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Strangers: Muslims Living Outside Dar-Ul-Islam: Rights And Obligations

by Habib Siddiqui
(Friday, September 10, 2004)
"Islam bans killing or murdering any human being. Islam categorizes such an act
as 'one of the major sins in Islam'."
1. Definition:
It must have been the Makkaan experience that caused the Prophet (s) to say, "Is
lam has started strange and will become strange again. Therefore, good news for
the strangers." [Muslim; Tafsir ibn Kathir: Surah al-Ma’idah, 5:3] What then is
meant by “Muslim strangers”? [2] Here, I shall use the term for Muslim minoritie
s who live outside Dar-ul-Islam.
Traditionally we find that the world was grossly seen as consisting of three rea
lms, the Dârul-Islâm, "Realm of Islam where Islamic norms and values are valid s
o that a Muslim can feel safe and at home even though he is not yet familiar wit
h the language and culture; Dârul-Harb, the "Realm of War" where a hostile attit
ude against Muslims is to be expected; and Dârus-Sulh, the "Realm of a Legal Ord
er or Peace" where a public order is prevalent in which Muslims can find a safe
place. Traditional models for these three cases would be Madina, Makkah and Abys
sinia, respectively, during the early period of Islam. We can clearly see that t
hese terms need a careful general revision both on the background of the princip
les proposed in Qur an and Sunnah and considering the modern world.
Dârus-Sulh was understood to be a country that, while it did not have a Muslim g
overnment, had a contract with the Muslims or with a neighboring Muslim country
to the effect that there was neither a danger of war nor of actions against the
safety of Muslims living there.
Among other things, an important aspect is that the law of that country is bindi
ng on the Muslims living there (unless it permits an action that is forbidden in
Islam, like drinking alcohol). A Muslim living in that country does so on the f
oundation of a contractual agreement, like the oath of allegiance to the state,
and it is a Qur anic injunction to keep contracts, apart from the fact that it i
s a rational requirement if a minimum of trust is to be preserved in society.
An example in this context is Muslims in Europe and America. Islam is presently
the second largest religious community after Christianity in most European count
ries, and also probably in the USA. The growth can be attributed to (1) increasi
ng number of immigrants and their children who had settled or were born here, an
d (2) to a sizable number of its indigenous population of Afro-American and Euro
pean race who had accepted Islam as their faith. The mere acceptance of Islam am
ong this second group (the natives) is rather fascinating, if not somewhat puzzl
ing, given the fact that there is truly no active daw’a or missionary activity t
o proselytize Americans towards Islam.
For more than twenty years there have been increasing facilities for encounter a
nd dialogue. However, the majority White population still considers "native" Mus
lims strangers, and there is a surprising ignorance about Islam and the Muslims
which is made even worse by almost the daily images one gets in the media. Most
Afro-Americans, e.g., here in the U.S., don’t mind keeping Muslim names for thei
r children, or enjoying Muslim food once in a while, but beyond that we are stil
l strangers to them.
Young Muslims growing up here are in a difficult situation. Whether they come fr
om immigrant families, from culturally mixed families, or from families with Eur
opean or American origin, they grow up - often without support - in a field of t
ension between religions and cultures, an ordinary generation conflict sometimes
becoming a clash of cultures. Proper rearing of children with balanced dosage o
f Islamic teachings, ethics and history, culture and tradition is essential for
them so that they neither feel alienated towards their Islamic heritage nor get
confused (i.e., turn into an ABCD) [3]. And that is a difficult task under curre
nt state of affairs.
2. Current Affairs:
Muhammad (S), the Prophet of Islam, said: ‘It is near that the nations will call
one another against you just as the invited guests call each other for sharing
the food.’ Someone enquired, ‘Shall we be few at that time?’ He replied, ‘No, yo
u will be numerous at that time, but you will be rubbishes or worthless pieces l
ike the rubbishes or scum of a torrent or flood. Allah will certainly then take
away the fear of you from the breasts of your enemies and will certainly throw w
eakness in your hearts.’ Someone asked, ‘O Messenger of Allah, what will be (the
cause of) weakness?’ He replied, ‘Love of this world and dislike of death.’ [Ab
u Dawud: Saoban (R)]
What the Prophet (s) had warned some 14 centuries ago seems to be happening righ
t now. In no time in history were non-Muslims as much united as they are today i
n their resolve or determination to harm Muslims. Before we discuss what we coul
d do to mitigate such animosity towards our people, we need to study the current
situation, esp. in the light of our experience in the West.
