To Be A Muslim

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  • To Be A Muslim


    Every Muslim has the ability to help the Islamic movement in its course of Islamic work, but only by disciplining himself or herself as a member of the movement in the characteristics described in previous chapters of this book. This character-building can also be accomplished simply by experiencing the hardships faced by the Muslim community and other communities in society. Constructive action requires the members of the movement to rise above these hardships by understanding their causes and putting faith in the power of Islam (submission to Allah) to save mankind. Men and women can be asset to the Islamic Movement only when they have developed a balanced personality, i.e. developed a high level of humanity and internalized the rules of good character, so that they can submit fully to the principles and laws of Islam throughout their lives.

    Quality Over Quantity

    The first requirement is quality. Naturally the Islamic Movement will strive to increase its membership through every way acceptable in Islamic law (shari’ab). But, these ways exclude any effort to recruit members without considering the required conditions of membership, because the quality of the movement is more important than its quantity. The movement must expend much time and energy helping each new member fit into the movement so that he or she can start carrying the load of the movement’s duties and responsibilities. The movement can not bear the burden of unproductive or even counterproductive members for long, because this would threaten its very survival. Allah, the Almighty, has said:

    And on the of Day of Hunain, behold your great number elated you, but they availed you naught, for the land, despite all its vastness, did constrain you, and you turned back in retreat. [ ]

    Large numbers are not decisively important. Priority should be given to those who really fear Allah, the Almighty, and are steadfast and submit totally in pursuing the truth. in certain situations, large numbers can even lead to defeat. When some of the people involved in the movement do not understand the truths of Islam or are not steadfast in observing its teaching, they may become unruly and clamorous during times of hardship, and in the midst of battle they may panic and suffer defeat in jihad.

    The Movement therefore should evaluate and categorize every member, so that it can correctly assess his or her true strengths and design a developmental program tailor-made for each person. This does not mean that some members will be ignored as not worth anybody else’s time, but rather that the Movement may provide sufficient awareness training and education until every member becomes steadfast and reliable.

    Bai’ah and Shari’ah

    Bai’ah means taking an oath of loyalty. Whoever makes bai’ah agrees to submit his entire life to the leader and the ummah. He will not act against the leader in agreed matters, and will be loyal to him in every action, regardless of his personal likes or dislikes.

    Bai’ah is a tradition of the Prophet (s), such as the first and second bai’atal ‘Aqabah and the bai’ah ar-ridwan . This kind of bai’ah was taken regularly after the death of the Prophet (s), whereby the Muslims pledged their loyalty to the leaders of the Muslim community.

    Bukhari narrated from junadah ibn Abi Umaiyah who said that Ubadah ibn Shamit said: "The Prophet (s) called us, and we gave bai’ah to him. He asked us to promise, among other things, to obey in specific matters, whether we like it or not, and whether in happiness or hardship, and not to give priority to ourselves, and not to go against the orders of authority unless we see that they are clearly against Allah’s rules and we have clear witness."

    In his book, Fi al Din al Khair, Sadiq Hasan Khan writes, "This hadith evidences that it was a sunnah to ask the Companions to give bai’ah, and similarly the bai’ah given by the Companions was also a sunnah. To fulfill a bai’ah is a must (wajib) and to violate it is a sin (ma’asia).

    In interpreting this hadith, Ibn Hajar said: "The words ‘whether we like it or not,’ refer to the situations where we are able to do something asked of us." Ad-Daudi said "It refers to something we hate." Ibn At-Tin said, "The obvious meaning concerns times of laziness and hardship." Ibn al-jauzi al Makki then said, "We should not oppose a Muslim government even though the government is cruel until it is clear that it is kufr (not Islam)."

    We must obey the Islamic government in every legitimate matter, whether we like it or not, except when we are asked to commit sins. Only in this situation is it permissible to disobey the government. An honest person should be able to conclude from the above that it is a requirement for him to obey the leader.

