More On Ulema and the New Muslims

13 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1422, 5 June 2001

New and Old Muslims Need Proper Education and Islamic Nurturing
By Sh. Younus I Kathrada "Dar Al-Madinah Islamic Society", Canada

Assalaamu 'Alaykum Wa Rahmatullaahi wa Barakaatuh

Dear and respected brother Khalid Baig,

Firstly I must commend you on the great effort you put into this site. There is much to be gained from it. May Allah reward you generously (Jazaakumullaahu Khairan).

Most important, we must work on the aspect of imaan. This is particularly true in the Western World.

Secondly, I write to you after having read the correspondence between yourself and the new Muslim (convert). Indeed I see where he is coming from. I am sure that he believes what he is saying. No doubt it is wrong for the most part, but that is how he feels and sees things. Some of his statements are very general and I do sincerely believe that they are exaggerations.

What I would like to suggest at this time is that we do too often boast about the number of people entering Islam. We pride ourselves on quantity and forget about quality. Of course, this was prophesized by Rasulullah Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam when he stated (in meaning) that we will be large in number, but useless as the scum (foam) on the ocean. Basically I have seen through my experience working with Muslims in general ("new" and "old") that they are in need of proper education and Islamic nurturing. We must teach people about Islam in a more practical way and most importantly work on the aspect of imaan. This is particularly true in the Western World.

No doubt, one of the problems is that many of our 'ulama and Islamic workers in the West have a language problem. This must somehow be addressed.

I must say that what the brother has expressed is not new, but the solution is not as difficult as one may imagine. My sincere belief is that we need to start educating as our pious predecessors did. We need to encourage one another towards this aim and raise and train the Muslims to understand this important matter.

May Allah guide us all and may He grant us the strength and ability to fulfill our duties with respect to the proper propagation of this beautiful and wonderful deen.

Young Muslim: There are Problems in the Way We Are Teaching Islam
By Patel Muhammad, UK.

Assalamu Alaikum

I must say that I agree with your article on Jeffrey Lang's book, as well as Brother Yahya who responded to it.

I am a student at university, and in all my time that I studied Islam here in the UK, I was only given a rudimentary knowledge of my religion. At the end of my mosque years, I had but a basic knowledge regarding the various rituals of Islam and knowing the 5 kalimas along with Imaan-e-mujmal, Imaan-e-mufassal and surats until surah Tariq off by heart.

Yet I knew nothing about the Prophet's Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam life nor did I understand a single word of Arabic. All those eloquent surahs, and I knew not what they meant. The five daily prayers (I would go for Fajr too) were but mere rituals for me, since I understood not what was being recited. Taraweeh in Ramadan was torture (naudhu billah), especially when the Imam was a slow reciter, and my feet would hurt after the taraweeh. I was but a person following mere rituals.

And then, in my teenage years, I had a sudden spiritual awakening, led mainly by the occurrence of an abundance of anti-Islamic articles on the Internet. I knew that to keep my faith, I would have to learn as much as I could about it.

Easy, you say? It most definitely was not an easy task. Obtaining authentic literature to read was a nightmare, and what was available was either of poor quality printing (which put me off reading it) or just too expensive (some of these Muslim publishers are in it just for the money).

Finding authentic material on the Internet was difficult – virtually all the Muslim websites have little "original" material, and this fails to satisfy the cry for knowledge from within.

We need a more detailed curriculum in the mosques to quench the thirst of knowledge-hungry Muslims living in the western world.

Going to one of those darul-ulooms is out of the question – secular commitments do not allow it. Even asking the students from those darul ulooms is difficult – most of them can't even speak English properly. Ok, they have an extraordinary command of Arabic and Urdu, but that makes them no better than a scholar of the Indian subcontinent, and such scholars are unable to answer the questions that we have. Most of those scholars (and I know quite a few) are ignorant of western matters, and seem to have an all too rosy picture of the world, and are completely oblivious to the attacks on Islam that they are to answer.

Watt, Gibb, Muir, Karen Armstrong, Lings, Gibbon - all are anti Islamic authors, yet most darul uloom student will not have heard of them. Why? Because they are only taught what the scholars in india and Pakistan are taught, which makes most of them useless for the western world. [Martin Lings is a Muslim scholar who has written a well-known biography of Prophet Muhammad Sall-Allahu alayhi wa sallam. Albalagh]

You may say that I am moaning and groaning to you in this e-mail, yet this is the way that I, along with many other teenagers in the west, brought up in a western atmosphere, feel like. The questions are there, but the answers are not. The Body wants to submit, but the heart and mind do not allow it.

Such was my case until a little while ago, when the thirst for knowledge flared up again, and despite the difficulty in obtaining authentic Islamic material, (most of) the questions in my mind were answered. If only we were given those answers in our mosque years - maybe then we would not be in turmoil in our teenage years. When will those committee leaders realize that a more detailed curriculum is required in the mosques to quench the thirst of knowledge-hungry Muslims living in the western world?