On the Islamic Movement
By "Islamic Movement", I mean that organized, collective work, undertaken by the people, to restore Islam to the leadership of society, and to the helm of life all walks of life.
Before being anything else, the Islamic Movement is work: persistent, industrious work, not just words to be said, speeches and lectures to be delivered, or books and articles are indeed required, they are merely parts of a movement, not the movement itself (Allah the Almighty says, Work, and Allah, His Messenger and the believers will see your work} [Surat al-Tawba: 1 05].
The Islamic movement is a popular work based mainly on self-motivation and personal conviction. It is a work performed out of faith and for nothing other than the sake of Allah, in the hope of being rewarded by Him, not by humans.
The core of this self-motivation is that unrest which a Muslim feels when the Awakening visits him and he feels a turmoil deep inside him, as a result of the contradiction between his faith on the one hand and the actual state of affairs of his nation on the other. It is then that he launches himself into action, driven by his love for his religion, his devotion to Allah, His Messenger, the Quran and the Muslim Nation, and his feeling of his, and his people's, neglect of their duty. In so doing, he is also stimulated by his keenness to discharge his duty, eliminate deficiencies, contribute to the revival of the neglected faridas [enjoined duties] of enforcing the Sharia [Islamic Law] sent down by Allah; unifying the Muslim nation around the Holy Quran; supporting Allah's friends and fighting Allah's foes; liberating Muslim territories from all aggression or non-Muslim control; reinstating the Islamic caliphate system to the leadership anew as required by Sharia, and renewing the obligation to spread the call of Islam, enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and strive in Allah's cause by deed, by word or by heart - the latter being the weakest of beliefs - so that the word of Allah may be exalted to the heights.
It is by this popular work performed solely for Allah's sake that the Islamic Movement is established. The official, or semi-official work, such as establishing boards, higher councils, associations or unions for Islamic affairs supervised by the ministries of awqaf [lit. endowments, used in a wider meaning to refer to Islamic affairs] or any other government bodies, could more or less benefit Islam and Muslims, in proportion to the intent and enthusiasm of those in charge of it, as well as to how much they place their loyalty to their religion before their loyalty to this earthly life that embraces them and embraces those who appoint them to their positions.
However, this official or semi-official work is always inadequate and deficient in many ways, as follows:
- It revolves in the orbit of the domestic policy of the state that starts and finances it. Its very movement is dictated by that policy, and hence it does not express pure Islam or the greater Muslim nation as much as it expresses that particular state.
- It is not based, in most cases, on men proven by work, seasoned by struggle and tested in the field, but on "appointed" men who are in the favour of the financing state and therefore seek to please it out of their ambition or out of their fear. Such men cannot, therefore, disobey the state's orders, or ask "Why", or say "No". I am speaking of the overwhelming majority here, as among the "official" workers there may exist some who do better than some "popular" workers in their loyalty to Allah, their jealousy for their religion and their endeavouring to realize this religion in a proper way.
- It often lacks the true intent to defend Islam, and may even be aimed at a purely political gain. In most cases, this sort of work is similar to "the Mosque of Mischief" mentioned in the Quran: its superficial objective may be to serve worship and piety, but its hidden aim is to divide the believers and hinder the efforts of faithful workers.
- It is, for all these reasons, under accusation from the masses and peoples, and deprived of their sympathy and support. Even those official "ulama" (scholars) who put themselves at the service of the state's policy - that is, speaking up of keeping silent as required - lack the confidence of the masses, who call them "the scholars of the authorities" or "the agents of the police".
For all these reasons, the official or semi-official Islamic work, so long as Muslim rule is absent, is unable to establish a true Islamic Movement. However, given its capabilities, it can render some academic and practical services and provide financial and moral support to the popular Islamic work and its institutions, especially if such official or semi-official work is headed by faithful, brave leaders.
Besides being a popular work done solely for Allah's sake, the Islamic Movement is an organized collective work. It is not enough for Islam's well - being that volunteering individuals should work (separately and in scattered areas, though their effort will be added to their balance on the Day of Judgment, for Allah shall not waste the effort of man or woman, and everyone shall be rewarded for his deeds according to his intention and perfection of his work. And anyone who has done an atom's weight of good shall see it)' [Surat Al-Zalzalah:7].
Individual work, under the contemporary circumstances of the Muslim Nation, will not be enough for bridging over the gap and realizing the aspired hope. Collective work is a must, and it is ordained by religion and necessitated by reality.
