A Jamaat Story: Part 2 - My Jihad
The second part of the gentleman's statement was most compelling, "obedience to Allah." To put it bluntly, while this is the Muslim's deen (way of life) and seen to be the sole guidance to live one's life, in terms of practical education, I find it to be highly ambiguous in practical terms. The gentleman continued to say people should learn how to be obedient to God, but as we practice in our MFA training sessions, communication requires an understanding by both parties involved in the conversation, and I find educating people on the obedience to God is usually understood by one while remaining ambiguous to the other.
In terms of practical actions, obedience to Allah can be seen as both a very complex or very simple concept, including many shades of grey. The day before Eid we met some Canadians from Kabala who were visiting Freetown and we invited them to dinner (btw, epic feast!). After I explained what we did, one of the Canadians smiled and said, "so you're practical missionaries." Unlike the typical conceptualization of missionaries to be theological, we are an interfaith group acting on behalf of our beliefs to develop communities.
From this, I concluded to the gentleman that we are teaching people about being obedient to God in a very practical manner. God tells us to be healthy, serve our communities within our capacity, and develop strong relationships with all those who want to do good and remain friendly with those who don't. I feel that our programme does just that, insha'Allah (God willing). We are educating people how to be obedient to God in the sector of public health, we are helping to strengthen communities, and we are supporting various faith leaders who want to develop their country together.
I see my deen as two fold, which is identified by Muslims as the two jihads (struggles). The greater jihad is to understand yourself, your relationship with God, and your faith. The lesser jihad refers to the practical actions you do in obedience to God for social development. As I proclaimed to myself before taking on this role, this is my jihad. My jihad is to be a practical interfaith missionary within various venues and associated capacities. I adhere towards the simple view, wherein my deen is to have God on my mind for all my actions, continue to act/learn within my capacity, and insha'Allah be guided correctly (but hey, no one's perfect). Our goal is not to proselytize, for that is the greater jihad that each individual must critically understand for themselves, for as God says, "there is no compulsion in religion" (Qu'ran 2:256). We are here on the lesser jihad, acting on behalf of our faith to help all people, no matter who they are, embrace each other as a force for good to develop strong friendships while developing their communities for the betterment of mankind.