June 10, 2023 | Dhuʻl-Qiʻdah 21, 1444
Living The Quran
Al-Hujurat (The Chambers)
Chapter 49: Verse 15
Agenda for Change
"Believers are those who (truly) believe in Allah and His messenger, then doubt not, but who strive with their possessions and their selves in the way of Allah; it is they who are the truthful ones."
Significant change cannot be effected solely through preaching and delivering sermons. These have a very limited and temporary effect on an audience and societal powers. The influences of society, or the dominant culture, are so huge that they very quickly wash away any effects produced by the preaching. Thus, change agents additionally require a clear practical agenda for change, backed up by sincere devotion, firm resolve and commitment, a spirit of sacrifice, and an investment of time, energy, and resources.
The kind of actions that a movement can engage in will naturally vary according to the social and political circumstances. For instance, if a people are oppressed by their governments, then armed struggle cannot be ruled out. Conversely, in peaceful conditions, actions can incorporate communication, dialogue and exerting social and political pressure.
In the light of Islamic guidance, actions for positive change should lead to a greater good and not to a worsening of the situation. If taking certain actions, no matter how crucial or effective they may be considered, leads to panic and confusion, or creates social upheavals that may give rise to more evil, then they must be avoided and patience exercised until condition change. This is because Islam aims to bring about peace and order not chaos; its aim is to reform, improve and develop a society, to remove wrongs and corruption rather than punish the wicked or create disorder on earth.
"Building a New Society" - Zahid Parvez, pp. 159, 160
From Issue: 517 [Read original issue]
Understanding The Prophet's Life
Because human greed is a major obstacle to the abundance of these acts, the Shariah has taken special care to encourage people and stimulate their interest in gifts and donations by classifying them as acts whose reward for the donor does not cease even after death. Thus, it is reported in an authentic Tradition: "When a man dies, his acts come to an end, except three, recurring charity, or knowledge [by which people] benefit, or a pious son, who prays for him [i.e. for the deceased]." [Muslim]
During the Prophet's time, there were numerous cases of repeated charity (sadaqa jariya) and endowments (awqaf) that were made by either him or his Companions. Mention can be made here of Uthman ibn Affan's charity which he made when he heard the Prophet saying: "Who will buy the well of Rumah [a famous well in Medina] and endow it for the general welfare of the people so that he may use it like the other Muslims without any privilege," Uthman bought it and endowed it for the welfare of all Muslims.[Bukhari]
"Maqasid Al-Shariah" - Ibn Ashur, pp. 309, 310
From Issue: 978 [Read original issue]
"Settler" refers to anyone who is not Indigenous living on Indigenous lands. It means not just long-dead ancestors, but any non-Indigenous person who continues to benefit from the colonial seizure of land from its original occupants. This can be hard to accept. Most of us don't think of ourselves as colonizers or occupiers. We are not all descendants of colonial administrators or occupying soldiers. We have many stories. People leave their place of birth for all sorts of reasons. Most in recent history are not thinking of conquest and colonization. Generally, they are looking for a better life, for prosperity or escape from insecurity. Some, indeed,are descended from people taken by force from their native lands and sold into slavery in the "new world."
Nonetheless, we need to recognize how colonization has and does still affect us, individually and personally as well as in society. Those of us in particular who believe our politics are "progressive" need to examine our own complicity in upholding and perpetuating colonialism, and whether our ideals truly help or hinder Indigenous movements.
From Idle No More to the Unist'ot'en resistance against oil pipelines in British Columbia, such movements strive to turn around 500 years of history between the continent's first inhabitants and its relative newcomers. Support for them is essential and important. But solidarity alone does little to change the colonial mentalities and practices that continue into the 21st century.
This is why it is important to acknowledge and restore the traditional names of territories. When we remember that Toronto is derived from the Haudenosaunee word Tkaronto, meaning "where there are trees in water," or we replace "Queen Charlotte Islands" with "Haida Gwaii," we recognize the importance of Indigenous histories, experiences and continuing presence.
We can all choose to read and listen to Indigenous voices, in particular, those speaking to us from the lands we occupy. All of us have the opportunity to join demonstrations of settler support for Indigenous struggles. Active solidarity can start closer to home. We can reach out to other settlers where we live and work, and try to expose the colonial privileges and complicities that we all carry.
Acknowledging the lands that we are on at the start of public and private events is gradually becoming commonplace, a small contribution of thanks and appreciation to the original peoples as stewards of lands that we can now enjoy the use of. When our institutions, businesses or associations contemplate actions that might bear on Indigenous neighbours, we can argue for fully consulting them. We can attend to Indigenous voices in discussions about public and social issues. We can step back from putting our own voices at the forefront.
We are here. Whatever our personal past, how and when we came to this land, we are here now and the colonial legacy of the place has become part of our story. In many ways, shedding that legacy is nothing more - or less - than developing a radical understanding of where "here" is. Understanding what lands we are on, which peoples call them home, and how those lands have been altered. Then we may begin to listen more closely to Indigenous voices and to learn from them a respect for the land that will preserve our own sustenance and life.
"Living on Stolen Land" - Adam Lewis
From Issue: 1008 [Read original issue]