In the name of Allah, most gracious most merciful. all praises are due to Allah. Peace and blessings be upon our master (sayyidina), muhammad and upon his family and companions be peace.I am grateful to Allah that the believers have begun to record and document the history of the dar ul- Islam movement. This book was commissioned by the "dar ul Islam history project." Allah, Most High says, "Travel in the earth and see the outcome of those who came before you." He also says, "This is the sunnah of Allah with those who came before you. And you will never find a change in the sunnah of Allah."The above-mentioned Qur'anic verses are an indication of the importance of history. Allah has a sunnah-or a pattern- with regard to how He brings a people up and how He brings a people down. Therefore, it its extremely important that the history of the dar ul Islam movement not die right along with those who lived it. Those who don't know their history are doomed to repeat it. What made the dar flourish? What were those things which contributed to their dissolution? What can we learn from their history?To date i have not read a comprehensive history of this movement. Of the two books that i have read by former members of the dar- this being one of them- the history aspect is always vague and sketchy. We only get glimpses into the dar ul Islam movement; whereas with other groups we get details. For this reason, this seminal and important movement gets ignored and written out of history. I have gotten more written information about the dar from outsiders than former members. This information is usually misleading. I have had imams correct some of my misconceptions about the dar. What I'm trying to say is that if the dar doesn't tell its own story somebody else will and i can guarantee that they will not like it.For the most part, this book emphasizes how the dar actuated the 5 pillars of Islam. The author shows how the 5 pillars became real and tangible; how, for example, the need to establish salah led to the establishment of institutions which facilitated the prayer.In the beginning, he explained the bay'ah and its wording. he dedicated a little more than two pages familiarizing us with iman, shaykh yahya abdul Kareem, may Allah have mercy on him. He gives us the structure of the dar in about six pages.Many of us are thirsty for more details about this blessed jamaa'ah than what was presented here. This is in no way meant to put down the book or its author; i still recommend this book. I just believe that what i was looking for was outside of the author's scope. I do not believe that it was his intention to give us a detailed history. I do believe that he intended to show us that the dar was an authentically islamic jamaa'ah and not just a "militant" group: and if that was his intent i believe that his mission was accomplished.May Allah bless dr. Kamal Hassan Ali and all of the members of the dar ul Islam movement!
In the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. All praises are due to Allah, Lord of the Worlds. Peace and blessings be upon our Master Muhammad, his family and companions.
This book was a breath of fresh air. It is an easy read (I finished it in a couple of hours). The reason why I believe this book is a breath of fresh air is because it is always better to learn about important history - such as this - from someone who actually experienced it!
Whenever we are forced to learn about some movement or event of the past from some intellectual who was not part of that history, they superimpose their own prejudices, opinions and worldviews upon the actual players themselves. And most of the time, those people who actually lived through and experienced the history in question are dead and have no way of correcting the mistakes of those who took the liberty of speaking on their behalf.
I pray that more of our elders - scholarly or not - do the same as this brother and tell their own stories, from their own perspectives. Their history is important even if they think they were just "rank and file" common people!
I only wish to quote a few passages that stood out to me, without really commenting on them. In my mind, these quotes that I mention are extremely relevant!
