What Is Our Moral Obligation?

ASAK. I was raised Roman Catholic; and for many years, I attended catechism (the equivalent of Sunday school). When I was 15 or 16 years old, my class was taught by a husband and wife, whose goal was to teach us how to live a moral life in an increasingly immoral world (this was the 1970s after all).

One evening, the husband and wife told a story about a fraternity party they had attended in college. The party was also an initiation for the fraternity, and as the evening wore on, several people had to commit immoral acts in front of the rest of the partygoers. The husband and wife made a big fuss about how horrible this was.

I was confused and asked them if they had tried to stop these things from happening. They said no. I then asked them if they had at least left the party. They said no, they had sat in the corner and not watched. I never attended the class again. There was nothing they could teach me about morals if they believed it was okay to sit in a corner and not watch while something they felt was wrong was happening in front of them.

Later in life, I was impressed by the hadith of the Prophet (SWT) (Narrated by Abu Sa’d al Khudri (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 79): “He who amongst you sees something abominable should modify it with the help of his hand; and if he has not strength enough to do that, then he should do it with his tongue; and if he has not strength enough to do even that, then he should (at least abhor it) from his heart; and that is the least of faith.” (There is an interesting discussion of this topic at http://www.islamicperspectives.com/CommandingGood.htm)

The story from my youth and this hadith go a long way in explaining why I felt compelled to speak up about the expansion project. When I took a hard look at the expansion project, it didn’t make sense to me from a financial standpoint. When I asked specific questions, I was given vague, nonspecific answers. When I asked to see studies or projections, they weren’t given to me. When I made recommendations, I was told that they would let the expansion committee know. So what should I have done?

I could have decided to make no further donations to the project and let the rest of the community worry about it. I could have complained to other people, quietly and behind the backs of the Administration. I could have waited for someone else to address the issues, silently agreeing but never raising my voice. But I believed those actions were wrong when I was 16 years old. Now that I am many, many years older and supposedly wiser, why would I select one of those options now?

I thought this was the community’s organization and that we were supposed to care about it. I thought we were all working together to make sure that we made the right decisions for the organization, especially when those decisions will impact our children and our grandchildren. I thought that if I brought legitimate concerns to the Administration and to the community, that those concerns would be addressed thoughtfully and intelligently. I thought I was questioning a plan, not the people who came up with that plan.

But in the end, I had no choice. I believe that it was my moral obligation, as a concerned member of this organization, to raise these issues.  And I believe that together we can find a better solution than we can apart. But to do that, the Administration has to take the community’s concerns seriously, not pretend that they don’t exist, and work with the community to come up with a viable solution.

Ann O’Brien Ahmad

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3 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Yousuf S on April 13, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    Bravo Sr Ann. No one should doubt your sincerity and intentions after reading this. Your comments should inspire those of us that call ourselves ‘born muslims’!

    Reply

  2. Posted by Shahab Khan on August 5, 2012 at 9:58 am

    I concur.

    Reply

  3. Posted by Saad on August 5, 2012 at 4:23 pm

    Sister Ann, Jazakallah Khair for you efforts. I totally agree that members of the organization should take a stance on what they believe is right. May Allah Ta’ala guide our community into making the choice that is on our best interest and the best interest of our future generations.

    Reply

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