    Loyalty And Shari’ah Law

    Loyalty includes obedience to legitimate orders and responsiveness to every request. When loyalty is not observed, there will be iniquity, oppression and persecution. The early signs of these may not be visible to a believer, and so he may feel that nothing is wrong. Therefore he must be careful not to let his speech or action become a source of trial (fitnah) for others and for himself.

    Loyalty is a must so long as it is not sinful or an occasion of sin. Allah, the Almighty, has said:

    O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey His Messenger and those charged with authority among you. If you differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger if you do believe in Allah and the Last Day. This is the best [for you] and best in the end. [Qur’an 4:59]

    It is narrated from Abu Hurairah that the Prophet (s), said:

    Those who obey me obey Allah, the Almighty. Those who disobey me disobey Allah, the Almighty. Those who obey my leader obey me and those who disobey my leader disobey me.

    Bukhari related a hadith from Anas ibn Malik in which Anas said that the Prophet (s), said:

    Listen and obey even though your leader is a slave from Ethiopia.

    Bukhari also has recorded a hadith from Ibn Abbas that the Prophet (s), said:

    Those who dislike something their leader does, must be patient with him because anyone who leaves the jama’ah (community) and later dies in that condition, he dies in jahiliyyah.

    From Abdullah ibn’Umar, Bukhari relates that the Prophet (s), said:

    To listen and obey is a must for every Muslim in every matter whether he likes it or not. But if he is asked to commit sin, then he is not under obligation to listen and obey.

    Bukhari also narrated that ‘Umar AI Khattab said:

    There were many people during the time of the Prophet (s), who were punished on the evidence of Revelation. Now there is no more Revelation. We will punish you for what you do. Those who do good deeds, we will protect and trust them, for we have no right to assert what they intend to do. Allah, the Almighty, will judge intent, which is a matter of one’s heart. Those who show bad deeds to us, we will not protect or trust, even though they might claim to have a good intention.

    The Principles of Bai’ah

    Involvement in the Islamic Movement means direct involvement in Islam. It also means a new compact or covenant with Allah, the Almighty, wherein one is committed to make jihad for the sake of Allah, the Almighty. Defining the principles of bai’ah, Imam Hasan AI Banna said:

    Our principles of bai’ah are ten: understanding, sincerity, ibadah (worship), jihad (struggle), sacrifice, obedience, perseverance, integrity, brotherhood, and trust.

    1) Understanding

    The first principle of Islamic bai’ah is the clear understanding that the philosophy of life, or ideology of the Islamic Movement is a purely Islamic ideology. This philosophy of life contains the following twenty sub-principles:

    a) Islam is a complete system and covers all aspects of life.

    b) The Qur’an and the sunnah of the Prophet (s), are the ultimate sources of reference for all Muslims.

    c) True faith, acceptable worship, and striving for the cause of Allah, the Almighty, are the lights and sweetness given by Allah, the Almighty, to those He chooses. Mystical enlightenment (kashf), dreams, inspiration (ilham), and various other illusions, can not serve as proofs if these are against the teachings of the Islam and shari’ah.

    d) Talismans, charms, palm reading, fortune telling, and horoscopes, as well as everything related, are practices contrary to Islam. They must be fought, including talismans and charms inscribed with verses of the Qur’an such as those compiled by Imam Hasan AI Banna, in his AI-ma’thurat.

    e) The opinions of a leader or his deputies concerning matters of public welfare (maslaha mursalah) can be acceptable if they are not in conflict with the principles of Islamic shari’ah.

    f) The sayings of any person other than the Prophet (s), may be either accepted or rejected on its merits.

    g) A Muslim whose knowledge has not reached a level of discernment sufficient to understand the reasoning behind various rules of Islamic law must follow one of the four most authoritative leaders of the Islamic law - Malik, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Abu Hanifah, and Shaf’i.

    h) Differences of opinion in minor matters of law or details of regulations should not be a reason for causing disunity in the Muslim community.

    i) To discuss theoretical issues and problems that do not benefit one’ s practical life, can be categorized as unduly burdensome and is forbidden by the shari’ah.

