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Essay No.09 in a series of essays on Community
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Values: the foundation of a Muslim and the Muslim
Community

Sep 2005

We Muslims need a sound foundation to raise the pillars of
out faith and to build strong communities everywhere in the
world

THERE is a general consensus among the Muslims about the five pillars of
Islam. The first is to profess one’s faith, the next three are the rituals i.e. salat,
hajj and fasting and the last is the act of giving to poor and needy i.e. zakat.
They may be re-arranged by their significance or by their frequency or any
other criteria. But the fact remains that these are the five pillars most
Muslims agree to.

There is also an enormous body of literature available on this subject. On the
Internet, every website on Islam has a visible section dedicated to it and every
budding scholar usually begins with this topic. At the same time many
Muslims embrace these pillars and practice them religiously. They teach the
children at home and in schools to follow these pillars and sometimes even
go to extremes in condemning those who do not practice them. But it is an
irony that we forget that a building first needs a foundation before raising the
pillars or the roof. Even strong pillars cannot sustain a structure without a
sound foundation.

Indeed the pillars are important but there must be a foundation first. In this
essay we will examine what must be the foundation of a Muslim community
and why there are important for us.

Our Foundation is our values

We believe that the foundation of a Muslim and a Muslim community must be
the values which Quran and Sunnah are teaching us. These values teach us
goodness and shape the behavior of our members and also the collective
personality of our communities. Values are the manifestation of our faith. We
must raise the pillars of our faith on these values. Without them our pillars will
crumble and roof will collapse just like a building without sound foundation.
Thus we need strong pillars on top of a deep and strong foundation.


We strongly believe that values must not be a fad to be briefly and
enthusiastically taken up. They must be at the core of our culture and guide
the thinking and action of our members and thus, shape the collective
personality of our communities. We understand, that not having clearly
defined core values leaves the door wide open for any kind of behavior. But at
the same time just adopting them is not enough to guarantee a commitment
to a standard of behavior of which a Muslim community can be proud.
Therefore, it must be an integral ingredient in our success, both in our day-to-
day operations and longer-term strategy.


Core Values

Values consist of the principles and moral standards of a community. The
following are our core values and we believe we should incorporate them as
anchor points in every decision we make:

•        We believe in voluntary spirit and do not expect any rewards for our
efforts [6:90]
•        We believe in treating every human being with honor and dignity [17:70].
•        We believe that there is no compulsion in matters of faith [2:256].
•        We are free from sectarian prejudices [6:159]
•        We do not revile or criticize anyone’s beliefs [6:108].
•        We refrain from saying or suggesting what we do not do ourselves [61:2-
3].
•        We provide an opinion on a subject only when it is founded upon
adequate knowledge and honest conviction [8:22].
•        We recognize the importance of open, honest and respectful
communication [42:38].
•        We aim to realize our vision by working together as teams [103:3 & 90:
17].
•        We oppose gender-based discrimination [4:32].

This is no way an exhaustive list. As we grow we will continue revisiting the
core values to ensure that we incorporate values for every aspect of our
behavior and decision-making.



Why are the Muslim community’s core values important?

Let us explain why and when core values play a vital role.

First, when new members join a Muslim community, anywhere in the world. At
this critical juncture, where an individual is about to take a bold decision and
may be hesitant, values communicate to the member what’s important and
help them embrace positive change. There must be a harmony between
member's values and the community's values. This agreement makes the
integration of new members frictionless. Values keep them motivated and
inspire them to action.

Secondly, values play an important role in setting the direction of our
communities. Together with our mission and vision, values help form our
identity and culture. Leaders of the community are responsible to
communicate them throughout and demonstrate them through their behavior
and interactions on a day-to-day basis. This way values shape the collective
personality of the community and enhance credible leadership. Thus, any
decision maker, at any level in our community, who makes decisions that
align with our values, will be able to justify them.

Lastly, values have a relationship to our strategy. Strategy is plans our
community leaders put in place to fulfill our vision. While keeping their focus
on measuring performance against goals they must also ask themselves
“Are their actions consistent with our core values?"

Conclusion

Values - the principles and moral standards – must be the foundation of a
Muslim community. Values are an integral ingredient in our success, both in
our day-to-day operations and longer-term strategy. Values help our new
members to integrate with the community, help in setting our direction and
relate to our strategy. We believe we should incorporate Values as anchor
points in every decision we take.
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