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Concern for the Principles of Islam

In the Name of Allâh, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

By Shaykh Salman al-`Awdah

When we call people to Islam, we must do so in the way that the Qur’ân instructs us to do so. We must follow the guidance of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in this matter by exhorting one another to righteousness and piety and then helping one other in attaining these qualities. We must enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong, and accept Islam wholeheartedly and completely.

We must focus our primary concern upon the major principles of our religion – the pillars of our faith and of our worship – and upon developing ourselves and those around us to greater God-consciousness in our lives and sincerity in our worship. These are the three great principles that the angel Gabriel came to the Prophet (peace be upon him) and asked him about. He had asked: “ O Muhammad! Tell me about Islam… Tell me about faith… Tell me about excellence in faith.”

When the angel departed, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “That was Gabriel who came to instruct you about your religion.” [Sahîh al-Bukhârî and Sahîh Muslim]

These principles outlining what we must believe and what we must do as Muslims are our primarily concerns when we call ourselves and others to the faith. These are the open and hidden acts of devotion that Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have taught us. We must clarify these matters to the people and cultivate them within our hearts and within our Muslim communities. This is what brings about true religiousness and true unity.

This is the great purpose of Islamic Law that Allah commands us to bring to realization. He says: “The same religion has He established for you as that which He enjoined on Noah - that which We have sent by inspiration to you and that which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: Namely, that you should establish the religion, and make no divisions therein” [Sűrah al-Shűrâ: 13]

We must be concerned with both establishing the religion and maintaining our unity. Many young Muslims concern themselves only with establishing the faith and neglect something that is a vital part of establishing the faith – and that is bringing the hearts of the people together and establishing love and affection between them.

There can be no doubt that one of the basic principles of Islam is we should be governed by the laws of Allah and that Allah’s Law should be put into practical application. This is a matter of consensus among Muslims. However, the mistakes and shortcomings that exist in this matter must be put in the proper perspective as dictated by the principles and wisdom set forth by Islamic Law.

The Muslim world today is suffering from their abandonment of governing themselves by what Allah has revealed and the replacement of Islamic Law in most Muslim countries by man-made systems of law. This is a serious shortcoming on the part of Muslims all over the world, and it is the duty of Islamic workers to call people back to deciding their affairs according to the dictates of the Qur’ân and Sunnah. Likewise, it is our duty to counter the false claims levied by the secularists against Islamic Law. It must be made clear that the law applies to all Muslims without exception and that we as Muslims should abide by the Law in word and deed.

Nevertheless, the serious deficiency that the Muslims are exhibiting in this matter does not warrant our turning all of our Islamic work into a program of political action with a purely political agenda whereby anyone who does not share the same degree of concern for such matters is either routed out or shunned.

Islam is a rule of law on Earth and it is the worship of Allah and it is the development of character on the basis of faith and moral values. It is a comprehensive program of action.

Though it is governed by its legal rulings, it is also piety in the heart, truth on the tongue, humility to Allah, and love for Him, His messenger, and the believers. It requires being good to others, enjoining to what is right, prohibiting what is wrong, and establishing faith and worship for Allah alone. Indeed, monotheism in belief is the principle behind all the other Islamic principles.

Though Islamic workers, for many reasons, may not be able to see eye to eye on a lot of matters, they have to agree on their concern for Islam’s most basic of principles: monotheism and true belief in Allah. From this point, Muslim society can be brought up in goodness, faithfulness, nobility, and integrity.

Likewise, Muslim workers have to agree on their loyalty to Islam and to the Muslim people. They need to make giving sincere advice and their approach to correcting the mistakes and shortcomings that exist among their number. They should avoid instigating divisions and strife between people who are working for the sake of Islam. Obstinacy and partisanship provide nothing good for the Muslim world, especially today when the Muslims are in greater need than ever to have their characters molded and to have the virtues of righteousness and piety instilled in their hearts along with the principles and moral values of Islam.

One of the reasons for the shortcomings of Muslim society today is that many of those who work on behalf of Islam preoccupy themselves with matters that are not important or take one important matter and focus on it to the exclusion of all else.

The diverse needs of Muslim society at all levels must be recognized. We cannot become like the people of the scriptures of old, each group saying that everyone else has nothing to stand on.

Anyone whose objective is to work for Islam and call people to it, who submits himself to the injunctions set forth by Allah and His Messenger and to the guidance and way of the Companions is someone we should excuse as much as we can and someone whom we should treat well when we have to correct his mistakes. We should not ignore the various influences that come into play when people disagree on matters of opinion and how such disagreements differ from those regarding the basic principles of our religion. It is indeed different when we have to deal with someone who does not adhere to the Qur’ân and Sunnah in what he calls to or who rejects the methodology of the Prophet’s Companions. That is an altogether different matter. We can praise Allah that such people are not in the majority in Islamic work today.

We should know that developing one’s obedience to Allah and one’s faith is the greatest right that a person has and that monotheism is the greatest manifestation of this obedience.

We should also know that if a person gets into the habit of speaking ill of those with whom he disagrees, this taints his spirit and increases its tendency for enmity and ignorance. It weakens faith and kills the love that should exist between believers. It breeds nothing but contempt.

This applies to those engaged in the field of Islamic work. The problem is even more acute when it besets the general public. It is not from the guidance of the Prophet (peace be upon him) for people to turn their energies away from the worship of Allah to engage in such pursuits. It does not suit them to even speak against particular unbelievers and curse and condemn them rather than busy themselves with the remembrance and praise of Allah and with strengthening their faith through obedience and worship.

Most of the Prophet’s Companions did not know the names of the hypocrites. The Prophet (peace be upon him) did not teach them their names. He identified the hypocrites to no one but Hudhayfah. Indeed, what it says in the Qur’ân would lead us to think that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not himself know the identity of every last hypocrite.

Allah says: “Certain of the desert Arabs round about you are hypocrites, as well as among the Madinah folk: they are obstinate in hypocrisy: you know them not; We know them. Twice shall We punish them; and in addition shall they be sent to a grievous penalty.” [Sűrah al-Tawbah: 101]

If faith was contingent on knowing their identities, Allah would have informed His Messenger (peace be upon him) about them, and he in turn would have informed his Companions.

The scholars of Islam who follow the Qur’ân and Sunnah have a special honor and distinction that should be recognized and conceded to them. As for differences in opinion, they are something that should be decided on the basis of the Qur’ân and Sunnah. When such differences of opinion occur in matters wherein personal discretion plays a role, they remain the opinions of those who hold them. No one else is obliged to follow those opinions, since none of us is obliged to follow any of the children of Adam besides Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) and the consensus of the entire Muslim nation when it occurs.

From IslamToday.com

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