Saturday, November 19, 2011

Anti-capitalism rattles the world: Making sense of the “Occupy Movement”

Dissatisfaction with the systems of capitalism in the West is about to reach a tipping point. Only two months ago a relatively small group of around 2.000 people marched unto Wall Street in New York to protest against political and economic inequality in America. Since then, this “Occupy Movement” has spread worldwide, organizing protests against the control of super-rich over politics and the economy in over 1.500 cities around the world.
When the Nobel-price economist Joseph Stiglitz in May of this year wrote an article to criticize the political and economic state-of-affairs in America, he named it “Of the 1%, by the 1%, for the 1%”. A title which aptly plays on Abraham Lincoln’s famous description of America’s democracy as being “government of the people, by the people, for the people” to describe the reality of the political system in the United States. Stiglitz’s criticism, in short, is that the “democratic” political process in America is fully controlled by only a small group of people, the 1% of super-rich, who use their political influence to ensure that the American economy is organized in such a way that they are its main beneficiaries.
As an economist familiar with economic statistics, Stiglitz knows what he is talking about.
Between 1979 and 2007 the income of middle-class America grew by 40%, and the income of poor America by 20%. At the same time, however, the income of the richest 1% of Americans grew by a staggering 275%! The result of this is that today, the income received by the richest 20% of Americans is higher than the income of the remaining 80% of the population.  And while America remains the richest country in the world, this has left a large number of Americans in deep poverty. For instance, around 17 million American households (14,5%) are “food insecure”, meaning their income is not sufficient to properly feed the member of the family.
It is impossible to imagine that this concentration of wealth could have been achieved without government support. Or in other words, without the enactment of legislation that benefits the already rich and wealthy. Probably the best and most recent examples of such legislation are the Bush II tax cuts of 2001 and 2003, which significantly lowered the tax burden for the super-rich. Already before Bush II the American super-rich were favoured by US tax legislation as that uses a much lower tax rate for income from investments (from which the rich get the bulk of their income) than for income from labour (from which the rest of society gets the bulk of its income). Bush II further expanded this preferential treatment of the rich, giving the American middle class an average tax cut of $647 and America’s millionaires, 0,2% of the population, an average tax cut of $123.600.
According to the theory of democracy, “one person, one vote”, legislation should of course not favour the rich. Rather, it should be expected to favour the poor and the middle class as they usually make up the masses. That the reality of the democratic system is nevertheless different is easily understood.
In the democratic system, after all, official positions are handed out based on the outcome of elections. This means that politicians aspiring an official position need to organize an election campaign in order to convince the voters that they are the right person for the job. Usually, these election campaigns cost large amounts of money. To get a sense of just how much, for the 2008 American presidential elections more than $5 billion was spent on campaigning and the expectation is that this number will rise to over $6 billion for the 2012 elections. This means that in the democratic system, every politician is reliant on money to get elected. So he or she is under constant pressure to please the people who have the money, making democracy the system of “one dollar, one vote” rather than “one person, one vote”.
This concentration of wealth and power in the hands of just a few is not a strictly American phenomenon.
In its recent Global Wealth Report the Swiss bank Credit Suisse calculated that globally the richest 0,5% own 38,5% of all wealth, while that the poorest 68% own just 3,3%. This makes clear that capitalist Indonesia, where the news that the richest 40 individuals own as much as the poorest 60 million sparked much outrage,  is not an exceptional case but rather a typical example of a capitalist country.
It is generally acknowledged, also, that while aspiring politicians promise the masses a lot during election campaigns, they usually only care for the well being of their super-rich sponsors once they are in office. For this reason back in2005 a global opinion poll by the BBC found that 65% of the world population feels their countries are not being run for their interest and that only 13% of the people trust their politicians.
On the 17th of October, 2011, these facts regarding democratic capitalism brought a group of around 2,000 people to streets of New York. They said that to represent the 99% of Americans whose interests are currently not being considered in politics or in the economy they would march onto Wall Street, the epicenter of America’s financial sector, and would not leave from there until the iron grip of the super-rich over politics and the economy had been broken. That is why the movement they started has been named “Occupy Wall Street” as well as the “99% Movement”.
The protestors and their complaints stroke a cord with mainstream America and almost immediately found support amongst them. In the very early stages of the protest roughly 54% of Americans indicated they essentially agreed with the protestors.  This support only grew once the New York Police Department (NYPD) began confronting the protestors. On October 1st, for instance, NYPD used pepper-spray to disburse the protestors and arrested around 700 (!) of them. The revelation shortly thereafter that NYPD had been given a $4,6 million grant by the large Wall Street bank JP Morgan Chase just before the protests began helped the Occupation Movement to go global. And today, demonstration similar to the “Occupy Wall Street” demonstration are being held or have been held in over 1,500 cities around the world, such as Washington D.C., Paris, London, Amsterdam, Berlin and Tokyo.
The question may be asked why the people in the West have only now come to the streets to protest against capitalism, while the injustice in capitalism has been know for much longer already.
Firstly, this is because for a long time the consequences of wealth concentration were kept hidden from the people.
While for many years the rich grew richer and – consequently – everyone else grew poorer, the poor and middle class increased their lending in order to maintain or even increase their standards of living. From the outside, therefore, it looked as though most people were doing very well. And most people probably felt like they were doing very well. So most people in the West only really began to feel the impact of wealth concentration when this became untenable, which was in 2007. At that moment, the decades long increase in lending came to a sudden halt as many people began to struggle with their debt. This caused the financial industry in the West to become insolvent, so they stopped lending to the people. Overnight, therefore, the masses had to go from a situation where they could spend more than their income, to a situation where they had to spend much less than their income. This caused the people to really feel the impact of capitalism’s tendency towards wealth concentration. And this brought about in them strong dissatisfaction with capitalism.
Secondly, this is because the response of the governments of the West to this credit crisis left no doubt as to where their loyalty lies.
Considering the role that the financial industry – especially banks – plays in capitalist economies, the debt problems of the masses threatened the western world with wholesale, 1929 Great Depression like, economic collapse. As in the capitalist economies by far most investment and consumption is financed through bank loans, the insolvency of the financial industry caused investment and consumption to all but dry up. The governments of the West therefore felt forced to intervene in the market, and for this were left with a choice. They could either help the citizens whose backs were being broken by loans they could not carry, and thereby help the banks. Or they could bypass the citizens and directly help the banks. From the perspective of society the first option was clearly preferable, as all would be helped. From the perspective of the banks, however, the second option was preferable. For after all, if the government would take the people out of debt then the profit of the banks would be hurt for years to come. So when the governments of the West acted, they acted to save only the banks, leaving the people to carry their unbearable debt. This was one of the most obvious acts of preferential treatment for the super-rich by the governments of the West ever. But as if this were not enough, no sooner had the banks been “bailed out” by their governments or they started paying billion dollar bonuses again to their chief executives. And these two occurrences together filled the masses with disgust for the capitalist system that brought this about.
For as far as Europe is concerned, there is the added cause that after the banks had been bailed out by their governments, they turned around and began to threaten these same governments. Under no circumstance would they accept a government defaulting on its loans, they made clear, and they would punish any government who would do so by stopping all lending to it. In response the European governments quickly presented new policy to ensure that whatever happened, the banks would continue to receive the payments due on government debt. So they drastically cut back on various types of expenditure, such as social security, health care and education. But as in the capitalist economies government spending makes up a large part of total spending, the result of this was an economic downturn. So people began to lose their jobs, just as life became more expensive and government support for the employed was cut.
It is beyond doubt, therefore, that the global Occupy Movement is an expression of anti-capitalist sentiment. Yet it is very unlikely that the Occupy Movement will cause any meaningful change. The Occupy Movement is unclear, namely, on how to correct the present situation.
Some people call for less capitalism, or more government control over the economy. But this request is unrealistic. It is abundantly clear that the governments in the capitalist world are under the control of the super-rich, so how could one expect the these governments to really reign in the power and influence of these same super-rich? At most what could happen is that the super-rich will agree to some cosmetic measures to limit their own freedom, but only in order to appease the protestors and preserve the system they then continue to control.
Other people in the Occupy Movement call for more capitalism as a solution to the current problems. But as concentration of political and economic power are characteristics of capitalism, this will only serve to make matters worse.
However, as the current political and economic problems of the world are a natural outcome of the capitalist system, anything short of a complete and radical change to the way the world is organized, meaning a complete and radical change of ideology and systems, will leave the world in its present state in which the masses are exploited for the benefit of a few.
Idries de Vries is an economist who writes on economics and geopolitics for various publications. As a management professional he has lived and worked in Europe, America and Asia.

The Definition of Iman

The following is a chapter from the book 'The Ark of Salvation' by Abdul-Kareem Hassan and Imam Murad el-Adnany:

The Meaning of Imaan in Arabic Language:

Imaan is `attesting to the truth', i.e., Tassdeeq.

Imam Tabari in his Tafseer of al-Baqarah, verse 3 says: "Belief (Imaan) for the Arabs is attesting to the truth (Tassdeeq) [of something] : someone who verbally attests to the truth of something is called a believer in it, and someone who attests to the truth of what he says by what he does is called a believer. Hence the words of Allah [in which Jacob's sons fabricate the story of Joseph's disappearance before their father]: "You would never believe us, even if we spoke the truth."[TMQ 12:17], i.e., you would never attest to the truth of what we said."

The Definition of Imaan in Shari'ah Terminology:

Imaan is the decisive belief, i.e., Tassdeeq jaazim.

