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58th Annual ISNA Convention - Questions & Answers Session with Javed Ahmed Ghamidi

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    [Hassan Ilyas] In the Name of Allah, the
    Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.
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    Assalamu alaikum I am Mohammad
    Hassan Ilyas and right now
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    we are in Dallas (Ghamdi centre of
    Islamic learning ISNA) which is
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    the oldest group of Muslims in America.
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    ISNA is having it’s annual convocation but
    physical participation
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    was hampered due to Covid-19.
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    The organizers requested that we should
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    some conversations with Ghamidi Sahab.
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    for the participants of this convocation
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    that these conversations are related
    to the socio-religious challenges
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    facing Muslims within the United States.
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    Today we are here for this purpose
    we are having with us.
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    Mr. Javed Ahmad Ghamdi Sahab
    Asalamu alaikum.
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    [Javed Ahmad Ghamidi] :Walikum Asalam
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    [Ilyas] Ghamidi Sahab, thank you very much
    for your time.
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    At this time, you are being heard by people
    associated with ISNA all over the world
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    and especially the Muslim community in
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    I would like to ask you first,
    that 57 years ago today,
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    the foundation of this organization laid
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    as "The Islamic Society of North
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    which is a group of Muslims who settled
    in Western countries
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    and then became part of the community
    and through the systematic efforts
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    of their organization, they tried to
    advance their mission and vision
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    by way of helping the people to develop
    social value and education.
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    How do you see this whole idea and
    please help us with your
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    personal opinion about ISNA?
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    [Ghamdi] This is a very unusual thing and
    no matter how much it is appreciated,
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    wherever we go, the needs of human society
    come to the fore.
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    When we move to a foreign place or a
    foreign society
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    or a place where our culture, tradition,
    civilization is not being followed,
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    we will face difficulty there.
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    These problems can be social, cultural
    and sometimes physiological.
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    The best way out for all these problems
    for a Muslim or any other nation,
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    is to form its own community.
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    People who are associated with it, who
    belong to the same civilization,
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    who come from the same background, not
    only understand their issues,
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    but also have a special background in
    resolving them.
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    With all these things in mind, creating
    such organizations and
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    creating a bond between them, even if it
    is more than one, it does not matter.
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    However, the ideal situation is that
    wherever Muslims go,
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    only one organization should come into
    existence because such organizations
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    have no intellectual aspect.
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    The reason for establishing these
    organizations is to check,
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    if Muslims are in some sort of
    problems as a community?
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    Such organisations are formed keeping in
    view the aforementioned objectives.
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    So in my opinion, it is difficult to create
    unity in the organizations that are
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    formed on the basis of Ideology or in
    which there are ideological discussions
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    and perhaps there is no need for it.
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    [Ilyas] okay
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    [Ghamidi] Their point is that it addresses
    your mind and in this respect,
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    for example, there are different
    communities, sects among Muslims,
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    there is a difference in thinking, which
    leads to formation of an organisation,
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    but as a community, Muslim too face
    some challenges.
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    For instance: to help Muslims for arranging
    their mosques, guiding them in matters
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    of fasting and prayers, and meeting their
    needs in regard to Hajj and ‘Umrah.
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    As in the case of funeral arrangements,
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    if all these needs are put in front of
    them and their general education
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    is made the goal, that is, something on
    which there is no disagreement.
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    As we usually say, elementary education is
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    If an organization is formed, I think it’s
    a paramount importance.
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    you may be aware, we in India
    once had a brilliant scholar
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    who put forward the view that the Muslim
    political system is over.
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    So, there should be a collective system
    for Muslims of the subcontinent.
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    This dream could not be
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    but when the Muslims have come out of
    one place and they have camped in
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    different countries, I think that
    such organizations
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    must exist and in my opinion they
    should keep themselves away from
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    the differences of opinion
    with the ideologues,
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    whether there are intellectual differences,
    scientific differences or
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    differences of any kind.
