The following is a transcript I prepared at the request of at the request of one of the Ulema in Africa who was delivering a speech on this subject at a conference for the Ulema.
Dear brothers today I want to discuss a vital subject which I believe is a key issue for us all and should be at the heart of our discussion today – the importance of addressing the reality of the Ummah and the issues that affect them.
The responsibility of the Ulema
The Prophet (saw) said:
"إن العلماء ورثة الأنبياء، إن الأنبياء لم يورثوا ديناراً ولا درهماً، إنما ورثوا العلم، فمن أخذ به فقد أخذ بحظ وافر"
“The Ulema are the inheritors of the prophets, the prophets did not bequeath dinars or dirhams, but they bequeathed knowledge, so he who takes it will take an abundant chance”
We know that they cannot be the inheritors in Prophethood as this ended with the final Messenger Muhammad (saw), rather it means they are inheritors in the sense of responsibility of spreading the Deen, working to remove munkar and upholding the truth. We have to take heed from the ahadith of the Prophet (saw):
Abu Nu’aim narrated that Muhammad (saw) said: “Two types of people who, if they are righteous, the people are righteous and if they are bad, the people are bad: The scholars and rulers” [Abu Nu’aim narrated it in ‘Al-Hulya’]
Ad-Darimi narrated in the book ‘Al-Muqaddimah’ that he (saw) said: “‘Do not ask me about evil but ask me about good’, saying it three times. He said: ‘The worst of evil is the evil scholars, and the best of good is good scholars’”
Unfortunately often we see today that some of the Ulema do not address the issues facing our communities and Ummah. Many are used to repeating the same subjects they are used to discussing without focussing on addressing the direct realities facing the people in a manner to create change within them. It is a common complaint that many people feel that we do not address the realities they face and the vital subjects that need to be discussed but instead too often we continue to discuss small issues whilst the land of al-Aqsa bleeds, the land of Abu Hanifah is occupied, the Quran remains on the shelves and absent from implementation, whilst our youth are being seduced by the lure of Hollywood and Bollywood culture, whilst our women look up to role models from the West like the pop stars and celebrities, whilst the leading figures of our communities wage war on Allah and His Messenger through their Riba based contracts, etc.
The Prophet (saw) said in a hadith narrated from Abu Sa’id al Khudri: “Whosoever sees a Munkar (an evil or wrong) let him change it by his hand, if he could not let it be by his tongue. If he could not let it be by his heart, and this is the weakest of Iman” [Muslim]
How can we work to change the Munkar if we do not address the Munkarat faced by the people today?
How can we change the Munkarat today if we do not even study and understand the dangerous ideas from the Kuffar polluting our communities today?
The Prophet’s (saw) example in Makkah is the best example for us of how he challenged the evil facing the people in his (saw) time
The Messenger (saw) came to this world with his Message and openly challenged the whole world. He (saw) believed in the Truth he (saw) was inviting the people to and declared war against the red and black (people) i.e. everyone, irrespective of their traditions, customs, religions, doctrines, rulers and masses. He (saw) paid no attention to anything other than the message of Islam. He (saw) commenced the da’wah by discrediting the false deities of Quraysh. He (saw) challenged them in their doctrines, discredited them while he was alone, isolated, with no helper and no weapon except his unshakeable and deeply rooted conviction in Islam to which he was inviting. He (saw) did not care for the Arab customs, traditions, religions, or doctrines. In this respect, he (saw) was not courteous nor gave them any regard.
Similarly, the da’wah carrier has to challenge everything. This includes challenging the customs, traditions, erroneous thoughts and concepts, the public opinion when it is wrong even if he has to struggle against it. He has to challenge the doctrines and religions despite the fact that he might be exposed to the fanaticism of their followers and the hostility of those who stick to their distortions.
Reality of Ulema in the past
If we look at the great Ulema of the past they always faced up to the challenges in their times and worked hard to work against the corrupt concepts, false aqa’id, oppressive rulers and Kufr in all its forms.
Let us take the example of Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (ra), the master of Hadeeth, the Mujtahid of Makkah and to whom the Hanbali Madhab is attributed. In his time Ma’moon became Khaleefah who had adopted the Mu’tazilla belief that the Quran was created and attempted to force this belief upon the masses. He started with the Ulema as they were the ones who had the leadership over the Ummah. Amongst the Ulema was Imam Ahmad who refused to accept this corrupt doctrine. His uncle went to him and asked him to say with his tongue what he does not accept in his heart, to this he responded, “If the Alim stays silent in the face of falsehood when will the truth become manifest”.
