Growth + Times = Dilution of Islamic Practice?


I have been attempting to put this in writing, but feared controversy of the topic. However, it may serve as a good platform for a slight wake up.

Some may have many views against what I am saying, but I want to create a platform of discussion.

Contemplation through the times, and each state of the generations…how do we know where to draw the line in preservation of our roots, while serving the greater good?

Whether it is in consumption of wealth, enforcing law, or ways of living, the main issue that we fail to establish, is balance.

How do we not overstep the mark, while situations around us dictate that we should, in cause of the ‘greater good’? Yet, when we over step a mark, something else is at risk of loss.

What do I mean here?

Islam, since the time of the Prophet Muhammad (saw), began with one person, to two people, then four, which then led to a small community of Muslims, who formed the greatest Muslims of our nation – The companions. Islam here, in terms of faith within the people was at its peak, to the extent whereby Shaytaan himself would fear the followers.

The numbers, which it had rose from a small group to what it stands now, close to billion, is a blessing of this nation, that it would be the biggest nation above all the prior nations.

Nobody can deny that as times have progressed, societies have advanced, and we are living in circumstances which people even a decade ago would never imagine, in terms of technology, we can even turn on electrical appliances with words from our mouths, rather than putting our physical capabilities to use.

Over some time, I have been thinking about the state of Islam in our times, in society now, we are living in a world where technology is shaping man, rather than the other way round, there’s so much corruption and morality is decreasing, and the mercy in the hearts of the people, is reducing, as people are being over taken by their ego. Im sure you know what I am saying.

In the west, we are being pulled – Well I wont say we, but Islamic scholars are being pulled in two directions. I have a few points to make:

Firstly – Living in a society, where nudity is prevailing, homosexuality, and corrupt ways of living, and technology making people lazy, people are brought up in this kind of society, and its becoming a norm, and nobody really knows any different

Secondly, as a result of this, those who come back to Islam, or be raised islamically; based on the society, build their Emaan off of that, in a sense. Alhamdulila a handful preserve their strong Emaan,

Thirdly – We are actively, always trying to get people back to Islam, always trying new things, and through mediums which are appealing to those who we are trying to call to Allah’s religion, so we openly accept for example, people into the mosque who have (im giving a bad example here), but walk in with disliked clothing, or hairstyle which is against the Sunnah,

In essence of all these points, we are living in a society which is reducing in morals, and at the same time, we are trying to give Dawah, even though the Sunnah is diluting, we are in the struggle or constant battle of – do we reject these people who are not following the Sunnah, and let a culture form, where the Sunnah isn’t emphasised, or do accept these for the greater good, even with the risk of the Sunnah being diluted?

I believe this is what’s happening, for example, this whole phenomena with regards to the music and nasheeds, are there any nasheeds now without music? But some argue well it’s a way of getting people back to Islam but at the same time, Islam is diluting. (Ok, Ok, some may say here, some scholars have said its allowed etc, but its not the music thats the issue).

Someone made a poem which one line read:

‘Am I not a true Mu’mineen if I haven’t covered my hair?
Am I more viable to people treating me with less respect – is that fair?
Isn’t real Iman more than what I wear?’

I think its ridiculous, but this is an example of the ideology, which is being passed around, and thus Islam is diluting, because we are in the culture of excusing all the time, and because of societies circumstances, we are being pushed to excuse, in order for the greater good, of bringing people back to Islam…

We are moving towards a method of ‘over sympathising’, and always ‘rubbing peoples back’ saying ‘oh its okay, you will get there, you wil start praying take things one thing at a time’. Which has led to people falling back, and as a result of this sympathy, people have lowered their bar with the deen.

It doesnt really matter whether its deen or duniya, when you begin sympathising something too much, it becomes diluted, and people unconciously lower the bar, and the pressure – the amount thats needed – reduces.

