The root and branch to revival in Islam
The root and branch of revival
﴾يأَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ ءَامَنُواْ اسْتَجِيبُواْ لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ وَاعْلَمُواْ أَنَّ اللَّهَ يَحُولُ بَيْنَ الْمَرْءِ وَقَلْبِهِ وَأَنَّهُ إِلَيْهِ تُحْشَرُونَ ﴿
(O you who believe! Answer Allah and (His) Messenger when he (the Messenger) calls you to that which will give you life, and know that Allah comes between a person and his heart. And verily to Him you shall (all) be gathered.)
Islam was revealed. It was revealed with ideas, not just theological ideas, but practical ideas. Not just ritualistic theological ideas but ideas on how to form a society, how to run a judiciary and how to run a state. In short, Islam has ideas on how to solve all of mans problems. While a lot of Muslims understand this, they sometimes fail to understand that Islam also prescribes ways to implement those ideas.
So when Allah SWT calls us to respond and in some tafsirs/translations, obey Him SWT and His Messenger SAWS in order that we may be given ideas, He SWT is inviting us to comprehensively adopt and implement these ideas. Ibn Abbas says that it is a call to honour, being made triumphant and something which reforms you. Ibn Abbas also makes it clear that this is more than just a spiritual resurrection because he gives the example of fighting. The ayah begins by calling to those who believe, i.e they already carry the idea and are now being called to implement the idea through its correct method; whether that is Allah SWT ordering the believers on how to deal with thieves or the Prophet SAWS showing us how to perform an action.
Let’s take a look at prayer. Our beloved Prophet SAWS said ‘pray as you have seen me praying…’ [Bukhari]. Prayer was prescribed for the Muslims, in order that we attempt to worship Allah SWT as He SWT deserves to be worshiped. However, Allah and His Messenger SAWS did not simply leave us to our devices, unguided. The Prophet of Allah SAWS gave us a practical example of how to pray, and we continue to pray in that fashion to this day. Or let’s talk about Ramadan, Muslims have fasted the same way for centuries, during the daylight hours we abstain from food, drink and ahem… for the married ‘boudoir delights’.
We would never change the way we pray, we would never replace any of the pillars of the prayer in the slightest or change the qibla. Even the thought of someone saying that we can pray in a manner which was not prescribed by Allah SWT or His Messenger SAWS is physically repulsing. As well changing these acts, we know from the Saying of our beloved Prophet SAWS ‘Anyone who does an action not commanded by us will have it rejected’ [Muslim]. So as well as not changing any of the acts we have been commanded to do, we would never dare to add any additional acts and attribute them to Allah or His Messenger SAWS; because we know that Allah has revealed His deen perfect, meaning the idea and the method are perfect. Except that, we do this all the time.
I want you to cast your minds back a few years to the elections. Everyone was talking about forbidding the munkar by voting. We were told that we mustn’t let the evil BNP in because they will call us mean names and send us all back to our respective homelands. We had the correct idea, we must enjoin the good and forbid the evil, but we had the wrong method. The way to enjoin the good and forbid the evil is within an Islamic framework, it is an oxymoron to say that we can do so through unIslamic means.
Looking at the post election landscape, the electorate were able to keep the BNP out, in no small part because the BNP lacked any real credibility to begin with. However, we are still being called mean names, Islam is still mocked and we are still being told to ‘go home’ (Racist van tells immigrants to ‘go home’) which was a National Front slogan back in the good old days. For all our troubles, we can’t even remove this regime for another two years.
Although it’s true that we don’t judge an action based on how much benefit we accrued from doing it, we judge an action based on its validity according to Islam, and whether it brings us closer or further away from Islam. This doesn’t mean that we should not seek an objective, and do our best within halal and haraam to realise that objective. In the case of the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition government, we weren’t unsuccessful because we didn’t obtain the result we wanted; we were unsuccessful because we didn’t implement the method of forbidding evil and enjoining good ordained by Islam.
Just like we would be repulsed by changing the way we pray, we should be just as repulsed by not forbidding the evil and enjoining the good according to Islam, and the way we do that is by calling to and establishing Islam and holding people to account according to an Islamic standard (the hukm shara’i). This is just one example however, there are many other examples of actions we do were we separate the Islamic idea from its practical method. There is little use in discussing every individual case; rather it is more productive to discuss the cause of the problem.
Most of us don’t have a problem accepting the idea, so we all accept that prayer is an obligation, that hijab is fardh and it is compulsory to fast. At the same time, some of us only pray jummah, say that hijab is a state of mind and fasting is pointless without first having achieved sainthood; and so we misapply the method. Returning back to the ayah we began with though, Allah tells us (the idea carriers/believers) that we will only be honourable when we have fully implemented the idea in the manner that He SWT and His Messenger SAWS have made acceptable for us. Confusion on what the method is, especially in an ever changing society can be difficult to ascertain, but that is the roll of fiqh, believe it or not.
We have created this notion that fiqh is simply there to tell us what is haraam and halal and also it is limited to issues of worship. The classical scholars, however, have defined fiqh as ‘the knowledge of the practical shar’ai matters that are derived from their elaborated evidences’. In other words the sharia has practical solutions to real world problems with a practical implementation which are all based on Islamic evidences from the Quran and sunnah. Until we marry the idea with the correct method, we will undoubtedly fail at every turn.
We must shed the view of Islam which confines it to glorified dos and don’ts and endeavour to understand and study it with a view to implementing it holistically. The ideas cannot simply remain philosophical niceties to be shoved under the nose of every would be revert with the disclaimer that Islam is peaceful. They must be brought to life through the method in order to elevate mankind. Alhumdulillah Allah SWT has given us a vehicle to bring His deen to life, and I know we spoke about prayer and ibadat but Islam is so much more than that; it’s a beautiful system which is implemented through the Islamic state. Everything is brought to life through it, and when it is implemented correctly and thought and method are in harmony mankind will be revived.