It's Eid Day at the end of the month-long fasting and my heart is sore. I think of the Muslims all over the world and I find little comfort.
I think of the Shia-Sunni divide profusely bleeding the ummah every moment. I shudder at the thought that some groups on both sides in Pakistan or elsewhere might not hesitate to shed each others' blood even on this day of joy and festivity. I think of those rulers in the heartland of Islam, Arabia, who would rather cooperate with Israel than endure the thought of Iran surviving and thriving. I cannot forget how this Shia-Sunni divide has been exploited by Islam's common enemies for centuries and has facilitated their conquest and domination of the Muslims, and continues to do so today. On this Eid Day I sit down alone and lament the blindness and the perversion of our hearts that this Shia-Sunni divide has caused.
I think of the plight of the Muslim lands - Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Mindanao, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia and Yemen, ravaged by internal strife and humiliated by foreign occupation and domination, the killing fields that these places have become. Killing in the Muslim lands has become an easy sport. I think of the fear, insecurity, misery, humiliation and helplessness of so many of my brothers and sisters, too many to count. I think of the long dark night in their lives with no sign of an approaching morning.
I think of the beleaguered Muslim masses around the world. The Muslim societies in Muslim lands are no longer a unified whole; they are torn up into conflicting segments in which the masses always lose. The ruling elite in these lands have a tenuous connection with Islam and stand as a class apart only to serve themselves. Their insensitivity and heartlessness to those they rule over is mind-numbing. Likewise, Muslims living outside the Muslim world have a precarious existence and are under constant threat. At every step they need to prove themselves as sufficiently human, sufficiently American or European or whatever; they are regarded with suspicion, ridicule and even outright hostility.
I think of my brothers and sisters in so many places of the world in staggering poverty and suffering one natural calamity after another. I see my millions of flood-affected brothers and sisters in Pakistan, mostly poor, pitifully neglected by successive governments and by the rich and powerful in their communities who exploit them but refuse to stand by them in their distress. Where are Muslims who are humble in power and generous in wealth, as Islam teaches? I think of the waste and ostentation that go on all year round, culminating in Ramadan and on the Eid Day, even when neighbours are suffering unspeakably.
I think of the breed of politicians in the Muslim lands who ferociously compete with each other to lead the Muslims. Barring a few exceptions here and there, they range from insane to clownish. They display their talent best in groveling at the feet of their foreign masters while creating division and strife at home. They beg without shame from their foreign masters only to fatten themselves and their cronies. They utterly lack any sense of self-respect and are incapable of behaving in a dignified manner. In their own base interest they mortgage the fate of the millions of their fellow Muslims. They lead only to destroy. I think of the way Muslim rulers in the oil rich states squander their wealth in useless and wasteful projects. I grieve at the inhuman treatment millions of desperate expatriate Muslim workers receive at the hands of many Muslim governments.
I think of the government offices that will open soon after the Eid vacation. I will not speak of the incompetence and corruption in these places. I only shudder to think of the indignity and humiliation an ordinary Muslim is meted out by the people sitting in chairs in these places. An encounter with them is enough to take away one's joy of living.
I miss the loss of community, its integrity and cohesion that Allah (Subhanahu wa ta'ala) and His noble Messenger (Sallallahu alayhi wassallam) repeatedly enjoin on Muslims. Muslims oppress other Muslims without hesitation, inflict pain on each other, make each other's burdens heavier with no feeling of shame or remorse. Muslims go hungry in the midst of plenty and waste, get sick without succor, cry bitterly and in vain for redress and justice. I find Muslims today living side by side without even being aware of each others' existence. We pray together in the masjid, but have no real communion with one another.
I think of the Muslim people split up and caged into national entities, even so much so that at Hajj they are deprived of any opportunity to come close to each other because they are consigned to enclaves by nationality. I smell the air in which the concept of the ummah has been given a foul odor and has become dangerous to breathe in. It has become a crime to think of oneself as an integral part of a unified body of Muslims, universal and timeless.
I miss the ulema who are supposed to be the heirs of our noble Prophet Muhammad (saws) in all the aspects of his life and life's work. I long to see a body of the ulema who understand Islam, live by it, understand their own people and their tradition and know the contemporary world for what it is. I long to see them breaking out of their isolation in their own regional confines and forming a close bond with the ulema in all parts of the Muslim world, sit together and discuss issues and concerns that need to be addressed unitedly and firmly. I long to see them, and them alone, lead the Muslims. Muslim masses are hungry for leadership that does not come. There are many individuals and groups active in Islamic work, but there are not many who present Islam in its entirety, faithfully and truly. It is as if we are engaged in creating an Islam of our own inclinations, as if we are not comfortable with Islam as it is.
I remember what Allah (swt) has called the Muslims, the best ummah raised for mankind (Quran 3:110). Can we make any claim to being the best of anything? This Eid Day will pass and another day will begin, and thus another week, month and year. On this auspicious day we need to examine ourselves and ask what groundwork we have done for that noble role during the month of Ramadan that we have just bidden farewell to.
A. K. M. Mohiuddin is a retired university professor of English literature living in Bangladesh. He can be reached at this address: akmm45 [at] yahoo [dot] com
I'm a Muslim-American revert and anyone around the world that has not practiced their Islam (inshaallah I'm saying this correctly and Allah forgive me if I'm saying anything wrong) would be considered a revert. It's strange but true that so many of us don't see us as a whole they only see separte countries, even as mentioned in the article.
Please I'm not putting anyone down but I have been treated unjustly by someone that is from an Arab country that did not understand that I am Muslim but he was called a Muslim because he is from an Arab land. (Allah mentions in the Quran that all people (babies) are born Muslim but it is what our parents make us.
I truely believe earlier Jews, Christians were also called Muslims... there were just some people at a certain time that wanted to call themselves something differently possibly to be arrogant against each other.
I can say one thing during Ramandan I had Jihad with my own mind, body, and soul and it was quite the battle. And yes, sadly to say I'm quite the loaner and lonely. Inshaallah, Allah will bless the whole Muslim umma with blessings unimaginable!
In a society like Bangladesh, the Ulema have very little role to play in the administration of justice, fight corruption, make the leaders more responsive to the needs of the common man. Over centuries of foreign rule they have been systematically reduced to mediocre prayer leaders.
A friend of mine told me that in case of natural disaster if a bearded man is found doing social work in Egypt then the man is sent to jail. Our country does not fare any better.
My dear respected brother: You were a teacher of English at the university level. You must have taught Byron, Shakespeare, Milton, Wordsworth to scores of students. How many students get trained in the administrative skills of our beloved Prophets (SWS) or Abu Bakr (RA) or Umar (RA)? Those people who get trained (like our Ulemas in the Madrasas) never get to utilize their skills because our society is administered by secular English educated bureaucrats and politicians.
Please do not be frustrated. Simple tasks like teaching even one young person can help much. Do not fall victim to criticizing our Ulemas as is constantly done by certain group (or sect) of people in our society.
Small can indeed be beautiful.