March 1997: Page 1, 2, 3, 4

Zul-Qaida 1417

Volume 13 No 3

In the name of God, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Submitters Perspective

Monthly Bulletin of the International Community of Submitters Published by Masjid Tucson


By the afternoon. The human being is utterly lost. Except those who believe and lead a righteous life,
and exhort one another to uphold the truth, and exhort one another to be steadfast.
(Sura 103)

The Islamic community in this country is growing steadily—both from the influx of foreign immigrants and from new American converts. In terms of Islamic practice, there is wide variation in these newcomers—ranging from Islamically-flavored cultural traditions or backgrounds with no Islamic influence at one extreme, to great learning and righteousness at the other. This growth, and the diversity within this growing community, has stimulated discussion on the need for unity. Unity implies some commonality of belief and practice. What standards should be at the base of our unity and how can we teach, share and encourage them? Where a lack of commonality appears to be contributing to disunity is the standards we apply to everyday situations. The standards by which we live our daily lives can be derived from a number of different sources: religious beliefs, ethnic cultural traditions, habits we have learned from family and associates, behavior patterns learned from the media, and from a variety of teachers and scholars. It should be noted that many

of our social behaviors are morally neutral (such as how we make our shoes, the languages we speak, the types of fruits we eat). Diversity in such matters merely contributes to the delightful variety in the Islamic world, and is not a cause for disunity.

...What basic Islamic standards should we have in common in our daily lives, then, in order to promote unity, and how should they be encouraged? Righteousness, to be sure, but righteousness according to whom? The one source we all have in common and upon which we all agree is the Holy Quran. In it are basic instructions for business, law, family life, and dealings with Muslims and non-Muslims in a variety of circumstances. If Quranic standards are not given first place, what standards might prevail? Cultural traditions, carryovers from paganism, personal preferences, the habits and opinions of the most influential members (whether good or not so good), the interpretations of various (often disagreeing) scholars, legalists, and religious traditions. When Quranic standards are not foremost,

details of ritual may be accorded greater importance than taking moral responsibility or performing compassionate service, and contention ensues. In the interest of unity, therefore, the standards we set for an Islamic community must be from the Holy Quran, be perfectly clear (3:7), and apply to all community members.

If we prayfully ask God’s guidance in understanding and applying the standards in the Holy Quran, we can minimize the divisive effects of basing our understanding on various traditions, scholars, and interpreters— many of which do not agree [with the Quran, and contradict each other] (39:29). God’s standards for us have purpose—they are not arbitrary nor are they like ritual magic. The Straight Path is, rather, a relationship with God based on our obedience to Him, from which grows our relationship with everyone and everything else. Applications of Quranic standards to our daily lives proceed from their purpose and can be quite specific. For example,

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