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Modern Day Khawarij: Dissociate Yourself from them! – Dr. Hamid Slimi

Imam Hamid SlimiA khutbah delivered by Dr. Hamid Slimi, of the Sayeda Khadija Center, Canada, stressing on understanding the similarities and common ideas between the historical khawarij/kharijites (secessionists) and today’s new groups that claim to do things on behalf of Islam including breaking the laws of the countries where they live or visit, killing innocent people – Muslim and non-Muslim – as well as doing takfir (excommunicating Muslims from their faith). The message here is loud and clear: learn who we are dealing with and dissociate yourself and your families and loved ones from such people and such dangerous ideologies.

 

Resources for Seekers:

American Muslims Respond: Fundraise for Victims’ Families

At least 14 people have been killed and 17 more wounded in San Bernardino, California where up to 3 attackers went on a shooting spree at a regional center that provides services to those with special needs. The San Bernardino families lost their loved ones in a deplorable act of violence. This is why a collective American Muslim leaders and groups have launched an effort to raise funds for the victims’ families.

We wish to respond to evil with good, as our faith instructs us and send a powerful, united message of compassion through action. Our Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, said: “Have mercy to those on earth, and the One in the Heavens (God) will have mercy upon you.” And the Quran teaches to “Repel evil by that which is better.” (41:34)

All fundraising proceeds will help with the immediate, short term needs of the families, such as funeral expenses. If we exceed the $50,000 goal, we can even assist the families with long-term expenses or possible provide a donation to the regional center where the shooting took place. Funds will be distributed to the victims’ families by the MiNDS Institute.

Please contribute and share this project with those you know and inshaAllah together we can send this message of compassion.

 

Resources for Seekers:

“Be Unapologetically Muslim No Matter What” – Linda Sarsour

Linda-Sarsour

Linda Sarsour, in the aftermath of the shootings in San Bernardino, California, writes: “A young man, Saqib, put this 1-minute video together from a speech I recently gave and it really sums up a sentiment and feeling I hope we can all share. So many tragic and horrible things happening around us impacting so many people of all backgrounds around the world. Amidst that all, we need to stay grounded. Hope you listen carefully, absorb my words, and hold them close in your heart when you are feeling any fear or doubt.”

Resources for Seekers:

 

“Our hearts are with all who are suffering in California” – Shaykh Jihad Brown-Totten

Mushhaf-Quran-on-Stand-in-Mosque.pngWhat I’ve been compelled to convey to my non-Muslim family members out in Southern California:

Our hearts are with all who are suffering tonight in California.

We suffer with you.

There is no excuse for the taking of innocent lives.

Our beautiful and gentle Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is certainly turning in his grave as he witnesses what he declared to be criminal activity.

Among his mandates, “Whoever takes a single life it is as if he has taken the lives of all of humanity”.

Confused and ignorant youth who we are consistently prevented from teaching after the collapse of our classical theological institutions and the rise of reactionary reductionist political ideologies in the vacuum that ensued.

No amount of humiliation and anger at abuses warrants or justifies criminal activity in response to criminal activity.

Religion is a potent and powerful phenomenon with such power to destroy – when abused. But when understood soundly – to heal like no other medicine.

We live in confusing times “that will confuse any gentle man”.

Killing is never an effective answer to killing. Everyone is left blind.

Your Muslim neighbours continue to decry the actions of an angry and confused minority that – for all types of unrelated reasons insist on misrepresenting their faith despite best efforts.

I do however, demand from Muslim community decision-makers that those who are properly qualified in Islamic law and theology be allowed access to teach the modern Muslim public a correct balanced realistic (and grounded) understanding of the religion of Islam.

This lack of professionalism and sustained immaturity in scriptural interpretation must end.

With caring and judiciousness we all as neighbours together can find solidarity healing and brightness in our future.

It is our collective decision to take.

Concerned and hopeful.

 

~ Shaykh Jihad Brown-Totten

 

Resources for Seekers:

 

Feeling Emotional? This Nifty Qur’an Website Can Help.

Sujood-Quran-App-EmotionSomeone very clever has developed a website, Sujood.co, where you select the emotion you’re currently feeling and it automatically gives you a verse from the Holy Qur’an or a prayer that helps you cope with it. Now, why didn’t we think of that?

