يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آَمَنُوا اسْتَجِيبُوا لِلَّهِ وَلِلرَّسُولِ إِذَا دَعَاكُمْ لِمَا يُحْيِيكُمْ
"Oh you who believe, answer the call of Allah and the Messenger when he calls you to that which gives you life".[TMQ 8:24]
In the tafseer of Al-Qurtubi and Ibn Kathir it says about the above verse, "Respond to what is good for you and what makes you better and that is obeying Allah and following the Qur’an and [what is in it] from the obligations. Doing this will result in success and eternal life". In other words, we are required to obey the commands of Allah (swt). This includes fulfilling the fardh (obligatory) actions that Allah (swt) has prescribed for us and not doing that which He has made haram (prohibited) for us. Fullfilling one’s fardh and steering clear of the haram is the only way to attain success in this life and in the akhira (Hereafter).
The Hukm Shari’i: The Guidance from Allah (swt)
The criterion of what is lawful (halal) and unlawful (haram) are set by the Qur'an and Sunnah and is referred to as Hukm Shari’i (the Divine Law). The Ahkam Shariah (plural of Hukm Shari’i) is a source of joy for the believers Allah (swt) revealed:
فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَايَ فَلَا يَضِلُّ وَلَا يَشْقَى
“Whoever follows My guidance, he shall not go astray nor be unhappy.”[TMQ 20:123]
Through the Shariah, Allah (swt) has guided us in our thoughts and actions. Allah (swt) has also assured us in the following ayat that any obligation that he has prescribed for the believer is within his or her reach. Allah (swt) revealed:
لَا يُكَلِّفُ اللَّهُ نَفْسًا إِلَّا وُسْعَهَا لَهَا مَا كَسَبَتْ وَعَلَيْهَا مَا اكْتَسَبَتْ
"Allah burdens not a person beyond his scope. He gets reward for that which he has earned, and he is punished for that [evil] which he has earned."[TMQ 2:286]
Wahy: The Believers’ Sole Reference
The Muslims are commanded, in regard to their actions, to refer to the wahy (revelation) from Allah (swt) alone and to conduct their affairs in accordance with the commandments within this legislation. This guidance is all the believer needs as it is a comprehensive guidance for all matters – nothing is left out. Allah (swt) revealed:
وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَى لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ
“We have revealed the Book to you explaining clearly everything, and a guidance and mercy and good news for those who submit.”[TMQ 16:89]
Allah (swt) has also commanded us to take what the Messenger of Allah has ordered and to abstain from what he has prohibited. Allah (swt) also commanded us to refer our judgement to the Messenger of Allah (saw), namely to what the Messenger of Allah (saw) has brought:
فَلَا وَرَبِّكَ لَا يُؤْمِنُونَ حَتَّى يُحَكِّمُوكَ فِيمَا شَجَرَ بَيْنَهُمْ
''No by your Lord, they shall not become true believers until they make you judge in all disputes amongst them.''[TMQ 4: 65]
وَمَا آَتَاكُمُ الرَّسُولُ فَخُذُوهُ وَمَا نَهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ فَانْتَهُوا
''And take whatever the Messenger has brought to you and refrain from whatever he has forbidden you.''[TMQ 59:7]
Furthermore, the Messenger of Allah (saw) has explicitly forbidden us from taking anything (e.g. prayers, political system, economic system, etc) other than what he brought.
Aisha (ra) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saw) said:
“He who introduces in our order something that is alien to it, must be rejected.”[Muslim]
This makes it clear that we cannot adopt ideas, actions and laws that are alien to Islam.
Consequently, when we as Muslims approach an issue that is new to us, we should first ask ourselves: "What is the hukm (ruling) by Allah (swt) on this matter?” Once we have sufficient evidence indicating that the action is allowable – based on Qur’an, Sunnah, Ijma As-Sahabah and Qiyas – then, and only then, should we proceed to perform the action. In other words, we cannot assume that an action is mubah or halal by default or conversely assume an action is haram by default. Rather we can only know its status when examining it in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah. Furthermore, if we are unsure about the ruling on a specific action, we must abstain from that action until we know whether it is halal or haram to conduct that action.
