It’s amazing to reflect upon that moment when the revelation came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and how people begin to embrace Islam and begin to follow the Prophet.
In a very real way Islam comes as a healing, but also as a disruptive force to the Arabian Peninsula. The nature of true religion is that it adds a taste to the society and highlights the negative things and ills in that society that need to be remedied. And it acts as the refuge for people in that society that may be suffering from the ills and in it. And this was the very case when Allah revealed the final revelation to our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).
And so, people begin to embrace Islam, at first in smaller numbers, congregating in Dar Al-Arqam (the house where the Muslims used to meet) in Makkah. Then, as time passes, more and more people embrace Islam.
Just reflect for a moment on the idea that the Prophet and his closest Companions were there for people as they embraced Islam. That was a was a very real opportunity for a human transition to take place in addition to people processing and digesting the revelation as it came to the Prophet. With that came the idea of there being a refuge or safe place for people as they embraced Islam.
If you fast forward to our day and time and think for a moment about the parallel between Dar Al-Arqam; this refuge for new Muslims, this safe space for people, and what people find in our communities, I think– if we were honest with ourselves- we can admit that we have a lot of room for improvement to get back to this idea of Dar Al-Arqam; to get back to the idea of a refuge for people as they embrace Islam.
Just because like people were fleeing from negative norm in the Arabian Peninsula in the sixth century to Islam, there are people embracing Islam today, not only seeking other-worldly redemption, not only seeking theological truth, but also seeking social redemption and seeking social safety. So, as they come to the Muslim community they are going to look for a safe space.
Reflect for a moment on the idea the Companions could talk to the Prophet about whatever was going on in their life for better or for worse, and the way they met with that open prophetic heart.
Reflect for a moment upon the priority the Prophet put on new Muslims and the sensitivity that day brought with them.
In an authenticated narration, in different variances of it, Mother `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said that the Prophet said to her: “O `A’ishah! Were your people not new to Islam, I would have rebuilt the Ka`bah on the foundation of Abraham.” (Al-Bukhari)
In other words, the Prophet knew that the Ka`bah was built on other than the exact foundation that Abraham (peace be upon him) had built it, and that if it wasn’t going to affect the sensibilities of the people of Makkah who were new to Islam, he would have put it back into its original foundation. So, think about it. For the Prophet (peace be upon him) the sensibilities of people that were new to Islam are a priority over the exact placing of the Ka`bah.
So what then does this say about us if we were to say: ‘well, you know we really want to make a safe space for converts in our community, but it would disrupt the standard of religiosity’? As it were we’ve established our community and it would disrupt the kind of norm that we have in our community. So, converts are going to have to find another kind of comfort from whatever going on.
I think that we can do better; we can revisit this idea and make our community spaces safe spaces for people as they are new to Islam, as they are fleeing from whatever they are fleeing from to Islam. And whether this be by way of conversion to Islam or by way of recommitment to Islam or revisiting Islam, we have a lot of room for improvement in terms of making sure that our communities are safe spaces.
We ask Allah to give us success to be with what is pleasing to Him in that regard and enable us to bring about more safe spaces in our community.
Watch Sheikh Usama Canon’s talk here…