By Zakaria Bashier
A clear and inspired vision is needed on the best ways in which Islamic workers could bring about the successful emergence of what may be termed the Islamic Revolution in contemporary times.
Our usage of the term “revolution” need not scare anyone. Its use here encompasses the very comprehensive nature of Islamic social change. The scope of this change goes beyond any other revolution the world has ever witnessed.
Whereas other revolutions mainly seek to better the living conditions of man on this earth, the Islamic revolution seeks to create a total spiritualisation of man and the universe. Material betterment is only one dimension of this process. More significant aspects or dimensions of it are those that affect a spiritual rebirth of the individual. It is a rebirth through the process of becoming reacquainted with his God and Creator. Through this reacquaintance, he rediscovers his true self. It is this new awareness, this new rediscovery of the real human identity that gives the Islamic revolution an unstoppable surge and momentum.
The most effective weapons of the Islamic revolution involve conquering the dark, destructive instincts in man. Once those evil passions are relinquished, an individual becomes a Muslim, “one who surrenders and submits his destiny to Allah”.
The most essential characteristic of the Homo Islamicus (the Islamic individual) is his submissiveness to the Divine purpose for man, as it has been revealed in the Qur’an. As such, this Homo Islamicus is not only part of the Divine scheme of things, but also an effective instrument thereof. Indeed this meaning is emphasised in a Qudsi Hadith in which it is asserted that it is within the capability of a pious devoted Muslim to ascend to such a high spiritual level, that Allah Himself will be his vision, his hearing and his ability to walk and strike.
Through this submission to Allah, the Homo Islamicus will not only gain his freedom, autonomy and peace, but he will also be able to muster the required powers to shape his own destiny and that of the world. His major weapons in this endeavour are those of Da’wah, of truth and spiritual power. His own personal example will lend credibility to his claims to moral as well as spiritual authority. If he could command and wield this authority, then he can conquer the world by peaceful means. Power of arms and military might may only play a subordinate role.
Only after the Islamic case is put forward clearly and convincingly and all legitimate grounds of genuine doubt removed, would the Muslim proceed to involve the necessary power to invoke it.
The present treatise is aimed at assisting Muslim workers in their endeavours to apply the message of Islam in the contemporary world. Those endeavours are beset by deficiencies due to the lack of clarity in the conceptual as well as the practical spheres of their Da’wah activities. To remedy those deficiencies is thus a prime objective of this study. We begin by clarifying the conceptual muddles.
The Essential Formal Features of Da’wah
The Message of Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has been given the following main descriptive epithets:
(1) Indhar (warning) and Shahadah (witness).
(2) Bushra (good tidings).
(3) Rahmah and Shifa (mercy and a cure to mankind) and finally
(4) Nur (Light) and Siraj Munir (illuminating lamp).
“0 Prophet! We have sent you as witness, and a bearer of good news, and a warner. And as a summoner unto God by His permission, and as an illuminating lamp”. (The Qur’an 33: 45-46)
The Qur’an, the Message which Muhammad, peace be upon him, brought forth from God, is described in the Qur’an as a cure and a mercy. It is also described as a ruh (spirit) proceeding from God.
“And thus have We inspired in you (0 Muhammad) a spirit of Our command. You know not what the Book was, nor what the Faith. But We have made it a light whereby We guide whom We will of Our servants. And surely, you do guide unto a Straight Path. The Path of God, unto Whom belongs what- ever is in the heavens, and whatever is in earth. Surely unto God, all things return. . .” (The Qur’an 42: 52-53)
Moreover, the Qur’an has been described as a healing and a Mercy:
“And We reveal of the Qur’an that which is a healing and a mercy for believers though it increase the unbelievers in naught save ruin.”
Due to the fact that Islam ceased to exist as a law and a state in many Muslim lands today, Muslims are faced with the task of reinstating it in all aspects of life. In setting about doing this, Muslims are faced with the question of how to do it.
In this paper, I shall attempt to present an abstract model of islamization, which is very much that followed by the Prophet, peace be upon him, and his companions in the first Muslim era. Only the essential traits are considered and preserved. Accidental spatio-temporal characteristics are not important for our present purpose.
