“The house of Al-Arqam ibn Abi Al-Arqam was the greatest institution of higher learning that mankind has ever known; how can this not be so, when its teacher was the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), the teacher of all mankind.” (The Noble Life)
During the early growth period of Islam, while the message of the Quran was being revealed, the earliest adherents were being tortured and humiliated regularly.
Can you image the troubles they faced when they were outnumbered so dramatically by oppressors trying to extinguish the spread of Islam?
After the first conflicts between the earliest generation of Muslims took place, it was determined that a safe place was needed, unknown to the polytheists, where they could pray out of sight, hear the newest revelations, and where the Prophet Muhammad could teach and train them under his supervision.
A central, safe haven was needed to discuss problems they were facing, and to receive advice on all their matters. (The Noble Life)
The place they choose was the house of Al-Arqam, which was positioned strategically in the midst of their enemies, to distract attention and suspicion away from themselves. This house belonged Al-Arqam ibn Abi Al-Arqam, who was one of the first ten people to accept Islam, and at the time, was a mere adolescent. His home was chosen because it was less of a target, because if enemies suspected anything, they would have targeted the Prophet’s home, or his older prominent followers, and not that of a youth.
It only goes to show the care they had to put into protecting their safety while learning. This proved to be a very troubling time for many followers to remain positive, without having low periods of confidence. To keep his followers mentally strong and motivated, he developed a system of learning for them. It strengthened their iman (faith) and lifted spirits, and gave them a safe place to gather for support, to develop brotherhood amongst the followers, and build their faith.
Let’s Jump to the Present
Although the majority of new Muslims don’t face violent attacks like they did during the early times of Islam, they do still face extremely difficult times, and need all the same support that the first Muslims received.
Islam is spreading all over the world at a rapid pace, with new adherents adopting the faith daily. The increase in new shahadahs, in return calls for safe havens where new Muslims can go to learn more about their faith, and gain support in all their affairs.
Yes, a safe haven
While many new Muslims have no problems integrating into an Islamic lifestyle, there is a huge percentage that faces every struggle imaginable. They face homelessness, due to their families casting them out of the family home, loss of income, due to employers finding ways to eliminate them without being identified as discrimination, as well as a loss of friends that can’t understand what happened to their friend to make such a dramatic change in their life. On occasion, we find that some new Muslims even face pure hate from their communities, and fear for their safety.
Where do they turn to?
Who can help them?
The current situation in most non-Muslim lands has little to offer a new Muslim. Majority of places that are available are founded and centered around Christian and Jewish Charities. This is a sticky and extremely uncomfortable and embarrassing situation for Muslims that have nowhere to turn to. How should a Muslim feel going to a Christian-run charity to meet their financial needs, due to not having a job, or a place to live?
One might say, “Go and ask the masjid for help.” This is not as simple as it may seem, as many new Muslims don’t even have a masjid in a day’s drive away from them. When there is one nearby, there is amazingly, a double-whammy facing them when they do go to it to seek assistance. A new Muslim expects it to be just like that of a Church.
Normally, if you were to go to a church for assistance, they welcome you with open arms, and provide you with almost all your needs, as well as emotional and spiritual support. Do they get this when they go to a masjid or Islamic center? Sometimes yes, but usually no.
Why is that?
Usually a new Muslim doesn’t know any Muslims in their area to assist them in getting them the help they need or offering advice. So, more often than not, they visit the masjid, and tell their story of their struggles and needs, and are usually handed a form to fill out to be approved after being reviewed by the staff. The staff checks on the person, determines if they are known in the community, their needs, and usually find that since no one knows who the person is, they have no one to vouch for them and their credibility, character, etc.
Sometimes they may receive a small financial gift that is just enough to get them through a few days or a week, but rarely anything after that, and even have a limit put on them about how often they can request assistance.
What should they do after that?
To be continued…