If Muhammad Were to Live in Europe ; Establish a Strategy
i've been thinking lately: what if prophet muhammad (peace be upon him) was alive today and he happened to live here in europe?
would his being here help in introducing islam to non-muslims more practically and effectively?
a missing ingredient
i believe in my heart that if muhammad (peace be upon him) was alive in europe today, things would have been totally different. it does not take long to guess why: he was a strategic thinker.
the lack of such strategic thinking and planning is one of the main challenges facing muslims in europe nowadays.
here in the west, the outcry of muslims is that, despite their long presence in europe, they are still struggling to establish their existence and make themselves heard and accepted. compared to other groups who might have a shorter history of existence in europe, muslims are way behind in terms of integration and acceptance within the societies in which they live.
although muslims have been in the uk for more than a century, there is a lack of strategic planning keeps them distanced from achieving an ideal existence and engagement with british society.
in the current muslim landscape, many mosques still "exist" in india, pakistan or bangladesh although they are actually on britain soil.
another example is some muslims living in europe who, driven by sincerity and a love for islam, inadvertently make things difficult for people who want to become muslim.
they start explaining details of every move this newcomer to islam should make and formulating a package of confusing rulings that may baffle even a practicing muslim, all in the name of welcoming them to islam.
if a woman is willing to embrace islam, some people may start speaking about hijab, or sometimes even the face veil before she completes her first hour as a muslim.
needless to say, there can only be a negative conclusion to this situation.
i believe if prophet muhammad was alive and saw these situations, he would have told these over-eager muslims: "take it easy, brothers and sisters! start with one important step like the one i took with the people of makkah. kindle the flame of faith in the hearts and let the light grow on its own."
first things first: the prophet's way
for thirteen years, the prophet's chief undertaking was to clarify the main purpose of his mission: to let people know that there is only one god worthy of worship.
before muslims ask for respect and cooperation from others, they need to address the idol of internal strife and division within muslim communities and islamic organizations. they need to unify the internal front before they speak to anyone outside muslim circles.
on another level, they need to set an example of trust between muslim and non-muslim organizations so as to be accepted by the society at large.
the prophet emerged in an environment of idol worshippers who dedicated their lives to a number of idols that could yield no benefit or effect any harm.
we can find similar "idols" here in the west. these include the media that twists truths in order to create a story, and a fashion industry that arouses the desires of the flesh by overexposing the human body. another idol is the spirit of consumerism that is created by the advertisements bombarding us daily.
in facing such challenges, muslims have to set up a strategic plan and make their first goal very clear. doing everything at the same time will get muslims nowhere. they need to move steadily and address each idol on its own.
prophet muhammad placed the need to eradicate idolatry from people's hearts as the first action-item in his plan. for a task like this to be achieved, he had to be very logical and convincing in his methodology. that is why we can find many verses expounding god's power of creation and his signs that are scattered everywhere in the universe; all were revealed during the time of the aforementioned challenge.
this stage continued for almost more than half of the 23 years of the mission of prophet muhammad.
strategy based on context
the call which the prophet repeated for this period was very clear and simple: "worship one god and realize the fact that these idols cannot harm or benefit you at all."
that was the main strategic goal for the prophet in makkah when he was living in one relatively homogeneous community, and he and his companions were – while belonging to this community - ostracized and oppressed.
when this period was over and muslims migrated to madinah, the whole environment was different.
in the new society, they found themselves dealing with jews as well as idol-worshiping arabs. being a powerful and important component of the society, the prophet led muslims to achieve a new strategic plan that can be summarized as follows:
by seeing what the prophet accomplished in madinah, muslims should realize that he was working on the cohesiveness of the society and the cooperation between its components through engaging all communities in activities and projects that would be beneficial to all.
the prophet's plan was to introduce a better example of active and conscientious citizens who would at least make people view islam favorably. to a great extent the prophet managed to achieve this goal and the existence of muslims in madinah was a valuable addition to the society.
if muhammad was alive amongst muslims in europe today, i believe they would have done far better in terms of integration and engagement. however, muslims should not cry over spilled milk because it is never too late. muslims can still have a strategic plan and start implementing it immediately. all it needs is a deeper look into that dimension of the prophet's character.