Ramadan is a month when Muslims should exhibit the best qualities in the face of spiritual tests and challenges that lay in our paths. Since it is a month when the purpose is to obtain taqwa (piety), we should take care to follow the correct principles of faith and guidance when responding to challenges and not react to anti-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment based upon our fears and our emotions, as has been done in the past. If we truly want our condition to change than it is inevitable that we first must change; “verily Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change that which is in themselves”. Ramadan is a month of patience, a month of sacrifice, and a month of change. A disturbing trend is occurring amongst many Muslim Americans where people are more concerned with defending the image of Islam, than practicing Islam. This should give us pause
I am of the belief that Muslims are human like everyone else. Even though Islam is a perfect religion and a way of life; Muslims are not perfect people, and there are things about us as a whole which need improvement. We cannot continue to point the finger at everyone else, and not consider that perhaps we contribute in some ways to anti-Islamic sentiment by some of the misguided and ill conceived tactics we employ to address it. It is contradictory to our faith to measure ourselves by the number of positive statements people make about Muslims or the percentage by which we can improve our standing in the view of the general public. We should define ourselves by how much we can practice Islam, and concentrate on our own moral deficiencies; not by how much we can deflect criticism and sanitize public opinion about Islam and Muslims.
Some leaders call upon American Muslims to convey gratuitous expressions of thanks to anyone who says something good about Muslims, while appearing oblivious to how humiliating it is to grovel for approval and trip over thanks with anyone except Allah. It would have been better to simply thank our Lord in the first place for the freedom and liberty we have in this great nation to worship and serve Him, and bypass the incessant whining and complaining over what amounts to Muslim name calling.
When Muslims invite non-Muslims to practice fasting with us and think that it will help them understand Islam or the personal connection one has with God through observing the fast, that’s what I call desperate. It may help a person understand hunger, and they’ll likely come away thinking we worship a Lord that wants to starve u to death. The point is that we endure making fools of ourselves all year long in following American political Islamists and their ridiculous campaigns to improve the image of Islam and raising money through the process. This year, let’s keep Ramadan for Allah. Perhaps it’s not only the so called islamophobes who need to change; maybe American Muslims need to take a shot at stepping up our own spiritual game; and what better month for Muslim introspection and spiritual clarity (baseerah) than Ramadan?
It is understandable that Muslims in the United States are concerned about the growing-Muslim and anti-Islamic sentiment that is seen in protests, editorials and inflammatory statements made by antagonists of our faith. Although this precipitous rise in anti-Islamic sentiment marked by threats of Quran burnings, growing suspicion of Muslims in America and planned protests at some of the nation’s mosques, is viewed as a cause for alarm and worry, the opposite is true. These challenges are a test of our faith, and an opportunity to look inside ourselves and access the qualities of patience, pardon, and dignity that define the true meaning of what it is to be a Muslim. We should not forget that this s the month of Ramadan, and as such, we should strive to be more faithful and steadfast than in the previous months. In the Prophetic tradition narrated by Aisha, the wife of the Prophet (SAWS), she said, “The Prophet (SAWS) was the best of persons, and he was at his best during the month of Ramadan”. American Muslims should hold fast to our beliefs, and follow the guidance of our Prophet (SAWS) in confronting challenges.
A disturbing trend is taking place amongst many Muslim Americans where people are becoming more passionate about defending the image of Islam than actually practicing the principles of Islam. This Ramadan I am urging all American Muslims to keep politics, fear of backlash and the tendency towards image building away from our fasts and devote the month exclusively to Allah. We can do this in sha Allah by doing our best to follow His guidance, and the methodology of His Prophet in faith building, and righteousness and not let external influences divert our attention away from the essential purpose of Ramadan, which is to obtain piety and salvation. When confronted with anti-Islamic sentiment American Muslims are urged to consider the following advices during this month, and Imams are urged to mention some of these to their congregants who are worried and feeling uneasy about the growing anti-Islamic sentiment taking place in our Nation. Wa Allahu Musta’aan
- Remember that this is the month of Ramadan. Ramadan is different from other months. This is a time when conditions are optimal for a Muslim who is observing the fast and the spiritual injunctions of the month to display a greater degree of spiritual fortitude, control of emotion and magnanimity than during other the times. The doors of Paradise are opened, the doors of hell are closed and the (whispering) demons are restrained.
- 2. Muslims should refrain from forwarding emails back and forth to each other detailing incidents of anti-Islamic sentiment occurring around the country, this only causes people to waste time worrying and becoming angry or frustrated with that which has already been decreed and is outside of our control. “Be concerned with yourselves; he who is astray cannot harm you if you are rightly guided”.
- Greet any protesters or antagonist who may come to the Mosque which you attend with a wish of guidance and peace, instead of countering protest with protest and indignation with indignation. “The men of the Merciful, who walk humbly upon the earth, and when they are addressed by the ignorant, reply with saying ‘peace’”
- If you feel compelled to complain, then complain to Allah, for He is the only One with the power to change what is in people’s heart.
- 5. Instead of asking the authorities to take action against people who are merely expressing their views, ask Allah that He guide and still their hearts away from anger, and contempt. Allah is more Capable, and Quicker in hearing the call of the distressed. It is reported in Prophetic tradition that the Prophet (SAWS) said, “beware of the supplication of the oppressed, for verily there is no barrier between it and Allah”.
- 6. Be gracious and hospitable to any Mosque protestors by making sure they have access to water, coffee, or anything that will comfort them. Despite being unwelcome guests to the mosques, they are still guests at the houses of Allah. The Prophet (SAWS) displayed patience and forbearance towards a man who urinated in the Masjid. Surely we can show patience and magnanimity toward people who are expressing their views, even if we disagree. The Prophet said: “Fasting is a shield; so when one of you is fasting he should not use foul or foolish talk. If someone attacks him or insults him, let him say:”I am fasting, I am fasting!”
- 7. Follow the guidance of Islam and simply pardon those who may offend us or insult us during this month, and forgive them for any perceived or actual transgression. Forgiveness and pardon are far better displays of benevolence, peace and Islamic character, than to counter protests against Islam with protest. “Those who shun dispute, and pardon people, for surely Allah love the righteous”. Quran, 3:134
Muslims should stop self-victimizing ourselves by obsessing over the way that others view Islam and Muslims. We owe it to ourselves! Take a close look at who we are, and how we can improve our practice of Islam, and remain a people who put faith first before image. This is a free country and people have the liberty to believe or disbelieve what they want. .These are troubled and portentous times that we l