Religion advocates "the sense of congregating" and opposes "straying". Allah's hand is with collective effort, and he who strays shall stray into Hell. It is only the stray sheep that the wolf devours, and a prayer is not invalid if the worshipper performs it separately from the congregation or stands ahead of the rank. A believer to another believer is like one firm brickwork each part supporting the other. Cooperation in righteousness and piety is one of the faridas of religion; and the mutual teaching of truth and patience is one of the preconditions of saving oneself from loss in earthly life and the Hereafter.
The sheer state of affairs makes it inexitable for a hopefully fruitful work to be collectively done. It takes two hands to clap, and one is weak by himself, strong by his fellows. Great achievements are only made through concerted efforts, and decisive battles are won only through the unity of hands, as the Quran says: (Allah loves those who fight in His cause in battle array, as if they were a solid cemented structure) [Surat al-Saff: 4]
Collective work should be organized and based on a responsible leadership, a solid base and clear- cut perceptions that define the relationships between the leadership and the grassroots according to fundamentals of obligatory shura [consultation] and compulsory seeing obedience.
Islam recognizes no collective work that is not organized. Even collective prayer is based on organization, for Allah shall not look at the row which is not straightened; and rows are to be closed. No gap should be left in a row of worshippers for it will be filled by Satan standing shoulder to shoulder and foot to foot. It is a unit of movement and appearance as much as it is a unity of doctrine and direction "do not differ so that your hearts may not differ".
An Imam is required to oversee the alignment of the row behind him until it is straightened and closed before starting prayer, and he advises the worshippers to "be responsive to the [guiding] hands of your brothers", as the prayer in congregation requires a measure of flexiband responsiveness for harmony of the rank as a whole.
Then comes the obedience to the imam, (The imam is appointed to be followed: say "Allah Akbar" after he utters it bow when he bows; prostrate when he prostates and listen when he recites.
Nobody is allowed to break the rank, or precede the imam in bowing or prostrating so that he may not introduce a wrong note into this harmony and create an irregularity in such an organized, coordinated structure. He who does that should fear that Allah will metamorphose him into a man with a donkey's head.
However, should the imam make a mistake, it is the right, even duty, of those behind him to rectify this mistake, whether it is the result of impropriety or forgetfulness, involves word or deed, or happens in recital (of the Quran) or in other fundamental parts of prayer.
Even women in the back ranks in prayer are allowed to clap their hands if the imam makes a mistake, so as to attract his attention to the mistake.
Congregational prayer is a miniaturization of the overall Islamic congregational system and of what the interrelation between the commander and the troops should be like: there is neither infallible leadership nor absolute, blind obedience.
What is the mission of the Islamic Movement?
The Islamic Movement has come into existence to revive Islam and reinstate it at the helm of life once again, after removing the obstacles from its path.
The revival of Islam "is not an expression of mine: it was used by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in the sound hadith narrated by Abu-Hurayra: (Allah shall send down a man who will revive the religion of this Nation at the start of every hundred years) [Abu-Dawud & Al-Hakim].
Most of those who interpreted this hadith tended to take the word "who" to mean a specific individual who will revive the religion. They have actually tried to name such individual from among the prominent theologions and imams whose death fell near the end of a century of the hijra calendar, such as Omar ibn-Abdel-Aziz (died 101 A.H.) and Al Shafe'i (died 204 A.H.) and so on. However, they differed much on the issue of who the reviver of the third hundred years might be.
Meanwhile, some of the hadith commentators regarded the word "who" in this hadith as suitable to imply the plural just like it would be proper to imply the singular, indicating that the "reviver" could well be a group and not an individual. This is what Iban Al-Athir thought most likely in his book "Al Jam'i Lil Usul - collection of fundamentals". Al Hafez, Al Dhahabi and others supported this concept, too.
I have more to add to this: the reviver of Islam should not necessarily be a group in the sense of a number of people including so and so and so, but may be a group in the sense of a school, a movement of thought and action that works in union to revive the religion.
This is what I take to be the most likely interpretation in understanding and applying this hadith to the century [A.H.] that has just ended and the century that has just started. We pray to Allah to make our present days in this new century better than our past days, and to grant us still better days in our future.
The revival to be achieved by the Islamic Movement should I take three directions:
The first direction would be the formation of an Islamic vanguard, capable, through integration and cooperation, of leading the contemporary society with Islam without isolation or leniency, and remedying the ailments of Muslims with medicines that have been prescribed by Islam alone. This vanguard must comprise individuals whose ranks are glued by deep-rooted faith, sound learning and close ties.
The second direction would be the formation of a Muslim public opinion representing the broad popular base which stands behind Islam's protagonists, loving and supporting them after having become aware of their general objectives and confident of their faithfulness and capability, and also after having rid itself of the effects of the mud-throwing campaigns against Islam and Islam's protagonists and movements.
