Asslamo Allaikum Wa Rahmatullahi Wa Barakatuh,
As a naïve (wet behind the ears) 19 year old coming into Islam, the following verses were drilled into my head by my (Tableeghi elders).
[61:10] O you who believe, shall I tell you about a trade that saves you from a painful punishment? [61:11] That you believe in Allah and His Messenger, and carry out Jihad in His way with your riches and your lives. That is much better for you, if you but know.
Over and over I was told and reminded to treat Islam as a business to get to Paradise and to treat Muslims as I would treat my Customers (critical to) the success of my business.
I hope that decades later I have not forgotten the message although of course many mistakes and errors have been committed along the way and may Allah (SWT) forgive me and forgive us all (Ameen).
I find it astounding as to how many people (laymen, Ulama and Mashaykh) forget to treat those who contact them or those whom they communicate with as “Customers”. You do hear speeches and talks about being “Servants of Islam” and I have no doubt that intent is there but what does practise show?
http://askimam.org/ is a premier Deobandi site setup to assist Muslims with their Mas’alas. Submit a query to them, do you get feedback? Do you know if your question has been answered? Do you know if your question has been rejected?
Buy a plastic spoon from Ebay for 1 US Dollar and notice the lengths the seller will go to try to win repeat business.
A large number of Islamic Institutions now try to Islamic Courses. The first thing you will notice is the high number of turnover (Splits within the Ulama & Mashaykh) i.e. Shaykh X was teaching with Academy A but now has his own Academy B which is very similar; his (or loyal) subjects leave Academy A and Join Academy B. Second thing you will notice is that Class Schedules change but students are either not notified or not notified promptly so they wait around in WizIQ hoping for the Shaykh to turn up on time! Majority of students don’t complain because they are connected with the Shaykh and believe its (somehow) unIslamic to complain about this shoddy Service. They never look at it from an Islamic perspective that the Shaykh or the Islamic institute had given them their word. If changes happen (and they will always happen) apologize, inform your customers (students) and come clean.
Now let’s turn to WhatsApp.
We are now bombarded with links, videos, recordings of “blessed words of Hazrat” every day. There is no explanation about the message, no summary just a link. Conversely, you have messages which are pages upon pages long littered with grammar, syntactical and factual errors, convoluted and make no sense. These messages usually originate in some WhatsApp group; hundreds of “Hazrat Worshippers” look at them, devour and savours every letter and then inflict it upon us. Last week, a Brother from London sent me a recording of Shaykh X (HA), just a link. He is a Professional in London and I often ask them, “Do you communicate in this manner to your Clients?” Do you send cryptic (incoherent) messages to your Customer? If you did would you keep your job? If not why do you treat Islam this way?
Shaykh (Mufti) Abdur-Rahman Ibn Yusuf Mangera (HA), Can he be Cloned?
A superb example of bucking this trend is Shaykh (Mufti) Abdur Rahman Ibn Yusuf Mangera (HA). His messages (Email, Text etc) are superbly crafted, lucid and to the point. His tweets are clear with no ambiguity. When you speak to him, the conversation is clear and to the point. I discussed this matter with a Maulana (in London) 2 weeks ago and he said that Mufti Saheb is brilliant and exceptional and difficult to follow. I refuse to believe that!
The reason being is that in (top) organisations around the world people are given a communication code of conduct to adhere to, email (and now social media) guidelines). They are told HOW to respond to Customers.
Deobandees & Resources:
There is no shortage of money or Resources amongst the Deobandee at all. I (personally) know this to be 110% true. Organisations which the Deobandees (of today) are advising against started out with next to no (resources) and grew mostly on the strength of “Customer Services”. The head of a well known Islamic organisation in America is famous for spending thousands and 2 years gaining an insight into Marketing and Business Management. How many of our Ulama (and Army of Hazrat Worshippers) do this?
I do mean “Army” because the number of devotees in our ranks (both men and women) who would literally sacrifice everything for their “Hazrat” is innumerable and yet we are left with shoddy Customer Service, incoherent tweets and WhatsApp messages.
I know (personally and professionally) that people can be trained in this area, so you must ask “Brother Muadh! Why don’t you train them?”
I had a unique experience a few weeks ago. Against my better Judgement I decided to get involved in an Islamic organisation and due to rigid structure and fear (of the staff) I could not make headway.
Those around the Shaykh felt threatened because they thought that years of (devout Service) to their Shaykh and (Islamic) institute was not being valued. The way to solve this issue is honesty i.e. you sit down with (Brothers & Sisters) and say that I have no intention of taking your place; just here to help. But this requires Honesty and then admitting that they (the core team) feel threatened and resentful in the first place…
Secondly, those in these institutes have operated on a very strict top-down command structure. Everything must come down from the Shaykh so even though the Shaykh may say to follow XYZ the old (rigid) corporate structure refuses to change.
All in all, compare the Service you get from petty ebayers (or whatever petty business) you have experience with to your Islamic websites, institutes and Ulama.
I end this blog with this:
Shaykh (Maulana) Abdur-Rahman Kayat (HA) told me that when he graduated from the Darul-uloom he wrote a long letter to Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (HA) and no reply came. After 6 months he consoled himself thinking why would Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (HA) take the time to write to a lowly young man like himself. Shaykh (Mufti) Taqi Usmani (HA) came to Bradford 6 months later and he personally enquired about him, (personally) went to him apologised to him and said, “I have been travelling non-stop for months and I wanted to apologise for not replying but I am at your disposal lets discuss the matters in person”
I personally try my level best to answer every email, text and WhatsApp. Those who abuse me (plenty) I answer confirming that I won’t answer you and I will block you. Those who make unreasonable demands I (still) answer with a polite “No”. Those who want to debate I answer either engaging them or directing them somewhere else. I do this within 72 hours with the only (recent) exception being an email about Arabic sent from a beloved Brother which I have unable to download or follow (completely) so I end this blog seeking his forgiveness and apologise.
So Whats the Problem?
Lack of will!
An organisation truly wanting to reconnect with their Customers can change their corporate culture and turn it around in no time!
Yesterday it was Maulana Maududi (RA), today it is Dr Zakir Naik and tomorrow it will be someone else.
Spend 6 months investigating as to why:
- Why are Muslims listening to Dr Zakir Naik?
- Why are Muslims registering with (and taking) courses from Institutes which we have repeatedly warned against?
- Why are Muslims following (in their millions) on Twitter and Facebook people whom we keep warning against?
But this will require serious introspection and moving away from the “Hazrat-Worhip” model. You may have to listen to people and their (valid and polite) criticism.
The alternative is to keep listening to “Yes Men” and “Hazrat Worshippers” around you and keep issuing warning against Dr Zakir Naik etc; in the long run you will only notice your own circle getting smaller and smaller and smaller…