E.g. At work, the late policy, if a collegue comes into work late all the time, and theres a policy saying you have to be on time, but the employer says, don’t worry, take your time, i know its hard, the collegue unconciously will reduce the pressure off of himself, this is whats happening now, I believe, it is dependant on the collegue to put the effort in, which represents the way our emaan should be, but at the same time, the pressure should work ALONG with him, rather than feeding his weakness.

In times of the Prophet (saw), when they heard a verse, no one had to give sympathy back, but it all complimented each other, the admonishing, and also the compassion worked hand in hand, everything  was done, without question, so why are we giving so much sympathy now? Yes people take time, but with every thing there is Balance, as we are the balanced nation.

With sympathy, comes balance, as with admonishing.

Allah is the forgiver, but He is the punisher too

Another point, I completed a course on the rules of Fiqh, and it was stated that there are 8 types of incidental difficulty, and one was general affliction, which it was stated that

”When the harm of a matter has become generalised and it is not possible for a person to avoid it, then the Shariah applies ease in the issue”;

‘ From our time, is the free mixing or music at the shopping malls. These days, it is not practically not possible to purchase food or buy any commodity except that a person is tested with these prohibited matters, as a result, the Shariah overlooks the sin in this case as long as every effort is made to minimise the harm’

In a case like this, in the society we are living in, where do we draw the line in applying the rule of general affliction?

The way I see things, is that society is deriving so many issues by which the Shariah needs to be applied to, and so many complexities, but I believe that, this is a sign of the end of times, the more complex issues society is bringing about to provide Fatwa, the more society is falling in terms of morality.

There are simple things in terms of Adab and etiquette, which we don’t even see anymore, or consider being important, we read and be inspired by so many stories, and sit in awe of them, but do we really live it? The old ways are being laughed at, and seen as something alien, and thus those who want to revive beautiful values, are seen as something against the good, simple manners such as smiling, giving salaam, going that extra mile, showing appreciation, instead of feeding off each others compassion, brothers sitting close to each other and sitting and have a nice conversation, rather than sat ten miles apart from each other, with their legs 20 miles apart. Acts other than this are perceived as ‘gay’.

The Shariah will not fail to adapt, but things will come close to impossible.

More and more people are coming to Islam, which is a blessing given to this Ummah to be the biggest, but more are bringing problems, and more complexities, sooner or later, some may even deem it to be Makrooh to be homosexual. The numbers arent the issue, its the conviction in Islam which is decreasing,

Its very pessimistic, but it’s a point which im trying to illustrate.

Where and how do we draw the line in all of this?

I think these are means to the End, and we need to stop this culture, of excusing all the time, and being so lenient with the Shariah, if Islam dilutes, so will this generation.

We need to be balanced as the Shariah dictates.

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21 Comments

  1. Chowdhury says:

    Assalamualaikum,

    I loved this post and I couldn’t agree more. Jazak Allah Khair for posting.

  2. maghi85 says:

    i think the spirit of Islam never changes… the meanings that entered the heart of the Prophet pbuh are still there and are passed down from generation to generation. if they were lost then that would mean that the Quran is not true…
    but alhumdullilah we have the people of Allah to turn to who are the real inheritors of Prophet…

  3. Dawud Israel says:

    This is true, we are losing our identity. I think now, more than ever, the hadith of a person who goes into the mountains or valleys away from the people to preserve his deen, applies to us now. Perhaps, we need to found our own cities and communities in the West, much like how the Amish and Hutterites have done?

    I remember making salawat the other day and my custom is to imagine our Rasul salallahu alayhi wasalam…and then the idea came into my mind that he is bearded…which as odd as it sounds was alien to me because in our culture, we perceive clean-shaven as being better than having a beard (even though, myself I have a small beard). And yet at that moment, the beauty of our Prophet salallahu alayhi wasalam grew 10-fold with the idea of a beard. That, YES the Best of creation wore a beard.

    The other aspect of this is that we complicate our Fiqh by living in the west. We think fiqh is undeveloped, but in reality Muslims kept life as simple as possible and so fiqh remained easy. Now, we turn one simple fiqh issue…into a hundred and think of Islam as outdated when we ourselves are running away from it.

