On my way back from work, I was listening to some program on NPR, the guest speaker was talking about the importance of education. “Education is the best investment” he said; “Education is the reason that the pay gap between men and women have decreased in the past few decades; education is the reason why minorities are occupying a larger part of the more-technical work force”; he then added “Education, education, education”.
From the Muslim point of view (and being on the other side of education as a nation in recent history), I was trying to apply this concept to the Muslim nation in general and to our local Muslim community in particular. But as simple as ‘education’ sounds, it is really quite complex.
What type of education can we apply to the local Muslim community? Should this education be applied only to the local Muslim community or to the surrounding non-Muslim community as part the Muslim education?
Are we talking about worldly education or Islamic education? Tonight for Isha for example, there were a few doctors, a few engineers, and a few business owners. So clearly, worldly education shouldn’t be our focus in the near future. So what education?
Should Islamic education be the main focus? Would non-Muslims be included in the ‘education’? Before we attempt to answer those questions, let us first identify our populations of and around any Islamic center in the west. Who should be getting this ‘education’?
First: The people around the Masjid – non Muslims: It’s true: many non-Muslims are mis-informed when to comes to Islam, but when the neighbors of an Islamic center are mis-informed about Islam, we have nobody but ourselves to blame.
Second. The Muslims themselves: Two main questions come to mind: (1) Are Muslims limiting themselves to Halaqas? What happened to the ocean of Islamic sceiences?(2) Can you recall when (if ever) there was a academic discussion of ‘how to give Dawa?’ or ‘how to approach people about Islam?’ or ‘what do you say when people ask you about Islam’? exactly!
There is no doubt in my mind that there is no ideology that would stand against Islam. But we need to learn Islam and learn how to convey the message of Islam.
3. The one-foot-in one-foot-out and the new Muslims: If your experience is anything like mine, then you have seen a new Muslim declare the creed after Jumaa, then 200 people will hug him and you never see that person again (for the majority of people). Do you see anything wrong with this picture? These people have taken the hard way to reach Islam but are we welcoming them enough? Do we have a way to record and track our new brothers? Are we extending our hands to help and support them?
This entry is only a collection of questions to help us move forward; I think it’s time that we stop and ask for directions. If nobody is giving us directions, maybe we need to look at the sun to know our south from our north or if it’s dark outside, we need to find the north star. It’s really worth the trouble… because…
Imagine with me that each Masjid in the US spread and explained the ideology of Islam to its neighbors. Imagine with me that all the Muslims are well rooted in Islam and ready to give direction to people. Imagine further that new Muslims were greeted with peace (not only figuratively) and that they were helped and supported.