Things I learned from TAM 08: On Reforming MAS

A verse in the Quraan hits my heart every time the issue of reform is brought to the table. Praise be to Allah for sending such a miraculous book that helps us at all times and all situations. When I become in charge of any project, I tend to be very critical of what has been done in the past in order to be able to bring about a change. While doing so, I also tend to offend several people who sweated to get this project where it is. I remember one of the founders of our full time school, a MAS project in our area, told me angrily responding to a joke I made about the school being a kitchen school*, “if it weren’t for the kitchen school of yesterday, you wouldn’t have your school of today.” Only then I realized how much harm we bring to the table when we are not careful about what we say and the way we present our criticism.

Why is that relevant to the TAM discussions? Well, very relevant!

As we take part in discussions regarding:

– how important diversity is in MAS,
– how crucial it is for indigenous Americans to be part of MAS,
– how vital it is to empower the young generation and give them the chance to lead,
– and how the American culture should be naturally embraced for Americans to consider us seriously,

we tend to undermine a lot of the wonderful work people of the past did. We tend to blame our immigrant community of bringing to America their cultural baggage who alienated so many people. We keep blaming them for speaking broken English. We keep blaming them for not being actively involved in the society. We keep blaming them for not being politically involved. We keep blaming them for not involving the youth. And so on and so forth.

I know this naturally happens as part of our analysis and critical views of the past, but we ought to adapt another attitude while going through these exercises especially while presenting our opinions. This attitude is what is described in the verse I started talking about in the beginning of the post. Allah says, after praising the immigrants of Mecca and the people of Medina, “… And those who came after them say, O our Lord, forgive us and those who preceded us in embracing the Iman and do not put in our heart any hatred to those who have believed …”

What is really worthy of noticing here is that the call for forgiveness is NOT ONLY for those before us but for ourselves as well. As if we are saying, “we too make mistakes. We too have shortcomings. We too are not perfect. We too will not fulfill our duties towards you O Allah and towards our deen. We too want forgiveness as those before us do.” I found this attitude a genuine Islamic feeling towards our parents, our teachers, our elderly, and the founders of our beloved organization, MAS.

Another important point to make is that we tend to judge people while we are not aware of the context they lived in and the struggle they went through. One time Huzaifa ibn al-Yaman, the companion of the prophet was talking to his students when one of them said, “if we were to meet the prophet and live with him, we would have prevented any harm from reaching him (PBUH).” This student of Huzaifa is saying that after the fact. Huzaifa taught him, and accordingly us, a lesson by telling him a short story***. This short story brought this man to the reality of not looking down to other’s achievement while not living the same experienc as ther were.

In the eyes of Allah, they will be held accountable for what they did and we will be held accountable for what we do. As Allah said, “That was a nation who has passed away. They shall receive the reward of what they earned and you of what you earn. And you will not be asked of what they used to do.****”

O Allah forgive us and all those who preceded us in serving this dean and do not let any hatred comes to our heart to those who believed, Amin!

* There was so much cooking and food parties taking place, so much so it became more important than education (shhh)

** 59:10

*** this stroy is a home work

**** 2:134

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