Sunday, June 21, 2009

Crisis in Iran: A Glimpse Into State of the Ummah

As we hear terrible stories of violence and unrest coming out of Iran, we are reminded of the state of the Muslim Ummah. Just as Iran is suffering from a identity crisis, the ummah as a whole is suffering from this exact identity crisis. In Iran, a country with a rich history and culture has always had to struggle between three identities: Persian-cultural identity, Iranian-secular, and Islamic identity. Likewise the ummah has strayed from it's Islamic identity and has replaced it with man-made ideologies and other identies that have failed miserably. Nationalism and other forms of identity are forbidden in Islam as the Prophet SAW said in a hadith:

"He is not one us who calls for `Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for `Asabiyyah or who dies for `Asabiyyah." (Abu Dawud)


"Undoubtedly Allah has removed from you the pride of arrogance of the age ofJahilliyah (ignorance) and the glorification of ancestors. Now people are of two kinds. Either believers who are aware or transgressors who do wrong. You are all the children of Adam and Adam was made of clay. People should giveup their pride in nations because that is a coal from the coals of Hell-fire. If they do not give this up Allah (swt) will consider them lowerthan the lowly worm which pushes itself through Khara (dung)." [Abu Dawud

and Tirmidhi]

Thus any nationalism we display our love for dirt and our so-called identities we ascribe to ourselves are nothing in the site of Allah. And it has been seen moreso in the Iranian struggle for identity which has erupted recently. All forms of identity that are seen today are man-made and have hurt Muslims more than helped. In fact all the identies given by colonialists and imperialists who's objective was to divide and conquer Muslim lands. So why should we ascribe degrade ourselves and ascribe ourselves to identities given to us by someone else? Did we not learn our lesson from the Prophet SAW’s last sermon?

All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood.

We are MUSLIMS first and everything else second. I am not saying to throw culture/tradition out the window, rather we need to make sure our cultures do not contradict Quran or Sunnah and if it does we must throw out those contradictions. Culture and tradition are what we are, but we should be weary of falling into the same trap as those who were given the message and said “this is what our forefathers did….” Just because our forefathers did it, doesn’t make it legitimate or even Islamic.

It is due to this identity struggle the ummah is suffering today. We have replaced Man-made identities with our true Islamic identity and in turn has weakened and harmed Muslims greatly. We all complain about how bad things are but rather the change comes from within. As it says in the Quran:

“Truly, God does not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves.” (Quran 13:11)

Thus, it’s up to us and us only to create a solution and get ourselves out of this mess. The Iranian uprising and unrest is a reaction to a problem that has been in the ummah for far too long. We have a lack of leadership, a lack of Islam and a lack of spirituality in ourselves. Our leaders have failed us, but so have we. We have turned from Islam---turned from Quran and Sunnah and it is for this reason we have been weakened and divided. Our spiritual state is just as relevant to today as is the oppression of dictators, oligarchies and governments that claim to be implementing the will of the people. It is time for a revolution not to overhaul political systems or dictators, but we should have a spiritual revolution to bring Islam back into our lives---change begins from within.

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