Spring or Fall?

By: Shaykh Dr. Muhammad bin Yahya al Husayni al Ninowy

This Eid al-Adha 1433 H. (Festival of Sacrifice) comes with Muslims facing multiple challenges which include the urgent need to revive the Ummah and connect it back to the basics. This is the Book of Allah Ta’ala and the authentic Sunnah of His Messenger, sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam. This necessitates an academic and spiritual revival, “spring” and renaissance. Another major challenge is the political struggle for a political solution that brings about freedom, rights, and dignity in many majority Muslim countries. Somehow those two issues are connected in a more apparent way than ever before.

The people in the Middle East watched their northern neighbors in Eastern Europe move away from oppressive Communist regimes in the past century, whilst they remained hostage to a variety of oppressive regimes ruling them with totalitarian dictatorships under different flavors, ranging from tribal/nationalism to religious and/or sectarianism and so on. The only victims in all these Muslim countries were the very people, who sacrificed their freedom, opportunity, growth and even dignity so that their ruling regimes remain under the sham banner they raised. It is a sham because such totalitarian regimes failed to deliver the minimum human rights, dignity, justice, freedom, equality, and opportunity to their citizens. What seemed to result from all these flavored dictatorships was one common thing; the reinforcement of the ruling class and its hegemony with a philosophy that only the absolutely necessary change needed to ensure its continuous control was done, everything else was secondary and unimportant.

The true causes of any conflict are usually greed, envy, and ambition, but in an effort to sanitize them, these self-serving emotions have often been cloaked with religious rhetoric. Use (or abuse) of the religion helps mobilize the people and their emotions. Religious abuse becomes especially apparent when it’s not limited to just coating political and economic reform with religious justifications, irrespective of its ethical standing or even consistency with the religion,  but also when it extends to inciting hate, verbal and physical violence as well as aiding and abetting the killing of other human beings by providing the “religious” incentives, encouragement and substantiation.

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From our own Ahlus Sunnah (Sunni) Islamic perspective, no governing system after the “Righteous Khilafa” which lasted 30 years after the departure of the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, is considered truly “righteous” (Khilafa Rashida)- as per the Hasan Hadith of Safina. Though some periods were better than others, such as the 2 years of the ruling of Sayyidina Umar bin Abdul Aziz, and maybe the Abbasid al’Ma’moon, but those relatively principled and just governments were far and few between and do not meet the criteria of Khilafa Rashida (righteous governance). This is not to say that there isn’t any hope. Prophetic instruction has it to exhaust efforts in trying to ensure that justice, freedom, and rights prevail all and every time till the end of times. Sunni Muslims appreciate the Khilafa Rashida for many reasons, including the wide personal and political freedoms society enjoyed back then. An example would be where a lay woman criticized Sayyidina Umar publicly, refuting him, and Umar (radiya’Allahu anhu) yielding to her and then conceding to her righteous argument.

Since the collapse of the Khilafa Rashida, personal and political freedoms were rolled back and a varying forms of dictatorships ruled Muslim-majority lands under the very banner of upholding the religion!. Obviously there are exceptions as far as relative times of freedom, economic prosperity, etc., but those periods of exceptions were not long and their effects were not lasting. A bigger theological crime is when we still coat such regimes with a sacred religious coating. Theologically speaking, its’ once thing to judge the intentions or personal objectives of people, but its totally another to judge an apparent injustice and a clear violation. Needless to say Islam is innocent from any oppression, injustice, and transgression committed, even if it was in its name. This also does not negate the positive accomplishments those governments/dynasties/regimes claimed or attained, nor does it paint them an entirely and purely evil. In summary; the longing of the people in the Middle East and Muslims in general for freedom is indeed long overdue.

Religious tyranny has also accompanied political tyranny to a certain level through out history, but praise due to Allah Ta’ala, Rabbani scholars kept on reviving the soul into people and fought religious tyranny with profound academic knowledge, a call to go back to basics, and spirituality. The role Rabbani scholars played was not always apparent but was surely beneficial. The very important role the Imams of Ahlus Sunnah such as al-Imam al-A’dham Abu Hanifa and Naasir-u-Sunnah al-Imam ash-Shafi’i, and the like (may Allah Ta’ala be pleased with them) played, was essential. Not because they didn’t just oppose political tyranny(whether their own governing regime or other regimes) and refused to be part of their apparatus, and not because they opposed religious tyranny as well, but also because they refused to become one in any way, shape or form, despite the lucrative offers and massive incentives by the regime/other opposing regimes or even by the populous. Religious tyranny is much worse than political tyranny, because it claims to be the sole representative of God!, then may become more delusional and misguided by assuming His authority!. Religious tyranny gives itself the right to any and all kinds of injustice, violates any and everything, and even kills, all in the name of God!. An “unholy” matrimony between religious and political tyrannies, can lead to horrific atrocities, genocide, human suffering, and misery. This phenomenon isn’t limited to a certain culture or people of Muslim faith only.

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The political and social struggle for freedom from oppressive and corrupt regimes in some majority Muslim countries has taken a turn for the worse, especially after the nearly complete departure of the original political/social motives and objectives with the replacement thereof by religious and sectarian rhetoric. The struggle so far has claimed an horrifying level of human casualties and destruction. All people have the right to a dignified life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Muslims in 3rd world countries, and all other human beings, equally deserve: hope, growth and opportunity.

Communication and the Internet has turned the the world into a small village. Young people anywhere can connect together via Facebook, Twitter, etc, learn from each other, and share their experiences, views, and dreams. This was always going to lead to an inevitable conflict and triggered social and political change in relatively disadvantaged societies. I am not a politician, political analyst nor do I claim anything but political ignorance. But if history is to teach us anything, it would be that political tyrannies plan to rule people forever. They will do any and everything to turn the whole country- and the whole world if they could- into a personal/family/group dynasty. This isn’t something new or native to any religious, ethnic or social section of humanity. Our own history is rife with such dynasties, so are other people of other faith systems and ethnicity.

However, religion which came to help all people was interjected into the political scene especially in the recent Middle East and North African “spring”, “revolutions” or “conflicts”, sometimes in an acceptable and often in a twisted way.

Islam as a main global faith system along with all Abrahamic faith systems came to afford every human being dignity and happiness. This is the original message. But there has been much flagrant abuse of religion in recent years. Terrorists have used their faith to justify atrocities that violate its most sacred values. The basis for inciting this abhorrent verbal and physical violence or justifying it emerged as: “needed political reform (islaah)”. This call for political and economic reform has been given a Shar’i clothing blindly without examining what and which part of it, is Shar’i or not. Such sought reform will be at best partial, and nowhere near what the Fiqhi schools have drawn as what the picture should be for such reform. This is coupled with a lack of detailed planning and an unclear long term vision with such reform. This is not surprising since the political scene was moving very fast for anyone to be ready and prepared, especially with the oppressive regimes’ decades long practice of crippling any shy attempts of reform, and sidelining and crushing any reformer. But with no plans, vision, or experience, things can turn out to be disastrous.

The core mission of every Prophet since Adam (alayhi assalam) in its essence is reform. Shar’i reform entails among many things; dignified life, liberty, positive contribution and the pursuit of happiness. This is afforded to every human being, for the Shar’i reform is meant to give all people, regardless of background; hope, growth, and opportunity. Yes, religion demands reform in the face of injustice and tyranny or any other imbalance. Religion demands political reform, economic reform, social reform and spiritual reform. But the religion also observes the most sacred entity on earth -before, during and after the process of reform; the human soul, and its sanctity. Therefore true religious (islaah) reform is humane, realistic and reasonable in the first place,  then requires serious devotion and selfless efforts.