He preferred prison to corrupting an aspect of the Islamic Aqeeda and was prepared to suffer in this way following the example of Yusuf (as) who preferred prison to the fitna that he was faced with.
Imam Malik (ra), the Imam of Madinah in Fiqh and hadeeth gave a fatwa stating that the oath that is taken through duress is invalid, as a result of this it had implications on the very rule that is taken through force, so the Wali in the region had him dragged through the streets on the back of a donkey. Whilst he was being dragged he was exclaiming, “Know who I am! I am Malik ibn Anas and the pledge that is taken through force is invalid, is invalid, is invalid!”
Imam Ahmad understood the Hadith that has been declared Sahih by Imam Suyuti, “The one who pleases the Sultan (authority) with that which angers Allah leaves the Deen of Allah.”
If we look at the writings of the Ulema in the past it becomes clear that they addressed the reality of their time – we can see how Imam Ghazali wrote refutation of the philosophers – which refuted the corrupt ideas from Greek philosophy which were affecting the Ummah at his time.
What issues face the people today?
In order to understand the issues facing the people today we must be in close touch with them and the reality of society – we can’t be isolated. There are many issues facing the people today on various levels. It is beyond the scope of my talk today to go into all these issues. However I want to give some examples of the types of issues we need to address in the areas of the Aqeeda, Social issues, economic issues and global issues.
It may be that we are currently unaware of these issues and do not have the necessary knowledge to deal with them – this does not mean that we ignore them, rather it becomes an obligation upon us to learn about these issues and gain the necessary knowledge.
There are some very dangerous ideas that affect the Islamic Aqeeda that are pushed by the global media and are even taught to our children at schools that we must address and refute. Some of these include:
- The theory of evolution – that man came from Apes and that the Universe is eternal and therefore Allah (swt) doesn’t exist.
- The Big bang theory which states that the Universe emanated from a big bang from a condensed piece of matter billions of years ago – and that there is no Creator of the Universe
- Secularism – to detach religion from life – this is the idea that the Europeans came to after a struggle between the philosophers and clergy – they decided to ‘render unto Ceasar what is Ceasars and render unto God what is God’s’ – to believe that Allah (swt) is the Creator but not Al-Haakim (The Legislator), that man should legislate good and bad for himself from his own mind.
- Inter-faith dialogue – Under the guise of this they attempt to push the idea that Islam is the same as all the other religions and it isn’t superior.
In order to build the Islamic personality within people – we must build the Iman in a convincing unshakeable manner. If the Iman itself is based on doubt and conjecture then of course whatever is built on top of this will be shaky and weak.
The Prophet (saw) at his time refuted the arguments of the Mushrikeen, Christians and Jews which dominated the reality at his time. Today the ideas the dominate the world are different – today Lat, Mannat and Uzza have been replaced by evolution, materialism and secularism.
In fact Allah (swt) has condemned people for imitating their forefathers and adopting their belief without clear evidence. In the Holy Qur’an, He (swt) says:
“And verily guess is no substitute for the truth.” [TMQ 53:28]
"These are nothing but names which you have devised, you and your fathers, for which Allah has sent down no authority. They follow nothing but conjecture and what their Nafs desire. Even though there has already come to them the Guidance from their Rabb" [TMQ 53:23]
The followers of other religions have no decisive proof for their belief, therefore they believe in their religions emotionally or through imitation. Some of them think that you just have to have faith without clear proof. However when it comes to normal things in life people apply a lot of thought such as buying a car, house, choosing a University course or which bank to join, so how can it be that when it comes to the most important questions about life; which define the purpose of our lives that we should just have ‘faith’ without being convinced absolutely.
It is therefore vital for us to encourage Muslims to believe in the existence of Allah (swt) without any doubt whatsoever and to be intellectually convinced absolutely in the Prophethood of Muhammad (saw) and that the Qur’an is the final revelation sent by Allah (swt) to humanity. Islam is unlike all the other religions as it has a decisive proof that convinces the mind. In fact Ulema like Imam an-Nawawi also defined Imaan as Tasdeeq al-Jaazim, the decisive belief,
There are many social issues facing our community, especially the youth which we must address. Some of these include:
Boyfriend-girlfriend relationships – fornication, adultery, etc – which has become widespread. We cannot simply condemn it without explaining the Islamic alternative of marriage and encouraging the youth to get married early as has been emphasises in hadith.
