In a recent gathering, a brother mentioned some of the great activities that ISM and its affiliate masajid have been holding. Perhaps the brother wanted to see how the Islamic Society of Milwaukee (ISM) inviting some very prominent scholars and holding very well-attended programs made me feel. I can tell he was surprised (and probably skeptical) that I was happy for them and hoped Allah ﷻ continued to grant them tawfiq to do such great work.
The Muslim ummah is not a cookie-cutter community. We do not come from only one mold. Even our father, Prophet Adam ﷺ, was created from earth, which is a composite of various minerals, particles, fragments of rock, and so on. Allah ﷻ attests to His decision of creating us in various forms in the Qur’an,
O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female, and made you into races and tribes so that you may identify one another. (Qur’an 49:13)
The beauty of our existence as a religious community and as a community of human beings is that we are different. Our differences were created with a purpose, as seen in the verse above. It is through those differences that we benefit from one another and we grow. The Companions of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ were very different. Some were wealthier than others, some indigenous to the Makkan community, some poets, but all were sincere in wanting to please their Creator. Those differences propelled the ummah forward. Had it not been for the difference in the upbringing of Salman al-Farsi (may Allah ﷻ be pleased with him), we would have not seen the wisdom of digging a trench during the Battle of Khandaq. Such differences brought benefit to…no…saved the ummah.
When we look at our organizations, they are all established with a unified intention to gain the pleasure of Allah ﷻ and serve His creation. Some masajid and institutions will be more similar than others. The nuanced differences in our organizations play a very vital role in our survival. They will help attract people to one institution who may not have gone to another. For example, if there is a masjid that has an academic imam, that will attract a certain subset of our community; another masjid may have an imam who is younger, which will attract a subset of our community; another masjid may have recreational activities for children, which will attract yet another subset of our community; and yet another masjid may have overtly spiritual programs, which would attract yet another subset of our community. Each nuance helps pull in a group of people that would have otherwise not have found a place to call home.
So, ISM, I applaud you for your work. Masjid Al-Qur’an, I applaud you for your work. Ma’ruf, I applaud you for your work. MCHC, I applaud you for your work. Each organization — be it our MSAs, our masajid, our service-based organizations, our educational institutions — serve vital constituents of the greater Muslim community. It is a sign of sincerity and pure intentions — and I am not claiming this for myself — that we are happy when others who are working to please Allah ﷻ succeed. The reality is that no one can carry the deen alone. The Prophet ﷺ alone was gifted this capability. It took over 100,000 of his Companions to carry this on deen on their shoulders. Some gravitated towards jihad, some gravitated towards ilm, some gravitated towards tazkiyah, some gravitated towards dawah, some gravitated towards taking care of widows and orphans, so on and so forth. When all of these different fields come together, then as a community we will make an attempt to carry the complete deen. In fact, every field has sub-fields. The field of `ilm (knowledge) now has fiqh, hadith, etc., and each of those fields have their own sub-fields. That is the nature of such a perfect religion. Thus, it is impossible for us to do this all on our own. We want to see each other succeed.
There was a great scholar by the name of Maulana Abrar ul-Haq (d. 2005) once presented a very beautiful example when addressing a group of scholars. He asked if there were four people who had washed and wrapped a very heavy, overweight dead body in the middle of the heat of July, if while carrying this body they found a fifth person nearby who offered to help carry the body would they refuse this help? Would they feel that the work should only be completed by them and no one else? Of course they will be happy to receive this help. If while they are walking to bury the body, they find a sixth, a seventh, and an eight person to help, would they refuse? It is very obvious that they would be happy to have other help them complete this important act of the deen. Similarly, we are carrying the weight of deen. Every branch and every institution is helping us carry this responsibility. It behooves us to control our tongues and avoid having ill feelings towards others who are working sincerely for the sake of Allah ﷻ.
Thus, my dear brothers, my dear sisters, be happy with the success of others. May Allah ﷻ grant us all success in both worlds.
*Please note this post was originally titled “ISM Did What?” However, due to the fact that those who may only see the title/link and not read the article itself may assume it to be negative about ISM (or any other organization), the title was changed to reflect the article but avoid such misunderstandings.