"I didn't understand the importance of that particular moment then in 1968, but that was the most important singular act of this community to date. All of the future advancements were predicated upon the choice of Imam Yahya as Imam and his vision and guidance to make this community that became known as the Dar-ul-Islam community and then the Dar-ul-Islam Movement the most important indigenous American Islamic Revivalist Movement with communities and representation in 44 American cities under the leadership of one Imam." - page 39
"There is no way to adequately understand the Dar-ul-Islam Movement without underscoring the importance and emphasis placed on the establishment of the salat as a basic requirement for a Muslim as an individual or the basic requirement for a community's acceptance into the Dar's fold. All activities were centered on the prayers, meaning that the salat or prayer was not squeezed in between the various activities of the movement. The activities of the movement were squeezed in between the prayers." [emphasis mine] - page 51
"There are those who study Islam from the Ivory towers of academia and who attempt to elaborate upon the many nuances of this uniquely Muslim characteristic, but until one has struggled to leave sleep in order to please Allah or been so tied up and preoccupied with the days event and then consciously removed themselves to make time for this obligatory act of devotion, until this happens one does not even come close to comprehending its meaning or the the significance it holds for the worshipper. It is this act that attaches the heart to this deen (way of living) and therefore the salat was the core unifying factor in allowing the movement to assess the viability of other communities in seeking admittance to the Dar-ul-Islam Movement." - page 52
"The Dar-ul-Islam movement began to lose steam in the early eighties. Imam Yahya and other Amirs began to gravitate towards 'tasawuff' or the esoteric spiritualism within the world of Islam. They attached themselves to a 'Sheikh from Pakistan'. The consequence of that attachment is that the efforts of the Dar at home, in America, no longer had the same kind of 'urgency' with those who had given 'bayah', or a pledge of allegiance to the Pakistani sheikh." - page 66
Volumes can be and have been written on the implications of these statements. I believe these statements should be pondered on by those who take the Islamic way of life seriously.
“These scholars were, of course, literates in an otherwise preliterate society; and this gave them the status and power of an elite. They functioned in such roles as court astrologers, religious teachers scribes, Islamic rainmakers, military advisors, and physicians. Their literacy was seen as evidence of superior magic, and the local rulers valued their presence at court for the prestige it brought. The scholars seem to have acquiesced quite readily in this comfortable situation. Only occasionally did one of them have enough courage to protest the mixing of Islam with paganism. While the careers of such activist were sometimes spectacular, their tangible achievements were few; although occasionally, as in the case of al-Maghili, their writings did become important sources of ideas for future generations. But usually they were content to follow a life of scholarship and to study the books brought in across the Sahara from North Africa and Egypt. Then they themselves began to write. Soon they produced a corpus of local Islamic literature written in classical Arabic – the liturgical and legal language of the Islamic religion – from which it is clear that by the first half of the seventeenth century the small Islamic communities were fully at home in the intellectual world of Islam, and therefore not so far removed from the ideas and attitudes of the late medieval and Renaissance European Christendom. But, of course, in Hausaland, as in Europe at an equivalent stage of intellectual development, such scholarship was the preserve of a tiny minority and its impact on the lives of ordinary people was slight.”
The quote mentioned above if that of Mervyn Hiskett, taken from his book The Sword of Truth: The Life and Times of the Shehu Usuman dan Fodio. This is merely a small section of his introduction where he attempts to paint a picture of what life was like when the Shehu or Shaykh ‘Uthman ibn Fudi stepped onto the scene.
As I reread this book, I am reminded of how similar his time is to ours and all of those past generations which were on the verge of reform (tajdeed). What strikes me most in this quote is the complicity of the bulk of the scholars. There job was/is not to revive al-Islam, but merely to maintain the status quo. Some may argue that the scholars referred to above were giving sanction to clear shirk (paganism and idolatry) while those contemporary to us are not doing that. Many would beg to differ.
All one has to do is examine the works of many of our contemporary scholars. Their speeches and writings are tailor-made to justify and give Islamic credence to whatever the social engineers deem to be acceptable – right, wrong or indifferent.
Just examine the discourse! Many of them are trying to promote the acceptability and tolerance of homosexuality among Muslims and redefine or completely negate apostasy. In other words, you can do or say anything and no one has the right to declare that act or statement as a nullification of your Islam.
We have also witnessed the acceptability and practice of all of the pagan holidays and the neglect of the Muslim celebrations. The complicit scholars of our time have done this by utilizing the false paradigm of the secularists who divide the world into ‘religious’ and ‘non-religious’. Once they have given the pagan holiday the false hukm (legal ruling) of being ‘non-religious’, they follow that up by saying that the practice is not pagan and therefore permissible to indulge.
Our ‘Ulama (scholars) have never thought that way (at least not until the colonial period). The Muslim doesn’t understand what ‘non-religious’ means. Everything is for the sake of Allah, including earning wealth and having sexual intercourse. The believer expects a reward from Allah on top of/and more important than the gratification he or she experiences during and after sex. Is sex a ‘non-religious’ act?
