4 things you can do for Islam and America in 2005

If we don't plan for our time and money, time and money will control us and we will be nothing but slaves running day and night achieving hardly anything for this world or for the Everlasting life. We will be lost in the competitive wilderness of life until we reach our graves.

Wal Asr...

By the epoch,
humanity is indeed at a loss,
except those who have faith
and do good works, and enjoin truth and justice
upon one other
and enjoin patience
upon one another.
(Quran 103: 1 - 3)

But if we take charge of our time and money, we can achieve things.

The most certain thing about life is its uncertainty. We see it every day. That’s why it is important to plan.

The community is nothing but each one of us collectively. If we individually plan our contribution to society while begging for God's help, two things will happen, God willing. First, we will gradually emerge from our current state of despair. Second, we will be personally successful in this world and in the everlasting World to come. And that is where real success lies.

Below are some ideas that can help jump-start your own thinking and planning process to benefit the community in the next 12 months.

1. Develop Better Communication Skills

If someone needs better communication skills, it is us. Muslims are facing an unending public relations nightmare:

The gap between neighbors in the US and Canada is growing. Almost half of our neighbors would like our liberties to be curtailed according a recent Cornell University public opinion poll.

This distrust is reflected in the job market: Muslims are the last to be hired and the first to be fired today. According to the last Canadian Census, Muslims have higher educational qualifications than Catholics and Protestants, but they are still twice as likely to be unemployed. Seventy five percent of Muslims surveyed by Zogby International in the US were either discriminated themselves or knew someone who was.

Terrorism and the war on terror are fueling Islamophobia. This is resulting into pressure on the Muslim family putting stress on spousal relationships and children.

All these challenges are challenges of communication that have become the primary challenge for Muslims living in the West. While we can suggest and expect Muslim organizations, the media, our governments and civil society to deal with these challenges, we as an individuals must also devote some resources in mastering the art and technology of communication.

Better interpersonal communication skills are important for our families and our relations with our neighbors. Good language skills open more doors for immigrants. Improved writing and speaking skills will help you not only on the job but also as a citizen and as a Muslim to enhance your profile and prospects in life and the community.

English is the lingua franca of the world, and unless Muslims develop their skills and talents in the field of writing and communication in this language, we will continue to lose. There are more non-Muslims who have written about Islam and Muslims in North America than Muslims. We do not even have good books that can be given out on the issues of Jihad, terrorism, peace and women. In fact, most of the books and articles that are considered “scholarly” on these topics tend to be written by those who hate Islam and Muslims, not those interested in dialogue and understanding.

Here are some things you can do in this regard:

a.     Sign up for writing and speech classes.

b.    Have your Masjid start classes on interpersonal communication, writing, speech and accent improvement.

c.     Check out your local library or community college for free or low-cost classes and seminars or request them to start one.

d.    With the help of your librarian, a mentor or an Internet search, develop a reading list on communication skills.

e.     Read, read and read some more instead of watching TV.

f.     Write letters to the editor, editorials, and commentaries.

g.    If you are a student, no matter what your major, take some courses in writing, public speaking, journalism, audio/video or multimedia production, etc.

h.    Consider switching your major to journalism, broadcasting, creative writing or at least make these programs your minor.

i.      Organize your family to write a book together.

j.      Have a monthly family circle in which creative writing is shared or a presentation is made.

k.    Lean the art of television production by using your digital camera and computer.

And if you want to submit your work for the web, please send it to us at Sound Vision. We'll post the best writing Insha Allah and figure out how to guide you further.

2. Become an Agent for Muslim Unity

"Muslims are the new n....rs of America" as a sympathetic Jewish attorney of a Palestinian told me. If we don't stand up for our rights no one else will. Muslims in America continue to live in a virtual internment camp while Muslim resources remain divided and unavailable to mount a legal challenge and a civil right movement.

The political and public relations challenges which Muslim face in America are not impossible to handle for a community is among the most highly educated and professional Muslim communities in the world.

Muslims need to come together to meet the challenges we face today. A common agenda has been discussed for several years but we remain divided. For Muslims, unity is not an option but an obligation.

Who is leading Muslims in America today? No, I am not looking for a Mehdi, a Khalifa, or one organization. I am looking for a common sense solution today. If the labor movement, women, and other minorities can organize their federations and confederations to address their common agenda successfully, why have we failed to do that?

