Thursday, December 28, 2006

The importance of independent thinking & grasping the culture

The following is a transcript of a session delivered by a brother.

It is possible that sometimes there is a deficiency in some of the Da’wah carriers. This weakness is in understanding the culture and the way we study in the Halaqaat and also the general reading and discussions, this results in problems in the Da’wah.

When the general culture level of the Da’wah carriers becomes weak, it creates a number of problems and has dangerous consequences.

When the Halaqat are not given in the same level as originally intended by the pioneers of the Da’wah. And when the cultural level is weak. Each resulting Halaqah will create a new halaqah of a new generation of Da’wah carriers that are culturally weaker that its predecessor, the thoughts and culture become watered down and diluted losing the original pure taste of the concepts.

Although activity of the Da’wah is essential, it is important to understand that our Da’wah is not ‘activity-driven’ rather it should be driven by a productive and independent thinking based on a strong mentality and strong all-round culture.

Sometimes, we are extremely busy in organising activities and doing a lot of running around. So we use our time in organising events and programmes and then we often busy meeting people to invite them to the events we organise. However, sometimes whilst we are planning and organising these events, weather looking for venues or the like, we do not question the objectives of the activity that we are busy organising. So we become labourers for the Da’wah rather than carriers of the Da’wah. Where we have no time to develop our thinking and deepen our cultural level.

As a result, the activities of Da’wah would slow down after the energy our zeal depletes and we would have not achieved results in the Da’wah.

Whereas, on the opposite hand, if we build ourselves with deeper culture and strong independent thinking that we strongly believe in rather than borrowing from others, this will build the Da’wah carriers to be strong in their mentalities and result in more productive activities that a driven by concepts rather than enthusiasm and zeal.

This does not mean we incline to the other extreme where we only think and culture ourselves without any result. So on the other hand, there may be those who would be the first to criticise styles even though they could see the apparent achievement of results from them. This mentality would make the adherents of it comparable to the one who continuously ponders about battle and reads the books of war but never engages in the battle himself and is thus defeated by the enemy.

It would make us intellectuals rather than Da’wah carriers, thinkers rather than politicians, the drive for the Da’wah would slowly become eroded and the passion to rid the world of evil would weaken.

We must realise that the issue of the Da’wah is one of urgency and one that requires for us to move from sensing the problems, thinking about the best solution for it in relation to the styles and then to apply that solution. Even if that solution is not one that we can definitely say is the purest or definitely the best out of hundreds of possible styles.

However that style would be the best one we could think of and one we can see affecting the reality which we face in a positive way.

This does not mean that we leave thinking, rather it means we think in deeply about achieving the result in the best way without allowing that thought to continue for centuries before even considering action.

In order for us to explain the importance and significance of this subject, I shall start by asking you a few questions:

What is the meaning of Revival without answering intellectual elevation?

Someone may ask why are we not concentrating all of our efforts Da’wah to non-Muslims? As they may argue that RasulAllah’s (saw) method of establishing Dar al Islam in Makkan Era was by converting people to Islam?

What is the meaning of Sunnah? Does it mean we must follow the Prophet (saw) in the way we dress, the length of our beards, etc?

Sometimes we may not be able to answer questions that we have never faced before for example; we say the Quran has four possibilities of origin-Arab, Non-Arab, Mohammed (saw) or Allah (swt). What if someone came and suggested that they be lived Shaytan is another possibility and he wrote the Quran? How many of us would know how to answer that?

If any of us are hesitant in answering these questions, then this subject is absolutely vital for us to address.

In order to create a strong affect in the Da’wah that will create change in people and not to fall into weakness. It is important to understand the different types of thought and to build independent thinking at least.

The types of thinking 1. Dependent thought, 2) Independent and 3) Creative.

Three types of thinking exist amongst people: independent, creative and dependent. The Da’wah carrier must possess independent thinking at least and the leaders should have creative thinking.

Dependent thinking is when people imitate others thoughts and adopt them without questioning deeply.

