Culture and Islam...Part Two.

Sub’ hanallahi wal hamdu lillah, wala hawla wala quwwata illah billah yu althi yual theem

Glory to Allah! Praise to Allah! There is no power and no strength except from Allah!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Islam,

When the culture of nationalism or tribalism gets distorted, arrogating to itself a false sense of superiority over other people, then there’s trouble, big trouble. Israel is one example, where some Jews [not all Jews] have twisted monotheistic Judaism into a narrow political Zionism. As a result, the peace and stability of a whole region is being held hostage by a militant racially defined State.

In Afghanistan and Pakistan, there is an explosive mix of tribal and political agendas, hiding behind the beautiful name of Islam. Allah will not allow His religion to be abused in this way. Right now Pakistan is tearing itself apart, limb from limb. A nation founded in the name of Islam has, for most of its life, lurched from corrupt civilian rule to almost as corrupt military dictatorships. The humanitarian consequences, as we can all see, are quite catastrophic.

So, the big question arises: how can culture and Islam co-exist peacefully?

In the Holy Qur’an 49:13 Surah Al-Hujurat (The Inner Apartments) Allah declares:

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female and made you into nations and tribes that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Truly the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things).”

Allah has created the human species as a one single entity, a unity that underpins the great diversity of cultures, ethnicities and nations. This cultural diversity is no accident: it’s a part of Allah’s plan. He intended it to be this way. He wants us to recognise each other, and to respect the many cultures that beautify the human family. We are a living work of art, a living expression of Allah’s marvellous ingenuity, His infinite creativity. But when we forget how and why Allah created us as nations and tribes, then we fall into division, hostility, injustice and evil. This is the consequence of forgetting who we really are, Who created us and why we were created. In Allah’s colourful garden, nations and tribes can flower like fragrant blossoms. But there are also ground rules for our us to observe. Prophet Muhammad (sws) laid these down in his final sermon on Arafat:

“O you people,” he said. “listen to my words, All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor does a non-Arab have any superiority over an Arab; also a white person has no superiority over a black person, nor does a black person have any superiority over white a white person except by Allah-consciousness and good deeds. Remember that every Muslim is a brother to every other Muslim and that you are all now, one brotherhood.”

In these momentous words, Prophet Muhammad (sws) set out the basis of harmonious human relations, for all time to come., for all nations. Imagine, 14 hundred years ago, in the 7th Century barren desert of Arabia, to hear this powerful declaration of Human Rights! Soobhaanal-Laah! Within our endless diversity there is unity. And within our unity there can be infinite diversity. Clearly, unity in Islam does not mean uniformity. Like flowers in a garden, we are all beautiful. We don’t all look the same, we don’t all have to think or act the same, like soldiers in a regiment. But we must have the same goals and the same universal values, regardless of our culture and background. We must worship Allah and be His agents of mercy, his angels of mercy, just as Prophet Muhammad (sws) was sent as a mercy to all the worlds.

Wama arsal naaka illa Rahmatal lil ‘aalameen!

And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad] except as a Mercy to all the Worlds.

We Muslims should be people of justice, people who promote good and prevent evil, and believe only in Allah:

Ta’ muroona bil...

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