New Age Islam
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Islamic Society ( 7 Aug 2012, NewAgeIslam.Com)

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Identity Crises of Muslim Diaspora


By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam

The poet of the East, Dr Mohammad Iqbal, a century or so ago perceived the signs of stirring in the Muslim world and hoped it would wake it out of its stupor of centuries; the stirring mainly due to the turmoil that was taking place in Europe. He had hoped the coming tempest would rejuvenate the Muslims. But that perception proved to be just a dream, like many other dreams of his! He naively thought:-

Musulman’ ko Musulman’ kardiya tufaan-e-Maghrib nay,

Talaatum haa-e daryaa hee say hotee hai gohar kee seraabi.


(Muslims been forged into Muslims by the tsunami of the West

Same as the agitations of the sea help nourish the pearl.)


Judging from the events of the world that have taken place after him, it is obvious that the community on which he had pinned his hopes so positively has regressed even further back. The events may seem to have woken them, but has stirred them into actions that are taking them farther and further away from the ideals of the Islam of the poet’s vision.

Instead of the intellectual nourishment that should endear them to the world at large, it is resorting to negativity of the basest kind; that of fanaticism and violence that does not even distinguish between right and wrong, the innocent and guilty, unarmed and armed, perceived friend and foes, and the teachings of Quran and the apocryphal Books of their various Religions and factions. Hence they are feared, disliked and despised by the world. Their identity—the Taliban type getup, the long beard, even if worn by non-Muslims, incites red-necks of races and nationalities to commit such hideous acts of killing innocent non-Muslims such as Sikhs in their temple, that took place recently in Wisconsin USA! This should happen to the Sikhs, generally the most likeable people and closest to believing in the unity of God, that which is Islam, is most appalling reflection of Muslim identity in the world! The Muslim nation as a whole should at least offer its condolences immediately.

Iqbal’s hopes were by no means misplaced, as he must have seen the influx, that was not quite yet the exodus of today, but in his time a treacle of colonial intelligentsia into Europe and the West in general, which in many cases returned home to nourish the nations with the knowledge gained there.

Unfortunately for the community the events that followed, particularly post WWII turned everything on its head, as the knowledge seeking colonial treacle from the East, turned into flood of mostly oppressed, persecuted, less educated migrants; who took with them the dirty baggage of norms, culture and religious traditions, that they should have left behind; to make a fresh start in a the new environment. The environment that has so generously provided them with all the facilities that they never dreamt of where they came from. Here was an opportunity for them to discard what was ‘bad’ in cultures and norms of the countries’ of their adoption and accept what was ‘good’, and thus accelerate to progress by their own contribution of ‘good’, with the ‘Wisdom of the East’ in harmony. But that was not to be. The poet put in his famous couplet the very words of Quran -- …most certainly God does not change the condition of nations until they first change themselves.13-11!

Instead we have here the divisive spectre of demands for ‘Shariya-law’; whatever that means, and the shenanigans of the likes of loony Lutonians marching in the streets, calling the very host country that provided them benevolently with the security, wherewithal and freedom to even call it a Kafir country! An utter ungrateful loathsome behaviour! Any wonder that the welcome mat has disintegrated?

The very same people who would listen to or recite Chapter 55, as part of their worship on Fridays in their churches--the mosques, and it’s verse 60 of the Book, without so much as batting an eyelid,—“ Is the reward of benevolence anything but benevolence itself?” asks the Book.

What was the opportune period provided to not only ‘reconstruct the Religious thought in Islam’—as the poet had said, though rather politely—but to also the Nation’s entire life system for the better was lost perhaps irretrievably!

This was not only because of the poor quality but also the sheer number and at a very high rate of arrivals, of un-enlightened immigrants that overwhelmed the country’s original population to hatred. Whatever good was left there by the early knowledge seekers from home countries, the majority are now determined on destroying that contribution, to the extent that even those non-Muslims who look like Muslim are not spared. Iqbal visualised this scenario too, of the disturbed world, and said:-

Qoumon kee rawish say mujhey hotaa hai yeh ma’loom

Farsudah tariqon’ say zamaanah huwa bazaar.


[It dawned upon me seeing the behaviour of the Nations,

That the whole world is disgusted with their trite methods.]


Though, not all the blame can be heaped on the unfortunate and ignorant masses arriving there. Their need to import so called religious scholars, priests, often from ‘back home’ to guide them spiritually in the perceived unspiritual new world, resulted in even more unworthy influx of religious class of operatives and traders, aping Arabian getup, and like all such professionals, they availed themselves the opportunity to grind their own axes of vested interests. This truth too must have dawned on the poet, who expressed it as:-

Qaum kiyaa cheez hai, qaumon’ kee haqiqat kia hai?

Iss ko kiya samjhen’ bechaarey doe rakat kay imaam!


[What makes a ‘nation’ and what are the realities of ‘nations’?

How would these twice bobbing ‘prayer leaders’ ever understand!]


Back home the stage is set no different either. The accumulating ignorance there too had fermented ‘victimhood’, by the “national strategies” of the Power groups, both external and internal, has matured into potent brew and the religions became the handy tools to stir the vat. Thus intoxicated, the nation has lost its balance; and the golden opportunity that providence had provided to nourish the pearl. As the poet had dreamt, but the opportunity is lost in the stupor:-

Zingdagi jiss ko kehtey hain’, faraamoshi hai yeh,

Khuwaab hai, ghaflat hai, sarmasti hai, behoshi hai yeh!


[What they call life, is in fact the neglect of it

It is dream, negligence, intoxication, stupor!]


The Diaspora in the West therefore needs to wake up and forge an Islamic identity.