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Editorial: Are We Representing Islam?

In the name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful Every individual has multiple identities: geographical, ethnic, professional, and religious, to name a few. If we talk about our religious identity, we are Muslims and this is our faith-based identity. Now we have to ask ourselves a question whether we really represent our Islamic identity when we interact with others in the society? Do our actions bring a good name to our identity or are we putting it down due to our bad actions? In fact, when we identify ourselves as Muslims, we have lot of responsibility and we have to be mindful that our actions neither degrade our faith in the eyes of others (non-Muslims) nor should they become a bad example for our own society. Let’s look at the following story:

Several years ago, an Imam had moved to London, United Kingdom. He often took the bus from his home to the mosque, where he performed his Imam duties. This one time he boarded the bus and noticed that it was a new bus driver. He paid the fare and was given change by the bus driver. When he sat down, he discovered that the driver had accidentally given him twenty pence, (20 cents in US) extra. As he considered what to do, he thought to himself, “you better give the twenty pence back. It would be wrong to keep it.” Then he thought, "Oh, forget it, it's only 20 pence. Who would worry about this little amount? Anyway, the bus company already gets too much fare; they will never miss it. Accept it as a gift from Allah SWT and keep quiet." When his stop came, the Imam paused momentarily at the door, then he handed the twenty pence back to the driver and said, "Here, you gave me too much change by accident". The driver, with a smile, replied, “Actually, it was not an accident. Aren't you the new Imam in this area? I have been thinking, lately, about accepting Islam and going to worship at your Mosque. I just wanted to see what you would do, if I gave you too much change. If you kept it, then I would think that even Muslims are dishonest, why should I accept Islam if its followers are dishonest?” When the Imam, stepped off the bus, his knees became weak and soft, he literally grabbed the nearest light pole, and held on for support, and looked up to the heavens and cried: "Oh Allah, I almost sold Islam for twenty pence!"

Thus, in a multi-ethnic society, a simple action from our side would become the only example for others to witness Islam. Our actions, whether good or bad, are representing Islam. it is very important that we inculcate the habits of establishing Islamic values at home so that not only we follow those values but also our children learn them from a very early age. These include but are not limited to: truthfulness, honesty , being respectful and humble before our elders and being kind with the young, and be modest in all situations as modesty is the integral part of faith. If we see something wrong, we should try to stop it with discussion, if we cannot stop it with our actions. We have to establish prayer regularly and teach the same to our children. We have to discuss our Islamic values and how we are implementing them at the dinner table. We should stay away from evil company and communicate with our children about what is permitted in Islam and what is prohibited. We need to make reading and understanding the Qur’an a regular practice at home and explain to the kids that this is the true constitution that we have to follow regardless of where we live. Today our kids are facing monumental contemporary issues such as the issue of transgenderism, live-in relationships etc. It is important that we take the guidance from the Qur’an while respecting the law of the land. This country offers freedom of speech as well as freedom of religion. We migrated to the USA for better opportunities of education and jobs but it should not be at the cost of our faith.

We are Muslims and being Mahdavi Muslim we have a higher standard to follow the Islamic values because Mahdi AHS has taught us to follow the Qur’an and whatever is the highest standard that it prescribes (Aaliyat). Islam demands a complete surrender before Allah SWT, and not piecemeal submission. Allah (SWT) says in the Qur’an: “O you who have believed, enter into Islam completely [and perfectly] and do not follow the footsteps of Satan. Indeed, he is to you a clear enemy.” (2:208)

It is unfortunate that some people have completely forgotten their responsibility as Muslims. Our society is changing too fast in this country and if we do not carefully analyze and stop the immoral and unislamic practices now, these would become a norm in the future. This requires some concrete steps from our community as a whole. To be more precise, please look at our wedding events that are happening lately. Although these practices are not common yet, they are slowly creeping into our society. Islamic Nikah and Valima are acts of Sunnah. But we completely ignore the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammed SAS except for the part of the Nikah ceremony. Today, mixed dancing, loud music, and a general lack of modesty are prevalent at these events. Is this the way we are representing Islam and our Mahdaviah faith? We do not teach our kids what Islam says about the rights and duties of the husband and the wife, but we are ready to facilitate all kinds of un-Islamic practices. AllahSWT has blessed us with Imaan but it did not come without sacrifices from our ancestors and stalwarts of Islam who have sacrificed their lives from the battles of Badar to the tragedy of Karbala. Similarly, the sacrifices made by our elders from of martyrdoms of Hazrath Shah Khundmir RZ to Hazrath Abji Miyan Shaheed RA. If we really want to remember and reflect on their sacrifices, we must transfer our faith-based legacy to our new generation without compromise and without dilution.

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