This is the view of the scholars of ahl al-Sunnah as mentioned by Imam Nawawi in his book Sharh Sahih Muslim: "The people of sunnah, the people of hadith, the scholars, and the people of speech (ilmal kallam) hold that the believers, who are the people of the Qibla (the direction of prayer)and who will not remain in hell forever, are those who believe in Islam definitively with certainty (yaqeen), without speculation or doubt, and who pronounce the shahada (i.e. there is no Allah but Allah and Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah)"[1]

Some have argued that Imaan does not require certainty, i.e., Yaqeen, they quote in their support the verse: "Behold ! Abraham said: My Lord! Show me how thou givest life to the dead. He said `Does thou not believe' He said: Yes! But to satisfy my own heart." [TMQ 2:260] They are saying that Abraham's question was an indication of speculation or conjecture, in Arabic known as zann. In this verse Abraham's question does not relate to the power to give life to the dead, because most certainly Abraham's heart was satisfied on this matter. Rather, the question concerns the manner of giving life to the dead, in other words the know-how. This is clear from the answer Abraham gave to Allah's question: "Does thou not then believe?". He answered yes, he believed. One would be foolish and ignorant to say that Abraham was not 100% convinced that Allah could give life back to the dead. The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him and his family) said: "We, rather than Abraham, would doubt." [Bukhari, Muslim] In other words, if Muhammad (peace be upon him) did not doubt the power of Allah to bring back the life to the dead then Abraham definitely did not doubt. Concerning this matter Qadi 'Iyad said Ibrahim's words, "Yes! But to satisfy my own heart." do not contradict the clear proof that the Prophets' Tawheed (belief in the unity of Allah), their knowledge of Allah and the attributes of Allah, their belief in Allah, and what was revealed to them is based on clear knowledge and certainty, free of ignorance, doubt or suspicion. "Ibrahim did not doubt what Allah had told him about bringing the dead to life. He wanted to put his heart at peace and to be free of any contentiousness by actually seeing the dead brought to life. He first acquired indirect knowledge of its occurrence and then subsequently he desired knowledge by direct witnessing"[2]

Faith must be decisive (al-Imaanu Yaqeeni) Allah says in the Quran:"He who worships with Allah a partner for which he has no proof, his reckoning will be with His Lord. Truly the unbelievers will not prosper or have they decided to put Allah beside him. Say bring your proof."[al-Anbiya 21:24] "Do they take another Allah with Allah? Say to them bring your proof if you are telling the truth." [al-Qasas 28:75 ]. In these verses, and others similar to them in meaning, the word proof (in Arabic burhan) is connected with belief; and the condition for the proof is that it be an irrefutable proof. Belief must be decisive and free from doubt that comes from speculation. The articles of faith cannot be open to interpretation and Ijtihad. Ijtihad is the effort made by a jurist in order to deduce a ruling which is not self-evident in the source. By definition Ijtihad entails speculation. Thus scholars have held that the result of Ijtihad can only ever be described as probably correct, because the possibility of error cannot be excluded.

People may differ in their viewpoint on a subject matter for a variety of reasons, but in particular because of differences concerning the authenticity of the textural evidence and/or differences in understanding the meaning of a text.

Evidences Can Be Definitive (Qati) Or Speculative (Zann).

In respect of Imaan they must be definitive, because "speculation (zann) can be of no avail against the Truth." [Yunus 10: 36]. Allah in the Quran defames those who follow speculation and conjecture: In surah al Najm verse 23 Allah informs us that the unbelievers claimed that the idols (Lat, `Uzza & Manat) and angels were the daughters of Allah whom they worshipped as intercessors between them and Allah. At the same time they held the female sex in low esteem. Indeed, they slaughtered the new-born females. Thus Allah says: "What! For you the male sex, and for Him, the female?... It is not but names you and your forefathers used for which Allah has not sent authority. They follow nothing but conjecture (zann) and what their souls desire even though there has already come to them guidance." In verses 27 and 28 of the same surah Allah says: "Those who believe not in the Hereafter, name the angels with female names. But they have no knowledge therein. They follow nothing but conjecture (zann); and conjecture avails nothing against truth." There are many other such verses of the Quran relating to the subject matter of belief that conclude with Allah blaming and censuring those who have built their faith on speculation.[3]

What Is A Definitive Proof (Ad-Dalilu Al-Qaat'i) For Belief ?

The scholars of Islam have held that a definitive (qati) proof is one which derives from the Quran or hadith mutawatir (a tradition reported by a group of people related in such a way as to preclude the possibility of their agreement to perpetuate a lie)[4] wherein the text is clear and specific; it has only one meaning and admits of no other interpretations.

Both Quran and hadith mutawatir engenders certainty (Yaqeen) and `positive knowledge'. The authenticity of the Quran and the hadith mutawatir are not open to doubt, they are decisive in their authenticity. The entire text of the Quran has come down to us through continuous testimony (tawatur) and therefore there exists no disagreement over the authenticity of the contents of the Quran. Imam as-Suyuti says in his book "al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Quran" (The Precision in the Sciences of the Quran): "There is no dispute that everything taken from the Quran is mutawatir in its source and parts, as well as in its classification, placement and position."

Hadith Ahad, A Speculative Proof (Ad-Dalilu Athani).

Disagreement amongst the Muslims has tended to occur over the Sunnah transmitted in the form of singularly narrated reports (hadith ahad). Imam al-Nawawi states in Sharh Sahih Muslim, "The individual report is a report that does not fulfil the conditions of the mutawatir report, regardless of whether the narrator was a single person or more. It is the kind of report that generates dispute over its ruling. The overwhelming majority of Muslims, ranging from the Companions, Successors of the Companions, and the following generation of narrators of tradition (muhaditheen), jurists (fuqaha), scholars of usul (foundations of jurisprudence) agree to take the individual report as evidence in the sacred law relating to actions, but they do in fact entail speculation and not certainty." [5]. The solitary tradition, known as hadith ahad, does not impart positive knowledge, it engenders speculative knowledge. Accordingly, differences have arisen over questions of authenticity as well as interpretation. Consequently, "Ahad may not, according to the majority of the ulema, be relied upon as the basis of belief (Aqeedah). For matters of belief must be founded in certainty even if a conjecture (zann) may at times seem preferable." [6]

Imam al-Shatibi in his book al-Muwafaqat states, "The Lawgiver allowed singularly narrated traditions which engender speculation only in matters concerning actions which are in the branches (furu') but not the foundation (usul) of the deen."

In respect of the sacred law the majority of scholars have held that singularly narrated traditions are to be taken as evidences for actions and can establish a legal ruling. However the Hanafi jurists have held that if a hadith ahad conveys a demand to do something it is not compulsory (fard), but wajib. In Arabic wajib and fard have the same meaning and the other scholars have used the terms interchangeably, however, Abu Hanifah has drawn a distinction between the terms based on whether the text is speculative, such as hadith ahad, or not. The consequence of this is that the person who refuses to believe in the binding nature of a fard becomes an unbeliever, whereas if he denies the wajib he becomes a transgressor, .i.e., sinful, and not an infidel. Likewise the Hanafi jurists have held that a prohibition contained in a hadith ahad produces makruh tahrimi (abominable) and not haram (prohibition). For example they have held that the wearing of gold and silk by men is makruh tahrimi as opposed to haram, because they are forbidden by solitary hadith. Other scholars have not recognised this distinction.[7]

It should therefore be apparent that the Hanafi jurists do not consider that a singularly narrated tradition is devoid of doubt, in other words, it is not a definitive proof. Imam Malik has also held that a hadith ahad does not constitute a definitive proof. Imam Malik would rely on a ahad report on condition that it did not contradict the practice of the people of Madinah ('amal ahl al-Madinah).[8]

Imam Shafi'i acknowledged the difference between the knowledge that comes from texts that are decisive in their authenticity, and texts that are speculative in their authenticity in his famous work al-Risala, he says: "Legal knowledge is of two kinds: one is for the general public, and no sober and mature person should be ignorant of it...For example, that the daily prayers are five, that men owe it to Allah to fast the month of Ramadan, to make the pilgrimage to the [sacred] House whenever they are able, and to [pay] the legal alms in their estate; that He [Allah] has prohibited usury, adultery, homicide, theft [the drinking of] wine, and [everything] of that sort which He has obligated men to comprehend, to perform, to pay in their property, and to abstain from [because] He has forbidden it to them.

This kind of knowledge may be found textually in the Book of Allah, or may be found generally among the people of Islam. The public relates it from the preceding public and ascribes it to the Messenger of Allah, nobody ever questions its ascription or its binding force upon them. It is the kind of knowledge which admits of error neither in its narrative nor in its interpretation; it is not permissible to question it."

In reply to the question `What is the second kind?' Shafi'i replies: "It consists of the detailed duties and rules obligatory on men, concerning which there exists neither a text in the Book of Allah, nor regarding most of them, a Sunnah (tradition). Whenever a Sunnah exists, it is of the kind related by few authorities, not by the public, and is subject to different interpretations arrived at by analogy."[9]

Imam Shafi'i makes the distinction between legal knowledge which he describes as 'ilm al-ammah which is transmitted from the people at large to the people at large, and knowledge which comes from a Sunnah related by a few authorities, i.e., ahad reports. Ilm al-ammah was later termed tawatur. The knowledge acquired through tawatur is certain (qati).[10]

The minority of scholars that hold the view that the singularly narrated tradition engenders positive knowledge as opposed to speculative knowledge, such as Ibn Taymiyyah, cite in their support the extensive evidences put forward by Imam Shafi'i in his Risala as proof for the authentication of the singularly narrated traditions; such as the Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him), sending twelve messengers simultaneously to twelve rulers inviting them to Islam, and sending a messenger to the men of Qubba to inform them that the direction to face in prayer had been changed from Jerusalem to Makkah; and sending Muadth bin Jabal to Yemen, and other governors to other regions. Shafi'is treatise on the foundations of Islamic jurisprudence was important in that he emphasised the authority of the hadith from the Prophet in preference to the opinion of the community, the Companions and the Successors. His work was directed against the prevailing practice among the jurists of his time (he died 204 AH /820 AD)who gave preference to the practice of the community and the decisions of the Companions over the hadith.[11]. The fact that Imam Shafi'i had to argue the case for the acceptance of singularly narrated traditions in the sacred law is a clear proof in itself that that the contemporary jurists of Shafi'i, like Malik and Shaybani, did not consider that singularly narrated hadith established positive knowledge required for belief. The subject matter of Shafi'i's essay on the singularly narrated traditions is the proof of it being binding in matters of the divine law, thus Shafi'i reports at length the scholars, transmitters and notables who all accepted the singularly narrated traditions as the basis for fatwas.[12]

The Distinction Between Mutawatir And Ahad Reports.

