I've often been confronted with people who are really motivated to do something for Islam, but who were aimless. You know what I'm talking about. Sometimes we are so filled with feelings of wanting to help but we don't really know where to begin.
Doesn't it seem like there's just too much that needs to be done? Muslims are starving in war zones all over the world, kings and dictators rape our lands, misinformation about Islam is rampant, our children are succumbing to the non-Muslim way of life, maybe half our family members don't practice Islam, even if they say they're Muslim, the Masjid needs funds, Muslims need to be taught the difference between what's Islam and what's cultural, etc...
I'm sure many of you could add endlessly to this list. Have you ever felt like the problems are just too great to solve? Have you ever blocked it out of your mind because if you really thought about it you would become depressed? If so, then you're not alone. I've met tons of believers, real sincere people, who lament that they don't know what to do or how they can really help.
Of course, there are some people who will make one specific issue their focus and they'll work to help in that direction. For example, someone might make the support of the local Masjid their cause. Another person may support whole-heartedly an Islamic school or the activities of a relief agency, etc... But most of us don't have time to do justice to those types of goals like we should.
But the alternative, sitting at home and watching TV is hardly worth our time when there are real Muslims out there who need us, and a cause that we must support. So in view of all the variables that affect most of our lives in the modern world, I've come up with a list of ten easy things that every Muslim family should do so that they can contribute to the betterment of Muslims and the establishment of Islam in the West.
Anyone can do these ten things and I've selected activities that are not overly time-consuming, nor expensive. I expect that you'll agree and will tape a cut out of these ten "to do's" to your refrigerator door. (Before grabbing that snack you can be reminded about what is more important than filling your belly!)
#1 Sponsor an Orphan. Before anything else, there are hungry Muslim children everywhere who have needs right now. There are several reputable relief agencies who offer orphan sponsorship programs that only cost from $20-$40 a month. You and I know that's nothing expensive on your part - so do it. Some agencies even offer automated withdrawal so you can send a letter once with a voided check and never have to fill anything out again. Doing this can make you close to the Prophet in Paradise.
#2 Subscribe to at least three Muslim magazines. This is practically the only way you can keep abreast of issues important to the Muslims in the West. It also supports the budding Muslim media. Even if you don't intend to read the magazines, subscribe anyway. Someone around you will read or you can leave them with others. Make it at least three and try to subscribe for 2-3 years at a time.
#3 Go to the Masjid at least once a week for Salat. In the West today, nearly all of us have a Masjid within driving distance. Even if you don't go to the local Masjid for Jum'uah because of your job, then go for at least one Maghrib a week or for Zuhr on Sunday. Whatever, just go at least once a week- WITH YOUR FAMILY. It's the only way that you and your family will consider the Masjid to be your place.
#4 If your children go to public school, and there is no Islamic school nearby, then make sure they either get into some Sunday school program, or, if the local Masjid doesn't run it right, then pool together with some like-minded families and run your own program at somebody's house every Saturday or Sunday and conduct it the way you think it should be done. This is the minimum requirement for not losing your children to secular Christianity.
#5 Buy at least one book, audio or video produced by a Muslim company or author per month. Have you ever wished that there were better items for you and your family's pleasure? Unfortunately, Muslims don't support their own writers and artists very well. No one can make even a decent living if they want to write or produce for the Muslim market. That must change if you want to see wonderful products for you and your children. Just buy one thing per month. Either out of a catalog or from your local Muslim bookstore. For you it's only $5-$10 bucks, but collectively, it can encourage our creative and talented brothers and sisters to do more.
#6 If you see any new Muslims at your Masjid, then partially "adopt" them into your family. The convert experience is basically one of isolation and loneliness. You'd be surprised to know that most converts are outright ignored by the people in the Masjid. Beyond a few pleasantries and handshakes, they are usually never made to feel welcome or accepted. They are often cut off from their non-Muslim friends and relatives so they are doubly vulnerable. A new convert should be invited into various peoples home for dinner a minimum of six times a month. Get together with others and make sure you all put the new convert on your guest list for any sort of gathering.
#7 Keep three extra Qur'an translations and some literature in your home at all times. You never know when you'll find someone interested who wants to know more. Besides, your children read only and understand only English. (You wouldn't believe how many Muslim families don't have an English Qur'an translation in their homes! How will the child read it if they don't understand Arabic, and they never understand Arabic, even if their parents are Arabic speaking!)
#8 Go to one convention a year. Even if you have given up on them, you have to go. It's the only way your children will feel a part of a greater community of believers. Think about it and realize that you don't just go to a convention for your personal enrichment. It's about Muslim solidarity. Go to at least one every year. Couple it with your vacation plans or something. Just go.
#9 Eat only Halal or Kosher Food. Besides all the religious aspects I could mention, which are the most important, by the way, there is another advantage. You solidify your identity and introduce to your family the concept that animals should not die cruelly (like they do in all American slaughterhouses) and that Muslims eat cleaner food. If there are no Halal meat stores nearby, you'll probably find a Kosher store. At least many of the Jews are not shy about Allah's commandment there and have established kosher markets everywhere.
#10 Lastly, make sure you and your family have cultural-type items in your home in abundance that are associated with Islam or Islamic culture. Everyone in your home should have prayer beads, prayer rugs, kufis, Hijabs, (even if they're worn only for prayer), gowns, posters, wall plaques,
stickers, logo-shirts, Islamic screen-savers on the computer, and on and on. You want to establish an dentity in your home. Everything outside is totally un-Islamic. At least let the Islamic flavor be present inside.
Originally, there were only ten things on this list, but then a very important item came to mind but I just couldn't bring myself to delete any of the preceding items. But in the interest of simplicity, I'll keep the upper ten intact and mention this item as a separate issue because it's something that you don't really need to list with the other things.
This is extremely crucial: Resolve to raise your family as Muslims. Don't be passive. Don't sit around and watch your spouse and children drift further and further away into disbelief and kufr. Would any of you like to be on their deathbed and then realize that they only left non-Muslims behind them? Imagine entering the great sleep with that realization on your heart!
These ten things can be done, with minimal trouble and fuss, by each and every Muslim family. Through these ten points nearly every purpose of Islam is served and you can finally feel that you're doing something in an organized fashion to help promote your healthy way of life and also to fulfill your responsibility to your Creator. Give it a try and see how easy these things really are. Then stick with it. You have no excuses for inaction anymore.