Monday, 8 September 2008

Islamic Dawah Conference in London
Power of Knowledge

Dr. Mozammel Haque

DR. Abdullah Omar Naseef gave out an impassioned plea to Muslims “to work towards making use of the power of knowledge and to introduce some ways and means to make it instrumental in our life. Knowledge is not only theoretical; it has to be practical. Allah the Almighty elevates the people who seek knowledge, acquire it and work in that field. Allah has promised lift them up and upgrades them in their life here and Hereafter.”

Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef
While speaking about the power of knowledge at the 21st Annual Islamic Dawah Conference, organized by Forum for Social Studies, at the Islamic Cultural Centre, London, on 9th August, 2008, Dr. Abdullah Omar Naseef, the former Secretary General of the Muslim World League, Deputy Chairman, Kingdom’s Shoura Council, and presently Secretary General of the International Islamic Council for Dawah and Relief (IICDR), said, “Islam is the religion of knowledge. Allah said, “The people who have the knowledge are not equal to those who do not know.” He also said that Allah will raise up the people who have knowledge that the people who have knowledge are more fearful of Allah the Almighty and follow His Orders and the Commandments.”

Speaking about Qur’an, Dr. Naseef said, “We know that our Qur’an, which is the sacred Book, has everything for our this life and Hereafter. It is a code of conduct and a code of life and everything is there; but despite that we are asked to seek knowledge to great ourselves in knowledge; to do whatever we can to gain more knowledge and make use of this knowledge to improve our lifestyle; our capabilities, our talents, our know-how. If we go to the past, look into our past, our Ulema who were pioneers in all fields of knowledge, including science and technology; they knew how is great to acquire knowledge and to use it as a power, as an energy.”

“Energy in knowledge is much greater than whatever energy we have today in our life but we have to know and realize how to use it and how to improve it and how to work for it,” said Dr. Naseef.

Speaking about the problems facing by the Muslim world, Dr. Naseef said, “We have hundreds and thousands of Universities and millions of graduates but how much knowledge do they have, not only in the field of specialization but also in the field of Shariah and the work of uplifting community. We have to realize that and seek guidance from Allah the Almighty and look into our shortcomings and improve the ways to acquire knowledge and make use of it as a power and as an energy.”

Speaking about demands for changing the curriculum, Dr. Naseef said, “After the 9/11 events in America, there was a hue and cry and calls for changing the Islamic element in our curriculum so that we move forward and avoid the criticism from the West. But this is not the way to improve our knowledge or to acquire knowledge or to march towards a better future. This is only a pretext.”

Dr. Naseef said this is his ideas which he is putting forward. “Practically, we have to realize that there is no way to go forward except the way Allah the Almighty has ordered for us. It has been used by our Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions and the people after that.”

Dr. Naseef is confident “if we change the way of thinking and eliminate the inferiority complex in our society, in our elites, leaders and communities; we can realize that there is something that can be done and achieved. It is everybody’s responsibility to do something, introduce something, as far as knowledge is concerned, as far as every aspect of our life is concerned.”

Dr. Jamal Badawi
Dr. Jamal Badawi of Halifax University, Canada, spoke on the topic, entitled, “Isolation, Integration and Assimilation.” Speaking about integration, Dr. Badawi said, “There are some practicality of minimize contact. If you don’t do that, then they would be losing their identity, there will come such a time that they would say “My great great great grand fathers used to be Muslim. They used to be and so so. When in a visit to Australia, I was told that some Masjids became Museums. Some of the early immigrants were very good practicing Muslims but neglected their children when they grow up in the society. They absorbed totally and lost. So, they don’t know even their heritage at all, except that they carry some names.”