The third direction would be the preparation of a world, public climate that will accept the existence of the Muslim Nation when it understands the true aspects of the Islamic Message and civilization, and becomes free of the evil effects left by the fanaticism of the Medieval Ages and the lies and distortions concocted by anti-Islam campaigns. Such public opinion would tolerate the emergence of Muslim power beside other global powers, realizing that Muslims have a right to rule themselves according to their own creed since they are the majority in their own countries - as called for by the democratic principles that are so often praised and advocated - and to promote their universal humanitarian message as one of the great ideologies of the world: an ideology that has a past, a present and a future and lays claim to over one thousand million adherents in this world in which we now live.
The multitude of the Movement's fields of action, and which is more deserving
The fields of work awaiting the Islamic Movement in the coming phase are wide and expansive. The activist leaders and intellectual theorists of the Movement should make a careful scientific study of these fields. Such a study must be based on documented and confirmed statistics and data.
This field of work is important for forming human "cadres" and Islamic vanguards bringing up the aspired generation of victory, whose members will understand and believe in Islam in full, including knowledge, work, call and struggle. Members of this generation will carry the call of Islam to their Nation first and then to the rest of the world. They will be able to do that only after they commit themselves to Islam as a clear - cut perception in their minds, a deep - rooted doctrine in their hearts, a line of behaviour governing all aspects of their life, worship of Allah and dealing with other people, and a path of culture that will improve the state of affairs of the Nation and bring it together on the Word of Allah and lead the confused humanity to what is best and most proper.
This kind of work would be aimed at extricating the rule from the hands of weaklings all traitors to place it in the hands of the powerful and honest who seek neither to be high and mighty on the land nor to corrupt it, who, if Allah establishes them in the land, establish prayer and give alms, enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong.
This work would be aimed at remedying poverty, ignorance, disease and vice, and facing up to those suspect institutions that make social and philanthropic work a tool for altering the Nation's identity and weakening its ties with its creed.
This sort of work would contribute to the development of the community to free it from subordination and lift off its burden of usury - based loans, as a prelude to building Islamic economic institutions.
It would be aimed at liberating Muslim land, fighting the forces that oppose the Islamic Call and the Muslim Nation, and preserving the freedom of the Muslim will and the independence of the Muslim decision.
It would be aimed at spreading Islamic ideas and explaining the teachings of Islam in such a way that would restore their middle - course nature and comprehensiveness and eliminate all the ambiguities and lies that may mar their clarity. It should use all the types of media available, from publications to audio and visual aids.
It would be aimed at correcting the perception of Islam in the minds of Muslims and non-Muslims alike, and setting right those wrong concepts and deficient fatwas (legal Islamic opinion) which have proliferated among some groups of the Islamists themselves, so as to lay down a mature, inspired understanding of the Islamic Movement. Such understanding will be based on a legal foundation derived from the texts and goals of Sharia, and it must be especially established among the elite of educated and cultured Muslims who did not actually have a chance to know Islam in a right and proper way.
I believe that all these fields are necessary and that none of them should be neglected or put off. What must be done is to distribute forces and capabilities among them according to what each of them needs on the one hand and what forces and capabilities we have on the other hand.
The Holy Quran forbade that all of the Muslims at the Prophet's time should go to the field of jihad - and what a holy field it was! - and neglect another field that was no less sacred than the field of jihad, and might even have been more sacred at some times because it paved the way for it and reminded Muslims of it and warned them against neglecting it: it is the field of learning their religion well.
In Surat Al-Tauba [Repentance], which denounced those who held back from jihad and promised severest punishment for those who dragged their feet on the way to the battlefield, Allah the Almighty says "Nor should the believers all go forth together. If a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion and admonish their people when they return to them, so that they (may learn) to guard themselves" .
This is a strong call for specialization and for distribution of forces among the fields that need them.
The Islamic Movement should address several matters that. have a particular significance in the next phase in the light of the fiqh of priorities already mentioned. These matters are:
Focussing on certain concepts that have to be clarified, generalized and deepened in the intellectual field. This is what we call the "new figh .
- Focussing on certain social brackets to which the Movement should spread and which the Awakening should include in the field of Muslim call.
- Focussing on a certain qualitative standard in the preparation and qualification of the readerships of the future in the educationa1 field, particularly where the nurturing of faith and thought are concerned.
- Focussing on the development of ideas and practices with regard to local and world political relations, so as to break the Movement's domestic isolation and external blockade and ensure its universality and flexibility in the political field.
We will deal separately with each of those four fields of work.