By Imam Noah Seifullah
Imam Bashir Ali, National Convener of Imams in Association with the Legacy of Imam Warith Deen Mohammed, shared recently his views on the economic and social concerns that Islamic communities must address.
When asked to identify what is required to have a successful community, Imam Ali said, “Both dawah and economic development are among those critical elements for successful community life.
“Our community has been blessed with a number of groups and organizations focused on different aspects of community development including dawah and business.”
He expressed the need for the individual as well as collective group to work together. He said, “We encourage those individuals with interest, talent and experience in these respective areas to connect with and support the efforts of these groups.”
As a leader by example, Imam Ali called for the budding leaders to do their part. “We also invite and encourage our next generation leaders to lend their energies, creativity and technology skills to these efforts.”
As the community continues to struggle with stabilizing itself and moving forward after the unexpected death of Imam Mohammed, though be it five years ago, Imam Ali said, “The Annual Islamic Convention sponsored by The Mosque Cares gives members of our community the ability to reconnect each year, interact with and learn from each other, support and promote Muslim business; celebrate our unique culture; and meet with groups and organizations within our association.
“The convention also allows other groups or interested parties to connect with a cross-section of Muslims from around the country representing our association.”
We encourage those who are able to participate to continue the tradition started by Imam W.D. Mohammed. Imam W.D. Mohammed devoted his life to the progression and development of our community in the light of the Qur’an and the Sunnah and example of Prophet Muhammed (PBUH).
The last 33 years of Imam Mohammed’s life were devoted to teaching and establishing the foundations of individual freedom and empowerment, and Islamic community development in America.
Imam Ali said, “Some of our biggest challenges will be to continue to develop Islamic democracy and governance through Shuraa Baynahum (collective decision making guide by the Qu’ran and Sunnah of Prophet Muhammed); developing our ability to communicate a clear and all inclusive life goal within the diversity of interests in our community; identify talents and skills for specific community needs (including the next generation of leaders); develop common objectives and strategic plans to guide the growth of our dawah efforts and communities; be transparent in our operations and accountable for results; and communicate back to the community on challenges, progress, failures and successes.”
He continued, “Imam W. D. Mohammed identified several areas of focus to strengthen and develop our community life.” Imam Ali said these include growing our Islamic knowledge (i.e. knowledge of Qur’an, specifically the comprehension of the Quran’s message about man’s creation and the creation itself, and Allah’s authority over all of creation (seen and unseen, known and unknown).
“Also the understanding and applying the life practices and perspective of the Prophet Muhammed [PBUH]; understanding Islamic history as it applies to our history and pursuit of life; embracing the reasoning and Islamic perspectives of Imam W.D. Mohammed; developing the critical areas of community life (i.e. marriage and family life; education; economic and business development; culture; internal governance and external civic engagement; youth development; and leadership development).
“Inviting others to learn and share our Islamic life (dawah) is key, as well as learning from the best of other faith traditions.”
Imam Ali said, “Our community is blessed with many assets, including the experiences of our unique historical progression from slavery in America to the aspiration of ‘shared freedom space’ and the reconnection with our natural Muslim life and Islamic traditions; a legacy of progressive leadership, a diversity of multi-generational leadership, talents, and skills; and diverse organizations that promote Islamic community development.”
He said, “Al-Islam is a total way of life. This includes economic and business development. We know economics addresse the investment and distribution of resources within societies or communities. Healthy communities meet the economic needs of their people, which include producing goods and services, jobs and wealth to sustain the society.
“This wealth also supports the development of other critical elements of society, including support for education, culture and government.”
In an atmosphere where many aspiring business people think they can only survive and prosper if competition is eliminated, Imam Bashir Ali expressed that competition is good for business.
“The nature of business competition also produces the innovation, creativity and new technologies to advance societies and civilization. Muslims have an obligation to pursue and achieve human excellence in all things.
“The term ‘khair’ is used in the Qur’an to mean excellence, good morals, wealth and prosperity and has a direct connection to advancing the society through healthy business practices. These are the principles which form the foundation of Islamic economic and business development.”