    And the problems you have discussed in this article are compounded by the fact that the practicing among us, have no real living examples to follow. The “holier-than-thou” complex emerges because their are few embodying the Sunnah in thought and action and this “holier-than-thou” complex causes many many problems. And even, the righteous, have waned and grown accustomed to the West- shaykhs use gangster slang in their talks. One speaker I know accidentally called hadith, “shit” as his way of saying “stuff.” :(

    Where is the Sunnah? The Sunnah is our Honor and our Dignity. Without it, we have no identity, I don’t know who I am. We have no grip on this world or the next, and “Verily, the Grip of your Lord is Most Severe.”

    This is also one reason why if you try to find a genuine real-deal shaykh of Tasawwuf, you struggle to do so. I think even the Awliya are overwhelmed now, and hope lies in Imam Mahdi appearing in our time.

    Although, I disagree with a number of people who say the time for hijrah is now, I can’t help but think they are right.

  4. dawood says:

    I agree with some of the article, but disagree with other parts… and tend to have a more positive outlook than the author regarding those Muslims that we do not believe are practising as we think they should be…

    As a recent entry on this blog says, quoting Tariq Ramadan from his Islam, the West and the Challenges of Modernity: “We can find many Muslims who acknowledge not practicing their religion as they should, but very few are those who assert not believing at all…”, this is the first thing to bear in mind.

    And with this, we should see those people – rather then looking down on the person who wrote the poem about covering and saying they are ‘lax’ – rather as battlers and fighters, who deserve our respect and encouragement. They are truly fighting a “jihad”, within their own selves, against the influences and norms of the society there were raised in. Some how – and only God Knows how considering the religious illiteracy of us Muslims in the West in general and the stigma regarding our religion – these people want to identify themselves as Muslims, and be respected as such for being themselves. This is a good thing! They are fighting against themselves, and struggling against the programming they have been raised with socially, choosing to be identified as Muslims.

    The original Muslims did not begin praying five times a day with all the nawafil and extra things we now see should be done to be pious, so I think it unreasonable to expect those who are illiterate regarding their religious heritage to be able to suddenly do the same thing as well, just as it is for converts to suddenly be “pious”. We have to make priorities and develop ourselves.

    • Nuraini says:

      agree with dawood. it is not qualitatively much different from the first muslims’ experience at the time of jahiliyah, except without the benefit of the actual presence of the Prophet. every one of the difficulties brought up in the articles has already happened – many more than once – in various eras of humankind, and also within the Islamic centuries inside the empires. Let’s not kid ourselves. There has been and always will be people at various stages of faith, falling back, coming forth again, new entries, those who fall away.

  5. gohar says:

    I liked the article very much too.

    “As a recent entry on this blog says, quoting Tariq Ramadan from his Islam, the West and the Challenges of Modernity: “We can find many Muslims who acknowledge not practicing their religion as they should, but very few are those who assert not believing at all…”, this is the first thing to bear in mind.”

    The poem is a good example of where Ramadan’s statement fails. THe problem with this person isn’t just that they are failing to fulfill the mandatory parts of the religion.
    The bigger problem is that WHAT they believe to be part of that religion that they admit to not practicing fully is also changing. Shame
    and regret at not being fully practicing is being replaced with disdain and even active “new-age Jihad” against those teachings.

    Being positive is great and praiseworthy. But it would be wrong to ignore the very real problems that the ummah is also facing. Imagine if a
    doctor just focused on the fact that their patient is alive,rather than on the fact that they have a very serious medical conidtion that needs treating.

  6. As long as we hold ourselves to lower standards, we’ll get poor results. Holding higher standards will breed a culture of achievers rather than excuse makers.