Every learned and sincere Muslim understands that afflictions and problems our Ummah is suffering from these days cannot be cured by wishful thinking, dreams, slogans, issuing statements,  mobilizing the emotions of the Muslim masses to adopt verbal or/and physical violence, nor channeling their energy into a set of reactions and non-beneficial avenues. Rather they need to be dealt with in a systematic and structured way. The least we can do in this rush is to examine our own history and similar experiences that have been laid down for us for over a 1300-year span in similar events and situations, where 1000’s of our top scholarly pious predecessors exhausted their knowledge and efforts to bring about reform and positive outcome. Qualified Rabbani reformers, not just preachers –as the Hadith of Hudhayfa mentions- who prioritize the Qur’an then the authentic Sunnah and seek to the balance the Prophetic instructions with the Shar’i policies, administrative needs, Usuli Maqased (foundational objectives) along with a realistic understanding and a measurable actual capacity (istitaa’a) are the ones who carry on and in a non-binding fashion lead a consistent and clear Rabbani methodology. A methodology that necessitates two elements:

1- Sound and comprehensive understanding of the Texts (Qur’an/Sunnah), various similar situations in the Salaf time and how it was handled, and a true knowledge of the reality;

2- Pure intentions conditioned by a far vision that is consistent with the Shar’i Maqased.

From our 1400 year history any scholar can deduce in a definitive way and above any uncertainty that a Shar’i reform and renaissance is not achieved by establishing and/or abetting violent movements, by having a few changes in an essentially corrupt governmental body, a few political/religious symbols/figures defeated, support of certain political or financial powers, or clapping of the masses.

Shar’i reform and renaissance require:

1- Practical application of the concept of: enjoining the good;

2- Knowledge of the moment, and reality;

3-The Fiqh of Priorities (Awlawiyyaat) and the Fiqh of balancing the pros and cons (Mawazanat’ul Masaaleh wal Mafaased);

4- Capacity; Shar’i reform is hinged on an actual and measurable capacity to do so (istitaa’a).
The Prophetic example over 23 years shows reform to be in three consecutive spheres:

  • Deeni (theological i.e. Believe in The Creator, Messengers, Scriptures, and the conjoined practice of the revealed principles such as Justice for all, Truthfulness, Trustworthyness, Equality, unconditional Compassion, Kindness, Forgiveness, Love, etc…)
  • Social
  • and then Political

Furthermore each of the three spheres has phases within itself. Abruptly mobilizing the masses to move from an incomplete and seriously lacking Deeni reform to the social reform or from an inadequate Deeni reform right onto the political reform, without the Prophetic gradual approach and encompassing methodology, knowledge and capacity, will inevitably lead to disasters. These will range from wasting time, efforts, opportunity to more devastation, bloodshed, total mayhem, destruction and confusion. Such confusion may lead to replacing the fundamental pillars of our faith from an unconditionally compassionate, kind, and caring faith to one that erects walls of hate under the banner of love, and espouses violence and destruction instead of peace and positive contribution. Islam came to give all people –in fact all creation- unconditional compassion and mercy. Islam came to give people -ALL people- life, not to take that away from them. Lack of following the comprehensive Prophetic model may -despite good intentions- expose the Ummah to further infliction,  pains, and long lasting destructive effects.
The purpose of Shar’i reform is servitude of humanity in affirming the right of and affording every human being with dignity, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That’s what the Shari’a came to do. I feel those words are adequate and essential in our Islamic Texts (Qur’an and authentic Prophetic Sunnah).

All this can take us to the understanding that Islam and the practice of Islam is not about mastering the rules of Fiqh and speaking in jurists terms all the time but knowing the necessary Fiqh and mastering the concepts of living and practicing justice, kindness, positive contribution, love, compassion and more. Being a Muslim does not end at technically mastering how to pray the 5 times, fast Ramadan, the theoretical Tawhid, giving Alms, Hajj and some issues here and there. In other words, if worship is only information rather than transformation then we haven’t even started. i.e. if that performed Salah(prayers) or Fasting (Siyam) does not transform you, then there is a very serious problem in this kind of worship and this understanding. There is a big difference between gathering information and realization (Ma’rifah), the latter is what is sought by Islam for us. There is a reform that is urgently needed.
From a reviving point of view and objective we can only view people who are intolerant of secondary issues as victims of the limited knowledge they have, for true knowledge humbles a human being and gives a sense of recognition to a lot that we do not actually know. But the Ummah is a trust – everyone based on their capacity- and so is its future, and, therefore, it is imperative that we strive to increase the awareness. This must be done on two levels:

1- Increasing the Islamic education of the Muslim masses by prioritizing the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah and putting the masses directly in touch with, and inspire them to develop an attachment to, the Book and Sunnah and then prioritize them in belief, word and action, and stand corrected based on them. Encouraging them to ask questions, demand full and complete answers, research, check and cross-reference, develop think-tanks, and not just blindly follow.

2- We must raise the bar and demand continuous studies and academic research from all Imams, preachers and scholars, through meaningful and tangible mechanisms. i.e. “if you stop learning today, you cannot teach tomorrow,” as Sayyidi Al-Waled; Sayyed Yahya (rahimahu Allahu Ta’ala) used to say. This is the only way to raise the knowledge of the masses, encourage their engagement and replace parroting with critical thinking for leadership and masses alike.

Yes, the need for religious, social and political reform is urgent in many Muslim societies, if not most. But since the priority is to the Qur’an let us see how it articulates the foundation of reform:
Where is change most effective?

Allah Ta’ala tells us:
إِنَّ اللَّهَ لا يُغَيِّرُ مَا بِقَوْمٍ حَتَّى يُغَيِّرُوا مَا بِأَنْفُسِهِمْ

Surah ar-Ra’d, verse 11, which means: (Allah does not change the conditions of people, until they (initiate the) change themselves).

As if the Ayah is mentioning that once people initiate the change within themselves for the better their situation individually and collectively will inevitably change for the better. In other words: “be the change you want to see,” or in other words “you are the change or lack thereof that is in you.”

This change or reform needs to start from the level of the intimate thoughts, ending and connecting with the reform and change of the whole universe. Your thoughts may become your words, and your words may become your actions, and your actions may become your habits, and your habits may become your fate based on the above verse. Changing/reforming our thoughts, then reforming our conscious will, then reforming our uttered words, then reforming our relationship with Allah Ta’ala, The Creator by re-examining our actions and worship, then reforming our relationships with ourselves, our families, friends, community, society, and then the world as a whole. Then, and only then we can effectively and efficiently positively contribute to the happiness of all human beings and become a channel of the unconditional Muhammadan compassion sought by Muslims to all. Then, and only then can we effectively and efficiently contribute to the dialogue and extend our hand to different civilizations rather than taking part in the clash of civilizations. The message of hope, growth and opportunity is something our Deen commanded us to carry effectively, not just to talk about.

Shar’i reform cannot remain a hypothesis but should find its way to practice and embodiment. The Rabbani reformist -all the Prophets were Rabbani reformists- has a far vision that is comprehensive, consistent and serene, which separates the Rabbani/Prophetic-based reform from the risky gambling of the immature, wishful thinking of the unable, hazards of the ignorant, and the jeopardies of politicians. Once the plan is clear, the priorities are instantly recognizable, the intentions and motives are pure, and the beginning and means are accessible, then the gradual process can begin by:

1-      Reforming the thought. This is a must at the beginning, because of the serious consequences and ramification of the mere thought, even if not followed by a confirming action. Hence, the Prophetic Sunnah insists on the importance of the Niyyah (affirmed thought) as Imam al-Bukhari narrated in his Saheeh as the first Hadith.