    j) To know Allah, the Almighty, to believe in Him and not to admit any rivals to Him, constitutes the core of the Islamic creed. The verses of the Qur’an and ahadith from the Prophet (s) about the attributes of Allah must be accepted without trying unduly to put on them false interpretation, because their true meaning is beyond human experience and comprehension.

    k) All innovations (bid’ah) in the din of Allah that are baseless and have support from the Qur’an or hadith should be countered in a most intelligent way.

    l) Committing bid’ah by deliberately adding or leaving out something from formal worship is a minor problem in Islamic law.

    m) Making supplication (dua) to Allah through an intermediary (tawasul), such as a saint, is also a relatively minor problem of fiqh (Islamic law); it is not a problem of creed or aqidah.

    n) Visiting graves is a sunnah of the Prophet (s), as long as it according to his practice and teachings.

    o) To love and respect pious people because of their piety is a legitimate form of developing closeness to Allah.

    p) Wrong custom cannot legitimize bid’ah or alter the meaning of the shari’ah.

    q) Faith is the basis of worship. Worshipping internally with the mind and heart is better than worshipping externally through the body, but Islam requires both forms of worship for balance and perfection.

    r) Islam liberates the mind and encourages people to observe, analyze and understand the universe as a means to advance them in knowledge and wisdom, because Islam welcomes all useful things.

    s) Human opinion and the shari’ah may legitimately differ, but not on indubitable matters. In such cases positive assertions of law will take precedence over individual opinion. Dubious matters should be interpreted to conform with indubitable truths. Where a person’s opinion differs with the shari’ah, the shari’ah must be followed until the correctness of the person’s opinion is either proven or disproven.

    t) A Muslim should never be deliberately designated as a kafir (an infidel), even though he or she is a sinner, unless he or she should admit to being an unbeliever or act in a way that can not be interpreted as anything other than kufr.

    2) Sincerity

    Every Muslim should aspire only to please Allah in every aspect of his life, whether in word, action, or jihad. He should not look for self-interest, respect, prestige, or title, because a Muslim believes in an ideology and a creed; he is not a fortune-hunter who merely seeks worldly gains.

    3) Worship Through Action (Ibadah)

    The meaning of ibadah is to perfect oneself, to build a Muslim family, educate the community, liberate the Muslim nation, correct a ruler until he follows Islam, regain the respect and influence of the Muslim ummah in the world community, and provide leadership by propagating the message of Islam to the ends of the earth until no trials and barriers are left, and all mankind willingly submits to its Creator, Allah.

    4) Jihad

    Jihad is a continuous struggle that will last till the Day of Judgement. Failure to engage in jihad or to have no intention for it is a sure sign of jahiliyyah, as the Prophet (s), said:

    Those who die and never went to war (in the cause of Allah), nor had the intention of doing so, will die as in the state of jahiliyyah (ignorance).

    5) Sacrifice

    Sacrifice for a Muslim means to sacrifice life, wealth, time, and everything in life for the sake of reaching his ultimate goal.

    6) Obedience

    Obedience for a Muslim means to obey every command and implement it whether in time of happiness or hardship, and whether one likes it or not.

    7) Perseverance

    A Muslim must always worship Allah and wage jihad until death in order to reach his ultimate goal, although the goal is invisible and it takes a long time to achieve. Therefore the steadfast Muslim will achieve this goal either through a lifetime of effort or through sudden death as a martyr.

    8) Integrity

    This means to be true to one’s self, and honest in one’s thinking, to do one believes, and to refuse to compromise with what is false, whether a system or an ideology, for Islam is the most comprehensive and perfect truth. In the words of the Qur’an,

    (Our religion is) the baptism of Allah! And who can baptize better than Allah?

    9) Brotherhood

    Brotherhood is to unite one’s soul and spirit with one’s faith and beliefs.

    10) Trust

    Trust and confidence in competence, sincerity, and ability of leadership inspire feelings of love, appreciation, honor, and obedience.

