An ideology can generally be defined as a set of related concepts and beliefs that constitutes the basis of the political, economic, social system. Upon further scrutiny of the fundamentals and essence of any ideology and application, one arrives at the understanding that an ideology invariably includes a method or technique by which its ideas can be realised. Hence, we understand that an ideology consists of two main elements: Idea and Method.
In light of this, we must seek to confine all out actions, in the pursuit of the revival, to the method which emanates from our ideology. Failure to do this will result in our carrying out actions which do not emanate from the Islamic ideology, thus negating the Islamic goals and objectives.
In order to comprehend the realm of actions considered as part of the Islamic method, we must understand the nature and distinction of what constitutes Means, Style, and Plans as well as the concept of Strategy and Tactics.
The term Fikrah can be translated as an idea or thought. The most fundamental thought, the doctrine of creed, is termed the 'Aqeeda. The resultant thoughts and a system dealing with all aspects of life emanate from the 'Aqeeda.
Thus, the Idea - in the sense of it being one of the two elements of an ideology - can refer to the 'Aqeeda, and the resultant thoughts.
1. 'Aqeeda or doctrine itself is the fundamental thought about the universe, man and life.
" Say, Allah is One." ( Al Ikhlas; 112:1 )
This ayah is an idea directly related to the 'Aqeeda.
2. Resultant rules ( Ahkam ) are derived from the doctrine and used for solving the issues of life in general.
" ...Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba. " ( Al Baqara; 2:275 )
This ayah results in thoughts related to specific relationships, i.e. the economy and
acts of worship. Other ayat have thoughts related to the conditions for and conformation of the Khalifa, the Islamic viewpoint towards men and women, rules related to business transactions, food, clothing, etc.
The method is the material manifestation of the idea which seeks to bring the ideology into application. The method addresses the following subjects;
A) Implementation of the solutions.
B) Preserving the 'Aqeeda ( creed ).
C) Conveying the ideology.
The Islamic method for the implementation of Islam in the society is through the Khalifa. The Khilafa is a complete structure of the state, tasked with over seeing the implementation of Islam in the affairs of life, including the Khalifa, his Executive and Delegated Assistants, the Judiciary, and the rest of the system.
To categorise an action as part of the method, it has to be validated by Daleel or evidence. Additionally, any action which is part of the method has to be validated by a Daleel to categorise it as such. For example, Jihad is a method from which many actions branch off. Each one of them is based on an evidence. For example, initiating combat of how Islam is to be presented to those whom we are to fight with, are all based on evidences. Other evidences specifically describe and clarify the circumstances in which fighting is allowed to be temporarily suspended. It becomes quite clear that these actions are part of the method which have to be adhered to by performing the acts exactly the way they were performed by the Prophet ( saaw ). Hence, it is totally forbidden to modify ( add, delete, or alter ) any of these acts. It is totally forbidden to deviate even slightly from these acts because they all stem from the method.
From the aforementioned, it is clear that the Idea and the Method comprise the Ideology. Therefore, both should be adopted and adhered to with a full and strong conviction because it is forbidden to adopt the Idea and relinquish the Method just as it is forbidden to adopt the Method and relinquish the Idea. Consequently, discarding the Salah is just as forbidden as forsaking the penalty of cutting the hand of the thief, and abandoning the payment of Zakah is just as forbidden as neglecting Jihad, and committing cannibalism is not any worse than conspiring against the Muslims, and drinking alcohol is just as forbidden as the political disunity of the Muslim Ummah. All of these thoughts and concepts are a coherent part of Islam which have to be adopted comprehensively because Allah, The Most High, says:
" And you who believe is a part of The Book and disbelieve is a part. The punishment of those who do that among you is the humiliation in this life, and they will be subjected to the most severest chastisement in The Hereafter. And Allah is not unaware of what you do." ( Al Baqara; 2:285 )
Thus, Islam clarifies both the Idea and the Method and commands us to uphold and adhere to both of them and prohibits us from abandoning either one.
Now that the Idea and Method have been expounded upon, we will elucidate the Style, the Means, and the Plan of the 'Aqeeda. These three concepts may sound synonymous in meaning, but in reality they differ from one another. Each one of these terms has to be clearly defined so that we can deliver Islam in the correct manner, and the clarity of these terms has to maintained at all times to safeguard ourselves against any deviation from the correct path. One may question the importance of clarifying the differences amongst these terms and to define them separately.