Everyone agrees that unity is what we need but hardly anyone does anything about it. I request that we all, individually, become agents of unity wherever we are. Here is a list of things you can do:

a.     Ask your Masjid leadership what they are doing for Muslim unity.

b.    Meet, call, and write to Muslim leaders you know and ask what they are doing to bring Muslims together.

c.     If you attend any conventions make sure you use your contacts to bring the unity agenda at the forefront of the program.

d.    Set aside a budget and allocate time for the cause of Muslim unity developing a plan of action for something you can do individually.

e.     Form a network of Muslims in your city who are willing to work for national unity.

f.     Devote time for intra-Muslim dialog like among Shias and Sunnis.

g.    Adopt behavior which builds a community (e.g. saying Salam to those you know and those you don’t; smiling, which is an act of charity; visiting the sick; caring for the hungry; consoling the grief-stricken, etc.) and avoid behaviors that break a community (e.g. suspicion, backbiting, slander, mockery, etc.).

h.    Learn about conflict resolution.

i.      People split when they don't see respect for accountability, criticism and proper consultation. How is your family and your community regarding these two pillars of diversity?

j.      Implement at least three methods to fight racism within the community and society.

Muslims coming together will, insha Allah become an asset for American instead of remaining a suspect which is guilty until proven innocent.

3. Become a Better Citizen

Remember all those nice people of other faiths who supported Muslims after the backlash of 9/11? I love America because of those people. There are tens of millions of good people in America who, despite all the propaganda against Islam, stand for the rights of Muslims. Muslims need to work with them to build bridges of understanding. Humanity is one big brotherhood and sisterhood. God tells us that we were all one but humans later divided themselves up.

a.     All politics is local. Do you personally know people at the village and county level who represent you? Have you broken bread with them?

b.    Adopt a local cause at the family level for a year. Muslims are always concerned about something international which is understandable, but it is a local cause which will give you the opportunity to network and develop relationships. One good issue is domestic violence.

c.     Is your Masjid a part of any social, justice, peace, or interfaith coalition? Maybe you can represent them.

d.    If you are a student are you more busy with your MSA than with other student groups and student government? Go where people are, instead of doing an Islam Awareness week where only Muslims are sitting.

e.     Can you do an internship at the ACLU or volunteer for civil rights?

f.     Attend a local interfaith, labor, or peace and justice network. Showing up sometimes is half of the work.

g.    Volunteer in soup kitchens or homeless shelters run by other groups.

h.    Donate to a social justice program which Quakers may have in your area.

i.      Learn about other groups' social services programs.

4. Increase your time for America

America is facing one of the most difficult times in its history.

We are closing our minds to critical thinkers like Tariq Ramadan, who is described by Time magazine as one of the 100 most likely innovators of the 21st century. Yusuf Islam of Peace Train is detained and deported from the US as terror suspect while in Rome he was later awarded as "Man for Peace" at the summit of 28 Nobel Peace Prize laureates.

America is not considered a better citizen in the global village today as we refused to sign the Kyoto treaty on global warming, anti-mines treaty, and we have not supported the International War Crimes Tribunal.

We are afraid to travel abroad and are making it impossible for others to travel to America. Free travel is connected with free trade, an essential for capitalism. We are loosing customers as Europeans are gaining. Foreign students are heading for other shores along with their brains and Euros.

We are liked only in Israel, India and in some polls in England. Survey after survey tell us that a majority of people in the rest of the world, Europeans, Asians, Africans, Muslim, Christians, Buddhist and others dislike American policies. Are all of them jealous of our freedoms or there is more to it?

But these issues are hardly discussed in America today. Here are a few things we can do:

a.     Join a body which discusses issues important to America like the Council on Foreign Relations.

b.    Resist the dehumanization of America. This is what warmongers do. Since we know that dehumanization of Muslims is resulting in criminal behavior, we should be the first ones to stand up fighting when articles, emails and some leaders dehumanize America and our neighbors.

c.     Study and communicate with an American think tank.

d.    Teach a language class in Arabic, Urdu, Persian or any other language which is so much needed. Maybe your Masjid can do this which will allow you to provide cultural diversity training as well.

e.     Buy airtime to broadcast the daily Muslim talk radio show which Radio Islam has started in Chicago during which neighbors talk to each other.

Time is our greatest resource. Devote yours to causes that deserve it. Also remember that when you are giving time to an organization or network, your input and ideas are also more likely to be considered by its leadership.