In closing, I recommend this book to all who can find it. When you compare what the author says about the Shehu to the writings and accomplishments of the Shehu himself; you will find that he was a stranger (in the sense of the hadith) who cared about the everyday person and his movement infected and affected them to the point that they changed the status quo.
Bismillah. In the second chapter of this book, the author critically analyzes the system of education laid down by the dominant, oppressive culture. I believe this chapter to be short but extremely powerful!
It would be of benefit to mention an important qaa'idah or axiom at this point. Though many scholars have articulated this general principle, I will quote none other than the reformer, reviver, scholar-warrior, the sayyid (descendant of Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace) Shehu Uthman Dan Fodio (may Allah envelop him in His Mercy, Ameen!) who said:
Anna dawaa'a kulli 'illatin bi diddiha
"Realize that the cure for every sickness is with its opposite!"
With that being said it is hoped that the reader will begin to look at the author's criticism of what he calls "Banking System" education and realize that the cure or answer for the problems which emanate from it are contained or can be found in its opposite.
"Education thus becomes an act of depositing, in which the students are the depositories and the teacher is the depositor. Instead of communicating, the teacher issues communiques and makes deposits which the students patiently receive, memorize, and repeat. This is the "banking" concept of education, in which the scope of action allowed to the students extends only as far as receiving, filing, and storing the deposits. They do, it is true, have the opportunity to become collectors or cataloguers of the things they store. But in the last analysis, it is the people themselves who are filed away through the lack of creativity, transformation, and knowledge in this (at best) misguided system. For apart from inquiry, apart from the praxis, individuals cannot be truly human. Knowledge emerges only through invention and re-invention, through the restless, impatient, continuing, hopeful inquiry human beings pursue in the world, with the world, and with each other."
As he so eloquently explains it, the only job of the student is to sit there and receive whatever is transmitted to him. He or she is denied the room to be critical of what is being taught, in fact, any action short of passive acceptance usually results in a failing grade or some type of false diagnosis of mental disease. This form of mis-education has no room for give-and-take between student and teacher, just "shut up and listen until the bell rings."
"In the banking concept of education, knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing. Projecting an absolute ignorance onto others, a characteristic of the ideology)of oppression, negates education and knowledge as processes of inquiry. The teacher presents himself to his students as their necessary opposite; by considering their ignorance absolute, he- justifies his own existence. The students, alienated like the slave in the Hegelian dialectic, accept their ignorance as justifying the teachers existence—but, unlike the slave, they never discover that they educate the teacher."
This is a major characteristic of modern-day 'banking' education. The products of this system who choose to become educators themselves are easy to spot because the are extremely arrogant. They see themselves belonging to an elite group characterized by an almost absolute knowledge. All others are deemed to be completely ignorant and have nothing to offer to the discourse. These people don't take challenges - even polite ones - well. Their response to a challenge or a disagreement is usually sarcastic, disrespectful and condescending! This is a characteristic of a hypocrite according to the Prophetic definition:
Abdullah ibn ‘Amr ibn al-‘Aas, may Allah be pleased with both of them, relates that the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Whoever has the following four (characteristics) will be a pure hypocrite (munaafiqan khaalisan) and whoever has one of the following four characteristics will have one characteristic of hypocrisy (khaslatun min an-nifaaq) unless and until he gives it up.  When he is entrusted he betrays (khaana);  when he speaks he lies (kadhaba);  when he makes a covenant he proves treacherous (ghadara);  and when he quarrels he behaves in a very imprudent, evil and insulting manner (fajara). (Agreed upon (Bukhari and Muslim)).
Products of this 'banking system' type of education have even effected the Muslim community; because nowadays many Muslims who wish to further their Islamic education do so within institutions which mimic the so-called western university pattern, i.e. 'banking system' education! They call them Islamic Universities sometimes and other times they masquerade in the disguise of a traditional madrasah!
