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  • Writer's pictureRaghad Bushnaq

Muslim Identity & Community Cohesion

Muslim identity refers to the sense of belonging, values, beliefs, and practices shared by Muslims around the world. It encompasses a variety of cultural, social, and religious aspects, including the belief in one God (Allah), adherence to the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), performing the five pillars of Islam (declaration of faith, prayer, charity, fasting, and pilgrimage to Mecca), and following Islamic moral and ethical principles.

Muslim identity also includes a sense of community and belonging to the global Muslim ummah (community), regardless of ethnic, linguistic, or national differences. It involves a shared history, traditions, and cultural practices that have developed over centuries in different parts of the world.

Muslim identity is a multifaceted concept that encompasses religious beliefs and practices, cultural traditions, and a sense of belonging to a global community of Muslims. It plays an important role in shaping the way Muslims see themselves and their place in the world and influences their behavior and interactions with others.

Muslim identity should be solid and strong because it provides a sense of belonging, purpose, and direction to individuals and communities. It serves as a foundation for individuals to understand their role and purpose in life and how to navigate the world around them.

Having a solid Muslim identity also helps individuals to remain steadfast in their faith in the face of challenges and adversity. It provides them with the strength and resilience to resist negative influences and to remain committed to their beliefs and values.

Moreover, a strong Muslim identity promotes unity and solidarity within the community. It enables individuals to come together and work towards common goals and values, creating a strong sense of brotherhood and sisterhood.

A solid Muslim identity also fosters a sense of responsibility towards society and encourages individuals to be active and engaged members of their communities. This can be seen in the emphasis Islam places on acts of charity, social justice, and community service.

Maintaining a strong Muslim identity is crucial in today's world, where Islam and Muslims are often subject to negative stereotypes and discrimination. A strong Muslim identity can help individuals to resist such stereotypes and promote a positive image of Islam and Muslims in society.

A cohesive community is essential in preserving the Muslim identity as it provides a supportive environment that reinforces and strengthens individual and collective adherence to Islamic values, beliefs, and practices. A cohesive community allows Muslims to come together, share their experiences, learn from one another, and support each other in their spiritual and personal growth.

Community unity is an essential aspect of the Islamic faith, and the role of the Masjid in fostering this unity cannot be overstated. However, in recent times, there have been shortcomings in Muslim leadership that have led to a deviation from the core principles of Islam, and this has had a negative impact on the community and the new generation.

One of the main issues is the focus on interfaith and intrafaith dialogue, to the detriment of discussing faith itself. While it is essential to have dialogue with people of other faiths and to understand their beliefs, it is more important to understand and strengthen one's own faith. If we do not have a strong understanding of our own faith, we cannot effectively engage with others or be a positive influence in our communities.

Another issue is the failure to address, corruption within the community, and to take action to correct it. Corruption erodes the trust and unity within the community, and it is the responsibility of Muslim leaders to address it head-on. Failure to do so leads to a breakdown in community cohesion, and it creates a negative environment for the new generation.

The Masjid and Islamic institutes play a critical role in promoting community unity and Islamic identity. It is a place where Muslims can come together to worship, learn, and connect with one another. The Masjid is also a hub for community outreach and service, and it can be used to address the needs of the community, whether it be through charitable initiatives or educational programs.

Appointing the wrong person for a position can be considered a form of corruption, especially if the individual is not qualified, competent, or ethical enough to perform the duties of the position. This can have serious consequences, including poor performance, inefficiency, and even harm to individuals or the organization.

In Islam, justice and fairness are highly valued, and appointing individuals based on merit and qualifications is an important principle.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "When a ruler is appointed over the affairs of the Muslims, and he does not look to their interests, nor does he work for their welfare, then Allah will not look to his interests, nor will He work for his welfare" (Sahih Al-Bukhari).

Therefore, it should be ensured that everyone is held accountable for their actions and decisions. This helps to prevent corruption and ensure that the organization operates effectively and efficiently for the benefit of all.

In Islam, respect is highly valued, and it is considered a fundamental element of good character and manners; lack of respect to knowledgeable figures and imams in Muslim organizations can also be considered a form of corruption. This can include disrespecting their opinions, ignoring their advice, or disregarding their authority.

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "The scholars are the inheritors of the prophets, and the prophets do not leave behind a dinar or a dirham (currency), but rather they leave behind knowledge, so whoever takes hold of it has taken hold of a great portion" (Sunan Ibn Majah).

Furthermore, lack of respect to imams and knowledgeable figures can cause division and conflicts within the community, leading to a breakdown of unity and cooperation.

