I'm saddened to hear that the Hizmet Movement here is being categorized as a terror group.
I've been working with them now for the past eight years. I've had an opportunity to work closely with them and to travel with them overseas, and I see no foundation for this.
As a matter of fact, when I look at their zeal and their enthusiasm for the religion, and I look at how they practice the Qur'an and the life example of Muhammad the Prophet (upon him be peace), I'm inspired by what they do.
And they not only focus and center upon Muslims, they have great relationships with the non-Muslim community. And I would consider them to be like ambassadors for Islam.
They share Ramadan, they share neighborly needs, etc.
Muhammad the Prophet (upon him be peace) said he was one time talking with one of his companions, and he asked them if he knew one of the brothers. And then, he said, “Yes, I know so and so.”
And then the Prophet (upon him be peace) said, “Well, let me ask you something about him. Have you worked with him?”
He said, “No.”
“Have you traveled with him?”
He said, “No.”
Then the Prophet (upon him be peace) said, “Well, then you don't know him.”
I'm pleased to say that I've worked with our brothers, and I have traveled with them. And I know them well.
And to classify them as terrorists in any form is a great misrepresentation.
The other thing that I want to say is that they are very loyal and very patriotic to this nation. They work to support the good works in this nation.
They also work with all people, faith or no faith, and they show by example what the Prophet Muhammad (upon him be peace) taught us.
Some of us read books, some of us talk, but they actually do. And I consider it a privilege and an honor to be associated with them and to be part of the brotherhood.
I see them as wonderful human beings and as true Muslims, and I can say this as one that has studied the religion and been a leader in the religion for over 25 years. I can say this.
Also, what I want to say to you is that when people try to come against them – because some Muslims don't know about them and their movement and the good that they do in the world – I would tell them not to worry about that.
I would tell them to continue to model and be an excellent example of this religion and also build on the relationships you already have.
Myself, as one of your brothers and friends: if I know other Muslims don't know you, I'm happy to take you with me and introduce you to them and let them get to know you so they can form their own opinions.
And I have no doubt that once they get to know you and get to know your leadership, I have no doubt that they will no longer believe these outrageous allegations against you.
Muhammad the Prophet (upon him be peace) made education a top priority. You all make education a top priority.
He told us that we should be kind and considerate and respectful and hospitable to our neighbor. You all demonstrate that. You host iftars, you host various events during the month of Ramadan to educate the people.
So the Hizmet Movement is, I think, vital to the Muslim community, and they are also showing us how to apply the wonderful, universal, timeless concepts of Islam in the 21st century.
My imam, my teacher, taught me that you never change the principles. You never change the logic in Islam.
He said, but it's OK to change the way you express the logic. And we have to look at our current set of circumstances and our reality here in the West and apply the best application of this faith.
I see them doing that, and I see them embracing the entire human family and making a positive, wonderful difference in the world.
They're a benefit to the Muslim community and humanity as a whole.
Imam Omar Shakir, Resident Imam at Masjid Bilal ibn Rabah of San Antonio, Texas
This article has first been published in the special issue of the Fountain Magazine © Blue Dome Press