    Siraaj

  7. Nomad78 says:

    Salam,

    I think cultural dilution of Islamic understanding and the inability to distiniguish between what is “culture” and what is “Sunnah” or what is an actual practice of ISlam is a major threat to our religion. What I have seen, through my own personal experience and what I saw people go through, is a lack of an understanding of the basics. In the west we fear losing our identity that we hold on tight to what we think is right because it is our comfort zone and the lines between culture and religion become blurry.
    We must go back to the fundamentals. Why do I pray couple with a good understanding of all the components of prayer helps establish within one’s self a level of faith and spirituality and you build on that level by level until you have a strong structure.
    In my humble opinion what I think is a big part of the problem is the fact that we, as muslims, are afraid of establishing a sense of individuality and worry too much about the community at large. It is true we are like one body, as the prophet says, but we are “parts of that body. So, in order for me to serve the greater good I need to worry about myself first and then, as I progress through the levels of faith and spirituality, the community at large and its issues will fall into place.
    And always remember that Allah has promised to protect this religion until the day of judgment. Not to be lax but to be confident and comfortable with the fact that if I take the time and effort to work on myself the community at large will not fall apart.
    My two cents.
    Nomad78

  8. OmarE says:

    Mashallah, this is a great article and it comes at a great time. The other day a friend of mine told me that he dosent force his kids to pray all 5 prayers because Allah understands their busy lives, and that Allah is Rahman, Rahim. Allah is most understanding. This of course is true, but as the author stated in this article it seems we are “setting the bar lower” and bring down our standards and compromising our convictions. This is the source of many of our problems.

    Jazak Allah Khar.

    Omar E
    (rawealth.blogspot.com)

  9. d says:

    asalaamu alaykum, just my 2cents i think we should be mindful of the fact that every one is at different stages on there islamic path. although i do agree with much of the article.

  10. Esteban says:

    assalamuwaalaikum

    thank God you weren’t a sahabi because Islam would have never spread so far if you were in charge. Back then, you’d probably rule against opening up lands because it might ‘dilute’ Islam. The truth is exposing others (no matter how backward they were, and trust me, they were much more backward back than us) through conquests facilitated the construction and dissmenation of Islamic knowledge as we know it. Imam Shafie, Imam Hanifah, Al Ghazali, Ibn Hazm, are just some of many who came to Islam via exposure and interaction with Muslims.

    On a different point, you’ve got to recognize that you and others on this page have been blessed with exposure to traditional Islam from an early point of your life. Others, the ones you call “lacking adab” and so forth, haven’t had the same exposure you’ve had, hence that’s why their behavior is so at odds with Islam. Following your logic, there is no hope for anyone born outside the tradition. Everyone else is necessarily doomed when in fact Islam is a religion of da’wah, and da’wah necessitates interaction with those who threaten to ‘dilute’ our ranks, no matter how much we may be averse to it

  11. Asalamu Alaykum,

    Esteban: I would like to thank you for reading my lengthy article, for spending your time and efforts replying, as for all the other brothers and sisters too, I appreciate your comments.

    Analysing from your comments, it may seem that you had taken things to a personal level, as some of your answers were quite presumptious about me.

    This article wasnt ignoring any aspects of understandings of the way people live, and have been brought up, and where etc, as ‘d’ stated that, we are all at different stages with our Emaan, which is obvious with anything, you have the higher levels of ability, and the lower levels,

    Its the conviction we have as an Ummah which I am questioning, and the over sympathising, which unconciously we lower the bar on our selves, as Siraaj mentioned, if we set ourselves high standards, then inshAllah we can reach them… this is what we fail to do, and we need to be compassionate to those whom have just began in the deen, as everyone starts at low level, and works up,no one starts with ultimatum piety, but a culture is evolving of excusing, and things are softening up, so no pressure is felt, and thus people lower their bar, we all need to give each other the push, as well as give each other the comfort, otherwise, why would Allah adress punishment?

    As for lacking adab, its the standards set again, if we see someone failing, who are the ones that need to give them a push here and there, no one is born with adab or high emaan, it is taught,

    Thank you for your points, it has broadened my understanding, which is what I had intended this article for, and did say at the beginning that there maybe many who disagree..

