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In the Name of God بسم الله

Beyond the Revolving Door

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Great post mashallah!

I also think that we need to simply act 'chilled out' rather than instantly asking a million personal questions. I can imagine how some reverts may be nervous initially, and it's important to give them the space they need. I recently walked in a Sunni mosque because I couldn't find a place to pray, and these sheikhs started asking so many personal questions, like - "which country are you from?", "do you have a family here?", "where do you work?". Well I was fine with that but new reverts wouldn't want that imo. You shouldn't treat them like your a salesman. Everyone loves genuine and chilled out people.

 

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1 hour ago, GD41586 said:

Help us, please.

Qur'an 1:6-7

Muhammad Al- Mustafa (peace be upon him and his pure progeny) described Imam Husayn as safinat al-najat or “The ship of salvation”.

Now what is above have to do with your topic. Feedback is good but it may take a long time to come to fruition until that time- work on the controllable -Don't waste your time, in how you are treated. You are not looking for their acceptance/acknowledgement/approval/friendship. This is also a problem for people of different ethnic, national origin when they visit or attend and specially for the young ones. If they welcome you or not, it should not be an issue for you. You have the intellect to decide and follow the path, you do not need anyone to approve you.. 

-They, the custodians may/may not be your ideal people. They may not understand that they are only the custodians for the Imam(as) of their Time. These places are not corporations, or private states, senior citizen, or ethnic, national or party head quarters but some may treat them as such. 

You go in the House of God, regardless of who manages it. and learn, accomplish what you need to do and move on. I do not highlight fallible- they may disappoint you. Our Faith is not based on following the fallible . Don't follow the fallible or their conduct/practices. They may or may not represent Islam. 

Its not a team, that the caption decides who plays or not, nor its a country club or an organization where your membership is decided by the select few. nor you look at their conduct to initiate membership application.  Go to the closet Mosque/Islamic center, because that is the only option you have, make the best of it. Seek out and support each other and grow and establish centers for next generations. 

Edited by S.M.H.A.
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Salam Br. 

1. I am not sure of the exact number, and I don't think there are any, but we must agree that the vast majority of converts to any religion, at least in the US, is to Evangelical Christianity. We must admit that. Like I said above, it's not because they have the Truth from God, it's because of Aklaq, and how they talk about real issues that affect the everyday lives of American, and they know how to speak in an influential and charistmatic way. This is not magic. It is a skill that could be taught, if people are willing to learn and be open minded. 

Also, the 'Revolving Door' in Evangelical Christianity dwarfs the one for Muslim Reverts. They have a huge revolving door because once people get in and look at the 'fine print' (like you must give 10% of your gross, not net income to the Church and if you don't do that, they make you feel like a horrible person, and then once you realize that they leadership of the Church are living lives of debauchery and excess behind the scenes, not Christ like at all, and then the fact that they support the State of Israel and Trump almost to a person, etc, etc) 

But despite that, we can learn from the positive parts of Evangelical Christianity. Evangelical Christians, despite the theology and issues above, do follow many of the teaching of Jesus(p.b.u.h) that are part of Islam. This is the reason why Christianity still exists and is even thriving and growing in many places. 

2. I agree 100%. Americans are overweight but starving spiritually. This is the root of all these issues you were talking about. Every human being was created by Allah(s.w.a) with a goal, that is to seek Him(s.w.a) thru following the guidance sent down by Him(s.w.a) thru Prophets and Imams. When a human being abandons that goal and leaves this path, their life, little by little becomes worthless in their eyes and this leads to despair and hopelessness. This hopelessness is expressed in different ways depending on the personality and proclivities of the individual.

There is this long held myth in American society that if you want to become 'religious' and have a relationship with God, you have to either go back to the Church where your parents went to or join and Evangelical Church. So alot of Americans do this, not because they believe it is an ideal solution, but believing it is the ONLY solution. It is presented as the only solution to most people. When you talk about other choices, like Islam, they will tell you 'Oh, that religion that teaches you how to blow up things and cut people's heads off'. That is really what most people think Islam is about, because we, as Muslims living in the US, have done an absolutely horrible job at countering the cultural narrative pushed by the Zionist Lobby and the Mainstream Media (which is basically the same thing). We have the people, the intelligence, the money, and the manpower to do it, but there is no will to do it, or I don't see any will to do it. Not at the present. Allah(s.w.a) will hold us accountable for this, and this is one of my greatest fears, to tell you the truth. We have things like Ahl Al Bayt TV, which is good and I commend the brothers and sisters working for this station, but compared to the potential we could do based on the resources Allah(s.w.a) has given us as a community, it's a token gesture. 

