As the mainstream media, relive the ten year anniversary of 9/11 by replaying the agony, ripping open old wounds again, how do we summon up the best of a seemingly bleak situation? In a decade that has seen unjustified suffering and bloodshed, at levels beyond rational comprehension, how can we derive anything constructive to take us forwards from the rubble?
As the Prophet (pbuh) said ‘Curious is the affair of the believer, There is good for him in everything and that is for no one but the believer. If good times come his way, he expresses gratitude to Allah and that is good for him, and if hardship comes his way, he endures it patiently and that is better for him.” Muslim
Interestingly it could be argued that both good and bad has come our way in the last ten years. The bad is obvious – Genocide, Torture, Detention without charge, the erosion of civil liberties, widespread Islamophobia and so on. We pray that Allah grants Jannah in exchange for the suffering of our brothers and sisters and lightens their load on the day of Judgement. How often though, do we notice all the visible good?
Since 9/11, more people have embraced Islam than ever in living memory as supported by a recent Faith Matters report which estimated converts had nearly doubled in the last decade. We have seen a tide of interest by our own community, in our own religion. Hijabs, beards and Halal shops have popped up everywhere, even in Muslim countries. Mosques, Islamic centres and educational establishments have become packed to the rafters. Yet this is not just an interest in religiosity – seminars on kindness, tolerance and good treatment of others are on the increase as our authentic knowledge of the Prophet ‘s life (pbuh) has improved. Initiatives like soup kitchens, community clean-up projects and neighbourhood gift giving are on the rise.
Muslims are also beginning to learn how to work together, instead of against one another to combat prejudice. Egos are being forced to take second place and a curious enthusiasm to help in any way towards the effort has seized even the most disinterested of individuals.
Since 9/11, the world has shifted from apathy about Islam to active interest. Conversations all round the country are gradually replacing ignorance with knowledge – ignorance that we might not have realised existed before. Non-Muslims and their organisations have stepped forwards in solidarity with Muslims. We have also seen the establishment of centralised funded Dawah and support for new converts, with the founding of organisations like IERA.
Linked with this, muslims are learning how to articulate themselves, both verbally and on paper. Articulate muslim scholars like Hamza Yusuf and journalists like Rageh Omar and Mehdi Hasan have now stepped forwards to represent us on a public platform and ia will continue to do so, to cover all spectrums of thought.
Yes, we have experienced fear and loss of wealth, but we have also gained humanity and self-convinction. The past decade has been both the best of times and the worst of times and for both we have lived between Sabr and Shukr. May Allah increase us in knowledge, faith and good action and let good triumph over bad, knowledge over ignorance and compassion over prejudice, through our work and that of the generations ahead – Amin.