Another Perspective on Fitna

I am delighted that Br. Sharif Gindy sent this article to me to include on the blog. He is a past Board of Trustee member, past President of the Board of Directors, member of the Expansion Committee, long-time IAGD member, and long-time Sunday school teacher.

Wearing my Sunday school hat, I find myself urged to comment on the article below (My Quest to Find the Meaning of Fitna):

No one would disagree that Omar (ra) was a strong khalifah. He was feared by the enemies and well respected by the sahabah. Yet this did not prevent common people from criticizing him.

In his inauguration speech Omar said; “If I do right assist me, and if I deviate, correct me”. We heard about the man who stood up and told him “If you deviate, we will correct you with our swords”. That story does not end with the man being accused of fitna or being beheaded for his insolence. While others tried to silence the man, Omar defended him and continued to say; “Alhamdullilah, Allah placed among my citizens those who will correct me with their sword if I deviate.” Then he continued  addressing the people saying, “There is no good in the public if they did not say it, and no good in the leaders if they did not listen to it.”

Remember the story of the woman who rebuked Omar when he ordered people to limit the amount of dowries. She told him “Allah says in the Qur’an ‘If you give one a qintar (ton) do not take any of it’, and you say limit it to 400 dinars”. Omar immediately mounted the minbar and withdrew his decree.

Omar (ra) used to say: “May Allah bless a man who present me with the gift of informing me of my shortcomings”.  He also used to say to Huthaifah: “You and the Prophet (pbuh) knew the hypocrites. Do you see that I have any characteristics similar to them?” This great leader used to seek criticism, not stifle it.

What about the man who politely contradicted the Prophet himself about the location of where the Muslim army should camp in the battle of Badr?  The Prophet changed the location of the camp according to that man’s advice!

Perhaps the most critical moment in the life of this ummah, was immediately after the death of the Prophet (pbuh). Abu Bakr took over, and scores of the Arabian tribes started turning away from Islam. Against the advice of some of the sahaba, Abu Bakr decided to declare war on them. He didn’t accuse them of fitnah, he did not exile them from his shurah council, he continued to debate with them until they all came to an agreement.

We probably know all these incidents, but often fail to put things in the right perspective.

روى الترمذي عن حذيفة قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : (( والذي نفسي بيده لتأمُرُنَّ بالمعروف ولتنهوُنَّ عن المنكر ، أو ليوشكنَّ الله أن يبعث عليكم عقاباً منه ثم تدعونه فلا يستجاب لكم ((

Tirmithi, through Huthaifa narrated that the Prophet said; “You shall ordain the good and forbid the evil, or Allah will send down a punishment upon you so when you ask him he will not give you”.

If the Prophet (pbuh) and Omar (ra) were not immune from criticism, who are we to be insulted by criticism?  Let us put things in the right perspective.

May Allah (swt) guide to what is best.

Sharif Gindy

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Anonymous#786 on July 30, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    Asslamu alaikum

    The IAGD community, like just about any community, is made up of three types of people. The largest group is the ‘silent majority’ who nominally participate. Then there is usually a handful of people who take the organization very seriously and keep busy with community organizing, events, fundraising, weekend schools, youth, and even the ‘politics’ of the board and trustees. Finally, there is always a few who use their energy to influence (even manipulate) others to control the group and ensure a particular agenda wins out over others.

    For years, I personally refused to believe that anyone – especially in a religious community – would ever stoop so low that they would manipulate others. I refused to believe that third group of people existed. Instead, I presumed that others accused leaders of such things because they were jealous of the apparent power some seemed to have, or were making excuses for their own lack of involvement by saying things like “nothing I do will make a difference, it’s all what Br. X wants anyway”. It’s a sad state of affairs when people fear or mistrust their ‘leaders’.

    IAGD is not the vibrant community it once was. Over the years I’ve been at IAGD, I have watched active people cascading away, one by one. They burn out, get pushed aside, give up and even move on to even create other masjids while the silent majority grows more aliented, disenfranchised and less involved. Sadly, each voice lost gave the tiny influential group even more power and naive newcomers to manipulate.

    In March, when the community met to be fed another dose of expansion update propaganda, the struggle between the manipulators and the community had come to the boiling point and many of the ‘silent majority’ spoke up loud and clear and addressed the issue at hand. But for every one that did speak up and let the powers that be know where they stood on the issue, others came quietly up behind the activists, tapped them on the shoulder and said “tell them …” or “what about…” This helped the vocal ones realize how much support exists in community, but when the activists told these people to speak up for themselves they’d come back with excuses like “oh…I can’t…I’m friends with them” or “oh…I wouldn’t dare…my relative works for them”. Even posts on this blog are usually anonymous. Clearly many fear losing their social connections or even personal retribution if they speak up.

    So here we are at the latest pivotal point for the IAGD community. We can each can choose to speak up and stand up for the many reasons we believe the proposed expansion is wrong, brought about through inappropriate means, not appropriate for the community, wrongly uses the prayer area for a social hall, is too costly, too big, not what we need at this time, and hundreds of other personal reasons. Or we can stand by and let the manipulative few do their magic, sell their plan using carefully selected words and artfully crafted propaganda, and allow them to start a project that will take the rest of us many years to pay off – at the added cost of not having enough additional funds for the many projects and programs our community members need.

    If you don’t stand up for yourself, don’t expect someone else to do it for you. In boxing they say “put up or shut up”. In tv weddings, they always ask gatherings to “speak now, or forever hold your peace”. In Islam we are taught: If you see a wrong, change it with your hand, your tongue, and if you can’t do either, the weakest form of faith is to feel bad about it in your heart. We certainly don’t want things to get physical – but the hand can be raised to question our leadership or used to write letters and emails of protest. As for the tongue, we each have one voice. Use it to speak honestly. Don’t hide your opinion and only share it when it’s ‘safe’. Talk with others and arrive at an informed decision. Make dua’for the community leaders to find the humility to listen to the community and lead us well. Make dua’ the community finds a way to build whatever is necessary, affordable, and will help us step into the future with programs to increase community knowledge and strengthen imaan, inshallah.

    Sincerely,

    Anonymous#786

    Reply

  2. Posted by Anonymous on July 30, 2012 at 9:42 pm

    Board members are ELECTED by the general body to act in the best interest of the community. If personal or professional relationships are interfering with their ability to do so then that is a conflict of interest & they must step down. The rewards these people may be seeking from Allah by serving him through community service & leadership might be compromised if their personal relationships are impacting such vital decisions. Each leader must take account of their own biases. The people of integrity & character will stand with the Measenger on the last day- not the ones who lied to themselves or others about their ability to serve the people.

    Reply

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