I have in the past, and am currently working on a media project along these lines, I will announce within the next few month, InShahAllah. 

In the mean time, just what you said, we need to introduce gently, with compassion, understanding, and non judgement. 

I use this as a test for myself. If a porn actress / actor walked into the masjid where I go and said he / she wanted to do the Shahada, how would we handle it ? I'm not saying that would ever happen, but if it did, would we be 'screw it up' (no pun intended) or would we react the way we are supposed to ? Big question mark. 

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If the last elections are any indicators, people are not accepting fake and phony stuff  - sweet talking , all inclusive( they  know that its just a front). Not that they made a right choice, but that is what the message was to the politicians/establishment.

We know that corporate corridors and environment is filled with  big smile on your face, canned/rhetorical greet and be friendly has also failed.  People are fed up with superficial stuff and dishonest daily greetings or concerns. They see the dark side of this, all the team work, comradery, smiles are to have the team focus on one thing-   its all for driving profits. In reality, its a very cut throat/silo/individual  culture. This is seeping int the public and private lives and consequences are been realized. So, no more beating around the bush, psychologist couch, or positive reinforcement charade-they feel they are been treated as infants not adults.  They want direct, and real stuff/candid talk.

It think,state in the  West- is similar to the Meccan preaching period - more emphasis on Concepts and theology verses practice(rituals). 

Edited by S.M.H.A.
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1 hour ago, Abu Hadi said:

Also, the 'Revolving Door' in Evangelical Christianity dwarfs the one for Muslim Reverts. They have a huge revolving door because once people get in and look at the 'fine print' (like you must give 10% of your gross, not net income to the Church and if you don't do that, they make you feel like a horrible person, and then once you realize that they leadership of the Church are living lives of debauchery and excess behind the scenes, not Christ like at all, and then the fact that they support the State of Israel and Trump almost to a person, etc, etc) 

You aren't kidding there. Part of the reason why churches fall out of love with me so quickly is specifically because I *won't* give them 10% of my gross monthly income, even when I am steadily employed (which is rarely).

At my best thusfar, I've earned $13 hourly and have a lot of medical debts I'm still paying off in addition to costs of food, gasoline, my prescriptions (they aren't cheap), car insurance, and other debts and bills. I usually don't give churches much, maybe $10-20 a week unless I have a really good run but what I do give a lot of is my manpower and time, which I believe should be credited against my "sin" of not tithing because finding family age adults who are willing to volunteer for one event is hard enough let alone finding a volunteer who "comes when called".

To be perfectly honest, a lot of the churches in my locality could be doing a great deal more for their communities in terms of community service but the pastors tend to have much larger houses and more luxurious cars, all of the newest iPhones and tablets than I am able to have as well as drawing very nice salaries (your average Evangelical pastor in the Southwest Florida earns more than a tradesman) & this has always seemed extremely suspect to me. When I began noticing all of the "independent/non-denominational" churches popping up in storefronts, vacant buildings, and minimalls over the past decade, I put two and two together and determined that starting your own church is usually done down here as a way to make a fast buck without working even a ten hour week or providing a good or trade to the community. These churches last for a year or two and then people catch on and leave, downgrading the church to a core of "true believers" who meet at a house for a few months and then eventually split up due to "doctrinal differences" (read: power and leadership struggles) at which point, the core members go their separate ways.

 

There are three that used to be less than a mile from my house that did this from 2012-2017 & many more in the surrounding twenty mile radius. There are three masjids from Sarasota south to my city, Port Charlotte/North Port. However, only one is within reasonable distance from my house (12 miles) and that one tends to have a sizeable amount of the types of brothers who do exactly the things that you were warning against in your initial post and make sure to do them with in a zealous manner that fully signals their "virtue" to any others who might be watching and often with an extremely unpleasant attitude: this is why I no longer go to this masjid and am still very "on the fence" because these guys are actually flat out intimidating to me & I feel like they don't want me to be there or are suspect of my motives for some reason. It is extremely uncomfortable and that makes me sorrowful because I am looking for the community where I will be embraced and find mentors who can help me to feel comfortable taking that step.

However...

As I type this, I had the thought pop into my head that just maybe, *I* am supposed to suffer through it and do my best to be that specific guy we are talking about once I take shahada and get myself acclimated to that way of life.

 

I don't know, because that sounds extremely full of myself and presumptuous to say, but I am really hoping I figure it out before the new year.

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You’re right. Just how many of us are really actually nice warm and welcoming? Shia are minority and we face obstacles so this may lead to tough and rigid exteriors where we defend ourselves constantly. But I think it’s necessary for us to be more vulnerable and personable-that will ultimately help us to not be hypocrites and gain a open mind rather than a closed narrow sighted one. Even as a Shi’a myself I don’t get the same level of engagement at my own mosque, how tough it must be for newcomers?

