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Lessons from the attempts at Revival

The following is the transcript of a talk delivered on this subject some years ago.

The Prophet (saw) said in the hadith that I mentioned, "Aqidha watawakkal" “Tie the camel and trust in Allah”. He (saw) said this to a man who came to the him (saw).

Many people take a misunderstanding from this narration, some say that: “We should do the action and then Trust in Allah” others say that “We should just Trust in Allah and there is no need to look at any thing else”

They do not realise that this hadith contains two issues; one of advice and the other information concerning the aqeeda. This means that the first statement was concerning action i.e. looking after the means, the other is related to belief (Aqeeda).

Indeed, both types of people have misunderstood a fundamental thought in Islam

The one who thinks that we can only trust in Allah if we are prepared with the best technology is wrong; the reason for this is simple; to trust in Allah is part of the Muslim’s aqeeda; he must believe in it decisively (tasdiq al-Jazim); this belief is fixed; every Muslim must trust in Allah irrespective of his position; whether it was a strong position or a weak position.

The example of this is the Muslims who fought at Badr; even though they were weak they still trusted in Allah and Allah (SWT) gave them the victory; this was also the case at Tabuk and other battles.

The mistake that these people make is that they fail to see the difference between aqeeda and hukm shar’a; it is the aqeeda that makes everyone trust in Allah; to prepare weaponry is hukm shar’a.

Today when it comes to the decline of the Ummah we need to apply the same understanding. So we need to look to the causes of the many factors of the decline of the Ummah and the failure of the attempts to revive it.

We need to learn from our mistakes. So when we look at the Battle of Uhud, we could learn from the mistakes of the archers who broke their flanks, which resulted great losses in the battle.

To learn from our mistakes is the mentality of a Muslim. Indeed the Prophet (saw) encouraged this mentality, when he said: “A Muslim is never bitten from the same hole twice.”

With this as a basis today I am going to discuss about learning from the previous attempts at reviving the Ummah and the previous revivalist movements.

The reality of the multitude of problems requires a solution - The Ummah needs to be revived after years of slumber. I’m sure all of us would agree that the problems in the Muslim world stem from the fact that Islam is not applied.

It is clear that this revival cannot occur via an individual even if he understood the root problem in the correct manner, because changing society is not the task of an individual. For an individual no matter how strong he is, is still an individual and he could be disposed of, if this were to occur who would carry on his call? Who would work for the revival?

We can see that changing the current state of affairs requires a group or a Party. Some Muslims argue that groups cause further disunity and that they are non-productive.

It should be clear to us that unity and disunity must be judged only on the basis of Islam and nothing else. Did Islam say that having groups and Parties causes disunity? No, rather Allah (swt) obligated us to have a group or groups to rise up amongst us as long as they were based on Islam and called for it. He (swt) said:

“Let there arise from amongst you a group(s) calling to the Khair (good) enjoining the Ma’ruf (good) and forbidding the evil, they are the ones who are successful” [TMQ 3:104]

We have all seen many movements come and go this century. Many Muslims saw their failure to revive the Ummah and built up a deep rooted mindset that groups who work for Islam are sincere and do good but will never really achieve the revival of the Ummah. Some say that maybe it would occur in “a thousand years or ten thousand years”. So they became defeated. Others think that the forces against the movements’ i.e. the regimes in the Muslim world are too strong and too harsh for change to actually occur.

What I want to illustrate today is that we should have a clear yardstick when we come to judge the issue of whether change will occur and how it will occur. Just because many of the movements failed in the past it doesn’t mean that achieving the re-establishment of the Islamic State is an impossibility.

E.g. This would be like the ones who said that flight was an impossibility when their saw the repeated failures of those who attempted to construct flying machines.
E.g. Through repeated failure of certain medicines in the past some believed that curing certain illnesses was impossible until the discovery of new medicines and cures.
E.g. It would be like judging Islam from the action of a few individuals, which many Westerners do, so they see the actions of some Muslims disobeying Islam, drinking alcohol, etc and generalise that all Muslims are like this.

We must avoid falling into this trap of generalisation (Ta’meem). Rather we must use the mind which Allah has given us to look to the causes of the failure of the Islamic revivalist movements.

