Friday, February 26, 2016

Why is it important for me to Stand for Kuku?

Who cares for an individual? There are  more than 7 billions of us all over the world. Who cares if any one of us suffers from injustices? After all one in every three adult would claim that she/he is suffering from one or the other kind of injustices. So what is new if a 76 year old man living in Southern California and serving as a religious scholar in a small community of Riverside was removed from his position of director by a Board that allegedly was not representative of the community despite the fact that he had a written contract assuring him protection of his status for life? Hundreds and thousands of people are fired every day. Their contracts are violated and their families are pushed into a state of panic. Who cares for them?
There is nothing new in this decision of the so called board of an Islamic Center.  Dr. Mustapha Kuku is just a number in this long list of victims of injustices.
But it matters to me. And it should matter to everyone who claims that she/he cares for the divine words and the precedence of the messenger of God.
Islamic Centers are not businesses. They are not personal property of the board, if they are built by the resources of the community. They are institutions people establish to glorify the divine and learn about His guidance so that they can improve their living conditions and become better individuals. They are not the centers of authority of people who act in an authoritarian manner to dominate the others. They are not the hub of political skirmishes based on power play of various groups. They are the houses of Allah meant to serve the divine and live His words.
If Islamic Centers themselves become dens of politics and centers of power play based on the personal, political, ideological and cultural interests of people, then there is no difference between them and any other institution. An Islamic center without following Islamic principles in its style, philosophy, methodology, objectives  and functionality of work is not an Islamic. It can be called a cultural club at best. It has to follow the divine guidelines in all aspects of its dealings, otherwise, it has no relevance and no purpose to serve except being a place for people to gather to pretend that they are getting closer to God.
In the case of Mustapha Kutku, the Islamic Center of Riverside violated his contract, did not communicate him of their decision, terminated his services without consulting the community, humiliated in public and refused to pay his salary.
Remember, these are the centers from whose pulpits, the sermons are given regularly emphasizing on the dignity of labor. How many a time, the sermons were given asking people to pay the wages before the sweat of the labor is dried out? Yet, at the Islamic Center of Riverside, not only the divine mandate to honor a contract was violated, but the teachings of the Prophet were also violated.
So if God is ousted in dealing with one of the scholars who served the masjid for over 15 years and if the Prophet is neglected in this regard, then what is the relevance of the center to the community. The only perceivable purpose is to serve the egos of those who enjoy power politics.
For reasons of decency, it is better not to mention the real reasons of the decision of the so called board. Because, if the real facts are brought to the people, the board members will lose all legitimacy to claim to be the well wishers of the Muslims.
The Muslim leadership of Southern California in general is timid. Even though, it has known Dr. Kuku for at least 15 years, it has refused to stand for his rights saying that it is the internal matter of the Islamic Center. They must realize that it is not an internal matter of the organization. It is a matter that impacts the validity and authenticity of Islam. If Muslim leadership cannot stand for the divine teachings and principles of justice as taught by the Prophet, it better for us to stop claiming that we are serving the cause of justice.
It is for my commitment to the principles of justice and the teachings of Islam and ensuring the dignity of an Islamic institution, that I have to be concerned with what happened to Dr. Mustapha Kuku. It is for these reasons I stand for him. I have no personal relations with him. I am originally from India and he is from Sudan. We did not go to the same university. He is much older than me. We did not belong to the same masjid. We did not belong to the same school of thought. But I have known him as a decent individual. I have heard him speak on important issues of our times. I have seen his demeanor in different situations and he appears to be person who has been consistent in his character. He is simple, not arrogant, very well articulate and very sincere to his faith and his community and his work.
I pray that the community in Riverside support him for his struggle and he is given back the rights that some people have usurped under the false assumption that they can control the destiny of people.
It is not only about Dr. Mustapha Kuku, but for the sanctity of Islamic centers and the validity of the Islamic leadership in pursing the principles of justice.

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