The spread of HIV/Aids due to the rotten ideas of Freedom – we must tackle the issue from the root and not only treat its after affects.
Un-Islamic practises at marriages – free mixing, rituals from Hinduism, forbidding marriage to people outside the tribe, race, etc.
Marital life – a lot of problems of wife beating, abuse, etc takes place – which does not emanate from Islam – it comes from Eastern Mushrik culture where the concept of marriage is of a slave-master relationship rather than companionship which in Islam.
The Muslim woman – between the East, West & Islam – Muslim women are being pulled in different directions by the corrupt society. We need to refute the Eastern and Western concepts of a role of the woman and explain the true and correct role of the woman according to Islam. We need to refute the feminist ideas intellectually by exposing the myth of equality in the West and explaining the correct view that men and women have different roles and responsibilities.
The Kuffar continuously attack the Islamic ahkam relating to the Muslim woman’s dress, the permission for men to marry up to four wives, etc. We need to respond intellectually to their attack.
It is Fard Ayn (individual obligation) for Muslims to know the Shariah rules related to our own lives and actions. Many Muslims work or have business without knowing the ahkam of trade. We must address issues such as:
- The ahkam of contracts, companies, etc
- The corruption of stock markets, PLC companies
- The evil of Riba which is commonplace today
- There is a massive confusion about Islam & technology – many think Islam rejects technology, we need to explain the difference between Hadharah (culture) and Madaniyah (technology) – we cannot adopt the Hadharah of the Kuffar but we can adopt technology if it is generic, just as the Prophet (saw) adopted the trench in the battle of Ahzab from the Persians and even encouraged the Sahaba to go to Yemen to learn the art of making swords.
The Prophet (saw ) said: “The Believers are like one man, if his eye becomes sore then the whole (body) feels pain, and of his head is in pain then his whole (body) feels the pain.”
How much pain and suffering has the Muslim Ummah felt over the last decades? And how much did we feel? And how much did we work to put an end to this pain? How much do we address it in our khutba’s, in our bayans and in our masaajid?
We have seen all forms of problems afflict this Ummah whether economic, social, political, military, educational or cultural
We have seen the occupation of the land of Isra and Mi’raj since the First World War and by the Jews since 1948, we saw the massacre of the Muslims in Sabra, Shatila, Qana and Jenin – we still witness the ruthless occupation by the Israeli’s who continue to kill our innocent men, women and children in the land of Palestine. We now see the aggression against the people of Lebanon – where they are bombing children like we saw in Qana.
We saw the death of over half a million children due to the sanctions placed on Iraq in the past, we even the saw birth of deformed babies due to the Uranium tipped bombs dropped by the crusaders. We saw the problem of Bosnia where over 60 thousand women were dishonoured by the Serbian Kuffar
We have seen the brutal aggression of Russia against the Muslims of Chechnya, the aggression of China against the Muslims of Xingyang province, the oppression of the tyrant of Uzbekistan against the Da’wa carriers there, the problem of East Timor of Aceh and Ambon in Indonesia, the problem of Darfur in the south of Sudan and many more.
Since September 11th we have witnessed an intensification of the war against Islam, where Islam and the Muslims have become the focus of world attention. We saw the brutal occupation of Afghanistan where the Americans and their allies dropped thousands of bombs upon the innocent people
We saw the occupation of Iraq by the new-age Mongols who dropped more bombs in this latest war against Iraq than in the first and second world war combined. We saw how they treat the Muslims like animals in Abu Ghraib prison the pictures of which were on the front pages of the newspapers world wide, we see how they have caged our brothers in Guantanomo bay even without right to a lawyer and a fair trail.
They have slaughtered over 100 thousand people since this invasion of Iraq according the British medical journal, the Lancet. We were crying when Babri masjid was Shaheed, how many mosques have been destroyed by the US and Britain in Iraq? In the city of Fallujah alone, over half the mosques in Fallujjah have been destroyed – out of approximately 120 mosques, over 60 are reported to be destroyed
We should not think and should ensure that our communities do not think for one moment that these problems are not our problems, that just because we are sitting in Southern Africa.
I want all of us here to ask the question to ourselves how many times have really spoken about these issues, addressed them in our bayaans, amongst our gatherings and have we been working for a true solution to these problems
If the Ka’ba was attacked tomorrow, I’m sure all of us would feel it and would be restless, we would not be able to sleep, we would be addressing it with the people, we would strive to save it with all of our efforts. But what value has Allah (swt) placed on the blood of a Muslim?