Ramadan, Rumi, and Love By Zeshan Zafar

It is part of life to have a difference of opinion with various individuals or groups of people. Terry Tempest Williams, in one of her books, states, “Most of all, difference of opinions are opportunities of learning.”

However, generally speaking, on many occasions, when this occurs, if one doesn’t manage it well or lacks comportment, the result can turn into a feeling of animosity. Furthermore, when uncontrolled, it can turn into hatred, a spiritual disease that sits at the core of one’s heart, dictating and defining one’s behaviour unbeknown to oneself.

When such hatred sets into our way of life, individuals choose to deal with it in a variety of ways. Some try to mask the emotion or seek validation for that hatred; others seek revenge or violent harm with devastating consequences to those they may have loved unconditionally at one time. We also see the modern phenomenon of social media being used to spread this hatred, unfairly sowing the seeds of doubts that stick and label many unfortunate individuals with “justified” gossip becoming an accepted discussion on each of our tables.

Such behaviour has unfortunately broken down many marriages, families, friendships, communities, business partners, etc. as this trait continues to become rampant to the point that we no longer discern the goodness and sacrifices that many still work towards in our respective communities, regardless of our opinions. Instead, we tend to sideline them and bad mouth them, thinking we are safe to share statements against people in the confines of our close circles, yet at the same time we do not realise the terrible human beings we are all becoming through the mismanagement of this emotion.

One of my teachers once said in one of his lectures, “Do not have a crablike mentality whereby when crabs are put in a bucket together, each one tries to escape by pulling the other one down, just to escape themselves, leading to collective demise.” This is exactly what hatred is doing to the development and growth of our communities in times when our real challenges are elsewhere and which we should all really be focusing our energies on. Unfortunately, we cry out emotional slogans such as “Muslim Unity” without realising that little can be changed without changing oneself.

One of the most notable scholars and thinkers of Islam, Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, recently shared a profound insight from the Qur’an that states, “Indeed, God will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” He stated that our community is besot by changing the world whilst forgetting the simple hard rule of changing oneself, and that the role of changing the condition of people as a collective is the role of God. So if we all focused on changing ourselves first, ridding ourselves of our hatred for one another and purifying our own hearts, God will take care of the rest.

The question arises, how can we move beyond this hatred and begin to remove this infection so that goodness can be achieved in the short time we tread on this earth, with the invaluable gift we have been given of life?

Many have their own mechanisms of dealing with this. Recently, whilst on a journey to the States, a dear friend of mine gave me valuable and practical advice on a way to manage such tendencies, by making a conscientious and sincere effort to reach out to individuals you feel you have wronged, or who you feel wronged you, or who seem distant to you. He suggested making a prayer for them to rid your heart of antagonistic presumptions by reaching out to them on a weekly basis, until all that is contained or constricts your heart disappears until you only have mahabba (love) for that person.

The Muslim community as a whole is known to be a giving community, especially when it comes to charity and hospitality, and they continue to hold tight to the noble virtues that are fast disappearing in a globalised world. Yet charity as described by our Prophet (peace be upon him) is also through actions and good deeds: hence being altruistic through your generosity, kindness, compassion, and time are equally important. Letting go of the self is important to move away at an individual level, especially in a world where the “self” has become a dictator over our natural inclination of moderation. Many argue over the ownership of ideas and whether certain ideas are relevant and can work. The best advice I was given was to let people learn from their mistakes but to not cause further rift that our communities are regularly torn by. Instead, you must choose the incision point that you feel can best help and support individuals that you perhaps disagree with, as our commonalities are far greater than our differences.

For those who feel they do not need help from someone sincerely trying to offer their support or help, remember even if such advice is not appropriate or compatible with your aims, never ignore it. You will always find a time when such advice can be found to be valuable at a different stage of your life or applicable to a different situation.