The importance of realising these differences becomes quite relevant when we look in retrospect to the recent annals of Islamic history, where the Muslim Ummah could not distinguish between technology and culture. The Ummah imported and adopted many cultural elements from the Western civilisation.
The lack of understanding and awareness of the differences amongst the Style, the Means, and the Plan have led Muslims to the weakest and darkest period of their history and the Ummah is still suffering from the consequences of this lack of awareness. The Muslims took from the Western civilisation what Islam prohibited and renounced and left what Islam allowed them to adopt from it. Thus, it is important for the Muslims to fully understand the Style, the Means, and the Plan of the 'Aqeedah and to clearly distinguish between them.
THE STYLE ( Usloub )
The Style is an act which branches from the Method. However, it differs from the Method in that no Daleel is specifically prescribed for this type of action. In this instance, the Daleel for the fundamental act is considered as an enactment and reinforcement of the Style.
For example, in Jihad, there is evidence that compels us to prepare as much power as possible to fight the enemy.
"...And prepare as much power for them ( the enemy ) as possible. "
( Al Anfal 8:60 )
This preparation entails many acts of preparation, such as using a specific style for manufacturing weapons, adopting certain military techniques styles and so on. All of these acts are implicitly included within the word 'prepare', so there is no need for evidence to prescribe each act since the general evidence that ordains the preparation is considered adequate for all of the acts.
Similarly, selecting one Khalifah for all Muslims is an act from which branches out several acts such as adopting certain procedures of election and tallying votes. Adopting certain styles to prepare a force against the enemy, and a certain procedure to select the Khalifah are all acts that do not need specifically prescribed evidence. The Style, which is a set of branching acts, assumes the same verdict or ruling as the one for the fundamental act without the need for a specific evidence. Adopting certain martial arts, a certain procedure of tallying votes, a certain traffic system and dividing the military forces into subdivisions are all considered styles adopted to accomplish a certain objective and allowed for adoption. The exception is when a specific style has to be adopted, in which case this specific style becomes obligatory because the legal rule states:
" That which is required to accomplish the obligation, is itself obligatory."
From this we can see that no one is obliged to follow a certain style ( except when a specific style is obligatory ) because it is considered to be a natural part of an individual's personality. For this reason, the style may differ from one person to another, such as in writing a letter, a book, or expressing oneself. Styles take on different forms and shapes and are receptive to changes from one situation to another.
Moreover, it is not prudent to be confined to a certain style as a standard upon which all other styles are evaluated. This is because one style may be very successful in a given situation and a total failure in some other situations. The Style is dictated by the nature of the action. For this reason, it is not accepted to be stagnant and depend upon certain styles in refusal of adopting and other style.
`Moreover, it is obligatory that we relentlessly search for the most effective styles. In many instances, effective styles led to marvellous outcomes, like the manoeuvring of Khalid Bin Al-Walid when he withdrew his army in the Mut'ah battle. The outcome was that he saved the army from immanent destruction.
DIFFERENTIATING BETWEEN THE METHOD AND THE STYLE
Throughout the history of the Da'wah, one can see that there are many circumstances that clarify the differences between the Method and the Style, and that we are obliged to adopt and uphold the Method without any deviation. It should be made clear that we are not obliged to adopt a specific style. The Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) is considered to be an inseparable and coherent part of Islam. The Sunnah explains and describes in detail, many thoughts and rules that are ordained in the Qur'an. The explanation and illustration of a certain thought has the same verdict and ruling as the thought itself. For example, how to pray is an illustration and enactment of the order of Allah to pray. Allah, The Most High ordained the performance of prayers and Hajj and its details. All of these acts carry the same verdicts as the thought itself because these acts only illustrate how these thoughts are to be enacted.
However, some of the acts of the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) were not an illustration of a thought. In this case, these acts need to have supporting evidences to prove that they are either obligatory, recommended, permissible, or are exclusively reserved for the Prophet (saaw). To know whether a given act of the Prophet (saaw) is obligatory, recommended, or allowed, rules outline in Usul ul Fiqh need to be considered.
