Over the weekend I was able to attend some ( but not all) of the class on Rizq Management taught by Muhammad alshareef of the Al-Maghrib Institute. Alshareef and al-Maghrib represent a new generation of Islamic dawah in America. He comes from a Salafi background and from a fiqh and aqeedah standpoint teaches from that perspective; but he does this in a very contemporary way and his talks are full of a kind of Canadian sense of humor and real life examples. This is important because most Islamic classes are taught in the abstract but are not related to the lives of the believers but alshareef teaches you the knowledge and then relates it to the present time and our daily lives.
The attendees also represent a new generation of American-Islam. The majority of those attending are second-generation Muslims with origins in India and Pakistan with a sprinkling of Arabs and American converts. As the crowd is very American the presentation is very American and geared to a modern and educated crowd and unlike most Muslim gatherings in America there are very few sounds of heavily accented English in the room. Rules are also strictly enforced and anyone late to class will have to sit out the session ( so it is not running on CPT or Middle-eastern time).
This type of dawah, represented by Muhammad alshareef and Yasir Qadhi, is very important for the educated and middle to upper-class Muslims who have often felt alienated by the unprofessionalism and backwardness of the community. Another example of this perhaps is the al-Zaytuna Institute which basically teaches the same kind of courses but comes from a different fiqh perspective ( madhabist).
However, I do not believe al-Maghrib is for everyone, and nor does it have to be to be ( it is already a huge success). It caters to a specific group and that is young professionals and college students and some older professionals who are interested in knowing more about the deen. It is not for the entire community because of the fact that it has such steep fees for the courses. To the attendees of the courses, most all coming from financially stable and prosperous homes, the fees are insignificant; but to many in the community they represent a barrier.
Alshareef said that if people had the choice to get a free CD and one that costs one-hundred dollars, and both CD’s contained the same thing, then most people would choose the pricey one. I am not saying he is wrong on this, but we move in different crowds and have a different perspective, because my friends and family would choose the free one 100% of the time. Yet when he says something like that in a room full of children of doctors and engineers it makes sense. The better argument is this; if you are going to expect prosessional full-time Islamic workers should they not be paid a professional salary and this salary comes from the fees from courses and the sales of merhcandise.
Over all I have to recommend this classes to anyone who can afford them. Some of the exercises are corny; but the knowledge you get from the brothers more than make up for any of the shortcomings.
Two gems from Muhammad al-Sharieff;
“Those who have a negative attitude towards wealth will find a way to sabotage their wealth” and I have seen this happen many times.
“Many Muslims are depressed because they live two lives. One life when they are in here with Muslims and the other life they lead when they walk out of the door.” This is something we can all relate to but is seldom talked about.
On the depression issue I went a long time thinking it was just me who led that double life of being with the Muslims and then when I am separated from the community I don’t know how to act or am forced to act and speak in a different manner. That is why many of us tried to inbed ourselves deep into the Muslim community so that we did not have to interact with that many non-Muslims.
Over the long-haul this is impossible since we are a tiny-minority in this country and many of us come from non-Muslim families. Therefore, we are forced to deal with people in a different manner then what we believe is right, because it is the only way we feel we can survive. After years, and especially due to the current political climate, many Muslims living this double life have become depressed and many have left the Muslim community or become fanaticized within the community ( a case against reverse-hijrah?). It has driven others to drug and alcohol addiction, and yes those are real issues in the community especially amongst alienated and isolated converts.
A brother recently told me that he drives around all night in his car by himself because he feels he has no home anywhere and no one he can talk to that will relate to him and I know the feeling. Over the years I have found that unless you are wiling to get down with someones program in the Muslim community and be an absolute flunkie then you will be ostracized and since Muslims have no one to run to but the community isolation in our own community can be painful and lead to depression.
Other Weekend Notes;
-Whats up with all the bleached-blonde Korean and Japanesse soccer players at the World Cup? Maybe they can make friends with all the Iranians, including emasculated males, who are getting nose jobs because they dont like the way they were created and want to look more Western.
-You cannot get a good donut in NYC and I am a donut lover. Eating Dunkin Donuts is like chewing on plastic and those who donot know anything but Dunkin Donuts, have never had a good donut.
-I scored the Jermain Taylor-Winky Wright fight 115-113 for Taylor and it was a draw on the judges scorecards. It was a great fight, maybe the fight of the year, and there needs to be a rematch.