The distinction between the ahad reports and the mutawatir reports is based on the manner in which the tradition has been communicated from the Messenger of Allah, (peace be upon him), to us. The large number of people involved in reporting the mutawatir report produces certainty that the report is without doubt the hadith of the Messenger of Allah. Ahad reports are those where the number of people who have related the report are less than the number required to produce this certainty.

When the Messenger of Allah, (peace and blessings be upon him), sent individuals to communicate Islam, the people receiving the message could verify the authenticity of the report if they were in any doubt. Shafi'i states: "On one occasion [the Prophet] sent twelve messengers simultaneously to twelve rulers, inviting them to accept Islam. Those [messengers] were sent only [to people] who either had already received the summons to Islam and who had been confronted with its arguments, or who had and received [from the Prophet] letters indicating to those to whom the messengers had been sent that the letters were from the Prophet. He [the Prophet] was careful to choose well-known men both as his messengers and as his commanders. For example, he sent Dihya [b.Khalifa al-Kalbi] to the region in which he was known. For if [the person] to whom the messenger was sent had not known him, he first would have had to ascertain that he had been sent by the Prophet so as to rid himself of any doubt as to whether it was the Prophet's message, thus obliging the messenger to wait until his identity had been certified....The Prophet sent only messengers who were known as truthful to those to whom they were sent, and whose veracity could be certified by those on the spot. In case the recipient suspected that the letter carried by the messenger had been altered, or found that there were circumstances giving rise to a suspicion that the messenger who brought the communication had been forgetful, it was his duty to seek enlightenment regarding that which he suspected so that he could carry out the orders of the Prophet after they had been confirmed to his satisfaction."[13] Thus whilst the Prophet, (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), was alive people could verify the authenticity of a singularly narrated report. Umar bin al-Khattab narrates that during the lifetime of the Prophet, (peace be upon him), he heard Hisham bin Hakim reciting surah al-Furqan in a different way from what he had been taught, and so he verified Hisham's recitation with the Prophet, (peace be upon him).[14][14] After the death of the Prophet, (peace and blessings be upon him), doubt could not be removed by verification. Hence, the scholars have agreed that nothing less than mutawatir is accept in evidence to establish the authenticity of the variant readings of the Quran. Thus the variant reading of some words in a few verses attributed to Abdullah bin Masud, for example is not a part of the Quran. In the context of penance (kaffarah) of false oath, for example, the Quran provides this is to be three days of fasting. But Ibn Masud's version has it as three consecutive days of fasting. Since the additional element (i.e. consecutive) in the relevant verse in surah al-Ma'idah [5:92] is not established by tawatur, but only by ahad it is not part of the Quran and has no effect. This also applies to two other instances of variant readings attributed to Abdullah bin Masud concerning the punishment of theft in al-Maidah 5:38, and the form of divorce known as al ila' in al-Baqarah 2:226.[15]

Imam al-Suyuti in volume two of his book "The Precision in the Sciences of the Quran", comments in the chapter entitled `The Single and Odd Readings' that ahad reports , even if the narration is authentic, cannot be taken as an evidence in the matter of belief, or in the foundations of the deen (i.e. Islam); as the Quran is the source of the sources and is concerned with the creed, obliging belief in it, then tawatur becomes a condition for confirming it. Hence solitary reports will not be taken as evidence.

An analogy for accepting different degrees of verification can be drawn from the rules of testimony where two male witnesses, or one male and two females witnesses, are required in cases involving property, two witnesses are required for cases of murder, and four witnesses are required in cases of adultery. In cases of adultery if there are three or less witnesses testifying they are scourged; in other cases if the number of witnesses are less than the minimum required they are not scourged. Different conditions have been laid down to verify testimony according to the case involved.

The creed is the foundation of our deen and must be decisive. Given the rules of testimony one could rationally argue that singularly narrated traditions should not be accepted even in the sacred law, because the sacred law does not accept the testimony of one witness. This is what Sheikh Muhammad Jamal ud-Din al-Qasami means when he states in his book `The Foundation of Narration': "The consensus of the Muslim community of the Companions and those who followed them, and scholars and narrators who followed, as well as scholars who established their own foundations, all agreed that the single trusted account is an evidence in sacred law which obliges to be taken in action but not in belief because it contains doubt. This is all undoubtedly true. Although rationally a single account should not be taken in action, the sacred law made it mandatory to be taken in actions."[16]

For the avoidance of doubt in this matter it should be stressed that all the scholars of ahl al-Sunnah are unanimous that while hadith ahad cannot be relied upon as the basis for belief, acting upon hadith ahad is obligatory in the sacred law.

There is no inconsistency in arguing that singularly narrated traditions can be relied upon for the purpose of deducing sacred law but not for establishing belief. The Prophet, (peace be upon him), said: "When a judge exercises ijtihad and gives a right judgement, he will have two rewards, but if he errs in his judgement, he will still have earned one reward." [Abu Dawud].The Messenger of Allah, (peace be upon him), in this tradition states that the judge will be rewarded even for an erroneous ijtihad; to have more than one opinion in the Shari'ah (sacred law) is therefore not forbidden, because Allah would not reward a forbidden action. Moreover, after the death of the Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, who can say which ijtihad is the correct one. All that can be said is the opinion is most convincing, probably correct but possibly be wrong. Hence, speculative opinions based on speculative proofs are permitted in the Shari'ah. However, the subject of creed is all together a different matter, because the result of an erroneous creed is not reward, as in the case of ijtihad in Shari'ah, but Hell-fire. As Muslims we are not allowed to have different faiths, Allah says: "Be not like those who separated and disputed after the clear proofs had come unto them: For such there is an awful doom."[al-Imran 3:105]; "As for those who divide their religion and break up into sects, thou has no part in them in the least: Their affair is with Allah: He will in the end tell them the truth of all that they did." [al_An'am 6:159]; "... be not ye among those who join Allahs with Allah, Those who split up their religion, and become (mere) sects, each party rejoicing in that which is with itself." [al-Rum 30:32].

It Is Not Permitted To Deny Matters From Hadith Ahad:

Although one must not take matters relating to belief from hadith ahad, a Muslim is not allowed to deny them either, because to deny something as belief also requires a definitive evidence. Those people who deny those matters, of the nature of belief, that have been transmitted through hadith ahad, such as the Mutazilah who denied punishment in the grave (`adhab al-qabr), and the visual sighting of Allah on the Day of Reckoning are fasiq (sinners), but not infidels. Al-Miruzi said in his Musnad that Imam Ahmad bin Hanbal said: "the punishment of the grave can only be denied by a dhaal (deviant) or mudhil (deviator)". Not taking matters of the nature of belief derived from hadith ahad or speculative meanings of the Quran into ones creed, means people are not labelled as believers or infidels on account of affirming or denying them.

The Tranquil Belief (Al Imaanu Al-Muttma'en):

Notwithstanding what has already been said, Imam al-Surkhusi states in his book Usul al-Surkhusi: "Some reports could be confirmed by individuals if the content were to serve as information only, such as reports about the punishment of the grave, Munkir wa Nakeer (angels who question the dead in the grave), and the visual sighting of Allah on the Day of Reckoning; thus in such cases, and others similar, we could say that the individual report entails conviction. However, it is as if the narrator has failed to differentiate between peace of mind and tranquillity of the heart, and absolute certainty; the possibility of lying in the narration of the fallible cannot be ignored. Therefore, with this possibility and the residue of suspicion, the absolute certainty cannot be established for that entails peace of mind and tranquillity of the heart." Al-Surkhusi is describing something called al Imaanu al-muttma'en, i.e., tranquil belief, which is described by Sheikh Shalabi in his book "Usul al-Fiqh" as "belief with some reservations that it is not free from doubt, mistake or lying, but because it inclines to be trustworthy the hearts are filled with satisfaction. Accordingly it is called the tranquil belief because it appears authentic but does not confirm definite belief."[17] Matters such as the punishment in the grave because of the way they have reached us, i.e., through hadith ahad, do not produce certainty. Thus, although some classical scholars like al-Tahawi and al-Ghazali have clearly stated that we must believe in the trial of the grave, we cannot exclude the people like the Mutazila, who have denied the trial of the grave, from the body of Muslims.

Differences In Understanding:

The meaning of creed (Aqeedah) is "what the heart is knotted upon". If the articles of faith can be disputed or are open to different interpretations the Aqeedah cannot be certain and the Muslims will differ in their creed; a matter which is forbidden: "And verily this nation of yours is a single nation and I am your Lord, so keep your duty unto Me. But they have broken their religion among them into sects, each sect rejoicing in its tenets." [al-Mu'minun 23:52-53].

