The following is an extract from the draft translation of the arabic book entitled 'Dawa ilal Islam' (Dawa to Islam) by Sheikh Ahmad Mahmoud, published by Al-Waie Publications in Lebanon. I will be posting the sections of the book related to this subject.
Seeking the Nusrah (material support)
Let us consider for a while an important rule from the rules of the method, that is, the seeking of the Nusrah. Let us slowly re-examine it so as to deduce what we need to follow, especially since there are people who are working to establish the Islamic State, but do not give the Nusrah the slightest attention. They do this as if it is a periphiral matter, which carries no weight, or as if its isnad (chain of narration) is weak, and so should not be taken. They did not stop here, but went on to attack this rule and those who engaged in it, even though all the biographies of the Prophet (saw) addressed this subject, with only a few minor differences in the details, which are not worth mentioning. The authors of the Sirah were not affiliated to any of the groups we know today, but despite this they discussed this subject. The Qur’an itself has mentioned those who; “gave help” [TMQ 8:72], and called them the, “Ansaar (Helpers)” [TMQ 9:100]. It is a description of praise and a description of the most prominent aspect by which they were characterised.
The one who examines the Sirah will see the Messenger (saw) sought the Nusrah from the chiefs who possessed power. He did this despite the ugly response from one tribe to another. He insisted on seeking the Nusrah and repeated this many times, and did not cease in seeking it. In his Tabaqaat, Ibn Sa’d mentioned no less than fifteen tribes (that the Messenger visited). This persistence, if it indicates anything, it indicates in a clear manner that seeking the Nusrah was an order from Allah (swt) to the Prophet (saw) to do.
The fact that the Qur’an called those people who responded as, “Ansaar” is another evidence. The Qur’an praised them in more than one place, and Allah (swt) turned to them with forgiveness. Their status follows directly that of the, “Muhajiroon” (emigrants).
The wording contained in the text regarding the seeking of Nusrah indicates seeking Nusrah is a Shar’ee rule. That is why the Messenger (saw) used to say; “O so and so tribe. I am the Rasool of Allah sent to you. He orders that you worship Allah and not associte partners with Him . . . and that you believe in me, and put your trust in me, and support me until I clarify to you what Allah (swt) has sent me with.” [Sirah of Ibn Hisham]. Here is a command from Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) and we know the command is a Shar’ee rule, for which the appropriate styles should be adopted in order to implement it. It is not, by itself, a mere style (that can be substituted).
Furthermore, the discussions that took place between the Messenger (saw) and those from whom he sought the Nusrah, as well as the discussions between himself and those who gave him the bai’ah (pledge) in the second meeting in ‘Aqabah; all these indicate clearly that the Messenger (saw) targeted from this action - which he insisted on pursuing - to establish this deen, and establish the entity which protects, applies and spreads the deen. So how can we neglect it, when through this rule the face of the da’wah changed, and carried it to a dar (homeland) that applies and spreads it. For whose interest is this neglect made?
- The Kuffar understood that behind this work was a pledge and triumph of this deen. Hence we see the tribe of Banu ‘Aamir b. Sa’sa’ah understood the matter to be related to power. Look at the Kuffar of Makkah becoming enraged when they heard about the second pledge of ‘Aqabah. They said; “O people of Khazraj! The news has reached us that you have come to our companion, and you are taking him from amongst us, and giving him the pledge to fight against us.” We see the Shaytan screaming at the top of his voice after the second bai’ah of ‘Aqabah had taken place, by saying; “O people of Akhashib. Would you like that Muhammad and the sabians gather on your fight.”
During the second pledge of al-’Aqabah al-Barra said; “We give our allegiance, O Rasool of Allah, by Allah we are men of war and people of arms.” And Abu al-Haytham b. Tayhan said: “O Rasool of Allah, we have ties with other men (meaning the Jews) and if we sever them, perhaps when we have done that and Allah will have given you victory, you will return to your people and leave us?”