By investigating the acts of the Prophet (saaw) throughout the different phases of the Islamic Da'wah, certain acts are part of the Method and others are part of the Style. The Prophet (saaw) conveyed Islam following a method and initiated some acts through the course of conveying Islam. It is obligatory to follow the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) when his (saaw) acts are considered to be a Method and recommended to follow when his (saaw) acts are only recommended.
For example, the method of the Prophet (saaw) in conveying Islam and moving from one phase of the Da'wah to the next and his initiation in every phase of a new act that was not done in the previous phase, and his persistence and perseverance to carry out the same acts despite the potential dangerous outcomes are all considered to be an abundant number of supporting evidences that these types of acts are obligatory and part of the method. Specifically, the fact that the Prophet (saaw) was relentlessly persistent in concentrating his effort on culturing individuals in sessions and educating the general public and his steadfastness and endurance in this act undoubtedly presents a mountain of supporting evidence that educating the public and the individuals is part of the Method. Consequently, it has to be adopted. The initiation of the second phase of the Islamic Da'wah by the Prophet (saaw) involved two acts which were not initiated in the first phase:
A) Addressing the abominable practices of the society in the manner mandated by Islam as when the Prophet (saaw) attacked fraud, cheating in the scales and burying of young girls.
B) His initiation to uncover the plots of the pagans against the Muslims as occurred during the war between the Romans and the Persians.
All of these acts indicate that uncovering the plots of the non-Muslims and addressing the issues of the society on the basis of Islam are part of the Method. The fact that the Prophet (saaw) initiated these kinds of acts in the second phase of the Da'wah, but not in the first, indicates that these specific acts are necessary and obligatory in that particular phase.
Also, the initiation of the Prophet (saaw) of seeking the protection for the conveyance of Islam and his persistence in doing so and his sending of Mus'ab Bin Umayr to Al-Madina indicates that seeking the protection for conveying Islam is part of the Method as well. Thus, to convey the Islamic Call, it is necessary to implant the Islamic thoughts into the life of the general public in the first phase of the Islamic Call. It was also necessary to uncover the plots of the non-Muslims and address the issues of society on the basis of Islam in the second phase of the Islamic Call. Subsequently it was necessary to establish the Islamic State, which is considered the third phase of the Islamic Call. Additionally, it was required to confront the ideology of the pagans and persevere in doing so. All of these are part of the Method. The persistence of the Prophet (saaw) and the initiation of these acts was to illustrate the obligation of these acts in conveying Islam. The evidence that these acts are obligatory is the ayah:
" Indeed, there is an exemplary character in the Messenger (saaw) for you."
( Al-Ahzaab 33:21)
Following the steps of the Prophet (saaw) is accomplished by the initiating the acts which are performed by the Prophet (saaw) in the exact manner that the acts are carried out. This is an issue that is discussed in detail in the books of Al 'Usool. Imaam Al Qurafi dedicated one chapter in his book Al Furooq, in which he explained that what the Prophet (saaw) did as an Imaam or Qadi cannot be performed by anyone else unless he is an Imaam or Qadi, and what the Prophet did as a Caller to Islam is obligatory upon us as carriers of Islam.
Thus, it is not allowed, when we carry the message of Islam, to initiate any material actions prior to establishing the Islamic State, since only the Islamic State conducts a material struggle. This is because the Prophet (saaw) initiated material actions only when he became the Imaam of the Islamic State. For this reason, the Prophet (saaw) did not initiate any material actions in Makkah because he (saaw) was not ruler in Makkah.
In addition, we find that the Prophet (saaw) initiated some acts when he (saaw) was conveying the Message of Islam. The actions of educating the public took on different forms while the intensified education delivered in the private arena took on the forms of study circles ( like the sessions of Al Khabab). The speech addressed to the general public assumed different styles such as when the Prophet (saaw) invited some people to a meal with the objective of delivering the Message if Islam or when he stood on Al Safa and broadcast the call of Islam.
All these acts are to be considered branches from a fundamental concept, which in this case is public education. Here, the obligatory issue is public education but the but the style that were employed differed, and thus we are not obliged to follow the same styles adopted by the Prophet (saaw). We can speak to the people where people gather, such as the mosque, weddings, or funeral; through the media, such as buses, trains, planes, etc. Similarly, the Prophet (saaw) initiated a number of acts what he (saaw) was seeking protection. He (saaw) sought protection only from Muslim tribes and strong Muslim individuals.
