”The beautiful thing about disrupting the grammar of what is deemed authentic Islam…is you are exiled. In exile, I was beholden to no one but God. My mistake all along had been assuming otherwise.” Kameelah Janan Rasheed in ‘I Speak For Myself – American Women on Being Muslim’
I love this quote. In fact, I love this quote so much, if I were less image oriented and more script devoted I would probably have it inked somewhere on my body. Never mind that the author of the quote is an amazing and dedicated sister from south of the border, the words are a rhythmic honesty that reflects the true nature of Islam… submission to God. It is amazing to me how so many Muslims, myself at one time included, stray so far from this basic concept.
The problem is, the ‘authentic Islam’ accepted today by far too many is either a full on wahhabi (often called ‘salafi’) brand of Islam, or some measure of watered down wahhabi thinking made slightly more palatable than the Saudi style for those residing in the west. Thanks to the petro-dollar largesse provided by the guardians of the two holiest cities in Islam, we really do not have to look much further than the continuing onslaught of rigid, unIslamic, propaganda that flows out from Saudi and it’s spiritual cohorts to see why so many Muslims have lost their way. Our ummah is suffering on so many different levels that it would be a very innocent, or very ignorant, Muslim who does not see and acknowledge the heart of this suffering. Every time a person enters the word ‘islam’ into an internet search engine, wahhabi site after wahhabi site infiltrates one’s field of vision. There is no escape. Enter any online Islamic bookstore, or a real live store if you can hunt one down, and you will see more authors and titles from dubious wahhabi publishing companies than you will see works by mainstream, traditional or progressive muslim authors and scholars. We know why this is (see earlier comment on the petro largesse) but how do we begin to combat it?
Sheikh Khaled abou el Fadl, in the conclusion of his amazing work, The Great Theft- Wrestling Islam From the Extremists- proposes that those who are moderate in their approach to Islam, and those non muslims who support us, ought to put our dollars where our mouths are and purchase books and Islamic materials from sources that are wahhabi free. He also encourages us to speak out against this wahhabi threat and to call it what it is. I heed his call to action on a regular basis and hope that my brothers and sisters will also take up verbal ‘arms’ against this most deviant threat to our ummah today.
Sadly, so few muslims are speaking out against this threat; those of us who do, make such little impact. Why? Because boycotting a bookseller that happens to sell wahhabi titles or authors doesn’t really affect the bookseller or persuade them to stop selling these titles because there are so few good Islamic retailers, online or off. Sort of like that ridiculous Danish boycott after the publishing of offensive cartoons. It makes no difference, has no impact. Buying books from actual scholars and moderate authors likewise does little to make a dent into the onslaught of wahhabi extremism.
So if we make little impact with our dollars versus the global impact the Saudi wahhabi regime makes with it’s multi billion dollar impact, what can we do? For one, if we want to cure the spiritual diseases of this ummah we need to speak out, publically, against local masjid boards and imams who promote any wahhabi ‘scholar’ or author. We need to call upon our community leaders to explain themselves if they do support, encourage or utlitize works from any wahhabi source. We must demand better than this disease and we must do it in order to protect ourselves and our children- the very future of Islam- from people who want us to hate and propagate hate. It maybe too late for our generation, bombarded as we are on such a regular basis with the evil machinations of the wahhabi empire, but it is not too late for our children.
If we want our children to develop a loving relationship with Allah, to worship Him and serve His interests in this life, we must make certain that the Islam we are teaching them is actually Islam and not wahhabism. And there is a difference, make absolutely no mistake about it. One deen is in subservience to The Creator, striving to please Him and to understand our mission in this life. The other is a source of hatred, rigidity, and subjugation to the deviated laws of a small group of ignorant and corrupt misogynists. The deen of Islam is inclusive and gentle, the deen of wahhabism is exclusive and cruel.
If we are truly ‘beholden to God’ as sister Kameelah describes, then we will make certain we are bowing to Him, serving Him and loving Him. We must embrace those Muslims who strive on the path of righteousness and avoid those who strive on the wahhabi path of self-righteousness. And we must, absolutely must, start making our community leaders accountable. If we are exiled from our respective communities for demanding more, demanding better, then so be it. With so many blessings from Allah, why should we bow in to the pressure to disobey him by following such a misguided path as wahhabism?