In our work in the Cause of Islam, of course, most of the things that we come across are not satisfactory. In fact if we want to be accurate then we have to say that as far as Islamic standards are concerned, almost all the things are not satisfactory. Mawlana Shaykh Nazim refers to this period of history as the second jahiliyah. What we have come across gives expression to his words in all kinds of ways.
In many of the areas in which we are working, especially some of the isolated country towns, such as Darling, a number of Muslims have gone over to Christianity. There is nothing in the town that attracts them to Islam. There is no religious leadership or any structures with which they can operate as Muslims. And so they live from day to day with their only recognition of Islam being their names, and even some of these are Christianized or Anglicized, or whatever the case might be. I am not aware of any attempts by Sunni groups to do something about these matters. I know that the Tableegh movement is busy in some of these towns but they take to these people an interpretation so unattractive that the people rather stay in their religion. But this happens in fairly isolated towns, far removed from the heavy urban sprawls. One can perhaps still understand this, because of the isolation of some of these places.
We have, however, found in many of the urban areas quite near to us, very similar situations. I’m talking about Muslims that have either lost their religion or discarded its practices. And so in some areas, people have no access to any form of Islamic education. This means that the children in these areas grow up religionless; picking up bits and pieces of religion at schools or in the areas they live in. In many cases we have generations of Muslim children totally lost to Islam. They have no access to the Qur’an, to salah, or any Islamic practices or structures. It appears from our understanding that Islam just flourishes, to certain degrees in areas where there are mosques and active madrassahs. This is what we sit with.
The more we go into the different areas, the more bleak the situation appears. In some areas, and this I must highlight, there are some Muslims, males and females who, with a little bit of Islam, try to keep the flag of Islam fluttering. Despite their own weaknesses in the religion, they teach what they know, and in a certain sense are the “saviours” of Muslims isolated in many of the townships. Without them Islam will totally disappear. Nobody else seems to care anymore. Every Saturday, and sometimes during the week, some Naqshbandis go out to different areas to teach. They, like the khalifahs in many of these areas, are not even touching the surface of the problem and I ask myself, where is our responsibility towards our Muslim brothers/sisters who have lost, or are losing their religion? It is all very well to have the variety of academic conferences that goes on all the time in our community, or the many books that are issued every now and then. It is also very well to have packed mosques in the suburbs where excellent lectures are delivered every Friday. All of these are very well but the “wellness” does not cover the thousands of Muslims who are either isolated or have lost all contact with Islam. I ask myself: “Do we have a responsibility? Are those Muslims, many of them very poor, our responsibility?” This is a major worry to anyone that has even the slightest consciousness of the problem in our community. The sad thing is that very few are concerned. I do not know that the plight of Muslims that I have described is ever on the agenda of the variety of clerical organizations that we find. I do not think so. I hope I am wrong. I have never heard of any campaign or any strategy to take Islam to isolated areas or to some of the areas I have described. I have not been aware of any campaign by the clerical bodies to raise religious levels of the community. They are so busy with matters that are insignificant, and never last.
I am writing this to you because you are Naqshbandis. I know that many of you are busy in different ways, on different days, and at different times with all the multifarious tasks that this organization is busy with. I know that many of you are extremely busy but I also know that we are losing our community from Islam. I do not know what is the more important, you being very busy or sections of the community losing their Islam? I do not want to put extra burdens on you, because some of you are heavily committed but I want you to understand that there are sections of our community calling out for help. We can ignore their calls, because we are alright; or we can hear their calls and do something about the matter.
I would very much like to start a campaign in these isolated towns and in the isolated communities around us to get Muslims back to Islam. There are so many things we do here in our offices and I am half afraid to start this campaign because many of you are so overcommitted already. I do not know what to do, perhaps some of you have some idea for me or perhaps I should just drop the concern. Perhaps I should just close my ears and turn in another direction. But there are always possibilities within the “perhaps”. I worry when a senior lady doesn’t know the Salawat or the only Islam that some of the children know are the litanies we recite to them on a Saturday afternoon. I worry because large numbers of our brothers or sisters are not praying or fasting. Every time somebody leaves the religion, it is like a shiver going through the whole Ummah. But perhaps I should ignore the shivers. I dream of going somewhere and establishing a little madrassah, somewhere where no one else is, somewhere where the light of Islam has been extinguished; somewhere where people need me; perhaps once a week, somewhere. Perhaps Fowzia can take me because she knows where many of the places are where there is no more Islam.
We look at our comforts and all the other things which go with that. And we look at the comforts of sections of the Muslim community and all the things which go with that; and we know that somewhere, something is wrong. I remember offering to the Muslims in Darling that I would come and do the basics of Islam in one or two sessions, but they never took up the offer. Perhaps I will tell you in a later letter what has transpired with me. You see, I still have a dream, a dream of people remembering Allah (ﷻ), and a dream of people knowing their Lord; wherever Muslims might be. I ask Allah (ﷻ) to grant some of us a little bit of this dream, amin.