Muslims in the West: Prophetic Guidance on Dealing With Bad Perception & Persecution

muslims-west

Us Muslims here in the U.S. are facing three main problems with regards to our image and rights:

  • Weak political support
  • Bad public opinion
  • Islamophobia

In many ways, this is no different than the Meccan phase of the da’wah during the time of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ). They too had the above three problems. As Muslims, I think it is important for us to look into how he dealt with it. After all, he is our ultimate guide.

When I personally reflect over the biography of the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) and how he dealt with the above mentioned problems, I can recall at least three steps that he took to deal with them:

Step 1 – Always hold on to Islamic principles and values and never negotiate on them

We know that the Meccans offered the Prophet (ﷺ) many worldly possessions in favor of him giving up his religious ideas because they were unpopular. They even offered that they would worship his God for a year provided that he worship their gods in return for a year, which resulted in the revelation of Surah Al-Kafiroon. However, he stood firm and refused to do so. This is important because today we have some people who are arguing that we should change our religion to make it more palatable to the west. They want us to shift our values and principles in accordance to dominant liberal narratives and deny or reinterpret explicit texts in the Qur’an and Sunnah to fit those narratives. But we have clear guidance from the Prophet (ﷺ) to refuse to give up our principles, beliefs, and values just so that it is acceptable to others. We believe it to be the truth from our Lord and we will and must hang on to it no matter what.

How would Christians in the west feel if Muslim countries told their Christian populace that they must give up this idea of God having a son and dying for everyone’s sins and either change it or reinterpret it in a way so that it is not offensive to Muslims? If western countries are going to keep repeating the mantra of religious freedom, then they need to be made to live up to it. We must stand up to the full extent of the law for our right to worship and believe as we please in peace.

Step 2 – Look for support in all avenues

We know that the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) made alliances with some non-Muslims in order to securely deliver his message in Mecca. Whether it was Abu Talib, Abyssinia’s Christian King Najashi (who later converted), or Mut’im ibn Adi, the pagan man who provided him protection to be able to re-enter Mecca safely after he was harassed in Ta’if, the Prophet (ﷺ) sought means of securing ways to continue the da’wah and the practice of his faith. This shows us that we should utilize all permissible means necessary to secure our existence and rights in this country. Therefore, we should look into hiring professional PR firms, lobbying groups, having PACs, think tanks, building alliances with other groups and influential people, and raising funds to support all of these tools. This is how in the modern western world rights are preserved and legislation influenced. Can you imagine if we requested all Muslim institutions in the U.S. to give 1% of their budget to such causes under one large umbrella Muslim organization created for this purpose? That’s not asking for a lot. Even if half of them respond, we could gather up a lot of money. By IRS standards, 501c3s are allowed to give a certain percentage of their budget to lobbying causes. PR firms and lobbying groups are not cheap.

In light of the guidance of our Prophet (ﷺ) in such circumstances, we need to build support for our rights to believe and practice our faith as we see fit. PR and lobbying firms and our partners through alliances could help us significantly with public opinion and political support in D.C. The former will be working on behalf of all Muslims in America because we would be drawing the money to pay them from Muslim institutions. There are some Muslims who feel uncomfortable making alliances with groups that they believe hold contrary beliefs to their religion. However, we must understand that aligning ourselves with a particular group does not mean condoning their particular beliefs and practices. When the Prophet Muhammad (ﷺ) aligned himself with Abu Talib and Mut’im ibn Adi, he was not condoning their rejection of the message. Similarly, if influential groups and people are willing to offer support and assistance in our right to belief and practice, then we should accept that in light of the guidance of our Prophet (ﷺ). However, if a group makes their support conditional on whether we condone their particular practices or beliefs which contradict our faith, then of course we should reject the offer. Fortunately, in most cases, these groups do not make such conditions.

I just hope we don’t become part of the system and forget why we are doing what we are doing, which is what, as some have argued, has happened in to the African American community. They’ve done everything discussed above but still suffer persecution by the government and various segments of the population. Some have suggested that the reason is that many African Americans go into politics and media but don’t do much for their communities or their people. They just become part of the system. Michelle Alexander in her phenomenal book The New Jim Crow states after criticizing the claim that “previous outsiders, once given a chance, will exercise power differently” that [p. 250]:

“The reality, however, is that the existing hierarchy disciplines newcomers, requiring them to exercise power in the same old ways and play by the same old rules in order to survive. The newcomers…are easily co-opted, as they have much to lose but little to gain by challenging the rules of the game.”

