When I was a young student, I went to many of the homes of my fellow students. In some of these homes, although “Muslim” homes, there were no indications of Islam; no rakams or prayer mats or photographs of prominent Muslim personalities or verses from the Qur’an or other matters. The names of the family members had either been anglicised or Christianised. The only people who visited these homes were either non-Muslim or what we might call “unorthodox” Muslims. The general “atmosphere” in these homes was un-Islamic or non-Islamic. The years passed. It is now more than fifty years later. What has happened? In so many cases there has been a major degeneration of attachment to Islamic beliefs and practices. Many of the female offspring married non-Muslim men or participated in un-Islamic sporting or recreational activities, but in most cases, although some of them still have what we call Muslim names, there is almost no Islam present in the offspring of those families. I’ve seen all of this. It is only today that I realize the social processes involved that brought about this. Some of the original forefathers in some of these families were good people. They must be turning in their graves for what has happened to their descendants. But you see, in many cases they had opened their front doors and even their back doors, to a cultural invasion of un-Islamic or non-Islamic beliefs and practices. They did it innocently, but the consequences had been disastrous. Today my heart goes out to some of my contemporaries for what had happened to them. So many of them died outside the fold of Islam. I am in deep gratitude to my Lord for saving me from a possible similar ending.
Today, when I warn you about these things, it is because I have seen the social processes of acculturation in practice. Do not open your front doors to cultural activities, which might later destroy everything that you had built up over the years.
One of the reasons why we are in adhkar both privately and congregationally, is to strengthen our hearts and the hearts of our children against the dangers of acculturation. If there is no protection of the hearts through the remembrance of Allah Almighty, we are going to fall like bowling pins to the cultural onslaught against our community. It might not happen to you, but it might happen to your children or grandchildren. I have seen it all. So I am not doing sociological guessing. I notice that in some cases there are children of our murids who are not attending congregational dhikr at all any more or are not involved in such dhikrs. If this is because of attendance at universities or just laziness, then it is not a problem but if it is because of steady acculturation, then it is going to become a major problem. As the days go by, the polish of the hearts by the impact of the congregational dhikrs will gradually be tarnished. And later there will be no more shine because there is no more polish. What are we all going to say in fifty, sixty years time when our offspring on this planet are those of tarnished hearts? And you see, it is we who had opened the door. In one way we open the door to acculturation and in another way we close the door to the remembrance of Allah Almighty. We must be so careful. Allah Almighty warns us in the Qur’an about not choosing non-Muslim friends over Muslim ones. The message is not about the personalities. The message is about what those personalities bring with them. We are also warned in a Holy Tradition on this matter. You see, if we, for example, explain the gradual spiritual deterioration of our community, we must go look for answers in two matters: the processes of acculturation and the steady decline of congregational dhikr practices accompanied by an increase in the acceptance of non-Islamic cultural elements. I have not made an indepth study of this but I have seen the processes at work and it is no historical accident that the adoption of non-Islamic cultural elements in the community has also been accompanied by a decline in the congregational remembrance of Allah Almighty. There is no doubt that there is a very positive connection between these two factors.
What do the congregational dhikrs do? They bring people together in remembrance of their Lord, for His sake. This does not only provide a special protection for the heart against other discourses, but it will allow the participants to link hearts in what we might call a single remembrance. So, although 100 people might be saying “Allah”, it is as if it is a single “Allah” coming from the group. Of course, during the proceedings Allah Almighty sends so much of blessings and hasanat on the group; all to the spiritual hearts. And so, if all are properly involved, there is a major spiritual heart activity in the remembrance of their Lord and during this activity there descends on these hearts massive blessings. There is also a major angelic presence. Combine all of these with the presences, then we can easily see that congregational dhikr is a major religious exercise of hearts. It is all of these, if properly done, that create special protection for those participating in the dhikr. Acculturation takes one away from all of these. To what? To what escapist activities?
I asked somebody working at an old age home for non-Muslims, what the inhabitants of that home do in their final years. Her reply was that they read, play games and watch television. I need not comment any further on this. We ask Allah Almighty to make us of those people who remember Him in the final stages of our lives, amin.
[Letters to Seekers on the Spiritual Path Vol 2 – Unpublished 2012]