Identity, Diversity and Belonging

Understanding how individuals develop a sense of identity and belonging through faith or belief;

 

Exploring the variety, difference and relationships that exist within and between religions, values and beliefs.

 

 

Foundations of Identity

The main figure associated with the foundation of Islam is Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) who Muslims believe was chosen by God as His last messenger to humanity. Prophet Muhammad received his first revelation in the year 610 at the age of 40 and which he continued to receive for 23 years until his demise in 632. The first person to become his follower was his wife Khadijah, and then his cousin ‘Ali and his uncle Hamzah. The Qur’an also acknowledges the previous prophets whose mission culminated in Islam as the most complete religion of all the revealed religions. In the Sunni school, the first four caliphs are considered as the rightly guided ones (al-khulifa’ al-rashidun). The first two caliphs especially help the spread of Islam. According to the Shi’ah, Fatimah (the daughter of the Prophet) and her progeny, the Imams, played an important role in the foundation of the faith. They are seen as the extension of Prophethood and the preservers of the message.

Stories regarding the Prophet are mainly found in the sunnah (traditions) as well as some history books or biographies of the Prophet, for example: The Prophet, aged 12, was accompanying his uncle’s caravan. When they stopped for a rest on their way to Damascus, a Christian hermit recognised the sign of prophecy on Muhammad (pbuh) and told his uncle that the boy was destined for greatness. On a night of Ramadan in the year 610, Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) was meditating in the cave of Hira when the Angel Gabriel appeared to him and ordered the Prophet to ‘recite’ (iqra’!). The Prophet who was illiterate told the Angel he cannot recite, the Angel repeated two more times and the Prophet began uttering the words of the Qur’an. Even before the revelation, the Prophet was known for his remarkable reputation amongst his tribe and others. He was highly respected and trusted (he was named al-Aman, the trustworthy). After the revelation of his Prophethood, it is stories about his impeccable character, kindness, gentleness and love towards others, as well as his patience and endurance towards those who opposed and harmed him because they did not believe in his mission that teach us about the personality of the Prophet and how his personality helped found and spread the message of Islam.

Islam is clear that all prophets are ordinary human beings chosen by God for special missions. They have been sent to guide the people towards God and teach them about what is good for them and to warn about what is bad. The only way that people will listen to a prophet and follow him is if the prophet was himself a good person. Hence Islam asserts the infallibility of each and every prophet as God, out of His grace and justice, would not ask a people to follow a sinner.

Muslims view all prophets as examples to follow in the way they interacted with others (kindness and tolerance) and the way they were committed to God. The Qur’an describes Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) as the most perfect example to follow (Surah 33:21). Muslims follow the Prophet by referring to the traditions (ahadith) that describe his actions and words.

The Qur’an says:

By the Star when it goes down—Your Companion is neither astray nor being misled. Nor does he say (aught) of (his own) Desire. It is no less than inspiration sent down to him. (53:1-4)

Every single word and action of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is in accordance with the revelation of God. Hence everything that emanated from him represented the highest and most perfect level of spiritual and moral values.

Muslims believe that the Qur’an, revealed over 1400 years ago, is the eternal word of God and hence can be interpreted for today’s world. A famous tradition (hadith) states: “What was permissible during the life of Muhammad will be permissible until the Day of Judgment and what was forbidden during the life of Muhammad will be forbidden until the Day of Judgment”. Hence the person of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is an everlasting example. Muslims look at the example of the Prophet and interpret his actions and words for the time and the society they live in. As the epitome of perfection, Muslims of all ages strive to follow in his footsteps in order to reach perfection which is the purpose of creation.

For Muslims this life can only have a meaning with a belief in the next life as the purpose of this life is the Hereafter. Hence any deeds, exertion, or gains in this world must have as an ultimate end the next world.

All that the Prophet did was in accordance with Islam and for the pleasure of God. The Prophet showed that material gains, worldly powers, and high status for example are all part of the temptations of this temporal world but which no one takes with them to the next life. It is only the deeds of peoples’ worldly life that will accompany them into the grave and which will determine their destiny. As a perfect role model, he put into practice all that he preached. He showed how humans can detach themselves from worldly temptations and overcome tests and difficulties. Nevertheless, he lived his life to the full; he was a husband, a father, a friend, a businessman, a leader, a teacher. He showed how people can contribute to society, help others and work hard to fulfil their material needs yet still remaining detached from the love of the world and its material temptations.

