9 Things you can do for Islam in 2007
"I will lose
10 lbs"; "I will exercise more"; "I will spend my money more carefully" - these are just some examples of the kind of resolutions
many of us make at various time markers in our lives, most notably, at the beginning of a new year.
But for most
Muslims, while the goals we set are usually praiseworthy, few, if any, are aimed at contributing to Islam on a community level.
We might, for
instance, aim to read more Islamic books or give more in charity. But many of us wouldn't intend to teach at the local weekend
Islamic school and share our knowledge or devote our time, not just our money, to a Masjid building project. It's time to
focus not just on our own personal development. We've got to start considering what we can do for Islam in our community and
for the Ummah in general.
Below are 9 ideas
that you can use or simply check out to jumpstart your own thinking and planning process when developing resolutions.
an Agent for Muslim Unity
to come together to meet the challenges we face today. A common agenda has been there for several years but we remain divided.
For Muslims, unity is not an option but an obligation. If the labor movement, women, and other minorities can organize on
the basis of a federation/confederation model to address their common agenda successfully, why have we failed to do that?
United we stand, divided we fall. Muslims must come together at the national level for a common Muslim agenda. I request that we all, individually, become agents of unity wherever we are. Here is a list of things you can do:
- Find out what your Masjid is
doing for Muslim unity
- Meet, call, and write to Muslim
leaders you know and ask what they are doing to bring Muslims together
- Budget for funds and time you
can donate for Muslim unity
- Can you form a network of Muslims
in your city who are willing to work for the national unity?
- Adopt a plan of action for something
you can do individually
with other faith groups
those nice people of other faiths who came forward to stand with 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, firmly believe that Islam is a religion of peace. Muslims need to work with
them to build bridges of understanding in society. Can you do any of the following things?
- Attend the next Parliament of
the World Religions in Barcelona, Spain where 20,000 people of different faiths will gather in July 2004
- Volunteer in soup kitchens or
homeless shelters run by other faith groups
- Donate to a social justice program
which Quakers may have in your area
- Learn about their social
writing and communication skills
Yes, it's a cliche
to say that Muslims have too many doctors and engineers and not enough writers. But this needs to be said over and over again
because it seems we've made little headway as an Ummah in this area. 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, and women.
Sign up for writing
classes. Check out your local library or community center for free or low-cost classes and seminars. Read, read, and read.
Write letters to the editor, editorials, and more. 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!
care of New Muslims
Akbar. That is how we welcome a new Muslim in our Masjid. But what happens to these Muslims later on? One survey determined
that about 50 percent of new Muslims in Illinois and about 65
percent in the state of New York leave Islam within a few years. There are many
reasons for this phenomenon, but if we do our duty of properly devoting our personal time and community resources, it will
help stem the tide of conversions out of Islam. At this moment only 26 percent of Masjids regularly organize New Muslim classes.
Each Masjid can develop a Moakha system to work with a new Muslim.
about conflict resolution
fights in the Masjid? Or the wonderful active sister who left the Masjid because of a dispute with the Board of Directors?
What about the brother who was a great teacher at the Islamic school until the administration decided to reduce his salary
without informing him well in advance?
These are all
cases where conflict resolution could have come in handy. There is a crying need for Muslims who can negotiate and mediate
amongst Muslims. This is a skill every Muslim community needs to invest in.
It's also a skill
you should consider developing. You could do a degree in conflict resolution, but you don't have to go that far. You can attend
seminars and/or one-day classes. Business schools may offer a course a few weeks long in conflict resolution. Consider gaining
and taking these skills to the Masjid and to your local Islamic center.
your time for the Masjid
It's easy to
drop a couple of dollars in a Masjid donation box, but it's not so easy to devote a couple of hours every few weeks to Dawa
to the Masjid's neighbors.
When was the
last time your Masjid had an open house? When were your non-Muslim friends invited to attend a party in the Masjid? While
everyone in Masjids is ready to work on a Masjid building or a school project, there are very few who are willing to spare
time for neighborhood relations or media communication. Many times, there is no one available to properly handle inquires
left on the Masjid's answering machine.
Time is our greatest
resource, not money. Devote yours to causes that deserve it. Also remember that when you are giving time to the Masjid, your
input and ideas are also more likely to be considered by its administration.
your Muslim organizations more open to feedback and accountability
Have things been
running the same way for years at your local Islamic center? You know, disorganized, or closed off, with a couple of people
having the only say in all matters?
Many, many Masjids
and Islamic centers lack management and organizational skills. They are run by an elite group of people who make all of the
decisions without proper consultation with the community. They are also not held accountable for what they do or how the money
coming into the Masjid or organization is spent. This doesn't mean that everything they are doing is wrong. But there needs
to be a more transparent and open system that will benefit all Muslims in the community, the male and the female, the young
and the old, the immigrant and the Muslim born in America.
You can help
start the process of change. This has to be done with plenty of wisdom and patience. But you and others will benefit from
working to make your Islamic organization more open and accountable to the community
a Muslim issue which few pay attention to
doesn't have to be for a whole year. It can be for only three months if you like. The aim is simply to develop a specialization
in a specific area of need and benefit to Muslims.
One of the best
is the assault on Muslim civil rights in America.
It's here, it's real, all of those involved in the issue are accessible, and you can see the results of your efforts more
easily. But don't stop there. You can also choose other areas of the world and issues that Muslims have ignored or given sparse
attention to lately: Kashmir, Chechnya,
environmental issues and domestic violence are all some examples.
for Islam in your kids' classroom and your workplace
Ramadan and Eid
are no longer unknown to many non-Muslims in America.
They are now mentioned along with Christmas and Hannukah, as media coverage of Ramadan this year indicates.
That said, though,
there will always be the new student, your child's teacher next year, or a boss and the coworker who need to know about our
celebrations, as well as issues which concern us.
One good project
to work on is creating more awareness of Islam in schools and the workplace. There are still issues which cause misunderstanding
and confusion. Hijab, prayer and Friday prayers are still issues of contention in a number of workplaces and schools.
"Invite all to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and
And consult with them in ways that are best and most gracious."