Whilst the Prophet (saw) was doing Tawaaf around the Ka’ba he said: “Maa a’zamaki” “How great you are” “Wa ma ashrafaki” “How blessed you are” “Wa ma ajmalaki” “How beautiful you are in the sight of Allah, but the blood of the Muslim is worth more than you and all your surroundings” [Ibn Majah]
If this is the value of Muslim blood then surely we must seriously work to protect it. Muslims all over the world feel the pain of these problems and discuss these issues amongst themselves.
The Muslims every where in the world look the Ulema for answers as to how we should achieve that, as they see them as the light that should show us the correct path. Therefore it is an enormous responsibility on our shoulders that we address this issue correctly.
We have a duty to link the Muslims in our communities to the global Muslim Ummah and not to see themselves as separate from them. They must view their problems as their own problems. We need to completely remove the diseases of racism, nationalism and tribalism within our communities whether it is related to our own societies where Asians treat our African brothers differently or whether it is in the global context. We need to emphasise upon the Islamic evidences which condemn racism, tribalism and nationalism like the hadith:
It was reported by Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi that the Prophet (saw) said: "Undoubtedly Allah has removed from you the pride and arrogance of the Age of Jahilliyah (Ignorance) and the glorifications of ancestors. Now people are only of two kinds: Either believers who are aware or transgressors who do wrong. You are all the children of Adam and, Adam was from clay. People should give up their pride in nations because that is a coal from the coals of hell-fire. If they do not give this up Allah will consider them lower than the lowly worm which pushes itself through dung.”
When we address the global issues we must make sure that we spread hope and not defeatism and not despair in the mercy of Allah, His victory and rescue. Abu Musa al-Ash’ari (ra) narrated: “The Messenger of Allah (saw) sent me to Yemen and said: Invite people and give them glad tidings and do not drive them away …”
We need to link the relevant texts from the Kitab and Sunnah to the current issues such as the texts relates to the al-Quds like the following hadith narrated by Ibn ‘Asaakir, from Maseerah b. Jaleese, where he heard the Prophet (saw): “This matter (the Khilafah) will continue after me in Al-Madina, then (move to) Al-Shaam, then to the peninsula, then to Iraq, then to the city, then to Bait-ul-Maqdis. So if it reaches Bait-ul-Maqdis, then it would have reached its (natural resting place); and no people who remove it (i.e. the capital of the Khilafah) from their land will ever get it back again (for them to be the capital again).” The scholars said they believe that what he (saw) meant by ‘the city’ is the city of Heraclius (Constantinople/Istanbul). This hadith is talking about which cities would become the capital of the Khilafah, all the cities mentioned have been the capitals of the Khilafah in the past except Bait ul-Maqdis (Jerusalem). This will be the capital of the Islamic rule sometime in the future inshallah.
There are many other subjects that we need to address – a lot of thought needs to go into this and we need have our finger on the pulse of the Ummah to understand their problems and issues
Final Words of advice
Some words of advice to end:
· We should not be afraid of questions, if we do not have the knowledge of a subject we can always find it out from others more knowledgeable than us, we must have ikhlas. Imam Malik was once asked 40 questions, out of which he replied to 36 of them that ‘I don’t know’.
· We should be willing to listen to people, even if they account us – if Umar ibn al-Khattab could be correct by a woman when he attempted to fix the Mahr – who are we? It is questioning that will push us to increase our knowledge and to be better carriers of da’wa.
· We need to increase our knowledge of the reality of the affairs in society and the world as well as the Islamic concepts, evidences and ahkam relating to them.
· We should not be afraid of changing what we are used to. We should not fear the public opinion, customs, traditions, Kuffar or anyone. We should fear Allah (swt) alone. Bukhari and Muslim narrated on the authority of Abu saeed (ra) that the messenger (saw) said: "Let not the fear of people prevent one of you to utter the truth when he sees it or hears it".
· We need to act to work to our utmost to work to uplift this Ummah, it is no enough for us to think and talk about this – we must act and I will end with a hadith as a warning to us all:
Bukhari and Muslim narrated on the authority of Abu Bakr (ra) that the messenger (saw) said : "Any people in which there are sins done among them, they can change the evil and they do not change, Allah will cover them with a punishment from him".