A STRATEGY OF ISLAMIZATION
Our proposed strategy for lslamizing the Muslim world must proceed in stages. Every stage must be clearly conceived and defined to achieve clear cut objectives. In our view the following stages are required:
(1) The First Stage
The main task of this stage is to create and form a platform of lslamization of the Muslim world today. Two things must be accomplished: our conceptions of the new order which will be advocated from the new platform must be worked out in the greatest clarity that can be mustered.
Secondly, at the grass-root level, and by person to person contact, a group of chosen men and women must be approached carefully, educated about the new movement and invited to participate. Individuals approached in this stage must possess the following characteristics:
(i) They must be persons who are sensitive to questions of right and wrong.
(ii) They should not be part of the established orders, at least do not possess vested interests in that order, and are not paramount chiefs, priests or guardians of the status quo.
(iii) They must be judged to possess moral courage since only such persons would be prepared to adopt new ideas and be vocal about them.
(iv) They must be persons who are disaffected and alienated by the prevailing conditions. They may not be aware of this dissatisfaction, but as soon as a conflict between the new and old orders becomes apparent, they will be aware of their real inclinations and would side with the new movement.
(v) These conditions are almost always found in young people, and therefore, they must be addressed effectively and in the most sympathetic and intelligent manner.
What must be conveyed to them, at this stage, is the New Islamic vision, stressing the following:
(i) God’s ultimate design and purpose for mankind.
(ii) The Ultimate Truth and the Whole Truth about God, man, life and the cosmos.
(iii) In as much as the real substance and real essence of this Islamic vision is Rahmah (Mercy and compassion), it seeks to liberate, to bless, to illuminate, to impart truth, to dispense justice and peace.
(iv) By achieving these meanings, it heals the ills of mankind, wipes away his tears, and preserves his honour, dignity, blood and property. It cures his wounds and removes causes of enmity and conflict.
In less abstract terms, we carefully unfold the Message of Islam as:
(a) a Nur which seeks to educate man about his Lord and Creator, and remove his ignorance about the ultimate realities of life and death.
(b) a Huda (that is to say practical guidance in his affairs and relations).
(c) A Rahmah (mercy) and not as a Harai (embarrassment).
The connotations of Rahmah (mercy) are positive and soul-blessing, providing comfort, compassion. They liberate, offer fulfilment, satisfaction and bounty. The Da’wah of Islam, especially in a world full of ignorance, injustice and misery, must be presented in a positive, accommodating and comforting perspective. Most of all, it must not be presented as a Haraj, that is to say as a prohibition.
The Da’i of Islam must take great pains so as not to project himself as a prosecutor, always pointing an accusing finger at others. It is not his primary job to accuse, judge and condemn others. On the contrary, his job is more like that of a physician, or spiritual physician, whose job is to illuminate minds that have gone astray. He must seek to comfort hearts that have committed Khati’ah, that is to say wrong.
Making use of the doctrines of Tawbah and Istighfar, we must assist individuals to get rid of their guilt consciousness. Presenting Islam as a harai is a great misreading of the Da’wah. It represents Islam as a negative body of doctrines which stifles life and prohibits enjoyment and liberty. If represented in this light, a vigorous, life-loving person would tend to reject it and run away from it. Thus if we adopt this negative approach of Haraj, we will not be mubashshirun (those giving good news) but munaffirur (repulsors). The Prophet (peace be upon him) enjoined us to be mubashshirun and munaffirun.
The approach which depicts Islam as a Haraj, must be derided, but it is also a very naive approach. It seeks to alter people’s behaviour and social manners, before it changes hearts and conceptions. If a young Muslim drinks wine, or if a young Muslim woman is dressed indecently, that is indeed indicative of his or her lack of adherence and acceptance of the true Islamic ideas, values and conception. Our task would then be that of cultivating an Islamic awareness in those individuals. We cannot abdicate this task of educating and of creating a new awareness and hope to appeal to those who manifest deviations from Islamic behaviour.