Historically, Islam has always been looked upon as a faith, which is anti-West,
one that resists western onslaught into Muslim countries. In his book, Covering
Islam, Professor Edward W. Said of the Columbia University rightly commented, "F
rom at least the end of the eighteenth century to our own day, modern Occidental
reactions to Islam have been dominated by a radically simplified type of thinki
ng that may still be called Orientalist. …So far as the West is concerned, Islam
represents not only a formidable competitor but also a late coming challenge to
Christianity. For most of the Middle Ages and during the early part of Renaissa
nce in Europe, Islam was believed to be a demonic religion of apostasy, blasphem
y, and obscurity... For hundreds of years great Islamic armies and navies threat
ened Europe, destroyed its outposts, colonized its domains. It was as if a young
er, more virile and energetic version of Christianity had arisen in the East, eq
uipped itself with the learning of the ancient Greeks, invigorated itself with a
simple, fearless, and warlike creed, and set about destroying Christianity. Eve
n when the world of Islam entered a period of decline and Europe a period of asc
endancy, fear of Mohammedanism persisted. Closer to Europe than any of the oth
er non-Christian religions, the Islamic world by its very adjacency evoked memor
ies of its encroachments on Europe, and always, of its latent power again and ag
ain to disturb the West. Other great civilizations of the East - India and China
among them - could be thought of as defeated and distant and hence not a consta
nt worry. Only Islam seemed never to have submitted completely to the West." [4]
It is, therefore, quite easy to see why there seems to be a western consensus on
Islam as a kind of scapegoat for everything the West does not happen to like.
In recent days, this polarization of American psyche, and the already awkward a
nd uneasy, and sometimes utterly hostile, relationship between Muslims and non-M
uslims, was naturally sensitized by the attack on the WTC and the Pentagon on Se
ptember 11, 2001. Those who hated us, threatened us with a “crusade”, and those
who despised us more severely, demanded5 “nuking” us, as if 1.5 billion Muslims
would simply evaporate in thin air! Allah says, “Hatred is revealed (by the utte
rances of) their mouths, but that which their breasts hide is (even) greater.” (
Qur’an 3:118)
Truly, soon after 9-11-01, a very evil and sinister government ploy and media-ca
mpaign has been unleashed, probably the most dangerous, heinous and criminal of
its kind in the last half a century,[6] depicting the Muslim community as a bunc
h of “evil” and “uncivilized” people that “hate” everything that is American or
western. The hatemongering and (yet) powerful TV Evangelists like Pat Robertson
(of 700 Club), Jerry Falwell, and Franklin Graham (of Samaritan Purse) have join
ed the chorus in calling Islam “a very evil and a dangerous religion.”[7] These
spiteful priests are preaching to the choir that Muslims want to kill all infide
ls, because the Qur’an commands such. The verses of the Qur’an that were reveale
d against the Arab polytheists of Muhammad’s (s) time are now twisted to give a
more generalized application.[8] Inaccurate translation of Arabic words like “au
liya” are used to justify that Muslims are forbidden to have friendship with non
-Muslims.[9] These preachers seem to suffer from selective amnesia about the fac
t that if they want to find violence preached in the name of religion, they need
not look beyond the Bible. Where did the medieval, demonic Crusaders get their
inspiration? Read Leviticus 26:7, e.g., “And ye shall chase your enemies, and th
ey shall fall before you by the sword.” I was able to find 515 verses in the Bib
le (KJV) with the word “sword,” and 255 verses with the word “kill.” Pope Urban
in his fiery speech at Champaign, France, promised his Christian soldiers who lo
st their lives while slaying Muslims remission from all their sins and a direct
ticket to paradise.