This is what distinguishes people of wisdom, such as Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, who represents someone that keeps love at the centre of how he lives (may Allah grant him good health and a long life), through his acts of consistency. He epitomises renewal in his scholarship, but, more importantly, through his self-discipline and observance, he embodies renewal in his character. He is someone who knows not of hatred. He is someone who cannot but love and be objective to those who may be fierce critics or who oppose him or his approach. What struck me in my observances of the Shaykh is that despite any animosity shown to him, he always takes the time to listen and offer his help as he would to those who are amongst his family. This is evident in the Shaykh’s writings and rulings that speak with kindness, graciousness, and nobility of the other. I am sure everyone can relate to an individual out there who embodies such prophetic characteristics, and if you can, do not be ashamed to acknowledge your shortfalls before making that effort of change required by those who inspire you.

As Ramadan makes its yearly entrance into our homes, lives, and hearts, this is what I will be aiming to strive for, being mindful and realistic that things do not happen over night. I hope others can have mercy with me and forgive me for any wrongdoing. Imam Shafi’i famously said, “Be hard on yourself and easy on others,” noting that our God is a God that is all-merciful and all-forgiving; these are utterances that we grow up on and repeat daily.

So if your heart has flipped once, let it flip repeatedly until you have nothing but love for those who are around you. This can be achieved only by empathising. Ramadan Kareem. I will leave you with the words of Mawlana Jalal ad-Din Rumi:

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

Zeshan Zafar is the Director of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and is currently based in Abu Dhabi.

Taken from Healing Hearts

The Fiqh (Law) of Peace – 12 Points Summarizing the Islamic Values Related to Peace Building by Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah

[Human Values]

Harmony and cohesion in a society are directly proportional to its adherence to share moral values. A society that does not adopt common values and turns away from a higher moral path becomes self-centered, and, as a result, experiences deterioration both internally and in relationship to others.

It may also adopt a negative value system based on an absence of individual limitations until society itself becomes absolutist, and people see themselves as absolute, so no restrictions apply to their behaviour not those set by scripture, not by consensus, not by general principles and axioms, and not even for the sake of the common good. Such a society can wage unlimited war, which is the very definition of fundamentalism, regardless of the belief system that drives the aggression.

The values of reason, justice, and moderation promote love and nourish humanity. It is our duty to revive the values of reconciliation and forgiveness and to commit ourselves to peace instead of conflict.

While some try to justify conflict in Islamic terms, these values are not Islamic. They are Western Hegelian values, for it was Hegel who believed that “Destruction is the basis for construction” and that society is based only on the struggle between slave and master. Destruction, which is an expression of ignorance and intolerance, has never been an Islamic value. Our tradition teaches us that trust and love are the basis for coexistence.

The Prophet (Peace be upon him) did not demolish the Ka’aba. He left it untouched so that he could rebuild it on the base laid by Abraham, Allah’s peace and blessings upon him, all while winning the favor of Quraysh. When the ‘Abbasid caliph wanted to demolish it and rebuild it on the location of Maqam Ibrahim (Abraham’s station), Imam Malik, may Allah have mercy on his soul, forbade him from doing so and said, “Do not let this House (of Allah) be a toy for princes.” In addition, neither the Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings upon him, not any of his successors ever demolished any churches, synagogues, or fire temples, as Ibn al-Qayyim discusses.

When the pious caliph, ‘Umar ibn Abd al-‘Aziz, assumed the caliphate, the understanding of the Shari’ah was already in decline, yet he wrote to his governors, “Do not demolish any church, synagogue, or fire temple.” Demolition and destruction are not Islamic values; they are values that grew out of ignorance and intolerance.

The following Hadith can be applied to a solidary society:

“The example of the person abiding by Allah’s order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is like the example foe those persons who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part, and the others in the lower. When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water (and that troubled the others), so they said, ‘Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) saving us from troubling those who are above us.’ So, if the people in the upper part left the others to do what they had suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe.”

Learning about differences leads to an open mind, as Al-Maqqari advised:

“Learn about differences in order to open your mind, for he who learns about the differences between scholars and of their knowledge and opinions will surely have an open mind.”

We must navigate our differences without arrogance or abusive language, with an open mind and the intention of discovering truth rather than winning an argument. We can learn from the example set by Imam al-Shafi‘i, as described by Yunus al-Sadafi: “I have never seen anyone more reasonable than al-Shafi‘i. I debated with him once on a matter, and then we parted ways. He met me again, took my hand, and said, ‘Abu Musa, is it not right that we remain brothers even if we disagree?”