    Wasalam

  12. Ali says:

    Assalamu alaykum

    The problem with our society is that we are sacrificing the Sunnah of the Prophet (S) to the culture of the west, which goes totally against what Allah (SWT) says in Surah Hujurat:

    ‘O believers! Exceed not over Allah and his Messenger and fear Allah. Undoubtedly Allah Hears, Knows (Surah Hujurat:1)

    This article is actually very relevant to what happened Wednesday at a local high school interfaith. A staff member, who is also Muslim, a newly converted Muslim, might I add, came up to the stage and said to the audience something to the extent of “What’s up with the Muslim youth these days? These kids are going back to the times of the Prophet (S), wearing Shelvar Kameez on the streets. These kids need to realize we’re living in America and we need to adapt.” (By the way, the interfaith was in a classroom, and because of lack of planning, only Muslim kids were present. Only mentioning this so that you guys don’t get the idea that he told this to a huge crowd.)

    This is definitely a major problem in Western societies, the discarding of the Sunnah of the Prophet (S). What we need to come to realize is the Sunnah of the Prophet (S) IS our identity, and it is critical that we make his sunnah, his example, our identity, and the way in which people identify us as, because if we don’t, then how can we call ourselves Muslims?

    However, we shouldn’t be so hard on ourselves, let alone the Muslim Ummah, for being sympathetic of our identity. It is hard to live in a culture totally opposite of Islamic culture. Islam teaches humility and thankfulness, whereas Western culture teaches Riyaa (showing off) and arrogance and self absorption.

    And the sister beautifully pointed out the cause of it, which is laziness and the easy way out. This culture is so easy and appealing. People don’t want to think about how this culture can screw you over in many ways in this life and the next because it looks so good and fun and appealing.

    The fact of the matter is that we need to come to a realization, as an Ummah, that Western culture is not THE culture; Islam is THE culture. Once we realize this, then as an Ummah, as a Ja’maah, we need to work to better ourselves, make ourselves more diligent in practicing the Sunnah. Why a Ja’maah? Because Umar (R) says that “There is no Islam without a Ja’maah.”

    Please forgive me if I offended any of you guys, and correct me if I am wrong.

    Assalamu alaykum
    Ali

  13. umme zaid says:

    Assalamu alaikum.

    Although I agree with the premise of the article, there are two issues I’d like to talk about.
    First of all, it is very important to look at the bigger picture than to get lost in details. What if, (and it has happened many times), one drives people away from Islam by imposing things on them. It is not the ideal picture, but it is more important that people be saved by being believers in la ilaha illAllah, than being shut out of Islam because of their lack of compliance. It is well-known principle of usulul fiqh to choose lesser evil when there is a situation involving two evils. Ofcourse if their evil is so contagious that it is contaminating the eeman of others, one must worry about saving one’s eeman, and that is a different situation.

    Secondly, we should try to raise the bar for ourselves, and try to have good opinion of others. What I have seen is that we are more concerned about others than ourselves. After all on the day of Judgment it will be just ‘nafsi, nafsi’ and we will not care to cast a look at the other person.

    I am not saying that we should not be concerned with the state of our community and give up on enjoining good and forbidding evil, but hilm and hikma are traits of our Prophet sallallahu alyhi wa sallam. Giving advise to anyone is like sowing a seed; one has to soften the soil of one’s heart by building trust and then can one plant the seed of advise. And trust is only built if we have a beautiful character that influences others.

    Please don’t be offended by my comments. I, like everyone else, have commented on the state of other people, while finding solace in the fact that I wear hijab and try to practise Islam. But there are times, in the middle of the night, I reflect and realize my state of heart may be uglier than what my ego may project to fool myself. Just a few things to think about and Allah knows best.

  14. abu hatim says:

    I think umme zaid said it well: “we should try to raise the bar for ourselves, and try to have good opinion of others.”