For Muslims, it is important to know that all belongs to God and the same way God gives it, God can take it away and that everything shall perish except the face of God. This life is no longer a goal but the means to bliss if one’s deeds are good or to hell if they are bad. As the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) is the perfect example for Muslims, he was the embodiment of obedience to the One God knowing that this life is a mere transition to the eternal life which awaits. Throughout his life he had complete trust in God at all times and bore with patience in any difficult situation. He was certain that the justice of God will come and he knew that there is nothing other than God as attested by the Qur’an:

And call not, besides Allah, on another god. There is no god but He. Everything (that exists) will perish except His own Face. To Him belongs the Command, and to Him will ye (all) be brought back. (Surah 28:88)

God is the source of inspiration. There is a saying in Islam that when a person takes one step towards God, God takes ten steps towards them (as in gaining closeness, not literal steps). Although God is the One who inspires and guides, the human being has to be ready to ‘receive’ that guidance.

Being Human

Islam teaches Muslims that man was created from dust and that God breathed into him his spirit, favouring him over the rest of creation (Surahs 23:12-14, 32:7-9). Hence humans are both material and spiritual beings. Muslims believe that a human being can follow his material desires and become worse than animals or realise his spiritual potential and become better than angels. Therefore, the struggle of the human being is to realise fully in himself his humanity as opposed to his animalistic side. In Islam, the self is a trust (amanah) from God which was faultless when given. We must strive to return this trust in the same condition. Hence, it must be nourished and protected from anything that might tarnish it.

The Prophet said: ‘Whoever knows his self, knows his Lord.’

Self-knowledge is very important in Islam as it leads to the discovery that the self is a divine entity upon which celestial virtues have been bestowed and which is far superior to its material and physical dimension.

The Qur’an teaches Muslims that the human being was created not only a material being as God says: “When I have fashioned him (in due proportion) and breathed into him of My spirit, fall ye down in obeisance unto him” (Surah 15:29).

Islam not only asserts the existence of the soul but it emphasizes its superiority over the body. It is the soul that gives life to the body; without the soul, the body is just a corpse. It is through the purification and perfection of one’s self that one can reach salvation in the next life. At the end of time, all human beings will be resurrected for the Day of Judgment where every single person from the very beginning of creation will be brought to account for all their deeds during their worldly life. The Qur’an stresses on the primacy of the life Hereafter (Akhirah) as the earthly life is only temporary and the Hereafter is the eternal abode, the Qur’an says:

Day (behold), ye prefer the life of this world; But the Hereafter is better and more enduring. (Surah 87:16-17)

There are many descriptions in the Qur’an of the Day of Judgment and Heaven and hell. The human being is constantly advised to believe and to do good in order to be rewarded with heaven in the afterlife.

Islam views the human being as a social being and discourages one to isolate himself from society as it is working together that a society and its individuals can evolve and progress. Belonging to a community can strengthen a person’s faith by encouraging them or reminding them to carry out their religious duties and hence helping them progress in their spiritual journey.

Being a Muslim

A Muslim must establish belief in the fundamentals of religion (usal al-din): tawhid, prophethood and Judgment Day. The Shi’ah school of thought has a further two: imamah (God chosen successors to the Prophet) and justice. A Muslim must recognise that God is One (tawhid) and that Muhammad (pbuh) was His last messenger and hence must lead a way of life that is in accordance with the teachings of the Qur’an and the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). A Muslim has obligations towards God, himself and others. A Muslim (when of age) is expected to perform their religious obligations such as the daily prayers, fast during the month of Ramadan, and pay their religious taxes (zakah and khums). He must treat others as his equals in humanity.

A committed Muslim carries out his religious duties, he may go to the mosque to attend lectures or to perform his prayers individually or in congregation, but he is primarily someone who does good deeds and refrains from sin:

To thee We sent the Scripture in truth, confirming the scripture that came before it, and guarding it in safety: so judge between them by what Allah hath revealed, and follow not their vain desires, diverging from the Truth that hath come to thee. To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah. It is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute. (Surah 5:48)

[…] Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Surah 49:13)

Hence it is deeds that show real commitment and which will ultimately determine a person’s destiny.