The mere thought is very powerful and has eminent and widespread effects, therefore reform must start there and the Niyyah must be corrected. For a definitive example on the actual consequences of an evil thought uncoupled by any physical action, please refer to Surah al-Qalam ayahs 17-33. Ayahs 17-20 introduce the event:

إِنَّا بَلَوْنَاهُمْ كَمَا بَلَوْنَآ أَصْحَابَ الْجَنَّةِ إِذْ أَقْسَمُواْ لَيَصْرِمُنَّهَا مُصْبِحِينَ * وَلاَ يَسْتَثْنُونَ. فَطَافَ عَلَيْهَا طَآئِفٌ مِّن رَّبِّكَ وَهُمْ نَآئِمُونَ * فَأَصْبَحَتْ كَالصَّرِيمِ
Which means: We have tried them as We tried the owners of the farmland when they vowed that they would pluck its fruit next morning, and without exception (they would refuse giving the charity their father used to give from his farmland) Then your Lord sent a visitation to it while they slept (destroying it all).

Intentions and thoughts are connected to the soul and to the universe, and therefore affect both tremendously. Correcting them is the first step, for a human being is a soul before body.

This is also clear in Surah Baqara, verse 284:

للَّهِ ما فِي السَّمَاواتِ وَمَا فِي الأَرْضِ وَإِن تُبْدُواْ مَا فِي أَنْفُسِكُمْ أَوْ تُخْفُوهُ يُحَاسِبْكُمْ بِهِ اللَّهُ فَيَغْفِرُ لِمَن يَشَآءُ وَيُعَذِّبُ مَن يَشَآءُ وَاللَّهُ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ

Which means: (if you express what is within yourself or keep it hidden, Allah will hold you accountable to it, forgiving whomever He wants and punishing whomever He wants, and He is The Omnipotent).

The thoughts are reformed by the pure belief in Allah, The Creator and by the practice of Muraqabah (observing that Allah is observing everything you think, say, and do), which is effectively the Maqam of Ihsan as per the Hadith in Sahih Muslim.

2-      Reforming our conscious will. This requires a constant check of our will, whether we are wanting or willing to do something because it is what gets people to clap, praise and follow us or the opposite. Or is it because we want to be different just to be different? Such will is ill, and must be purified. The conscious will of the reformist must be reforming, i.e. transformational in and within itself to the reformist and to people, so that individually and collectively sayings, actions and even thoughts are pure and purifying, valid and validating, reformed and reforming, transformed and transforming. The key to reforming the will is absolutely pure sincerity and spiritual transparency (Ikhlaas). This is exemplified by the Qur’an in Surah Hud, verse 88:

قَالَ يقَوْمِ أَرَأَيْتُمْ إِن كُنتُ عَلَى بَيِّنَةٍ مِّن رَّبِّي وَرَزَقَنِي مِنْهُ رِزْقاً حَسَناً وَمَآ أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُخَالِفَكُمْ إِلَى مَآ أَنْهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ إِنْ

أُرِيدُ إِلاَّ الإِصْلاَحَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ وَمَا تَوْفِيقِي إِلاَّ بِاللَّهِ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَإِلَيْهِ أُنِيبُ

Which means: ‘He said: O my people! Bethink you: I am (acting) on a clear proof from my Lord and He sustains me with good sustenance from Him. I desire not, to disagree with you, something which I ask you not to do. But I desire to initiate reform to the extent of my ability. My welfare is only in Allah. In Him I trust and unto Him I turn.’

This verse contains all that is needed for a Prophetic-style-reform. Notice him declaring that his will or desire is clear from any illness making it transparent and pure for Allah Ta’ala’s sake only. Then he –alayhi assalam- mentioned “reform” in its most comprehensive meaning as he –alayhi assalam- left it unrestricted yet conditioned it with capacity i.e. reform must be conditioned with capacity. Capacity may include but limited to the ability to mobilize, secure proper and pure means and sustenance and provide a clear flag, vision and lead-by-example with a consistent yet accountable, text-based leadership. By texts I mean the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah, i.e avoiding other sources, as they may bring division and disunity, when unity is needed most. This necessitates the highest level of authentic and unquestionable textual evidence.

3-      Reforming the word. This entails reforming uttered words in public and private. Terrorism always starts with verbal violence as an initial stage before progressing to physical and intellectual terrorism is just as evil as physical terrorism. Uttered words also have a consequence similar to thoughts onto one’s self and surrounding. In fact, while the wounds of a knife may heal quickly, the wounds of a word may never heal, for words are sharper than swords. The harm caused is always much more harmful to the utterer rather than anyone else. Hence the Qur’an insists that reforming the words are key to having ease in our actions and deeds and key to forgiveness of all of our sins. Allah Ta’ala said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا اتَّقُوا اللَّهَ وَقُولُوا قَوْلًا سَدِيدًا يُصْلِحْ لَكُمْ أَعْمَالَكُمْ وَيَغْفِرْ لَكُمْ ذُنُوبَكُمْ وَمَنْ يُطِعِ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ فَقَدْ فَازَ فَوْزًا عَظِيمًا

Which means: ‘O’ you who believe be pious with Allah and say righteous words, He will mend your deeds for you and forgive your sins, and whosoever obeys Allah and His Messenger has succeeded indeed.’

At-Tirmidhi narrated in his Sunnan with an authentic Sanad:

ألا أخبرك بملاك ذلك كله؟

قال : بلى يا رسول الله ، فأخذ بلسان نفسه ثم قال : كف عليك هذا ، فقال : وإنا لمؤاخذون بما نتكلم به ؟ فقال: ثكلتك أمك يا معاذ، وهل يكب الناس على وجوههم – أو على مناخرهم – إلا حصائد ألسنتهم

 

Which means:  The Prophet –sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam-said: ‘Should I tell you about the key to all that? I said: yes, O Messenger of Allah. He then held on to his tongue and said: Control this. I said: Are we accountable for our words? He said: Wow to you Muadh, isn’t what makes people fall onto their faces in the Day of Judgment but the result of their tongues.’

Al-Mundhiri narrated in his Targheeb with a Hasan Sanad to Anas (radiya’Allahu anhu):

لا يَسْتَقِيمَ إيمانُ عَبْدٍ حَتَّى يَسْتَقِيمَ قَلْبُهُ وَلاَ يَسْتَقِيمَ قَلْبُهُ حتى يَسْتَقِيمَ لِسَانُهُ، ولا يَدْخُلُ رَجُلٌ الجنة، لا يأمَنْ جَارُهُ بوَائِقَه

Which means: ‘ One’s faith is not good until one’s heart is good, and one’s heart is not good until one’s tongue is good. A person whose neighbor is not safe from his evil, does not enter Jannah’.

The key to reforming our words is truthfulness and self-accountability. Speak the truth though against yourself.

4-      Reforming our relationship with Allah Ta’ala. By re-examining our actions and worship. Allah Ta’ala said in Surah Araaf verse 170:

{وَالَّذِينَ يُمَسِّكُونَ بِالْكِتَابِ وَأَقَامُواْ الصَّلاَةَ إِنَّا لاَ نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُصْلِحِينَ}

Which means: ‘And those who hold onto the Book, and established the Prayers, we will not let the reward of the reformers go in vain.’

The key to reforming this relationship is what the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said, in what Imam Muslim narrated in his Saheeh:

أنْ تَعْبُدَ اللَّهِ كأَنَّكَ تَراهُ، فإنْ لم تَكُنْ تَراهُ فإِنَّهُ يراك

Which means: ‘It is that you worship Allah as if you are seeing Him. If you are not, He certainly is seeing you.’

5-      Reforming our relationships with all, in general. This is with ourselves, our families, friends, community, society, and then the world as a whole. The basis for this is what Allah Ta’ala said in Surah Nahl, verse 90:

{إِنَّ اللَّهَ يَأْمُرُ بِالْعَدْلِ وَالإحْسَانِ وَإِيتَآءِ ذِي الْقُرْبَى وَيَنْهَى عَنِ الْفَحْشَاءِ وَالْمُنْكَرِ وَالْبَغْيِ يَعِظُكُمْ لَعَلَّكُمْ تَذَكَّرُونَ}

 

Which means: ‘Allah commands Justice, Kindness, and caring for those of kin, and forbids vileness, corruption, and transgression. He exhorts you in order that you may take heed.’