On the one hand, the U.S. government says that its war campaign is not a crusade
against Islam or Muslims, but on the other hand it does everything that contrad
ict such claims. For example, Bush first wanted to unleash a “crusade” against a
l-Qaida and the Taliban government. Next, after getting religiously charged by t
he Sunday church service, he declared war against Afghanistan, arrogantly callin
g the operation “Infinite Justice,” as if he was the Nimrod or Pharaoh of our ti
me who claimed godhead. In his speech of declaration of war, speaking of Osama b
in Laden and his counter-terrorist cell of al-Qaida, Bush said, “They want to ki
ll all Jews and Christians. … They want to establish an Islamic government in ev
ery country,” etc. Was that a sensible thing to say in the aftermath of 9-11? Wh
at does such statements do other than fuel further hatred and bigotry in this co
untry? Soon after 9/11 some Muslims were beaten to death in some parts of this c
ounty, not to mention of thousands of houses and businesses and mosques that wer
e vandalized. Quite a few policemen were found to harass Muslims.[10]
Bush’s secretaries and advisers are not too far behind in their wholesale condem
nation of Islam and Muslims either. In a published article (Men of Faith in Wash
ington D.C., Need Our Prayers) by Christian right-wing columnist Cal Thomas in C
rosswalk.com News Channel, Attorney General Ashcroft was quoted as saying that “
Islam is a religion in which God requires you to send your son to die for Him. C
hristianity is a faith in which God sends His son to die for you.”[11] If this i
s not sheer bigotry, what is? Can Muslim detainees, now in thousands, expect fai
r trial from such a bigot,[12] who epitomizes the notion of ‘holier than thou’,
heading the Justice Department? Mr. Ashcroft, a Christian Fundamentalist, forget
s that it is his Bible, which sanctioned suicidal terror (see the story of Samso
n in the Book of Judges, Ch. 13-16).
When Arab and Muslim acquiescence for its most horrific and ruthless campaign (m
inus the nuclear power) in Afghanistan was needed, we heard that the Bush Admini
stration wanted an equitable solution to the Palestinian problem, even voicing i
ts vision, albeit a first one, of an independent Palestinian state, living along
side the Zionist state. But these are now all very conveniently forgotten. This
Administration has been the greatest backer of Israeli aggression since the Zio
nist state came into existence. In dealing with Muslims, hypocrisy has been the
hallmark of U.S. foreign policy.
We have also seen the senseless bombing campaign against Afghans that killed mor
e innocent civilians than the total number of victims here of September 11, 2001
.[13] Villages after villages have been destroyed in the most horrific bombing c
ampaign since World War 2. The military campaign is geared towards ‘kill first a
nd question later.’ In violation of Geneva Convention, the U.S.-led forces in Ma
zar-e-Sharif cold-bloodedly massacred hundreds of prisoners of war. Thousands of
POWs are held in most appalling conditions both in Afghanistan and also in Cuba
. By denying these prisoners the rights granted under the Geneva Convention, Was
hington seeks to justify their indefinite detention.[14]
Already an evil and vicious game plan to uproot Muslim resistance movements ever
ywhere has started even before the Afghan episode could end. The level of hypocr
isy, double-talk, and the neo-Pharaonic display of might and power, practiced by
the Bush (Jr.) Administration is sufficient to make any decent, peace-loving Mu
slim feel third-class in this land of Abraham Lincoln. He knows that his most si
ncere and best efforts in public life would now be scanned through the surgical
microscope of newly hyped American patriotism: is he a “sleeper” or a “Muhammad
Atta” in the making? I wonder how the founding fathers would have reacted if the
y were alive today to see the abuse of civil liberties - the very principles whi
ch had hitherto made America a pride among western nations - at the hands of Bus
h, Rumsfeld, Ashcroft & Co.
As a result of all these vicious activities perpetrated by the government and th
e press, many Muslims living in the West now feel threatened and alienated, thei
r children confused, some want their names changed (Ref: NPR, All Things Conside
red, March 5, 2002) so that fellow westerners would not equate them with other M
uslims. This hysteria is really shocking! No concerned Muslim can ignore the deh
umanizing effect on its people, especially, the most vulnerable segment – the ch
ildren. Muslims are, after all, a proud people who take due pride in their thous
and plus years of history, culture and civilization. They know very well that wh
ile the Europeans and Americans were savages, it was the Muslims who spread the
light by being either the candles or the mirrors that reflect them. And their pr
ide cannot be eroded by evil propaganda of some upstart, representing a nation w
hich a mere four decades ago had one of the most apartheid regimes in the world,
next to South Africa.
