There Is No Power Save His
Some of the hardships beget opportunities. Sabr (Patience) is to endure hardships and Rida (Pleasure with destinies) is to do that with a contented soul that is hopeful and certain of Allah’s promise, no matter how distressful the hardship is. However, wisdom is to go beyond that and search for the gift within the folds of such adversity.
There is no doubt that Muslims, recently, have been through many hardships and trials. Thus, it is imperative that we have contemplative pauses and search for the blessings within them and seek gates to the blooms of Allah’s favors that accompany or follow them.
The recent Swiss vote to ban the construction of the minarets of mosques is one of those significant events that call for our contemplation.
However, let us, first, not exaggerate and overestimate the significance of this incident. It is certainly not one of our greatest tragedies in recent times. There is no comparison between it and the many deep wounds in our hearts. We have al-Aqsa in captivity and we see daily efforts to change the identity of Jerusalem. We have Muslim lands seized and populations abused and massacred. We, also, still experience injustice and oppression in our own Muslim lands that became a constant ingredient of our lives. Yet, should our bigger problems keep us from tackling smaller ones as they come? If we do that, then we are sprinting to our demise. In fact, we should never belittle any adversity, because it could be only the beginning of more to come. Here, in particular, in the case of the Swiss minarets, it is only a first item on a long list for the far right. They already started talking about a long menu of demands, and it seems that their perceived success with the last vote will embolden them and further stimulate their appetite to eat away much of the rights of their Muslim population.
The question here is not about the necessity of having minarets, or whether a mosque is considered a mosque without one, or whether it is wiser to direct the resources towards other more important projects within the mosque. It is about infringing on the rights of a single religious group and confining their choices, as well as directing a defamation campaign against one religion. No one asked for similar measures against the followers of other religions. It is, also, about being a test balloon used by the far right to gauge their future ability in further stripping the Muslim population of more rights. They already started talking about forcing the Muslim girls to wear swim suits to mixed swim lessons at school.
I believe that a contemplative reading of the incident exposes a lot of implications that must be heeded. Of those are the following:
1- There is a degree of hatred of Islam or fear from it or ignorance about it, all or some, to various levels, shared by large sectors of the people of the west. One may ask, why fear from a nation as frail as ours? And the short answer is that our sick nation doesn’t die. Not only that, but there are signs of recovery in the sick body. Secondly, Europe seems to be possessed with the thought that the numbers of the native people are decreasing in the face of the increase of the Muslim populations. This is not the problem of Islam or the Muslims. The Europeans know that their numbers dwindle because of the nature of their modern culture that discourages reproduction, and makes it a distraction from enjoying life. Someone may like an economical explanation for all world events, and may argue that it is not about religion as much as it is about the resentment of the immigrants, particularly, in times of economic turmoil worldwide. This may be part of it. However, it was only the minarets of mosques, not any other worship place. I believe that it is safe to say that a fair-minded individual will not fail to see the resentment of one particular religious group as the main motivation behind the recent events. It is also ironic that this very economic turmoil was caused by the mixture of usury, excessive risk taking and inequity. Such are the main prohibitions in transactions that Islam called for sparing people of their evils.
2- The opponents of Islam save no effort in distorting its pristine image, sometimes using the deviations of some of us, Muslims. Many times, they use mere lies and repeat them until they are believed by the masses. What do the minarets have to do with a campaign about the abuse of women and female circumcision? The sadder part of the story is that a quick comparison between Islam and any other religion will show any sensible examiner that no religion has ever honored women more than Islam did.
3- It doesn’t cease to surprise me how fast people may turn against their own values. This reminds me of the pagans who ate their gods made of dates when the circumstances called for that. Where is all the talk about liberties and human rights? In a mountainous country – as remarked by the French foreign minister – the people are disturbed by four slim higher buildings, and can’t tolerate the existence of more.
4- The suffering of the Muslim minorities is but a direct consequence of the state of our ummah in general. We see people of various nationalities move about the globe counting on the might of their nations and co-religionists. But it seems that the Muslims have no protection extended to them from their fifty seven states.
