Try as we may to designate otherwise, there appears to be no alternative other than to label our non-Muslim, technologically-developed, "Christianised" nations "The West." This term, historically, came about due to the differences stated between non-Communist, developed nations and the USSR, which is in the Eastern European sector. However, with the thawing of the cold war, it has become evident that the focus has shifted from the once-Communist-dominated East, to the East which includes Islamic countries and Muslims generally. This may be seen clearly in articles such as "Islam and the West" where the dividing line appears to have been redefined.
It oft-times seems a very great pity that we find a "them" and "us" attitude so prevalent on both sides of this human equation, for differences are magnified and positives minimised to the extent where injustice is the only possible outcome. Indeed it would appear that suspicion and innuendo colour most perceptions, thus forever enforcing a disparity which, in most cases, eliminates the possibility of mutual recognition and respect, or indeed that of useful interaction.
However, the question must be asked, "Is it possible to maintain mutual recognition and respect, without expecting one side to change or lean closer to the other?" This is the question which is the basis of fear which provokes such headlines as "Islam should the World be afraid?" (Time: Australia - June 15, 1992). Are we, for example, planning on a world takeover? Or, on the other side of the coin, are they not planning a world takeover?
"When is the big Jihad to take place?" We are questioned by non-Muslim "friends" whom, we thought, knew us and accepted us as peace-loving, honest and honorable Australians. When our faces reflect the pain which has just been inflicted, we are told, "Oh yes, but you would not give that information to a non-Believer, would you?" Therefore, this distrust and fear has reached, in many instances, the grassroot level, and even on a one-to-one basis, may prove destructive in a community. Such fear and questioning comes through ignorance of Islam.
If we, dispassionately, evaluate these two systems, we find that the Western system was originally based on Christian principles, though with the growth of science and technology, there has come about an acceptance of un-Christian attitudes and beliefs, and the frowning upon anything which presages differently, as being discriminatory or politically incorrect. God is no longer regarded as being The One, All-Powerful, All-Knowledgeable, All-Wise, Whose precepts are for the guarding and cherishing of humanity. Although still maintaining the title of Christian, or perhaps Judaeo-Christian, they deny their origins. Their Biblical Prophesy of the perilous times coming, therefore, has been fulfilled, in that they now are "having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof" (2 Tim.3:5). This is followed by the injunction, "..from such turn away." The Holy Quran gives insight into this,
"Say: '0 People of the Book! Ye have no ground to stand upon unless ye stand fast by the Law, the Gospel, and all the revelation that has come to you from your Lord"
Islam, on the other hand, states that The God, Allah, requires of mankind today exactly that which was required from the earliest times: submission and practice of principles which are for its protection and wellbeing. Islam shows that increase in knowledge, which is important, having been imposed upon us as a people who have submitted to God, does not weaken, but merely reinforces belief and wonder in the marvels which Allah has performed. Islam, does not uphold those who deliberately seek the lowest common denominator in this life. Islam is to elevate the individual, the family, the community, the nation.
Therein is the division. Again we refer to the Holy Quran regarding this division caused by the absolute observance of Allah:
"Say: '0 People of the Book! Do ye disapprove of us for no other reason than that we believe in Allah, and the revelation that hath come to us, and that which came before us, and perhaps that most of you are rebellious and disobedient?"
Islam, we know, accommodates differences, while protecting society. The Holy Quran gives close instruction as to how the rights of non-Muslims in Islamic countries are to be protected. Churches, temples and synagogues, as well as mosques, are to be held in esteem as places of worship. It is of interest that some Christians from the Middle East, who came to settle in Australia have since returned to their homeland, stating that they have found it easier to practice Christianity in the Muslim environment after noting the destruction which is taking place in morals and principles in Western society. They are following the injunction regarding this form of godliness which denies God's power - from such they have turned away.
Every day, hundreds of those from the West, who are disillusioned with the false stance taken, are turning to Islam. Are Muslims using the sword to gain these conversions? No! Are Muslims invading other countries to make up their numbers? No! Are Muslims going door to door to bring the lambs into the fold of Islam? No! None of this is happening. People who are true to their belief in God, to themselves and to the principles of which they have been imbued in their previous religions, are retaining spiritual values which are no longer being upheld by those whose job it is to do so. They are, in their thirst and hunger for the Truth of God, turning to the religion of God, Islam - submission to the One True God, Allah.
We, as Muslims, realise that our most arduous Jihad is not that of going to war, although sometimes we are pushed into that position. It is the greater Jihad in which we, individually, must bring into line, by the Grace of Allah, those areas of our natures and our lives which are not Islamic. We, individually, have a grave responsibility to live the totality which Allah has provided for mankind - Islam. Otherwise we, also, are denying the power of God in our lives, our homes, our communities, our nations.
The Quran is the last message of Allah as the Book of Guidance and there is no prophet to come after Muhammad (s). Henceforth we Muslims as an Ummah (community) have been assigned to present Islam before the ones who somehow or the other do not know about Islam or have misconceptions about it.
"... It is He who has elected you (to carry His Message), and has laid no hardship on you in (anything that pertains to) religion, (and made you follow the creed of your forefather Ibrahim. It is He who has named you in bygone times as well as in this (divine writ) 'those who have surrendered themselves to Allah', so that the Prophet might bear witness to the truth before you, and that you might bear witness to it before all mankind ..."
This presentation of Islam to mankind is termed Da'wah (The Call) in Arabic. This task can be performed broadly by verbal and written presentations (Da'wah bil Lisan) or by rendering community services to the public (Da'wah bil Hal) or by doing both.
The prevalent 'them' and 'us' attitude can be minimised to a large extent through the agency of Da'wah work. The Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr Mahatir Muhammad has very seriously started the campaign of Da'wah bil Hal. The Regional Islamic Council of South East Asia and Pacific (RISEAP) sponsored a 2-day Da'wah bil Hal Conference at Sydney on 30 and 31 March, 1997. Being relevant to the theme of this issue, we are presenting a brief report and the outcome of this important conference.
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