Consequently, we can seek the protection of tribes, military commanders, or the masses as long as they are Muslim. These are classified as styles, which take on many forms and shapes according to the circumstances. Seeking protection from the positions of power does not change but the positions of power themselves may change. In summary, the style is defined as how a given obligatory issue is executed, not requiring a specific Daleel since it is already substantiated by the evidence for the main or root action and objective that may be pursued. For example, the preparation of forces to confront the enemy is an obligatory act that can be accomplished through many styles, that can be effectively used to accomplish the objective.
THE MEANS (Waseelah)
The Means are the physical tool that are permitted for adoption when initiating a particular act. Using a sheet of paper for writing, or a radio station for talk, or the sword as a means of fighting are all classified as a Means. The Qa'idah in 'Usul al Fiqh states that all objects are allowed except those that are specifically forbidden by textual evidence. For example, we can utilise ballot boxes as a means for election, we can adopt certain means of fighting such as possessing intercontinental ballistic missiles, or use satellites as a means for communication. Furthermore, we can address the people through a pamphlet, leaflet, or periodicals. All of these means are allowed. The Prophet (saaw) once sent someone to Yemen to master the manufacture of swords and adopted this new technology.
THE PLAN (Khittah)
The Plan is a general policy directed towards accomplishing a particular goal dictated by the 'Aqeedah and the Method. The Prophet (saaw) viewed this world from a specific perspective. He (saaw) conveyed the Message of Islam to the society at large. The Quraish in Makkah were the first State in Arabian Peninsula and a major obstacle in the path of the Islamic call. For this reason, we find that the Prophet (saaw) engineered the appropriate plan to deal with this obstacle. The plan reveals that the Prophet (saaw) sought to isolate the Quraish from the other tribes. So he (saaw) had the Quraish surrounded with tribes who submitted to Islam or who had peace treaties with the Muslims. Following this, the first task that the Prophet (saaw) performed after he (saaw) settled in Al Madina was to establish a treaty with the tribes who inhabited the are between Al Madina and the Red Sea, such the tribes of Johinah and Bani Doomarah and Ghaffar, and monitored the movements of the Quraish.
As a result of this plan, the battles of Badr, Uhud and Al Ahzaab occurred. Subsequently, when the Prophet (saaw) became aware of the communication between the tribe of Khaibar and Quraish, he (saaw) devised anther plan that established a treaty between the Muslims and the Quraish. This way, the Prophet (saaw) poured all his efforts to subdue Khaibar after he (saaw) could not establish any treaty with them. Then, the Prophet (saaw) initiated acts that would help accomplish the goal of this plan until it materialised in the treaty of Hudaybiah. Then, when he (saaw) subjugated Khaibar, Makkah was next, so he (saaw) engineered another plan that dictated the suppression of the Quraish. As a result, the conquest of Makkah took place.
The Prophet (saaw) devised another plan, to carry Islam outside as a universal Call. He (saaw) sent a letter to the Kings in the Arabian Peninsula and all the Kings of the surrounding lands. Letters were sent to the King of Egypt, Muqawqas; Emperor of Rome, Hercules; and the King of Persia, Kisrah. Thus, we find that the Prophet (saaw) devised plans to accomplish certain goal and changed the plans when the goal changed. In addition, the Prophet (saaw) adopted certain styles to accomplish a certain plan which he (saaw) initiated. Suppressing the Quraish dictated the monitoring of the Quraish and establishing communications with the tribes around Quraish. Also, establishing a treaty with the Quraish dictated certain acts that happened in the treaty of Al Hudaibiya, and certain manoeuvres performed by the Prophet (saaw) immediately prior to and after the ratification of the treaty. When a state implements plans, it does so to accomplish certain goals that are dictated by the policy of the state. When it is needed to change the plans, the state has to change them and it is forbidden not to abandon plans because it is necessary for the Islamic State to function as the leading state in the world.