Embedded within this type of so-called education is the false understanding that the gap between student and teacher will never be reduced.
"The raison d'etre of libertarian education, on the other hand, lies in its drive towards reconciliation. Education must begin with the solution of the teacher-student contradiction, by reconciling the poles of the contradiction so that both are simultaneously teachers and students.
This solution is not (nor can it be) found in the banking concept. On the contrary, banking education maintains and even stimulates the contradiction through the following attitudes and practices, which mirr0r oppressive society as a whole:
(a) the teacher teaches and the students are taught;
(b) the teacher knows everything and the students know nothing;
(c) the teacher thinks and the students are thought about;
(d) the teacher talks and the students listen—meekly;
(e) the teacher disciplines and the students are disciplined;
(f) the teacher chooses and enforces his choice, and the students comply;
(g) the teacher acts and the students have the illusion of acting through the action of the teacher;
(h) the teacher chooses the program content, and the students (who were not consulted) adapt to it;
(i) the teacher confuses the authority of knowledge with his or her own professional authority, which she and he sets in opposition to the freedom of the students;
(j) the teacher is the Subject of the learning process, while the pupils are mere objects."
As the author explains, this type of so-called instruction neutralizes and kills the creative ability of the student. Problem-posing education - as he calls it - doesn't recognize these absolute student/teacher categories. He goes on to explain that the teacher is at the same time a student: and the student is at the same time a teacher. There is a give and take which takes place. There is a dialog, a back and forth, nothing is abstract, it is all rooted in reality!
This is consistent with what we know of the best of educators - Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace. The obvious example is the well-known Hadith of Jibreel, which can be found in many places like Imam an-Nawawi's 40 Hadith. In this prophetic narration, angel Jibril comes to Prophet Muhanmad in the form of a man and asks him several questions and affirms the truthfulness of his answers! He then asks a question in which the Prophet responds by saying, "The one being questioned knows no more than the questioner." When the man (angel) left, he asked the Companions in attendance if they knew who the questioner was and they said, "Allah and His Messenger knew best." Prophet Muhammad then informed them that it was Jibreel who came to instruct them about the religion. From that time up until now the scholars of al-Islam have always analyzed and used this Hadith to illustrate how real education takes place. If you look at it you have the teacher/student in Angel Jibreel who questions the student/teacher, the best of creation - Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace: and a dialog takes place. And you also have a group of student/teachers witnessing this whole discourse and then they are in turn questioned and asked for input.
On another occasion, a Companion by the name of Tameem ad-Daari gave the Prophet some information about the Dajjaal (the Anti-Christ). And he in turn related that information to the rest of the community. The scholars gave this type of narration a name, "the one who is above (or better) narrating on the authority of the one who is below (or inferior)."
On yet another occasion, the Prophet may Allah bless him and grant him peace asked the Companions about the date-palm tree by giving some of its descriptions or characteristics. It was sort of like a trick question or a quiz. When none of them were able to guess that it was the date palm tree that he was talking about he gave them the answer. Abdullah, the son of 'Umar - 2 very well-known and scholarly Companions - was among those who were present. Abdullah went to his father and informed him that he knew the answer but was too shy to speak in front of everybody. 'Umar then admonished him for not answering the question.
We could go on and on in this vein. It should be clear that Islam's method and principle of education - its pedagogy - is consistent with what the author has presented; at least in the opinion of this reader. What elevated the early Muslims were their actions, which were predicated upon a solid, liberating education. Nothing short of that will elevate us! Just beware! Not all education is designed to elevate and liberate you. Most of what is prevalent is meant to control and contain you!
Anna dawaa'a kulli 'illatin bi diddiha
"Realize that the cure for every sickness is with its opposite!"
This is a book that I would only recommend to someone who is completely oblivious to the historical legacy and impact that Islam and Muslims have had in America. In other words it is a good starter book. If you are looking for something in depth or comprehensive, this is not the book!