Imam al-Shafi‘i also said, “I have never debated people without praying to Allah to grant that the truth manifest in their hearts and on their tongues so that they may follow me if I am right and that I may follow them if they are right.”

Giving others the benefit of the doubt means assuming their best intentions, as did the Mother of Believers, Our Lady ‘A’ishah, may Allah be pleased with her, and Ibn ‘Umar, may Allah be pleased with him, who said, “Abu Abd al-Rahman did not lie; perhaps he forgot or made a mistake.”

Ahmad ibn Hanbal, may Allah have mercy on his soul, said, “No man more learned than Ishaq has crossed the bridge, and if we disagree, it is because people disagree.”

Distinguishing among the categories of prohibitions and obligations menas understanding that there are degrees of prohibition: what is prohibited may be haram (prohibited) or makruh (disliked). The same applies to obligations, as we explained earlier.

In summation, our Islamic values are as follows:

  1. Cooperation and solidarity: “You shall cooperate in matters of righteousness and piety; do not cooperate in matters that are sinful and evil” (Qur’an)
  2. Maintaining good relations: “And keep straight the relations between yourselves.”
  3. Brotherhood and mutual understanding: “O people, We created you from the same male and female, and rendered you distinct peoples and tribes, that you may know one another. The best among you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous. Allah is Omniscient, Cognizant.” (Qur’an) These are the bases of relationships, and not the Hegelian argument that is based on constant struggle in what he described as the “master and slave” theory.
  4. Wisdom: “And whoever attains wisdom has attained a great bounty. Only those who possess intelligence will take heed.” (Qur’an)
  5. Righteousness: “Never shall We cause the reward of the righteous to perish.” (Qur’an)
  6. Justice: “Allah calls for justice, charity, and giving to relatives. And He forbids evil, vice, and transgression. He enlightens you, that you may take heed.”
  7. Mercy: “We have not sent you except as mercy from Us towards the whole world.” (Qur’an)
  8. Patience: “Those who patiently persevere will truly receive a reward without measure.” (Qur’an)
  9. Tolerance: Being open-minded, assuming the best of others, and distinguishing between the various categories of prohibitions and obligations.
  10. Love: Love means loving Allah the Almighty, who is the source fo all blessings; loving His Prophet, Allah’s peace and blessings upon him, upon who He bestowed the blessings of mercy and generosity; and loving people and wishing the best for them, including those in tribulation. Ahadith states, “None of you is a true believer until he loves for his brother what he loves for himself,” and according to another narration, “… until he loves for people what he loves for himself.”
  11. Dialogue: Muslims established the etiquette of debate because without a culture of dialogue, individuals become selfish and narrow-minded, and society becomes fractured. A hadith also mentions this: “But if you see overwhelming stinginess, desires being followed, this world being preferred (to the Hereafter), every person with an opinion feeling proud of it, and you realized that you have no power to deal with it, then you have to mind your own business and leave the common folk to their own devices.”
  12. Moderation: This includes individual behavior, scientific moderation, and moderation between literal and whimsical interpretations of scripture. Moderation is a form of relativity and is integral to all ife in the universe, as described by al-Shatibi.

Excerpted from the “Framework Speech for the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies,” Abu Dhabi, 9–10 March, 2014 — In Pursuit of Peace: 2014 Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies
In March 2014 H.E. Shaykh Abdullah Bin Bayyah founded this groundbreaking initiative as Chair and President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies. The forum addresses the critical humanitarian crisis within the vast framework of the Islamic tradition and legal theory.
In 2014 Over 250 of the world’s leading Islamic scholars from different persuasions, academics and thought leaders gathered to attend the opening of the Forum. The Forum is the first global gathering of scholars ever organized to form a unified front against the scourge of extremist ideologies, sectarianism, and terrorism that has afflicted the Muslim world for decades.
Since the opening of the Forum, delegations of experts, academics and scholars from the Forum have travelled to Africa to countries such as Senegal, Mauritania, and Morocco to engage with Governments, NGO’s and religious actors to gain insight on how to stop the increasing violence in Africa. These trips have resulted in the planning of two proposed reconciliation initiatives that will be held in April and June of 2015.
These events’ encourage a multi-disciplinary participation, in order to develop mechanisms and support required for peace and reconciliation in Central Africa Republic (C.A.R) and Nigeria.
The 2nd Annual gathering of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societieswill take place April 26th — 30th in Abu Dhabi

War is not the Way: Peace is the Path by Shaykh Hamza Yusuf

The following is the foreword to the booklet entitled, “Pursuit of Peace: 2014 Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.”