It would not do to adopt a naive impulsive approach and start issuing and preaching injunctions, prohibitions and commands. By merely telling people what they ought to be doing, and what they ought not to be doing, we cannot succeed in winning people’s hearts or in capturing their vision and imagination.
True Da’wah work has always been that of inspiring and enchanting and of transforming people’s lives and minds. The impulsive approach must be ruled out because, unless we change people’s conceptions and win them emotionally, they will not be persuaded to change their manners and conduct. We must follow the example of the Prophet, peace be upon him, in this respect. The Prophet directed his initial efforts to transform people’s hearts and minds to the Creed of Tawheed. He did not make any demands concerning people’s manners and conduct, not even did he prohibit wine-drinking, until much later.
How to Give Bushra
In order to give the true Islamic Bushra (or good news), we must stress the positive aspects and the hopeful consequences of adhering to and adopting the Islamic message. The Prophet, peace be upon him, promised the Quraysh if they answer the call to “La illaha illa Allah” that they will be sovereign power on this earth and will enjoy paradise in the Hereafter, that they will inherit the riches and political power of the unjust rulers and unjust systems.
Much in the same vein, the Qur’an has promised victory and political domination to the true sincere Muslim workers. That is to say, if lslamization is to be successful, then the true, sincere workers of Islam must gain ascendancy and political sovereignty.
There is no doubt in my mind that this goal of gaining political authority for the sake of promoting Islamic ideals is both possible and desirable. If the stages leading to it are all fulfilled, then the political authority will inevitably be gained. In order to give the Islamisation programme the full colour, imagination and appeal which it both intrinsically possesses and deserves, we must stress the positive aspect of Islam. Those positive aspects necessarily include:
The spiritual and political emancipation of man and woman.
The aim of the spiritual emancipation is to remove and demolish false gods in the lives of man. False beliefs and ideologies must be challenged successfully and defeated on the intellectual and the ideological plane. Islam must be portrayed as holding the greatest promise of spiritual as well as intellectual redemption. It must be as the greatest liberation ideology yet to be known to mankind.
The Emphasis on Social Justice
The insistence of Islam on the question of social justice must not be underplayed, because some government or some powerful institutions would not like such an insistence. This is a very explosive issue. It is an issue that greatly concerns the hungry, ignorant and deprived Muslim masses. If we do not play the right tune in this respect, somebody else will play it. It will indeed be a folly and a sorrow if fake and spurious claimants of socialism are allowed to call the tune in this respect and thus deprive the Muslim workers from a platform which is deservedly theirs.
The ideals of Human Rights must be emphasised.
The Homo Islamicus is indeed worthy of human dignity and all the human rights of the liberties of speech, worship, assembly and of work and travel. Oppression can never be sanctioned by Islam and the Homo Islamicus must not be denied his right to object to any and all manifestation of oppression and injustice. The Homo Islamicus does not lose his human rights just because he happens to subscribe to political views different from those in power, and to insist on expressing them.
The ideals of equity and brotherhood of all mankind must be emphasised.
In Islam, there is no aristocracy, no recognised class distinctions, no caste system of any sort and no racial discrimination. No privileged classes or organisation are recognised in Islam. There is no priesthood and monopoly of political power, of wealth or of knowledge. These ideals must be clearly formulated and put across forcefully to the Muslim masses. We must warn here against the portrayal of Islam as merely a system of Hudud, amputation of the hand of thieves, flogging for wine drinking and the flogging of the fornicator. Now, those aspects of Islamic law are a very important part of Islamic order. We must do our best to assure and to secure the speedy return of all the Muslim societies to the precepts of Islamic law (Shari’ah).
But we must not give the impression that Islam is nothing but a police state whose overriding concern is to cut the hand of the petty thief and to flog the wine drinker or fornicator when such a wine drinker or fornicator is a member of the common or poor people while the rich people and those enjoying special social status are left beyond the reach of Shari’ah.
If this practice prevails in any society then we must indeed expect a speedy collapse for that society, as the Prophet has indeed said, concerning the ancient Jewish people of Banu Israel.