Abandoning the execution of adopted plans means abandoning the message of Islam, which in turn means abandoning the leadership position which translates into the suppression of the State's power as was characterised by the Ottoman State towards its end. Planning is necessary for the State and for the Da' wah carriers because the Prophet (saaw) laid out plans in Makkah and in Madina. He (saaw) did not abandon planning any at any phase of the Islamic Call. Every phase of the Islamic Call may dictate a certain plan. For example, gaining the public support for the Islamic thought dictates interaction with the society, which in turn dictates living with the society. Living with the society does not happen until we enter the society. For this reason, entering the society is a necessary plan that dictates many styles and public speech and political struggle.
Two additional terms that one ought to be aware of are strategy and tactics. Initially, strategy and tactics were used as military terms. However, today they have a broader connotation. The relationship between the strategy and tactics is similar to the relationship between the plan and style.
THE STRATEGY (Estrateegya)
The strategy is defined as the art of employing the political, economic, psychological, and military forces of a nation or a group of nations to afford the maximum support to adopted policies in peace or war. The policies are built on the ideology of the nation. Some people also refer to this as the grand or higher strategy to distinguish it from the original purely military use of the word strategy. Since the war is nothing but an action to accomplish a goal, which the state could not accomplish by diplomacy, it is appropriate to discuss strategy in its broader meaning. The strategy deals with the entire theatre of operations of a state, at the diplomatic, economic, and military level. It is concerned with determining which resources the state will use and to what extent in order to achieve the objective. In other words, the strategy is the global plan to the State.
As an example, the Prophet's (saaw) objective was to carry Islam to the Arabs and non-Arabs. This required a strategy to enable the Islamic State to first, survive in and then dominate the Arabian Peninsula. In the regard, Muhammed (saaw) sought to isolate the major tribe, the Quraish, be entering into a series of treatise with her neighbours. The he (saaw) sought to politically and militarily engage the Quraish. As a result of this engagement, Muhammed (saaw) was able to neutralise Quraish. This enabled him (saaw) to dominate the arabian peninsula, after which the state continued to carry Islam to the rest of humanity.
The Prophet's (saaw) objective was to carry Islam to the Arabs and non-Arabs. This required a strategy to enable the Islamic state to first dominate the arabian peninsula. First, in this regard, Muhammad (saaw) sought to isolate the major tribe, Quraish, by entering into a series of treaties with her neighbours. Then he (saaw) sought to politically and militarily engage the Quraish. As a result of this engagement, Muhammad (saaw) was unable to neutralise the Quraish. This enabled him (saaw) to dominate the arabian peninsula, after which the Muslims continued to carry Islam to the rest of humanity.
THE TACTICS (Takteek)
The tactics, in warfare, is the art of fighting battles on land, on sea, and in the air and the execution of movements for attack or defence. In general, it is the art or skill employing available means to accomplish an end. It is concerned with the handling of one or more strategic resources in a specific manner to serve the object of strategy. Similar to a style, the tactics too will be based on what is thought to be effective at a particular time. It does not need a Daleel to make it permissible, unless if a specific tactic or style involves haram actions. If that is the case, then the tactic will be haram, i.e. sitting with people who are drinking wine with the objective of carrying the dawah to them.
The tactic requires creativity, as it will be a function of the situation that one is faced with. It should also be flexible, such that one would be able to adapt to the changing situation. For example, the Prophet (saaw) knew about the communications between the tribes of Khaibar and the Quraish. He (saaw) tried to cut off these communications. This was the tactic he adopted initially. When this failed, the Prophet (saaw) changed to a new plan, which was to establish a treaty with the Quraish. For this, he initiated new tactics, such as the Umrah to Mecca, and the stance he took during the campaign at Al-Hudaibiyah, near Mecca. Thus, the tactic changed during this campaign according to the new plan and circumstances.
For example, the Prophet (saaw) knew about the communications between the Khaibar and Quraish tribes, so he (saaw) tried to cut off these communications. He (saaw) first made contact with Khaibar to establish a treaty, but his attempts were of no avail. The Prophet (saaw) then changed his tactic to establishing a treaty with the Quraish. He (saaw) initiated actions or tactics to accomplish this goal. Thus, the tactic changed according to the circumstances.
These are the conventional meaning of these concepts that should be upheld and advocated by Muslims and especially the callers to Islam. Also, since the callers of Islam are future statesmen, they should develop and increase their awareness of all the issues that are related to these concepts. We should live up to the statement of Umar Bin Al-Khattab (ra), when he said: " I am not a deceiver and the deceiver cannot deceive me."