The key to dealing with self and others is through two Qur’anic mandates. One is verse 65 Surah al-Hajj:

ان الله بالناس لرؤوف رحيم

Which means: ‘Allah is the most kind and the most compassionate with all humankind.’

The second is verse 61 in Surah Hud:

هُوَ أَنشَأَكُمْ مِّنَ الأَرْضِ وَاسْتَعْمَرَكُمْ فِيهَا

Which means: ‘He brought you forth from earth, and demanded that you positively contribute to it’.

This lays out the mission of the Muslim on earth, not regarding our fellow humans only, but earth as a whole with everything on it and in it and relates to it. The duty is: compassionate based positive contribution in an unconditional way. This framework is foundational, fundamental and unchangeable.

In addition to the above, any reform, and especially Shar’i reform and renaissance is hinged on the Shar’i  (measurable and actual) ability and capacity to carry out such theoretical plans, otherwise it’s all wishful thinking, for there is no Shar’i obligation with an existing inability or incapacitation.  The Shar’i capacity entails the ability to execute reform with all its components and reach the objective without eminent or devastating harm. This is because Islam does not look at the need for reform only, but prioritizes and considers the reform with all its components, possibilities, along with a real examination of the balancing between the pros and cons, with the consideration that the priority is such balancing i.e. the known Usuli rule: (Warding off Mafaasid/harms is prioritized over bringing on Masaaleh/benefits). If for example, sought reforms cannot take place without eminent harms extending to and compromising the very Maqased of Shari’a (such as the inviolable sanctity of the human life: Hifdhu-Nafs), then this may be an incapacitation that temporarily sanctions such sought reforms as prohibited. Consequently, carrying out such reforms becomes a flagrant violation, especially if the main means of carrying out such reform becomes violence, whether verbal, physical or both, disregard of the human life, property, and dignity. The Prophet-sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam often denied requests from some companions who sought violent means of reform, citing that he was not ordered to fight now, or that he was sent as a benediction and not a malediction. In fact, the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, refused any violence to be portrayed against the Munafiqin (hypocrites) who were mingled within the Prophetic community and caused some serious “national security” threats. Yet the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, despite his definitive knowledge of such personalities, did not consider that their threat and harm was enough to order their trial and execution. One may cite an imminent benefit in ridding a starting community from harmful and destructive elements, yet it seems that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, saw that the harm in such a precedence was far worse than the benefit of affording the whole city a peaceful existence. Hence he unequivocally prohibited anyone from the mere thought of such a move, citing that: “people should not think that Muhammad kills those around him,” for the benefit of Ta’leef (bringing the hearts to tranquility) is far better than Tanfeer (allowing fear to rule).

In current examples of violence cloaked with religious rhetoric, the biggest victim of all, are the innocent Muslims who are the silent majority. There is no winning in employing violence, it is a lose-lose situation. Violence and hate can never be means to Shar’i reform nor is it a Shar’i call of any Islamic merit. Islam views violence as the language of the inarticulate. Violence is not viable with Islam and is inconsistent with its codes and ethics. Twisting the texts and scriptures around does not make the claim legitimate. Therefore this is a call to action for all to be alert that any non-compassionate interpretation of the Qur’anic or Prophetic texts is illegitimate and hence flat out rejected.

Spring or fall

Observing the Prophetic example, sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, one can clearly see that the true Shar’i reform and renaissance is that which is comprehensive and gradual not the inadequate and abrupt.

The defect is not only limited to hastening one of the 3 spheres and jumping right on to the political reform and gains – almost a naïve thought of quick, swift and perfect change- but the defect also extends to a lack of knowledge of Means (Wasaa’el and Maqaased), objectives as well as a lack of understanding the actual reality around them and methodologies needed with real and clear planning or vision.

Principally, Shar’i reform aims to keep the good that currently exists and re-introduce the good that has been lost. This allows the Rabbani reformer/positive contributor to work on securing benefits (Masaaleh) and eradicating corruption (Mafaased), so that all layers of society can gradually benefit in a concrete yet relative fashion. Figuring out this path, and gradually working on reform is not based on human “trial and error” experiences, hypotheses and established theories only. But its core is founded on the definitive Shar’i facts and Rabbani methodologies used by Prophets and Messengers to bring about reform to their people, which the Qur’an and Sunnah clearly illustrated. Among such Shar’i facts is unconditional compassion to all human beings and the genuine concern for the wellbeing of every creation. ‘It’s simple; Love The Creator, love the creation.’

I say that because in recent decades we have gone extreme in amplifying “secondary issues = with room for disagreement” over the major concepts of the Qur’an and authentic Sunnah. If we can call this phenomenon: “over-Fiqh’isation” of everything, I would explain it to be as an interest to learn and adopt a jurist or a judge’s approach to an (non- definitively authentic) issue such as in matters of Ibadaat (worship = detailed micro mechanics of Salat or Siyam, etc.). This over-Fiqhi’sation approach is usually mathematical and rigid in the sense that it is a list of Do’s and Don’ts, coupled with an excessive thirst for absolute conformity. This maybe fine in carving out a Madh’habi view on a certain Fiqh issue, but if such “over-Fiqh’isation” of things is to be extended to all aspects of faith this  will lead people (scholars and masses) to a quest to amass more rules, invent, preach, and practice more rules. The whole faith becomes restricted to a list of Do’s and Don’ts-ritual rather than academic and spiritual.

By examining the major concepts of the Book of Allah Ta’ala we find that the main concepts after Tawheed are to be Just with one’s self and others, to practice Ihsan (which may mean: ‘if you are good to those who are good to you, then what good are you.’) and kindness to those of kin. Mind you; all humanity is kin.  We see encouragement to love Allah and love people to be thankful to Allah and thankful to people and to serve Allah Ta’ala sincerely by serving people, etc. Even acts of worship in themselves are no good, if this worship doesn’t change your heart. i.e. a loving heart is the beginning of all worship and all knowledge. We see then, that there is a need for political reform, but other reforms maybe as important, if not more. Political reform will not by itself shape justice, equality, kindness and caring within a society. It is a two way street. The people yield their political leadership and the political leadership yields to its responsible and actively involved educated people. Ignorance is the people’s biggest enemy, not political tyrannies. Political and religious tyrannies employ “ignorance” to remain afloat.

As for tolerating the differences intra-islamically, well if we had learnt anything from the Sahaba (may Allah Ta’ala be pleased with them all) then we learnt that unity does not necessarily mean conformity. The recent days groups/sub-sects’ intolerance that was promoted, preached and applied towards any minor disagreement only leads to the inevitable; a culture where the Imams or “scholars” preside over a “religious tyranny.” And lead a religious/theological dictatorship, where their followers parrot what they are told as the Deen and the Sunnah, even if it strikes the core of the Deen and Sunnah. i.e. imposing on the Ummah more than what the Qur’an and Sunnah explicitly imposed, thus becoming more “Sunni” than the “Sunnah” itself! This results in the fragmentation of the Ummah into cults and a cult culture which has two bases:

1- Absolute belief in self-righteousness

2- Lack of internal accountability, constructive criticism, and self-reform

Cult culture cannot be founded on compassion and love, let alone excusing the disagreements as academic or reasonable deductions. It is not concerned with the genuine well being of every human being, because it sees itself as the only one meant with the mercy of the universal Muhammadan Message and the only one worthy of its praise, justice, love and compassion.