The back cover has the following:
"The first single-author history of Muslims in America from colonial times to the present, this book fills a huge gap and provides invaluable background on one of the most poorly understood groups in the United States. The book begins with the tale of Job Ben Solomon, a 18th century African American Muslim slave, and goes on to chart the stories of sodbusters in North Dakota, African American converts to Islam in the 1920s, Muslim barkeepers in Toledo, the post-1965 wave of professional immigrants from Asia and Africa, and Muslim Americans after 9/11. The book reveals the richness of Sunni, Shi'a, Sufi and other forms of Islamic theology, ethics, and rituals in the United States by illustrating the way Islamic faith has been imagined and practiced in the everyday lives of individuals. Muslims in America recovers the place of Muslims in the larger American story, too. Showing how Muslim American men and women participated in each era of U.S. history, the book explores how they have both shaped and have been shaped by larger historical trends such as the abolition movement, Gilded Age immigration, the Great Migration of African Americans, urbanization, religious revivalism, the feminist movement, and the current war on terror. It also shows how, from the very beginning of American history, Muslim Americans have been at once a part of their local communities, their nation, and the worldwide community of Muslims."
I believe the author attempts to be objective in his narrative, however he doesn't seem to give voice to opposing views within the Islamic community. For example, in the last chapter where he elaborates on the Muslim community and our response to the 9/11 tragedy, he devotes most to its pages to the segment of our community - who for the most part - accepts the official narrative that some rogue elements of the Muslim community are responsible for the attacks; and henceforth proceeded to denounce the alleged perpetrators and affirm that Islam is against terrorism, etc... He glosses over the fact that a significantly large (however ignored) part of our community reject the entire narrative. He mentions a few dissenting views in passing, though I think it would have improved upon the book greatly had the author dedicated a few pages to this point of view; especially in light of the fact that there is an entire genre of documentaries which have emerged, that categorically debunk almost every aspect of the official narration of events which unfolded that day! Interestingly enough most those who have gone on record against the official version are not Muslims and are experts in their respective fields (i.e. engineers, pilots, ex-Military, etc...). The fact that these documentaries can be found on sale almost any place where Muslims are selling books or multimedia products is a testament to the fact that many if not most Muslims don't buy the popular version of 9/11, don't take the blame for the disgusting events which took place and don't feel the need to apologize for something that  their religion doesn't condone,  something that they didn't do, nor  approve of. Most Muslims make statements like, "Are Christians made to apologize for the actions of Hitler who used the Christian religion to support his actions? Likewise, why should Muslims apologize for 9/11 when we don't even believe that we (Muslims) did it?"
I also believe that the Chronology section could have been more extensive. Being that this book is about Muslims in America spanning 3+ centuries, we should not expect more than what is presented within its pages; but at least make the chronology somewhat comprehensive! Just my opinion.... Allah knows best!
With all of that being said, I would still offer this book to someone who wants to know about the history of Muslims in America but doesn't have a foundation to begin with.
I begin with the Name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful. I also praise Allah, the Lord of the Worlds and ask that Allah, Most High send complete peace and blessings upon our master Muhammad, his noble family and companions!
Over the last couple of months I have been having a series of ongoing conversations with some of my colleagues as it relates to reaching and educating our people. By ‘our people’ I am referring to Muslims of African descent who were kidnapped and brought to the United States of America as slaves.
Allow me to explain to you what I mean. I have been blessed on many occasions to have students who were eager to learn and were stimulated by the learning process itself. It seems as if there is an unseen, yet very recognizable, energy that exists between the student and the teacher. It is my belief that this energy must exist within the teacher himself. During instruction or class time this energy is then transferred to the student. In the case, of the motivated student, this energy is increased by the student’s own drive or himma and in turn passed back to the teacher. Who then gets ‘charged up’ and again electrifies or ‘charges up’ the students. In this scenario teaching is fun and beneficial for both the student and the teacher. When a student is blessed to experience such a learning environment, I have seen many of them going to great heights!
