By: Imam Shamsi Ali, President of Nusantara Foundation, New York
As a minority living in the midst of a non-Muslim majority, especially with Islamophobia still on the rise, there are certainly many challenges and even threats to be faced. Fear, hatred, even violence can happen to this Community.
But of all the challenges, even those threats are the challenges of raising children. It even poses a real threat to the life and future of the Muslim Community in America and in the West in general. The challenge is to ensure that children and future generations can survive.
Life is certainly not in the understanding of people in general. Because in general people understand life in terms of material definitions and calculations. In fact, living on this aspect in America is still a “land of opportunities”. Even America is known as “a land of dream”.
Economically with all the current challenges, America is still very solid. Nearly 1/4 of the world’s wealth is still in America’s hands. Politically, with global changes, America still has a lot to do with world political power. Moreover, militarily, America is still very strong. Not to mention the fact that many of the world’s best Universities are still in America.
Threat to life I mean a threat to the true life of man, inner life. His body is alive, his heart is fertile. Which is expressed in the song Indonesia Raya: “wake up the soul, wake up the body”.
In the Islamic view of the Ummah, of course it is with faith and Islam that humans will live in a complete way.
The threat is real
Generational challenges and threats are real. But in general, Muslims and especially Indonesian Muslims take it lightly. In fact, they are often not disturbed by this harsh reality. Sometimes I realize when a bad case has occurred that I don’t need to detail here.
But as an example, last Saturday (30 July), I was asked by a family who was quite successful in the world. This husband and wife are successful dentists. Lives in a mansion in an elite estate on New York’s Long Island. The information I got was that her future son-in-law (her daughter’s future husband) wanted to convert to Islam.
I’m certainly happy. Because indeed the greatest happiness as a Muslim living in America is in being able to lead a servant of Allah to find His guidance. In fact it feels happier than the world and everything in it.
It turned out that when I arrived, even though I was greeted with all the friendliness and respect, I found that the Muslim woman’s future husband was an atheist. Even though he used to study at a Catholic Sunday school, in its development religion is considered trash.
I tried to the best of my ability and tried very wisely to convince about Islam. In fact, it is not uncommon for laughter to occur for trying to convey Islam in a light way without being intimidating.
One example is the prohibition of pork. According to him, this rule has expired because the thing that has been feared from pigs for a long time has been eliminated. What is meant is that the presence of vicious worms in pork has been eliminated by the advancement of science in the health sector.
A brief dialogue was repeated exactly what had happened between me and a teenager at a mosque in New York City. I give an illustration of a traffic light (traffic light).
Why should someone stop at a red traffic light?
The answer is to avoid collisions. But if you are sure that the road is quiet, there are no traffic police, not even cameras that record, is it violating the red light?
While joking, the future son-in-law replied: “I think I will just pass the light”. Because according to him, nothing is in danger.
I then responded in the form of a question: but by doing that, are you categorized as a good citizen in the eyes of the law and authority?”.
He and everyone present that afternoon laughed. And I also said: “Muslims do not eat pork, not just because there is a disease. But also because of obeying the rules and respecting the Authority (of Allah)”.
In short the candidate actually began to nod in agreement. But the problem is that it is the Muslim women who do not seem to see the urgency of religion in life. This can be seen when he apologizes, though respectfully and politely: “but why is it so important to follow all these regulations”.
According to her, all religious rules are only a burden and even an obstacle for the progress of human life. That’s why there are no Muslim-majority countries unless they are scientifically and technologically backward, she stressed.
Hearing that I almost got angry and responded loudly. But I don’t want them to go further and run away from this religion. So I tried to explain two things.
One, about the position of the rules in Islam. That the rules are not a burden, let alone an obstacle to progress. Thus the rules provide a way to move forward but in a respectful and moral manner.
Two, that the Islamic world is underdeveloped, not because of Islamic rules. The backwardness of the Islamic world is precisely because the majority do not follow Islamic rules. What country do you think sincerely follow Islam?, I asked.
Between effort and guidance
In the end, I just tried to make sure that it wasn’t just the prospective son-in-law. But also his daughter who is not sure about the importance of religion in life. Will it be successful? The results and guidance are in the hands of Allah, the Creator of the heavens and the earth, the controller of the souls of His servants.
What I want to convey is how difficult it is to raise children according to the expectations of faith and Islam. And what a threat it is before the eyes of the Muslim Community in America.
Of course everyone has to take that responsibility. The responsibility of the child, the responsibility of the parents, the responsibility of the umara and the Ulama. And of course the collective responsibility of the Community itself.
The strange thing is sometimes parents are not aware of this heavy responsibility. Whereas the safety of parents will also be largely determined by how they have carried out that responsibility seriously.
“O you who believe, protect yourselves and your families from the fire of hell.”
In this verse there are two emphasis: 1) Islamically righteous children are commands. And all the commands in the Quran mean obligations. 2) the safety of parents is bound (mu’allaqah) with the responsibility of saving the family.
May Allah protect us and our families from great harm, the world and the hereafter. And may we all be kept on the path of truth, the straight path. The path of the prophets, the siddiq, the martyrs, and His pious servants. Amen! (T/RE1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)