There are many ways an individual can measure his or her success, but how can a community do that?
For some individuals success is measured by how happy they are. To others, it could be the education they have acquired, the property they have come to own, the fortune they’ve amassed…etc. Success hence could be measured by gauging how far an individual is from achieving his or her personal goals.
Communities on the other hand do have goals of their own, whether formed by an involuntary gathering of individuals of common characteristics or by a founding charter. These goals –realistic or not- are also the gauges by which a community can measure its success. However, since communities outlive their members and their goals are significantly different in nature than those of an individual, community success is a thorny matter.
How can a community measure its success?
To answer such an intriguing question we may need to start with a more pending one; how can a community set its goals? And, who, within the community can bear the burden of such a responsibility? Communities snowball from a group of individuals into a larger number of members, all in the effort to attain the goals set by the original founders for the entire community. But almost certainly, there needs to be a point of reference upon which these leading figures can rely when setting those objectives. Be it a vision, a charter, a constitution or a book of faith; this point of reference needs to be timeless and above all.
In addition, potential members need to realize the benefit of engaging in achieving these objectives. In instances where the goals of the individual are in perfect alignment with those of the community, success is inevitable.
Having said that, it must be exhilarating to find a community whose goals are the sum of the collective goals of its members. Although this may sound idealistic to some, it is possible; it exists.
You see, Muslims are endowed with a divine code of conduct that puts every Muslim on the right path, and collectively guides the entire Muslim community to achieve the objectives set forth in Quran by Allah himself.
Many Surah’s tell us exactly what is needed from us as individuals, and as communities, to elevate the human race to higher grounds. Quran calls on each one of us to play a role in forming the perfect community. It calls on every Muslim to follow upright standards that, if followed by everyone in the community, abolish social blemishes like poverty, corruption, crime and the like.
Our code of conduct is above all; it knows no race or social class. It knows no time or geographical boundaries. It calls for the basic principles of humanity, morality, justice and equity. Quranic principals are so universal they apply to any nation living at any point in time.
For those of us who believe that this notion is absolutely true, it is simple to measure the success of the Muslim community. All we need to do is examine the realities of our communities in the light of Quran. And examine the values by which Muslims lead their lives and how they compare to those called for by Quran. How far we are from achieving these honorable objectives is our true indicator of the success of our community.
Although the realities of our time may not look remarkable, there is still a solid standard for us to follow, and our quest remains much easier than that of other communities. It is rather a shame that social flaws are rampant in our communities; however, we are still blessed with the guidance of our holy book.
Better yet, the objectives set for each Muslim are in perfect harmony with achieving the goals of the universal Muslim community. So much so that it is almost impossible to attain the goals of the community if individual Muslims did not realize theirs.
The success of our community can thus be found in its values, its purpose, its cohesion, and in its ability to manifest Quran’s universal values.