Civilization is often measured in terms quality of life it provides to its inhab
itants, especially, its minorities, and never in terms of might or strength of a
nation to subdue other nations. That is why, we never hear about Hun, Scythian
and Mongol civilization, despite the fact that savages of the past like Attila t
he Hun (the barbarian), Genghis Khan and Halagu Khan were able to terrorize mill
ions and kill hundreds of thousands of people and control vast territories. In c
ontrast, from very early on wherever Islam made an inroad it was able to either
refine indigenous civilization of a nation that was already enjoying a certain l
evel of civilization, or civilize a people that was hitherto drowned in savagery
. That is why, it is not difficult to fathom why for nearly a thousand years (7t
h-17th century C.E. or 1st-11th century A.H.) while most of the European nations
were sunk in savagery, Muslim nations in Asia, Africa and Moorish Spain were en
joying fruits of such a lofty civilization that was simply superb in so many way
s. But it was then, what about the reality of our situation now?
In a hadith, Prophet Muhammad (s) is reported to have said, “When your rulers wi
ll be the best men, and your rich men will be philanthropic amongst you, and you
r affairs will be done with consultation among yourselves, then your living on t
he surface of the earth will be better for you than its bottom. And when your ru
lers will be the worst of you and your rich men will be the misers among you, an
d your affairs will be in the hands of your women,[15] then the bottom of the wo
rld will be better for you than its surface.” [Tirmizi: Abu Hurayrah (R)]
He also said, “Troubles will afflict my people in the latter days from their rul
ers. None will escape there from except a person who recognizes Allah’s religion
and then fights for it with his tongue, hand and heart; that is one for whom re
wards have preceded before….” [Mishkat: Umar ibn Khattab]
“Know that subjects are God s dependents, and he who wrongs the people has wrong
ed God….Among the rights of subjects are that (the king) prevent them being wron
ged either by himself or by his agents; that he keep the roads safe, protect car
avans on the highways, and punish thieves and brigands; that he give justice to
the oppressed and support the poor; that he not conceal himself from them and no
t appoint Jews and Christians over them; that he enforce the command of what is
right, strengthen the qadi [judge] and the muhtasib [officer in charge of detect
ing and punishing offenders of the Law and public morals], and respect strangers
.” - [Bahr al-Fava id]
Truly, politics has betrayed Islam. Political Islam has failed to live up to the
challenge of neo-crusading campaigns and has brought nothing but misery and hum
iliation to our people. Muslim rulers have proven to be gutless and have abandon
ed their people. None of our leaders, except Dr. Mahatiar Muhammad of Malaysia,
had the guts to challenge Bush’s threat of ‘you are either with us or you are ag
ainst us.’ Why can’t there be a middle road, a voice of moderation, reasoning an
d wisdom to address the root cause that leads to violence? Did patronizing help
anyone, how about Arafat? Don’t we know: “And the Yahud will not be pleased with
you, nor will the Nasara, till you follow their creed. Say: Lo! the guidance of
Allah is Guidance. And if you should follow their desires after the knowledge w
hich has come unto you, then you would have from Allah no protecting friend nor
helper.” (Qur’an 2:120)
Muslim rulers have failed to safeguard Muslim honor, life and property. Their di
sunity and lack of courage has only strengthened the resolve of non-Muslim ruler
s to declare an all-out war against Muslims, forming an evil alliance of countri
es that included nations which until recently had a very horrid record of human
rights violations against Muslim minorities. Thus, it is not surprising that the
former KGB agent and FSS chief, murderous Putin,[16] a war criminal by all defi
nition, got a red-carpet treatment in the White House and was even invited to st
ay in the Texas ranch of his newly-discovered buddy. What is new in this xenopho
bia against Muslims? The failure of Muslim leadership at the top, unfortunately,
has been a cause for mindless violence in recent days, as is displayed through
a plethora of seemingly futile efforts by splinter groups, which has only made t
hings worse for Muslims.
Despite all the negative stereotypes, signs and signals emanating from the Capit
ol Hill, the Pentagon and the White House against Muslims, I am still hopeful th
at sanity will eventually return. While we, as first-generation “stranger” Musli
ms, have miserably failed to reach out, our Muslim children would one day be abl
e to demystify western ignorance and remove hatred with understanding and warm f
eelings towards our fellow men by making this world a better place to share and
prosper for common good of all humanity. They would be able to convince American
s with the simple message that what is good for the rest of the world is also go
od for America, and vice-versa.