Click here for the original link

[Spread Peace]

The pursuit of peace is a most noble human endeavour. The Qur’an states,

Now if they incline towards peace, then incline to it, and place your trust in God, for God is the all-hearing, the all-knowing. And if they mean to deceive you, surely you can count on God” (8:61-62).

This verse indicates that one should not avoid reconciliation out of fear that it may only be an enemy’s subterfuge. That is not our teaching. We are asked to seek peace and place our trust in God. Such is the preciousness of peace that its mere possibility, however remote, demands our most sincere and faithful efforts. The New Testament also reminds us, in words attributed to Jesus, peace be upon him, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the dependents of God.”

Shaykh Abdallah bin Bayyah is a peacemaker and has placed his trust in God. He believes that peace is not simply the starting point but the only point. War, should it arise, is a disruptive suspension of peace, one that all men of intelligence should seek to end by any means necessary. Shaykh Abdallah once said that the only blessing in war is that when it befalls men, they fervently hope for peace.

[Calling to ‘Jihad’]

1505575_10154847648185038_4169699459438496389_nAs for those who claim that calling to peace is canceling out jihad, the converse is true, as Shaykh Abdallah cogently argues: Jihad is not war, and while it does have military applications, Muslims waging war on other Muslims is not one of them. That is called fitnah, something our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, shunned so much that he sought refuge from it.

Shaykh Abdallah, a master of usul – the tools of ijtihad – and a man who profoundly understands the time we live in, is uniquely qualified to determine when the military application of jihad is valid and when it is not. Hence, his call for peace, far from cancelling out jihad, is itself an act of jihad.

The pre-Islamic Jahili Arabs knew war all too well, as they lived in societies rife with strife: blood vengeance was their way, and the cycles of violence, like a millstone grinding its grain, constantly ground the bones of their bodies. When Islam appeared as an oasis in the desolate desert where wars were far too common, and the Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings upon him, offered another path, the path of peace through submission, the Arabs saw a way out of their wanton violence that invariably left children without fathers and women without husbands.

[End the Madness]

A new world order was born, and though not immune at times to violence, it was one in which learning, science, and commerce prevailed, not war, violence, and vengeance. These became the pursuits of men who went forth to form societies that became some of the most tolerant and peaceful in human history. But that was then: this is now a turbulent time for Muslims. Failed states, senseless violence, and teeming refugees now characterize large parts of the Muslim world. 

Despite these troubles, some Muslims are still calling, like pre-modern physicians, for a bloodletting to cure the social body. But blood leads only to more blood, and the body, far from being healed, is further sapped and drained of its strength. Much like the pre-modern patient whose bloodletting often led to his demise, today’s victims of this militant bleeding are drowned in rubble, dazed and confused, wondering when it will all end. 

Shaykh Abdallah is calling Muslims to end the madness and restore the way of the Prophet Muhammad, God’s peace and blessings upon him, the way of peace and prosperity. He is reminding us by using our own sources – the Qur’an, the Sunnah, and the prescriptions of our pious predecessors – that peace, not war, is the only way out.

For those who would believe otherwise, let them contemplate the words our Prophet, God’s peace and blessings upon him, repeated throughout his life after each daily prayer:

“O Allah, You are Peace, and from You is Peace, and to You returns Peace, so let us live, O our Lord, in Peace.” 

Shaykh Zayed Al-Nahyan, the Father of the United Arab Emirates, was committed to peace and unity, and it is no surprise that his honorable sons, following in his illustrious footsteps, would be the ones to host and support this powerful initiative from Islam’s teaching by the great Mauritanian scholar, Shaykh Abdallah b. Bayyah. With war being waged on peace all around us, Shaykh Abdallah’s message is a simple cure: Wage war on war in order to have peace upon peace. For war is not the way: peace is the path. The path is peace.