If this is true, then I hope this doesn’t happen with us. We should have a clear plan, strategy, and goal.

Step 3 – Remain patient over those who will hate us no matter what

Whether we like it or not, there will always be Islamophobes. Allah has made us aware over and over again in the Qur’an that we will be tested, harassed, made fun of, and ridiculed because of what we believe and this is something that a believer should expect. It is part of the test of life. “You will surely be tested in your possessions and in yourselves. And you will surely hear from those who were given the Scripture before you and from those who associate others with Allah much abuse. But if you are patient and fear Allah – indeed, that is of the matters [worthy] of determination” [Qur’an 3:186].

Islamophobes aren’t going anywhere. They will always be around and have been. All we can do is stand firm and respond to their false allegations and that’s about it. They’ll keep changing their arguments to attack us or cherry pick horrific incidents from our communities to show how all of us are bad just like they did during the Prophet’s (ﷺ) time. They used to claim that Muhammad wants to divide families, disturb the social order, etc. in order to make him and his followers look bad. However, the Prophet (ﷺ) remained patient in Mecca and continued to move forward despite their attacks. We should do the same.

Controversy Over Maria the Copt, the Concubine of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh)

In this video, Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi covers the 8-10th year of Hijrah and the death of his son Ibrahim. Also covered are the topics of:

-Maria the Coptic (Maria al-Qibtiyya) who was gifted to the Prophet (pbuh) by Juraih ibn Meena (Cyrus of Alexandria), the Patriarch from Egypt, as a custom of that time

-Death of Ibrahim, the son of Prophet (pbuh)

-Traditions and customs of previous generations such as slavery and multiple wives (ie, Multiple wives of Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon in the bible)

-Concept of prisoners of war (POW) in Islam

It is imperative and necessary to discuss these topics in today’s information age and the Internet era within an Islamic framework.

Animal Rights in Islam: Examples of the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Mercy Towards Animals

animal rights

Example 1

Following three narrations are all on the same topic.

1)  Ibn ‘Abbas reported Allah’s Messenger (s) having said: “Do not make anything having a soul as a target.” (Muslim)

2) Ibn ‘Umar happened to pass by some young men of the (tribe of) Quraish who had tied a bird (and made it a target) at which they had been shooting arrows.  Every arrow that they missed came into the possession of the owner of the bird.  No sooner did they see Ibn ‘Umar, they went away. Thereupon, Ibn ‘Umar said: “Who has done this? Allah has cursed him who does this. The Messenger of Allah cursed those who take anything that has a soul as a shooting target.” (Muslim)

3)  Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

He entered upon Yahya bin Sa`id while one of Yahya’s sons was aiming at a hen after tying it.  Ibn `Umar walked to it and untied it. Then he brought it and said. “Prevent your boys from tying the birds for the sake of killing them, as I have heard the Prophet (s) forbidding the killing of an animal or other living thing after tying them.” (Bukhari)

Note: This prophetic prohibition is for those who do so out of jest and play and does not apply to hunting animals or slaughtering them, according to Islamic guidelines, for food. Islam does not ignore the human need for food for a healthy way of life, however, it does not allow unnecessarily killing animals.  Similarly, it does not allow harming, torturing or overburdening them with workload as further reading below will show.

Example 2

Narrated Abdullah ibn Mas’ud:

We were with the Messenger of Allah (s) during a journey. He went to relieve himself. We saw a bird with her two young ones and we captured her young ones. The bird came and began to spread its wings. The Messenger of Allah (s) came and said: “Who grieved this for its young ones? Return its young ones to it.” He also saw an ant village that we had burnt. He asked: “Who has burnt this?” We replied: “We.” He said: “It is not fitting that anyone but the lord of the fire should punish with fire.” (Abu Dawud; Al-Albani graded it sahih)

Example 3

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar:

I heard the Messenger of Allah (s) say, “May Allah curse the one who disfigures/mutilates an animal.” (an-Nasa’i)

Example 4

Narrated Jabir:

There happened to pass before Allah’s Prophet (s) a donkey, the face of which had been cauterized, whereupon he (the Prophet) said: “Allah has cursed the one who has cauterized it.” (Muslim)

Example 5

Following two narrations are on the same topic:

1) Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (s) said, “A man felt very thirsty while he was on the way, there he came across a well. He went down the well, quenched his thirst and came out.  He saw a dog panting and licking mud because of excessive thirst. He said to himself, ‘This dog is suffering from thirst just as I did.’ So, he went down the well again and filled his shoe with water and gave water to it. Allah thanked him for that deed and forgave him.

