One of the greatest sins in France, under the republican law is to talk openly about religion, especially Islam in a country that had undergo series of grievances from the hands of the Maghrebian arabs, who refused the oppression of the french "civilization mission". One might say that is a matter of history. Well my point of approach today has nothing to do with such argument.
Yusuf Ali published a book titled "The meaning of the Holy Qur'an", what amazes me about this book is how he tackles his argument out of religious context, he made me understand that a man's actual personal religion depends upon many things; His personal psychology, the background of his life, his hidden or repressed feelings, tendencies or history (which psychoanalysis tries to unravel), his hereditory dispositions and antipathies, and all subtle influences of his environment.
I tend to get so steamed up, over individuals who claims to be men of God or righteous preachers, who just wants a non-believer to "believe or die and go hell", i have had friends who seek my hands in helping them unravel this lifetime problem some has in truly discovering their genuine spirituality, due to all these elements stated above. At that moment, i try as much as possible to make it clear that, my task as a "Preacher" at that moment is
(1) To use any of these elements (stated above) which can subserve the higher ends.
(2) To purify such stereotypes, which has been misused or mishandled mostly by the western judgement.
(3) To introduce new ideas and modes of looking at things outside the myopic view points that has been.
(4) and to combat what is wrong and cannot be mended - all for the purpose of leading to the truth and gradually letting in spiritual light where there was darkness before.
Meanwhile if these is not done with discretion and skill of an individual who has -on his own- understood spirituality, not by the push or lure of an external force or material belonging. There may be not only a reaction of obstinacy, but an unseemly show of dishonor to the true God and His Truth, and doubt wll spread among this weaker brethren whose faith is shallow and infirm.
What happens to individuals in a collective nation like France. They think in their self obsession that thier own ideas are right. Allah in his infinte compassion bears with them, and has tasked those who have purer ideas of faith, not to vilify their neighbors, to help push away ignorance and folly, and urges the believer not to hide his light under a bushel, nor compromise with evil, or refuse to establish right living where he has the power to do so.
The obvious problem in this neighborhood is that my neighbors in their turn vilify the real truth and make matters even worse than before. its like the reverse is the case, it is you who speaks about religion that should be ashamed, you being a muslim should only exercise your religious acts in a cashe-cashe. you are seen as the ignorant one, still living in barbaric epoch with ideas of the first world war, and you being an African caps it all, it makes them go -oh we understand-
Yusuf Ali is an Indian scholar, who has lived in different parts of the world, especially in Europe, that gave him an intimate insight of how people view religion in a wider space of existence, and this was what attracted me so much about him, because i am living in Europe and reading his book was the best way i could explain what i feel everyday. In his words "if the unbelievers are merely obstinate, nothing will convince them. There is no story more full of miracles, than the story of Jesus. Yet in the same story we are told that Jesus said in Matt. 16:4; A wicked and adulterous generation keeps on seeking for a sign, but no sign will be given it, except the sign of Jo'nah"
Therefore there are signs given by Allah everyday, including contemporary times - but solely understood by those who believe. in my kind of neighborhood, where there is sheer obstinacy and ridicule of faith, the result will be that, such an unbeliever's heart will be hardened and his eyes will be sealed, so that he cannot even see the things visible to ordinary mortals. he gathers momentum in his descent towards ignorance. Allah's grace is always ready to help human weakness or ignorance, and to accept repentance and give forgiveness. But where the unbeliever is in perpetual rebellion, he will be given rope, and it will be his own fault if he wanders about distractedly, without any certain hope or refuge, he will have nothing to hold on to as spirituality.