The main reason for the Muslims having different convictions in creed matters is interpretation of the texts. Allah says in surah al-Imran: "He it is who sent down the Book to you. In it are verses clear and decisive (muhkam) - they are the mother of the Book - and others multivalent(mutashabih)." [3:7]. Commenting on this verse Sayyid Qutb states in Fi Zilal al-Quran: "...As for the precise fundamentals of the creed (Aqeedah) and the sacred law (Shari'ah), they are easily understood, decisive in their meaning, and their purport can be readily grasped. These verses are the essence of this book." The obscure verses are such that their meaning cannot be known with certainty and have been the source of the disagreements between the various schools of thought. The scholars of Islam have not agreed on what verses are the multivalent verses, thus Imam Fakhr al-Din al-Razi in his al-Tafseer al-Kabir says: "The adherent of every sect or school of thought considers the verses which agree with his school to be clear and decisive, and those which support the view of his opponents to be multivalent. Thus a Mutazili would consider the verse `Let him who so wishes have faith, and let him who so wishes reject faith.'[18:29] to be muhkam, and Allah's saying: `Yet you shall not will unless Allah wills, the Lord of all beings' [81:29] to be mutashabih. A Sunni Muslim, however, would reverse the matter." This reflects the Mutazili view of absolute free will. An illustration of Razi's view is given by Zamakhshari, the Mutazili scholar, in his Tafseer, who cites the verse: "Sight cannot encompass Him" [6:103] as a muhkam verse; and the verse: "There shall be radiant faces on that day, gazing at their Lord." [75:22-23] as a mutashabih verse. This reflects the Mutazili view that rejects the visual sighting of Allah on the Day of Judgement. Although the scholars of Islam have differed on what verses are mutashabih, the general view is that the mutashabih is that whose literal meaning cannot be discerned without linking it to other verses which would clarify its meaning.

Verses can be understood literally (haqiqi or lafdi), such as: "Kill not (la Taqtulu) the life which Allah has made sacrosanct." ; or metaphorically (majazi), such as: "Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth." [al-Nur 24:35]. Scholars have differed as to which verses are to be understood literally. The Mutazilah have held that the verses referring to Allah's attributes, such as: "The hand of Allah is over their hands."[al-Fath 48:10], and: "Build a ship under Our eyes and Our inspiration." [Hud 11:37] are to be understood metaphorically. Ibn Taymiyya insisted that they have to be understood literally. Others have held that such verses should not be given a definitive interpretation and should not be discussed, the knowledge of them should be left to Allah, Most High. The potential for disagreement is therefore considerable. Imam Razi says: "Among the errors of the Christians is their insistence on the literal meaning of some of the verses which refer to Jesus, such as that he is the spirit of Allah and His Word (al-Nisa 4:171]".

A further reason for different opinions arises because the Arabic word used in the text is inherently ambiguous, the ambiguity can only be removed by ijtihad. For example Allah says in surah al-Imran verse 55: "Remember when Allah said, `O Jesus, I will surely mutawaffik (receive you or cause you to die) and raise you up to me. I shall purify you of those who have rejected faith. I will set those who have followed you above those who have rejected faith till the Day of Resurrection. Then will you all return to me, and I shall judge you concerning all that in which you were in disagreement." The scholars have differed as to the meaning of mutawaffik. The Shiite commentator Tabarsi observes that the lexical meaning of the word is "I will cause you to die." Ibn Kathir asserts that most commentators of the Quran interpret mutawaffik to mean "I will cause you to sleep". Ibn Abbas and Wahb bin Munabbah said, "Allah caused Jesus to die for three hours of the day, during which He raised him up to Him." Hasan al Basri said that Jesus did not die, but will return before the Day of Resurrection. Imam Tabari understands the word to mean I will receive you, because of the many hadith of the Prophet (saw) which assert that Jesus will descend, he will kill the one-eyed deceiver (al-Dajjal), he will live on earth for a time and will die and the Muslims will pray over him and bury him. If Allah caused Jesus to die once, He would not cause him to die yet another time, so that he would die two deaths: "Allah it is who creates you, then provisions you. He then causes you to die, then will He revive you." [ar-Rum 30:40]. The mystic Abu Bakr al-Wasiti interpreted the phrase as "I will cause you to die to your desires and the worldly attainments of your soul." Thus, when Isa (son of Marry) was taken to heaven he became like the angels, free from lust, anger, and other unworthy characteristics. Imam Razi presents another view which is "I will cause you to be like one who is dead", because when Jesus was taken up to heaven he had no further relation with the earth. [18]

Another example of this is the Prophet's (saw) "Night Journey" (Isra) from Makkah to Jerusalem, Allah says: "Limitless in His glory is He who transported His servant by night from the Inviolable House of worship (at Makkah) to the Remote House of Worship (at Jerusalem) - the environs of which We had blessed." [al-Isra 17:1] That the Prophet (peace be upon him) made the Night Journey is definite (qati); but whether he made this journey in body and soul, or just by soul (bi-ruh) is speculative (zann). The Mother of the Believers Ayshah said "he was transported only in his spirit, while his body did not leave its place." [Tabari, Zamakhshari and Ibn Kathir in their Tafseers of 17:1]. Muawiyah, and al Hassan al Basri held the same view. However the great majority of the Companions were of the view that the Prophet made the Night Journey bodily, for Allah says: "He transported His servant by night (asra bi-abdihi)" [17:1] The word "abd" meaning servant denotes a living being in its entirety.

A word or text, which is inherently unclear and open to different interpretations, must not be taken as a line to distinguish between the believer and infidel. The disagreement and presence of different interpretations means that the knowledge engendered can only be speculative. Many of the subsidiary matters of belief belong to multivalent verses, wherein those who indulge in discussing them end up in uncertainty and unnecessary confusion and complexity without reaching any assurance of a truth or contentment of the heart. The tenets of our faith are established by a definitive evidence and definitive meaning. The Night Journey is proven by a definite text, i.e., the Quran, and definite meaning, but the manner of the Prophet's (saw) journey is speculative and does not form an article of faith. The belief in the Night Journey is from the subsidiaries of the foundation of Islam, known as furu' al-usool. Whilst disagreement in the subsidiaries (furu') can be accepted, disagreement in the usul cannot, because to deny an established part of the Muslim faith is disbelief.

[1] Vol. 1, p149

[2] Ash-Shifa of Qadi 'Iyad, p280
[3] See for example 2:78; 6:116, 148; 10: 66,68; 72:7; 41:22-23.

[4] . Hadith Mutawatir is of two types: Mutawatir bi'l-lafz (verbal mutawatir) and Mutawatir bi'l-ma'na (conceptual mutawatir). Verbal mutawatir is when all the reports are identical on the exact wording of the hadith, such as the hadith : "Whoever lies about me deliberately must prepare himself for a place in Hell-fire." This form of mutawatir is rare. Conceptual mutawatir is when you have a large number of solitary hadith which differ in the wording but have a common meaning, in such a case the meaning is considered to be mutawatir. For example, if a person narrated that Hatim gave a camel, and someone else narrated that he gave a horse, another narrated that he gave a sheep, a dress, money etc., the common purport is that Hatim was generous. Examples of this type of mutawatir are the wiping of the socks, which have been narrated by more than seventy companions, and the prophet raising his hands in supplication, which has been narrated by more than one hundred solitary hadith. The scholars have differed in their opinions about what matters have been established as conceptual meaning. Imam Shawkani for example has stated that the questioning in the grave and the return of Jesus to this earth are proven by conceptual mutawatir. Other scholars have differed on these points. The essential requirement is the attainment of certainty. Qadi 'Iyad commenting on the miracles of the Prophet in his book ash-Shifa says, "The miracles of the Prophet fall into two categories. One category is of those that are well-known and have been transmitted to us through many channels - like the Quran. There is no dispute that the Prophet brought it and it appeared from him and that he used it as a proof...One of our Imams said: `This principle applies generally to the signs and the breaking of norms that occurred at the hands of the Prophet, for if no single one of them on its own is absolutely fixed and decisive, all of them together reach the level of indisputability....It is well known that these sort of things happened in the case of our prophet just as it indisputably follows that Hatim was generous, 'Antara was brave and al-Ahnaf was forbearing since the reports transmitted about them all agree that the first was generous, the second brave and the third forbearing. However each separate report would not in itself necessitate coming to that conclusion nor would it constitute decisive validation. The second category consists of those things that do not reach the level of certainty." [p138-139]

[5] al-Muwafaqat pp130-131

[6] . Mohammad Hasim Kamali, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence,1991, p72; see alsoImam al-Nawawi's Sharh Sahih Muslim, Vol.1, pp 130-131; Imam al-Surkhusi's Usul al-Surkhusi, Vol.1, p.112, p.329; Sheikh Mohammad Jamal Uddin al-Qasmi, The Foundation of Narration, pp.147-148; Sheikh Muhammad Mustafa Shalabi, Usul al Fiqh, Vol.1, p.132; Abdul-Rahman al-Juzairi, al-Fiqh alal Mazhib al-Arb'ah, Vol.5, pp.391-392; Imam al-Kasani, Badae'ul Sanae' fi tarteebul Shara'e, Vol.1, p.14; Imam Suyouti, al-Itqan fi Ulum al-Quran, Vol.1 p.77.

[7] For a full discussion of this point see Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, M.H.Kamali

[8] See Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, p76.

[9] al-Shafi'i's Risala translated by Majid Khadduri,pp81-82

[10] Ahmad Hasan, The Doctrine of Ijma, p.61

[11] . Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, Kamali, p48; and Hadith Literature, its Origin, Development & Special Features, Muhammad Zubayr Siddiqi, Islamic Texts Society, 1993, pp. 112-113.

[12] p276-277

[13] al-Risala, pp.259-260

[14] al-Bukhari, Vol.6, p482 of Dr Muhammad Muhsin Khan's translation
[15] Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, Kamali, p.17

[16] 2nd Edition, pp.147-148

[17] Vol.1, p.132.
[18] See M.M.Ayoub, The Quran and its Interpreters Vol.2, pp.169-182

Also see:

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Refutation of Gradualism (tadarruj)

The following is an extract from the translation of the arabic book entitled 'Dawa ilal Islam' (Dawa to Islam) by Sheikh Ahmad Mahmoud, published in English by Revival Publications.

