An Invitation to Adab

Published in Feb 2010 – I had some good reactions to this one…

An Invitation to Adab

By Eugenia Flynn

I spoke to a colleague and friend recently and she commented on my writing style; the way I tend to ‘invite’ people to change their point of view or to think about things in a different manner.  Alhumdilillah, a greater compliment I could not have a received.  See, it got me thinking about invitations.  The first time I encountered invitations as a social grace and formal mechanism was in Islam – not that this happened to me in an explicit way – but Muslims will often ‘invite’ non-Muslims to our faith. 

Never before had I encountered such a formal mechanism that is so simple in its structure and so coordinately used by a people.  And yet, despite being the height of good manners – inviting someone to Islam neither pushes them nor commands them – the mechanism is nonetheless a propagation method, anchored in a religious imperative. 

I think my initial encounters with the invitation to Islam had a profound subconscious effect on me.  As the invitation is a social grace, a propagation method, the height of good manners and a religious imperative, it is no wonder that I have developed a fond attachment to a concept that is, in its essence, true Islamic Adab. 

It is with great displeasure then, that I wonder what is the Islamic imperative, the proper Adab, by which Muslims in Australia can appropriately deal with the legacies of colonisation in this country. 

For me, the biggest invitation which has lacked since the day that Australia was invaded has been the invitation from Australia’s First Peoples, my people, to come in to our country and share in our land and wealth.  As this invitation has never been extended, nor has there ever been a mere asking from the majority, Australia as it is today is a stolen wealth, a stolen land.  Muslims in this country are no different to the rest in this: they have had no invitations extended to them, in general they have not asked to enter and yet every day Muslims enjoy the benefits of stolen wealth and land. 

Muslims in Australia, although being people of colour as well, enjoy the fruits of colonisation in what is now called Australia. As stated many times before by me, unless you are fighting for what is just and right for my people in this country, you continue to be complicit in the ongoing oppression of us.  Put more simply, Muslims in Australia continue to lack the ultimate proper Adab. 

It is with all this in mind, that I invite you to think about another type of invitation – I invite you to the proper Adab of living on stolen land.

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5 thoughts on “An Invitation to Adab

  1. Jazakum Allahu khairan. So what do you suggest we do ? This is one of the issues that do need addressing and you’ve done well in bringing it to light but, are we to leave Australia ? are we to get involved in Aboriginal rights activism ?

  2. No, I definitely would not suggest leaving Australia. The legacy of colonisation has meant that there are some good things here in Australia and the presence of people like yourself is one of those good things.

    I think I touched on it in a round about way in my article, but yes, the number one thing is to get involved in supporting Aboriginal rights activism. However (and I plan on going in to this in more detail in another article), I would suggest that the first step is to take a blow to the pride. I think the number one impediment to real and sincere support of Aboriginal rights activism, from Muslims, is attitude and beliefs.

    More specifically (but briefly), the common themes I would like to bring out (as a reaction to the majority of Muslims – this may not apply to readers of this blog) are:

    – Indigenous Australians are not a charity case! We CAN do it for ourselves – with the right support. The role of non-Indigenous Australians is markedly different to our role in rights activism – the role of non-Indigenous Australians is to support Indigenous Australian control over our own affairs and to assist in the removal of barriers to this that have been erected by non-Indigeous Australians.

    – Just because you are Muslim and non-white does not make you any closer to us than white non-Muslims. Therefore, you should acknowledge as a non-Indigenous Muslim that you do not have an implicit right to speak on our behalf or to problem-solve for us and try to force us to your way of thinking and doing.

    – Islam is a great framework for living life and can be used to lift one out of oppression, however it is condescending to assume that Indigenous people can only be saved by Islam and Muslims.

    That’s kind of all I can think of at the moment. I’ll keep you posted on an article that will go in to this no more depth.

    JazakAllah khair for your kind words and support 🙂

    Wasalaam

  3. Hi Eugenia,

    I’m VERY interested in hearing your suggestions and thoughts on how Indigenous Australians can regain control of their own affairs – regarding politics, power, money, education and health – and what role Muslims (or otherwise) can play.

    I’m glad you’re writing! 🙂

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