Dependent thinking exists in the person of low intellect who imitates others and mimics and borrows their thought. So a dependent thinker would have no original thought but sheer dependency on the one he has adopted from.

In reality the dependent thinker adopts concepts on this basis rather than realising their truth and conformity with the reality or the shari’ah texts.

This type of thinking becomes exposed when the individual is confronted with questions or realities that necessitate a reply or the application of the concept. When questioned by others on a concept he has imitated, he often gets stuck not knowing what to say if questions are slightly deeper or unexpected. In this case the dependent thinker would be unable to answer questions related to the concept independently unless he borrowed the answers from someone else.

If faced with a reality that required the application of the concept he would be unable to apply it and would inevitably resort to seeking assistance or attempt avoiding the issue.

In this situation, the individual will adopt already-existing ideas established by others when faced with any case or issue that requires any type of original thought or research. Whether in political, legal, or any other issues, such a person will turn to others to provide him with the answers. And after taking the answer or opinion from others, he will defend and justify this opinion as if it was his own without researching the related evidences, only because of his trust in the one who established the opinion.

Can be in issues related to understanding reality and text shari’ah matters.

So for example; The role of the mind, Existence of Creator, proof of Quran or Shari’ah textual matters like method of re-restablishing Khilafah, understanding of Usul (Ijtihad and Taqleed), Qat’I and Dhan’i matters.

There are many consequences of having dependent or borrowed thinking. These could be weakness in our discussions with different sections of the Ummah – whether general people, Ulema, intellectuals, students and people from other groups. The culture that we have gone through and studied is acquired to a basic level that has no depth. This often leads to some of us to get stuck in our arguments and this slows down the Da’wah, where we may need to depend on others to discuss on our behalf.

Because of the imitation, dependency and the lack of thinking and creativity, sometimes our thinking was reduced to a personalized type of thinking that became connected with personalities and not ideas.

Unfortunately, nowadays the idea carries no value unless it is connected to a well-established or high-ranking personality such as a Scholar or Intellectual. And any existing research in this case will focus on the person and not the thought so the discussion will emphasize "Who said what" rather than "What is being said." Any person who opposes the opinions of such personalities will be attacked severely.

At the end, the individual will view the correct idea as the idea that comes from a personality that he respects, and the wrong idea is the idea that comes from a person that he does not respect. And the only way to explain the fallacy of any idea in this context will be to focus the discussion on the personalities.

Such an approach indicates the lack of thinking among Muslims. When the Muslims had a high level of understanding, they would evaluate the personalities based on the ideas they carried and not vice versa. Ali (ra) used to say, "Recognize the truth first; then, you will be able to recognize the people who adhere to the truth.”

So even amongst ourselves, we live in a society that is dominated by imitating personalities and dependent thinking, and borrowing thoughts and concepts from people.

Therefore we must be careful not fall into the trap, but break free from this in society and Da’wah. So we should not accept everything just because it was written by this Sheikh or that Sheikh, but rather we should try to question the ideas as much as possible so we truly become the master of the concept.

Therefore, the entire discussion should focus on the issues and the ideas where the evidence, and not a personality, serves as the reference. Only through independent thinking and encouraging the sound and original research can we break free of this imitation.

Independent thinking is adopting concepts on their basis rather than adopting on the basis of trust in another person culture or thought.

An Independent thinker is someone who will not adopt a thought unless he questions it and debates it, then he adopts it. Once he adopts it, he believes in his thought like he is the owner and originator of the thought. So he will be confident to discuss and carry it, debate it and be ready to apply his thoughts on multiple realities weather old or new.

An independent thinker would not get stuck often when he discusses with people in the Da’wah, whether the person who he discusses with those who will challenge his thinking, whether the person is a Sheikh, Alim, Phd, member of other group or lecturer. And if he were to get stuck or he comes across something new, the independent thinker would recognise gaps in some aspects of his culture, after discusision, questioning, reading, he would work to fill these gaps.