We want to look at, treat and demonstrate the corruption of the idea of gradualism in the adoption of Islam, and the ideas that result from this idea, such as the permission for Muslims to participate in the current systems. The view that Democracy is from Islam is an attempt to make Islam more acceptable to the mind. This is because these thoughts have a strong relationship with the work of some groups in bringing change.
So what is gradualism? What does it include according to those who hold this view? What are its justifications? What is the Shar’ee rule regarding it?
When the Muslims reached the abyss of spiritual weakness, material and intellectual backwardness and political decline, their thoughts came to reflect their bad situation. Those who adhered to Islam came to have thoughts that did not reflect the truth of Islam and its viewpoint towards life, rather they reflected a misunderstanding and a lack of comprehension of the facts of Islam and its view of life. The Kaafir colonialist, who came to control the affairs of the Muslims, was able to change them as he wished, and implant its own concepts and criteria amongst the Muslims. He planted his own thoughts, which bore fruits of different tastes; nice in the mouths of his enemies and sweet to their tongues. The round was to their benefit. The reason for this was not Islam, but rather its people, who had lost the clear adherence and the correct understanding. The Muslims tried to oppose this with an understanding that was affected by the reality and subject to their interests. However they were twisted attempts and lame steps that ended up in rapid failure and horrible surrender. Kufr continued to indulge itself freely in our lands without anyone to stop it or prevent it doing so. So how did the Kaafir colonialist attack Islam? And what was the response of the Muslims?
The Kaafir colonialist attacked Islam by accusing it of not being able to keep up with the time and provide solutions for the new problems. The Muslims responded by attempting to produce solutions from Islam that complied with the views of the capitalist system. Since the basis of the capitalist system completely contradicts the basis of Islam, they tried to reconcile the two contradictions. So they attempted to bring erroneous interpretations that produced erroneous concepts and criteria. These were then falsely attributed to the Shar’a. The aim was to harmoniseIslam and Capitalism and give the impression that Islam is able to keep up with the age. The result of this was that these solutions were adopted on the basis that they were Islamic thoughts, principles and criteria, and that Islam is understood by using them; even though adopting such thoughts meant leaving Islam and following the Capitalist system. Every call to reconciliation or every call that is affected by this idea is an invitation to adopt Kufr and abandon Islam. It also means carrying and inviting the Muslims to adopt the thoughts of kufr and abandon the true Islamic da’wah.
Therefore, when the Muslims during the declined periods tried to revive the Ummah with these thoughts, it made matters worse, and they were not able to take the Ummah out from the abyss that they were in, because they had descended into it themselves.
Hence, we began to hear mouths talking, whether intentionally or unintentionally, about the Islamic Sharee’ah, in an insolent way. They claimed that it is unreasonable, fourteen hundred years after the Messenger (saw) was sent, to arbitrate with the same previous mentality. In their view, we must modernise in a way that proceeds with the circumstances and takes Islam to leadership again. They said it must be given the image of modernity. It must have the modern thoughts grafted on to it so that the hearts are habituated to it again. It should come out of its obscurity, and away from the accusations of the people. Thus, its old image was no longer acceptable.
Some Muslims came with thoughts from this perspective. For them they formed intellectual principles, defined their course and gave their new direction in life. These are what we called the thoughts of the declined age, which appeared during the prevalence of the corrupt western revival in our lands. At the time when those Muslims thought that keeping up with the times, and benefiting from the western revived thought, was necessitated by the Shar’a so that Islam can stay on the level of the age.
So many thoughts, that served this orientation appeared, for example; ‘religion is flexible and evolving’, ‘take and then demand’, ‘accept what agrees with the Shar’a or that which does not contradict the Shar’a’, ‘committing the lesser of two harms or evils’, ‘if you cannot take the whole of it, don’t throw away most of it’, ‘gradualism in taking Islam’, ‘it is not rejected that rules change with the time and place’, ‘wherever there is an interest, that is the Shar’a of Allah.’ These thoughts and their like became the intellectual standpoint or principle that they called the modern Islamic revival. Their most important protagonist was the freemason Jamal ud-deen al-Afghani and his freemason student Muhammad Abduh, who was known as the Shaykhul Islam.
These things were said by people with bad intentions and evil designs in mind, so as to separate the Muslims from the source of their strength and cause weakness in them, that would prevent them from establishing the command of Allah (swt) once again.
Other people said these things out of good intentions and sound aims, thinking that these will be the healing balm for all the ailments of the Muslims today, in respect of the fall and decline of the Ummah.
The effect of such thoughts, whether uttered with good intentions or not, is the same. However, we warn the Muslims of the Kuffar’s plots against this deen and advise them to discard these thoughts, whose futility has been proven in the reality. They do not yield any good, and nor do they ward off any evil. Indeed, Allah (swt) has made made us the richest of people. In Islam there is everything we need, without the need for anything else. The nature of Islam itself obliges the method by which it should be taken. The Islamic deen has been revealed by Allah (swt) to treat life’s affairs. The Muslim has only to make Ijtihaad in the revealed Shar’ee texts, and not outside them, to know the Hukm of Allah (swt). The intellectual principles necessary for his life must be regulated by their Shar’ee evidences, because they are Shar’ee rules, which have detailed evidences. This method of Ijtihaad is fixed and the same; it is not allowed to alter it in any way. From this point, the basis of our revival starts, exactly as it started before.
It is important to mention some of the regulated Shar’ee thoughts and principles that must control the minds of the Muslims, in order to guide their direction and determine their orientation, so that they work in accordance with them. For example; ‘wherever the Shar’a lies, that is the interest and not the opposite’, ‘the basis of actions is that they are restricted to the Shar’ee rule’, ‘the basis of things is that they are permitted as long as there is no evidence of prohibition’, ‘the hasan (good) is what the Sharee’ah has said is hasan (good) and the qabeeh (reprehensible) is what the Shar’a has said is qabeeh (reprehensible)’, ‘the good is whatever pleases Allah (swt) and bad is whatever angers Him’, ‘there is no rule before the revelation of the Shar’a’, ‘whosoever turns away from the Zikr of Allah (swt) he will have a narrow difficult life’, ‘the Islamic Ummah is one Ummah to the exclusion of all other people’, ‘Islam does not accept patriotism, nationalism, socialism or Democracy’, ‘Islam is a unique way of life that differs completely from other ways of life.’
Familiarising ourselves with just some of the Shar’ee texts indicates clearly the importance of adhering to what the Salaf us-Salih (pious predecessors) used to follow and not to deviate from it to ibtidaa’ (innovation). This is because every innovation in the deen is reprehensible.
The Messenger (saw) said: “I have left you with something, which if you hold onto, you will never go astray. A clear matter; (which is the) Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Prophet.” [Sirah of Ibn Hisham]. The word ‘never’ includes us.
And he (saw) said; “My Ummah will be divided into 73 sects. All of them will go to the Hellfire except one. They (the Sahabah) asked; ‘And who are they O Rasool of Allah?’ He (saw) said: ‘I, and what my Sahabah are upon today.’” [Reported by Abu Dawud, at-Tirmizi, Ibn Majah and Ibn Hanbal]
He (saw) said; “I have you left you on the resplendent proof, no one deviates from it after me except the one who has gone astray.” [Reported by Ibn Majah and Ibn Hanbal]
He (saw) said; “The best people are my generation, then those who came after, then those who came after them…” [Reported by Muslim]
He (saw) said; “…Verily he among you who lives [long] will see great controversy. Beware of newly invented matters, for every invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is in the Fire… Keep yourselves to my Sunnah and to the sunnah of the rightly guided Khulafaa’ – cling to them stubbornly.” [Reported by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmizi]
And he (saw) said; “Any action that is not according to our matter (deen) is rejected.” [Reported by Bukhari and Muslim]
These ahadith invite us to follow the good and warn us againt innovation. The order of goodness indicates that the adherence weakens the further away one is from the time of the Messenger (saw). This gives the sense that the more distant the time is, the stronger and more stringent our adherence needs to be, and the more we need to investigate the truth, and the more we need to be sincere. This is because we have been ordered to cling to the Sunnah of the Messenger (saw) and the sunnah of the righteous and guided Khulafaa’, and remain on what the Messenger (saw) and his Sahabah remained upon. So we must not innovate in the deen, or go into the newly invented matters, because the one who does this is rejected. So what is the way to ensure all of this in our days?
- We must preserve the Islamic ‘Aqeedah clearly and purely in our hearts; it should not be affected by any obscure elements. – We should drink from the pure and clear sources of Islam. – We need to protect the regulated method of deducing rules, which prevents people’s whims and personal opinions from infiltrating the Shar’ee rule. – We should make Islam the most important thing in our life; more important than ourselves, our children, family, interests and desires, such that the Word of Allah (swt) is the highest in ourselves, and that we do not put anything ahead of Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saw) and that we are in the same condition as the Muslims were in the time of the Salaf as-Saalih (pious predecessors). – We should discard all the thoughts and filth of Kufr from our minds and keep its excitement and glitter away from us. Just as the Sahabah (May Allah be pleased with them) discarded the filth of Jahiliyyah at the door of Islam and entered it pure and God-fearing.
All this requires that we go back to the beginning. Nothing will be better for the latter period of this Ummah than what was good for it in the beginning. This is a necessity no Muslim can do without, in every stage of his life. According to their closeness to or distance from this, their condition be determined as strong or weak.
After this introduction we can ask; What is gradualism? What does it include according to those who hold this view? What are the justifications given for it? And what is the Shar’a’s position regarding it?