Without doubt the five daily prayers (salah) is the most important ritual in Islam which must be performed under any circumstance. Muslims will be seen praying in public places, at their work place and even on airplanes for instance. The prayers can also be performed every day in congregation at the mosque (or any place where there is a person leading the prayers and there are others following).

Charity (sadaqah) is vital in Islamic communities; Islam expects Muslims to be generous towards others. Through charity, communities raise money for different projects such as Iftars (food for breaking the fast) for poor families and running a ‘Sunday school’ (madrassah). A Muslim is expected to keep close ties with his family and the community.

Greeting (taslam: al-salam ‘alaykum, reply ‘alaykum al-salam) each other is very important in Islam. In effect the person who initiates the greeting is said to merit 99 rewards (hasanat) whereas the person who replies only merits one; this is to encourage people to greet each other but it also stresses the importance of not breaking ties.

There is also great reward in visiting the elderly and the sick, helping the needy, attending social gatherings such as weddings and funerals and visiting the cemetery. All this is part of belonging and contributing to a community. Islam forbids all kinds of intoxicants; a Muslim cannot consume, transact with, or even sit in the company of people who are consuming alcohol.

As far as dress is concerned there is no particular way a Muslim must dress. The key requirement is modesty and dignity as the Qur’an commands both men and women to ‘lower their gaze and be modest’. The only outward expression of Islamic dress is the covering of the woman (hijab); however the way it is worn can vary greatly from one culture to another. Men are encouraged to keep a beard.

Commitment is generally seen as an intimate relationship between God and the person. Hence only God knows who is truly committed as only He knows what is in any person’s heart. Although a person may have submitted to the way of Islam, he might not have established firm faith within his heart. (Surah 49:14). Any act done to boast to others is disliked (except giving to the poor as this can set an example or reminder to others).

The Prophet is reported to have said: ‘Indeed, I have been sent to perfect the morals.’

The Qur’an describes him as a role model for human beings to follow as he put perfectly into practice everything that he preached:

Ye have indeed in the Apostle of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for any one whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the Praise of Allah. (Surah 33:21)

Amongst other things, the Prophet taught honesty, humility, hospitality, generosity, kindness, tolerance and love. He called the struggle of the soul (jihad al-nafs) as the greater struggle compared to the minor struggle that of war. It is worth noting that during the life of the Prophet Islam did not spread by the sword but people were attracted to him because of his way of life and this is what is expected of every Muslim.

The Prophet also said: ‘Model yourselves with the qualities of God.’

Religious / Spiritual Identity

The Qur’an distinguishes between Islam (as a basic statement of belief) and iman (as true commitment) (Surah 49:14). Belief coupled with commitment is a higher level of submission and spirituality. For example, one may proclaim to be Muslim by uttering the testimony (shahadah) but still does not perform obligatory duties such as performing daily prayers. Nevertheless one who prays but whose trust in God is weak has not achieved a firm faith in his heart. Hence, rituals, other symbolising physical commitment, have as a purpose the reaping of strong faith and spiritual fulfilment.

The Prophet (and Imams for the Shi’ah) left people with a template to reach perfection and attain the highest degree of spirituality. Thus a Muslim must follow the way of the Prophet as it is the most perfect way. A Muslim cannot abandon a religious act ordained by the Prophet and replace with one that he constructs. However, there are recommended acts that one is free to do when and as much as one wishes. Within the religion, there are different schools of thought which one might choose to change from one to another. A follower of the Shi’ah school chooses a spiritual leader as a point of reference just as a Sufi chooses a spiritual leader or guide (shaykh or murshid), or an order or path (tariqah) to follow.

Each person has individual responsibilities for which that person will be accountable for on the Day of Judgment. This is a direct corollary of free will with which each human being is born. Free will enables the person to make their own choices without being coerced into anything as the Qur’anic verse states:

Let there be no compulsion in religion […] (Surah 2:256)

The Qur’an emphasises greatly on the individual and their duties to God, to themselves and to others by talking directly to the person “oh human being” or indirectly “every male and female”. Islam teaches Muslims that human beings have a central role to play in the universe as God has chosen the human being as His khalifah, His vicegerent. In order to represent God, one must know God and even share God’s characteristics. Therefore, every person has the ability to acquire these by perfecting in one’s self the 99 Names of God.

