Role of Muslim Youths in the West (Part 1)
Induction in the thoughts of late Grand Ayatollah Sayed Mohammad Al-Shirazi
By: Hussein Al-Rumaithi
The Late Grand Ayatollah Sayed Mohammad Al-Shirazi was one of the few scholars in the Muslim world, who invited the youth to migrate to the west and take advantage of the opportunities provided in this part of the world. Many Shi’a Muslims who reside in the west and have met Ayatollah Shirazi would confirm his role in convincing them to migrate to Europe and North America and be part of these diverse societies. The late Imam Al-Shirazi viewed the west as nations and societies as the perfect environment for Muslims to advance and develop and ultimately innovate and deliver their maximum capability. However, he acknowledged the challenges that a Muslim might face and tried to present a set of guidelines for Muslims and youths to become better Muslims and be good and active members of their societies and present the best picture for their faith.
Imam Al-Shirazi sought the responsibility of a Muslim in the west lays primarily in his/her ability to introduce Islam to the western citizens. Introducing Islam in the thoughts of Imam Al-Shirazi was not necessary a way of preaching it and inviting individuals and groups to adopt Islam, as he viewed introduction of Islam is a mean of bridging gaps and promoting tolerance and co-existence. Therefore, he suggested that Muslims in the west should:
Introduction of Islam
- Use of Media and other means of mass communication to introduce Islam and present its pliable nature.
- Publishing books, journals and academic researches about Islam.
- Invite academics, journalists, writers and lecturers to talk about Islam and present its pillars and teachings to enable the western society differentiate between true Islam and radical elements that misuse the religion.
- Expand the efforts to introduce Islam through financial assistance and support.
- Establishment of foundations and centers to organize and institutionalize the efforts of introducing Islam.
Safe-guarding Islamic characteristics and personality
This notion is often viewed as an obstacle before integration and being part of the society and a preventive mean, which makes Muslims unable of being adaptive to their new conditions. Nevertheless, I must say the opinion of Ayatollah Al-Shirazi is the exact opposite, as he calls for Muslims to be integrated with their societies and be part of the social and political life. However, saving the Islamic nature of one’s personality does not neglect the notion of integration, since a true Muslims is obligated to protect his society and serves it in the best way possible. Therefore, by attending mosques and Islamic centers a Muslim individual is able to re-affirm and re-attach to his faith, and serve his society as a devoted Muslim, who reflects the beauty of his faith. In addition, prior to introducing Islam, a Muslim must protect his faith before presenting it to others.
Identifying Corruption and weak elements
Imam Al-Shirazi argues that a Muslim who migrates to the west, has left his home-country due to oppression and propagation of corruption, which prevents him/her from reaching efficiency and advancement. Therefore, it would be in the benefit of any Muslims who resides in the west to identify the elements of corruption in the west and the factors, which weakens the process of advancement.
Constant connection to Islamic legacies through reading
Imam Al-Shirazi suggests that a Muslim must stay in constant state of affiliation with his Islamic roots through reading the Holy Quran, Peak of Eloquence, which has the traditions of Imam Ali and any Islamic book that helps him/her integrate and co-operate with others, yet be a devoted Muslim. Imam Al-Shirazi states, a Muslim should assign one hour a day reading Quran and anything that reaffirm his faith. This process shall help a Muslim individual in becoming more tolerant and understanding of others and reflect the image of his/her religion in the west.
Imam Al-Shirazi precisely asserts the necessity of all Muslim immigrants to take advantage of the programs the west offers for continuing education, and acquire the highest possible degrees in the fields most demanded by his/her society. Knowledge and education brings respect and acknowledgement upon a human and makes his opinion heard by others, and therefore, it is important to take the academic approach in all fields for introducing Islam. Muslims should not give the impression that education is the last of their priorities, and they pay more attention to financial advancement than any other aspect. Receiving education would enable any person to pursue a respectable career and be an effective member of his/her society.
Imam Al-Shirazi acknowledges that the west has been able to advance and provide for its citizens through supporting intellect and innovation. Therefore, even if Muslims have the intention of returning back to their home-nations at one point, they must assure their return would be beneficial to their countries, not the other way around.
This aspect is presented by Imam Al-Shirazi as a path for elevation and development for all members of society, including the Muslims in the west. Ultimately, acquiring higher education would enable a Muslim immigrant to occupy a post within the society he/she resides in. Therefore, whether the position he/she would assume is social, financial, political or academic, it would give more strength to the community the Muslims person originates from.
One of the major responsibilities of any Muslim on the face of this planet is to help and serve the needy. The term “needy” does not necessary mean poor people, as it can point to any member of the society who requires help in a certain field. Therefore, by finishing education and assuming high positions in the society, a Muslim individual is fulfilling the task, which has been given to him by his/her creator.
Unfortunately, some Muslims view imitating the norms and actions they witness in the west as a way of adopting western life style and integration. In addition, these types of people would ultimately, neglect their own tradition and values and adopt a path, which does not even fulfill their tendencies and ambitions. A person without a root and identity is similar to a piece of wood in a swirl, which eventually would be either destroyed by the current, or end up in an undesired place. Therefore, adopting a specific identity would distinguish the individual and get him/her even more respect, and have people alert for not crossing the line in his/her presence.
The western societies are filled with communities, which have been living in North America and other places for decades, yet they still identify themselves as, Italian-American or Canadian or Latino-American or Canadian and etc. Sociologically, the sense of belonging to an identity brings more strength and leads to different means of influence, which makes that community invincible in different ways.
TO BE CONTINUED