    The Responsibilities Of A Muslim Brother / Sister

    In his Educational Discourse, Imam Hasan AI Banna outlined more than thirty responsibilities of a member of an Islamic movement. These responsibilities are obligations to himself or herself, family, and community. He said:

    My honest brothers [and sisters], your pledge (bai’ah) requires you to carry out the following duties. Once you have done so, you will be strong and hard as a rock.

    1. Recite the Qur’an, at least a juz (1/30 of the Qur’an) daily. You should finish a reading of the whole Qur’an in no more than a month and no less than three days.
    2. Improve your Qur’anic recitation by listening to good reciters and taking lessons in recitation. Set aside some time to study the life-history of the Prophet (sirah), and the history of Muslims. You should read a lot of books, but a Humatul Islam is a must. Also, you should read a lot of ahadith and memorize at least forty, if possible, from the collection of Imam AI-Nawawi. Last but not least, you should study the basics of Islamic faith (aqidah), Islamic law (fiqh) and its branches.
    3. Have a medical check-up regularly and have a doctor check any ailment. You should take care of your strength and refrain from anything that will harm your body.
    4. Avoid excessive use of coffee, tea and other caffinated drinks, and abstain from smoking.
    5. Practice cleanliness in every aspect of your life, e.g., house, clothing, food, body, and work place. As a matter of fact, Islam has been built on cleanliness.
    6. Speak the truth and never lie even once.
    7. Fulfill your promises and commitments and do not resort to lame excuses.
    8. Be brave and wise. Bravery requires one to talk frankly about what is true and right, to keep secrets, to admit one’s faults, to be aware of oneself, and to keep oneself from getting angry.
    9. Be serious but your seriousness should not stop you from enjoying jokes and laughing.
    10. Be modest, careful, and sensitive to good and bad things by expressing your happiness when experiencing good and gratitude when encountering bad. You should ask for a less prominent position, although you deserve or have a higher one.
    11. Be fair in judging according to sound evidence. Your anger should not make you ignore the good in others and your blessings should not make you forget the bad in others. You should speak the truth even to yourself and to your closest friends, even though it may be painful to do so.
    12. Be active in community service. You should bee happy when you have a chance to help others by visiting a sick person, helping the needy, and offering charity.
    13. Exhibit sympathy, generosity, and forgiveness. You should be tolerant, flexible, and gentle. You should be kind to human beings and animals, have good relations with the community, preserve the courtesies of Islam, be gentle when talking with young people, respect elders, give up a seat to those who need it more, respect others privacy, and neither condemn nor insult others.
    14. Improve your reading and writing skills; increase your knowledge of the Islamic movement [The original reads: Ikhwan Muslimin (or Muslim Brotherhood).] by reading about it. Read newspapers and magazines. You should have a personal library even if it is a small one. You must increase your knowledge both generally and in your specially if you have one. You must be able to understand the problems concerning Muslims in sufficient depth to develop your own solutions in accordance with our ideology.
    15. Work to earn money no matter how rich you are. Give priority to ordinary jobs even though their pay is small, and also give your full attention to this kind of job no matter how high your qualifications are.
    16. Do not work in the government, but do not reject an offer of work in the government, even though the pay is poor, and do not quit unless the work is against Islam.
    17. If you are given a job, work wholeheartedly, and honestly.
    18. Demand and respect the rights of your brother and yourself.
    19. Avoid gambling and unlawful sources of income.
    20. Do not take interest (riba) in any, dealings and you must avoid the circumstances that may lead to it.
    21. Contribute to the material gains encouraged by Islam by promoting private industry, especially Muslim-owned and employee-owned enterprises.
    22. Support da’wah by contributing some of your wealth to the Islamic movement. You must pay the minimally established amount of zakat on your assets because this is the right of those who should receive it.
    23. Keep a small amount of your income for emergency use. Never overspend on luxury goods.
    24. Strive as far as you can to keep alive the beneficial practices of true Islamic culture and eliminate secular culture in your daily conduct. Some of these practices are to greet everyone with salaam, speak the Arabic language, read the sirah, wear modest clothing, maintain regular hours of work, and rest, observe the rules of eating and drinking, and follow the etiquettes of visiting, in accordance with the sunnah of the Prophet (s).
    25. Avoid all newspapers, magazines, clubs, gatherings, and schools that oppose the principles of Islam, unless your reading and activities in such prohibited institutions are designed only to promote the good and oppose the bad.
    26. Always remember Allah, the Almighty, and the Day of judgement. You should look for every means to seek the blessing of Allah, the Almighty, with high spirit and selfesteem. You should always seek to be closer to Allah through voluntary prayer such as night prayer (qiyam al-layl), and fasting at least three days a month. You should use the supplications of the Prophet, (s).
    27. When you clean yourself, always follow the rules and regulations. Always maintain wudu (ablution).
    28. When you perform the daily prayers, do so on time, and always fulfill the rules. Pray in congregation and at the mosques as much as possible.
    29. Observe the fast of Ramadan and go on the hajj as soon as you have the means.
    30. Regularly make the intention to go on jihad with the ambition to die as a martyr. You should be ready for this right now, even though its time may not have come yet.
    31. Regularly renew your repentance, ask for Allah’s forgiveness, and avoid every kind of sin. You should set aside a special time to evaluate yourself before going to bed every night. Always keep track of your time because time means life. Do not misuse your time. Always fear Allah guarding yourself against evil, and keeping away from dubious things so as not to fall into doing the unlawful (haram) things.
    32. Avoid lustful thoughts, emotions, and occasions of sin, for example, by restraining your gaze from haram things, urging your emotions to focus on good deeds, and keeping your heart and desires away from all that is forbidden.
    33. Do not eat or socialize where alcohol is used and consumed.
    34. Do not take immoral people as friends and avoid all places that may lead to sin, such as bars.
    35. Avoid all evil forms and places of entertainment, and in general, avoid the environment of arrogant and extravagant luxury.
    36. Get to know every member of your Movement by introducing yourself to those you do not know. Fulfill the rights of brotherhood as much as you can by showing love and appreciation, by mutual help and giving preference to others and by attending the movement’s gatherings wherever possible.
    37. Dissociate yourself from every gathering or organization that opposes your ideological standpoint, especially when the Movement asks you to do so.
    38. Spread the message of Islam everywhere you go. Keep the leadership informed about all you see that is relevant to its mission, and avoid any actions that might hurt or weaken your leaders and the movement. Always maintain good relations with your direct superior in the leadership. Regard yourself as a soldier in battle ready to go on duty at any time.
    39. Make frequent use of the following supplication known as the wird al rabitah (or supplication of commitment). First, read the following verse carefully:

    Say: O Allah! Lord of Power (and Rule), You give power to whom You please, and You strip off power from whom You please. You endow with honor whom You please, and You bring low whom You please. In Your hand is all good. Verily, over all things You have power. You cause the night to gain on the day, and You cause the day to gain on the night. You bring the living out of dead, and You bring the dead out of the living, and You give sustenance to whom You please, without measure. [Qur’an 3:26-27]

    Then say the following supplication:

    O Allah, this is the arrival of Your night and the departure of Your day. Please forgive me.

    After that bring to mind the face of your closest brother and try to feel a spiritual relationship between you and him and with others whom you do not know, and make the following supplication:

    O Allah, indeed you know that these souls have agreed to love you, to obey you, to cooperate in spreading Your message, and have promised to support and apply your law (shari’ah). O Allah, strengthen our relationship, make our love last, and show us the right way. Fulfill these souls with Your light that never diminishes, expand our souls with the blessings of faith in You, for in You we believe. Enlighten these souls with Your understanding and let us die as martyrs by fighting in Your cause, for indeed You are the best Protector and Helper. O Allah, fulfill these requests, bestow Your blessings and peace on Prophet Muhammad (s), and his family, and his companions. [Imam Hasan AI-Banna Risalat Ta’alim]

    The Responsibilities of Brotherhood

    In Islam, faith or aqidah is the core of brotherhood. it keeps Muslims close to each other in a fraternal relationship. This relationship is based on each brother’s submission to the Lord, the Almighty, and on their mutual efforts to be closer to Him. Islamic brotherhood is a bond of faith as mentioned in the following saying of the Prophet (s):

    The strongest relationship is built on loving for the sake of Allah and becoming angry for the sake of Allah. [Narrated by Ahmad]

    Brotherhood in Islam strengthens the process of building a Muslim community and keeps Muslims close to each other. An Islamic movement based on true brotherhood is as solid as concrete and functions with organic unity as a body that feels the pain when any of its part suffers.