5- Democracy in the sense of voting and allowing the majority to rule may be imperative as a means of settling conflicts between the people of the same nation. However, these procedures are not infallible and the history still records how this very technique allowed the discrimination against a certain people for hundreds of years. Now, we see it allow the infringement on the rights of a single religious group through the like of the banning of hijab in France and, now, the minarets in Switzerland as an act of discrimination against a single group of people. It is essential that the people of the various nations agree on a framework within which those procedures will be utilized. This could be individual liberties or socialism or Islam. For our countries, the choice should be clear.
6- Which is the most important observation and may bear the seeds of the blessings within the current hardships: let us now have a moment of honesty with ourselves and ask, is there any refuge save in and with Him (exalted is He?) The clear answer is no. For how long have many Muslims or even Islamists thought of the west as a safe haven from the injustices they experienced in their own lands? They liked to forget that the west was complicit in this very phenomenon. Is it clear now that we have no one to rely on but the One with all power and all compassion to deliver us from our distress?
Based on the above, it seems about time that we:
1- Renew our devotion and revalidate our trust in Allah and reliance on him alone. Let our hearts fail not to perceive “that there is no fleeing from Allah (and no refuge) but to Him.” Let, also, our tongues never cease to repeat “Allah is sufficient for us and the most excellent protector.”
2- More effort and resources must be invested in building mosques and establishing them. They must be equipped with all necessary means to make them the most frequented destination by every Muslim. They must be welcoming enough to be emotional magnets that attract the hearts of the Muslims, who will always have an unbreakable attachment to them. The mosques in the west are like the arcs of Noah (blessings and peace be upon him) for the Muslim communities there. They have an importance in the east and west, but their importance in the west, I believe, is greater. We sincerely hope that this decision will not take effect. However, if it did, I call upon my Muslim brethren in Switzerland to double their efforts in building mosques that are better and bigger and more utilitarian. I also wish that there will be a greater emphasis on the activities within those mosques that will entice all Muslims of all kinds and ages to frequent them.
3- Wisdom is to be sought by every believer. The Muslims in the west must benefit from some of the virtuous qualities of their compatriots, such as keeping one’s calm and forbearance during trials and being quick to recover from failure and rebound after defeat. In light of that, the people endowed with knowledge and experience must address the current issues at various levels and devise plans to counter the negative consequences of this vote. Such plans may or should be multi-pronged, and no sincere effort may be belittled.
4- It is a noble and important mission for the Muslims in the west to form cradles for Islam and new homes in such lands. Islam is now a reality in Europe. The human journey will proceed as intended by God who created us all, and He meant for this last testament from him and last divine communication to man to enter every house, be it a tent or a brick house. This, however, should not prevent those Muslims from keeping bridges with the main lands of Islam even if they were natives of the west. They should hope for the best and be prepared for the worst. There may be stations between now and the fulfillment of Allah’s promise during which the Muslims may find themselves having to choose between their residence in one particular country and their religious commitment. I hope that everyone has a clear answer to that hypothetical situation- or is it?
5- We must precede the opponents to the hearts and minds of the people of the world. Our struggle is not against any of the nations of this world, but rather for them. Allah had clearly defined the nature of our mission when he said to His Messenger, “We have sent you but as a mercy to all.” Let those of us who live in the west be beacons of light and true representatives of the beauty and splendor of this great religion of ours. Guiding people to Islam is a grand deed, and it reflects our concern for humanity. However, the mere transforming of an opponent to one who is neutral, or better yet, respectful and tolerant towards Islam and Muslims is a good goal, in and by itself, that must be pursued.
6- It is paramount for the Muslims in the west to take part in achieving the common good for their respective societies. This is only a translation of Allah’s command to people to “help one another in goodness and piety.” Yet, it is imperative, as well, for them to recognize and firmly believe in the oneness of this ummah. They must save no effort, money, knowledge, experience or anything else in helping their ummah rise to where it ought to be. The might of their ummah will be theirs, and no matter how strong their minorities become in the west and elsewhere, it is the ummah of Muslims that will be their refuge and supporter in times of hardship.
May Allah bring ease to our ummah that will erase every hardship.