Content of article
When a Muslim accepts to live in a certainsociety, he is, in essence, making a pact that with that country that he willabide by the laws of that state. He does not have the right to violate the lawsof that state simply because he is a Muslim and the state is not an Islamicstate. Thus, all of the principles of proper behavior that have been describedin this chapter apply to a Muslim living wherever he may be living. In mostcountries today, many things may be legal that are forbidden to a Muslim. Theselegal things a Muslim simply avoids. He should also demand his legal rights toensure that he is not forced to do anything forbidden in Islam. Overall though,he should be from among the law-abiding citizens.
In addition to that, a Muslim should be aplus for any society he is living in. He should be a model citizen in manyways. As described earlier, he should be a good neighbor. He has the obligationto encourage what is good and prevent evil wherever he may be living. Inaddition, he must avoid and oppose what most societies see as the greatestcrimes, such as murder, robbery, extortion and so forth. Furthermore, he muststeer clear of alcohol or drug use, thus not burdening society as a whole withhis personal weaknesses and addictions. Finally, he must be just and fair inall of his dealings with the other members of society.
Even though Muslims should play a positive role in any society, in many countries of the West today, a Muslim’s loyalty and patriotism is being questioned. Obviously, a Muslim is not going to have the same feelings towards a secular government as he would toward a Muslim government. That, however, does not mean that he is going to work against his government or seek to harm the country he is living in. Undoubtedly, many a Jew will feel more loyalty to Israel than to their own home country. In fact, the recent debates in the United States demonstrate that many Christian groups are displeased with their government (and with the Supreme Court in particular). Many a Democrat in the United States, for example, does not feel complete loyalty for Republican administrations and vice-versa. However, no one seems to be questioning their loyalty and patriotism.
If patriotism means to simply follow andsupport what one’s government is saying and be gung-ho in such blindallegiance, no intelligent person would be patriotic as all governments areknown to lie and deceive at one time or another. On the other hand, ifpatriotism means to wish what is best for one’s country, then the problem isthat everyone differs as to what they see is best for their country. Some feelthat they have the right to speak on behalf of all, but their “right” to do somay be questioned.
Islam recognizes the fact that it isnatural for an individual to love his country and to have an affinity for thatland in which he grew up. When the Muslims were forced to migrate from Makkah,which was under the control of the polytheists, many of them expressed theirlove for Makkah. Hence, it is natural for Muslims to develop a love forwhatever land they happen to be in, even if the country is not an Islamicstate. It is also natural for Muslims to desire what is best for theirhomeland.
But, again, unfortunately, their idea as towhat is best may not be shared or appreciated by others. For example, theMuslims may wish to see an end to gambling, prostitution and pornography. TheMuslims believe that this is what is best for all the people concerned, Muslimsas well as non-Muslims. However, many non-Muslims will not share this feeling.Therein lies the crux of the problem. Theoretically speaking, though, in contemporary“free” societies, this should not be a problem. Muslims should be able to holdon to their values and customs—without bringing harm to others—while the othersfollow the dominant culture in non-Muslim lands. If the “free” countries arenot willing to give the Muslims that much, it means that they are not willingto live up to their own ideals. It is not that Muslims are trying to cause themharm, they are simply trying to be good citizens while living a differentlifestyle than the dominant culture.
- With respect to warfare, in general, Muslims today should be pacifists and conscientious objectors. The only type of fighting sanctioned in Islamic Law is fighting on behalf of an Islamic State or clear self-defense. In the absence of those two, Muslims should not engage in warfare. This author will not even bother to touch upon the question of terrorism. Enough Muslim scholars have already denounced terrorism and have shown that it has no place in Muslim behavior. Unfortunately, though, the non-Muslim media does not seem very interested in presenting a full picture of the attitude of Muslim scholars, preferring, it seems, to blame Muslims for not coming out strongly against terrorism. This author attended a conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia (April 20-22, 2004) entitled, “The Stand of Islam on Terrorism, Violence & Extremism.” Had this same conference been held in the Vatican and had been about Christianity’s view of those topics, the conference findings would have probably been assailed and praised for months if not years to come. However, although participants came from all over the world, barely a mention was made of the Conference (if any mention were made) in the international media.