    In order to ensure that brotherhood can play this role in the Muslim Movement, Islam has laid down specific duties and rights of practicing brotherhood. These are given below to show that these duties and rights are not theoretical but are real and true duties and responsibilities:

    1) Brotherhood must be able to help each brother obey Allah, the Almighty, and accept the teachings of the Prophet (s), who said:

    Those whom Allah wishes to be given good deeds, Allah will sustain them by a pious Muslim friend. if he forgets, (to do good deeds] his friend will remind him, and when his friend reminds him, he will help his friend.

    ‘Umar AI Khattab, said: "Seek out trustworthy brothers and live in their community, because they are the embellishers during happiness and suppliers in hardship."

    2) Brotherhood is a spiritual bond that helps a person feel the needs of his brother and cooperate with him in fulfilling those needs, as indicated by the Prophet (s):

    If one of you goes with your brother to help him fulfill his duty, and then the Prophet (s), made a sign with his fingers, added: ‘That is better for him than making i’tikaf [staying in the mosque for worship] in my mosque for two months. [Narrated by AI Hakim]

    3) Brotherhood gives rise to cooperation also in a material sense, as the Prophet (s) said:

    Those who help a Muslim in hardship in this world, will be protected by Allah from suffering hardship in the Hereafter. Those who help the unfortunate, Allah will help them both in this world and in the Hereafter. Those who keep the secrets of a Muslim in this world, will have their secrets kept by Allah in this world and in the Hereafter. Allah will help His servants as long as they help their fellow Muslim brothers.[Narrated by Muslim, Abu D&ud, Tirmidhi, Nasa’i, and Ibn Majah]

    4) Brotherhood is a communal responsibility with many duties. The most important of these is referted to in the following baditb:

    There are six duties of a Muslim to another Muslim: When you meet him, you should say salaam (give salutations). When he invites you, you should accept his invitation. When he advises you, you should also advise him. When he sneezes and says, "Alhamdulillah," [All praise to Allah], you should say, "Yarbamukallah". When he is sick, you should visit him. And when he passes away, you should accompany his dead body to the cemetery. [Narrated by Muslim]

    5) Brotherhood in Islam means caring, loving, and cooperating with one another. In this context, the Prophet (s), said:

    Do not end a friendship, do not turn your back, do not hate each other, and do not envy each other. As a servant of Allah, maintain brotherhood. Two Muslims may not remain on non-speaking terms with each other for more than three days. [Narrated by Malik, Bulchari, Abu Da’ud, Tirmidhi, and Nasa’i]

    In another tradition, the Prophet said:

    Do not downgrade a good deed. Even (an apparently insignificant thing like) looking at your (Muslim) brother with a pleasant smile, is a good deed. [Narrated by Muslim]

    The Prophet (s) said:

    Every good deed is a charity and indeed charity is meeting your brother with a pleasant smile and pouring water from a kettle into his glass. [Narrated by Tirmidhi]

    The Prophet (s), also said:

    Exchange gifts, so that you will love each other and the enmity between you and others will vanish. [Bulchari & Muslim]

    6) Brotherhood in Islam implies loyalty and truthfulness. The Prophet (s) said in one of his traditions:

    If one defends the honor of his fellow Muslim brother, Allah, the Almighty, will keep the Hellfire away from his face in the Hereafter. [Narrated by Tirmidhi]

    The Prophet, peace be upon him, also said:

    The supplication of a Muslim for his brother without his knowledge is an accepted supplication and will be rewarded by the presence of an angel at his side. Every time he supplicates for his brother, the angel will say: Amen, and the same for you too. [Narrated by Muslim]

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