Family and Community

Islam begins at home with the children being taught Islamic values and way of life from a very young age. This way of life extends into the community with the family attending congregational prayers, ‘Sunday school’, ‘Id celebrations and other social events. Pilgrimage to Makkah, as well as shrines of Imams and saints, further establishes even a greater sense of belonging.

Family is crucial in Islam (birth rituals, teaching children to pray and recite Qur’an and Islamic morals). It is forbidden to break ties (silah al-rahm) with family (unless one is asked to disbelief) for which one will earn grave punishment. The Qur’an stresses on showing kindness towards the parents especially in their old age (Surahs 17:23, 29:8).

For most Muslims to be part of a family unit and a community offers them a sense of identity and security. They are usually a Muslim’s first port of call for support and strength especially in times of need and act as a reminder to carry out one’s religious duties hence making one stronger emotionally and spiritually.

The importance of family and community has its roots in the Qur’an. Muslims are instructed to keep close family ties and to treat their parents with nothing other than kindness:

Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to parents. Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a word of contempt, nor repel them, but address them in terms of honour. (Surah 17:23)

Ramadan is a month in which family and community ties are strengthened: families endeavour to break the fast together; people often fund an iftir (breaking of the fast) for the whole community at the mosque; in the Sunni school, some Muslims will attend the mosque’s tarawith prayers every night; all this culminates in the ‘id prayer in which the whole community usually attends at the end of the month.

The home and the mosque are the main places where a Muslim family practises its faith. At home, the whole family can pray together in congregation, recite supplications together, children are taught the Qur’an. Many Muslim families will have Qur’anic passages in their homes. A Muslim should care for the elderly and visit the sick. Islam is present in every aspect of our everyday life and hence one can be constantly God conscious. There are supplications or praises for almost anything a person can do: waking up in the morning, before one leaves the house, before and after eating, entering or coming out of the restroom.

A very important concept in Islam is ummah (community). It encourages Muslims to support and help each other especially in times of need such as after the loss of a loved one. Also Imam ‘Ali says in a famous tradition: ‘A person is either your brother in religion or your brother in humanity.’

It is highly recommended that a person lives near a Muslim community as it can serve as a support for the person and a reminder of one’s duties to God. Islam in its totality is based on unity. First, unity (tawhid) is recognising that God is One. But unity extends to every other aspect of the religion for example the Islamic rituals such as hajj which is probably the greatest symbol of unity where people of all ages, colour and status perform the same act at the same time in the same way submitting themselves completely to the One God. Hence for Muslims, belonging and being a unit is part of their faith.

And hold fast, all together, by the rope which Allah (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves […] (Surah 3:103)

Muslims are described in the Qur’an as brothers. This brotherhood which is not based on blood relations unites them spiritually.

The Believers are but a single Brotherhood: So make peace and reconciliation between your two (contending) brothers; and fear Allah, that ye may receive Mercy (Surah 49:10).

Hence, both the family and the community have since the beginning of Islam been important elements of a Muslim’s life.

Most Muslim communities hold a congregation for the daily prayers at the mosque. The Friday prayer (salah al-Jumu’ah) including the two sermons (khutbah, sing.) plays a very important role in Muslim communities; usually the mosque is full for the Friday prayers so it is a great opportunity to educate those attending about Islamic issues as well as to raise issues affecting the local and global community. The Islamic festivals (‘id, sing.) are celebrated with the family as well as the community. The ‘id prayers are held at the mosque and some communities organise a whole day of activities for the whole family. Weddings and funerals are important times for the community to come together. In weddings, there may be Qur’an recitation, supplications, poems and Islamic songs (nashid, sing.). In funerals, everyone joins the prayer of the deceased. As the first night in the grave is known to be the most difficult night for the deceased, the members of the Shi’ah community usually recite individually after the evening prayer a special prayer called salah al-wahshah which is performed the night of the burial as it is known to reduce the suffering in the grave. ‘Sunday schools’ are run now in most communities to teach children about their faith and to have a sense of belonging.