Gradualism means achieving the required Shar’ee rule in stages, and not all at one time. This is what they call marhaliyyah. The Muslim first implements or calls for a non-Shar’ee rule, which is closer to the Shar’ee rule than the previous one in his view. Then he gradually implements or calls for, a change from a non-Shar’ee rule that is closer than the previous one, to what the hukm Shar’ee is in his view. Then he gradually implements or calls for a change from a non-Shar’ee hukm to another non-Shar’ee hukm that is closer to the Shar’ee hukm, until he reaches, according to his opinion, to the hukm Shar’ee.
This also means the implementation of some Sharee’ah rules and keeping silent over the implementation of other, non-Shar’ee rules, until with time he reaches to the complete application of the Shar’a.
This kind of gradualism is not restricted by a fixed number of stages. Nor is it subject to regulatory principles for those who advocate it. A single rule may take one, two, three or more stages. In this kind of gradualism, the situations and circumstances have a clear effect in defining the number of stages. They may be few or many, and the time period of each stage may be long or short.
The idea of gradualism may include thoughts related to the ‘Aqeedah, for example the acceptance of the statement that Socialism is from Islam, or that Democracy is from Islam. It may include Shar’ee rules, such accepting a woman wears a dress that reaches little below the knees, waiting in a following stage, that she wears according to the Shar’ee rule. It may be related to the system, such as calling for participation in ruling, even though it is Haram according to the Shar’a; even according to the acknowledgement of those who advocate gradualism. However, for them the demand is not intended to be for itself, but rather to achieve the ruling by Islam, which is the origin and the obligation, in a following stage. It may be by the work to establish certain Islamic rules, and remain silent over others in the hope that they will increase, and become dominant and then take the lead, and so on and so forth. Or it may be related to the da’wah when he calls people to all of this. So the one convinced of gradualism adheres to this style and attempts to call others according to this idea. The one who calls to such an idea may be so God-fearing that in terms of adherence, he does not accept any negligence on his part, but he accepts it for others, because of his concern for others, so that they do not reject the da’wah to the rules of Islam, and so that they may be on something better than being on nothing at all.
The justifications of those who advocate gradualism or marhaliyyah, and its refutation
The people who espouse this approach rely on justifications that they say support their understanding regarding thought and the Islamic da’wah. With this aim in mind, they cited justifications as proof for whatever they wanted. They were not subservient to the text and its indications. Rather they subjected the text to whatever they desired, as we shall see shortly. The following are some of the justifications.
1- Their view that Allah (swt) did not forbid usury all at once. Rather its prohibition was in phases and stages. He (swt) said; “And that which you gave in gift (to others), in order that it may increase (your wealth by expecting to get a better one in return) from other people’s property, has no increase with Allah, but that which you give in zakah, seeking Allah’s Countenence, then those – they shall have manifold increase.” [TMQ 30:39]
He (swt) said; “Eat not Riba (usury) doubled and multiplied.” [TMQ 3:130]
He (swt) said; “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah and give up what remains (due to you) from Riba (usury) (from now onward), if you are (really) believers.” [TMQ 2:278]
He (swt) said; “And their taking of Riba (usury) though they were forbidden from taking it.” [TMQ 4:161]
“Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba (usury).” [TMQ 2:275]
From the summation of these verses those who call for gradualism say that riba (usury) was mubah (permitted) because of the first ayah. The prohibition of taking multiple riba as opposed to the small usury was revealed in the second ayah. Then in the third ayah, the little usury was forbidden when Allah (swt) said; “Give up what remains (due to you) from Riba (usury).” [TMQ 2:278]. Then they said that the prohibition of usury began by indirect suggestion and not by a clear statement as evidenced by the fourth ayah, which talks about the Jews. Finally, Allah (swt) forbade usury after this series of revelations and stages, by His (swt) saying; “Allah has permitted trading and forbidden Riba (usury).” [2:275]
The one who studies the correct Fiqh (legislative understanding) of these verses finds that the view concerning gradualism cannot be further from the truth.
- The first ayah has nothing to do with the prohibited usury in any way whatsoever. Its subject matter is gifts and presents. The meaning of the verse is whoever gives a gift or present and wants people to increase it or to reclaim it, then this has no increase with Allah (swt), meaning he will have no reward from Allah (swt). The Messenger of Allah (saw) said; “Whoever gave in charity the equal of a date from a tayyeb (halaal) earning – and Allah does not accept except tayyeb – Allah receives it in His right hand, then grows it for its giver the way one of you grows his little horse until it becomes like the mountain.” [Narrated by al-Bukhari]. And Ibn ‘Abbas said; “And that which you gave in gift (to others)” [TMQ 30:39], means if a man gives something as a gift wishing to get something better, that person will have no increase with Allah (swt) and nor will he be rewarded. However, he will not be sinful. It was with this meaning that the ayah was revealed (as reported by al-Qurtubi). Ibn Kathir (may Allah have mercy on him) said about this ayah; that the one who gives a present and wishes a return from people more than what he gave; then this person will not have the reward from Allah (swt). This is how it was explained by Ibn ‘Abbas, Mujaahid, ad-Dahhak, Qatadah, ‘Ikramah, Muhammad b. Ka’b and ash-Sha’bi. This type of action is mubah (permitted).
Ibn ‘Abbas said; “Riba (usury) is two types; one (Riba) that is invalid, which is in selling (trade), and the other, in which there is no harm; that is the gift of a person who wants in return for it more or multiple.”
- As for the second ayah; “Eat not Riba (usury) doubled and multiplied.” [TMQ 3:130]. It was revealed to prohibit the taking of multiple usury, which was the reality in the time of Jahiliyyah. There is nothing to indicate any restriction in the prohibition of usury.
The Mufassirun (scholars of Tafseer) have stated that it was in Surah Baqarah that the prohibition of usury came, and it was the first Surah to be revealed in Madinah. Sura Aali ‘Imraan, in which the prohibition of multiple usury came, was revealed after Baqarah. Therefore, it negates any notion that Allah (swt) permitted ‘little’ interest. Therefore, what was mentioned in the verse in Aali ‘Imran was not by way of gradualism, but it came as a mention of the normal practice of the Kuffar when dealing with usury. Thus, the hukm regarding the prohibition of Riba was revealed in the beginning.
- As for the third ayah; “O you who believe! Be afraid of Allah and give up what remains (due to you) from Riba (usury) (from now onward).” [TMQ 2:278]. This does not mean that the Muslims were allowed to take small amounts of usury and then they were forbidden from this. On the contrary, this verse was revealed regarding some people who had embraced Islam and had usury due from people to whom they had lent money with interest. They had already taken some of it and some remained. So Allah ‘Azza wajalla forgave them for what they had taken, and forbade them from taking the rest.
This understanding is supported by the saying of Allah (swt); “But if you repent, you shall have your capital sums. Deal not unjustly (by asking more than your capital sums), and you shall not be dealt with unjustly (by receiving less than your capital sums.” [TMQ 2:279]. Likewise the saying of the Messenger (saw); “Verily the Riba of Jahiliyyah is terminated – all of it; and the first Riba I terminate is the Riba of al-Abbas b. Abdul Muttalib.” [Sirah of Ibn Hisham]
- As for the fourth ayah; “And their taking of Riba (usury) though they were forbidden from taking it.” [TMQ 4:161]. The Riba intended here is the haraam money from bribery and other such money, which the Jews used to take, as Allah (swt) said; “(They like to) devour that which is forbidden.” [TMQ 5:42]. It does not mean Riba in the Shar’ee definition.
Thus, usury was haraam from the beginning of the legislation. There is nothing to indicate that it was forbidden in stages. The multitude of evidences mentioned regarding this subject, were for certain incidents. There is nothing in these to indicate gradualism.
2- Their opinion that Allah ‘Azza wa jall forbade alcohol in stages:
He (swt) said; “They ask you (O Muhammad [saw]) concerning alcohol and gambling. Say: ‘In them is a great sin, and some benefit for men, but the sin of them is greater than their benefit.’” [TMQ 2:219]. He (swt) said; “O you who believe! Approach not as-Salah (the prayer) when you are in a drunken state, until you know (the meaning) of what you utter.” [TMQ 4:43]. He (swt) said; “O you who believe! Intoxicants, gambling, al-ansab (animals slaughtered for idols), al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytan’s handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination), in order that you may be successful. Shaytan wants only to excite enmity and hatred between you with intoxicants and gambling, and hinder you from the remembrance of Allah and from as-Salah (the prayer). So, will you not then abstain?” [TMQ 5:90]
From the total of these verses, those who believe in gradualism say that alcohol was permitted in the beginning, as evidenced by the first ayah. Then the permission was restricted by Allah’s (swt) saying; “O you who believe! Approach not as-Salah when you are in a drunken state.” [TMQ 4:43]. Then it was forbidden, after this restriction.
The one who studied these verses from a legislative viewpoint, will not find any gradualism in the prohibition. Before its prohibition, alcohol did not have a rule. In other words, it was left permitted, ie the Shar’a was silent about it, even though the Muslims were drinking it until the revelation of the third ayah. This is further supported by what happened with Sayyiduna ‘Umar b. al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), who said; “O Allah! Give us a clear explanation about alcohol, for it takes the wealth and the mind.”, and so the following ayah was revealed; “They ask you (O Muhammad [saw]) concerning alcohol and gambling.” [TMQ 2:219]. Thus, ‘Umar (ra) made Du’a and so this ayah was recited to him. He said; “O Allah! Give us a clear explanation about alcohol”, so the following ayah was revealed; “O you who believe! Approach not as-Salah when you are in a drunken state, until you know (the meaning) of what you utter.” [TMQ 4:43]. ‘Umar (ra) made Du’a and so this ayah was recited to him. He said; “O Allah! Give us a clear explanation about alcohol”, so the following ayah was revealed; “O you who believe! Intoxicants, gambling, al-ansab (animals slaughtered for idols), al-Azlam (arrows for seeking luck or decision) are an abomination of Shaytan’s handiwork. So avoid (strictly all) that (abomination).” [TMQ 5:90]. Hence, ‘Umar (ra) made Du’a and so this ayah was recited to him, until: “So, will you not then abstain?” [TMQ 5:90]. ‘Umar said: “We have abstained! We have abstained!” [Reported by Ahmad, at-Tirmizi, an-Nasa’i and Abu Dawud]
