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by 'Abd Allah Tesfaye Rhamis
Tuesday, Aug. 08, 2000 at 7:47 PM
From A Concerned Muslim
From A Concerned Muslim
The greatest jihad (literally, STRUGGLE-not Holy War) is speaking truth to the face of an oppressive ruler.
If you see injustice being done in the world, then change it with your hand. If you cannot change it with your hand, then change it with your tongue. If you are unable to change it with your tongue, then hate it in your heart, and that is the least of faith.
These are a couple of hadiths from The Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon him) that I've paraphrased to convey that what you are calling for is not an entirely unique phenomenon in history. As Americans, what we are seeing is a mass of concerned and conscious people challenging the country to be what it professes and claims to the world: A place where justice is served. Historically, unfortunately, this claim diverges from the facts presented to us by history. As I often repeat in my head when I hear such things: I hear what you say, but (more importantly) I see what you have done, and what you continue to do.
There is such a diversity and mix of causes that make up this movement that it appears utterly chaotic to the uninitiated and uninformed. Hopefully, the average citizen will be alerted in time to that which concerns you all, and what should concern the nation and the rest of the world. To your collective credit, you are to be commended for your courage to speak out and actually take action in changing a world that is quickly decaying, finding a select few benefiting and too many of us asleep.
What I find encouraging is seeing the different social, economic and environmental causes banding together demanding that justice be served to them. These aims are not that different from the core principles and beliefs of Muslims. We believe that the Earth will have its day to testify against those who abuse it and that the abusers will be punished; we believe that the poor have a RIGHT to the wealth of the rich, and that the rich have an obligation to those who have less than they do, to freely give of what they have been granted; Interest is forbidden, so institutions like the IMF and the World Bank wouldn't even exist and people such as family farmers have little to fear in the way of foreclosure on their farms and equipment due to their inability to pay back loans made to them at exorbitant rates of interest. There is so much more to mention. But the question begs to be asked: Does history demonstrate the effectiveness of any of the various social, economic and political systems advocated to correct what has gone so horribly wrong?
Historians, Muslim and non-Muslim alike, often point to the Iberian Peninsula/Muslim Spain from the early 9th Century to the early 17th Century as a time and place where extraordinary events took place. A place of amazing tolerance and intellectual development that was the fuel for what led Europe out of the Dark Ages and into the Enlightenment and the Renaissance (however, Europe was thrown into a far greater darkness: the Inquisition). That place (the Iberian Peninsula/Muslim Spain) and its people embodied the name of the way of believing that its rulers lived and understood this life by: Islam, which comes from a world meaning peace-a peace founded on justice. It actually did what it said it would do.
Unfortunately, what people in the West know and see in the Muslim world for much of recent history are intolerance and oppression-two things that are the ANTITHESIS of Islam. What is even more worrying is to see Muslims spreading this poison throughout the Earth and telling people that this is Islam. It saddens me because it truly is a beautiful tradition with a glorious history that everyone can learn from. Muslims should be doing what you folks are doing-we should be out there with you calling for justice. In time, I hope to see Muslims taking action, joining people together in a cause bigger than our individual selves and our selfish aims. This was the way of the Muslims in the past, and is the way of Islam in truth.
In closing, I'd like to mention something that El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz said when he returned from Mecca after making the Hajj-not to long before he was killed. He said that perhaps we would all realize the oneness of man if we realized the oneness of God. I wish you all the best and I plan to join you in this fight.
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