Establishing Din is Establishing Community
As Muslims, we understand that Islam is a din. For Allah Most High says, “The din in the sight of Allah is Islam” 3:19. We also know that Allah has enjoined on us (believers) the establishment of that din:
He has prescribed for you the same din as He enjoined on Nuh and what We revealed to you and that which We enjoined on Ibrahim, Musa, Isa, namely: establish (‘aqimu) the din and be not divided in it (42:13).
Din has been translated into English as “way of life,” but its basic meanings are obedience and custom (see Lisan al-Arab). More precisely, therefore, din means customs or culture that are to be obeyed—in other words, the culture or way of life followed by a people. Every society, therefore, has a din. And as many Muslim scholars have pointed out, din is not simply “religion” as understood in the West—a set of rituals and beliefs. To Muslims, din is the normative way of life, a way of life that encompasses specific beliefs and rituals as an outward expression of that din.
How should we, as Muslims, understand Allah’s command to establish din? To establish din means to establish a culture and a set customs for a people. To establish din also means establishing community or, more precisely, establishing a positive influence over an environment. Conversely, din is not established when that din is not the predominate influence in an environment.
Of course, establishing din is necessarily a process of development. We can think of that process in terms of establishing and preserving an ever-widening circle of influence. At the core of that circle of influence is establishing din at home and, as the circle widens it includes neighborhood; and in time grows to exert influence over city; and country/state.
Establishment of din has several levels of implementation. The first level of implementation is a level of influence. Here, we measure the impact of efforts to establish din within the cultural environment. At the second level, we see partial establishment of custom--aspects of the din are being established, although not fully. At the final level we experience full establishment of din--implementation associated with full sovereignty or Islamic state.
MANA’s goal is to establish din. In America in 2003 this means working to establish din fully in our homes, and to influence and partially implement din in our neighborhoods. Although a lesser priority for MANA at this initial stage is establishing din in cities and states, MANA in very interested in supporting the creation and maintenance of Islamic states in the Muslim world.
MANA plans to work to establish masjid-centered neighborhoods where Islam is the prime influence on the streets. However, the goal is not be exclusive, but rather inclusive; just as the Madinan societal model of Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him), as expressed in the Wathiqah (The Madinan constitution), included both Muslims and non-Muslims in alliance for mutual protection and common good. And, as the establishment of Islam did then, its establishment now must bring benefit to all.
To accomplish this, based on the Madian model, masjids should work to establish Islamically influenced communities that can address the needs of the people around them--adequate housing, education, job training, health and counseling. When masjids become platforms or springboards for serving the needs of these people--both Muslims and non-Muslims--then righteous communities can be established. When the influence of Islam is predominate in an area, everyone benefits—crime goes down, justice is championed, family life is preserved, cleanliness is emphasized, education is encouraged and hard work is honored.
This issue of Grassroots takes a look at the successful effort undertaken by the Philadelphia-based Universal Companies to establish community by widening the focus of the local masjid. The spotlight of this project and interview with it’s founder and developer, Luqman Abdul Haqq, is the first in a series of what we sincerely hope will become models for other Muslims of how to take up the mission of establishing community and establishing din wherever they live.