Many Muslims nowadays live in multi-ethnic multi-faith western communities. For these Muslims, to belong to a community is vital as it helps stay strong in their faith and to keep an Islamic way of life. This becomes even more important as in today’s climate as Islam has been in the spotlight for different reasons. Some Muslims might feel a sense of insecurity as they may be directly or indirectly affected by some extremists’ actions in the name of Islam. Therefore belonging to a community offers them security and comfort.

One of the most powerful experiences of what it means to belong to the Islamic faith tradition is the annual Hajj. Muslims gather from every corner of the world, with every ethnic group, every nationality, every language represented, one truly experiences the depth and breadth of what it means to belong to the Ummah of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). It is a point at which one is touched by Tawhid at its deepest level – not just the Oneness of God but the witnessing of Oneness of humanity too. The stories of Hajj are brought back home by the Hajji, a memory, a reminder, to the community of his journey in the footsteps of the Prophet and his great ancestors – Adam, Abraham, Ishmael and Hagar. It is an affirmation of Islamic beliefs, history, and the realization and fulfilment of the primordial covenant of Alastu bi Rabbikum (Q. 7:172) and the link between the local and global community of Muslims.

Muslim Diversity

The Prophet defined Islam as constituting three dimensions – Islam, Iman, Ihsan. Traditionally:

– Islam is reflected by the Madhahibs (religious schools) – Shafi’i, Hanafi, Maliki and Hanbali.
– Iman is dialectical theology and the major schools are Ashari and Maturidi.
– Ihsan is Tasawwuf or Sufism, containing numerous Sufi tariqas (orders), the main ones being Naqshbandi, Qadari, Chishti and Shadhili

There is a difference of opinion between the two main sects in Islam (Sunni and Shi’ah) as regards the succession of the Prophet.

The Sunni hold the companions (ashab) of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in high regard and consider the first four as the rightly guided successors (Abu Bakr, ‘Umar, ‘Uthman and ‘Ali). The Shi’ah Muslims believe that the first legitimate successor is Imam ‘Ali, as they believe he was chosen by God as opposed to being elected by the people.

‘Ayshah, daughter of Abu Bakr and one of the wives of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), is the lady who shaped Sunni Islam. She is held in very high esteem by Sunnis.

Fatimah, the daughter of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) and wife of Imam ‘Ali (the cousin and son-in-law of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh), shaped Shi’ah Islam. Imam Hussein, the third Shi’ah Imam is considered, particularly by Shi’ah Muslims, as the saviour of Islam who sacrificed his life for the faith along with some of his family members and companions.

In Shi’ah Islam the major group is Jafari or twelvers, named after Imam Ja’far al-Sadiq (d.765). They follow the twelve Imams, all descendants of Imam Ali (d. 661) and Fatima (d. 633). Other groups dispute the right of succession and therefore two other main groups emerged – the Zaydis or Fivers, named after Imam Zayd ibn Ali (d. 740) and the Isma’ilis or Seveners, named after Imam Muhammad ibn Isma’il.

A number of reform movements emerged under colonial rule in the 19th and 20th centuries. Many Sunni Muslims in the UK may be adherents of one of these movements – Barelwi, Deobandi, Ahl-i-Hadith, Tablighi Jama’at and Salafi / Wahabi.

Islamic communities in the UK come from diverse ethnic and denominational backgrounds. This often means differences not just in clothing and cultural attitudes but also in religious practice as each ethnic group emanating from a particular Islamic geographical area will traditionally have adhered to a particular Madh’hab. However, this situation somewhat evolved and other groups substantially funded through the oil boom of the 1970s led to the establishment of new groups that were opposed to the traditional Madhahibs, these may be termed to as Wahhabi/Salafis. A consequence of this has been that second or third generation Muslims have been exposed to a Theology that is anti-mainstream and literalist. Despite these differences, Mosques nonetheless will maintain an open policy to all denominations for congregational prayers or other religious practices.