My question to my companions was (and is) how to you teach someone or a group of people who don’t want to be taught? Many of us are dealing with Muslims who show up to class, a lecture or an intensive program and don’t really want to be there! Some show up only if there is going to be food served at some point. Others come just to show that they are ‘down for the cause.’ And some others have the realization that seeking knowledge is obligatory upon every Muslim; just as the Messenger of Allah has informed us. But even for them, this knowledge does not translate into action and in some cases is not retained even in the memory banks.
I think those Muslim to whom I have made reference to are some of the best of our time – even with these shortcomings. This is the case, in my opinion, because the other Muslims don’t show up at all unless the presenter is what many of us have called “The Muslim Pop-Star.” Some of these ‘Muslim pop-stars’ are very pious and knowledgeable, but they have been transformed into pop-icons who grace the stages of many halls and arenas at the behest of their well-endowed, well-organized groupies who – for the most part – don’t have a care in the world about the knowledge and wisdom contained in the breast of these men and women! Thus they have been transformed into entertainers, thereby depriving the common people (al-awwaam) of their real benefit, which is to transform the society by means of their knowledge. In many ways they are much like the musicians and actors of our day!
So again, how do we reach and teach those who want to be reached but have an aversion to learning? How do we teach someone who manifests almost every trait which undermines knowledge and its acquisition? While these questions were heavy on my mind, I was given a book by a brother, someone who I consider to be a friend - even though I haven’t known him for any length of time. This brother, Omar, who many consider to be a truly gifted intellectual, presented me with Pedagogy of the Oppressed with hopes that it would answer some of those questions. I thank him and pray that Allah reward him for his kindness and his intellectual stimulation. May Allah also reward Imam Bukhari for having the wisdom and care for the overall community - evidenced by keeping such a sharp mind in close proximity when most leaders would be intimidated by his presence! Ameen!
Prior to entering this book, I had no knowledge of the author, what his work represents in the field of education, nor anything to judge it against: other than the book of Allah, the Sunnah of His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace and the Deen of Islam.
According to Wikipedia, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed is the most widely known of educator Paulo Freire's works. It proposes a pedagogy with a new relationship between teacher, student, and society. It was first published in Portuguese in 1968, and was translated and published in English in 1970.”
On the back cover of my copy it states, “Pedagogy of the Oppressed meets the single criterion of ‘classic’: it has outlived its own time and its author’s. For any teacher who links education to social change, this is required reading. Freire remains the most important writer on popular education and surely the virtual founder of the perspective known Critical Pedagogy.” Stanley Aronowitz
To start, though I have not finished reading the book, I have found the author’s position regarding the oppressed and the posture necessary for them to come out from under the yoke of the oppressor to be consistent with what Islam teaches us. He says:
“But almost always, during the initial stage of the struggle, the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to become oppressors, or "sub-oppressors." The very structure of their thought has been conditioned by the contradictions of the concrete, existential situation by which they were shaped. Their ideal is to be men; but for them, to be men is to be oppressors. This is their model of humanity. This phenomenon derives from the fact that the oppressed, at a certain moment of their existential experience, adopt an attitude of "adhesion" to the oppressor. Under these circumstances they cannot "consider" him sufficiently clearly to objectivize him—to discover him "outside" themselves. This does not necessarily mean that the oppressed are unaware that they are downtrodden. But their perception of themselves as oppressed is impaired by their submersion in the reality of oppression. At this level, their perception of themselves as opposites of the oppressor does not yet signify engagement in a struggle to overcome the contradiction;the one pole aspires not to liberation, but to identification with its opposite pole.
In this situation the oppressed do not see the "new man" as the person to be born from the resolution of this contradiction, as oppression gives way to liberation. For them, the new man or woman themselves become oppressors. Their vision of the new man or woman is individualistic; because of their identification with the oppressor, they have no consciousness of themselves as persons or as members of an oppressed class. It is not to become free that they want agrarian reform, but in order to acquire land and thus become landowners—or, more precisely, bosses over other workers. It is a rare peasant who, once "promoted" to overseer, does not become more of a tyrant towards his former comrades than the owner himself. This is because the context of the peasant's situation, that is, oppression, remains unchanged. In this example, the overseer, in order to make sure of his job, must be as tough as the owner—and more so. Thus is illustrated our previous assertion that during the initial stage of their struggle the oppressed find in the oppressor their model of "manhood."”
