Friday, November 13, 2009

Q&A: Change with Relation to Actions and Achieving Results

بِسْمِ اللّهِ الرَّحْمَنِ الرَّحِيمِ

Question:
 Does "Change" fall under the sphere that man dominates? If so, can man control the time and place of change? Furthermore, if an extended period of time passes and change does not occur, does this indicate that something is wrong with the people working towards it? Or does "Change" fall under the sphere that dominates man? If this is the case, then what is this verse referring to?


إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ

"Truly, Allah does not change the situation of a people until they change what is within themselves first" [Ar-Ra'ad, 13:11]

Answer:
If the word "Change" mentioned in the question is referring to "working towards change," then yes, it falls under the sphere that man dominates. The Akham Shari'ee related to this are clear.

On the other hand, if the word is referring to "achieving change," then this is not correct, since achieving change falls under the sphere that dominates man. Man may work and work, exerting serious and dedicated effort, but none of the expected change may occur as he was hoping, or change might occur after a short or prolonged period of time.

It is man's responsibility to account himself before he is held to account; he avoids luxuries and focuses on serious work, he tries one style of da'wa and discards another, he changes his actions if he sees a weakness in it, and he strengthens his connection to Allah سبحانه وتعالى. But all this is nothing more than his implementing the Hukum Shari'ee that stipulates the obligation to work to change the evil into good, and change the falsehood into truth.

As for achieving this with certainty - at a defined point in time, today or tomorrow, in one place or another - none of this falls under the sphere that man dominates, but rather falls under the sphere that dominates man.

The evidence from the Islamic texts for this comes from the Seerah of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم and his actions. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم started conveying his message in Makkah, continuing his work there for over ten years, but, despite this prolonged period of time, change did not occur. It is not possible to conclude here that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم made a mistake in his strategy or method.

Furthermore, the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم directly sought Nusrah (support from the people of influence and power) himself from the tribes in the region around a dozen times. Despite all this effort, these tribes did not respond favorably, and change did not occur - some of these tribes even responded very negatively. It is not possible to conclude here that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم made a mistake in his strategy or method.

Following this, those well-known few (Ansar) arrived in Makkah, and the first Bay'ah of Al-‘Aqaba took place, then the second, and Mus'ab (ra) achieved more change in a single year in Madina than the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم achieved during his entire time in Makkah - despite the fact that the work of Mus'ab (ra) cannot be compared in any way to the work of the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم. After this, the Islamic State was established in Madina, and not in Makkah.

Therefore, working for change is achieved by refining one's actions and perfecting them, improving the styles and means, and working in more than one place. All these things fall under the sphere that man dominates, thus he is accounted for them, and is responsible to put in serious and dedicated effort towards them, unaffected by the length of the path, unhindered by the difficulties of the journey, unimpeded by the trials and tribulations, never weakening in resolve. He remains a colossal pillar, upright and strong, standing firm on the truth like the mighty mountains, accounting himself day and night on the quality of his actions, putting his Tawakkul (trust) in Allah سبحانه وتعالى, praying during the late nights and parts of the day, praying for victory, and asking Allah سبحانه وتعالى to bless him with the honor of being involved in it.

Achieving change falls within the sphere that dominates us. We have no capacity to achieve it today or tomorrow, not in this place or that, and therefore it is incorrect for us to become frustrated or pessimistic if the waiting period becomes extended or if the difficulties become numerous; rather, we continue our work, with truthfulness, sincerity, seriousness and dedication, perfecting our styles and means, and double checking them constantly...and Allah سبحانه وتعالى takes care of the righteous.

An extended period of waiting does not necessarily indicate that the work undertaken by the person has failed or is incorrect. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم worked for change in Makkah, and they stood against him; he صلى الله عليه وسلم sought Nusrah more than ten times, and they rejected him...and even became violent; the Nusrah in Madina followed this - not Makkah, where he صلى الله عليه وسلم originally began as a Prophet and Messenger...and not one person would ever consider the idea that the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم had failed or was wrong, or that Mus'ab had "better" actions!

As for the Ayah:

إِنَّ اللّهَ لاَ يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُواْ مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ

"Truly, Allah does not change the situation of a people until they change what is within themselves first" [Ar-Ra'ad, 13:11]

it is referring to a Hukum Shar'iee: Whoever wishes to bring about change, then it is upon them to work with seriousness and dedication, honesty and sincerity, as Allah سبحانه وتعالى does not change the situation of the lazy and those who are asleep, but rather He سبحانه وتعالى changes the situation of those who work hard, exhausting their efforts with truthfulness and sincerity.

In conclusion:

1- Working to bring about the desired change is a Fard (obligation), and falls under the sphere that man dominates.

2- Achieving change today or tomorrow, in this place or that, falls under the sphere that dominates man; therefore it is not permissible to give up or to stop working if the wait becomes prolonged.

3- The extended wait for change to occur does not necessarily indicate that there is something wrong with those working towards it; rather it is as Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the verse:

إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا

"Truly, Allah will accomplish His Matter. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things." [At-Talaaq, 65:3]

4- Allah سبحانه وتعالى does not bring about change through those who are lazy and sleeping, rather He grants change through the hard working, the honest and the sincere.

And Allah سبحانه وتعالى is the overseer of success.


6th of Rabi'Al-Awwal,1430Hijri
2/3/2009

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