The Australian Muslim community is in desperate need of leadership, longs for acceptance, and claims diversity, yet it reeks of hypocrisy and double standards. And even in this state we expect to draw ‘our’ youth closer to the core of our deen.
We as a community leave much to be desired. However, there is still brilliance amongst us. There are people out there who are genuinely in search of a grounded spirituality, and a space of betterment for the generation of tomorrow. However, the word ‘community’ implies some kind of all encompassing body, within which one feels valued, cared for and included. More and more I’m coming to realise we are not this at all. We are missing a vital ingredient – understanding. We are missing tolerance for different opinions and perhaps also a hint of respect.
Since I became involved with the community 10 years ago I have heard cries of ‘we lack leadership’, ‘we need spokespeople’, ‘we want someone to represent the diversity of Islam’, and for 10 years I have witnessed nothing but the rise and fall of Muslim leaders. This is not the result of outside influence, as we like to claim, but as a result of our own lack of appreciation of what people do and a complete inability to keep things in perspective.
Nobody is perfect and nobody can be expected to be. However what we severely lack is any kind of acceptance of people who are different. ‘They don’t represent us’ I hear people remark. Actually we don’t just hear it anymore – we see it posted on Facebook pages, Twitter feeds and on threads on MuslimVillage. We don’t stop at their supposed misrepresentation of Muslims, however. We call them Kafirs, we comment on their physical appearance, judge their morality and criticise their families.
What saddens me the most is that this display, which is nothing short of slander and backbiting, is something fueled by the elders in our community. We are encouraged to ostracise, to alienate and to exclude.
For a decade I have seen ambitious youth enter the community with hopes of revitalizing their spirit, enriching their minds and finding a tranquility they long for. For a decade I have seen young men and women walk away, disheartened, dissatisfied and still in search of a space where they belong.
We have nobody but ourselves to blame for this. We must stop blaming ‘external’ factors. It’s not the West, it’s not ‘Australian values’, it’s not Capitalism. It’s you. It’s every individual reaction to every comment that we do not agree with. It’s every intentional or unintentional online thread dedicated to undermining individuals or groups within this community. It’s the poor state that you find yourself in.
Stop preoccupying yourself with the supposed shortcomings of others and understand that by engaging in slander, you are doing nothing to benefit yourself or the wider community. We are so quick to denounce people’s Islam. Everyone’s a Kafir. By the grace of God, I’m not a ‘disbeliever’ but there are certainly times when I understand exactly why I don’t want to be a part of this community.
The shame and the blame lie with us. There will come a day when we are sorry. I just hope it’s not too late.