Speaking about isolation, Dr. Badawi said, “I could not find any evidence in the Qur’an or Sunnah in support of isolation from society. We don’t find any support of a notion of strategy or policy of isolation from society. In the Qur’an again, various Prophets of Allah were raised in history. Were they raised in a clean, perfect, sinless society? It was corrupt society that they were raised there – corrupt societies in matters of Aqidah, attitude and morality. If, indeed, isolation from evil or wrong from the surrounding is the correct strategy, then the Prophets should have given us the example by separating themselves. Did they separate themselves from society? No, they didn’t. In fact, they saw their mission as struggling in the midst of all the negative things; not only to improve the life of believers but the lives of the humanity at large; because their mission and the message was directed to all people at least around them. So no, they were not.”

Dr. Badawi cited the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). “We all know that he was born in a Jahiliyah society with all its ills. Did he isolate himself? No, he didn’t. We all know that even in the persecution period in Makkah, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not isolate himself; he reach out to the people when the pilgrims came from the various parts of Arabia as you know he always went during Hajj to talk to them. No, he did not isolate himself.”

Dr. Badawi also cited an example of a story which some people generally tends to forget. “Can you relate and cooperate in a society that does not share all your values? You go back to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and the famous story of Halful Fazul, the pact of chivalry that was an agreement negotiated in the time of Jahiliyah. There was Shirk and one party to that pact was Muhammad (Peace be upon him) along with other Mushrikeen at the time, worked together in that agreement. The agreement, basically, said that if anyone is oppressed or wronged, whether he is the resident or passers by, travellor or guest; then all tribes and the chiefs will go and speak with the oppressor and get the right to that person. It was at the time of Jahiliyah but it was not a Jahiliyah concept. It was an Islamic concept. It was a Prophetic concept taught by all of the Prophets,” said Dr. Badawi.

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) taught us that there is no problem in cooperating with others. When the Qur’an is speaking about the cooperation, it speaks in an inclusive term: cooperate in everything that is righteous and good and don’t cooperate in anything that is shameful and aggressive. It is our Prophet teaching us that you can find common ground that would benefit all, Dr. Badawi stressed.”

Dr. Badawi argued, “If we look at the period of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him), the Rightly Guided Khalifahs, the following generations and all generations throughout history, we find that they did not isolate themselves from their societies and until today, they are living side by side, as a minority or majority with other people of other faith communities. And if the Qur’an and Hadiths tell us a lot about how to deal with the people of the Book or how to deal with other communities or faiths what is the relevance of these Ayahs or verses if you are supposed to be isolated from.”

Dr. Badawi also argued, “When the Prophet (peace be upon him) speaks about kindness to neighbours; when the Qur’an itself speaks about neighbours even whom you do not know, he may not be Muslims, even then you have to be kind to them. How would it be that this is mentioned in the Qur’an if the ideal is to separate yourselves totally from; and, in fact, Islam would have localized and confined to Arabia had it not been for the early Muslims who understood the teachings of Islam to go forward and live with others.”

Now, thirdly, Dr. Badawi discussed the strategy of assimilation. Dr. Badawi said, “Assimilation, by definition, means a person sacrificing his or her own identity and identity means who you are; what you think about yourself. Now when we speak about trying to please others, to fit in; actually we are giving up the basic focus of our identity as Muslims. And I believe that any sincere person following any religion with regard to his relation or her relationship with Allah as the core of their identity; whether they claim to be even secular or not, there is always some impact about your belief or non-belief in Allah the Almighty that constitute the core of your identity. And when I say let me fit in the society by hook or crook or whatever is being done we are sacrificing or compromising our relationship with Allah the Almighty our identity as Muslims.”

Dr. Badawi enquired and argued, “Does it work? Is there anything based on Qur’an or Hadith that may help us or be comfortable with evaluation that this is wrong as we did in matter of isolation. The answer is yes. There is a Hadith saying: That the person who seeks the pleasure of Allah, even if that is at the expense of or displeasure of others (means other humans); Allah would be pleased with him and make people pleased with him. And the one who seeks the pleasure of human being, at the expense of displeasing Allah, Allah will be displeased with him and make people displeased with him.”

“With this analysis of both strategies, the solution is a title I chose and the other people also chose the humble paper that was presented in the European Council of Fatwa and Research that is integration without isolation or assimilation,” argued and concluded by Dr. Badawi.

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