Allahu Subhanahu has commanded for the full establishment of His Deen at every place and throughout every era.
Our Need for Community Transformation
Breaking the secularized, religious mindset
Secularization entails separating public policy from “religion”. Historically, secularization was the West’s response to centuries of governance dominated by Catholicism.
Islam is Deen, not a religion in the sense of today’s secularized thinking. Yet most Muslims refer to Islam as a religion, and actually live as though Islam were a religion, taking elements of ceremony, and ignoring the Islam of public institutions. The common concept of Islam is limited to the masjid, home, and personality, while not enabling our obligations toward public policy and institutions.
Questions for the masajid to ask about themselves:
- Does anyone in your organization know HOW to apply Islam in the social, economic, political, and environmental spheres of the West?
- When was the last time your masjid had an educational series on
- public policy
- the foundations and history of Western society
- psychology, history, or other human sciences
- American social/political activist organizations
- where Muslims should seek reliable news
- which Western institutions provide beneficial learning for Muslims
- If the answers to the above questions do not look good, then you now know why the Muslims are largely irrelevant to Western society. We are not able to speak at the intellectual, institutional, or policy levels.
Transitioning from talk/lecture basis to organized action and institution-building
Most of what Muslims have enacted is verbal activity. We have a constant schedule of talks in masajid, “special guest speaker” appearances, traveling speakers, Youtube speakers, Facebook speakers, Podcast speakers, lecture institutes, talk circles, talk training, and 68 Billion websites. Talk is necessary, but Islam and community cannot be built by it. Which is why we make little progress, even over decades.
The Problems with Masjid Hierarchies
Most Masajid are not organized in a way that facilitates idea-sharing or deep commitment and involvement from community members. The masajid have vested all decision-making in a management hierarchy modeled after the typical corporation or military. Those with education and experience in either social activism or organizational analysis know that such corporate-styled structures create problems. There is tons of research from the last 100 years on this subject.
- They impede participation by stripping community-members out of the decision-making process.
- They drive away qualified people who are likely to be excellent leaders/workers
- They lack vision because they narrow the discussion and eliminate ideas
- They automatically create non-ownership of responsibility within the community. Community members believe, that if they can’t make decisions, they’re not responsible for. Another way of looking at it: “that guy over there, he’s the Imam or board member. He’s the responsible one here.” Muslims won’t see themselves as responsible when they’re not part of the process.
Overall, the masajid as institutions eliminate a lot of participation by community members, and often leave community activists looking elsewhere. If masajid want to see Islam established, they are formatted contrary to this objective.
I contrast this with my experience working with social activist groups. We minimized hierarchies by forming our organization based on working-groups to address various community functions. Every working-group member had a voice in decision-making.
Meeting the “Communal Obligations” (Fara’id al-Kifaya)
Every Fard al-Kifaya is a serious matter. In terms of legal weight, there is little distinction between the severity of failing a Communal Obligation, and a Fard such as Salah. Legally, the failure of meeting any Obligatory matter is equally punishable. As such, our Communal Obligations must be regarded with the same importance as Salah.
If we were to list the Communal Obligations, they would number in the thousands: “whatever is required to meet an Obligation is also an Obligation”.
Obviously, thousands of obligations, for which every Muslim is currently in neglect, and thereby punishable in the Hereafter; these obligations cannot be fulfilled without smart, organized effort.
When Volunteerism Fails
Islam encourages and mandates our voluntary efforts. However, not all needs can be met by volunteers. In such a case, it is required to hire/pay qualified organizers and administrators. Even administrators/managers of “volunteer” organizations are paid, because they work full-time organizing.
The Obligation (Fard) of Communication Infrastructure
Any organized operation, whether a family, business, masjid, army, or colony BEGINS with the established practice of communication. Without it, nothing else is feasible.
The organization to meet community needs and obligations requires :
- Informing the masses about community initiatives
- Requesting volunteer effort and assistance from qualified community members
- a way to reach the vast majority of Muslims
- a way for mass education
- a means for sharing news and events
- a means for massive fund-raising for community projects
- a means for conveying teachings about Islam to the non-Muslim community
- a means for countering propaganda
- a way to connect 200,000 DFW Muslims to have a sense of belonging
- the only possible way to convey a communal VISION, to get 200,000 Muslims and 50 masajid on the same page
- Even beginning this is not possible without Communication Infrastructure. Particularly while 90% of Muslims are disconnected from the masajid.
The Obligation (Fard) to Establish the Community Council
A community with no council is not even a community, as a body with no brain would never be considered a living being. Every colony or organized effort in human history was guided and arranged by a council. Allah’s commandments on the matter:
وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ
“And consult them in the matter”
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَطِيعُوا اللَّهَ وَأَطِيعُوا الرَّسُولَ وَأُولِي الْأَمْرِ مِنكُمْ
“O you who have believed, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in leadership among you.”
History of the Diwan (Bureau)
- First established under Umar ibn al-Khattab R.A.A
- Used for army organization, taxation, and distribution of benefits
- Included complete demographic categories
- Was quickly expanded for legal documentation, communication
- Included a bureau established for receiving and documenting complaints against the administration
- In places, was expanded to include a bureau of Peoples’ Representatives
- Bureaus were led by those with specialized knowledge
- Bureaus were defined by functional responsibility and geographic/demographic domain
- Certain community tasks included an inspector to supervise and ensure propriety
- [al-Ahkaam as-Sultaniyya: “The Rulings of Governance”]
Are DFW Muslims Working on a 10-year Plan, or a 100 Year Plan ?
As someone who has experienced the DFW community for 30 years, who has studied the statistics of the community, who has witnessed the sluggish progress, I must seriously question if we even have a plan to establish Islam in any meaningful way. I’ve never been presented with a plan, and never heard of one. This would indicate that the DFW community hasn’t, in over 40 years, even begun serious, organized development. If any colony in history had spent 40 years without a council and communications, they would have literally died. There would be no Boston or New York today.
Conditions, both global and domestic, indicate a need for real urgency in all matters. Thousands of qualified scholars and institutions are warning that we are nearing a collapse of human civilization, and nearing the death of the only planet we have to live on. Yet Muslims do not exhibit any sense of urgency over this, nor any anxiety over meeting Allah with a long list of failed obligations.
In order to rectify this, what must be changed:
- A Council must be established immediately, and FULLY functional
- Mass-communication must be established
- a vision of being Muslim in America must be developed. This must include:
- Understanding obligations to Islam
- Understanding what a functional community means, and building it
- Expanding the common understanding of Islam, which is typically about “religiosity”, to include the communal, social, economic, environmental, and political realities we face.
- Being inclusive of born-American Muslims. [I attended a meeting with 85 community leaders and I was the only Convert present.]
Another article I have written on the meaning of Relevant Knowledge, which is a major problem in masajid and Islamic learning institutions throughout the world.