Resources for Seekers:
The Menace of So-called “Jihad” – Imam Zaid Shakir
Jihad, Abrogation in the Quran & the “Verse of the Sword”
Understanding the Qur’anic Verse “Slay them wherever you find them”: Balance, Justice, and Mercy in Islamic Rules of Jihad

Shaykh Hasan Le Gai Eaton: “Peace is always in the middle, never at the extremes”


One of the definitions of Islam is that it is the “Middle Way” because it is a religion of peace and peace is only at the centre of things and never at the extremes. There are many ways of understanding the concept of the Middle Way. The first one I want to deal with relates to two different forms of excess: one is fanaticism, violence and terrorism, and the second is consumerism.

Both are forms of self indulgence. It seems odd to define the path of violence as a form of self indulgence. Anger, just like lust, begs to be released and begs to find expression and those who are consumed with anger but must kick it out in the some way or another. This may be apply to suicide bombers who are so possessed with fury and dismay that they must find a way of expressing it and in the end the only way that they it is through self destruction.

I would like to share an example of this from my own experience. As many of you know, in 1982 the situation in the Lebanon took a turn for the worse and Palestinian refugees were massacred in Sabra and Shatila camps. It happens that at the time I was working at the Islamic Cultural Centre and there was a colleague of mine working with me, who was the mildest of men: moderate, gentle and certainly not aggressive. But on the day the news of the massacres broke, he said to me, “I dare not go out into the streets today because I know I am going to hit the first person I pass.” This was a clear demonstration that anger, unless it is thoroughly controlled must find an outlet. That outlet may well be to strike at someone or people who may have nothing to do with the case at hand, hence the very ready and all too frequent killing of the innocent as a way of expressing the anger that some of our brothers feel.

Anger is a form of drunkenness. Alcohol is prohibited because it makes us drunk but we often forget that there are many forms of drunkenness and they all have something in common. The drunkenness of anger is just as misleading as the drunkenness of alcohol. It is just as liable to upset judgement, to make us incapable of effective action, because effective action relies on sober judgement. In practice, those who are seized by such anger, lose logic and rationality. They become ineffectual and less effective in achieving their ends.

le-gai-eatonThat leads me to a digression. When I look back on the destruction of the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001, I often shock people when I say that it was like a pinprick – no more than a pinprick. It is extraordinary to me that people have forgotten that a short time ago all of us lived under the greatest threat that human beings have ever faced: the very real and very actual threat of nuclear war. And this is why I tend to dislike the term “terrorism” and references to “terror” because I think that it is extremely important to use words with their correct meaning.
Terror is a big word. If somebody is terrified, they are trembling, they are sick in the stomach, they turn white, they cannot sleep, they cannot eat. Do we know anyone who is ‘terrified’ by the prospect of a possible bomb on a bus or in the Tube? There are people who worry but they are not terrified. Terror is too strong a word for this. Again the comparison is obvious.

When we lived under the threat of nuclear war, and especially during the Cuban Missile Crisis, where we came – as is well recognised now – within a whisper of nuclear destruction, were we terrified? We had good reason to be, but were we? We were not. People went on with their lives normally. The misuse of words is dangerous and because terror is a big word, it can justify a big reaction. 9/11, which I have suggested was a pinprick, has been used as an excuse for the invasion of Iraq and the above all curtailment of liberties dear to British people and the American people. If you can persuade people that something absolutely dreadful is threatened then you can make them complacent, as you deprive them of their liberties.

So on one hand we have the extreme of violence. On the other hand we have consumerism. The world, especially the West, is consumed by consumerism. The Quran refers to the greed for more and more and condemns it absolutely. We today are encouraged to be greedy through advertising. The government wants us to spend, spend, spend, because that, we are told, is good for the economy. The world is flooded with unnecessary goods which we are encouraged to buy. One reason that we have people, particularly in England, working appallingly long hours, with little chance to be with their families or energy to be spend time with their children is not only to “make ends meet” but also to buy a better television, a better this and better that – things that are not essential and not necessary.