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    The things that need to be discussed here
    are what the whole community needs,
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    what the whole Muslim community
    needs for a strong economy.
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    what their cultural traditions need, what
    they need on the festivals.
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    Keeping all these things in view that
    need to be agreed upon,
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    establishing such a system is a necessity
    to me as much air and water is needed.
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    [Ilyas] So we will continue this topic.
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    I will state that most of your listeners
    are Muslims
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    in the United States at this time.
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    I will also ask you a few questions
    which we have received from them
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    so that you can put forward your point of
    view about those who immigrated
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    to the United States in large
    number during 1960 -1970’s.
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    They brought their religious and cultural
    traditions here, but for the new generation
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    we see that their is a crisis about
    religious tendencies, cultural aspects,
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    cultural backgrounds, clothing,
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    Please, tell me that how parents should
    convince their children in these issues,
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    so that they should stick to the
    same ideas and principles.
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    I will take an example that in western
    countries the dress code is different
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    and our Muslim cultural background shows a
    different dress code.
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    So how will the Muslim parents who
    have settled here, convince their children
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    wear simple and decent clothes as
    was the traditions back home.
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    [Ghamidi] The first thing is that wherever
    the parents come from,
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    they have brought their tradition
    with them,their way of life,
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    their way of talking and how they live.
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    The child behaves in the same way.
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    So in the first stage, I always say that
    whatever parents want their children to be,
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    they should be the same in their
    home, in their society,
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    in their way of life because they will see
    them and when they will see them
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    after that the first thing they do when
    they see them,
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    and what they may not feel the need
    to do in their home countries,
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    is to create awareness of their own
    cultural traditions.
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    One thing is for sure, whether you
    were born in )6:49 ???or
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    in the subcontinent or you were born
    in an ice country and
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    you have lived in the traditions that
    were there and we automatically
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    adopt them and there is not much
    hesitation about the things that
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    are going on in a society or surrounding.
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    But every time you go to another
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    whatever you choose or insist on, requires
    a reasoning and an argument behind it,
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    so everyone should know when he is
    going to another place.
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    If it has a religious tradition, what is
    the reason behind it?
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    If he’s following certain ethics, what
    is the reason behind it?
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    They way one dresses walks around
    and blends in it should be known
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    what are the foundations of that?
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    The first thing is that the parents
    themselves should create
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    awareness about it.
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    In other words, they should educate
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    They should arrange their education.
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    In our case, I have asked you that
    these things are usually adopted
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    by observing the society, hearing from the
    parents which is not
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    a great conscious power, so it should
    be turned into a conscious power.
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    Once upon a time, some of our scholars
    interpreted that Muslims need not to be
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    just Muslim but a conscious Muslim, that
    is, if he renews his faith,
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    then the renewal of faith should not be
    said here in
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    any jurisprudential sense.
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    Rather, it is being said in the heavens
    that you have to know yourself,
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    you have to create your own knowledge and
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    If you are a Muslim, then why are you?
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    If you have a cultural background, then
    what is the status of it?
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    What arguments do you have for these
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    It should be in your own knowledge.
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    Obviously, not all people have a special
    level of knowledge,
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    so they should try to understand as
    much as they can.
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    Tell your children to put this thing in
    front of them with the argument.
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    The thing that they will convince them
    with authority.
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    Maybe its time has passed.
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    These things are no longer possible
    in our countries orglobally.
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    We have entered a world in which one
    civilization, another civilization,
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    a third civilization is becoming a part
    of a global civilization
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    in spite of its identities, and when this
    situation arises, you have to tell it about
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    everything why you are adopting it can no
    longer be ruled out.
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    Then you should try to find out what
    background you are from.
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    You may be from a non-Arab background
    or you may be from an Arab background,
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    you may be from the subcontinent.
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    There is an Islamic language however you
    can also say that the language
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    that is also Islamic and non-Islamic.
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    Of course it happens.
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    How it happens?
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    Similarly as we see it in our countries
    that people
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    are kept aware of English language.