The people said, “O Allah’s Messenger (s)! Is there a reward for us in serving the animals?” He replied: “Yes, there is a reward for serving any animate (living being).” (Bukhari)

2) Narrated Abu Hurairah:

The Prophet (s) said, “While a dog was going round a well and was about to die of thirst, an Israeli prostitute saw it and took off her shoe and gave it water. So Allah forgave her [sins] because of that good deed.” (Bukhari)

Example 6

Narrated Abu Hurairah:

Allah’s Messenger (s) said: “A woman was put into Hell Fire because of a cat which she had tied, thus, it could not eat.  And she did not let it free so that it could devour the vermin of the earth until it died [of starvation].” (Muslim)

Example 7

Narrated ‘Abd Allaah bin Jafar:

He (the Prophet (s)) entered the garden of a man from the Ansar (Helpers). All of a sudden when a camel saw the Prophet (s) it wept tenderly producing yearning sound and it eyes flowed. The Prophet (s) came to it and rubbed the temple of its head [and] then it kept silent. He [the Prophet] then said “Who is the master of this camel? Whose camel is this?” A young man from the Ansar came and said “This is mine, Apostle of Allah (s).” He said “Don’t you fear Allah about this beast which Allah has given in your possession? It has complained to me that you keep it hungry and load it heavily [causing it to] fatigue” (Abu Dawud; Al-Albaani graded it sahih)

Example 8

Narrated Shaddid bin Aus:

Two are the things which I remember Allah’s Messenger (s) having said: “Verily Allah has enjoined goodness to everything; so when you kill, kill in a good way and when you slaughter, slaughter in a good way. So every one of you should sharpen his knife, and let the slaughtered animal die comfortably [and quick].” (Muslim)

Example 9

Narrated Mu’awiya ibn Qurra from his father:

A man said, “Messenger of Allah, I was going to slaughter a sheep and then I felt sorry for it (or ‘sorry for the sheep I was going to slaughter’).” He (the Prophet) said twice [in return], “Since you showed mercy to the sheep, Allah will show mercy to you.” (Adab Al-Murad; Al-Albaani graded it sahih)

Example 10

Narrated Ibn ‘Abbas:

A man threw a goat on its side [to slaughter it] and then started sharpening his knife. When the Prophet (s) saw him he said: “Do you want to kill it twice? Why did you not sharpen the knife before throwing it on the ground?” (Al-Haakim)

Example 11

Narrated Abu ‘Umamah:

Messenger of Allah (s) said, “Anyone who shows mercy, even to an animal meant for slaughtering, Allah will have mercy on him on the Day of Rising.” (Adab Al-Mufrad; Al-Albaani graded it hasan)

Example 12

Narrated Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As:

The Prophet (s) said: “The Most Compassionate (Ar-Rahmaan) has mercy on those who are merciful.  Show mercy to those who are on earth, He Who is in the heaven will show mercy to you.” (Abu Dawud; Al-Albaani graded it sahih)

Examples of the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) Mercy Towards Non-Muslims

Example 1

‘Aisha narrated:

That she asked the Prophet (s) , ‘Have you encountered a day harder than the day of the battle) of Uhud?” The Prophet (s) replied, “Your tribes have troubled me a lot, and the worse trouble was the trouble on the day of ‘Aqaba when I presented myself to Ibn `Abd-Yalail bin `Abd-Kulal and he did not respond to my demand. So I departed, overwhelmed with excessive sorrow, and proceeded on, and could not relax till I found myself at Qarnath-Tha-alib where I lifted my head towards the sky to see a cloud shading me unexpectedly. I looked up and saw Gabriel in it. He called me saying, ‘Allah has heard your people’s saying to you, and what they have replied back to you, Allah has sent the Angel of the Mountains to you so that you may order him to do whatever you wish to these people.’ The Angel of the Mountains called and greeted me, and then said, “O Muhammad! Order what you wish. If you like, I will let Al-Akh-Shabain (i.e. two mountains) fall on them.” The Prophet (s) said, “No but I hope that Allah will let them beget children who will worship Allah Alone, and will worship None besides Him.” (Bukhari)

Example 2

Abdullah bin ‘Umar narrated:

A woman was found killed in one of the battles fought by the Messenger of Allah (s).  So he forbade the killing of women and children. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Example 3

Anas narrated:

A young Jewish boy used to serve the Prophet (s) and he became sick. So the Prophet (s) went to visit him. He sat near his head and asked him to embrace Islam. The boy looked at his father, who was sitting there; the latter told him to obey Abul-Qasim (Muhammad) and the boy embraced Islam. The Prophet (s) came out saying: “Praises be to Allah Who saved the boy from the Hell-fire.” (Bukhari)

