Assalamu Alaikum and Eid Mubarak.As I sat in the masjid today, listening to a khutbah which reminded us of God, family, and raising our children properly, I noticed that the khateeb ended with one phrase: “Those of you who are present, convey this message to those who are not.”
Those words were first spoken by a most beautiful man, with a most gentle heart, upon the most eloquent of tongues. In fact, it was spoken on this momentous occasion, the last days of Dhul Hijjah, upon a blessed mountain. They were the words of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), on his first and only Hajj, standing on the mountain of ‘Arafah, addressing his nation. If we realize the implications of the order he gave, we realize he was speaking..to me and you. And it is a result of his Prophethood and of the striving of those were present, that we are able to hear those words today.
When we look at the various points of discourse amongst the Muslim activists, the students of knowledge, the teachers of Quran, the scholars, the Muslim bloggers, thinkers, writers – we realize one undeniable fact – as Allah (swt) says:
“Indeed, your striving is diverse (for different ends).”
Though the explanation of this verse points to a more profound diversity, concerning the striving of men towards matters of this world versus those of the Hereafter, and matters of good verses evil, there is still another wisdom to be found. When we look at the discourse of the active Muslim, we see ideas about Islamic educational reform, financial upliftment, religious and creedal enlightenment, spiritual and moral betterment, and all manners of other ideas. We have writings and discussions about the best ways to do Da’wah to non-Muslims, and brilliant reflections are shared about how to spread the message. There are countless thoughts on the Quran, and society, and life, and death, and poverty, and social reform.
However – any one of us who is involved in these discussions, must ask themselves – “how much of this message have I truly conveyed outside of the my silo?” Those of us who work in organizations or institutions risk silo-behavior. That is, we begin to work within a specific framework or environment to such a great extent, that we begin to lose contact and true, hands-on, grass-roots experience with the outside world. With the people to whom we are supposed to be spreading this message, Muslims and non-Muslims alike.
We begin to think so much in terms of the activities of our organization, or in terms of the classes of our religious school, or the formal educational opportunities, that we forget that the majority of Muslims in the West don’t come to masjid, or even to Friday prayers. We forget that the scholars we listen to have limited reach – only those who come to them. We forget that our Islamic activities only benefit those who are connected to the Masjid. We forget that taking this message out, means more than working within our local masjid/community. It means helping people with their everyday problems.
It is time that these thoughts, reflections, ideas, and conclusions no longer sit within the computers and notebooks of the activists, students, and scholars. That the fire of passion that burns for the Deen no longer sits as a protected candle in the hearts of a few people. But rather, that we fulfill our obligations as Muslims, by taking this message out. How many of us have volunteered at our local hospital? Not as a member of this org or a student of that Shaykh, but as a servant of Allah. How many of us have volunteered at a soup kitchen on our spare time? How many of us mentored community youth or spent time cleaning the streets with volunteer groups? How many of us have taken a step back and thought to ourselves of what the Prophet (saw) would have done if he knew there was a homeless man not more than two blocks from us?
Indeed, there is no doubt that organized, disciplined, organizational work, has its basis within the Islamic system, and that it is no doubt the best way to cause a concentrated, educated social change within a society. However, let us not forget that we should always be thinking outside of the box, and take advantage of simple, easy, opportunities, to do good for people, serve Allah, and serve the message of Islam, by taking its benefit to the most downtrodden and forgotten amongst us. Never let formal education and organizational protocol, become a barrier to serving the people as the Prophet (saw) would have done. And all of us who heard khutbahs today, remember that there are thousands of Muslims who did not come to the masjid today – it is time that we actively reach out to them to convey what we learned.