3. The Task Ahead:
What is the roadmap? We, the stranger Muslims living outside Dar-ul-Islam, have
to start with us: first the self, then the family, then the society at large, wh
ile always being aware of our obligations to our Creator, for Allah says, “Had i
t not been for My worship, I would not have created Jinn and Mankind.” (Qur’an)
When we do that we truly become His vicegerent (Khalifa) on earth. Let us be awa
re of the fact that Allah watches every action of ours and that we are answerabl
e to Him for all our deeds. Let us excel in every business we are involved, ever
y deed, every facet of our lives. Let our students be the best of their classes,
our scientists, economists, doctors, engineers, architects, teachers, and other
professionals best in their fields, etc., etc. Let us reclaim our glorious heri
tage when for hundreds of years our forefathers illuminated the world, brought c
ivilization to a savage world.
Only when we prosper as a community, when we excel in our activities, could we g
ive to the society we came from and/or we live in. Let our neighbors, our collea
gues, our fellow men see the best within us, know how talented Muslims are and,
more importantly, how excellent we are as human beings. Let our people volunteer
a portion of time to doing good to others, in whatever way possible. Let there
be a silent revolution of mind and action. Then we won’t need to “beg” others to
be fair with us.[17] We shall be in a position of strength, and they will beg o
r come to us.
The western world is suffering from psychological imbalance, something like a se
rious spiritual crisis; its people are willing to embrace any faith that promise
s to bring some equilibrium in life. Despite the fact that it is Islam which is
equipped to deal with all man-made problems and bring equilibrium in one’s life,
Islam has always been the last recourse or medication for most western men, esp
. among the white race. The on-going violence involving Muslims is a sufficient
deterrent to get interested in Islam. (Unfortunately, as long as there is absenc
e of justice in this world, there will be no peace. Some Muslim splinter groups,
no matter how ill-equipped they are, would always fight against oppression, tyr
anny and injustice, even laying down their lives for such high values.) That is
why, we have to exemplify Islam through our virtuous activities.
Rights and Obligations
So what is our obligation as “stranger” Muslims in either Darul Harb or Darul Su
lh?
Allah says, “Whoso migrates for the cause of Allah will find much refuge and abu
ndance in the earth, and whoso forsakes his home, a fugitive unto Allah and His
messenger, and death overtakes him, his reward is then incumbent on Allah. Allah
is ever Forgiving, Merciful.” (Qur’an 4:100) The bottom line here is: we live f
or Allah and we die for Allah. If our migration is for hazrat-e-imam dollar, i.e
., our creed is “La ilaha illa-ad-dollar,” then it is shirk for us. If our stay
as a “stranger” is undesirable, unsafe or unhealthy for us or our children or po
sterity, it is preferable, rather recommendable, that we settle in a Muslim coun
try exhibiting, at least, some semblance of Islamic or Muslim law and culture. I
t is far better that way than being accountable on the Day of Judgment for sins
of posterity. Allah rightly says, “Lo! as for those whom the angels take (in dea
th) while they wrong themselves, (the angels) will ask: In what were ye engaged
? They will say: We were oppressed in the land. (The angels) will say: Was not A
llah s earth spacious that ye could have migrated therein? As for such, their ha
bitation will be hell, an evil journey s end.” (Qur’an, Surah an-Nisa 4:97)
Allah says, “And let there be from you a nation (ummah) who invite to goodness,
and enjoin right conduct and forbid indecency. Such are they who are successful.
” (Qur’an 3:104)
An essential condition for residing outside Darul Islam is, therefore, to be inv
olved with Dawa activities, to be goodwill ambassadors of Islam, so that not onl
y do we try to curb negative stereotyping against Islam amongst those who don’t
know but to also protect ourselves from indulging in haram (unlawful) activities
that are common to Kufr. And what a better way than through deeds, examples, tr
ansactions, and our lifestyles? Remember, Islam won the battle of the heart of p
eople more than it won through warfare. Two good examples, are Indonesia and Mal
aysia. People living along the coast line of Africa and Asia embraced Islam thro
ugh the behavior of two groups of people: Sufis (da’ee in the path of Allah) and
Arab Muslim traders or merchants (most from Hadra Maouth, Yemen) who showed how
a Muslim ought to deal with others. Surely, these early traders knew the value
of the hadith: “An honest businessman will be amongst the Prophets, the Truthful
, and the Martyrs [on the Day of Judgment].” [Tirmizi: Abu Sayeed (RA)]
I cannot but emphasize enough to our Muslim brothers and sisters who are dealing
with non-Muslims that they need to exemplify Islam: show the better side (not t
he ugly side the world now sees) of Islam, against greed and arrogance.
1. Rights of the ruler:
This right is simply based on the contents of the verse of the Glorious Qur ân,
Sura an-Nisa (The Women, 4:59) the meaning of which is translated as: “Oh you wh
o believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority
among you.”
