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 By Dr. Ibrahim B. Syed

President, Islamic Research Foundation International, Inc.

Louisville, KY


One of the most valuable instrument of character-building is ihtisab or self-appraisal and self-criticism. We must try to criticize or appraise ourselves and we should be as honest, as frank, and as 'cruel' to ourselves as we can. In appraising our behaviour we should be harsh on ourselves while being lenient with others. The best method of self-criticism is to devote just two or three minutes, before going to bed each day for evaluation. Make it a habit; a conscious effort. Review our day so as to know how we spent it. Evaluate how we have spent our time, our money, the talents and resources that God gave us, the responsibility that has been entrusted to us. Assess each aspect of our life. Where we have succeeded offer shukr or thanks to Allah. Where we have failed make istighfar or repentance. This is the best form of self-criticism. And, indeed, the Prophet, upon whom be peace, has recommended doing our own self-appraisal before we are appraised on the Day of Reckoning. To do so would better prepare us for that fateful day.

Warning others about a person who does not practice the tenets of Islamic ethos is obligatory (waajib). 

O you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in upholding equity, bearing witness to the truth for the sake of God, even though it be against your own selves or your parents and kinsfolk... (Quran 4:135) 

Islam emphasizes its believers to practice high morals. The aim of Islam is to produce an ideal society free from cruelty and injustice with all the human rights guaranteed.

Out of the top 10 countries listed as the most corrupt by the Transparency International organization 6 are Muslim countries.  Individuals and organizations taint not only their own name when caught, but also the faith itself, at least in the perception of those outside the faith.  These actions disillusion the youth and removes them from the faith.

This is a problem of developing countries whether Muslim or not. This has an impact on Muslims living in the United States, including the city of Louisville. Majority of the Muslims living in USA are immigrant Muslims who have come from the developing countries. Hence a few Muslims have the mindset of the country of their birth. 

Those who remain quiescence, when it happens to others, are guilty of being enablers. Often the comment is what could a single individual do?  This comment is usually true, but not always.  History shows that but a few times, an average individual has made a difference. Our fear or to be "a nice guy in the community" attitude and non-condemnation only helps the evil forces within our communities. It is always better if the opposition springs from within the community. It is more effective and favorable to considerate change.

When others practice bigotry and use hate speech against Muslims, it hurts and we Muslims resist and fight against it.  On the other hand when Muslims do it, we need to fight even harder. We should denounce it, oppose it and fight against it with even greater resolve.

The question that is challenging us in the face and rousing at our conscience is - Do we practice Islam as a religion of morality without exception as it ought to be, or simply remain quiet and wash off one's hands by saying " I think any body's personal life is their own business, and honestly I am not interested in any of their business."

 It is a shame that the central tenet of Islamic ethos based on justice is so carelessly and casually violated by many Muslims, and we are mute observers at best and by our quiescence collaborators at worst.  

American values are, by and large, very consistent with Islamic values, with a focus on family, faith, hard work, and an obligation to better self and society.

 In any  given  American city there will be  many  places of worship where Jumuah Prayers (the Friday afternoon prayers) are conducted. Before the prayers a Khatib (one who delivers the Sermon) gives the Khutbah (Sermon).  In Islam the Imam should have the knowledge and practice the obligations and prohibitions of Islam.  Personal conduct is very important because the Imam is a role model to the younger generation and wields more influence than the parents and teachers.   In one of the Mosques/Islamic Centers the Imam (prayer leader) lies at the pulpit and spreads false rumors. In one Mosque/Islamic Center the Khatib cites fabricated Ahadeeth freely.  

A person who is the founder and president of an Islamic School for Behavioral Excellence and who is also a Principal of an Islamic School, transgressed what our Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “Pay the laborer before the sweat on his brow dries. [Sunan Ibn Mâjah (2443)]. He is the owner of a corporation that was engaged in the manufacture of electrical materials, devices, and equipment. He was sued by the Labor Union for violating many of the Sections under the National Labor Relations Act. The Labor Union won their case and the United States Government has posted the whole case as a Public Document on the Internet. 

The Board of Trustees/Directors have the responsibility of  overseeing the Imam, Khatib, Qazi (Islamic marriage officiant) or Islamic School Principal and  watch over that person's  character, behavior,  actions and  the "antecedents." The fundamental principle of Islam is "enjoining right and forbidding wrong." 

Many  cities  in the United States have  organizations that promote interfaith or interreligious dialogue.  What is not right  is  when one of the Interfaith organizations  appoints  a Muslim  on its Board and touts that Muslim without ever making any background check on that person's character and behavior. When this is pointed out it is simply ignored.  Such actions do not build bridges of understanding and harmony between different religions.  The Dalai Lama rightly said "Dangerous consequences will follow when politicians and rulers forget moral principles. Whether we believe in God or karma, ethics is the foundation of every religion."


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