As’ad b. Zurarah said: “Taking him today (from Makkah) is a challenge to all the arabs, slaughter of your notables, and the swords biting you.”
And the words of al-’Abbas b. ‘Ubadah: “If you liked, we are ready to turn against the people of Mina with our swords.”
The Messenger of Allah (saw) in response to Abul-Haytham said: “No, blood is blood, and blood is paid for only by blood. I am of you and you are of me. I will fight against those whom you fight, and make peace with whom you make peace.”
See ‘Aisha, and what she said about the Messenger (saw), that he (saw) found himself content that Allah (swt) granted him support and a people of war, weapons and support.
Observe Ibn Hisham speak about the Messenger (saw), regarding the subject of seeking Nusrah: “When Allah (swt) wanted to strengthen His Prophet and support His deen, He led him (ie the prophet) to this folk from the Ansaar.”
These expressions provide clear indication on the importance of this rule, and prevent turning their meaning to indicate that if one is invited to Islam and he responds, then he has supported the deen. Expressions such as bai’ah, izhaar ud deen (granting victory to the deen); Nasr (support), war; that the notables will be killed; swords will bite them; that this will go against all the arabs; that they should protect him as they protect their women and children; all of these expressions make us understand the manner in which the Messenger (saw) sought the Nusrah; that he sought it for the purpose of protection, even if this entailed the use of force to convey the deen; and he sought it to establish the State which will protect the deen and its followers, as well as apply its rules and convey its message to the world.
In this context one notices the Messenger (saw) did the following things:
- He sought the protection and help to protect individuals and protect the da’wah. This is sought even from the Mushriks (polytheists) as happened with his uncle who protected him and supported him, ie protected him from any harm coming to him. Just as it happened also when Mut’im b. ‘Addi helped the Prophet (saw) when he returned from Taa’if. This protection cannot be used to put pressure on the Muslim who is being helped to compromise his deen. The Messenger (saw) told his uncle when he asked him to slow down his da’wah; “By Allah, O uncle! If they had placed the sun in my right hand and the moon on my left, that I should leave this matter, I would not leave it until Allah makes it victorious or I die in its defence.” [Sirah of Ibn Hisham]
- The Messenger (saw) used to contact the leaders wishing that they would profess Imaan, in the hope that those behind them would also profess Imaan. He did this in order to make the da’wah easier to spread and make it more acceptable. This also contributes greatly in the creation of the popular base (qaa’idah sha’biyyah).
- The Messenger (saw) sought Nusrah and protection from the people of power and he stipulated that they embrace Islam first, as happened at the second pledge of al-’Aqabah.
The Nusrah was sought from the people of power. The reality at the time of the Messenger (saw) was that it would be sought from the leaders who, in addition to having leadership, had popular power. The leader at that time was also the ruler; he was also the military leader, and he was the same person to whose opinion the people would return.
As for today the ruler posseses the power by force and he has lost the popularity. The popularity one may see is mostly not true. Here we are obliged to do what the Messenger (saw) did, so we must contact those people who are influential in society to open the door for those who are behind them, and to secure the popular base. We must seek the Nusrah from the people of power, like the army officers, in order to reach the power. When the harm to the group members intensifies, there is nothing wrong in seeking the help from their friends and relatives, on condition that this does not put pressure or compromise the Imaan of the individual who is helped. In this manner we would have done what the Messenger (saw) undertook, taking into account the reality in which we live.
This is the method that the Messenger (saw) followed, and this is the method we are obliged to follow, emulating the actions of the Messenger (saw). By doing this we will bring about the following:
1- Shabab who are well prepared, so Islam is established at their hands. Just as the Messenger (saw) prepared the Muhajireen who took up the responsibility of carrying the da’wah in Makkah and establishing the State with the Messenger (saw), and leading the Ummah after him.
2- The public opinion for the idea, which emanates from the general awareness, ie generating the popular base which does not accept anything other than Islam as a system of ruling and embraces it when it is established, just as the way it happened with the people of Madinah when they came to want Islam and were ready to protect it.
3- The people of power and protection, via whom we seize the power.
When these matters are prepared, then we would have established the matter on the same path which the Messenger (saw) followed. Allah (swt) has promised the believers, those who adhere to His Shar’a, with victory, where He (swt) said; “(As for) the believers it was incumbant on Us to help (them).” [TMQ 30:47]. He (swt) said; “Verily, Allah will help those who help His (cause). Truly, Allah is All-Strong, All-Mighty.” [TMQ 22:40]. He (swt) said; “Allah has promised those among you who believe, and work righteous deeds, that of a certainty He will cause them to accede to power on earth, as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their deen which He has chosen for them, and that He will change (their state) after the fear in which they lived, to one of security and peace: they will worship Me (alone) and not ascribe powers to any beside Me.’ [TMQ 24:55]
The method and style
The question that arises now is whether what the Messenger (saw) said or did during his life in Makkah is considered a revelation from Allah (swt), and consequently it is an obligation to adhere to it. Or are there actions and sayings which are not from the revelation and do not come under the area that one is obliged to emulate?
It is from this angle that the discussion on method, means and style arises.
Another question also arises, which is: is it correct to judge on the method (which is a set of Shar’ee rules and not styles) as being subject to experiment? If after trying it, it gives fruit then we judge it to be correct, otherwise it is incorrect?
Regarding the first issue
We say the following: Allah (swt) ordered the Muslims to follow the Messenger (saw) and emulate everything he said or did. He (swt) says; “Nor does he speak of (his own) desire. It is only an Inspiration that is revealed.” [TMQ 53:3-4]. And He (swt) says; “And whatsoever (maa) the Messenger (Muhammad [saw]) gave you, take it, and whatsoever (maa) he forbade you, abstain from it.” [TMQ 59:7]. The word “maa” here is from the expressions of generality. Hence there is nothing that Allah’s Messenger (saw) has brought (ie conveyed to us) that is excluded from following and emulation of the Messenger (saw), unless there is a Shar’ee rule that specifies this generality.
Some evidences have come which exclude from following him in certain sayings and actions of his (saw), like:
- The hadith of the Messenger (saw); “You are more knowledgeable about the matters of your dunya.” Thus, matters of the dunya such as agriculture, manufacturing, inventions and studies in medicine and engineering; none of these come under the wahy (revelation). The Messenger (saw) has shown us that, in these matters, he is a man like anyone else, and he is not distinguished in this regard; just as he (saw) clarified this in the incident of pollinating the date palm trees.
- Actions that are proven to be specific to him, and no one shares with him in these. Such as the fact that only he is obliged to pray duha, permitted to continue fasting at night or marry more than four women. This is beside other such issues that have been proven to be specific to the Messenger (saw). Therefore it is not allowed to follow the Prophet (saw) in these matters.
- Actions relating to his natural disposition, which is part of the nature and disposition of human beings to do; such as standing, sitting, walking, eating, drinking etc. There is no dispute that such actions are permitted in respect to the Messenger (saw) and his Ummah.
- When the Messenger (saw) used to implement the Shar’ee rule, he (saw) used to utilise various styles and use appropriate means. Thus the Shar’ee rule is the rule of Allah (swt) and must be implemented. As for the manner in which the Shar’ee rule is implemented, ie the style and the appropriate means to implement it, this was left to the Messenger (saw) as a human, as long as it is a good style and a means that does not lead to Haram.
For example, His (swt) saying; “Therefore proclaim openly that which you are commanded.” [TMQ 15:94]. It is a Shar’ee rule that must be implemented. The Shar’ee did not define a specific manner in which it should be implemented. The Messenger (saw) proclaimed the matter in compliance with the order of Allah (swt), which he could not go against. As for the manner in which the Messenger (saw) proclaimed the Da’wah, it was not binding on him. As a consequence, it is not binding on the group that emulates his (saw) action in establishing the State. The fact that the Messenger (saw) had stood on mount of Safa, invited people for dinner, or gone out with the Muslims in two rows circumbulating the Ka’bah; all of these styles are relating to the implementation of the Sharee’ah rule. ie they are subsidiary actions relating to the original rule, which is to ‘proclaim’. These styles are permitted in principle. The matter is left to the group to define the most appropriate styles, without being defined by the Shar’a.
For example, His (swt) saying: “And make ready against them all you can of power, including the steeds of war to frighten the enemy of Allah and your enemy.” [TMQ 8:60]. His (swt) statement “prepare” is a Shar’ee rule which has to be adhered to. It is a fard (obligation) and it is forbidden to go against it. The order is the preparation which will realise the aim of the ‘illah (Shar’ee reason), which is to strike fear. As for the means (horses), it is not binding. Any means that leads to the striking of the fear must be utilised. The means by which Jihaad is realised are always changing. Therefore, what is required is the effective means in implementing the Shar’ee rule. The means of Jihaad and for striking the fear in the hearts of the enemies of Allah and the hypocrites in our time is the use of such things as aeroplanes, tanks and rockets. Thus, the Shar’ee rule is the rule of Allah (swt) on which the speech of Allah (swt) is directly applied, since it is the rule of the asl (original rule). The style (usloob) is a partial hukm, related to the manner of the implementation of the hukm of the asl (original rule). It is mubah (permitted) and left to us to decide the appropriate style
The means (al-waseela) is the tool through which the Shar’ee rule is implemented. It is in principle permitted and it is left to us to decide the most effective means.
Accordingly, anything that ensued from the Messenger (saw); whether it was revealed in Makkah or Madinah; whether it relates to the ‘Aqeedah or systems; regarding the methodology or application of the Shar’ee rules; all of this is considered revelation, which comes under the issue of ta’assi (emulation), excluding the aforementioned exceptions and other examples like them.
The one who studies the path of the da’wah of the Messenger (saw) in Makkah will see that he (saw) undertook actions that are regarded as Shar’ee rules, which cannot be contravened but rather adhered to. Likewise he (saw) undertook actions that actually come under the category of styles. He (saw) utilised means by which he implemented the Shar’ee rule demanded of him. One should differentiate between matters whose rule is considered from the rules of the method, and matters that are of styles and means, so that the group knows what is specifically required of it, and what is left to its discretion.
It is not allowed to consider the whole of the method as being from the styles, which are left to the discretion of the group in accordance with the circumstances. This is because such a view will lead to the neglect of the Shar’ee rules relating to the method, and to their replacement by rules from oneself. For further clarification of this we present some examples.
- He (swt) says; “Therefore proclaim openly that which you are commanded.” [TMQ 15:94]. This order is from Allah (swt) to His Messenger (saw) to give the da’wah openly. This order reveals the presence of two Shar’ee rules. The first is the absence of the open da’wah before the revelation of this ayah; and the second is the initiation of the open Da’wah in compliance with the ayah. The Messenger (saw) was not given a choice between proclaiming publicly and not proclaiming. Rather, he was obliged to obey the rule of Allah (swt) regarding the public da’wah. This is the Shar’ee rule, which the Shar’a has clarified. The Messenger (saw) did not decide to do this of his own accord, so it comes under the area of emulation. His (swt) saying; “with what you have been commanded” indicates that the matter is for Allah (swt).
- He (swt) says; “Have you not seen those who were told to hold back their hands (from fighting) and perform salah.” [TMQ 4:77]. The Messenger (saw) also said to ‘Abdar-Rahman b. al-’Awf when he requested the use of weapons to confront the harsh treatment of the Kuffar; “Indeed, I have been order to forgive so do not fight the people.” [Reported by Ibn Abi Haatim, an-Nasai and al-Haakim]. Then afterwards came the revelation of His (swt) saying during the Hijrah from Makkah to Madinah; “Permission to fight is given to those (ie believers), who are fighting them, because they (believers) have been wronged, and surely Allah is Able to give them (believers) victory.” [TMQ 22:39]. All of this indicates that the fighting was not permitted, and then the permission was given. The one who gave the permission is Allah (swt). It is a Shar’ee rule, which must be adhered to. The Messenger (saw) did not do it or abstain from it of his own accord because the matter has been left to his discretion; rather it is revelation and it comes under the sphere of emulation. Just as the Messenger (saw) had to restrict himself to it, it is incumbent on us to restrict our self to it.
- Similarly, the saying of the Messenger (saw) when he used to seek the Nusrah from the tribes; “O such and such tribe, indeed I am the Messenger of Allah sent to you. He orders that you should worship Allah, and not associate partners with Allah, and that you should discard the idols that you worship besides Him; and you should believe in me and protect me (also in one narration ‘support me’) until I can convey from Allah what He has sent me with.” [Sira of Ibn Hisham]. He (saw) clarified in this hadith that the matter is an order from Allah (swt). The Messenger (saw) used to follow the revelation in this regard. There is nothing more indicative of this than the Messenger’s insistence on seeking the Nusrah, despite the numerous rejections and the harshness and ugliness of the answer of the tribes.
These are examples of ahkam Sharee’ah relating to the method. As for the means and styles with which the Shar’ee rule is implemented, we are not ordered to adhere to them in a specified manner in matter of principle. We rather undertake the most appropriate style and the successful means in implementing the Shar’ee rule.
Thus, the concentrated culturing the Messenger (saw) used to undertake with the believers in his da’wah in dar al-’Arqam, in some of their houses and in the valleys. In respect to us, it is a Shar’ee rule that must be adhered to, and the appropriate style is adopted for it. Thus circles or families are chosen as a style in which the thoughts are given in a concentrated manner. A certain weekly time is fixed for them, and the number of people in the halaqah or family is set down together with a certain period of time. All of this is decided in the manner that is suitable for the concentration of thoughts in the minds of the youth of the da’wah who believe in it. All of this has been left to us to decide. We set these things according to what suits the realisation of the Shar’ee rule, which is to bring about the concentrated culture.
The Messenger (saw) used to offer himself and his da’wah to the people in the markets of Makkah publicly. When we ourselves do that, we adopt the fitting style, such as giving speeches, or spreading the idea in social gatherings, or on occasions such as people’s festivals and moments of grief or distress. The available means are utilised such as books, magazines, leaflets and cassettes or by live speaking. All of these are permitted means.
Likewise when the Messenger (saw) went up to Taif to seek the Nusrah, whether he went on foot or horseback or he used any other means, they are not within the sphere of emulation. The means have been left to our discretion without any specification from the Shar’a.
Therefore, we are obliged to know that the method of the Messenger (saw) consists of Shar’ee rules determined by the revelation, which he did not deviate from, even by a hairbreadth. We are also obliged not to deviate from them by a hairbreadth. All that changes is the means, forms and styles that the implementation of the Shar’ee rule necessitates. They are left to us to decide, just as they were left to the Messenger (saw) to decide.
Indeed, establishing the dar al-Islam is a Shar’ee rule. There are those who think that the method of establishing the State is a matter of style and that it is left to us define. Hence we can undertake any kind of action that leads to the establishment of dar al-Islam. We can, for example, help the poor, call people to morals, build schools and hospitals, call to the virtuous acts, or fight the rulers or demand to participate in ruling. All of these are deviation from his (saw) emulation when he followed the order of his Lord in following the method to establish the dar al-Islam. Just as the Messenger (saw) publicly proclaimed the da’wah in compliance with the order of Allah (swt), we are obliged also to proclaim it; otherwise we will be from those who deviated. Just as the Messenger (saw) restrained his hand from fighting and did not permit the Muslims to bear arms, likewise we must also comply with that. Just as the Messenger (saw) sought the Nusrah, we must also seek it in the same manner, despite the different reality. In general, just as the steps of the method were defined by Allah (swt) to His Messenger, they are also defined to us. Contradicting them or not following them is considered to be a violation of the Shar’a.
With regards to the method we have not been given a choice. The Shar’a has defined for us the aim, as well as the method to achieve it. We have no choice in this matter other than to obey.
Thus, only the Shar’ee texts (Qur’an and Sunnah) have the authority in defining the steps of the method. We do not leave to the mind, circumstances or interest (maslahah) any account in defining any of the steps.
The Shar’ee text is understood according to its linguistic indications and not according to people’s whims and inclinations. Rather our inclinations follow the Shar’a, and we are obliged to adhere to whatever pleases Allah (swt).
Therefore, it is incumbent on us to understand the method of the Messenger (saw) and stick to it exactly as he proceeded on it, and also to define the stages of his work and the actions carried out in every stage.
Thus, in the cultural stage, the Messenger (saw) undertook actions - such as contacting individuals, gathering those who believed in him in a secret place and persevering in their culturing. We adhere to the asl (basis) of these actions as Shar’ee rules that have come from Allah (swt), and for these actions we choose the necessary means and styles ourselves.
In the stage of interaction, the Messenger (saw) undertook actions - such as proclaiming the da’wah publicly, hundreds of ayahs were revealed attacking the creeds and corrupt traditions, attacking the rulers of Quraysh by name or description, and he (saw) offered himself to the tribes. We also adhere to the asl (basis) of these actions as Shar’ee rules. To the actions of the first stage -which is the cultural stage- we add the actions of the second stage; where the intellectual and political struggle, adoption of the Ummah’s interests on the basis of Islam, and exposing the plans of the Kaafir colonialists and their henchmen, the agent rulers; exactly as the Messenger (saw) used to do. Then we choose the necessary means and styles for these actions.
Indeed, the emulation (of the Shar’ee method) to establish the Khilafah should be from that period in which the Messenger (saw) was in Makkah. When the Messenger (saw) started on this method and undertook actions in the process, he went through humiliation, weakness, violence and harm. Yet he worked relentlessly with firm resolve. The order of Allah (swt) would come to him and he would strive to implement it. Indeed, the one who he is far from following the correct path; especially after he has heard His (swt) saying: “Therefore proclaim openly that which you are commanded.” [TMQ 15:94]. Where Allah (swt) orders His Messenger to proclaim only in accordance with His command, and he has seen the Messenger’s (saw) calling because of the command of his Lord and not because of his own decision. The one who he says: ‘This method is not binding’. If the method is not binding then why did the Messenger (saw) have to take the stance that he took, where he challenged the kuffar and opposed their gods, leaders, customs and thoughts? In addition, all of this took place under the guidance of the Qur’an. He could have flattered the rulers and appeased them, or gone along with the corrupt traditions of his people, so as to gain prestige with them. Indeed if he had done that, he would have disobeyed the command of his Lord. The Qur’an was revealed and the Messenger (saw) complied with His command. Allah (swt) said; “Arise and warn!” [TMQ 74:2]. He (swt) attacked the leaders, as explained previously; “Perish the two hands of Abu Lahab, and perish he!” [TMQ 111:1]. The Qur’an defended the Messenger (saw) with His (swt) saying; “You (O Muhammad [saw]) are not, by the Grace of your Lord, a madman.” [TMQ 68:2]. It described the condition of the Kuffar; “They wish that you should compromise with them, so they (too) would compromise with you” [TMQ 68:9] He (swt) ordered the Messenger (saw) to proclaim and warn the Umm al-Qura, ie Makkah and its surroundings, and He (swt) forbade him (saw) and those with him from undertaking the da’wah by using arms. The Qur’an used to be revealed and the Messenger (saw) would proceed according to it. What more proof is needed after this for the one who says that the method is not binding?
To say that it is not binding means that it is optional. That means that the Messenger (saw) could have gone against the order of Allah (swt) in everything that was revealed, or in a part. That is because in origin, he was not bound by what was being revealed. That means we also have a choice, whether to follow the method of the Messenger (saw) or any other method. This view is far from the correct understanding and (correct) emulation of the action of the Messenger (saw) and his way of change.