Sayyiduna ‘Umar continued to ask Allah (swt) to send down a clear explanation regarding alcohol, which was left permitted before the revelation of the first ayah mentioned above. He continued to ask Him (swt) despite the revelation of the first and second ayah, which indicates that it remained mubah (permitted) until the prohibition was revealed in the third ayah.
The prohibition in the second ayah is focused on the Salah and not alcohol. The ayah is to do with Salah.The one who scrutinises the Fiqh of this ayah will see that it does not forbid the Muslims from drinking at prayer, rather it prohibited praying in a state of intoxication, so that the Muslims know what they are saying. After the revelation of this ayah, if the smell of alcohol emitted from the mouth of the Muslim and he prayed, or he carried with him a waterskin of alcohol, or drank a certain amount of alcohol that did not affect his thinking, then there was nothing wrong with that.
Allah (swt) derided alcohol in the first ayah, because it brings harm. In the second ayah, prayer in the state of intoxication was prohibited. In the third ayah, alcohol was prohibited. This cannot be said to be gradualism, since no one permitted the drinking of alcohol after its prohibition ie after the revelation of the ayah of Surah al-Ma’idah, whether in the time of the Messenger (saw), Sahabah, and Tabi’in or those who came after them. The books of Fiqh of the great scholars and mujtahideen of this Ummah did not discuss gradualism in the prohibition of alcohol. The Islamic conquests took place in full swing, and the lands were opened up. The people used to enter the deen in hordes. The Muslims who conquered these lands did not give attention to the newness of the converts who had just embraced Islam, and nor were they silent about the drinking of alcohol. The Muslims who went to the lands did not wait until the converts had also passed the same stages as passed by the prohibition of alcohol, even though they may have needed gradualism; though that is of no significance. Our great early scholars were not familiar with the discussion of gradualism. Rather it is a new discussion, brought about by the severe reality and the difficult circumstances, from the views of some so-called scholars who wished to make it a way of thinking; not only regarding some particular rules but for the whole deen. The Messenger’s (saw) hadith was right when it stated; “Verily he among you who lives [long] will see great controversy, so you must keep to my Sunnah and to the sunnah of the rightly-guided Khulafaa’ – cling to them stubbornly. Beware of newly invented matters, for every invented matter is an innovation and every innovation is in Hell-fire.” [Reported by Abu Dawud and At-Tirmizi]
The question that the advocates of gradualism use as a way out is; is it allowed to take the previous Hukm under the pretext that rules came gradually?
The definite answer is; no. This is because the rule that prohibits alcohol is definite. The Shar’a does not permit us to go back to the previous rule, since we would have done what the Shar’a has ordered us not to do. This was the position of the Salaf (the early generations) and the Khalaf (those who came after). Alcohol today has the same Hukm. It does not change at all and the sin is not removed from the one who drinks it.
3- Their view that the Shar’a dealt with the problem of slavery gradually. This opinion is not valid, because Allah ‘azza wa jalla did not forbid the presence of slaves, rather He (swt) created a way out from it. If they came back into existence, then the rules will return and slaves will exist for the second time.
4- Their opinion that the Qur’an was revealed in parts and piecemeal; it was not revealed all at once, which indicates the presence of gradualism. The answer to this is that Allah ‘Azza wa jalla used to reveal the rules according to the incidents and events to strengthen the hearts on them. The first thing that was revealed was the Imaan. The Paradise and Hellfire were discussed first, and then the halaal and haraam came. This does not constitute taking part of what was revealed and leaving another part. The Muslims were responsible within the limits of what was revealed. Their responsibility did not go beyond this. When the Imaan was revealed, but the rules were not, the Muslims were responsible for the whole of Islam, but according to the details explained by the Sharee’ah texts at the time. Thus, the Muslims are responsible for the individual Shar’ee rules in all circumstances, whether the Islamic State existed or not. As for the Shar’ee rules entrusted with the Islamic State, they relate to the State. This is the detail that binds the Muslims, and nothing else. And so, we can say there is no turning back.
Now, after having examined what the meaning of gradualism is, and what it includes and what its justifications are, we move to explaining the correct Shar’ee opinion, with the Shar’ee way of thinking.
I say the correct opinion, and not the opinion that is closest to being correct, because the idea of gradualism is not from the Shar’a, and it is not allowed to be attributed to the Shar’a. The issue does not relate to gradualism and whether it is a Shar’ee rule or not, as much as it relates to a way of thinking not at all approved of by the Shar’a.
That is because Islam has a nature that is radically different from anything else. The nature of the Islamic system is that it is established on exclusively following the wahy (revelation); while the man-made system is based on human innovation and experiance which, however strong, will remain deficient in setting down the correct solutions for mans’ problems.
When the Muslim adheres to the Shar’a, he must make the basis of his adherence the Imaan in Allah (swt), otherwise his adherence will not be accepted. When he calls others to Islam, he must make the basis of his da’wah the Imaan in Allah (swt), otherwise his da’wah will not be accepted. The matter is primarily concerned with Imaan, and then to the correct adherence.
So that the Muslim can change himself, and change the systems in a correct and sound manner, he must concern himself with the spiritual basis, by first establishing it, and then nurturing it. It will then be easier for him to adhere to Islam, regardless of whether it agrees or does not agree with the reality, nature and the desires of the people. Not relying on the spiritual basis will cause the Muslim to fall into sin, even though it did not lead him to kufr. The fact that Islam has a spiritual basis, ie Imaan in Allah (swt), does not indicate if this hukm is near to or far from the truth. Rather, if we look at this hukm in light of the basis, then we will see how close to or far away from this basis it is.
Now let us ask those who advocate the idea of gradualism; Where is the spiritual basis in this call? Where is Allah’s (swt) order to be found in it? When did the Messenger (saw) ever resort to it – even though he was in need of it – either in Makkah or Madinah?
Didn’t the Messenger (saw) say to Bani ’Aamir b. Sa’sa’ah, when he (saw) sought the Nusrah from them; “The matter (authority) is for Allah; He (swt) places it wherever he wishes.”? [Sirah of Ibn Hisham]. This was even though he desperately needed someone to support the da’wah. This is what he (saw) said when they asked if they could take the power after him. Couldn’t he have accepted their request, and then after they had professed belief changed their request? Isn’t it the true da’wah and divine order that has made him (saw) honest in what he says without any flattery or compromise, so that those who were to live might live after a clear evidence, and those who were to be destroyed might be destroyed after a clear evidence?
Didn’t the Messenger (saw) say to his uncle Abu Taalib, when the latter asked him to lighten the call, and not place an unbearable burden on him; “By Allah O uncle! If they had put the sun in my right hand and the moon on my left, so that I may leave this matter; I will not leave it until Allah made it prevail or I die in the attempt.”? [Sirah Ibn Hisham]. This text from the Messenger (saw) shows that he did not accept to compromise in the slightest, and he gave the best example for his da’wah. He did not compromise or flatter. He did not go along, acquiesce with, or court those in authority. Rather his da’wah was explicit and bold, because that generates the true thoughts with which the falsehood is defeated and destroyed.
Didn’t Allah (swt) order the Muslims to make Hijrah from the place where they are not able to undertake what He (swt) made obligatory on them? Didn’t He (swt) forbid them to reside there when He (swt) said; “Verily! As for those whom the angels take (in death) while they are wronging themselves (as they stayed among the disbelievers even though emigration was obligatory for them) they (angels) say (to them): ‘In what condition were you?’ They reply: ‘We were weak and oppressed on earth.’ They (angels) say: ‘Was not the earth of Allah spacious enough for you to emigrate therein?’” [TMQ 4:97] Ibn Katheer has transmitted an Ijmaa’ (consensus) on the prohibition of residing in a place where the Muslim is not able to establish his deen.
Didn’t the Messenger (saw) start his da’wah with ‘Laa ilaaha illallah Muhammadur rasoolullah’, and challenge the people with it? It was also his last statement, without any change. Did he call to something less than that at the beginning, and then go on with it gradually? Or was it his (saw) first and last Call?
Didn’t Abu Bakr fight against those who withheld the payment of Zakah, and not delay his response to them or please them? He made his well-known statement; “By Allah, if they withhold from me the rope of a camel, which they used to give to the Rasool of Allah, I would fight them.” This was his response even though the Muslims witnessed widespread movements of apostasy and rebellion at the time.
Did the first Muslims who carried the da’wah to Islam ever carry this idea of gradualism? Did they follow this path when they implemented Islam upon the conquered countries, whose land changed from dar al-kufr to dar al-Islam? The early Muslims did not give any attention to the circumstances of those people who were new to Islam. They did not leave them to drink alcohol, waiting for them to become used to not drinking alcohol, dealing with usury or being addicted to women. Rather they entered into Islam completely and abstained from usury, fornication, alcohol and everything Allah (swt) prohibited them from doing. They used to implement the Shar’ee rules regarding the non-Muslims, whether they were individual ones, collective ones, personal one or ones of sufficiency.
Did the original books of Islamic Fiqh deal with this subject? Did our early trustworthy jurists and Mujtahideen make any mention of gradualism, though it is known that our jurists discussed in detail the kulliyat (total) and juz’iyat (branches) of the Sharee’ah?