Now, the aforementioned stipulations for reform do not under any circumstances discourage people from saying the truth, leading reforms, and standing up to tyrants –according to the Prophetic methodology. It does not entail that one should just side with oppression, evil, or wrong, because the benefit outweighs the harm. It does NOT mean that you do not do anything to secure a basic human right in the social and political arena just because the Deeni reform has not been perfected yet. It does not mean that you do not -when attacked- defend yourself, honor, property and dignity (Daf’u-Saa’el). It is a call to action. It is not a passive call, but a positive call. Work and do all you can do in a non-violent, peaceful way, minding the Prophetic methodology. The Prophetic methodology is gradual, structured, and comprehensive. It ensures a more positive outcome, ridding of the political opportunists and the pleasure and blessing of The Creator. It is compassion-based positive contribution that seeks to extend a kind and loving hand to all humankind, regardless of creed, ethnicity or background. The Prophetic methodology of Islaah (reform) is not passive. On the contrary, it is very active spiritually, mentally and emotionally in resisting evil. It is also very active physically in resisting evil, except when it comes to inflicting pain on fellow human beings and fellow creation, that’s when the Prophetic methodology relinquishes its own right and/or prioritizes other benefits (Masaaleh) to the extent of suffering from violence rather than inflicting it.

Among the benefits of Rabbani reform is the reinforcement of the Rabbani connection with Allah Almighty and the absolute belief in His Justice. This serves also as a powerful persuasion of the opponent as to the righteousness of the Rabbani reform. Again, this does not mean you one relies on the eventual apparent Rabbani Justice to prevail, but to work as much as possible to change and brings about justice without violating the Shar’i Maqased. Numerous authentic narrations reflect that the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, saw evil doers as victims. Victims of their own ignorance of the true reality that what goes around comes around and that there is a Just Creator who accounts for everything and everyone and that Haqq (truth and Justice) will eventually prevail. Therefore the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam was trying to defeat evil not evil doers, in fact, he was trying to win them over to the right side. He did not consider them the enemy that must be eliminated, but a Dawah project in progress and recipients of his unconditional compassion. He, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, didn’t just open his door, but also his mind and heart to those who were worshiping idols before.What they saw from his character and compassionate message transformed them into the first and best generation of Muslims. This is because his love, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, was active not passive, was practice not just theory, and that’s why he sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam used to give willingly and unconditionally, such as in Al- Hudaybiyah, despite knowing that the payback may be hostility. The Prophetic method was not only gradual, but wise, and comprehensive. This is because it was trying to build a loving world community and offer hope to all of humanity. Again, the gradual and prophetic model does not mean you do not do anything and wait to see Allah’s Justice prevail. But that you are obliged to do everything you possibly can, in this gradual, comprehensive, non-violent, compassionate Prophetic way.

karbala__imam_hussain_a_by_twelfth_star-d53stya

Finally, there has been a revolution that has rocked the Muslim world over 1200 years ago; namely Imam al-Husayn, son of Ali and Fatima, may Allah Ta’ala shower them with His blessings. It seems convenient for some people or groups to only talk about al-Husayn when they try to associate their violent struggle with his movement. This comparison is inadequate to say the least, for many reasons:

1-    There are authentic Prophetic narrations sanctioning the status, understanding and leadership of al-Husayn specifically, the least of which is the command to hold onto their example, as in the Hadith of Zayd and Sa’ed in Sahih Muslim and Tirmidhi, and the Hadith: Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn, etc..

2-    Al-Husayn did not declare a violent revolution; rather al-Husayn was the victim of violence. There was no declaration of any violence by him anywhere and the pledges he received from supporters in Kufa did not come true, but even had they come true, he never specified what and how he was going to manage them. Al-Husayn was trying to increase public awareness and support, until he reaches the critical mass necessary for the natural collapse of tyranny. The movement of al-Imam al-Husayn was a noble and a non-violent revolution.

3-    Al-Husayn did not declare a “call to kill” all those who support Yazid or his associates. Al-Husayn did not declare a call to even kill all the soldiers of Yazid who came to fight him. Al-Husayn was forced to fight -in an absolute final step of true self-defense against the Yazidi soldiers directly attacking him only.

4-    Al-Husayn based on his own account and according to all historical narrations, never said he was seeking a political leadership, but rather a religious reform he saw urgently needed in a political system where the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, himself warned from in a Hasan narration and many others: that the first to change his Sunnah is a man from Bani Umayyah. Authentic narrations in Bukhari, Muslim and other references reflect a state where many things of the Deen were changed and one can see the tears of Anas (radiya’Allahu anhu) in Bukhari when he entered Damascus and cited explicitly that the Deen has been changed. Al-Husayn had a religious obligation to stand up and not give legitimacy to an oppressive and tyrant regime that mocked and distorted the very faith it claimed to take its legitimacy of ruling from (i.e. not a declared secular or other political systems). Hence, al-Husayn had a Shari’i reform demands from a tyranny that claimed and took legitimacy from claiming that it is Shari’i. i.e. changing the Deen of Sayyidina Muhammad under the very name of the Deen.

5-    Al-Husayn was forced into a fight when they gave him no choice; either he condones the tyrant ruler Yazid as a “Righteous ruler representing Islam and Prophetic Sunnah” or faces death. He chose to die on his feet rather than live on his knees. Historians narrated the refusal of Yazid’s army to even allow al-Husayn and his family to return back to Madina peacefully, on a last ditch effort by al-Husayn to avoid any violence. Yazid’s army gave al-Husayn one option: give allegiance now to the “Khalifa Yazid” then be brought to Damascus to sit before Yazid as a captured rebel/criminal. and Yazid then, “the khalifa” in Damascus will make his judgment to execute or pardon. There was no other option.

6-    In fact, the whole point of al-Husayn by leaving Madina, then leaving Makkah on the day of Tarwiyah (Hajj= 8th Dhul Hijjah) was exactly to avoid violence by the tyrant government onto the people of Makkah, and to avoid having the homes, businesses and lives of people destroyed, had he stayed there and sought refuge in Makkah by the sacred Ka’ba. By going to Iraq al-Husayn saved the Ka’ba itself from violence and destruction, for he knew that nothing stops this tyranny and Yazid would not hesitate to destroy Makkah and the Ka`ba and kill all the people there, and any other sacred place or principle, if needed to get al-Husayn and enforce his tyranny. But the response of al-Husayn must bring no violence, harm and misery onto people, all people. This was the principle of al-Husayn. If al-Husayn’s personal sacrifice saves people from further violence and atrocities and brings about awakening and deliverance at the same time, then so be it. Even by al-Huysan leaving Makkah when the whole Muslim Ummah is arriving and gathering in Makkah (8th Dhul Hijjah) without him declaring a revolution to the masses or at least attempting to, or recruiting the masses to come with him or fight with him, or stand up and take up arms, in indicative enough. He could have been the sole orator during that Hajj, whom all people would love to listen to and maybe mobilized by. He chose to abandon endangering innocent people’s lives, places or worship, homes, and travel, and went to Iraq alone, knowing full well that people have already abandoned their pledge to him there. He received the news about their betrayal before he left Madina, and before he left Makkah, and on the way from Makkah to Iraq, where he could have easily turned back, but there was a message al-Husayn wanted to give and a deliverance and an awakening that was necessary for the soul of the Deen to remain.

7-    Therefore he did not call the public to join him -as a mandate/Jihad-, let alone actively seek and rally foreign help with ambiguous objectives against the evil Yazid. He accepted from those who voluntarily pledged to him and joined. But then before the actual battle he released from that pledge the very few who were with him and begged them to save themselves from the oncoming violence, and that he is willing to stay behind as a cover for them to leave and save themselves, then ending up alone facing the whole army of Yazid.

8-    Al-Husayn did everything to save human lives, even that of his enemies- not endanger them-, and to keep them out of the danger of blind violence. The sacred Ka’ba ended up burned and destroyed later after the massacre of Imam al-Husayn, and then once again during Abdullah bin Zubayr’s revolution, on the hands of the same dynasty.

9-    The whole revolution of al-Husayn was a non-violent movement in principle, practice and objective.