Other Religions & Beliefs

Islam is an inclusive religion. It stresses equality of all human beings where there cannot be a people superior to another. The differences people share are only there to learn from each other as the Qur’an says:

O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full knowledge and is well acquainted (with all things). (Surah 49:13)

For Muslims, a person is either your brother in religion or your brother in humanity.

Hence brotherhood should be extended to people of all faiths. The same way God loves and provides for the whole of His creation, just so are Muslims expected to model themselves with the attributes of God. They must therefore treat others with love, respect and equality.

Islam from its very inception has encountered other faiths, especially the two Abrahamic faiths – Christianity and Judaism, adherents of these are referred to in the Qur’an as Ahl al-Kitab, Peoples of the Book. Historically as the Islamic empire expanded Muslims were able to extend this definition of Ahl al-Kitab to include Zoroastrians, Buddhists and Hindus. Following the Prophet’s proclamation of his mission, there followed intense persecution of Muslims, which led to the migration of eighty-three men and nineteen women to Abyssinia, a Christian land in 616 CE. Other examples include the Constitution of al-Madinah, the Prophet allowing a Christian delegation from Najran to pray in the Mosque and there are numerous verses of the Qur’an (Surahs 2:62, 3:63, 3:113-115, 3:199), that clearly instruct Muslims to tolerance of other faiths and the Shari’ah guarantees religious freedom to all faiths. The following verse especially is so relevant for our times:

[…] To each among you have we prescribed a law and an open way. If Allah had so willed, He would have made you a single people, but (His plan is) to test you in what He hath given you: so strive as in a race in all virtues. The goal of you all is to Allah. It is He that will show you the truth of the matters in which ye dispute (Surah 5:48).

This however does not mean that Muslims from a literalist persuasion will not ignore these verses and rather seek to utilize verse 5:51 and argue against friendships with Christians and Jews. Their interpretation is literal and flawed. It fails to take into account the asbab al-nuzul, the occasion of revelation. In this instance this verse was revealed during a time at which the very survival of the nascent Muslim community was at stake. A number of Muslims sought to make alliances with Christian and Jewish tribes, if they were permitted to do so, this would have broken Muslim unity and led to a possible annihilation of the community by the pagan Arabs. This verse therefore instructed Muslims not to take those Christian and Jewish tribes as their supporters or friends. The word ‘awliya’ can mean ‘friends’ and also ‘supporters’, subject to context. At another point the Qur’an states:

Allah forbids you not, with regard to those who fight you not for (your) Faith nor drive you out of your homes, from dealing kindly and justly with them: for Allah loveth those who are just. (Surah 60:8).

Over the last decade, interfaith activity throughout many of our cities has begun to intensify.

Pluralism combined with post-modernism has forced religious traditions to seek to develop a theology of mutual respect, accommodation and tolerance. Muslims, particularly living in western pluralist societies are drawing on aspects of their Sufi heritage that has been neglected for the last three centuries. The recovery of Sufi teachings means often that the majority of British Muslims are re-discovering the Islam of their parents, and this will also lead to a movement towards the emergence of a British Islam that is rooted in Muslim beliefs but is expressed through the British social and cultural context. A famous Sufi dictum is: ‘The other is my Brother’. This worldview allows Muslims to work with and build friendships with people of other faiths or of none and yet remain rooted to a deeper Ihsanic vision of Islam.

Human beings have been created to worship (Ibadah) God. The concept of Ibadah is broad and all-embracing, is not simply confined to the practice of the 5 pillars – Shahadah (Oneness of Allah and the finality of the Messengership of Muhammad), Salah (five daily prayers), Sawm (Fasting in the month of Ramadan), Zakah (Alms) and the performance of Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah) if one is able to physically and financially. The concept of ibadah, of worship penetrates and permeates through every aspect of human action. Imam BaihaqI for example informs us that even the removal of some litter from the street is part of one’s faith. Smiling at one’s parents, kindness to neighbours, visiting the sick, contributing to the betterment of society and earning a halal living are just some examples of Ibadah, of worship. In sum it is to serve God and service is through worship, through ethical and moral action, indeed to serve our fellow human beings and the rest of creation is the true realisation of the concept of Ibadah. Citizenship therefore is to develop and instil in our young and old a sense of responsibility and duty to positive action for the benefit of the individual and society.

Websites

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