Ahkam Shariah: Categories of Actions
Allah (swt) has given us the tools in the Ahkam Shariah to determine which actions are of a higher priority than others (e.g. a fardh action is higher priority than a mandoub action), as well as which actions should be avoided altogether. Every action can be categorized into one of the following five categories:
1. Fardh (obligatory): The one who performs the action will be rewarded by Allah (swt) and the one who neglects it will be punished. Example: the five daily prayers, fasting in the month of Ramadan and paying the Zakat.
2. Mandoob (recommended): The one who does the action will be rewarded and the one who neglects it will not be punished. Example: praying the Sunnah before Dhuhr or fasting on Mondays and Thursdays.
3. Makrooh (undesirable): The one who refrains from the action will be rewarded and the one who does it will not be punished. Example: drinking water while standing and eating onion before coming to the masjid.
4. Mubah (permisable): An action that does not incur a punishment or earn a reward. It is neither encouraged, nor is it discouraged. Example: sitting, standing, walking, and so on.
5. Haram (prohibited): The one who performs the action will be punished and the one who refrains from doing it will be rewarded. Example: murder, dealing in riba (interest), adultery, drinking alcohol and gambling.
Being grateful to Allah (swt) for the Guidance
When reflecting on the categories of actions, we should glorify and praise Allah (swt) and be grateful to Him for granting us this guidance. Without it, there would be no way for us to know what actions to undertake and the relative importance of each action. Only Allah (swt), the Creator of all things, has the ability to determine how to categorize what actions are obligatory, recommended, permissible, not recommended or prohibited. Human beings, on the other hand, have a limited understanding of reality, vary in their abilities to assess reality, are prone to influences from their environment and can make different conclusions about reality (even if they have the same abilities). Consequently, when human beings try themselves to categorize actions in a similar manner, they end up with legal systems that are contradictory, flawed, and unjust.
However, following the guidance of Allah (swt) does not mean that we will have a carefree life without any hardship.
It is apparent that adhering to the ahkam these days is a test for Muslims living any where in the world. Despite these challenges, we must abide by the commandments of Allah (swt) regardless of the consequences. During the time of the Prophet (saw) when the Ayat prohibiting Khamr (intoxicants) were revealed, the Muslims stopped drinking at once. Some of the Muslims went so far as to induce vomit. They also drained all the containers of alcohol – regardless of the money it cost them. This is a clear indication of how Muslims should follow the ahkam regardless of the results and consequences. We, as Muslims, should be strong and patient and adhere to His ahkam. For us life is a test, hence we should live it according to the orders of Allah (swt) by following his ahkam. Allah (swt) revealed:
وَلَقَدْ فَتَنَّا الَّذِينَ مِنْ قَبْلِهِمْ فَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَلَيَعْلَمَنَّ الْكَاذِبِينَ
“Do people think that they will be left alone because they say: "We believe," and will not be tested?” [TMQ 29:3]
Living without the Hukm being implemented.
Indeed, the Ummah continues to face disastrous situations as a result of not implementing the ahkam of Islam. We must work to resume the Islamic way of life in the Muslim lands and implement all the ahkam of Islam by working to re-establish the Khilafah Rashidah, which will implement the Deen based on the method of the Prophet (saw). As noted earlier, the adherence to the ahkam of Islam is the key.
We must work for the implementation of this Deen and the adherence of Allah’s (swt) command and implement His ahkam so that we will be rewarded with Jannah (Paradise) and the pleasure of Allah (swt) and saved from Jahnnam (Hell Fire) and the wrath of Allah (swt).
Indeed, Paradise is the reward for exerting ourselves in the path of Allah (swt) by implementing Islam and following His ahkam the way they were revealed:
وَسَارِعُوا إِلَى مَغْفِرَةٍ مِنْ رَبِّكُمْ وَجَنَّةٍ عَرْضُهَا السَّمَوَاتُ وَالْأَرْضُ أُعِدَّتْ لِلْمُتَّقِينَ
“And march forth in the way (which leads to) forgiveness from your Lord, and for Paradise as wide as are the heavens and the earth, prepared for Al-Muttaqûn”
May Allah (swt) make us from those who fear Him most and follow his commands and imitate the steps of the Prophet (saw) by implementing the Fardh, performing as much as we can of the Mandoob, staying away from the Haram and avoiding the Makrooh. May Allah (swt) reward us with the highest reward and, in the Akhira, quench our thirst with a drink that will remove our thirst forever. Ameen.