Imam Zijad’s Corner: Islam and Moderation:  What should come first – primary or secondary issues?

Imam Zijad’s Corner:  Islam and Moderation:  What should come first – primary or secondary issues?

It is very obvious from the Qur’an and the tradition of the Messenger Muhammad (S) that to be overly occupied with marginal issues at the expense of major ones could adversely affect not only any given individual, but the very existence, identity and destiny of our Canadian Muslim community and even that of the entire Ummah.

Indeed, any approach to life that allows us to become preoccupied only with peripheral matters undermines the core logic of Islam.

Yet even though proof of the virtues of enlightened moderation abounds in Islamic lore and tradition, ironically the opposite mode of behavior prevails throughout much of our community at home and all over the world.

We are plagued with excessive and unnecessary talk about secondary issues such as: sighting (which became fighting) Hilal, the length of beards, whether clothing should come below or above the ankle, moving the finger during the tashahhud in prayer, polygamy, burga/niqab, the acquisition of photographs and so on … to the point where many Muslims (especially youth) and even non-Muslims, have come to believe that such matters are of utmost importance to Islam – as important as, for example, prayer or fasting and that Muslims cannot be good Muslims if they do not adhere to them.

Why? Not because they are really the most important and fundamental in our tradition, but because we expend so much time and energy being unnecessarily passionate about them while the major matters then are lost from the agenda! It is ok to give them the time and we should, but not at the expense of prayers and our children’s future.

And then Muslims take to labeling one another as spiritually inferior (fasiqs or kafirs) because of minor differences on such secondary topics. This kind of attitude was unimaginable at the time of the Prophet Muhammad (S), for he and his companions lived Islam in its spirit, not bound to irrelevant minutiae.

Unfortunately, such time-wasting disputes persist in our era. They preoccupy and distract our thinking at a time when our youth are losing their sense of identity, feeling lost and confused, without direction…whey are confronted by negative images throughout the social media and even hear them from some politicians.

Opportunities – especially those for our youth — are shrinking, not because of Canadian policies or societal prejudice, but rather because we, Canadian Muslims, ourselves have collectively mismanaged our priorities and resources.