“Toward A Renaissance: Believe, Act & Engage”
Our vision on considering the “Renaissance”---both an awakening and a revival---capitalizes on the recent positive moves that we have witnessed lately with the Muslim community in the United States as well as on a worldwide level. This includes:
We believe in the ability of Islam, as the final Divine Guidance, in catalyzing “Renaissance” whenever Islam is adopted whole heartedly as part of our belief that Islam brings benefit to society far and wide. (الاسلام دين صالح لكل زمان ومكان) (Islam is a religion beneficial for every time and place). Through this year’s theme for the 11th Annual MAS-ICNA Convention in Chicago, we are trying to draw a road map for working toward a Renaissance, Revival, and Awakening which the Muslim community in the United States and across the world is looking for. This is in service of the well being of the whole of humanity through the guidance of Islam.
Omar Ibn-ul-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him) said these wonderful words: (لقد كنا ولسنا شيئاً مذكوراً حتى أعزنا الله بالإسلام فمهما ابتغينا العزة من غيره أذلنا الله) We were nothing worth mentioning until Allah honored us with Islam, and anytime we seek blessing from anywhere else, we will be humiliated.
Our movement and efforts for reaching “Renaissance” should be Islamic by nature, meaning that our efforts should be built on the correct and unshakeable belief in Allah and in His Divine Guidance. This is the same foundation that brought the first Muslim Ummah out of a divided, scattered, and illiterate society in Arabia and into a glorious and unparalleled one. We have to understand the perspective of the Islamic civilizations which was based on the spirit of the revelation. The foremost amongst its principles is the all-encompassing unity of God which also implies the unity of the created world. The purpose of the early Muslim scientists was not to seek the mysteries of the universe for their own sake but to seek the salvation through a better understanding of the world created by Allah. If we intend to affect a similar revival and renaissance, we can’t do without the Islamic reference and identity. This is why it is important to “Believe”, a fundamental keyword in the path toward Renaissance. With this in mind, the necessary spiritual, moral, and behavioral development will be discussed and the relevant action plans will be presented.
Islam inherently ties the “belief” to “action”and this is why you will rarely find the segment mentioned in the Qur’an “Those who believed” without “and did good”. Participating in a constructive “action” is an obligation that was confirmed several times in the Qur’an. An example follows:
(وَقُلِ اعْمَلُوا فَسَيَرَى اللَّـهُ عَمَلَكُمْ وَرَسُولُهُ وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَسَتُرَدُّونَ إِلَىٰ عَالِمِ الْغَيْبِ وَالشَّهَادَةِ فَيُنَبِّئُكُم بِمَا كُنتُمْ تَعْمَلُونَ) (التوبة 105)
And say, “Do [as you will], for Allah will see your deeds, and [so, will] His Messenger and the believers. And you will be returned to the Knower of the unseen and the witnessed, and He will inform you of what you used to do."
Muadh Ibn Jabal (may Allah be pleased with him) said: (تعلموا ماشئتـم أن تتعلمو، فلن ينفعـكم الله بالعلم حتى تعْمَلوا) Learn as much as you wish but Allah will not give you the benefit of knowledge until you act on it. The solicited work or “action” should have specific objectives to achieve on the level of the individual, the community, and society as a whole. It aims at producing the Muslim individual who exemplifies the faith and moral teachings of Islam, empowers the Muslim community which adopts Islam as a way of life and advocates it, and improves the society at large into a virtuous one that promotes social justice and eradicates mischief. The keyword “Act” is a manifestation of the serious,continuous, and persistent efforts necessary to achieve Renaissance. All aspects of development---on the level of the personal, family, community, and society---will be discussed and the relevant action plans will be presented.
The challenges and tasks facing the Muslim community in the United States are far too great to be handled by a single Muslim organization working alone. Therefore, we believe in the importance of collaboration, where all segments of the Muslim community and humanity as a whole works together to achieve the aspired goodness of this world. The late Imam Muhammad Rashid Reda once said: نتعاون فيما إتفقنا عليه ويعذر بعضنا بعضاً فيما اختلفنا فيه Let’s cooperate in what we are in agreement on and let’s seek an excuse for one another in what we differ in. This valuable statement provides an excellent model for how we should act. Cooperation and collaboration will transcend the boundaries of belief, ethnicity, age, language, and beyond. Humans will benefit one another and will nourish the entirety of civilization. All components of a civilization exist together to form a whole and cannot exist to the fullest degree when separate. For example, the Muslim civilization simply “nourished” and carried forward the ideas of the ancient Greeks, taking them in, digesting them, and absorbing the parts that benefit society while rejecting those found to be repugnant or out of line with the systems set forth in Islam. It then produced the great Islamic civilization with all kinds of distinguished art sand sciences that it shared to help build the foundation of an even greater modern society. This happened in different parts of the Islamic world such as in Iraq and Spain at a time when Europe fell into a medieval Dark Age. The keyword “Engage” is critical for paving the way in achieving the new Renaissance we seek. The Convention will discuss the concept of cooperation and inclusiveness and will also introduce practical steps toward coordinating between entities both inside and outside of the Muslim community.