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Dawah and Assimilation 

by Muhammed S Mercan dated April 23, 2007

I just had a conversation with a fellow from southern Europe about Dawah. In the Balkans where the people hate Muslims when the fellow talks to youngsters and explains that Prophet Muhammed Salallahu Aleyhi wa Sallam after Prophets Musa and Isa, so that you have to follow him and not stop at Musa nor at Isa the kids agree. Then they come back beat up by their parents, scolded, filled with talk that Muslims are bad people etc. We then agreed that if it was still the old Ottoman Empire there, then the parents wouldn't have it so easy to brainwash their kids out of Islam as they do now under their governments. In the European countries north of there, the parents can't beat their children like that and they don't have the kind of control over them as in the Balkans, so you see many new Muslims there. In the US it's the same thing, parents don't interfere so much if kids accept Islam or any other religion out of what they have at home. Then you have the Afroamericans where it's no big deal to become Muslim in the community. With the Native folks there's the fear that if someone accepts Islam that they will get assimilated into nonNatives. I see many agree with Islam, they say sure There is One Creator and sure Muhammed Salallahu aleyhi wa Sallam is a Prophet and they don't go forward to accept Islam, fearing that they'll lose their identity. A friend of mine and me were talking about being a churcher that you can't do that, from what he was saying in his opinion you either shut out anything from pre-contact and stay Red Road or you accept the nonNatives talking and then you have to be Muslim. One way to see that issue is through the indigenous folks who are Muslims and didn't lose identity as indigenous after accepting Islam. As an indigenous traditionalist you believe in One Creator and you believe that indeed Prophet Muhammad Salalahu aleyhi wa Sallam was a Prophet, so you believe the same things Muslims do and you can say you are Muslim nothing will happen to your identity as indigenous. Ideology wise nothing changes. There is many examples of indigenous people who are Muslim and didn't get assimilated. Nothing changed about them after they said they are Muslim. The only thing that changed is they have a better idea about who was Prophet Muhammad Salallahu aleyhi wa Sallam and what he was telling people to do. He was telling people not to worship anything other than the Creator, Allah Ta'Ala. Naturally one will ask why should we say we are Muslims if we already have the same ideology without saying "I'm Muslim." To understand the reason for that one must understand the terminology. Muslim means one who surrenders to the Will of our Creator Allah Ta'Ala. The word Muslim comes from the word Taslim meaning surrendering with Muslim meaning one who surrendered. The word Allah is what the Creator Chose us to call Him by when He Sent Prophet Muhammad Salalahu aleyhi wa Sallam. The word Allah comes from the Arabic word ilah which means deity. Prophet Muhammad Salallahu aleyhi wa Sallam spoke Arabic and came conveying to everyone not to worship any of the creation but to worship only the Creator, to accept that there is no deity worthy of worship except the Creator and to say that Muhammad is the Messenger of the Creator. In Arabic it is to say La illaha iIla_Allah - there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah; MuhammadurRasulullah - Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. That's what Prophet Muhammad Salallahu aleyhi wa Sallam said one should say and believe and cherish in the heart and face the Creator with it in the Hereafter. That's why though one's ideology may not change much, one can go ahead and say Lailahhaillallah MuhammadurRasulullah say "I'm Muslim."

There's examples of people who accepted calling themselves Muslim and they didn't get assimilated. Indochina's people had no problem accepting to say to say La illaha iIla_Allah - there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah; MuhammadurRasulullah - Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. They still have their traditional ways and traditional cultures and they have countries of their own with their own identity such as Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia the country with the biggest Muslim population in the world. They never got assimilated into something else nor did they loose their traditions after accepting to say La illaha iIla_Allah - there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah; MuhammadurRasulullah - Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah. The same situation is with Turkic people. Turkic people went further than the Indochinese, they defended the Abbasi Khilafa from Hulagu the grandson of Temuchin (Jengiz Khan) and they defended the Ayoubis from the Crusaders even as Shamanists before accepting Islam. As Muslims they established an Ottoman Empire assimilating Europeans into Turks and having them run the State in their place. Turks who started leaving their indigenous lands 2000 years ago and later accepted Islam, till today have organizations to protect the indigenous Turkic culture back in the lands that they started to migrated from 2000 years ago. For them with accepting Islam, assimilation into another culture didn't happen, instead Islam brought them strength and instead of getting assimilated they assimilated many nonTurkic people into their culture turning whole countries with millions of people into Turkish speakers with a Turkish culture.

It's not constructive to talk aggressively to the indigenous folks who say that if you are Muslim, then you lost your identity as Native, telling them "so what if I lost my identity; who are you to decide if I lost my identity" and blame them with different thing. Because the person they are blaming may accepts the blame and go ahead and say "OK then I'm leaving my identity as indigenous" and then get assimilated or even loose ground and get into all sorts of other things and destroy his/her life in the process. Other indigenous people who see that will then see Muslims as harmful people that one should stay away from. Muslims dealing with indigenous people need to see the seriousness of the issue of assimilation and not be detached from the indigenous world.

Indigenous people may hear newly of Prophet Muhammad Salallahu Aleyhi wa Sallam and accept newly the call to say La illaha iIla_Allah - there is no deity worthy of worship except Allah; MuhammadurRasulullah - Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah and can adapt without being assimilated. They can not only preserve their identity as Muslims, but they can even change others people's culture to a culture closer to the indigenous one thus changing millions of people's lifestyle back to living without devastating the environment.

wa minallahi tawfik

 

 

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