Born in Guyana and graduated from Madina University, Shaikh Abdool Hamid is a resident scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, an Islamic Counsellor with the Islamic Social Services and Resource Association (Toronto) and a regular Khateeb (imam) and lecturer at several prominent mosques in and around Toronto.
The following are excerpts from Abdool Hamid’s speech at Masjid Toronto mosque on October 30, 2013 (originally in English):
But ultimately, brothers and sisters, our goal as Muslims should be to transform, to move it along, not just to be satisfied when the situation as we find it and we try to fit in somehow. As I said that it may be necessary initially. But Islam came to transform the lives of people, to improve it for them. By change I don’t mean we want to take over for the sake of taking over. By change what I mean is to improve the lives of people. That’s why Islam came and that’s what it did at the time of the Prophet [Mohammad], peace and blessing be upon him. Of course in improving the life of people changes will have to be made, so it may seem from one perspective that Islam took over so to speak, but it’s did not take over to enslave people or to control them or to take advantage of them. It took over in order to enhance their lives. And so what happened in the time of Prophet [Mohammad], peace and blessing be upon him, and after he passed away and for many generations after that, Islam transformed societies and transform people. So as Muslims we should not simply especially when we interact or we deal with the Western world for also a practical level we live here, we have families here… So we should not be simply satisfied with the situation as it is with the status quo. We should try to change this, to bring about changes that will improve the lives of people… We should strive to change, not necessarily overnight. That’s the other thing. Our changes don’t have to happen overnight. Allah the Exalted did not overnight transform society. He did not prohibit X Y Z and ordered X Y Z or A B C overnight. Praise be to Allah, Allah the Exalted, the Wise, He revealed the Quran over a period of 23 years, 23 years, and it was over this period that slowly the concepts, the values and the principles of Islam were being established a little bit at a time in the lives of people, so that the change that overcame them, it did so slowly. So we don’t need to rush into making changes, but that doesn’t mean [that] we shouldn’t start working toward the change even if it comes out an old day story. So we should not be satisfied with what we find. Initially we’ll be trying to do the best we can and what we find, but then we should start planning, so that we can move this forward, Allah Willing… In this is testament to this, its transformation, the nature of the transformation of the message of Islam, that we should not be satisfied with the way things are unless of course they are prophets, but if they are not, and we should try to transcribe to positively contribute towards changing for the better even if it takes time, even if takes a long time, but Allah Willing, we’ll get there and that is what it is important, not to change overnight, but to have the plan and the intention to change and to start that process even if it is a slow one… So we take what we can do and we work with that, Allah Willing, slowly changes will come… What this ultimately will mean also, brothers and sisters, is that certain changes cannot happen unless we become involved in the political process… Be smart in showing others the message of Islam. So we need to engage even in that level if we really want to bring about the changes that we be not only for the betterment of the Muslims but Allah Willing for all of the society. There is nothing in Islam that is only good for Muslims and not good for the non-Muslims. Absolutely not. Whatever is good for the Muslims is also good for those who are not Muslims… Cause that what Allah wants for people. He wants the best in life and He [Allah] gives us this legislation [Islamic Law, Sahria] to allow us to achieve the best in life. So not only for the Muslims, but for the whole community in society as well. So we need to as Muslims to recognize this. We don’t have to submit to the situation as it is. Initially we might have to, but we should start thinking about how best we can bring about positive changes to our situation we face in our societies. That is what Islam is all about.