Therefore, it is important for individuals in Muslim organizations to show respect to knowledgeable figures and imams, and to seek their guidance and advice. This helps to promote a culture of respect and cooperation and ensures that the organization operates in a manner consistent with Islamic principles and values.

However, the effectiveness of the Masjid and its leaders depends on their ability to address the issues facing the community. Muslim leaders must prioritize the needs of their community and work tirelessly to address them. They must be willing to engage in honest dialogue about the challenges facing their community and be willing to take action to address them.

Community unity and Islamic identity are essential aspects of the Muslim faith, and the Masjid plays a critical role in promoting them. However, the shortcomings of Muslim leaders, the focus on interfaith and intrafaith dialogue to the detriment of discussing faith itself, and the failure to address corruption have all had a negative impact on the community and the new generation. Muslim leaders must take responsibility for addressing these issues and work towards creating a strong, cohesive, and vibrant community that reflects the true values of Islam.

Corruption in Muslim places, such as mosques, Islamic centers, and other religious institutions, can have a significant negative impact on the community. It can lead to the deviation of the community in several ways:

1. Erosion of Trust: Corruption in Muslim places erodes the trust of the community in religious leaders and institutions. This erosion of trust can lead to disillusionment and skepticism among the community members, which can lead to a decline in their level of involvement and commitment to the community.

2. Misuse of Resources: Corruption can lead to the misuse of community resources, such as funds, donations, and other assets. When community members become aware of such mismanagement, it can lead to resentment and anger, which can result in a loss of faith and trust in the leaders.

3. Compromising Religious Values: Corruption in Muslim places can compromise the religious values and principles that these places are supposed to uphold. This can lead to confusion and uncertainty among community members about what it means to be a faithful Muslim and can cause them to question their own faith.

4. Fragmentation of the Community: Corruption can lead to divisions and factions within the community, as different groups compete for power and influence. This fragmentation can weaken the community and make it more vulnerable to external influences that can further deviate it from its Islamic identity.

5. Loss of Community Purpose: Corruption in Muslim places can lead to a loss of purpose for the community. When community members see that their leaders are not living up to the values and principles of Islam, they may begin to question the purpose of the community and lose sight of the goals and objectives that they had set out to achieve.

It is essential for the Muslim community to recognize the seriousness of corruption and take proactive steps to prevent it from occurring in their institutions.

"And hold firmly to the rope of Allah all together and do not become divided. And remember the favor of Allah upon you - when you were enemies and He brought your hearts together and you became, by His favor, brothers. And you were on the edge of a pit of the Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make clear to you His verses that you may be guided." Quran, Surah Al-Imran, 103

This verse highlights the importance of unity among Muslims and the blessings that come with it. Here are some ways in which a cohesive community helps in preserving the Muslim identity:

1. Unity: A cohesive community promotes unity among its members, making it easier for them to adhere to Islamic teachings and practices. When Muslims come together, they can support each other in their faith, and the sense of belonging that comes with being part of a community can help them to remain committed to their beliefs and values.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "He who believes in Allah and the Last Day should not harm his neighbor; and he who believes in Allah and the Last Day should show hospitality to his neighbor.” Sahih Muslim

2. Education: A cohesive community provides opportunities for Muslims to learn about their religion and its teachings. This can take the form of lectures, seminars, and workshops conducted by knowledgeable scholars and teachers. This education helps to deepen the understanding of Islam and reinforces the importance of its principles in daily life.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "Whoever treads a path seeking knowledge, Allah will make easy for him the path to Paradise." Sahih Bukhari

3. Support: A cohesive community provides emotional and practical support to its members. Muslims facing personal or spiritual challenges can turn to the community for support and guidance, which helps to strengthen their faith and commitment to Islam.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, "The believers, in their mutual love, mercy, and compassion, are like a single body; if one part of it feels pain, the rest of the body will also suffer." Sahih Al-Bukhari

4. Role Models: A cohesive community provides role models for its members, such as knowledgeable scholars, pious individuals, and community leaders. These role models provide examples of how to live a successful and fulfilling life in accordance with Islamic principles.

"And We have not sent you (O Muhammad) except as a mercy to the worlds." (Surah Al-Anbiya, 107)

5. Service: A cohesive community encourages its members to serve others, particularly those in need. This service reinforces the importance of social justice and compassion in Islam and helps Muslims to live their faith in a practical and meaningful way.

"The believers are but brothers, so make peace between your brothers and fear Allah that you may receive mercy." Quran, Surah Al-Hujurat, 10

A cohesive community plays a vital role in preserving the Muslim identity by promoting unity, education, support, role models, and service. By coming together and supporting each other in their spiritual and personal growth, Muslims can remain committed to their beliefs and values, even in the face of challenges and adversity.

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