How does someone acquire and develop Independent thinking?

A da’wah carrier who wishes to become independent in his thinking would not be satisfied with just going to a weekly Halaqah and listening to the mushrif for a few hours without questioning him deeply in the concepts he discusses. Sometimes, we may understand what the brother explains to us at the time, but as soon as the halaqah has ended we would not be able to explain the concepts we discussed, so we have not digested the culture and not adopted it independently.

The independent thinker would not stop and be satisfied to move on to the next paragraph unless he understands the idea like his own. Questioning until all possibilities are clarified in order to make someone the owner of the thought rather borrowing the thought.

Practical steps that could be implemented amongst the brothers in order to generate Da’wah carrier with Independent thinking.

It is important that the Mushrifeen push the Dariseen in their level of thinking. The Da’wah carriers should question each other, and the mode of doing an action or accepting a thought because a senior brother says so should be dispelled. Rather, the Da’wah carriers should engage in cultural discussions among themselves and debate among each other to produce an atmosphere of culture and independent thinking whether on intellectual, political or legislative matters.

Reading and studying, discussing and self-scrutinising from sources such as the adopted books of the group you are working with is essential. However, that is not enough to develop deep culture. It is absolutely essential that the Da’wah carriers refer to other sources including the general Islamic culture, such as the books of tafseer, ulum al hadith, Usul, aqeedah etc. Also follow political matters as our Da’wah is purely political and other such fields.

Thinking about possibilities to challenge the concept which a da’wah carrier adopts to gain overall and complete strength in what he carries.

Natural discussions with people in the Da’wah, this will naturally push us to think independently, and once we discuss, if we feel our discussion is weak, we should try to go back stronger and alone to challenge, not just to take someone who we believe can be better to discuss, as long as this does not harm the Da’wah.

Question your mushrifeen as much as possible until the concept becomes absolutely crystal and your understanding has depth.

Questioning how and why is the way to attain depth

It is absolutely essential that we build our Aqliya strongly.

Aqliya is the fundamental basis were we rewire all our thoughts to, This should only be one basis and that is the basis of the Islamic Aqeedah, none of our thoughts should be rewired to a number of bases, rather a single basis only.

For example, someone who believes that Democracy should be a way forward, or believes that there should exist Nation-States, but also believes selling alcohol is Haram or praying 5 times a day is Fard. This person is rewiring his thoughts on these matters to an Islamic Basis on some matters, and to other matters a non Islamic basis. He does not possess the Islamic Aqliya, it is incorrect and contradictory to our deen.

Where as the person who watches the news and sees the occupation of Palestine, and believes the solution is not peace with Israel, but the establishment of an Islamic Khilafah and he believes that Salah if Fard like Fasting, and believe alcohol is forbidden and believe the way Men and women come together is by contract of Nikah and all of his other thoughts have a single basis and reference point, then this person has an Islamic Aqliya.

Therefore we must possess an Islamic Aqliya, thereby refering each and every single one of our thoughts to a single basis-the Islamic Aqeeda, and nothing more.

However, what we wish to address today is the aspects of the Aqliya.

The Aqliya is one basis, which is the Islamic Aqeedah, and we as Islamic personalities do use any other basis to refer our concepts back to.

However, from this Islamic ‘Aqliya, we face many realities in our Da’wah and daily lives which requires us to use different aspects of the Aqliya.

Aspects of the Aqliya – Intellectual, legislative, political and structural – need to develop on all areas to be all-round Da’wah carriers.

The intellectual aspect of the Aqliya deals with matters related to ration aspect we face in the Da’wah and our lives, like the deep thoughts of our culture, the definitions and applications of these concepts in real life. Why people think in a certain way, why people judge and hold certain ideas, why people behave in a certain manner and the like. This is a critical aspect to have in our mentality.

