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Friday, February 08, 2013

Speak English!

The other day I was reflecting on the state of the masjids. We have some sincere people involved in setting up masjids and some who are not. This is normal and happens everywhere in life. 
We have spoken previously about the responsibilities of the masjids but now we rant at specific things.

There are scholars who simply do not believe that speaking English language is important. Those scholars who say we should speak Urdu only should not be allowed to preach in the UK. It should be mandatory for each masjid to have at least one speaker in English and do not come to me complaining that the youth are not interested in Islam. Of course they are not because you speak a language they do not understand!

Someone said well the youth follow bollywood films why can’t they follow the khutba? Do you need to know the language to follow a film? Essentially you can follow a film without knowing the language. 

Even if you accept this excuse, which I do not, religion means more than mindless entertainment. Although to call any movies nowadays entertainment may be stretching the definition of entertainment! (Most of them are just formulaic remakes of old stories told again and again with one film out of million containing any originality.)

If you stick to speaking Urdu then you have to accept two things. One: that the other groups will take the youth away because they speak English. Two: you will never reach the youth. So this perennial problem of the youth will remain as long as there are people who stick to speaking Urdu.

Allah (the Exalted) sent every prophet speaking the language of their people. So any person who claims that speaking English is not important has negated the wisdom of Allah (the Exalted) in this matter. 

Also ponder that the manners of the Prophet (may Allah bestow peace and blessings be upon him) he would not exclude others who did not understand Arabic. He used Persian words when speaking to Salman the Persian (may Allah be pleased with him). Why? So he feels comfort. Have we left the Sunnah when none of this bothers us? The answer is clear.

Also consider the fact that many converts are in the same position. They do not understand Urdu and are forced to listen to sermons which they do not understand. Now what would you do in their situation? Listen to someone speaking in Urdu or go to someone speaking English? The answer is obvious. We have left this great Sunnah of not making people feel marginalised. Thus making sure that many converts are left out in the cold.

There are also many other Muslims in our communities who are also marginalised because they come from other Muslim countries. You’ll be surprised to know that there are Arabs, Chinese, Sudanese and Malay Muslims in your area. They are all left out in the cold because of the instance of Urdu being the default language of their local masjid.

How can someone who is born in another place relate the problems of children from another place? Especially the contrasting worlds of the east and the west. They need answers of how to deal with the world and not simple condemnation of things you want them to stay away from. 

Even after all this if people refuse to speak in English then you have no one to blame but yourselves. Despite this you claim that those speaking in English are misleading people, why do not you speak English and set the record straight!

The way forward

There are a few solutions to these problems if we are willing to do something about it. 

1)      Have the Urdu khutba for a section of the community and the follow it up by a English khutba making sure both parties are catered for.

2)      One week have an English Khutba and another week have an Urdu one.

3)      Designate a certain masjid to have an English sermon.

4)      Have an Imam who is proficient is both languages to mix it up. Do some of both languages.

5)      Have the Khutba in Urdu and get someone to summerise or 

6)    (insert your solution)

We do not want to be very critical of people and masjid committees but if people are not serious about serving their communities then they should step aside. Let someone else do something for a change and see how they do because managing a masjid is not about managing costs it’s about serving the needs of the local community. How we failed to do even the least of serving anyone except 'bigging' ourselves before the communities. 

We may even have to go as far setting up our own masjids if we cannot work within the current set up. You have to consider going solo but there will be others who want to see a change in their communities, find them and start again.

If we do not act now then our children will inherit the same wretched problems that we face. Thus there will be no solution to this problem, ever.

1 comment:

  1. This is very interesting article. Many countries have this problem. Even here in Russia where I am from.

    To think, if you live in english-language-country you have to speak english! Not Urdu or Farsi.

    But on the other hand I understand these people, they afraid of forgeting their native languages.

    Sorry for my bad English, I just try to use it correctly. But I always fail).