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Essay No. 02 in a series of essays on Community
For more info contact: [email protected]

Muslim Community: our Vision
Sep 2005

We embrace the vision of a Muslim Community, which
promotes the values of Quran and Sunnah in our society and
help in creating an environment free from fear, prejudice or
favoritism, where everyone can live without discrimination
and equitably share the resources of the land.


THE DATE was August 11, 1947, the place Karachi and the occasion was the
birth of a new nation. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah, its founder, was
speaking to the Constituent Assembly as its first President. In his speech,
Jinnah gave the nation his vision. He said that the first duty of a government is
to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its
subjects are fully protected by the State. Then he advised us that if we work
with spirit, the angularities of our sects and ethnicity will vanish. Then he
warned the nation of the evils of bribery, corruption, black-marketing,
nepotism and jobbery and that he will never tolerate prejudice, partiality or
favoritism.

Half a century later his vision is all but forgotten, his advice fell on deaf ears
and all his fears proved to be true. The state failed miserably in protecting the
life, property and religious beliefs of its citizens. The angularities of ethnicity
and sects are sharper then before. The principles of justice and fairplay were
systematically removed from our political and social life and our culture today
is one of bribery, corruption, black-marketing, nepotism and jobbery. These
evils have not only destroyed our social fabric but also destroyed our
institutions. No wonder the name of our country is synonymous with
terrorism, electoral frauds, dictatorship, ignorance, human rights abuses and
sectarian and ethnic violence.

Such ground realities demand that we critically assess our achievements as
a nation and identify our shortcomings. We must realize that the structure of
Muslim societies is polarized into the individuals and governors. The lack of
grassroots social organizations that fill the void between those poles is one of
the major causes of our failure. This in turn is the legacy of feudalism, colonial
rule and sectarian prejudices of the Muslims of South Asia. But this is
unfortunate when we always had references to the need for those
organizations in Quran itself.

We believe that all the citizens of the state must participate in building
grassroots social organizations to fill the void between the individuals and
governors. Therefore, We embrace the vision of a Muslim Community, which
promotes the values of Quran and Sunnah in our society and help in creating
an environment free from fear, prejudice and favoritism, where everyone can
live without discrimination and equitably share the resources of the land.

We commit ourselves to encourage respect for diversity , tolerance and
freedom of thought so that life, property and religious beliefs of all the citizens
are fully protected, as envisioned by the founder of Pakistan.

In this essay we examine what is a community and what is our vision of a
community.

What is a community?

God has given us the abilities to communicate, to speculate and to rationalize.
Even in the earliest hunter-gatherer cultures, humans used these abilities to
realize that there is strength in numbers and that it is for common good to
share work and resources. They discovered a balance between self-interest
and group-interests within and among the members. They realized that
sharing is crucial for their survival. This became the basis of human
community.

Thus, a community is a group of individuals who have some shared elements
and they reinforce this sense of sharing by communication and building social
bonds. Community gives a meaning and significance to the shared elements
and provides an opportunity to its members to feel connected.

The word community also brings to mind many concepts and ideals like, a
sense of sharing, a sense of home and history, and the classical ideals of
loyalty, working together, sacrifice, commitment and common good. It brings
many insights that would be more difficult to stimulate by an individual and
allows its members to share not only in joy, but in pain and resistance.

Our vision of a Muslim community

Quran provides the vision of a Muslim community which is based on its
universal values and stresses that it is the primary vehicle of moral, social
and political uplift. Quran draws an analogy between such a community and a
seed which sends forth its shoot, then it becomes strong, thick and stands
firm on its stem delighting the members of community . There are numerous
verses in Quran where God has directly addressed the Muslim community of
believers. In this section we describe some of the basic principles for our
community which we have adopted from Quran.


Democracy

The concept of democracy is based on the simple principle that decisions
affecting the Muslim community should be made by the community itself.
Quran stresses on the need to recognize the importance of collaborative
decision making by open, honest and respectful communication . It is the
community as a whole, not one person that owns and exercises power.