Remembering the millions of people who have lost their lives or livelihood in the Indonesian earthquake and tsunamis, we know that we cannot take life for granted. It is very humbling to see human helplessness.

Let's submit to God Almighty by achieving something better for humanity in 2005 before our time is up in this world.

Comments

I think it is incredible and very interesting! I think Muslims all around the world should be united and follow what Holly Quran has quided us to do.I think if some of the extremests put their conservative ideas away, and be in the middle level which Islam has told us to do, We will definitely have a more stable and democratic community! keep up the good work and god bless all of the Human beings.

Location

Kabul Afghanistan

Assalamu alaikum. Great effort and suggestions. Keep up the good work. Muslims need to be united and reminded to unite - not just in the United States but worldwide too. The good thing that came out of Sept 11 is the awareness of Islam - and it should be a wake-up call for all Muslims to stand up, do good and unite.

Location

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

Aslamualaikum everyone,This is a great article. I am sure that everyone wants to make a difference after reading this article. May Allah open our eyes and guide us to becoming better muslim to one another and our community. Each muslim is unique, therefore, it is important to respect one another and learn from each other. I believe that when we take care of each other, we take care of our image that we portrait to the rest of the world. Keep up the good work. Maaslam.

Location

California

Peace,It's a great effort and role you play to enlight our Ummah!May you be rewarded abundantly.

Location

Nigeria

As-Salaamu AlaikumAlhamdulillah, for your efforts expressed in this article. May Allah guide the Belivers. What we're (i.e. Muslims) are facing is a multidenominational problem and should be address with a multidenominational solutions. But one point of emphasises that I would like to point out, is that Muslims need to stop looking to the Non-Muslims for the solutions to their problems and start to depend on Allah, his Prophet, and ourselves. In short I look at the plight of Muslims here in America especially as being like unto that of the African American situation here in this country. The Muslims have - if not the resources, they have access to the resources that could be about a significant change of attitude in this country. The problem lies in that the Muslims do not have the Science (i.e. Intelligence or Gut Wrenching Desire) to go with the resources. Like that of the African American community.To finish, many of the things that's in this article I agree and believe should be a course of action that we should embark upon. Inshallah, Allah places Sakeen and Clarity on our stuggle.As-Salaamu Alaikum

Location

New York

I totally agree with this article! Seiously, I think unity is the biggest problem within Muslims, not only American Muslims, but Muslims worldwide. In fact, I think there's a gap between American Muslims and Muslims from other nations because Americans are kind of torn between their faith and loyalty to America. However, as the Prophet Muhammad said, belief in Islam, loyalty to Muslim bretrhen, transcends and overcoems all national boundaries.

Location

New York

As-Salaamu Alaykum, May Allah reward you for these excellent recommendation of your wanderfull article.and we here in the community centre helping yours, with all your hard working around the globewith all our prayers and much more effort. may Allah guide us, Ameen.

Location

NIGERIA

SALAM wow ...wat a great artical.....

Location

pakistan

Excellent article summarizing the situation we find ourselves in very precise words. We MUST improve communications. THAT'S WHERE WE MUST START. You are absolutely right. We HAVE to project the coorect image of Islam and erase the distorted ones.JaazaakAllah

Location

Nigeria

It is an excellent article. We have following your recommendations in the article at a grasroot level (County level) for last 3 years, since 9/11. We have reached out to our neighbors and local community through Food Drives, health fairs and participating in many community activities. Reached out to politicians through fund raisers, candidates forums, particpating in election activities and representing Muslims on Boards and Commissions. Also, the Muslim professionals regulary meet to interact with each other to facilitate job and business opportunities. We have formed Howard County Muslim Councils in the January of 2002(www.hcmcmaryland.com) and since then three more councils have been formed in Montgomery Baltimore and Haeford Counties and now we are trying to form a Council at a State level, perhaps, your ideas in the article could be applied at local level first and then all counties and cities connect together to form a State Council and then a National council. This model is different then previous models when the organization are formed in a top down manner. This model is bottom up. As someone has said that all activities starts at local level,I certainly would like to see Muslim community working together and following the foot steps provided in your article. Please advise if it is possible to discuss this bottom up approach more and distribute to the Muslims in United States of America. The Masjids and Muslim community organization needs to work together to make Muslims stronger. Our website describes the model.

Location

Maryland

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