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Our relations with non-Muslims
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1/29/2016 2:29:35 PM
Our relations with non-Muslims My Dear Brothers and Sisters Our sermon today concerns our relations with non-Muslims. Islam is the second largest religion with results from the United Kingdom Census 2011 giving the UK Muslim population in 2011 as ~2,706,066, ~4.5% of the total population. The vast majority of Muslims in the United Kingdom live in England: 2,660,116 (5.02% of the population). However, we are not the first Muslims to face the challenge of how to relate to a non-Muslim majority. Let us not forget that the messenger Muhammad [pbuh] was the leader of the first Muslim minority in a very hostile non-Muslim society. The Quraish of Makka were bitterly opposed to Islam, their persecution of Muslims was quite severe and clearly, there was a danger that Islam could have been wiped out completely. As a precaution, the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) sent a small delegation to Abyssinia...They became the 1st Muslim minority in a friendly non-Muslim society. There, a wise, just and tolerant Christian king, accepted them and guaranteed their safety. Over past 30-40 yrs the post-war labour shortages in Britain and Europe has brought large Muslim immigration. Turks to Germany, Algerians and Moroccans to France and Pakistanis and others to Britain. Added to this, there has been a steady flow of students and professional Muslims seeking to advance their careers as well as political asylum seekers who have fallen out of favour with their governments. While Europe and North America benefit from this inflow of human resources from Muslim countries, the new communities have to face some difficult choices: Many of them are not familiar with western ways. How should they respond? Muslims coming to the West have one of 3 options: Assimilation, isolation or selective interaction. Those who choose to assimilate i.e. abandon their own identity; imitate the non-Muslims in every way. Those who choose isolation are horrified with what has become of the first group. They want to preserve their Islamic identity, which they often confuse with their cultural and ethnic identity. Further, they think the best way to protect Islam is to maintain little or no contact with non-Muslims around them. This fear of the isolationists is understandable, but it cannot be a solution. Islam was never intended to be a religion of the ghetto, a religion only for "ethnic minorities." The third group has adopted selective interaction. They believe that, by freely associating with non-Muslims at home, work and leisure, they can plant a friendship that benefits both sides. This group seeks to adapt to western society by absorbing good influences and avoiding bad influence. Also, this interaction allows Muslims to generate an Islamic influence on their neighbours and fellow citizens. Which is the correct choice for us? In Sura Al Ma-ida The Holy Qur’án, describes the mission of our messenger MUHAMMAD, pbuh, in these word "We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], but as a mercy unto all the Nations" In his last sermon, on mount Arafah, prophet( pbuh), said... "All those who listen to me shall pass on my words to others and those to others again; and may the last ones understand my words better than those who listen to me directly. Be my witness oh Allah that I have conveyed your message to your people." Clearly, Islam was never intended for any one race or group. Islam is for all mankind, for all time, and in all places. It is our duty as Muslims to share it with others. But how do we do this? How do we show others the beauty of faith? How do we convince them that Islam has the best solutions to the problems of our time? Let us take our clues from our own history. If the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) had confined his attention to Muslims only, Islam would not have grown as it did. Our Holy Prophet Muhammad, pbuh, started his mission and continued it to the end of his life, by preaching, teaching and setting an excellent personal example, to his friends and enemies, to Muslims and others alike. Allah said in the quran: "Verily in the Messenger of Allah, you have the finest of examples". There was no contradiction in what he said and what he did. Both word and deed were of the same substance. In fact, the deed was the word made visible. As Muslims, we must at all times observe the Islamic ethics of debate. How should we discuss religion with non-Muslims? Sura An-Nahl, sets this out eloquently in verse 125, " and invite to the path of your Lord, using wisdom and beautiful preaching." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ In the same way, for us, the best da'wah (message) is to set a shining personal example, which others will want to follow. Debates and discussions have their place, but even there, we must be careful. So easily debates become mere intellectual gymnastics, a contest to see who is cleverest with words. Or, like political debates, it can lead to heated argument, rising tempers, abusive behaviour and causing offence and injury. Some over-zealous Muslims forget this, in their eagerness to convert others to Islam and to earn the reward for themselves. As Muslims, we must at all times observe the Islamic ethics of debate. How should we discuss religion with non-Muslims? Sura An-Nahl, sets this out elequently in verse 125, " and invite to the path of your Lord, using wisdom and beautiful preaching." We can read books and observe preachers and we can learn how to master beautiful preaching, but how and where do we find wisdom? The Longmans Dictionary of the English Language defines wisdom as: "accumulated philosophic or scientific learning, the thoughtful application of learning; good sense; judgement." It seems that wisdom is not something you can develop quickly or easily. True Wisdom comes, as a gift, from Allah, and is the culmination of a process of seeking Knowledge, developing understanding. and seeking Allah's help and guidance. Should Allah find us worthy and sincere, he may grant us Wisdom. "Using wisdom" in preaching Islam means, being truthful, sincere and patient. Allah does not expect us to perform wonders. He only holds us accountable for our intention and our effort, not for the results. The results are entirely in Allah's domain, and on His timescale, not ours. We often become impatient to see the results of our work, when we should entrust it to Allah. People have come to Islam in the most unexpected ways. Sura Al Baqara, v212 says: "Allah guides whom he wills, to the straight path." Once a Jew was having a disagreement with one of the companions. "Our prophet, the prophet Moses (pbuh), was a greater prophet than your Muhammad (pbuh)," he said. The Companion replied, "No, Muhammad (pbuh) is the last and greatest of all prophets." The two carried on the argument until they came to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Then the Companion said, O prophet (pbuh), this man says that the prophet Moses (pbuh), was greater than you!" Without hesitation, the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) added, "AND prophet Abraham (pbuh)!" The Jew was delighted to hear this, saying to the companion, "Can you see,I told you! Your prophet wouldn't lie!" Later, when the Jew had left, the companions turned to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh), saying he was puzzled by this answer. The prophet (pbuh) explained that there was no need to hurt the Jew's feelings and high esteem with which he regarded the prophet Moses (pbuh). In due course, this Jew became a Muslim. Dear Brothers and Sisters We should not be shy or embarrassed when non-Muslims ask us about our religion. Let us invite them to our homes, and tell them about Islam and our way of life. How do we cultivate the confidence to speak to them about our faith and beliefs? This comes from knowledge and understanding. Ignorance causes fear and insecurity. We need knowledge and understanding to build confidence and, if it pleases Allah, we may acquire wisdom. The best way to improve our knowledge of Islam is to go directly to the source, and to study it with our family. If we think of reading the whole Quran, it seems a difficult task. However, it becomes very easy, if we decide to read just a few verses every day, and to do this regularly. Just try this little excercise. Each night after Magrib or Eisha prayers, spend 10 minutes with your family, and take it in turns to read a few verses from the Quran, to discuss its meaning, and how it relates to your life today. Make this a daily habit. You will be amazed to see what little effort this takes, and how big are the benefits. Your children will ask questions and make comments that will surprise you. Within a short time you will see how the Quran becomes a part of your life, how verses you've read and discussed, come to mind in different situations. Without realising it, you and your family will grow in knowledge, understanding, confidence, and most importantly, you will strengthen your belief. This is all part of our duty as Muslims, to seek knowledge, to better ourselves and become more effective instruments of Allah's plan. We are urged to seek knowledge from the cradle to the grave. As we grow in knowledge about Islam, so our fear and insecurity will disappear. As we grow more confident, so we become better equipped to deal with the many challenges of living in a non-Muslim environment. We will become less concerned about how this western society can damage our belief. We will discover that our growing belief can change and improve western society. Let us pray to Almighty Allah, to awaken within us, the desire to improve ourselves, and to serve Islam better, the desire to move forward and become more effective Muslims. O Allah, help us in our efforts to seek knowledge, understanding and Wisdom, for your sake. Help us to live as true and worthy examples to those who are not yet Muslim. Let the light of Islam shine through us, as a beacon for those who are still lost in darkness. O Allah, let us, our children and all future generations of Muslims increase in number and quality, and may Islam make its greatest conquest, not by physical force, but by winning the hearts and minds of all who love truth, beauty and justice.

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