The political aspect of the Aqliya is used when we look at local, regional and international events and we conclude and make analysis based on these events with the knowledge and previous information we have gained from the culture to be able t deal with societal and political problems in the world and give solutions for these and mould the Ummah, so we look after their affairs. How would it be possible for the one who wishes to take care of the affairs of the Ummah to not have a Political aspect to his Islamic Aqliya?

The Legislative aspect of the mentality is knowing the Ahkam Shari’ah on most matters we deal with whether they are rituals, social, economic, political, judicial matters and to always refer to the Shari’ah texts to conclude whether the action is Fard, Mandoob, Mubah, makrooh or Haram. It also includes understanding the daleel and usuli principles related to the ahkam. It is necessary for to convey the ahkam together with the evidence especially for our adopted thoughts which are necessary to revive the Ummah. Without having a legislative aspect in our Islamic Aqliya, we would not be able to seek the pleasure of Allah without being dependent on others to give their opinions on these legislative issues.

The Structural aspect of the personality – is about Da’wah, which includes ourselves, the party or group we are with and the work with the Ummah – it defines that we wish to progress in the field of Da’wah with a clear objective with the desire to succeed for the pleasure of Allah (swt), so we may not fail, or become lazy, or incompetent or to be walking books and intellectual philosophers. This is the most important aspect from all the aspects of the Islamic mentality as without the structural aspect, there would be no goal, no objectives and no vision to create change in the Ummah. Without the structural aspect of the Islamic aqliya, we could all possess good ability to do political analysis, or know definitions of concepts and even to know all the details of Fiqh and its usul, tafseer and Ahadith, but it would lead the Da’wah carrier nowhere as he would have no vision and objective, and he would just end up becoming a good writer, thinker, philosopher or sheikh, but not a Da’wah carrier.

Therefore it is important that we as Da’wah carriers, try our best to become all-rounders and develop strong aspects to our Islamic Aqliya, become Independent thinkers and possess strong culture, this would lead us to become valuable Da’wah carriers and to achieve better results.

Abu Sa'd al-Babari & Abu Ismael


~*Sabrun Jamil*~ said...

Assalamu 'alaykum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu

Just wanted to say:
Eid Mubarak...

'Taqabbala 'llaahu minnaa wa mink

(may Allaah accept from us and you.)'

The Messenger of Allah sal Allahu alayhi wa sallam said:
"The heart of a person who remains awake (in 'ibadah) during the night of 'Id al-Fitr and 'Id al-Adha (these are the nights that come before 'Id) will not die on the Day will not die when hearts will be dead (i.e. The Day of Qiyamah)."
Ibn Majah, al-Bayhaqi, at-Tabarani

May Allah bless you and your family!

Fi Amanillah

David Birch said...

Jazak Allah Khair Abu Sa'd.

Can you please elaborate on the structural part of the 'aqliyah, I've never heard it mentioned before and am having difficulty placing it? Also, where did the statement of Imam Ali(ra) come from?

Anonymous said...

As Salam brother,

After reading the article asking this question would make me a dependent thinker (which probbly I am) but I could answer all the questions you threw in your article except -

"we say the Quran has four possibilities of origin-Arab, Non-Arab, Mohammed (saw) or Allah (swt). What if someone came and suggested that they belived Shaytan is another possibility and he wrote the Quran? How many of us would know how to answer that?"

I could not figure out any answer for this question!! There could be a possibility that the Quran is from a more intellectual being than human which is Gayb or may be lives in a parallel universe, sent to keep the beasts (humans) in control. I have figured out a method to answer this question but don't know the exact answer. The method is - As I am clear about Allah exists and he is the only Unlimited being so all I have to do is find out certain aspects or characteristics of the Qura'n which proves that it can only be from an Unlimited being. But what is that characteristic?

Help me out bro....

Imtiaz Khan, Bangladesh

sohail said...

Salam Brother & sister,
This is npt a official response to your question. iam just a user. from my understanding of the Question " what if the Devil made the Quran". Well the simple way of putting the answer is, why would the Devil insult himself and warn against act which clearly the devil would be pleased of. e.g adultery, fornication, incest etc. Regarding the structure of the aqliya, to me that a new one, inshallah one of the host will answer this, unless you found out yourself and are willing to share.

