May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon you,
May the Almighty protect and bless you and your families and make you among those who will enter Paradise with ease and comfort.
I must commend you for the noble work you do – the work of Prophets in calling to the way of your Lord with wisdom, knowledge, and patience and holding the torch to guide mankind.
It is not easy to be at the frontline and in front of the microphone these days at a time when stakes are high and the confusion about our faith is at its peak.
You are scrutinized in every word you say and you are watched closely in every action you do.
You are hardly given the benefit of the doubt and are judged harshly when you make a mistake.
When confusion arises about a statement you make, or something you might have said in the past, the media sounds the alarms and the international media organizations transmit the “breaking news” to their audiences.
The tabloid newspapers are after you the same way the paparazzi go after celebrities.
The paparazzi, however, are much more objective with their reporting as they publish positive and negative things about celebrities; whereas the tabloid media only look at anything that could be interpreted negatively so that they could sell their papers the next day and win more viewers in the evening news.
They don’t see anything good you do and don’t report any word of wisdom you say.
All they are after is something that they can use to create a sense of panic and hysteria in the society.
I personally believe that the pressure the media put on you and the heat they direct upon you is a blessing in disguise.
It makes you remember about the importance of personal accountability and to be aware of everything you do and every word you say.
As our faith teaches us, we already have two angels who record everything we do.
It is extremely important for you as the leader of the community to conduct a personal review of your talks and to be extra careful of your future sermons in order to make sure that your talks reflect the message of Prophet Mohammad, peace and blessings upon him, who was sent as a mercy to mankind.
As humans always error and the door of improvement is always open even when a person holds the highest degree ever awarded to mankind, it is imperative to assign one or two people as consultants to offer you a constructive and positive feedback.
The consultants should not hesitate to offer you a feedback and advice you accordingly.
As Imam Hamza Yusuf said repeatedly in his speeches, when Imam Shafi was asked of what made him achieve high status, he said he used to pay close attention to his critics.
As you know, the one who like us would not point out to our mistakes.
A human being, whether he is a high school student or a PhD holder, is constantly learning.
Only those who are arrogant think they know it all.
It is very important for an imam to have some people to offer him feedback.
If some people might not feel comfortable to do this, he could have them write him anonymous letters so that they will feel at ease to say what they really have to say without any hesitation.
I feel very sad when I hear a Muslim scholar banned from entering a country due to some hateful and irresponsible remarks he is accused of making.
While some times the alleged remarks are taken out of context and blown out of proportion, some members in our community do say silly things some times.
We should not always blame the media when they criticize us. Some times their accusations do indeed have basis.
A well-known masjid in Toronto was in hot water several times before for making outrageous statements.
As reported in the Toronto Star on Nov. 17, 2008, a mosque employee sent an email to the mosque's Internet message service on Christmas Day, warning that saying "Merry Christmas" was akin to "congratulating someone for drinking wine, or murdering someone or having illicit sexual relations and so on.” The masjid in question later had retracted and apologized for the offensive remarks and said that the statement was written by a junior employee of the mosque.
The community should make sure that those who are holding the steering wheel are qualified and experienced individuals who know what they are doing.
|Imams need to bring people together and avoid things that keep them apart.|
As every corporation has a spokesperson who is well trained in handling public relation matters, our organizations should do the same in having people who know well how to talk.
While in North America Muslims are much more disciplined and are rarely accused of making outrageous remarks, the situation in Europe is far worse and deplorable.
There have been voices of ill-qualified people who are eager to jump to the microphone and make offensive and dangerous remarks which put the entire community in the harm’s way.
That is why a lot these self-made scholars, are imprisoned and some are thrown out of the country.
In behaving irresponsibly and acting foolishly, they portray the entire community as evil and make the life of Muslims a living hell. Their actions have contributed to the growing anti Muslim sentiment in the region.
Imams need to bring people together and avoid things that keep them apart.
In western countries Muslims of different background come together. It is important for imams to focus of what unite them and avoid putting emphasis on issues that divide them.
It upsets me so much to see some imams putting a lot of emphasis on trivial issues and avoid other important matters.
We already have enough division, hatred and animosity in our global village.
It upsets me to the stomach when I see some Muslims bringing back the baggage of division from their native lands and start speaking the language of divisiveness.
We as Muslims should avoid terms that divide us such as who is sufi, tablighi and salafi.
A Muslim is a Muslim. He or she should avoid using labels that only keep us apart and don’t do us any good.
May Allah restore sanity back to the senseless world and help mankind to recognize and appreciate the brotherhood of humanity and start treating others with dignity and respect.