The Sharee’ah in its totality indicates that the obligation of the da’wah be exemplified by honesty and keeping on the straight path; “All the praises and thanks be to Allah, Who has sent down to His slave (Muhammad [saw]) the Book, and has not placed therein any crookedness.” [TMQ 18:1]. Allah (swt) informed us that the Kuffar wish that we compromise and be compliant with them. They want us to relinquish the truth, and accept a quarter or a half of the solution. They want to start by trying to make us do kufr, as in His (swt) saying; “Many of the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians) wish that they could turn you away as disbelievers after you have believed, out of envy from their own selves…” [TMQ 2:109], and will end with trying to make us take the rules, as in His (swt) saying; “They wish for you to compromise with them, so they (too) would compromise.” [TMQ 68:9] “So (O Muhammad [saw]) obey not the deniers (of the verses).” [TMQ 68:8]. Our Lord has warned us against inclining toward the unjust people; “And incline not toward those who do wrong, lest the Fire should touch you, and have no protectors other than Allah, nor you would then be helped.” [TMQ 11:113]
The true da’wah to the true Imaan makes the Muslim’s adherence complete, even if he was new to Islam and to its adherence. Our obligation, as da’wah carriers, is nothing but to implant the Imaan in our hearts and devote ourselves to this, until it bears fruit, with the best adherence and Taqwa. The Islamic State, when it is established, will not be established at the hands of people who are devoid (of any Islamic concepts) or full of western concepts. It will not be established by people in whom the da’wah did not work, it will have influenced them and made them accept it. Rather, as we have stated previously, the State must be established upon a public opinion that emanates from a general awareness, which accepts the idea of Islam and of being ruled by it. There is no need to resort to the idea of gradualism, under the pretext of drawing the hearts and minds closer to Islam; nor is there a need to yield to the weakness of human beings or to go along with the reality, because Allah (swt) has ordered us to change the hearts and minds and the reality by Islam.
If we return to the Qur’an and examine its ayaat, we will find that the command in it is decisive, and that gradualism is from the foreign western thoughts, having been interpolated by so-called scholars through lies and falsehood.
Whenever an ayah was revealed, the Messenger (saw) and the Muslims with him, rushed to implement it without the slightest delay. The implementation of any hukm that was revealed became obligatory, simply because it had been revealed. After the revelation of His (swt) saying; “This day, I have perfected your deen for you, completed My favour upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your deen.” [TMQ 5:3], the Muslims became obliged to apply the whole of Islam, whether it is in beliefs, ‘ibadaat, akhlaq, mu’amalaat, and whether the rules relate to ruling, economy, social system or foreign policy, in times of peace and war.
-His (swt) saying; “And whatsoever the Messenger (Muhammad [saw]) gives you, take it, and whatsoever he forbids you, abstain from it.” [TMQ 59:7], ie take and act upon whatever is brought by the Messenger (saw), and refrain and keep away from everything he has forbidden you. This is because the ‘maa’ in the ayah has come in the ‘aamm (general) form. Thus it includes the obligation to act upon all the obligations, and refrain and keep away from all the prohibitions. The order to take or leave that is mentioned in the ayah is an obligation and this is due to the Qareena (indication) at the end of the ayah, which ordered Taqwa and warned of a severe punishment for the one who does not act upon this ayah.
-His (swt) saying; “And judge (O Muhammad [saw]) between them by that which Allah has revealed and follow not their vain desires, and beware of them lest they turn you far away from some of that which Allah has sent down to you.” [TMQ 5:49]. This ayah also gives a decisive order to the Messenger (saw) and the Muslims after him to rule by all the rules revealed by Allah (swt), whether it is a command or a prohibition. It also forbids the Messenger and the Muslims after him from following the whims of the people, and submitting to their wishes. Likewise it warns the Messenger (saw) and the Muslims to be aware in case people try to turn them away from applying some of what Allah (swt) has revealed.
- Allah (swt) said; “And whosoever does not judge by whatever (maa) Allah has revealed, such are the Kaafirun (disbelievers).” [TMQ 5:44] – And He (swt) said; “And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the zaalimun (unjust, oppressors).” [TMQ 5:45] – And He (swt) said; “And whosoever does not judge by what Allah has revealed, such are the Faasiqun (transgressors).” [TMQ 5:47]
In these ayaat, Allah (swt) described those who do not rule by what Allah (swt) revealed as being disbelievers, oppressors and transgressors. This is because the ‘maa’ mentioned here came in the ‘aamm (general) form, so it includes all the Shar’ee rules revealed by Allah (swt), whether they are commands or prohibitions.
From everything has been mentioned, it certainly becomes clear with no ambiguity, that it is obligatory on the Muslims, whether as individuals, groups or the State, to apply the rules of Islam completely without any delay, procrastination or gradualism. There is no excuse for the individual, group or State for not implementing the rules.
Gradual implementation completely contradicts the rules of Islam. The one who applies some of the rules and leaves some, is considered sinful in the sight of Allah (swt), whether it is a individual, group or State.
The waajib (obligated) remains a waajib and it is obligatory to act upon it, and the haraam remains haraam and it is obligatory to stay away from it. When the delegation of Thaqeef asked the Messenger (saw) to leave al-Lat for three years without breaking it, or to exempt them from praying on condition that they embrace Islam, he (saw) did not accept it from them and he rejected it completely. He (saw) insisted on destroying the idols without any delay, and insisted that they pray without any delay.
Allah (swt) has described the ruler who does not apply all the rules of Islam, or the one who applies some of them only, as a kaafir. This is if he does not believe in the suitability of Islam or does not believe in the suitability of the rules he has abandoned. He is described as an oppressor and transgressor, if he does not implement all the rules of Islam or he implements some of them whilst believing that Islam is suitable for implementation.
The Messenger (saw) has made it obligatory to fight the ruler and unsheathe the sword to his face if he displayed any kufr buwah (explicit disbelief) for which we have a burhaan (clear proof) from Allah (swt). In other words, if he ruled by the rules of kufr, and there is no doubt that they are kufr rules; and this is regardless of whether they are few or many. This is owing to the hadith of ‘Ubadah b. Saamit: “that we would not dispute with the people in authority, unless you witness fragrant kufr for which you have a burhaan (conclusive proof) from Allah.” [Reported by Muslim]
Therefore there is no complacence or gradualism in the implementation of the rules of Islam, since there is no difference between one waajib and another waajib, or between one haraam and another haraam, or between one hukm and another hukm. The rules of Allah (swt) are all the same. They should be applied and executed without any delay, postponement or gradualism. Otherwise the saying of Allah (swt) will apply to us; “Then do you believe in a part of the Scripture and reject the rest? Then what is the recompense of those who do so among you, except disgrace in the life of this world, and on the Day of Resurrection they shall be consigned to the most grievous torment.” [TMQ 2:85]
There is no excuse for the Muslim not to apply a Shar’ee rule, whether he is a ruler or a normal individual, unless there is a Shar’ee rukhsah (dispensation) mentioned in the Shar’ee texts. Inability is considered a Shar’ee dispensation, in the case of true and tangible weakness (or what is most probably that) ie in the case of true compulsion, such as the case of the one coerced into doing a haraam or the example when the Messenger (saw) offered a third of the fruit produce of Madinah to the tribe of Ghatfaan, or the example of the Khaleefah who accepts to resort to arbitration with rebels, or when carrion becomes permissible for the one who is under duress and fears death.
From what we see in this gradual approach, we find that such an idea has arisen amongst its advocates because of the pressure of the reality. To free themselves from such pressure, they went to hunt for evidences for this approach, so as to provide a justification and permission to do da’wah according to it. This is because the idea existed first, and then they produced a Shar’ee evidence, which they interpreted in such a way as to serve the idea. This is the beginning of deviation. Our advice to those Muslims who are established on the idea of gradualism is that they must discard the weakness they have within them. Their linkage to the Shar’a should be that of the one who trusts his Lord, has a strong Imaan that He (swt) is the one who manages the affairs, and changes the circumstances, and that He (swt) grants the victory to those who deserve it. They must be like this, so that with this Imaan they can face the severity of the reality and the harshness of the circumstances. So he feels elevated with his Imaan above (the reality) and makes it the departure point of the da’wah and the final point. All this will be reflected, in terms of the correct restriction and right adherence (to the Shar’ee rules), on those whom we invite. This will happen without the need for gradualism.
The call to gradualism is a call to other than Islam, and this is haraam. This makes the non-Muslim, or the deficient Muslim who is invited on this basis, hesitant in accepting what is presented to him. The responsibility of this hesitancy lays on the one who calls for gradualism. This is because Islam has not been presented to him, and because his presentation is far away from the spiritual basis that is based on the Imaan in Allah (swt), the Creator and Manager of all affairs, and on whose basis the Shar’ee rule is adopted or rejected. This makes the hujjah (proof) of Allah (swt) against those Muslims who call for gradualism; not against the ones whom they invited.
The call for gradualism includes interference and domination over the legislation, when it allows people to make partial implementation, under the pretext that they are not strong enough to make complete and immediate application. We are ordered not to put anything in front of Allah and His Messenger, or deviate away from them. The one who solves the problems of man is His Lord, the All-Knowing, the All-Informed, Who knows what He has created. How can the Muslim allow himself, when he calls for gradualism, to interfere in this process of legislation? The correct position is that the task of the da’ee (carrier of the da’wah) is restricted to executing and conveying the solution; not legislating it.
The call to gradualism provides the da’ee with a corrupt way of thinking, on whose basis he invites the people. When the person that he calls to gradualism is affected by it, it will corrupt his way of thinking, which must be changed just as the erroneous thoughts have to be changed. This is if we know that the way of thinking comes at the beginning of the transformation process, since it is more important than the changing of thoughts. We cannot ensure a credible change of the Ummah until we change her way of thinking, even in a general manner. This corrupt method by which he thinks and calls people will take the place of the correct method.