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    If we have to ask
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    why?, then obviously the reason is that it
    has become
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    the language of modern science.
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    There are other languages of modern
    knowledge but we mention one such language
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    Many new sciences are now
    reaching us through this language
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    and we If we want access to them, we
    must also master this language.
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    In the same way, our religion, our
    religion, it came to Arabia, that is,
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    I mean the form of Islam when it
    was found through Muhammad,
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    the Messenger of God, peace be upon him.
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    It is the religion of all the Prophets,
    and it has always been Islam.
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    But when it was renewed by the
    Prophet (pbuh) and then it was
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    given to the world and The Quran
    was revealed in Arabic,
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    the Prophet (pbuh) himself addressed it
    from this language came the second period
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    of Persian language and then after that
    Urdu language got this status.
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    It is also a matter of some other
    languages that they have their
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    own religious background but if you
    look carefully whatever knowledge
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    has come into existence regarding religion,
    those great people have been born to
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    write in these languages and it has come
    into existence through them,
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    so one of the languages must be
    taught to children.
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    It is also important that you want to
    explain your religion because
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    you also want to transfer your culture.
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    You want to keep them connected to
    your traditions,
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    so it’s important as that the person’s
    memory is shaped by his past,
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    and you don’t want to see them alienated
    from the past.
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    These things have their respective
    importance and
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    revolves around the language factors.
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    The language is not just a means of
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    It is a big mistake of people to think
    that there are so-and-so facts.
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    If you translate them into such and
    such language, it will end.
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    It isn’t as such. It means when a high
    level of knowledge is created,
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    it is paid by the pens and tongues of
    high-ranking people,
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    and until people are in a position to use
    them directly,
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    after reaching a certain level of knowledge,
    man if not affected,
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    parents will play a role in teaching,
    people will learn from their surroundings,
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    you will learn from every teacher, then
    when big questions arise,
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    then it is important that they are aware
    of the intellectual heritage of Muslims.
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    Get to know its great people so that they
    can benefit from what is created in it
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    from religious traditions and if there is
    any ideology,
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    they are related to it. I always give my
    own example that when
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    I was trained by my parents, I understood
    some things and saw some things right
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    from the beginning. From Abul Kalam Azad,
    Iqbal, Syed Abul A’al Sahab Maududi
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    to Shibli Nomani, these were the elders
    with whom I got acquainted,
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    whose writings came to light and who
    would have access to them for reading.
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    As a result there was no room left for
    problems to address infront of parents.
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    We must also realize this need and provide
    educational opportunities
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    to our children accordingly.
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    [Ilyas] Totally, I would like to conclude
    with last two questions.
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    The children nowadays studying in
    High school Universities and College,
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    they have a common question to which
    parents have no answer which apparently
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    is if they are choosing a partner, they
    say that they are non-Muslims as
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    they are Muslims, they have good morals
    in them, they are also doing good deeds,
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    they are also doing charity work, so what
    is the reason that a Muslim child boy
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    or girl is getting married at the moment,
    then has the religion made it obligatory
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    for her to choose only the Muslims.
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    Is their any explanation to it which
    can be presentable by parents?
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    [Ghamidi] You also said that there are
    good morals and good training.
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    Why do they need them?
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    Because these are some values on
    which you are not ready to compromise.
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    Which means it will be a good home
    with it.
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    It means that morality is a
    problem for you.
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    You value it. You want to find it.
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    You call it a necessity of life.
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    This is the case with religion.
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    If you think that the decision is
    based on religion and this decision
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    is to be made on the Day of Judgment and
    my children have to adhere
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    to a religion and my society has to
    be molded by a religion
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    then that means that religion is
    your problem.
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    If religion is your problem, then it
    should be your problem
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    in marriage as well. It is a very simple
    intellectual thing to look at.
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    There are those whom I consider to be
    the source of my concern,
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    i.e I will see, not what are the values
    of another man I have to marry
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    I want to build a house.
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    It’s a lifelong decision.
