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.