Further on he says:
“The "fear of freedom" which afflicts the oppressed,a fear which may equally well lead them to desire the role of oppressor or bind them to the role of oppressed, should be examined. One of the basic elements of the relationship between oppressor and oppressed is prescription. Every prescription represents the imposition of one individual's choice upon another, transforming the consciousness of the person prescribed to into one that conforms with the preservers consciousness. Thus, the behavior of the oppressed is a prescribed behavior, following as it does the guidelines of the oppressor.
The oppressed, having internalized the image of the oppressor and adopted his guidelines, are fearful of freedom. Freedom would require them to eject this image and replace it with autonomy and responsibility. Freedom is acquired by conquest, not by gift. It must be pursued constantly and responsibly. Freedom is not an ideal located outside of man; nor is it an idea which becomes myth. It is rather the indispensable condition for the quest for human completion.”
The last quote from Freire which I will mention here is also interesting.
“The oppressed suffer from the duality which has established itself in their innermost being. They discover that without freedom they cannot exist authentically. Yet, although they desire authentic existence, they fear it. They are at one and the same time themselves and the oppressor whose consciousness they have internalized The conflict lies in the choice between being wholly themselves or being divided; between ejecting the oppressor within or not ejecting them; between human solidarity or alienation; between following prescriptions or having choices; between being spectators or actors; between acting or having the illusion of acting through the action of the oppressors; between speaking out or being silent, castrated in their power to create and re-create, in their power to transform the world. This is the tragic dilemma of the oppressed which their education must take into account.”
The author makes it clear that the victims of oppression will at some point develop an admiration for his oppressor which will lead him to copy and imitate his thinking, culture and his ways.
In this light the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace – in a well known hadith – informed us that:
“Whoever resembles a people is from among them.”
[Related by Abu Dawuud in his Sunan on the authority of Abdullahi ibn ‘Umar, May Allah be pleased with him and his father.]
This comprehensive statement of our beloved Prophet is always found in the book or chapter of Dress in our books of Hadith. Most of us think that there is no harm in dressing, acting, or celebrating in a way which is synonymous with the popular, disbelieving culture. In fact, any condemnation of this imitation is usually met with accusations of shallow thinking or the like. However, what the proponents of imitation fail to realize is the fact that this outer imitation is a clear manifestation of what has already taken root in the heart. This was brought to light by one of the scholars amongst the companions - Abdullahi ibn Mas’ud - when he said:
“There is no imitation in the outer until or unless there is imitation of the inner (i.e. the hearts).”
This fact is so well known and accepted as such that it has been reiterated from the time of the Prophet until now. Ibn Khaldun, the famous father of modern historiography, even dedicated an entire chapter to the concept; “The vanquished (al-mughlabuun) always want to imitate the victor in his distinctive characteristics (shi’aarihi), his dress (zayyihi), his occupation, and all his other conditions (ahwaalihi) and customs. The reason for this is that the soul always sees perfection in the person who is superior to it and to whom it is subservient. It considers him perfect, either because it is impressed by the respect it has for him, or because it erroneously assumes that its own subservience to him is not due to the nature of defeat but to the perfection of the victor. If that erroneous assumption fixes itself in the soul, it becomes a firm belief. The soul then, adopts all the manners of the victor and assimilates itself to him. This, then, is imitation…
Therefore, the vanquished can always be observed to assimilate themselves to the victor in the use and style of dress, mounts, and weapons; indeed, in everything.” [Franz Rosenthal, Ibn Khaldun: The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History (Princeton University Press, 1967), 116.]