When the above objectives, with their proper nuances are realised and pursued, then the tasks of the first stage can be viewed as being in the process of completion.
(2) The Second Stage
The primary task of the second stage is to move from the technique of person to person contact in soliciting support for the Islamic call to the technique of public announcement, speeches and preaching. It is the stage in which all people are publicly invited to respond to the call of Islam.
The persons who accepted the lslamisation programme together with their leaders make themselves known to the public at large. Their programme of lslamization is also made public.
The task of the second stage will only be regarded as completed when:
(a) the lslamization programme reaches all people that matter, that is to say all people that may react to it in one way or another,
(b) when all reasonable doubts and all genuine objections to it are removed. The task of calling all the people publicly to Islam will not be completed unless the Muslims project their programme as a programme for social change. They must spell out all its implications to the existing social order. They must leave no doubts in the minds of anyone that they are out to undermine any existing order that gives rise to oppression and injustice. The Islamic order must be presented as a clear and superior alternative.
The assault upon the corrupt and false gods and norms, as well as unjust practices of the status quo is an inherent part of the lnzar function of the message of Islam. The Muslims must not shy away from saying loudly what they think is wrong with the present system. They must be both outspoken and vehement in their opposition to the malpractices of the dominant un-islamic system. Such an opposition forms part of the movement for change and reform.
(3) The Third Stage
The Muslims begin to encounter opposition, enmity and outright persecution. This new dimension of their involvement in Da’wah will, in effect, test their genuineness and sincerity, their forbearance and fortitude in the face of hardship and persecution. As such, it represents a new extension of the training (Tarbiyyah) which started from the first moment they accepted Islam.
It is part of the Fitnah (persecution and trial) to which the Muslims are subjected so that this is an essential stage in the life of Muslim movements and Muslim workers. It is not an accident of history that Sumayyah was killed in the way of God, that her husband Yasir was also killed soon afterwards and that her son Ammar was terribly tortured. Nor was it an accident of history that in the twentieth century men like al-Banna and Sayyid Outb were also killed.
“Or do you think you will enter paradise where yet there has not come unto you the like of (that which came to) those who passed away before you? Affliction and adversity befell them, they were shaken as with earthquake, till the messenger (of God) and those who believe along with him said, When comes Allah’s help? Now surely Allah’s help is nigh”. (The Qur’an 2: 214)
“Or think you that you would enter Paradise, while yet Allah knows not those of you who really strive nor knows those (of you) who are steadfast”. (The Qur’an 3: 142)
The Minor Hijrah
Those among the persecuted Muslims who are left without protection are permitted to undertake the minor Hijrah. (in the early history of Islam the minor Hijrah was that to Abyssinia.) Muslims with strong and influential protectors are not advised to undertake the minor Hijrah. They must stay behind to propagate Islam. Thus the Prophet, Ali and Abu Bakr remained in Makka, whilst ‘Uthman and Umar, and Ja’far ibn Abu Talib migrated to Abyssinia, may Allah be pleased with them all.
The major objectives of the minor Hijrah was to act as a temporary retreat for the Muslims. It provides them with a temporary haven, where they enjoy peace, security and freedom. They freely practise their religious duties and develop their religious thought. They are safe and beyond the reach of their enemies who are seeking to liquidate them physically.
It is important that Muslims must not accept the destination of the minor Hijrah as the ultimate place of residence, or the ultimate stage of their mission in life. Such an acceptance will be disastrous both for them as individuals and for the ideal which they defend and cherish. But there is no reason which prevents them from availing themselves of the advantages of the minor Hijrah as long as the circumstances which make it imperative are still operative.
The Major Hijrah
This is the mass movement of the Muslim Ummah from a place which reject the call of Islam to a new place which has accepted this call. The aim of the Major Hijrah is to establish the Muslim state and the political authority of the Muslims. The implication of this Hijrah “The Political Implications of the Major Hijrah” * are spelt out in a separate paper, carrying the above title.
(talk delivered in FOSIS 14th Annual Summer Conference)
* Read in the Seminar for the commemoration of Hijrah Centenary Year, organised by the Muslim Institute, Slough, U.K.