Al-Husayn’s revolution was a spiritual, academic, intellectual and a theological revolution. It was not a call to kill or destroy, not even the enemy. It was a call to live and construct. It was a call to revive and a wake-up call for the Umma hand give a second and third and more chances to Yazid and his army. He took every single measure possible to avoid violence and save the masses from any misery, pain and destruction. Through this vision, we can reconcile al-Husayn’s move with the stance of Ibn Umar, who on the contrary did give a pledge of obedience to Yazid and forbade rebelling against him. The Fiqh of priority was present in both men, and everyone did what he was capable to do, keeping the Maqased of Shari’a a priority, which entails saving people’s lives, dignity, property, religiosity, etc. A final point I’d like to point to is, that Al-Husayn’s flag was not a blind, inconspicuous and vague flag. i.e. his flag, his mission and the support for this mission and flag were all very clear and unambiguous. People who were with him, knew that they are under a clear and clean flag. It was a unified flag under the banner of the Book and Sunnah. There was no tyranny or tyrants associated with this flag in anyway. Al-Husayn was mindful of his grandfather’s Sunnah, which Imam Muslim narrated in his Sahih on the authority of Abu Hurayra (ra):

وَمَنْ قَاتَلَ تَحْتَ رَايَةٍ عِمِّيَّةٍ يَغْضَبُ لِعَصَبَةٍ أَوْ يَدْعُو إِلَى عَصَبَةٍ أَوْ يَنْصُرُ عَصَبَةً فَقُتِلَ فَقِتْلَةٌ جَاهِلِيَّةٌ، وَمَنْ خَرَجَ عَلَى أُمَّتِي يَضْرِبُ بَرَّهَا وَفَاجِرَهَا وَلَا يَتَحَاشَى مِنْ مُؤْمِنِهَا، وَلَا يَفِي لِذِي عَهْدٍ عَهْدَهُ فَلَيْسَ مِنِّي وَلَسْتُ مِنْه

Which means: ‘Whosoever fights under a blind flag, or to strengthen a group over another, and dies, then it is a Jahili (great ignorance) death. Whosoever bears arms against my Ummah killing whether it is its pious or wicked, does not avoid its believers, and does not fulfill the rights of all people who have due rights, then is not from me and I am not from them’.

But despite all that, many many scholars have clearly expressed the legality (Shar’iyyah) of Yazid and thus (the Shar’i killing of al-Husayn, excplicitly by some. Others just hinted) the grave mistake of al-Husayn by rebelling against a sitting Shar’i Muslim ruler, which left the Yazidi government no other option (in carrying its duty to uphold the mandated Shari’ law) but killing him. (Reference: al-Awasem min al-Qawasem by Ibn al-Arabi al-Maliki, and Aghaleet-ul-Mu’arrikhin by Mufti Abul Yusr Abidin (Damascene Hanafi scholar whose lineage is Husayni), Shaykh Zuhayr as-Shawish (Damascene Salafi scholar, with Husayni lineage), and others, Allah have mercy on them). Important note in order not to confuse the two issues here; none of the scholars who viewed the Shar’iyyah or even goodness of Yazid (and/or his actions) expressed anything but sadness for the tragedy of killing of al-Husayn -despite their view that it is a consequence of al-Husayn’s own misjudgment/mistakes- and their wish that it didn’t happen.

As far as “rebelling against a tyranny,” Ahlus Sunnah scholars have delved deeply into this issue and the books and stands of our Salaf are widely available. This doesn’t mean that the issue cannot be re-visited and new research and even conclusions based on proper Ta’sil (foundation) cannot be drawn. But such study must be careful, academic, encompassing, beneficial, and firstly Prophetic in style, methods and frame. A true, proper, rational, and profound Ta’sil (foundation and substantiation) must take place first, examining the Texts from an Usuli point of view, and examining the various positions of the Sahaba and Tabi’in in similar situations (such as al-Husayn, Ibn az-Zubayr, Ibn Umar, and the layer before and after), then comprehensively comparing them with any situation at hand, and drawing recommendations. But attempts to do that are still shy, and Allah knows best.

I believe in this Eid, we need first and foremost to pray to Allah Ta’ala to bestow His blessings and peace on all His creation, save the innocents and victims from violence and pain, heal those that need healing, and bring happiness to all. We, as Muslims, have a duty. A duty to revive Islam as a practical lifestyle for our youth today, and not just a theoretical set of rules. A duty to revive the unconditional compassion, love and positive contribution elements within Islam, so we can lead the Ummah towards transformation, not just information. Transformed and transforming. We need to critically think, not parrot things said to us and we need to go back to basics (Qur’an and Authentic Sunnah). We need to offer our scholars and elders all the respect, love and appreciation, but never erect them as idols with “practical” infallibility. Our youth have the right to ask any and all questions, no question should be off the table. We need to prepare people who are qualified religiously, academically, emotionally and mentally to answer all questions in a full and honest way. We need to send our absolute best and brightest to study the Deen to become spiritual and academic leaders, not our least achievers. Because leaders are not just born, they are made, we need to ensure that our academic and spiritual institutions and teaching standards are not producing identical copies, but creative and critically thinking generations who are qualified and do not fear disagreeing if there is an academic and factual base for it, with due respect, love, and Islamic ethics. We need to inform our new emerging “scholars” that the six or 10 year program they’ve had, and the 20-30 good size books they actually studied, does not make them scholars, despite any decorative accessories. The few years/books you’ve spent serve as a basic foundation to start acquiring knowledge, research, and continuously and critically learn and think. Regurgitating memorized information is not the job of the scholar, but a continuous academic and spiritual education that transforms the scholar himself/herself and surroundings, is.

Nobody in their right mind and spirit likes to see dictators, tyrants, and unjust rulers regardless whether this dictatorship or tyranny is political or religious. Every human being and every Muslim aspires to be free and directly connected with their Creator. Political dictators and religious tyrants try to steal away that connection from people to their Creator, and may even declare themselves as “God” like Pharaoh did, so all people see and think about and even fear is them. People may fear them, but they will never love them. But people love their Creator. Love is key. Tyranny takes love away from society and places fear instead. There is no difference on the need to remove tyranny and dictatorship away from all societies, the difference is on how to go about it. Removing misery with a bigger or an equal misery may not be the best answer. But only Allah Ta’ala knows best. Again, this is not a call to sit and do nothing in the face of Pharaoh and his present examples; rather it is a call to action. Do everything you can possibly do, but within the core Prophetic framework of non-violence and unconditional compassion. Do not let the evil of Pharaoh blinds you by exchanging hate for hate, injustice for injustice, spreading pain and suffering for more pain and suffering, indiscriminate killing for more indiscriminate killing. Two wrongs never make it right. Bloodshed and hate are never the answer. This where the Qur’an gives us a clear example in the story of the sons of Adam, as in Surah Ma’idah verse 29:

{لَئِن بَسَطتَ إِلَيَّ يَدَكَ لِتَقْتُلَنِي مَآ أَنَاْ بِبَاسِطٍ يَدِيَ إِلَيْكَ لأَقْتُلَكَ إِنِّي أَخَافُ اللَّهَ رَبَّ الْعَالَمِينَ}

Which means: ‘If you are going to extend your hand to kill me, then I will not extend my hand back at you to kill, for I fear the Lord of the Worlds.’

And to frame a non-violent track of actions for this Ummah, the Prophet himself, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, calls it in a very clear and unambiguous way, as Imam Muslim narrated in his Sahih on the authority of our mother as-Sayyida Aisha (radiya’Allahu anha)

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رضي الله تعالى عنها زَوْجِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم أَنَّ رَسُولَ اللّهِ صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم قَالَ: يَا عَائِشَةُ إِنَّ اللّهَ رَفِيقٌ يُحِبُّ الرِّفْقَ. وَيُعْطِي عَلَى الرِّفْقِ مَا لاَ يُعْطِي عَلَى الْعُنْفِ . وَمَا لاَ يُعْطِي عَلَى مَا سِوَاهُ”.

