[a note from the author: This article is in no way intended to be specific as to statistics or some proven schema. Our community has no statistics, because we have not yet established community policy studies. This is an attempt to initiate some objective self-evaluation, to provide some framework for understanding our condition, and what must be done to improve our condition.]
Although merely being a Muslim is something to celebrate, spending a lifetime without the work required to establish our Islam is defined, Islamically, as a failed life. The vast majority of us are NOT working to establish our Islam. In fact, the vast majority of us have little concept or guideline to know what establishing Islam means.
To objectively assess our condition, I propose that we start with something familiar: the hypothesis of a K-12 graduation.
- The majority of Muslims are what we can call Cultural Muslims – our “muslimness” is a cultural belonging and distinction, rather than an active participation in Deen. Let’s go with 70% of us being Cultural Muslims – those of us who never deliberately participate in Islam, meaning we never enter the Kindergarten of Islam, for lack of interest.
- So, 30% of us enter Kindergarten, meaning we sometimes think, discuss, and attempt some degree of Islam. We Believe that Islam is a means for our improvement or eventual salvation.
- First Grade – let’s describe it as the beginning of an attempt to order certain aspects of one’s life toward achieving a possible salvation or success in the Hereafter. This may include Salah, Fasting, some learning, and some attempt to remember Allah daily. Also, some deliberate attempt to learn and inculcate good character.
- Then, for the sake of further discussion, let’s establish 12th Grade as a reasonably complete establishment of a society that is pleasing to Allah. Taking our Prophet’s Community as a prototype: laws within the community are toward Islam’s Objectives, Mercy and Justice are the order of the day, and there is enough peace and stability to allow community members to focus on higher-order concerns – intellectual growth, internal rectification, social cohesion, maximal welfare, and overall excellence.
- Between the 10% of us who have attempted Kindergarten and moved forward to 1st Grade, I would project that the vast majority of us will never graduate to 2nd Grade. There are 11 entire grades between where we are, and where our Islam is actually established.
Having been a Convert to Islam for 29 years now, having studied enough of my Deen and Community to have a view encompassing our state, I believe that this framework is accurate enough, though not entirely exact. Again, our communities have little or no sociological or other objective studies to provide empirical facts.
Some of the Obvious Shortcomings
This is a short-list of conditions in our communities which are clearly Prohibited (Haram), meaning their rectification is Obligatory (Fard)
- The various ills faced by Converts, including lack of propriety in how Converts are maintained in the priorities of the community, the high percentage of Converts who give-up on the community, the high percentage of Converts abandoned and forgotten by the community, unmarried Converts, unhappily married Converts, impoverished Converts, disenfranchised Converts, and the lack of Structured Learning that focuses on relevance to Converts
- Hundreds, or thousands, of homeless Muslims in the community
- The disinterest of 95% of the community in the masjid corporations
- Lack of community studies
- Lack of community communications
- Lack of community accounting/statistics
- Shortage of activism
- Shortage of intelligent and committed civic involvement
- Shortage of funding for needed projects
- Cultural dominance prevalent in most masajid, as opposed to openness and diversity in administration, programs, and leadership
- The deplorable conditions of Muslim youth, which requires an entire list of its own
The Proper Functioning of a Community
Community has been defined variously. The combination of definitions is probably most meaningful.
- a feeling of fellowship with others, as a result of sharing common attitudes, interests, and goals.
- a group of interdependent organisms
- the people of a district or country considered collectively, especially in the context of social values and responsibilities; society.
An organized approach to defining Functional Requirements for a Functional Community may take several forms. I would suggest that such an approach begin with an assessment of human needs, using the 5 Objectives of Sharia’h combined with Maslow’s Hierarchy of Human Needs. For each element in those, conclude what must be established in order to meet each human requirement. The resulting functions then become the agenda for the community. I’ve been through this process in several other instances.
The Resources Needed to Establish Community Functionality
These are some of the basics:
- Intellectually qualified personnel
- Organization and Legitimate Authority
- Funding to meet the needs
- Mass Communication
The Objectives and Policies to Garner Increased Support
Human societies are built upon shared principles and common objectives. Whenever a new society, organization, or renewal is attempted, it begins with a thorough assessment of existing problems, needs, and conditions, and formulates objectives and methods to meet those. Within that effort comes the affirmation and practice of founding philosophies and policies.
I have recently written, in another article, that communities lacking vision and clear objectives cannot progress. A lack of objectives means there is no actual intent to work or make progress. Without a stated mission of objectives, a community and its resources cannot be gathered for a cause. This guarantees a lack of progress and the perpetuation of community failures.
My article on this matter is Here>>> Our Muslim Community: Predicated on Identity or Functionality
It may seem harsh, but self-examination is necessary for one’s development. This is equally important, or more so, for a community. We must not be blinded by optimism, rose-colored lenses, or nihilism in assessing the true value and character of our community, and ourselves as community members. It is much better to confront our failings now, than to have them confronted in the Court of Allah. That Day is Severe.
Reasonably assessing our failures is the only sensible method of knowing where we need effort toward progress. And if we are currently between Kindergarten and First-Grade, it is a requirement upon all of us to commit to such assessment, or support those who are willing and able. This is the meaning of Communal Obligation: those who lack the capacity to do the actual work are required to financially support those who have the capacity. This obligation is not lifted until all requirements have been met. Such endeavor is the very purpose of our Creation.