This is merely one of the many aspects of Islam which makes the system of oppression and its proponents use any and all means to thwart or otherwise undermine Islam from taking root; because al-Islam has built within it the understanding that the Muslim must be different from the non-Muslim; Which again is a key ingredient in the liberation process! This understanding is imbedded in every aspect of our way of life including our ritual acts of worship! Consider some of the legislation laid down by Prophet Muhammad, may Allah bless him and grant him peace:
 He ordered us to dye our hair because the Christians and Jews don’t dye their hair. (Abu Hurayrah relates that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said, “The Jews and Christians do not dye their hair therefore you should do the opposite.” – Bukhari and Muslim);  He prohibited us from imitating the Devil. (Jaabir, may Allah be pleased with him relates that the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace said “Do not eat with your left hand, for Shaytan eats with his left hand.” – Muslim.)  He encouraged us to hurry when breaking our fast, so as not to be like the former nations who were destroyed;  He commanded us to trim our mustaches and let our beards grow because the People of the Book (Christians and Jews) do the opposite of that;  He even combed his hair in Mecca in a way different than the Pagans of Quraysh and then after his Hijrah from Mecca to Medina he combed his hair like the people of Mecca to be different than the people of the Book in Madinah! (It is related in the Shamaa’il of Imam at-Tirmidhi that Ibn ‘Abbaas, may Allah be pleased with him and his father says: “The Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, used to leave his hair the way it naturally was, without making a path in the hair (parting the hair). The reason being that the mushrikeen (polytheists) used to make a path in their hair, and the Ahlul-Kitaab (People of the Book) did not do so. In the early periods, the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace preferred to follow the Ahlul-Kitaab, rather than others, in matters where no command had come from Allah. Later this was abrogated, and the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace began opposing the ways of the Ahlul-Kitaab after this.”  He found the Jews in Madinah fasting on the 10th of Muharram and said that if he were to live the next year he would also fast an additional day just to distinguish himself from them. We could continue in this vein for a very long time. When Allah changed the Qiblah from Jerusalem to Mecca one of the charges that the Jews of Medinah leveled against him was that he only looks to what they do and then legislates the opposite!
 The Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace would also substitute pagan holidays with Islamic ones:
Anas, may Allah be pleased with him, reported that when the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, came to Medina, the people had two days on which they engaged in games. He asked, “What are these two days (what is the significance)?” They said, “We used to engage ourselves in them in the Pre-Islamic period (al-jahiliyyah). The Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, said, “Allah has substituted for them something better than them, the Day of Sacrifice and the Day of the breaking of the Fast (yaum al-adha wa yaum al-fitr).” [Abu Dawuud; An-Nasaa’i; Bayhaqi]
In ‘Awn al Ma’buud, a commentary of the Sunan Abu Dawuud, it explains that these two days were the days of Nayrouz (solar New Year -- festival of Magians) and Mahrajaan (spring equinox). As you can see the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace replaced their pre-Islamic celebrations with Islamic ones. Our holidays and celebrations not only allow us to have fun but at the same time this fun is still connected to a higher purpose and is still an act of worship.
Even the first chapter of the Qur’an – al-Faatihah – which Muslims recite in every cycle of prayer (as-Salaah) contains the following two verses: “Show us the straight way, The path of those whom Thou hast favoured; Not the (path) of those who earn Thine anger nor of those who go astray.” The classical commentators of the Qur’an say ‘those who earn Thine anger’ are the Jews and ‘those who go astray’ are the Christians.
Right from the beginning of the book the author makes it clear that education is not merely the process of transmitting abstract information from teacher to student. But rather the methodology of education - or pedagogy - is the process of education and liberation wherein the teacher/leader is one with the students/followers and the students play an active part in the process and not a passive role.
He also makes it clear that this education is not possible if the student has in his mind (whether consciously or subconsciously) that the end goal is to be just like those who have conquered and subjugated him; or that a successful education is measured by the accumulation of wealth. A successful education cannot happen, nor can freedom be obtained by imitating the oppressor. Needless to say, freedom cannot be achieved if one is not aware that he is oppressed and believes that he or she is playing his or her rightful role in society.
I could go on for pages with my thoughts on what I have extracted from the first chapter of this book but I will stop here and reserve the rest of my comments for the next chapter. Alhamdulillah!
Imam Na'eem Abdullah