Being a complete Muslim is not a spectator sport in which your required duties are performed by your Imam or by your community’s officially designated anti-Islamophobia activists or da’wah specialists. To the contrary, developing a vibrant Islamic wellness which can revive today’s Muslim world depends upon local functioning communities. A correct global Islam cannot be accomplished by high-profile individuals —even the best of our spokespersons, no matter how numerous or charismatic—not if each one of them works independently and is disconnected from the support of well-integrated communities, where each community is bound together in brotherhood.

Do you think that your individual good deeds have to be limited to smiling at your neighbor in genuine goodwill or perhaps removing obstacles from the public thoroughfare? Do your good deeds build your community, if you do such things only sporadically, only when you happen to feel like it? Or only when you are looking for a good deed to be added to your account?

Jabir bin Abdullah narrated that the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:  “Every good is charity. Indeed among the good is to meet your brother with a smiling face, and to pour what is left in your bucket into the vessel of your brother.” (Tirmidhi)

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Mu’awiya ibn Qurra said, “I was with Ma’qil al-Muzn when he removed something harmful from the road. Then I saw something and went over to it. He asked. ‘What made you do that, nephew?’ He replied, ‘I saw you do something, so I did it, too.’ He said, ‘Nephew, you have done well. I heard the Prophet (ﷺ) say, “Whoever removes something harmful from the road of the Muslims has a good deed written for him. Anyone who has his good deed accepted will enter the Garden.” ‘ “ (Al-Albani)

If you assume that your part in doing good is limited to menial, insignificant, individual actions, then those are your ‘marching orders’ until some opportunity of more substantive nature opens up before your eyes. Be assured, there will always be generous opportunity to brighten the life of your neighbor with a caring smile; similarly, there is no lack of one obstacle or another in the public domain, crying out to be removed.

Doing good in every sphere of life and encouraging each other in doing what is right are both hallmarks of Muslim life. And if we need extra motivation, we are promised an excellent reward from Allah for all the good that we do.

Narrated Abu Huraira: Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Allah says, ‘If My devoted worshipper intends to do a bad deed then [O Angels] do not write it down unless he does it; if he does it, then write it as it is, but if he refrains from doing it for My sake, then write it as a good deed [in his account]. [On the other hand] if he intends to do a good deed, but does not do it, then write a good deed [in his account], and if he [follows through with his intent and] does it, then write it for him [in his account] as ten good deeds up to seven-hundred times.’ “ (aḥîḥ Al-Bukhari 7501)

It was narrated that Abu Hurairah said: “A man said: ‘O Messenger of Allah, I do a good deed, then others find out about it and that pleases me.’ He said: ‘You will have two rewards, the reward for doing it in secret and the reward for doing it openly [so that others may follow your example].’” (Sunan Ibn Majah)

Narrated Hakim bin Hizam:  That he said, “O Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ)! What do you think about my good deeds which I used to do during the Jahiliyyah period of ignorance (before embracing Islam) like keeping good relations with my kith and kin, manumitting of slaves and giving alms etc.  Shall I receive the reward for that?” Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “You have embraced Islam with all those good deeds which you did [previously]. (aḥîḥ Al-Bukhari 5992)

Yahya related to me from Malik that he had heard that the Messenger of Allah say, “No one calls to guidance without having the same reward as those who follow him —without diminishing their rewards at all. And no one calls to error without having the same burdens as they do —without diminishing their burdens at all.” (Muwatta Malik, Book 15, Hadith 41)

It was narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:  “None of you should wish for death. Either he is a doer of good, so perhaps he may do more good, or he is an evildoer —but perhaps he will give up his evil ways.” (Sunan Al-Nasa’i 1818)

We must always remember, however, that a correct Islam cannot be forced upon Muslims, let alone upon the world, by an unholy “Jihad” which terrorizes, maims and kills any who resist their program. Their victims are typically their Muslim brethren, those who call themselves Muslims. Any lawless, terrorist movement, past or present, in fact, rejects the legitimate authority of genuine scholars. Un-Islamic from the start, their so-called ‘Jihad’  destroys, not builds, authentic and healthy brotherhood.

We cannot be reminded enough of the Prophet’s pronouncement:

Anas ibn Malik reported: The Messenger of Allah said: “Support your brother, whether he is an oppressor or whether he is being oppressed.”  It was said, “O Messenger of Allah, we help the one being oppressed but how do we help an oppressor?” The Prophet said:  “By restraining him or preventing him from committing injustice, for that is how you support him.”  (Ṣaḥiḥ al-Bukhari  6552)

The failure of some of our fellow Muslims to comply with the litmus test of certain ‘Jihadist’-selected “Do’s and Don’ts” is not a legitimate occasion for bringing force against them. Even if our fellow Muslims neglect, or —God forbid— refuse, to practice any of the Five Pillars, our role is to encourage willing and eager compliance, not to ‘enforce’ Allah’s Guidance. We are, each and every one, accountable to Allah; those we might choose to count as wayward Muslims are not accountable to us. Like us, they are accountable to Allah.

To push forward the revitalization of our communities, what is needed, insha’Allah, is for the many to gain strength from the few who have already committed themselves to perfecting their practice of the Five Pillars. We must exert ourselves in goodness and attention to those ‘bare-bones’ basics, the Five Pillars, setting a good example, first for ourselves, and then for others. To make sustainable progress on the Straight Way, we need each other.

Yes, we enjoin our weak or misguided fellow Muslims to do what is right and good, and we gently reason with them using evidence from the Quran and Sunnah, but we do not fight them—much less terrorize, maim and kill!  It is to Allah that each of us will give a personal account; Allah has His own way of testing and mentoring each of us, which no one else has a right to disrupt by force.  Allah’s Training Program continues throughout each lifetime, as long as we show ourselves willing to engage with it.

It is God [alone] who chooses [to draw near] to Himself whomever He so wills— thus He guides to Himself whoever turns [to Him] in penitence. …  [Sûrah Al-Shûrâ, 42:13]

…To be continued in Part 18

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