Islamic Revival said...

If we approach the subject rationally - how do we know the devil even exists? As from the reality we cannot prove his existence therefore after proving the existence of Allah, we need to look at the possible origins for the Quran rationally and the devil cannot be one of them, as only once we prove that the Quran is from Allah is when we believe in all the unseen matters that the Quran informs us about including the existence of the devil, angels, etc.

Anonymous said...

aa, i agree with islamic revival's response, we have to arrive at proof of quran before we even believe in shaytan, unseen we believe in jibrael (as) as is mentiones in quran, but how do we know jibrael (as) never made mistake in transmission of quran to Muhammad(saw), can angels not make mistakes, iblis did. Some say jibrael (as) made mistake by going to Muhammad(saw), he should have gone to Ali(ra)... The challenge in the quran is can we bring anything better, we can't as humans, but is there anything in quran that is from jibrael (as), and maybe we cannot bring anything better than angels ...?

R Junior said...

The issue of Quran not coming from the devil, ghost or some Aliens from outer galaxy can be solved as follows: I thought this up myself and please correct me if I am wrong.

1. The first thing about this is that Quran comes in Arabic and human beings who have arabic as mother tongue cannot bring anything similar to it. So the one who sent Quran has more grasp of Arabic than the Arabs.
2. The second thing is that all other possible sources of Quran except Allah are creations.
Now if we keep these two facts in mind, we can see in this world that no creation has more grasp on on some other creation's mother language. Which means, a human may only imitate a tiger's sound and calls, but a man's imitation will never be better than all of the tigers. Because a man can only learn tiger's language from tiger itself. Hence there will be no way of improving upon it.
So the devil, ghost, aliens of outer planets(if they exist al all) will never be better than Arabs with Arabic language. Therefore they will not be able to bring any verse comparable to Quran as no Arab has been able to do it.

Islamic Revival said...

To David Birch,

The structural aspect of the mentality refers to the aspect of the mentality related to da'wa i.e. the set of concepts that we link reality to in order to think about achieving results in the da'wa. For example the concepts of:
- Sensation, thought, action and aim connection as referred to by Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani in the books 'The System of Islam' Chapter 4, Concepts and Structuring of a Party.
- Many of the other concepts discussed in the book Structuring of a party. These build a strong structural mentality.

In reality the structural aspect of the mentality is a subset of the intellectual aspect, however due to its importance it has been highlighted in particular.

Islamic Revival said...

To R Junior,

It is stronger not to refute a logical argument with a counter logical one as this in turn can lead to other arguments. For example from your argument the following could arise:
- The Jinn live on earth with man, we know that there are Muslim and non-Muslim Jinn and from the Quran (Surah Jinn) that they listened to the Quran being recited by the Prophet and understood it, therefore there must be Jinns who speak Arabic. How do we know they are not native speakers like humans? Maybe they spoke Arabic before humans as they existed before humans? etc.

Therefore it is better to cut the argument from the root and bring the discussion back to the reality, what are the possible sources of the Quran from the reality?
- Arabs, The Prophet Muhammad (saw) himself or God.
There is no other possibility from the reality, we can't say: How do we know that someone from a parallel universe who transported to our universe wrote it, or that aliens could have written it or that invisible beings such as jinn wrote it? As these things don't have an existence in the reality and the Quran is a real book in the real world.

We only know that the existence of the Jinn, shayateen, angels and the rest of the unseen are true once we prove that the Quran is from Allah, the All-Knowing who tells us about things that we cannot perceive and cannot know through our senses, thus we submit to what he tells us about them.

Islamic Revival said...

The following Q&A's are good examples of independent thinking as the Sheikh has not fallen into the mistakes in these branch areas that some scholars made historically in these topics:

Is there any material, sensorially-perceivable relationship between man and Jinn?

Does what is called a ‘karāmah’ exist or not?