As I mentioned in the beginning, we need to obey the law of the land, as long as
it does not force us to commit haram. If that were the case, we should either t
ry to change such laws, or emigrate to Muslim countries where there is no such f
ear of committing haram. For surely, that is logical and appropriate. Some relev
ant ahadith are:
Obedience to the ruler is required so long as he acts according to the Shari ah
(Law) and does not reject the words of God and His Prophet (S); but when he acts
contrary to God and His Prophet, obedience to him is not required. For the Prop
het (S) said, "There is no obedience due the created in disobedience to the Crea
tor." - [Bahr al-Fava id]
It is obligatory upon a Muslim to listen and obey (the authority) whether he lik
es it or not; save when he is asked to do something sinful. If he is asked for a
sinful act then there is no hearing and obedience. - Muhammad (S) [Bukhari and
Muslim: Abdullah ibn Umar (RA)]
You are bound to hear and obey the orders of the authority in hardship and in ea
se, willingly or unwillingly, and even when you are treated unjustly. - Muhammad
(S) [Muslim: Abu Hurayrah (RA)]
2. Rights of neighbors:
Allah ordained in the Glorious Qur ân Sura Nisa (Women) 4:36 the meaning of whic
h is translated as: “Serve Allah, and join not any partners with Him; and do goo
d to parents, kinsfolk, orphans, those in need, neighbors who are of kin, neighb
ors who are strangers, the companion by your side, the wayfarer (you meet) and w
hat your right hands possess: for Allah loves not the arrogant, the vainglorious
”.
Allah s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) illustrated the rig
hts of a neighbor as follows: “Do you know what are rights of a neighbor? [They
are as follows], If a neighbor seeks your help, extend it to him. If a neighbor
asks you for a loan, lend him [if you have it.]If your neighbor becomes poor, th
en help him financially and attend to his poverty if you can. If your neighbor b
ecomes ill, then visit him [checking on his health and situation.] If your neigh
bor is happy on certain gain, then congratulate him. If your neighbor is sufferi
ng a calamity, then offer him condolence. If your neighbor dies, then be at his
funeral [if you can.] Do not raise your building over his building causing him a
lack of sun exposure, or wind passage. Do not bother your neighbor with the sme
ll of your cooking, unless you intend to offer him some [of the cooked food.] If
you buy fruits [while he does not have the means to buy, or not] then offer him
a little present of the fruit. If you do not want to offer him a present of you
r fruit, then bring it in the house [in an unnoticeable way.] Do not permit your
child, later, to carry the fruit you bought and drag his son and tease him with
it.” [Al-Kharaitee].
A tradition relates that neighbors are of three kinds: a neighbor who has three
rights, one who has two, and one has one. The neighbor with three rights is he w
ho is both Muslim and kindred; he thus has one right by virtue of being Muslim,
one by virtue of kinship, and one by virtue of being a neighbor. The neighbor wh
o has two rights is he who is both a Muslim and a neighbor. The neighbor who has
one rights is the Jew or Christian, who is an infidel but still has the right d
ue a neighbor. Beware, honor your neighbor, for troubling one s neighbor is evil
. - [Bahr al-Fava id]
Angel Jibrail (AS) kept exhorting me about (obligations towards) the neighbor so
much so that I imagined that he might be included as one of the heirs. - Muhamm
ad (S) [Bukhari and Muslim: Ibn Umar and A yesha (RA)]
O Abu Dhar! when you prepare soup put a little more water in it, and see if your
neighbor needs some. - Muhammad (S) [Muslim: Abu Dhar Ghifari (RA)]
That person will not enter Paradise whose neighbor is not safe against his misch
ief. - Muhammad (S) [Bukhari and Muslim: Abu Hurayrah (RA)]
He is not a [true] believer who eats his full while his neighbor lies hungry by
his side. - Muhammad (S) [Baihaqi: Abdullah b. Abbas (RA)]
One who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment must not cause hardship and in
convenience to his neighbor; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day must
respect his guest; and he who believes in Allah and the Day of Judgment must spe
ak well or keep quiet. - Muhammad (S) [Bukhari and Muslim: Abu Hurayrah (RA)]
The best companion in the sight of Allah is he who is the well-wisher of his com
panions, and the best neighbor is one who behaves best towards his neighbors. -
Muhammad (S) [Tirmizi: Abdullah ibn Umar (RA)]
By Him in Whose Hand my soul is, a slave of Allah does not believe till he likes
for his neighbor what he likes for himself. - Muhammad (S) Bulugh al-Maram: Ana
s (RA)]
Be a good neighbor to your neighbor and you will be a Muslim. Be a good fellow t
o your companion and you will be a Mu min. - Muhammad (S) [Ihya Ulum al-Din: Ima
m al-Ghazzali (R)]
4. Benefits:
A non-Muslim society can immensely benefit from Muslims, because in Islam there
are lots of Do’s and Don’ts that are incumbent on Muslims. I list below only a f
ew of the commandments of "Do s" and "Don t" that Islam established (a more comp
rehensive list can be found in my book, “Islamic Wisdom”):
Islam bans killing or murdering any human being. Islam categorizes such an act a
s one of the major sins in Islam . This is based on the verse in the Glorious Q
ur ân Sura Isra (The Night Journey) 17:33 the meaning of which is translated as:
“Nor take life, -which Allah has made sacred, except for just cause. And, if an
yone is slain wrongfully, We have given his heir authority (to demand Qisas or t
o forgive): but let him not exceed bounds in the matter of taking life; for he i
s helped (by the law)”.
