by Mustafa Howard
For all human beings, success and failure are conditions established in the worldly life and presented as eternal states in the Hereafter. Failing to meet Islam’s obligations in this life forbodes failure in the hereafter.
“By the passing time.
Surely humanity is in a state of loss.
Except those Believing (with responsibility and fidelity) and working (to establish) propriety.”
Thus, we misserve ourselves, Islam, and humanity when we fail to self-examine, both as individuals and as a community. Self-assessment is a required activity for anyone seeking success in their endeavors.
“The wise is the one who accounts for herself/himself”
Islam reaching the West is a historic opportunity that is laden with tremendous responsibilities. However, there is sufficient evidence that many of those responsibilities have never been clearly understood, codified, presented, or met. Here are a few examples of such evidence:
- The majority of masajid are only attended by 10% of the members of the community. Thus, the only real community forum we have is failing to represent or communicate with 90% of the community.
- The primary Obligation, Da’wah, is in total failure. For decades, the concept has been to invite people to recite the Shahadah, while 90% of Converts will either leave Islam or the community over just a few years. If we were to understand “establish Islam” or Da’wah to mean “ensure that human beings enter Islam and establish their lives as Muslims”, then Da’wah and establishing Islam are losing ground.
- After living in DFW for 30 years as a Convert, and after studying hundreds of cases of the Converts here, I developed The Medina Network as a package of solutions. However, I gave-up this project after not receiving the needed funding to operate. I spent 3 years trying to get the required support.
- The most essential requirements of a functional community have not been established: leadership and communications. There never has been, nor will ever be, a successful organization, colony, or mission without qualified leadership and the ability to communicate with members.
- I worked with a team of people trying to establish a professional TV station for Muslims in DFW. This was an incredibly important project we worked on for over 2 years. The masajid failed to meet the demand for this project.
- There is no functioning council or coordinating body in DFW. One group of representatives from 85 Muslim organizations has been meeting since 2006 (TEN YEARS), yet has failed to establish either a clear purpose or meaningful function. I have proposed to remedy this problem with my own projects. However there is little indication of commitment to taking action on my proposals.
- 99% of the Muslims live without any commitment to responsibility toward Islam, community, or the massive challenges of our time.
- Muslims spend decades attending the masajid without developing an intelligence that would make them functional as Muslim members of society. The primary reason for this is that there is no organized approach to how and what get taught in the community. This is a disaster on many levels. First, because the majority of members will lack basic knowledge to make them functional Muslims. Second, because this lack of functional intelligence does not reach the youth quickly enough to make THEM functional Muslims and members of society.
- I have written on this problem and will post the link at the end of this article.
- The US is currently the policy dictator for much of what happens in the world. Most policies and actions coming from the US are globally destructive, actually threatening the future existence of humanity and our planet. Yet, Muslims have not met the demand to influence US policy, while Muslim countries are the first to be destroyed by bad policy.
- I have developed the Islam Forward program for this. Yet, I am still waiting for financial support from the community to begin operation.
- We have a failed understanding of leadership.
- Imams are typically chosen from overseas after having completed a basic regimen of “Islamic studies”. However, these basic studies provide little more than the ability to recite the Qur’an and teach Islam basics. This would be perfectly fine in Muslim countries. However, this fails to meet the challenges of Islam in the US.
- Board members are typically chosen merely on the ability to offer volunteer time every week. This says absolutely nothing about any qualifications. Yet, board members typically make the final decisions on community projects and resource allocation.
- Muslims seem to have an infatuation with talking celebrities. However, most talks offered do not lead to any real action, meaning they are irrelevant. Essentially, we can see ourselves as a community waiting for someone to give us another irrelevant talk. This is antithetical to ‘amal(work) that Islam is actually predicated upon. Also, many intellectuals and activists are actually repelled by the masajid. A community in which every Muslim accepted the responsibilities of effort would be a very different community.
- Religiosity: for years, I have been disturbed by the prevailing concept of “religiosity” in the community. Most Muslims even use the term “religious Muslim”. There are several problems indicated in this:
- Islam is Deen, not religion. Religion is a concept of secularism. That Muslims harbor such a self-concept is indicative of misunderstanding Islam and the world we live in.
- The idea of “religiosity” is usually defined by outward appearance (beard, hijab, etc.), ritual practices (salah), or frequent masjid attendance. This is horribly superficial.
- The problem of being exclusionary by superficial understandings: the entire practice of most Muslims meeting the socially constructed idea of “religiosity” is not more than 1% of Allah’s Deen. Yet, good people who may excel in other aspects of the remaining 99% may be literally repelled by the community.
- As an example: consider the reality that very qualified people, or activists, may be repelled by the community because of lacking a beard, hijab, having tattoos, or occasionally swearing. This happens daily, while it is a horrible disservice to Islam and the community.
- A lack of a clear mission, priorities, methodologies, and other organizing principles. Examples:
- With 200K Muslims in DFW and over 50 masajid, there is no mission statement or list of priorities for the community as a whole.
- While many Muslims collect money to send for disaster relief overseas, many critical projects here lack funding. Islam prioritizes meeting the obligations (Fara’id) within ones own locality.
- While Muslims are obsessed with Islamophobia, there are the serious threats against humanity from a corrupt economic system, political corruption, and environmental destruction that very few Muslims take action on.
- It is likely that only 1 from every 10,000 Muslims actually know Islam’s methodologies of prioritization.
- The prevailing lack of urgency: few Muslims including existing leaders show much urgency over the broken state of the community, the failure of meeting the needs of Converts, the lack of organization, the lack of required functionality, the fact that we’re missing 90% of our community and only have commitment from 1%, and the failure to influence policy on the major issues of our time.
Among the basic principles of Islam:
- Whatever is indispensible becomes Fard
- Whatever is Fard takes priority over other matters
- Whatever is broken must be rectified
- Incompetence or ineffectiveness in public institutions is disallowed (haram), and listed among the kaba’ir (major sins)
What I have presented here is a demand for reform of the Muslim community. We are like a ship with no rudder to steer us, or sufficient energy and resources to drive our sails.
To transition from the current state of failure to a state of success requires a project similar to my Diwan, in which others like myself engage in studying the community and presenting the realistic reflections along with policy suggestions. The sooner we take our failures seriously and commit to reform, the sooner we can begin increasing our success, and minimizing the harm we are doing to Allah’s Deen.
Some relevant articles: