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.
Confusing the method with styles by some Muslims today
The doubt that crops up in some people’s minds stems from the fact that the existing situation now is different to that of the time of the Messenger (saw). In the time of the Messenger (saw) the division of societies was primitive (tribes and clans). As for today the divisions are more complex and interlinked. A tribe used to be on the level of a state; its people were counted by the thousands. Today, they are counted by the millions or tens of millions. The da’wah used to involve inviting the kuffar to Imaan. As for today, the da’wah to the Muslims in origin is to resume the Islamic way of life. In the time of the Messenger (saw), the superpowers such as Rome and Persia did not intervene in the da’wah of the Messenger (saw) in Makkah. Today the leaders are tied to the politics of the superpowers; in fact they are their puppets. It is the superpowers that plot against Islam and the Muslim, and so on and so forth.
The people who have these doubts say the following; “How can we adopt the method of the Messenger (saw) when many issues have changed? Doing this would be rigidity and inflexibility, and we are not forced to adhere to it. What is important is to realise the greater objectives of the da’wah, which are the application of Islam via an Islamic state and realising the ‘ubudiyyah (servitude) to Allah (swt).”
To explain the correct understanding of how to look at this issue, we say that the Shar’ee rule is always revealed relevant to a reality for whose sake this Shar’ee rule has come. When the reality changes, then the Shar’ee rule relating to it changes. If the reality does not change, then the Shar’ee rule stays as it is. Regarding the reality, what one considers is its fundamental attributes and not its outward forms.
Society consists of a group of people who believe in common thoughts, from which arise the emotions of acceptance and approval of whatever agrees with these thoughts, and emotions of displeasure and anger for that which goes against them. Then a system is established, which applies these thoughts and forbids their violation. Thus, the people live the life they are convinced of and they are content with.
The reality of society may take different forms. It may be primitive or complex, but every group of people is organised by common thoughts and emotions, who are ruled by a system that is from the same nature of these thoughts, whether the people were in the form of a tribe or a modern state, and whether they are counted by the thousands or millions. Irrespective of these, it is a society, because the attributes that make up a society are present and they did not change.
The Messenger (saw) worked to bring about an Islamic society, and that happened via the establishment of Islamic thoughts, emotions and systems. He (saw) followed the Shar’ee method that establishes the Islamic society. All his actions used to be focused in this direction. In Madinah he moulded the believer individuals, who formed the majority of its inhabitants. In their minds, he established fundamental thoughts about Islam, which gave rise to a homogenous set of emotions. When he migrated to them and established the system, the Islamic society was formed. It took a simple form in the beginning, and then it changed to a society that needed organisation and a (state) apparatus.
As for the claim that the superpowers did not intervene (in his (saw) time) and now they intervene and prevent the establishment of Islam. We answer this by saying that this does not change the method, but it makes following the method more difficult. This requires additional culture and work in the da’wah, which takes into consideration this (new) reality. Thus the block engages in international politics, so as to know the policies of superpowers, and understand what they plot against us and implement via their agents and puppets, such that we can counter it.
As for the claim that the Messenger (saw) mainly concerned himself with the subject of Imaan, and dealt with only a few rules in Makkah our response is; the fact that he dealt with ahkam, even if they were few, indicates the order to concern oneself with the Shar’ee rules in the da’wah. Furthermore, we have to observe that the work in Makkah was the call to people to enter into Islam. As for today, the da’wah is amongst the Muslims, who have the Islamic ‘Aqeedah, and the Shar’ee rules have all been revealed to them. They have now become responsible, before Allah (swt), for the whole of Islam and not just for the Imaan only. Hence, the Muslim who died in Makkah was only responsible for what was revealed until the time of his death. As for the one who dies today, Allah (swt) will ask him about the whole of Islam. That is why the da’wah needs to be comprehesive and it needs to call for the resumption of the Islamic way of life, because we are not a new call or a new deen.
Similarly, the one who studies the reality of the Muslims today, will see that their problem is not the loss of the Islamic ‘Aqeedah, but the lack of the linkage of the Islamic ‘Aqeedah with the thoughts of life and legislative systems. Hence the ‘Aqeedah has lost it vitality. All of this was due to the effect of the western thought on the Muslims, the thought which the disbelieving western states guard and work to maintain and concentrate, through implanting regimes subservient to them, laying down education curricula and utilising the media to spread this thought.
Therefore, it is imperative that one presents Islam correctly, completely and comprehensively, such that the significance of the ‘Aqeedah and Imaan appears as a fundamental thought from which the rules emanate, and on which the viewpoint about life is determined; and then to present the thoughts about life through this ‘Aqeedah. That is done by asserting the fact that the Creator and al-Mudabbir (Sustainer of all affairs) is Allah (swt), and that the judgement only belongs to Him (swt) and to Him will return the affairs of the dunyah and akhirah. When the Imaan and rules have been made incumbent on the Muslim, the power of the truth and its vitality will become clear for him, and also the strength of the kutlah (block) in understanding and calling to Islam, and its ability to generate change.
That is why the da’wah today is a call to Muslims to resume the Islamic way of life, via the establishment of the Islamic State. The basis of this da’wah is the Islamic ‘Aqeedah, which is given in its political sense, by making it controller of all the actions, according to the orders and prohibitions of Allah (swt).
Thus, what has changed is the (outer) form. As for the esence it has remained as it is, and has not changed. Hence the rule of working to establish the Islamic State has not changed either, and likewise nor has the method to acheive this changed.
Are the Shar’ee rules as an experiment?
As regards the second question:
There are those who describe the work to establish the Islamic State as an experiment, and the path to acheive it is the experimental plan that the da’wah undergoes. Is it correct to speak of this matter in these absolute terms?