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    I want to have children.
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    They have to learn.
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    So the real thing is that religion is no
    longer relevant to children.
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    At the same time, it is not related to
    their worries and life.
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    They see the parents that they want
    to force them to adhere to a religion
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    and this again raises the question in front
    of them as to why they choose religion
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    in the way we like and what we love.
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    This question will continue to come up
    until we present religion to our children
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    in such a way that it does not become
    their intellectual and
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    cultural problem in a moral way.
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    When it happens, they will not question if
    it will be acknowledged.
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    [Hassan] Please will you also shed light
    on whether Muslims
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    should be involved in the local politics
    of the United States,
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    which is the national politics here.
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    It is often suggested that there are a few
    major parties that have their own
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    manifestos and there are things in these
    manifesto lands that are also against Islam,
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    so if a person becomes a part of these
    parties and
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    becomes active in local politics,
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    then is there any question from a
    religious point of view?
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    [Ghamidi] Of course, I urge you to consider
    the countries you visit
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    when you have acquired their citizenship
    consider it as your own country.
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    You should be associated with this land.
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    You should be loyal to this land.
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    Think for the development of and when
    you have all the things in mind,
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    then if you have political taste in you,
    then you will definitely
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    participate in politics. In our country,
    most people are associated
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    with the politics of their own countries
    and mentally
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    they are the ones who win.
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    They should know everything in terms of
    the land they have chosen.
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    They must understand the politics of the
    land they belong to and
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    participate in parties.
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    If there’s democracy and It is known that
    you can live with differences of opinion.
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    Explain your differences of opinion and if
    you have a large number,
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    then it will start to affect this
    manifesto as well.
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    It will also affect its cultural outcome.
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    If you will remain unrelated, then you
    will only suffer the consequences.
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    You will have no share in it.
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    That’s why in my opinion if people are
    having a taste for politics,
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    they must participate.
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    [Hassan] Yes, at the end of the day I
    would like to ask you for a message
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    and we will end with the same message.
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    As we know Muslims have come a long way.
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    The Muslims that come from western
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    Do you think that Muslims should learn
    something from them and if so, what is it?
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    [Ghamidi] They have come because there
    is some attraction for them here,
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    that is, how these societies have made
    their journey,
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    how they have gone through different
    stages, how they got rid of whatever
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    was their past. What happened to them
    when the Renaissance
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    took place and a situation of revival of
    science arose in it?
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    What are the consequences of modern
    science in the same way?
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    They have to learn how to reach our
    societies. They have a lot to learn.
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    The fact is that it’s not just inventions,
    it’s not only airplane,the Internet,radio,
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    and television. Extraordinary work has
    also been done
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    in the social sciences or sociology.
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    imilarly, how should the organization of
    the society be?
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    How should the political system be
    established from the bottom to the top?
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    What will be the mutual affairs of the
    Prophet (pbuh)?
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    All these things have a lot to learn.
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    It is not a matter of dividing it into
    West or East.
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    The correct rule is that the [speaks
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    The job of a believer is to understand
    everything in the light of his religion,
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    to understand it in terms of his cultural
    values, and then to give his right to
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    whatever is right in it, and if anything
    is wrong, it is our moral duty to make it
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    clear that it is wrong in our culture,
    it is wrong in our society.
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    When we call things wrong, if we
    understand the right and
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    stand with it and explain the mistake,
    then this society and
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    its future generations will also be
    grateful to us.
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    [Hassan] We all end up here at the annual
    convocation of
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    the Islamic Society of North America ISNA.
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    We’re thankful on behalf of our
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    Ghamidi Sahib gave a chance to enlighten
    us with his views and
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    we hope it was well delivered to the
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    Insha’Allah, if we ever get a chance, we
    will listen directly to this convocation
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    of Ghamdi Sahib. Thank you very much
    for your time.
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    [Ghamidi] Thank u so much.
58th Annual ISNA Convention - Questions & Answers Session with Javed Ahmed Ghamidi

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