I wrote this post around the same time last year on my xanga, but I recently read something that quoted Said Ramadan and thought of putting this up again with edits:
“Our problem is one of spirituality. If a man comes to speak to me about the reforms to be undertaken in the Muslim world, about political strategies and of great geo-strategic plans, my first question to him would be whether he performed the dawn prayer in its time….
…Power is not our objective: what have we to do with it? Our goal is love of the Creator, the fraternity and justice of Islam. This is our message to dictators….
Our ethical behavior and conscience of good and evil is an arm that is used against us by despots, the lovers of titles, power, and money. They do that which we cannot do; they lie as we cannot lie, they betray as we cannot betray, and kill as we cannot kill. Our exactness before God is, in their eyes, our weakness. This apparent weakness is our real strength.”
— Said Ramadan, father of Tariq Ramadan
Subhanallah. How he talks about that which indeed makes this Muslim Ummah the best of nations. That we do not lie as others lie, that we do not betray as others betray, that we do not kill as others kill.
Today, one might think that the situation has become so bad when we look at the lands of Islam, that the “do not” would fare better if it said “should not”. Yet, the solution he offers is golden when he says that our problem is one of spirituality. But on a further reading of this thoughts, we find that his solution has more nuances than just that.
I recently spoke at a university to a non-muslim crowd, introducing Islam, and after speaking about some of the most fundamental differences between Islam and other religions I chose to concentrate on the issues of Taqarrub (nearness to Allah) and Tawbah (repentence). It is our concept of salvation after all, which strongly distinguishes us, after tawhid, from other religions.
I crossed my fingers, secretly wishing that though a question about violence and Islam would be welcome, I hoped and prayed that maybe, just maybe, all of that talk about the Muslim’s connection to Allah would spark some questions about THAT instead: I hope that the concepts which had caused the Sahabah to be impressed might hopefully become the focal points of our discussion….
First question: “Why do Muslims kill then…?”
I sighed. Sad for a moment that after a speech which was about God, His beauty, His power, and His love – all of that had been skipped over. I thought: “Ok, thats fine Inshallah, we can talk about that. Guess it was too much to hope for…” So we went on to discuss it, other questions came about better things, never able to get to the heart of the matter, which was God Himself. Alhamdulillah though, the organizers did a good job though and I enjoyed doing the program.
I wasn’t surprised at the first question. Rather, its been the first question everywhere I’ve ever been. But it made me re-realize how much work we really have to do. How much the words of Said Ramadan (rahmatullahi alayhi) have to offer us today.
A spirituality that is so sound, a connection to Allah so strong, that the heart has no choice but to command the limbs to an activism that is unbreakable, a resolve that is unshakeable, and such Islamic work sincerely done to reach the people who have not recieved the message and to draw nearer to Allah, that would shake the foundations of this anti-Islamism that has developed on this earth. And deeds by the Believers – so pure, so free from oppression that no one would ever again question the morality of the deen of Allah (swt).
It is not for us to say if/when that will happen, but it is for us to work and pray, and Allah is the one to provide success.
Tariq Ramadan wrote concerning his late father:
“This strength was his energy up to his last days. He remained deeply faithful to the message. I owe him the understanding that to speak of God is, before anything else, to speak about love, the heart and fraternity. I owe him my learning that solitude with God is better than neglect with men. I owe him the feeling that deep sadness never exhausts one’s faith in God. His generosity, his kindness and knowledge were as many gifts. I thank God for giving me the gift that is this father, at whose side I discovered that faith is love. Love of God and men in the face of all trials and adversities.
Hassan Al-Banna taught: “Be like a fruit tree. They attack you with stones, and you respond with fruits.” This he himself learnt very well; he made it his own in the most intimate sense of the word. Observer of the world, distant from the crowds, in the solitude of his place, after years of fighting without respite for God’s sake, against treachery and corruption, his words had the energy of the sources and of the rabbâniyya (of the essential link with the Creator). He never ceased to speak about God, the heart and about the intimacy of this Presence. He had learnt the essential, and he called for the essential without retreating.”