In a Muslim community, we believe that democracy can be practiced only by
respecting the majority opinion in every decision which must be constrained
by values . We believe that democracy cannot be enforced by coercion rather
it grows from within when we make it an anchor point in all our decisions. In
this way, we strive to make democracy an integral part of our culture and
collective personality.

Inclusive approach

Quran has an inclusive approach, which is respectful to the differences
between humans but invites people of all cultures to come together to know
each other, to help each other to do good and caution each other from harm .
Everyone who wishes to join our community is welcomed on agreeing to our
values. We believe in treating every human being with honor and dignity . We
oppose gender-based discrimination   and we are free from sectarian
prejudices .

Respect for diversity

Quran promotes diversity by recognizing that everyone is different . Diversity
promotes respect and recognition for the value of difference and involves
creating an environment that capitalizes on everything that makes us unique -
our gender, race, physical abilities, age, lifestyle, family status, linguistic
abilities, etc. This ensures that everyone is given a  fair and equal chance to
be successful. In his last sermon Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) clearly said
that in our religion there is no concept of ethnic superiority, instead he
emphasized that only piety and good action makes you superior .

Freedom of thought

Freedom of thought is the freedom of an individual to hold a viewpoint or
thought regardless of anyone else’s view . Quran has laid the fundamental
principle that there can be no compulsion in matters of faith  and everyone is
free to have any viewpoint or thought. A person cannot be persecuted for his
religious beliefs. Quran stresses us to think deeply to understand the wisdom
of God’s message  and do not be a blind follower . Quran invites everyone to
study the nature and think deeply and appreciate the power, benevolence and
majesty of the creator.

Dialogue

We believe that everyone in a Muslim community is equal and everybody is a
student as well as a teacher. There is no room in the community for a self-
important person or self righteousness. Quran gives us some excellent
guidelines on who to promote open, honest and respectful way of dialogue.
Quran encourages the believers to invite people towards the message of God
with wisdom and in a beautiful manner . Quran emphasizes that the duty of a
believer is just to convey and not try to convince

Conclusion

Our social, economic and political conditions demand a change and that we
make our utmost effort for their uplift. Unless a group of individuals join
together for common good we will never defeat the evils against which our
founding fathers warned us. Therefore, our vision is to bring those people
together who are ready to embrace the vision of a Muslim community based
on the values of Quran and Sunnah, which forms the basis of a society, where
everyone can live without any discrimination and equitably share the
resources of the land.


Notes & References
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Quran 048:29
Quran 42:38 “…who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation…”
Quran 4:58 “…and when you judge between men, you judge with justice…”
Quran 90:17, 103:3
Quran 17:70 “And indeed We have honored the children of Adam...”
Quran 4:32”… for men there is reward for what they have earned, for women
there is reward for what they have earned…”
Quran 6:159 “Verily, those who divide their religion into sects, you have no
concern with them………” Also see Quran 3:19; 30:32; 42:13, 14; 43:65; 45:17
Quran 49:13 “O mankind! We……made you into nations and tribes, that you
may know one another……….”
Last sermon of Prophet Mohammed “All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an
Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority
over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any
superiority over a white - except by piety and good action”
www.wikipedia.org/wiki/freedom_of_thought
Quran 2:256 “There is no compulsion in religion. However, the right path has
become distinct from the wrong path”
Quran 3:191 “Those who remember God… and think deeply… about the
creation of the heavens and the earth….”; 030:8 “Do they not think deeply
about themselves?...”; 47:24 “Do they not think deeply in the Quran…”;

Quran 25:73 “And those who, when reminded of the signs of God, fall not deaf
and blind thereat”
Quran 16:125-126 “Invite to the way of your God with wisdom and fairness
and have dialogue in a way that is beautiful….”
Quran 13:40 “…and your duty is only to convey…”
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