Friday, 25 December 2009

The Need for a Muslim Converts' Group

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ

Sometimes, after all that was said and done, a lot more was said than was done.  Muslim organisations rise and decline.  Sometimes things need to be quantified.  At other times, all it takes is a walk and it all becomes apparent.  There is a lack of spiritual awareness and everything is just form with no substance.  There is a need for a converts’ organisation that is structured around converts with the lessons and values that the Prophet (s.a.w.) provided for us.  It cannot be a corporate entity.  It cannot be a pseudo-statutory board.  It has to have the basis of family and be a seed of the ummah.

Ustadz Suhaib Webb said, “Until converts are able to build and sustain their own institutions and leaders, they will continue to be marginalised at all levels, left to a life of internet communities.”  From his experience, he said, “I think it is time for converts to create or own a national organisation.  Not in competition with others, but to look after our own affairs, insuring that we are at least there for each other.  In my travels across the USA, I am amazed at the large numbers of new Muslims who are not utilised at any level.  After the initial high of conversion, if they do not have a family or are close to starting one, they get lonely.  Enough complaining, it is time to consider doing something.”

He is correct.  What we need is something that is more than just form.  It has to be a Muslim converts’ organisation in more than just name.  Ideally, the main value of running such an organisation is volunteerism.  It is about giving back, creating a family and creating the awareness that we are all part of something greater than ourselves.  What we currently have in Singapore is inadequate and a misnomer.  We cannot call what we have a converts’ association when active convert volunteers, management and staff are the minority and when the needs and interests of converts are not as important as personal agendas.  Also, there are no such similar organisations in the region that I know of.

The masquerade we have of a converts’ association is a rudderless, Salafist-dominated entity.  There is no leadership.  There are no ideas.  There is no direction.  We have an absent leadership.  We have a committee of the entitled and a council of the meek.  We have people sitting in positions of authority who fear for their career and their dunya more than they fear Allah (s.w.t.).  Every entity needs a vision and mission statements to chart the strategic direction.  It is not enough to have them.  They must be communicated as part of the organisational philosophy. A vision is an over-the-horizon goal.  It is the ideal situation but it is never attainable.  It is akin to looking for the place in the ocean the sun set.  Everybody must have a vision of something to strive for.  The vision encapsulates the organisational goal of market leadership, product or service leadership in a specific area.

The mission maps out the waypoints required for the organisation to realise that vision.  We know the vision is over the horizon.  Now, how do we get there?  The mission is the translation of the vision into actionable points.  To make the mission work, there is a need for a set of organisational values.  These are the tools to make the mission achievable.  A converts group needs an articulated vision and a buy-in from all the stakeholders.  When what we have is simply inadequate.  The deadwood has ossified and vested interests have become entrenched.  There comes a time when we have to make hijrah and build our own Madina.  Along the way, we pick up those who have fallen by the wayside and have been discounted.  Lest we forget, our Prophet (s.a.w.) was once considered a troublemaker.  Every person close to the top is a Pharaoh, a Fir’awn to himself unless he recognises Allah’s (s.w.t.) Hand.  The ummah was built on converts; the exile, the murderer, the little boy, the poor, the widowed, the slave…  We recognise their names now: Salman al-Farisi (r.a.), ‘Umar ibn al-Khaththab (r.a.), ‘Ali ibn Abi Thalib (k.w.), Abu Hurayrah (r.a.), Khadijah bint Khuwaylid (r.a.), Bilal ibn Rabah (r.a.).  And so many more.


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