Strengthen civic roots in society to be a force for good

31st May 2019
Strengthen civic roots in society to be a force for good

(Image: Pixabay/CC)

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari

For believers, the traditions and teachings of the Prophets (blessings on them), particularly Muhammad (peace be upon him), are paramount. Each Prophet of God belonged to a community which is termed as their Qawm in the Qur’an.

Prophet Lut (Lot) was born in Iraq, but settled in Trans-Jordan and then became part of the people, Qawm of Lut, in his new-found home. All the Prophets addressed those around them as ‘Ya Qawmi’ (O, my people) while inviting them to the religion of submission, Islam. Those who accepted the Prophets’ message became part of their Ummah. So, individuals from any ethnicity or community could become part of the Ummah – such as the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad.

Believers thus have dual obligations: a) towards their own Qawm (country or community), and b) towards their Ummah (religious companions). As God’s grateful servants, Muslims should strive to give their best to both their Qawm and Ummah with their ability, time and skillset. It is imperative for practising and active Muslims to carry out Islah (bringing them to follow Islam properly and improve their character) of people in their Ummah and be a witness of Islam to their Qawm and beyond. For believers this is about seeking the pleasure of their Lord.

With this basic understanding of the concept, every Muslim should prioritise his or her activities and try their best to serve fellow human beings with honesty, integrity and competence. Finding excuses or adopting escapism can bring harm in this world and a penalty in the Hereafter.

Muslims in their better days proactively endeavoured to be a force for good wherever they lived. Their urge for interaction with their neighbours and exemplary personal characters sowed the seeds of bridge building between people of all backgrounds. No material barrier could divert their cravings for service to their Qawm and their Ummah.

Dutiful Muslims try to replicate this wherever they are. They proactively engage in grass-roots civic works or social justice issues nationally along with others. It is true Muslims, like other minorities, face multiple challenges in Britain; but fortunately, civil-society groups with a sense of justice are still robust in this Isle.

Here are a few ideas for British Muslims to establish their civic roots and promote a tolerant society in two levels:

Individual and family

  1. Individuals and families have unique opportunities to naturally interact and engage with their neighbours, friends and colleagues. Being a good neighbour is an Islamic necessity, as one saying of the Prophet Muhammad clarifies – Gabriel kept advising me to be good to my neighbour so much that I thought he would ask that he (neighbour) should inherit me. Sahih Al-Bukhari.
  2. Through continuously investing in their new generations, Muslims can contribute to the wellbeing of the wider society.
  3. Muslim outreach should be beyond their tribal, ethnic or sectarian boundaries. Islam teaches that human beings are one community.
  4. Apart from those who have the unique ability to serve the global community through charity or other ways, most Muslims as citizens should focus on contributing to Britain. It is vital they:
  • develop their mindset and learn how to work with the mainstream society to normalise the Muslim presence and become a force for good.
  • work with those, Muslims and others in the wider society, who have already been engaged in serving people in various ways.
  • become better-equipped with knowledge and skills, especially in the political and media arena.

Institution

  1. Muslim institutions such as mosques have an obligation to bring local communities together, provide a positive environment for young Muslims to flourish and help the Muslim community to link, liaise and interact with the wider society.
  2. By trying to replicate the Prophet’s mosque in Madinah, they should make sure our mosques become real hubs of social and spiritual life and. They should bring in young people, particularly with professional backgrounds, to leadership positions to energise local communities.
  3. First-generation Muslims should be given due respect for building institutions with their sweat and blood. However, Muslim institutions should now have a 5-10 year realistic plan to ensure a natural blending of the experience and wisdom of the older generations with the energy and dynamism of the younger people. Muslims need a combination of dedicated and confident leadership which is deeply rooted in Islamic ideals, creative energy and worldly competence to address the needs, and face contemporary challenges, of our time.
  4. Muslim bodies should also have long term strategic plans to encourage young Muslims within their spheres to choose careers that can take the community to the next level. Our community needs public servants from Muslim faith in areas such as teaching, university academia, policy making, politics, print and electronic media, etc.

 Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari is an Educationalist, Parenting Consultant, Author.

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