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On 12/15/2018 at 5:05 PM, GD41586 said:

There are three masjids from Sarasota south to my city, Port Charlotte/North Port. However, only one is within reasonable distance from my house (12 miles) and that one tends to have a sizeable amount of the types of brothers who do exactly the things that you were warning against in your initial post and make sure to do them with in a zealous manner that fully signals their "virtue" to any others who might be watching and often with an extremely unpleasant attitude: this is why I no longer go to this masjid and am still very "on the fence" because these guys are actually flat out intimidating to me & I feel like they don't want me to be there or are suspect of my motives for some reason. It is extremely uncomfortable and that makes me sorrowful because I am looking for the community where I will be embraced and find mentors who can help me to feel comfortable taking that step.

However...

As I type this, I had the thought pop into my head that just maybe, *I* am supposed to suffer through it and do my best to be that specific guy we are talking about once I take shahada and get myself acclimated to that way of life.

 

I don't know, because that sounds extremely full of myself and presumptuous to say, but I am really hoping I figure it out before the new year.

This is the other main Issue. Let me post this as another point. 

4. Don't assume all Non Muslim Americans who walk in are spying on you. 

I am not saying this does not exist. Some are, actually. Both CIA and FBI have very active surveillance programs in Masjids and infiltrate Islamic organizations. They admit this, but deliberately leave vague the issue of the extent of this program. How many and which masjids are targeted ? Unless you have super high level security clearance (which I don't have) you will not know. It could be one or two masjids, it could be hundreds, or thousands. 

Here are a few tips to avoiding getting entrapped by CIA/ FBI so that you can work on developing postive relationships with the newly reverted community or those interested in Islam who are non Muslims. 

1. Know the law, as it applies to you. 

As Americans, we have religious and political freedom (to an extent) under the Constitution. Everyone who lives in the US needs to know what those rights are and to what extent they have freedoms. They also need to understand the boundaries of those freedoms. As US citizens and residents, we are not totally free, nor are we totally enslaved. If you are politically active in organizations, you need to know what you are allowed to do / say under the law, and what you are not allowed to do / say. Most of us observe those limits in public, but when it comes to conversations in small groups, we think those limits don't apply. They do apply unless you are absolutely sure that the other person / people you are talking to is not working for the intelligence services. It is very hard to be absolutely sure. It is set up that way deliberately. So to be on the safe side, assume that everyone you are talking to, aside from your immediate family 'could be' in this category and observe the laws. 

You need to know the laws in order to do this. The limit that these agencies have, at least for now, is that if they want to arrest you, they must cite to a judge a specific law(s) that you are violating. You need to know which laws apply to the specific activities you are doing, you don't need to know 'all' the laws (there are literally hundreds of thousands, not even judges know all of them). Again, if you are politically active, which I encourage brothers and sisters to be, you need to know which laws apply to political speech and/ or fundraising for political and other activities. In Dearborn at least, there are attorneys who regularly give workshops on this subject at masjids and conferences. There are orgainizations like CAIR who are available to take questions and regularly hold conferences / meetings in different locations. 

If you have this knowledge, then you won't be afraid to interact with people that you don't know. You won't be suspicious of them because you know that you are not doing something illegal that they can put against you. 

2. Know how entrapment works 

The main way muslims in the US are entraped is thru informants from their own communities, not White Caucasians or non Muslims. Usually they are approached thru someone of their same ethnicity who speaks their same language. This person (the informant) has some background information on their 'target' or they may be related to them. This is essential to establish trust. The informant uses the information they have about them (their relatives are in prison in XYZ country for political activity, their village was destroyed in a Saudi / Israeli / etc attack) and uses this to 'fire them up' to participate in some activity which is illegal. Then once the target agrees to do this activity and takes concrete steps to do it, they are arrested and go to prison. 

The other way entrapment goes is what is called a 'Honey Trap'. The informant is probably a young, attractive female and the target is an older man. These traps are usually used to get information from the target which is later used to entrap them. This information is also sometimes used to trap others who are 'further up the chain' in the organization the FBI / CIA wants to infiltrate or destroy. 

The 'takeaway' from this is that if a new revert / non muslim approaches you in a masjid / organization and is talking about religion / philosophy / or other legal subjects to talk about and is not asking you to participate in any illegal activities or haram activities (which they could use against you later to blackmail you , see 'Honey Trap' above), 99.9% chance they are not a spy / information but rather a sincere seeker of knowledge. You should not treat them as if they are a spy. 

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