Allah states in the Glorious Qur ân Sura Isra (The Night Journey, 17:32): “Nor c
ome nigh to adultery: for it is a shameful (deed) and an evil, opening the road
(to other evils)”.
Allah states in the Glorious Qur ân Sura An am (The Cattle, 6:151): “Say: Come,
I will rehearse what Allah has (really) prohibited you from: join not anything a
s equal with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of w
ant -We provide sustenance for you and for them; come not nigh to shameful deeds
, whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah has made sacred, except by
way of justice and law: thus does He command you, that you may learn wisdom”.
Allah prohibits all types of aggression against the wealth and properties of oth
ers. Therefore, all forms of theft and cheating or else are banned in Islam. Thi
s is based on the Hadith of Allah s Messenger (peace and blessings of Allah be u
pon him): “Whosoever cheats us is not one of us.” [Muslim]
Furthermore, Allah forbids all kinds of deception and betrayals. Allah states in
the Glorious Qur ân Sura Anfal (War Booties, 7:27): “Oh you that believe! Betra
y not the trust of Allah and the Messenger, nor misappropriate knowingly things
entrusted to you”.
Additionally, Islam controls monopoly. This is based on the Hadith of Allah s Me
ssenger (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him): “None monopolizes but a wron
g doer.” [Muslim.]
Similar prohibitions are imposed on the deceitful and illegal means through whic
h money is taken. Allah states in the Glorious Qur ân Sura al-Baqarah (The Cow,
2:188): “And do not eat up your property among yourselves for vanities, nor use
it as bait for the judges, with intent that you may eat up wrongfully and knowin
gly a little of (other) people s property”.
In addition, Islam upholds the dignity and honor of others. As such, it despises
slandering them. Allah states in the Glorious Qur’ân Sura Hujurat (The Chambers
, 48:12): “Oh you who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspic
ion in some cases is a sin: and spy not on each other, nor speak ill of each oth
er behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brothe
r? Nay, you would abhor it. However, fear Allah: for Allah is Oft-Returning, Mos
t-Merciful”.
In addition, in a Hadith Qudsi (Divine), Allah says: “Oh My slave servants! I ha
ve banned injustice for Myself. I have declared injustice unlawful among you [pe
ople]. Therefore, do not do [or cause] any act of injustice to one another.” [Mu
slim]
Islam forbids all type of social, political and moral corruption and mischief. T
his is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur ân Sura al-A raf (The Heights, 7:5
6): “Do no mischief on the earth, after it has been set in order, but call on Hi
m with fear and longing (in your hearts): for the Mercy of Allah is (always) nea
r to those who do good”.
Islam forbids challenging the beliefs of non-Muslims. Because such actions produ
ce animosity, hatred and dislike. This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur
ân Sura al-An am (The Cattle 6:108): “Revile not those whom they call upon besi
des Allah, lest they out of spite revile Allah in their ignorance”.
Instead, Allah instructed Muslims to use a fair and well-matured dialogue with s
uch people. This is based on the verse in the Glorious Qur ân Sura al-Imran (3:6
4): “Say: Oh People of the Book! Come to common terms as between us and you: tha
t we worship none but Allah; that we associate no partners with Him; that we ere
ct not, from among ourselves, Lords and patrons other than Allah. If then they t
urn back, say you: Bear witness that we (at least) are Muslims (bowing to Allah
s Will)”.