Example 4

Abdullah bin ‘Amr narrated:

The Prophet (s) said, “Whoever killed a Mu’ahid (non-Muslim living under Muslim protection) shall not smell the fragrance of Paradise though its fragrance can be smelt at a distance of forty years (of traveling). (Bukhari)

Example 5

Abu Hurairah narrated:

The Prophet (s) sent some cavalry towards Najd and they brought a man from the tribe of Banu Hanifa who was called Thumama bin Uthal. They fastened him to one of the pillars of the Mosque. The Prophet went to him and said, “What have you got, O Thumama?” He replied, “I have got a good thought, O Muhammad! If you should kill me, you would kill a person who has already killed somebody, and if you should set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful, and if you want property, then ask me whatever wealth you want.” He was left till the next day when the Prophet (s) said to him, “What have you got, Thumama?” He said, “What I told you, i.e. if you set me free, you would do a favor to one who is grateful.” The Prophet (s) left him till the day after, when he said, “What have you got, O Thumama?” He said, “I have got what I told you. “On that the Prophet (s) said, “Release Thumama.

So he (i.e. Thumama) went to a garden of date-palm trees near to the Mosque, took a bath and then entered the Mosque and said, “I testify that None has the right to be worshiped except Allah, and also testify that Muhammad is His Apostle! By Allah, O Muhammad! There was no face on the surface of the earth most disliked by me than yours, but now your face has become the most beloved face to me. By Allah, there was no religion most disliked by me than yours, but now it is the most beloved religion to me. By Allah, there was no town most disliked by me than your town, but now it is the most beloved town to me. Your cavalry arrested me (at the time) when I was intending to perform the `Umra.  And now what do you think?” The Prophet (s) gave him good tidings (congratulated him) and ordered him to perform the `Umra. So when he came to Mecca, someone said to him, “You have become a Sabian?” Thumama replied, “No! By Allah, I have embraced Islam with Muhammad, Apostle of Allah. (Bukhari)

Example 6

Abu Hurairah narrated:

It was said to Allah’s Messenger (s): Invoke curse upon the polytheists, whereupon he said: “I have not been sent as the invoker of curse, but I have been sent as mercy.” (Muslim)

Example 7

Abu Hurairah narrated:

I invited my mother, who was a polytlieist, to Islam. I invited her one day and she said to me something about Allah’s Messenger (s) which I hated. I came to Allah’s Messenger (s) weeping and said: Allah’s Messenger, I invited my mother to Islam but she did not accept (my invitation). I invited her today but she said to me something which I did not like. (Kindly) supplicate Allah that He may set the mother of Abu Huraira right. Thereupon Allah’s Messenger (s) said: “O Allah, set the mother of Abu Huraira on the right path.”

I came out quite pleased with the supplication of Allah’s Apostle (s) and when I came near the door it was closed from within. My mother heard the noise of my footsteps and she said: Abu Huraira, just wait, and I heard the noiee of falling of water. She took a bath and put on the shirt and quickly covered her head with a headdress and opened the door and then said: Abu Huraira, I bear witness to the fact that there is no god but Allah and Mubammad is His bondsman and His Messenger. He (Abu Huraira) said: I went back to Allah’s Messenger (s) and (this time) I was shedding the tears of joy. I said: Allah’s Messenger, be happy, for Allah has responded to your supplication and He has set on the right path the mother of Abu Huraira. He (the Prophet) praised Allah, and extolled Him and uttered good words.

I said: Allah’s Messenger, supplicate to Allah so that He may instil love of mine and that of my mother too in the believing servants and let our hearts be filled with their love, whereupon Allah’s Messenger (s) said: “O Allah, let there be love of these servants of yours, i. e. Abu Huraira and his mother, in the hearts of the believing servants and let their hearts be filled with the love of the believing servants.” (Abu Huraira said: This prayer) was so well granted by Allah that no believer was ever born who heard of me and who saw me but did not love me. (Muslim)

Example 8

Abu Hurairah narrated:

At-Tufail bin `Amr came to Allah’s Messenger (s) and said, “O Allah’s Messenger (s)! The tribe of Daus has disobeyed (Allah and His Apostle) and refused (to embrace Islam), therefore, invoke Allah’s wrath for them.” The people thought that the Prophet (s) would invoke Allah’s wrath for them, but he said, “O Allah! Guide the tribe Of Daus and let them come to us.” (Bukhari)