Islam clearly condemns excess and excessive greed is certainly and very powerfully condemned. But we don’t recognise that we have become greedy people. It has become normal to want to better things. But in demanding them and buying them, we are contributing to the depletion of the resources of the planet and this is something that is easy to forget because we will not see the disaster of this course of action – it is our children and grandchildren who will suffer. We have used up the world’s resources in the past century in a way that has never happened in the past and yet we continue to pollute the earth. One example is travel, as we dash from one place in the world to another in aircraft. During the war, I remember, there were notices posted all over the place saying “is your journey really necessary?” I wish those signs were still there. Most journeys are probably not necessary and yet every aircraft that is taking off is adding to the pollution that is so dangerous to the planet.

This all means that There is another characteristic of the Middle Way which people will mention and that I am going to challenge. That is tolerance. It struck me recently because we are always telling people that Islam is a tolerant religion. So I looked up the word in the dictionary and found out that it comes from a Latin word which means “to endure evil” and in classical English usage it means to put up with things that we don’t like, but also to put up with things that we put up with that we shouldn’t put up with. That’s not what most people today understand as tolerance. As Muslims we are commanded to be compassionate, to be understanding, and to use our intelligence in understanding other peoples. We are certainly not commanded to take an entirely helpless attitude in the face of evil.

One of the terms use to describe the Quran is “the Criterion” – the criterion of good and evil. We, as Muslims, are required to make judgements. That is a delicate task as we are human and our judgement can be fallible and often unreliable. Nonetheless, we must have some opinion when we face what is palpably evil, because we are commanded that if we can change it by hands, then we ought to use our hands. If we can change the evil by speech, then we must use speech. If we are so powerless as to only change it by our hearts, nonetheless we must change it by our hearts by condemning it.

This is a huge responsibility. In the early days of Islam, it is said that those who were called upon to act as judges for the community, when asked to make judgement, often trembled when required to give one, fearing it might be the wrong one and be condemned by God for not exercising their responsibility properly. We must acknowledge an element of doubt, but seeing a scale between yes and no we must dwell in the centre and in all humility make judgement as best as we can.

Finally, an essential feature of the Muslim soul and mentality is a sense of proportion and we are helped in this by the example of Messenger of Allah as this was one of his great characteristics: a perfect sense of proportion, to put things in the right order and where they belong. That is extremely difficult and to do that we need his example, just as we need the counsel and guidance of the Quran.

Much then is required of us as Muslims. But that is the price we pay fro the privilege of being Muslims. We cannot shrug our shoulders and we have to hold firmly to the Middle Way which is Islam. In doing so to hope that we will please our Creator. n

This is the edited transcript of a lecture delivered by the late Shaykh Hasan Le Gai Eaton at Radical Middle Way’s program in Kensington Town Hall on 16 December 2005. Shaykh Hasan (1921-2010) was a renowned Muslim intellectual, writer and broadcaster. He was the author of Islam and the Destiny of Man, King of the Castle – Choice and Responsibility in the Modern World, Remembering God: Reflections on Islam, The Book of Hadith: Sayings of the Prophet Muhammad from the Mishkat Al Masabih among others.

Resources for Seekers:

Do Something about it!

A timely call for us to be proactive in these challenging times:-

Imam Hamid Slimi

As-Salamu alaikum brothers and sisters,

As you very well know, many of us have been attending conferences and forums especially in the last 14 years after 9/11 explaining and speaking about Islam and the Muslim stance in regard to many different issues but more importantly about the recent violent acts of extremism done in the name of our faith. These acts are becoming a daily news and a global phenomenon happening almost everywhere around the world including here in Canada with the recent attacks and threats. We are inviting everyone to do his/her share by getting involved in our programs but urgently in our social media campaign.

Here is how you can help us:1. Watch the following 11 minutes video released today, Friday, Jan 23. It is called “The Legacy of Peacemaking”. Please forward the link to all the Muslims and non-Muslims that you know around the world:
2. Watch the following 7 minutes video about our campaign’s 10 action Points and forward the link to all the Muslims that you know around the world:

3. Go to the Facebook Page and like us and share it with all the people you know.Together we can make a difference! This is not a reactive approach but rather a small proactive one and a long-term vision in action.May All bless you all and Peace be with you!

Dr. Hamid Slimi
Syeda Khadija Centre
Toronto