We read your Islamic Bulletin and were pleased with its clear, informative style. We hope this bulletin, along with other Islamic activities, will help promote the Islamic movement. Unfortunately, with hope there is also frustration and sometimes even anger over the slow progress of the Islamic movement. Many Muslims feel that our respective scholars are the creators of this frustration and act as obstacles to the Islamic movement. This is caused by the fact that the majority of Islamic scholars, who reside in California, are incompetent with the English language. This incompetence produces a negative impact on the American Muslim population, and the devastating results may carry on to our future generations if nothing is done to correct this problem. A good American Muslim friend of mine once said, "I am reluctant to come to the local masjid, because the Imam doesn't give an English translation of his sermon, and I don't understand what he's saying." Don't you think it's about time we understand what our Imams are screaming about?
Dear N. Akhtar:
First of all, I would like to thank you for writing and state that you have a very valid point. I do believe that in order to further the Islamic movement here in the United States, we do indeed need our Imams to speak English and to give sermons in English. But on the other hand, we need to give our Imams credit for being so learned (hafiz) in the Quran. It is not their fault if they happen to be of Pakistani, Arab, and Indian descent and therefore, their knowledge of the English language is not fluent.
It would be ideal for our Imams to be fluent in English so that many new Americans could learn about Islam. Since that is not always the case, however, we must work with the current situation.
For example, here in San Francisco, we have a large number of American Muslims who regularly attend the Friday prayers. Since they obviously do not understand the Khutba, which is delivered in Arabic by the Imam, we have a solution for this. There is an English talk given by one of the knowledgeable English-speaking people before the actual Khutba. In this way, American Muslims attending feel happy to be a part of this program and look forward to Friday prayers where they can pray in congregation.
One of the ways Islam was propagated in the world was through Muslims good qualities. From the beginning of Islam, non-Arabic speaking Muslim scholars like Abu Hanifa, Bukhari, Muslim, etc. grew to become Muslim scholars and leaders of the whole Muslim world in general. So hopefully history will repeat itself. We are waiting for the day to see Americans who will have the zeal and knowledge to lead the ship of the United States to Islam.
Please do not feel embarrassed to explain to your Imam the need for an English talk to be included. God willing, we will also talk to your Imam in Stockton and explain to him this need. There are many Americans interested in Islam who are turned-off by the illusion that Islam is for Arabs only. That is not the case. Islam is the religion for all people of every color and nationality.
Please start participating by sending us your letters, comments or suggestions so that we can make 'The Islamic Bulletin' your favorite one.
Editorial correspondence should be addressed to:
Editor of the Islamic Bulletin
P.O. Box 410186
San Francisco, CA 94141-0186