The description of the method as an experiment is misplaced. It gives a meaning that is not consistent with the meaning of the term, “the Shar’ee method.”
The method of work in Islam consists of Shar’ee rules that rely on the strength of the daleel (evidence). The group is obliged to adhere to them as it adheres to the Shar’a, and is not allowed to deviate from it as long as it viewed them as Shar’ee rules. Thus, it is not a subject of trial and error (so if it realised the aim then it is a successful attempt, otherwise it is a failure and must be changed), in order to find the experimental method that will realise the objective.
Rather the Shar’ee method is a host of Shar’ee rules -as mentioned previously- whose purpose is to achieve the objective, which is the resumption of the Islamic way of life. These rules depend on the strength of the evidence. Allah (swt) is worshipped by adhering to them and being patient on them, as long as they constitute Shar’ee rules on the part of the one who undertakes them. He cannot change them unless it becomes clear to him that there is another evidence, which is stronger, in performing this task.
One must see clearly the emulation of the Messenger (saw) in the Shar’ee method. It is according to this criterion that the Shar’ee method differs fom that used by those who are working in accordance with secular systems; where people try their understanding and examine the work, and link the correctness and error of an action with success or failure, and with achieving the aim or not.
The nature of secular systems, for their adherents, is that they are not final (solutions) to them. They rather constantly require change and evolution. Any action they undertake can rightly be called an experiment. Indeed, all the western laws are experiments. For them the criterion of whether an action is correct or not, is only if it realises the objective or not. If it produces the result then it is correct, otherwise it is not. This matter is different for the Muslim due to the different nature of Islam, which is a devine methodology from al-’Aleem (the All-Knowing) and al-Khabeer (All-Aware). It is correct and complete as long as it depended on the Shar’ee daleel. Its correctness stems from the correctness of the Shar’ee evidence, and the correctness of istidlaal (deduction) and not from its linkage to the result. Therefore, adherence (to the evidence) is the basis, and it is from this basis the evaluation is made. As regards the actions of the method, the result ie assuming the power and establishment, is an aim which must be achived due to His (swt) saying; “Allah has promised to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that of a certainty, He will cause them to assume 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]; and due to His (swt) saying; “O you who believe! If you help (in the cause of) Allah, He will help you, and make your foothold firm.” [TMQ 47:7]. If the result is not obtained, one does not nullify the method or substitue it by something else, and nor does one declare it a failure. Rather the rules of the method should be reviewed and re-examined. No Shar’ee rule is to be abandoned except if the group is sure that it has made a mistake in its understanding. If the group can discern no error, then the group has no option other than to adhere to the opinion it holds and have sabr (patience) until Allah (swt) brings it the victory. Or it may be to do with the law of delaying the victory, something from which even the prophets before were not saved. He (swt) said; “(They were reprieved) until, when the Messengers gave up hope and thought that they were denied (by their people), then came to them Our Help.” [TMQ 12:110]
Indeed, the work is tedious and hard, requiring huge effort. The means of the group are always going to be far less than the means at the disposal of the regimes they face. The success of the work is not linked to a fixed period of time such that when the time expires without yeilding its fruits, it is described as failure. Rather it is linked to the soundness of the idea, the strength of the adherence of those undertaking it, and the general acceptance of the idea by the people. When these requirements are met, then one asks about the victory which the group will achieve by seeking the Nusrah (material support), just as the Messenger (saw) did. The evaluation that these matters have been definitely achieved is left to Allah (swt). The evaluation of the group in this regard is based on probability.
If the factors of victory are realised, then it will come; otherwise it will be delayed. Delay of the victory does not necessarily mean a mistake has been made. It could mean that the level of preparation and readiness is not enough and must increase. The delay may be a test for the shabab of the block or group; does it falter or does it keep to its pledge, or do some individuals give up? In any case the review must be undertaken. In case the group did not find a reason that justifies changing its method, it is not allowed to make changes under the pretext that the victory has been delayed. The group is obliged to examine its means and styles, which are in origin permitted, and choose the most appropriate ones from them. Therefore, delay in the victory does not have to mean failure. Besides, there are no Shar’ee rules that state that the aim should be realised in a specific period of time.
Certainly, one needs to focus on the correctness of the thoughts and rules relating to the method. With these thoughts and rules the shabab and the Ummah will be prepared. If these thoughts and rules are correct, in the view of the group, and the succesful means and styles have been selected, then the group must have patience, and it is not allowed to change the thoughts and rules, however much the results may be delayed.
The issue of change relates to the Ummah and not individuals. The mechanics of changing the society is of greater complexity than changing individuals, thus its movement is much slower, and is hardly seen, except by the one who has been granted a penetrating vision and correct patronage. This does not mean that the individual works while thinking the aim will not be achieved at his hands, or that it will be achieved at the hands of future generations; rather the member or members should set out from the standpoint that the state will be established at their hands, and that they will witness it, insha Allah, just as it was established at the hands of the Messenger (saw) and his companions. It is intended to say the life of an individual may be short or long, and the promise of victory did not come for an individual or individuals, but for the group. It is this believing group to which Allah (swt) has promised succession (istikhlaf) on the earth. During the work, the individual may die, or the Ameer may die and many may fall along the way, but the promise will remain as long as the group remains on attending to the order of Allah (swt). The victory will be realised at their hands whether it took a long time or not. The knowldge of this is with Allah (swt), and no one is responsible for this, but the group is responsible only for the adherence (to the method).
Therefore no one should say that the Shar’ee rule is an experiment, such that if the realisation of its aim is delayed, then we will pronounce it a failure and we will abandon it for another experimental action. No one can say this as long as we are sure that it is a Shar’ee rule in accordance with the evidence. As for the means and styles, it is right that they are subjected to trial.