Islamic tradition since ages ago follows a principle whether we are conscious of it or not - of faith! In between all context and cultures in the world, regardless of how bizarre and foreign they are, Islam should always stay firm. So how does it do that? In what possible way can Islam do that?
By holding to the principle: we mix, but we don't blend.
Fruit salad don't blend; they are mixed with mayo, thousand island etc. But when pour in water, grapes still grapes, strawberry still strawberry, mayo still mayo (or diluted mayo, but still mayo) But not mashed potato; butter, milk all smashed together nyam nyam that there is no way you can return them back into their original state.
That is how we ought to be.
Living among the Western community as a minority isn't an excuse to not practise Islam the way we should - the way Prophet SAW did.
"Verily in the Messenger of Allah, you have the best example of him …" 33:21
He did not leave the non-muslims behind his principle in life. He fed the poor even long before he became the prophet. Who were the poor back then? The not-yet-muslims. Dealing with the poor means more than we think. If we are loved by them, it's a sign that we are also loved by God. The way we deal with them portrays the actual way we deal with God through our prayers.
Principle or belief isn't a barrier to freedom. Instead, the starting point of a religious belief is freedom. That point in life when we start to understand our religion is the exact time when we are actually set free from each and every oppression that are still existing in human history; intellectual, economical and psychological etc. So, under what argument are you using that the action of holding firm to a religious belief pull you away from freedom?
Islam is indeed about a conviction with a free mind.
When we muslims are asked about the meaning of being a muslims, the answer "submission" is very misleading. That's a pure wrong usage of English word.
Submission in linguistic context of English language means not free. It means you are being controlled, colonised, restricted from total freedom. It relates to our attitude towards many things in life such as money, job, kids - all can be a form of submission. To think again, it's funny the way we think that it's our freedom to donate or not donate money to charity, because the truth is, when we refuse to donate, that heavy heart of ours is a sign of self-colonisation by our own money as the subject of submission. That's why Islam teaches the principle of generosity. Here are the simplified equations:
to Islam = submission + freedom
but to the West = submission - freedom
Therefore, when we explain to the non-muslims, what being a muslims means, we should answer "submission solely to the one and only God." And that, my friend, is the true definition of a muslim.
Then, the next question arises, why are you here in the middle of non-muslims community? Why don't you go to muslims countries to practise your religion? Are you here to convert people? To make the UK and Ireland as a Islamic country like Saudi or Egypt or Jordan? You sure you want to do that? Because Prophet SAW didn't convert people 36:6.
Or are you here to show good muslims character so that it becomes your contribution for Islam with you presence here. Correct. That was what our most beloved men did - to lead by example.
We are challenged by our presence here, don't we? Endless doubts and thoughts are being questioned to us as if they are meant to freed our mind from oppression that they say coming from our principle and religious belief in Islam. But that's the advantage of being a minority. We are challenged to understand our own religion from the doubts and thoughts from the non-muslims. What should we do when are asked by those critical questions, you ask?
We listen to the question. A right muslim mind would find the right answer to it after s/he listens. If we don't know the answer yet because we don't have the knowledge about it, don't stop there. Like I said, a right muslims mind will find the answer nonetheless.
Here's a trick to answering those questions; the power of answering isn't exactly the answer, but the capacity of questioning the question. This is the power of a pure critical mind.
I don't know la how to end this. Well, I really hope I summarised well what I learned from Prof Dr Ramadan's speech. He was amazing but my essay is entah pape entah tatau apo nak jadi eh jang. I hope you get correct ideas from the points I'm trying to explain as I included some opinions and elaboration of my own and also from kulsem and everything, so it's like a mashed potato oso hohoho. Wallahualam.
ps/ one of the magical things about this speech is that he answered all my questions I been questioning very deeply since I arrived here without me asking directly to the person. My questions have been condemned and ignored by some others before but alhamdulillah alhamdulillah alhamdulillah, even it took 200+ euro and hours of journey to get to the answer , I couldn't be more grateful :)
Finals in 5 days. Ingatku dalam doamu! Wassalamualaikumwarahmatullah.