Islam also disapproves the conversion of non-Muslims to Islam by force. Allah st
ates in the Glorious Qur ân Sura Yunus (10:99): “If it had been thy Lord’s Will,
they would all have believed, all who are on earth! Will you then compel mankin
d, against their will, to believe!”
Finally, let me close this discussion with an episode that took place when Persi
a fell to Islam.
Fourteen centuries ago, a Muslim Companion of the Prophet Muhammad (S) addressed
the general of the Persian garrison in the following words: "[Islam summons] ma
nkind from the lowliness of the earth to the heights of the heavens, from the se
rvitude of each other to the service of the Lord of the Universe, and from the o
ppression of the religions to the justice of Islam." [18]
Yes, that was precisely the role that Islam tried to play in the global arena. T
hrough its concept of tauhid or pure monotheism and universal brotherhood, it of
fered the world a road to salvation. Instead of making God manlike, it tried to
make man Godlike. And this it tried by providing three basic elements - faith in
one God without any associate, reform of the self and reform of the society at
large. Islamic movements around the globe over the centuries, therefore, remaine
d as a religious commitment, a socio-economic-political program, but above all,
a vehicle for the continuous reform of the society. Even in this country, thousa
nds of miles away from the cities and villages that wake up with the call of adh
an, we, the strangers have a duty to reform the society where we live.
Are you ready for this challenge?
Notes:
[1]. Published earlier in the News From Bangladesh website: http://www.nfb.com
[2]. This definition section is adapted from an internet article on the above su
bject from a German-based Muslim group: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Thebes/8
206/hkrausen/strngrs2.htm
[3]. ABCD is an acronym used commonly in the university campuses to typify child
ren of immigrants or refugees and it stands for American-Born Confused Desi (lit
., native).
[4]. Covering Islam by Edward W. Said, Pantheon Books, New York (1981), pp. 4-5
(emphasis are mine).
[5]. Paul Wolfowitz, deputy Secretary of Defense in the Bush Administration.
[6]. The last minority group (outside African-Americans) to be harangued in Nort
h America for alleged ties with Japan were the Japanese American people.
[7]. See www.cnn.com/2002/ALLPOLITICS/02/28/column.billpress/index.html (Ministe
rs preach war on Islam)
[8]. See, e.g., Qur’an 2:190-3.
[9]. “Let not the believers take disbelievers for their auliya (lord) in prefere
nce to believers.” (Qur’an 3:28)
[10]. American Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee confirmed 520 violent incident
s against Arabs alone within 2 months following 9/11/01..
[11]. See www.adc.org/actin/2002/11February2002.htm (Protest Ashcroft’s anti-Isl
amic statements, 2/11/02)
[12]. See www.counterpunch.org/ashcroftbigot.html (Ashcroft the Bigot, Feb. 8, 2
002)
[13]. See, e.g., Thousands of Afghans likely killed in bombings by Murray Campbe
ll, The Globe and Mail, Jan. 3, 2002.
[14]. See, e.g., www.wsws.org/articles/2002/jan2002/afgh-j08.shtml
[15]. Here what is meant is that instead of rulers deciding matters on the basis
of Shura or mutual consultation, they will only listen to their wives or member
s of the household.
[16]. In a recently published news it is now believed that Vladimir Putin, as th
e FSS Chief, master-minded the Moscow Apartment bombing in 1999, to stir up hatr
ed against Chechen Muslims, so that the Russian government could launch its seco
nd savage campaign in Chechnya, and facilitate Putin’s winning the Presidential
election. (NPR News, All Things Considered, Feb. 21, ’02; BBC News, March 5, 200
2)
[17]. Reference here is made to Crown Prince Abdullah’s calling upon the “consci
ence” of the American people to help the Palestinians. The Emir of Qatar had to
“beg” the U.S. to use its influence on the Israelis. (see http://www.counterpunc
h.org/fiskpit.html, Arab Nations Lost in a Pit of Desperation by Robert Fisk, Fe
b, 16, 2002)
[18]. Marxism and Other Western Fallacies: An Islamic Critique by Dr. Ali Sharia
ti, (tr. R. Campbell), Mizan Press, Berkeley (1980), p. 38.