    There is a difference between being lenient and tolerant towards people who commit acts that are less than perfect, and believing that their acts are permissible. I think our Ummah is strong enough to resist the corruption of our Fiqh. Many times I have heard scholars and preachers say things like: “If you are not praying, then start with one prayer, and when you are comfortable with that, then add another one, and eventually you will want to add a third, and then you will desire to add a fourth, until you reach a point where you cannot stand to miss any of the five prayers.” But these scholars are in no way about to believe that it is okay to pray only once or twice per day.

    Perhaps we can think of Islam as coming to people in successive waves. Recall that alcohol was prohibited in 3 steps, not in one fell swoop. So the first task is to bring people into Islam, to help them to love Islam, etc. Then the task is to strengthen their practice and their faith, until they eventually reach a high level of Ihsaan.

    I think it is also worthy to remember that Islam has withstood all sorts of innovations and heresies throughout its history. There were people who said that only wine was prohibited and beer was fine. There were people (who ruled huge chunks of the Muslim lands) who believed in strange doctrines about Allah being beyond being, and the universal intellect emanating from Him, and then the universal soul, and then the world coming about from these things. But all of these strange ideas were marginalized, they could not stand the test of time.

    So I don’t think we should be harsh and intolerant out of a fear of diluting Islam. So long as we are clear about what is right and what is wrong, there is nothing wrong with giving people space and time to come to terms with that.

    Please forgive me and correct me if I have erred.

  15. Asalamu Alaykum,

    The main point here was the issue of balance, Islam isnt an intolerant religion, and Allah has made it to tailor with His creation, the Prophet (saw) exercised the best compassion, as well as the best admonishing.

  16. Zubair says:

    Ali:

    I admire your love for the Sunnah, but I’d just like to point out a few things:

    - Shalwar Khameez are not “sunnah” dress. As Imam Suhaib said, “show me a picture of an Islamic dress in any of the major fiqh books.. you won’t be able to.” Islam lays out specific guidelines with regards to the clothing (loose clothing, covering the aura, etc), but doesn’t dictate that you have to wear shalwar khameez and that you can’t wear jeans and a shirt…

    - I would have to disagree with you about Islam being a culture. Islam is a way of life, and even though we try to follow the Prophet (sw) as best as we can, Islam is for all places and all times. That means that you can adopt the Western culture which doesn’t contradict the Shari’ah, and you can still be a good American Muslim.

    Sorry I don’t have much time to elaborate more, but I hope you understand my points.

    Akhuk Zubair

  17. Ali says:

    Assalamu Alaykum

    Zubair:

    My point is that there are Muslims out there who look at Islam and look at the sunnah as inferior to Western culture; as a result, they try to adapt to modern western culture.

    But the fact of the matter is that the Qu’ran and the Sunnah are the ONLY means to attaining salvation in this world and the next. I should have put “culture” in quotations. I didn’t mean to literally say that Islam is a culture. I’m only explaining it in the way other people compare Islam to Western society, as a culture.

    Also, I should have been more clear about the Shelvar Kameez. Yes, it isn’t part of the Sunnah. You are right. But the whole point is to dress appropriately and modestly in society. We understand that. But the brother I mentioned DOESN’T understand that. But I’m not saying that you can’t wear western clothes with following the shariah.

    I’m explaining this in respect to what this brother says. That is probably why there is some miscommunication.

    Assalamu alaykum
    Ali

  18. J says:

    Imam Suhaib (may Allah [swt] reward you), why do you dress in a thawb whilst in the West? Shouldn’t we just dress as the people do? You are a white convert to Islam. Don’t you want people to see that you are a convert–as American as apple pie? Maybe some people will just think you are an Arab the way you are dressed. Wallahu Aalim.

  19. Haq says:

    Good question J…

  20. Qas says:

    I have seen my beloved Imam (he will probably hate me for writing that..it’s true though) wearing thawbs to 3-piece suits during his time in the States. Sometimes, a man just wants to get his thawb on. I’m saddened though about the lack of Bonanza Shalwar Kameez in his wardrobe.

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