercy on us for our distracted state, and may He guide us towards a path of conviction in the beauty that we all profess to hold in our hearts. That is the beauty of Imaan. Ameen.

6 responses to “Still The Distracted Ummah”

  1. I don’t know if this speaks to you & your complaints or not, but I find that a lot of people think they are calling for unity when they are really calling for conformity. That is, they claim to want unity, but in fact they want everyone to ‘unite’ around their personal/specific/particular idea of what this unity will entail, while retaining the ability to pick at everyone who fails to conform to this vision. A true unity and solidarity requires infinite humility, and an understanding of the limits of one’s own understanding. Sadly, this usually eludes humans trying to unite around anything – a religion, a cause, a political movement, and especially over time…

    • I agree with you completely. What you described is very much in line with the prevalent trends where many call for a specific interpretation of Islam to be the only acceptable one. That to me is more representative of a cult rather than a way of life. The sectarians, despite all their good intentions, have created these cult-ish tendencies in their groups of followers which is why we have so many divisions now. The irony is that this rigid approach and caustic tone that many of us use in the name of preserving the beauty of Islam and re-establishing the sunnah is very often in direct contrast to the example we claim to be following,

      • Amen/Ameen. I sometimes think that- because of the nature of this problem- the way to push back against it is not through lecturing/attempts to re-educate (which still involves telling another person how to believe/practice/etc.), but to be or to strive toward that example and to cultivate spaces where that unity and humility are practiced.

        You know, I’ve had this thought rattling around in my head, and I hope you won’t see it as presumptuous, as it’s just a sort of musing that has meaning for me right now, and is not fully unpacked or articulated by any means. But anyway- looking amongst my friends, I sometimes wonder if the tradition that women can worship in mosques but are not obliged to/that it is not necessarily preferable, is in some ways protective of the safe spaces cultivated among women. I’m not talking about being protected from men as such, but not having their regular experience of prayer and worship and cultivation of religious/spiritual growth constantly mediated by the authoritative voices of men who often dominate these spaces.

        I don’t necessarily feel qualified to even carry this idea, but I think about how, in the (Western/protestant, as I’ve observed it) church, there isn’t really a space to push back except within the church, that being active and devout for a woman demands participation in the hierarchy of the church, and I suspect that has made it difficult for women to cultivate their own strength. Obviously there are always private spaces where women are able to say things amongst themselves that defy the local religious authorities, but it seems to me that there is something special about centering practice in prayer that is an expression of unity and yet occurs very often outside of the official religious space/community, which can often become as much a place for casting out as welcoming in. Aaaand I started off this thought discussing women, but I think this is a powerful source of strength to any Muslim who is made to feel uncomfortable or unwelcome or in any way less-something in their local religious community. I’m not in any way trying to dismiss or deny the alienation such a person can feel, but if I compare to Christianity- a lot of Christians will not recognize you as a Christian at all if you don’t go to church, or even if you don’t go to *their* church. A lot of Christians talk about searching and struggling to find a church home and while this struggle has led many people to start new churches and worship communities, there are people who do not have the time/strength/energy/networks to do this. Not finding a church home has led many people to leave the faith altogether because so much practice revolves around the church and belonging and participating in a church.

        I can already think of a lot of flaws and elisions in this post/thought, but I’ve gone on for too long & hope you will accept it as an unfinished/undeveloped thought & therefore not judge it too harshly.

      • I’m hardly an authority on this, so please don’t be concerned about how I judge your perspectives or unfinished thoughts. 🙂 The points you raise are interesting and does provide an alternate perspective to the ‘traditional’ view that assumes that the separation is simply out of modesty or control and nothing else. The example of the church is also an interesting point because in many ways, this sectarian agenda that exists in the Ummah is very much driving us towards establishing similar hierarchies and silos in Muslim communities whereas such hierarchies are definitely foreign to Islam.

        Many people forget that there were very few recognised female scholars during the early years of Islam. Yet today, given the access to information and educational facilities, we have a large number of well versed and competent female scholars, so the need for women to have to go to the mosque to seek guidance from the Imam himself is not as pressing as it may have been previously. The point I’m trying to make is that women who establish their personal spaces, or even communal spaces to facilitate greater collaboration between women on matters pertaining to (but certainly not limited to) women in Islam and everything else for that matter, are more empowering to women than any segregated structures we can establish in the mosques or Islamic centres. Balancing this ‘power’ of male dominance in our homes and our communities starts with a greater autonomy amongst women who are informed and competent, rather than being dependent on male sources for their guidance (so to speak).

        But back to the points you raised, I agree with you. When we stop this insanity of trying to equate segregation with power or influence coupled with a desire (and often an understandable need) of women to establish their significance in society, we end up establishing courses with good intention that only adds to the contention and divisions that we have amongst Muslims. I believe that women should stop looking for affirmation from men, and instead realise that their roles are of an equitable nature, in line with the equity reflected in the rights and responsibilities of each gender in Islam. What I mean is, women should not need to seek acceptance from men to confirm their significance in society, because Islam has already established their significance. And by pushing a specifically feminism agenda, in my mind, it’s not very different to blacks pushing an affirmative action agenda to respond to white racism. Prejudice is prejudice, regardless of what the motivation for it is.

        I suspect that many may take exception to these views of mine.

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