April 27, 2001

How to Make America an Islamic Nation

Congress just passed a bill declaring the consumption of alcohol a felony,
punishable by up to 120 days in jail. Although critics said the new law wouldn’t
work anymore than Prohibition did in the 1920’s, supporters of the measure felt
confident that it would hold, given the large support from the Muslim American
community. Even now, many Islamic organizations are setting up alcohol treatment
centers and prevention programs designed to help people kick the dangerous
habit. The president, a staunch supporter of moral values, is expected to sign
the new bill into law when it reaches his desk.

Sound like fiction? It may be fiction now, but the future is like a book of
blank, white pages; anything can happen. When I accepted Islam and surrendered
my heart to Allah’s will, I didn’t do it for economic or social reasons. In
fact, I suffered in those two areas because of my conversion. Rather, it was a
choice on my part to reform my soul, my mind and my understanding of why I was
alive and why I would die one day. I didn’t think about living in some town for a few years and making my fortune
so my kids could go to Ivy league schools. I wasn’t thinking about how to get
all my relative a green card nor was I planning to leave and go back home to
some far land after my bank account was full enough.

I was born and raised here. This is my land. I’ll raise my children here, insha-Allah
and probably be buried here as well. I knew that by accepting Islam I was
declaring that America needed to do so too. America, my home, would naturally
become an Islamic country one day. There is no other way to think if you are a
truly conscientious believer in Allah.

In past columns I have raised complaints or alarm bells at the state of some
segment of the Muslim community. Now I’m going to offer three suggestions for
how we can turn the situation around and become the dominant social and cultural
force in a country that needs Islam more than another pop-star, beer-brand or
psychic network.

First, we must be reminded of a simple truth: if you believe in Allah, then
you must be more than just a praying Muslim; more than just a fasting Muslim. A
Christian can go to the masjid and pray side-by-side with us all he wants; a Jew
can fast in Ramadan for forty years, but if such a person doesn’t surrender
their will to Allah, then all those activities won’t mean much. Belief in Allah
is what makes those actions have merit on Judgment Day.

In the same way, why should we see a praying and fasting Muslim and
automatically assume he or she is a true believer? The blessed Prophet once
observed that many are the people who fast but who get nothing from it but
hunger and thirst. In a similar vein, Allah said that people who pray for show
are those deny the deen. Then intention, the belief, that’s what makes our
Islamic real. That’s what builds a foundation for the future of our community

Secondly, what’s more important than what people see us doing in the masjid,
is what they see us doing outside in the society. If people view us as
foreigners, it’s not because everybody is an evil racist. It’s because sometimes
we’re presenting ourselves that way. We have to look at ourselves with a
critical eye!

As a quick note, lest multitudes write and complain: The vast majority of
Muslims here have chosen to live in non-Muslim neighborhoods; have chosen to
live far from the masjid, have chosen to turn their children into neo-kuffar by
letting them be indoctrinated by the public school system and have chosen to
have non-Muslims as the primary people they come into contact with. If you
choose not to actively practice Islam in your daily life, if you choose not to
build and Islamic community, then don’t display yourself as an ethnic model and
say this is what a Muslim should be.

This leads me to the third factor which will help our faith prosper and grow
here. The essential, unifying force we must have is a solid, homogenous
community. We must live together. All those people who cry about ghettoizing
ourselves need to wake up. Why do the Orthodox Jews live together? Why do the
Amish live together? Why do the Mormons, the Sikhs, the survivalists and the
Koreans live together? Quite simply, to preserve the unique way of life from the
scourge of assimilation. Are they ghettoized? No. Are they poor? No. Their
communities tend to be healthier, safer and more prosperous than the general
melting pot.

How many Muslims have been lost to Islam in the last fifty years here? Tens
of thousands have been lost. The only reason Islam is still growing here, by
large, is because of a steady stream of immigration. But when that dries up, the
assimilation will dwindle our community down to nothing. It’s like we have a
bucket with a hole in the bottom. We keep pouring new immigrants in, but so many
are leaking out are lost forever. (And we’re hardly making concerted or
intelligent efforts at bringing others to the faith.)

I used to have contact with a unique community in the heart of Detroit,
Michigan. It was originally settled by Yemen immigrants about ten years ago.
Those Muslims could have gone the way of others and lost their Iman. But as
you’ll see, something quite different occurred.

I still remember my first visit to the area fondly. I was attending a meeting
of the newly-formed local ICNA group and had never been exposed to the place
before. What I saw amazed me. I was elated, in fact! Children were saying
to me on the street and women (in hijab) were walking around and going
places leisurely and confidently. I saw Muslims who were Arab, Black and
Bengali. But what took the cake for me was when out of nowhere I heard the adhan
outdoors over a loudspeaker. They fought the city council and won the right to
do adhan five times a day in the community!

Something clicked in the minds of the people. These Yemenis formed a master
plan and determined to stay together. They set up a fund and slowly bought one
house after another, moving Muslim families in and drug-infested kafirs out,
until they literally had thousands of Muslims businesses and stores in the heart
of the community and bought a huge Catholic church and made it into a beautiful masjid. They even made a small community health care center!

When we were leaving our meeting and walking to the masjid for salat, it was
the most beautiful sight: from all directions, men women and children, of all
races, were going to their masjid as a community. I’ve never been to Muslim
country before, but I’ll tell you this much, I felt as if I were in an Islamic
country. And this wasn’t Egypt or India or Turkey. It was right here – in

(courtesy of http://www.ifna.net)

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