Which means: ‘O’ Aisha; Allah is Compassionate, loves compassion, and He would grant/give for kindness/compassion that which He would not for violence or anything else other –than compassion and kindness.’

Another authentic Prophetic narration in Sahih Muslim, also on the authority of Sayyidatuna Aisha (radiya’Allahu anha):

عَنْ عَائِشَةَ رضي الله تعالى عنها زَوْجِ النَّبِيِّ صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم، عَنِ النَّبِيِّ قَالَ: إِنَّ الرِّفْقَ لاَ يَكُونُ فِي شَيْءٍ إِلاَّ زَانَهُ، وَلاَ يُنْزَعُ مِنْ شَيْءٍ إِلاَّ شَانَه

Which means: ‘Kindness/Compassion only beautifies anything it is part of, and disfigures anything when removed from it.’

Such strong Prophetic instructions and framework are the foundation of our faith. We must do everything we can to stop political and religious tyranny and dictatorship. But let us follow the Prophetic model and let our higher aspiration translate into a higher call and standards. When the “Fatwa” lies in the hand of a “butcher” then you can only expect slaughter and if the butcher is inexperienced, then may Allah help everyone around. The Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam asked us to check, balance and reference, not just follow blindly. Islam demands people not to profess blind following of anyone. Think, check and cross-reference. But above all, remember the framework Allah Ta’ala placed you in; unconditional compassion in any and everything. Even when love and unconditional compassion seem the wrong thing to do, it is the divine instruction for us to do, to taste, learn, and feel the sweet taste of Love and unconditional Compassion Allah Ta’ala showers us with, over and over again. To be close to Him Ta’ala and His Beloved sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, in a practical way, in a deeply conscientious way, not just rhetoric. To surrender our souls to His Love and unconditional compassion is to realize that we must channel such love and unconditional compassion to all, especially those we disagree with. The first Prophetic advice a student of Hadith hears from his teacher is: “Allah is (especially) compassionate on those who are compassionate, show your compassion on earth, the Lord of heavens will show His compassion onto you”. There are plenty authentic narrations testifying to that meaning. Non-violence is the weapon that knows no defeat. Construction of earth is our mandateas the Qur’an states: (ista’marakum fiha), not destruction. Compassion and love is the language the universe speaks. Love and gratitude, or better yet gratitude and love are our only means not only to converse with the universe, but to speak to The Creator of All, subhanahu wa Ta’ala.

We, in this Eid, need to demolish all the “idols” we erected and glorified, and placed between us and the Book (Quran) and Sunnah.

We, in this Eid, need to love and be more compassionate, learn about love and compassion, live love and compassion, and not just talk about them. We need to start holding workshops on how to live compassion instead wasting out times and efforts with firey talks that evaporate soon after.

We, in this Eid, need to demand an end to a “cult-ish” culture that is seeping in under the name of religion whether it is this group or that, regardless of the claim of exclusive righteousness. Righteousness is in the Book and Sunnah, everyone else “tries” to reach it. We need to re-think about our presumptive exclusive ownership of absolute righteousness while relegating the others to absolute misguidance. 

We, in this Eid, owe it to ourselves, our minds, and our souls, to verify, cross-reference, and check with the Qur’anic and Sunnah standards before mobilizing our emotions based on this or that portrayal or presentation of “truths”.

In this Eid, we owe our children and the world to offer hope, growth and opportunity to all, to truly be the representation (Khalifa) of Allah on earth by constructing it, and genuinely and positively contributing to its prosperity and the prosperity and happiness of all people.

We, in this Eid, need to be the source of love and the refuge of compassion that our Beloved Messenger, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, was and asked us to model. We, in this Eid, need a spiritual spring and an academic revolution more than anything.

The (intellectual, psychological, physical, educational and spiritual) loss of young people in such violent conflicts is the greatest tragedy, for they are your most valuable asset, and the measurement of the education, prosperity and future of any nation. The youth in violence-torn nations are in fact collateral damage, for the political and religious tyranny are not in the crossfire, rather they give instructions from their safe and comfort zones. The youth from all ideological sides fall victims to the pseudo-religious or nationalistic rhetoric urging them to violate other human being’s rights and life. The result is a tragedy on all sides, the innocently killed and the duped killer. It brings tears to the eyes and heart to see so many young people being killed physically or psychologically and spiritually, while others keep innovating ways to mislead them to think that Paradise/Jannah lies only in carrying out more violence and hate in the name of Allah! Killing the human spirit in a human being is a psychological murder itself, a shameful crime and the topmost shortsightedness and irresponsibility. The truth is, there are always other ways. A tragedy to which there is no answer but love, compassion, and education. If the youth are gone, the future is also gone.

Religion came to give people -all people- hope at a better life now, and a happier one in the hereafter. Religion is a process and a progress towards a better life, therefore, religion is a project of life, not a project of suffering and not a project of death. For the observer; there was an “unholy matrimony” -once again- between political tyranny and religious tyranny, something the Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, warned us from in many different ways. This unholy matrimony is not restricted to one side versus another -as classically used to have been the case. But in this unholy violence, political and religious tyrannies are plenty on all sides of the spectrum pushing hard for their own “spring” on the “fall” of the very people whose interest they are claiming to protect. I do find solace in the Ahadith of Fitnah, our Beloved Prophet, sallallahu alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam, foretold, such as the one of Ka’eb bin Ujrah and the like.

Regardless whether this is a “spring” or “fall” that some Muslims in Asia or North Africa are going through, we can only speculate, and only Allah Ta’ala knows best. We hope and pray that it is, and I do not support violence of any side against another, and pray for a constructive dialogue and peace. Such constructive dialogue and peace must be paved by increasing awareness and education among the masses. What we do know for sure though, is that, from Afghanistan, through Iraq, to Syria and so on, similar story brought more destruction, misery, suffering and pain to the people who not only fell victim to the intellectual and actual crossfire of all war-mongering ideologies and armies, but were the fuel for it. The people, ordinary people, themselves are the only true victims out of all these tragedies everywhere. The consequence is not just the millions of killed, wounded, and permanently injured people. But the lasting educational, economical, psychological, religious and social scars also. The “people” had to suffer twice. First they were robbed from their human rights by their political tyrannical regimes, who didn’t only rob them their wealth, human and political rights but their dignity as well, then at the hands of religious tyranny who sold them ideas that were more fictional than factual and promised them what they are not capable to deliver. For this, religious tyranny, had to fuel this senseless violence with an unlimited and ready supply of “Fatwa’s of hate” and “call to kill” which did not only betray the trust of the people, but also by convincing them that Allah Ta’ala, The Creator of All, wants them (instead) to takeaway hope, growth, opportunity and even life from His (other) creation, thus “intellectually” paralyzing society for decades to come with a heavy burden of deep-seeded hate, violence and crime, plunging it into deep dark ignorance.

Yes, all people want to get rid of dictators and totalitarian regimes, for this is a good step forward. But such process should not return us 10 steps behind and require a century to recover, not just a few decades, as a price for that one step ahead. But it wouldn’t even be a step forward if it is a “glorified” exchange one tyrannical assumed-guardianship over the people with another. We need to provide the youth with reasons to live, contribute and become creative, not take away everything from them so they have nothing to lose. Education, opportunity, and positive contribution towards humanity, that’s what the youth in 3rd world countries need. But also, the youth in 3rd world countries need to understand that advancement and prosperity is not measured by being on Facebook, or using Twitter, or the ability to talk and walk like the youth in advanced societies. That by itself does not put them on par with the rest of the world, but the serious and continuous struggle to gain and maintain a civic, educational, technological, industrial, and spiritual advancement and accomplishments, so that they are able to positively contribute to the wellbeing of all humanity, genuinely.