E.g. It would be like looking to the causes of those who failed in the field of flight, or those who failed to cure certain illnesses.

If we can isolate these causes then surely we would be able to distinguish a movement which learns from these and doesn’t possess them, this would be one which could truly achieve the re-establishment of Islam on earth.

Similar to the fact that we could say that we saw those who were able to make the first aircraft did not possess the causes of failure that the previous trials had and those who were able to develop the vaccines and the cures did not possess the flaws which held back the previous physicians.

We need to realise that many movements which failed to initiate revival failed due to a number of factors.

In the future talks Inshallah we will elaborate on many of these factors and discuss also the detailed method to actually establish the Islamic State.

Today I want to focus one main factor or reason why many movements didn’t achieve in reviving the Ummah. This is because they were established on a general and undefined basis, that was vague and lacked crystallisation.

So let us look at this first factor:

If we look at the groups who rose to the challenge of reviving the Ummah, we can categorise them into 2 main types: 1) The Nationalistic, 2) The Islamic.

1) As for those who were in charge of the Nationalist movements, the Arabs amongst them called for the Arab revival on a vague, ambiguous and nationalist basis, with disregard to Islam and Muslims; they relied on terms such as nationalism, dignity, pride, Arabs, Arabism, independence and the like, without acquiring any clear concept about these terms, which agrees with the reality of revival.

E.g. When one of the Arab nationalists was asked to define Nationalism, he said: “By defining it, it loses its meaning”

The nationalist Turks for their part called for the revival of the Turkish homeland on the basis of Turkish nationalism.

Both of these, the Arab Nationalists and the Turkish Nationalists arose before the formal destruction of the Islamic State in 1924. They were inciting division in the Ummah on racial and ethnic grounds. Examples of these groups were Al-Ahd (The covenant Party) and the Turkiya al-fatat Party (Young Turks).

They possessed ideas of separation and independence from the Islamic state and their mission ended at the destruction of the Islamic state, they shared the spoils by being appointed as rulers of some Islamic countries and agents of colonialism.

We know that the nationalism doesn’t serve to be a bond amongst humanity and would never serve as a basis to unite and revive the Ummah. It is a bond which leads to people seeing themselves superior than others, so the Arabs felt superior than the Turks and vice versa. It is a shallow bond which doesn’t lead to solving the problems of society, nobody even claims that Nationalism can give you an economic and social system.

These groups basis was emotion rather than any clear thought. Indeed they led to further adding to the problem in the Ummah rather than acting as a vehicle to salvage it.

Today similar groups still exist like the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organisation) the National Democratic Party in Egypt, the Nationalist Action Party in Turkey and the like.

E.g. One brother who used to be with the PLO told me once that before Yasser Arafat ever began a speech, he would never start with ‘Bismillar hi rahmaan ir raheem” (In the name of Allah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem), rather he would start with “Bi’ismi Filisteen” (In the name of Palestine) or “Bi’ismi al-Watn” (In the name of the Land)

I know many have come to see Nationalism for what it is, mere empty rhetoric with no basis in Islam or in the reality.

2) The second type of movements are the Islamic.

We can see in our reality today and many past realities of people who may have had sincerity for the Deen and a feeling for Islam but were vague in their objective and basis and called for Islam in an undefined manner.

As a result of this they tried to interpret Islam according to the situations and reality around them so as to make Islam suitable for those situations. This is the nature of having a vague basis to start off with. If you are not clear where the lines are drawn, it is easy to overstep them. We can see that many didn’t define key concepts in Islam in a clear manner, therefore they fell into the trap of justifying Islam on yardsticks other than Islam and adopting elements from other systems like Socialism and Capitalism.

Examples of this are those who said that Islam believed in the Freedoms (like the freedom of ownership and expression) or those who said that Islam combined the best elements of Socialism and Capitalism. So they called for Islam without really understanding Islam and the limits which Allah (swt) placed. So they equated Shura with democracy, the Hudud with the Welfare state and the Awqaf as-Sharia (The trusts of the Sharia) like the protection of the mind, the honour, the property, and life with the concept human rights (Hukook al Insaan). They were the proponents of principles as realism, practicality and gradualism even though these thoughts clearly contradict Islam.

