Saturday, June 16, 2007

Seclusion vs. Corruption... and leaving the world behind

This Friday at the imam's class we were covering a chapter in Riyad-us-Saliheen called: Desirability of Seclusion at times of corruption committed by the people of the world. The imam was concerned that this chapter taken alone would convince people to seclude themselves from society, which he cautioned was actually inadvisable. It would lead to weakness and corruption eventually, down the line, I suppose. What he thought better was to interact with society, and use it to prevent oneself from finding extremes, to keep the balance sort of. Plus, if you don't interact with society, there is no way to improve it.

For this reason, he advised against Muslims traveling overseas (particularly this class, mostly reverts) to live in an Islamic country. When I asked him specifically about whether it was bad to travel overseas, he gave me an answer that basically amounts to "it depends on your intention."

For example, if my reason was to move to study, then naturally he advised traveling overseas, that's the best place to study Arabic language and shari'ah and other things of that nature if it were my wish. But if my reason was to raise my kids (for example) in an Islamic environment, he thought it would be a bad idea. Mostly because he insists that there is so much corruption in "Islamic countries" that nobody is really any better off. And at least, in the USA, you can distinguish or isolate yourself to a minor degree simply by being Muslim. I am Muslim, they are not, I am different. But in a country filled with Muslims, everyone's Muslim, how do you explain their bad behavior to your children?

One sister advised me against it, describing the masjid (and mosques in general in the West I suppose) as being a sort of filter. I disagree with her assessment, but what she was saying was that a person who is going to come pray at the masjid is going to have at least some level of iman. But overseas, it's commonplace for people to pray in the masjid and then fall into haraam even on their way out, I guess? I don't know.

But again, another thing the imam said to me was that where ever you are, Allah will test you, and Allah will make a way for you. If it's here in Raleigh or even in Riyad. You can't escape being tested, don't try. There will be trials anywhere I am, that is something to accept. So if I want to go... the only real question is why.

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