Saturday, September 17, 2005

Making A Difference On the Margins

“What right do they have to speak for us? She doesn’t even wear hijab properly. He doesn’t have a beard. You never see them at the mosque. They don’t belong to our madhab/manhaj/tartib. She isn’t Sunni/Shia.”

How often do we hear these words. And how often do they cause grief to people on the margins.

What we often forget is that, in the current environment, marginal Muslims feel the most pain. They spend most time with the broader community. They don’t hide in the coat-tails of the ghetto. They hear first-hand the nasty words and attitudes of some ignorant and hostile non-Muslims toward their culture and faith.

And they are always the first to experience the first spray of an oncoming tsunami of hatred toward Muslims. They then start building the bridges to enable the wave to flow underneath. And when they go to their Muslim communities to warn them, those very same Muslims sabotage the bridge-building process with excuses such as those in the opening paragraph.

We, the so-called “practising Muslims”, the ones who go to the mosque and refuse to go to the pub, we think we have the sole right to represent this faith. But our history has always shown that it is people on the margins who often make all the difference.

The Messenger of God (peace be upon him) recognised this at the Battle of the Ditch. He was approached one night by Nuaym bin Masud, a man with a reputation for drinking and womanising and for his excellent relations with the enemies of the Prophet.

“I have come to declare my allegiance to you, but my tribe don’t know it. I want to stay with you now”, declared Nuaym.

“No, stay where you are. Do what you need to do. For war is treachery and deception”, was the blessed response.

Using careful diplomacy, Nuaym ended the Battle without a single life being lost. He manufactured suspicion and resentment between a treacherous Jewish tribe and their allies, the Quraysh and other invaders.

Of course, if Nuaym had approached us ghetto Muslims today, we would find excuses to condemn or to pick faults or find excuses. Or worse still, we would allow Nuaym in and give him a sensitive post without testing his true intentions. We are either on one extreme or the other, not using our strategic sense.

Why do we have this attitude? Do we think we own Islam? Do we think God is not powerful enough to make Islam strong unless we are involved? Does God really need us?

Some weeks back, I appeared on a late-night current affairs show. I was accompanied by a prominent Victorian of Turkish origin. He was a young Labor MP, and we spoke about the state of Muslim Australians and their leadership. Yet today I visit Muslim online discussion forums and read ghetto Muslims say this man is a “kadhab” (liar) and a charlatan. These same people then complain about lack of Muslim representation in parliament.

Yet this fellow has no incentive to identify himself as a Muslim. If anything, him doing so is compromising his political career. He faces a backlash in a future preselection and election.

Some weeks back, I felt my faith was dropping a few notches. I had stopped praying. I told a friend of mine whom many would hardly describe as a practising Muslim. On her way to work at a watering hole, she took time out to advise me on salaat and Islam.

“Irfan, have you ever tried meditation? You should try it. Maybe if you meditate for a while, you will feel the urge to get up and make salaat. And try reading Deepak Chopra. You know his greatest inspiration was Rumi.”

She was right. And I am right. Muslims on the margins often make all the difference!

© Irfan Yusuf 2005

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Respect to the Irf ! said...

yeeeah mate !

time for us 'muslims on the margins' to unite not under sectarianism (Sunni - Maliki, Hanifi...Shiah - Ithna Asheri,
Zaidi...nor Sufi - Naqshbandi, Chishti) but as ONE. Though not
in hatred against those whom have
marginalised us nor becoming the average Muslim 'Jew basher' ...
Hindu, Christian etc. basher.

Anonymous said...

More Mortein to all of you.

Leave us alone, you blood sucking, malaria infested mozzies.