Some of these groups were not political in nature even though the problem in the Ummah is fundamentally a political one. They were established upon academic, priestly, educational, welfare, or ethical grounds.

Those who were academic in nature had no clear ideas they merely published a variety of books and academic studies relating to various issues. So they didn’t understand the root problem in the Ummah as the absence of the Islamic System in clear manner and consequently they saw the way forward in writing literature, which on its own would never lead to establishing an Islamic entity similar to what the Prophet (saw) established in Madina.

Those who were priestly or in a sense termed as ‘spiritual’ did not engage in a study of the reality, the multitude of problems which had befallen the Ummah and vital need for a solution. Rather they segregated Islam to the mosque and forgot the affairs of this world. Their basis is clearly flawed because it contradicts the nature of Islam itself which is a way of life providing systems and solutions to everything including the material world. Again their work had no relationship to the Vital Issue of the Muslims.

The reformist ethical and moral groups did not really understand the nature of revival and the nature of society. They also misunderstood the place of morals in Islam, they made it the most prominent thing, whereas Islam obliged for us to have the morals (Akhlaq) when undertaking the commands and prohibitions of Allah. So we must tell the truth when trading and be humble in our prayers. They failed to understand that the changing of society comes via changing its thoughts, sentiments and systems not only the individual morals of people.

The educational groups were based on the notion that people need knowledge therefore we should impart it to them and teach them. Again they failed to understand the true nature of the problem in the Ummah, so they established schools without any clear direction to lead people to.

The Welfare organisations confused the issue of doing good deeds in Islam like the building of mosques or the giving of charity with the issue of working to reverse the decline which had occurred in the Ummah. The 2 issues are different and should not be confused, it is like the issue of Salah and the issue of Nikah (marriage), there are 2 separate issues in Islam and we shouldn’t confuse them at all. Both situations have different objectives and different rules. Besides this providing for the Welfare of certain people is not going to solve the economic crisis in the Muslim lands, because the problem doesn’t lie in a few dollars or pounds to be collected here and there, rather the problem lies with the entire system in those countries.

The main point that can be drawn from all these examples which I have mentioned is that a group which fulfills the command of Allah (swt) in the Ayah I mentioned earlier must be based upon Islam and must be political. This means that the group must be working to look after the affairs of the Ummah by working to Re-establish the system of Islam. Politics according to Islam means looking after the affairs of the Ummah it is different to the Western meaning of politics.

In addition it must have a detailed understanding of its objective and all that relates to it.
For example anyone engaged in the car mechanics and solving the problems which occur in cars must understand the nature of the Cars, all that is related to them in terms of parts like the exhaust, the gear box, the axel and so on. He must also understand the manufacturer’s manual for this car and should not contradict it.

Similarly one who does not understand the nature of people and what leads them to act, the nature of society (if we are trying to change society we need to know what it is), the different ideologies present in the world, Usul ul-Fiqh, the different systems of Islam and how they are applicable today like the economic, social and political and a variety of other issues will not be able target the right problem correctly let alone fix the problem of the Ummah. The violation of the manual which Allah (swt) gave us would also be the result.

Not learning from this mistakes, using emotion rather than the ‘Aql (mind) which Allah gave us to think in this issue would be a manifest error and would be a negligence in obeying Allah (swt).

In Islam there is a principle which is very clear: “Whatever the Wajib cannot be established without is Wajib.” Therefore it is Wajib for anyone serious about undertaking the responsibility to Allah (swt) to study these issues in depth and scrutinise them. Without thinking deeply about these matters one would not be able to achieve the Wajib of working to re-establish Islam.

Therefore we must apply thought upon this topic and do our utmost to understand it.

Allah’s Messenger (saw) said:
“He whom death overtakes while engaged in acquiring knowledge with a view to reviving Islam with the help of it, there will be one degree between him and the Prophet’s in paradise.” [Al-Tirmidhi, Hadith 249, narrated by Al-Hasan al-Basri, Transmitted by Darimi]



Anonymous said…
Assalam....Takattul al hizb says that there are four key reasons for which all the previous movements were failed.Any article available in details about those four factors?
Anonymous said…
Wa aleikum Assalaam ... the four reasons are mentioned in the booklet Structuring of a Party (Attakatul el-Hizbi) which can be downloaded from here:

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