Calls for freedom or for a better life, are great calls. But when it becomes mayhem of blind violence, then it becomes a call for evil. As for the suffering of the victims of violence from all sides who are the fuel for such madness, this can never be reversed and a suffering of one soul, is one too many. The Prophetic example provides a framework that ensures the least suffering and the maximum potential. Otherwise, irrational calls and mobilization of people to commit atrocities and violence against fellow human beings under the name of religion, national or sectarian interests, is a crime that will only bring more suffering and pain to all humanity. True advancement does not happen by wishful thinking, dreams, and fairy tales. It does not happen by negativity and hate infusions. True advancement of any cause does not usually happen with destruction and violence, but with serious thinking, education, far-vision and planning coupled with relentless hard work, discipline, and a strict employment of a high ethical, positive, and humane standard. Recruiting innocent and naive people, or inexperienced change-aspiring young people and shoving them to their death for the exchange of a tyranny with another, or for political perks and benefits, is flat out evil, deceitful, and criminal. Evil means cannot lead to noble objectives.

It is sad, because it seems that many Muslims have not learned their history, and have not learned from their history. Therefore they fall victims again to the same vicious cycle, trying to fight tyranny with another tyranny. Deeni, Social, and then Political Islaah (reform) can guarantee results, but circumventing the Prophetic approach will not yield a faster way. It is sad when we see people so riled up to kill each other, when they are meant to help and love each other. Rich countries spent billions of dollars on war and associates under the claim of bringing a better life to people. Those billions would have served a lot faster in securing a better life, had they been spent on education and humane projects. Religious preachers and teachers ought to learn that hate and violence is contradictory to any original religious message, and gets humanity nowhere. Instead of wasting their breath on hate and violence mongering, it would be much more Rabbani to spend it teaching people how to be closer to their Creator and how to represent Him while they are living on earth, how to be good with one another, how to find excuses for one another, and how live a happy, tranquil, Rabbani life. It is sad, when we see further fragmentation within the same human fabric, based on greed, ambitions, and self-interest. It is sad when people declare themselves the exclusive spokespeople of The Almighty Himself declaring things that violate the very name and original Message of The Almighty Himself.

Hopelessness is, however, contradictory to the basic tenets of Islam, so we are hopeful, and I know that only Allah Ta’ala can turns the ‘fall’ into a lasting and beautiful ‘spring’ for all people. This is my own personal view based on what I know, yet no one is infallible after the Prophets -alayhem assalam-, so whatever errors I made I seek forgiveness for, and whatever truths I said, I thank Allah Ta’ala for it, and praise is due only to Him. I pray that Allah Ta’ala grants His mercies to all the victims of this senseless violence, give comfort to their souls, and their living loved ones, and I pray that He Ta’ala, as He is The Creator of All, grants ALL guidance, forgiveness, happiness, and peace.

Eid Mubarak!

– Shaykh Dr. Muhammad b. Yahya al Husayni al Ninowy (September 2013)


 

Appendix:

I think it is important to remind everyone with “some” Prophetic Ahadith cautioning people from being involved in bloodshed of other human beings. It is important to remind people with it today, since the sanctity of the human life and soul has stooped to a scary level, under different banners. The Prophetic words are useful to alert the (Ghaafel =absent-minded) and educate the Jahel (ignorant).

1-The Sanctity of the human life (all people) regardless of faith or background:
– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (أَوَّلُ مَا يُقْضَى بَيْنَ النَّاسِ بِالدِّمَاءِ)
رواه البخاري ومسلم.

Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (The first thing people will be accountable for in the day of judgment, is bloodshed).

قال النووي: (فِيهِ تَغْلِيظُ أَمْر الدِّمَاء، وَأَنَّهَا أَوَّل مَا يُقْضَى فِيهِ بَيْن النَّاس يَوْم الْقِيَامَة، وَهَذَا لِعِظَمِ أَمْرهَا وَكَثِير خَطَرهَا) .ا.هـ
قال الحافظ في الفتح: (وَفِي الْحَدِيث عِظَمُ أَمْر الدَّم، فَإِنَّ الْبُدَاءَةَ إِنَّمَا تَكُونُ بِالأَهَمِّ، وَالذَّنْب يَعْظُمُ بِحَسَبِ عِظَم الْمَفْسَدَةِ وَتَفْوِيت الْمَصْلَحَة، وَإِعْدَامُ الْبِنْيَةِ الإِنْسَانِيَّةِ غَايَةُ فِي ذَلِكَ. وَقَدْ وَرَدَ فِي التَّغْلِيظ فِي أَمْر الْقَتْل آيَاتٌ كَثِيرَةٌ وَآثَارٌ شَهِيرَةٌ) .ا.هـ

An-Nawawi said (in his Shar’h on Sahih Muslim): “This is for the gravity of the issue of bloodshed; hence it will be the first order of judgment on the Day of Judgment, for its enormity, and atrociousness”.

Ibn Hajar said (in His Fat’hul Bari): “This Prophetic Hadith points to the gravity of the issue of bloodshed. For it being the first order of judgment indicates its most significance, and the sin becomes grave based on its implication of Mafaased (consequential harm), and the loss of Masaaleh (benefits), and killing  the Insaani (HUMAN) structure, is the utmost of that. A lot of Qur’anic verses and famous narrations came denouncing and pointing the gravity of killing (another human being)”.

– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (إن من ورطات الأمور التي لا مخرج لمن أوقع نفسه فيها سفك الدم الحرام بغير حِله(. رواه البخاري

2- Bukhari narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (The trap that one can never get himself out of, is the involvement in shedding sacred blood (human blood), without it being legitimate”.

-قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: ( لن يزال المؤمن في فسحة من دينه ما لم يصب دماً حراماً). رواه البخاري

Bukhari narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said:   (a believer may still have a chance as long as he wasn’t involved in shedding sacred blood).
– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (من استطاع أنْ لا يحال بينه وبين الجنة بملء كفه منْ دم أهراقه فليفعل). رواه البخاري

Bukhari narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (A handful (amount) of blood a person sheds will prevent him/her from entering Paradise, whoever can save themselves from that, should do so).
– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (أكبر الكبائر: الإشراك بالله وقتل النفس وعقوق الوالدين وقول الزور). رواه البخاري ومسلم.

Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (The gravest of the gravest of sins (Kabaa’er): worshipping other than Allah (The Creator of all), Killing a human soul, disrespect/indignant of one’s parents, and saying a lie).
-قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (من لقي الله لا يشرك به شيئاً لم يتند بدم حرام دخل الجنة). رواه ابن ماجه

Ibn Majah narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (whosoever goes to Allah Ta’ala without having worshipped anything else, and without being involved in a sacred bloodshed, enters Paradise).

 
– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (والذي نفسي بيده ليأتينَّ على الناس زمانٌ لا يدري القاتلُ في أيِّ شيءٍ قَتَلَ ، ولا يدري المقتولُ على أيِّ شيءٍ قُتِلَ ). رواه مسلم.

Muslim narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (By Allah, who created myself, there will be a time with people, where the killer does not (truly) know why he is killing, and the killed does not why he is being killed).
– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (يؤتى بالقاتل والمقتول يوم القيامة فيقول : أي رب سل هذا فيم قتلني ؟ فيقول : أي رب أمرني هذا . فيؤخذ بأيديهما جميعا فيقذفان في النار( رواه الطبراني ورجاله كلهم ثقات

Tabarani narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (The killer and the killed will be brought for judgment on the Day of judgment. The killed will say: O’Allah; ask this one : why did he kill me?. The killer says: O’Allah; so and so told me to do so. Then they will be taken to Hellfire).

– قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وآله وسلم: (زوال الدنيا جميعا أهون على الله من دم يسفك بغير حق) رواه البيهقي

Al-Bayhaqi narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (The whole world is not worth a single human bloodshed illegitimately).
– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (قُسمت النار سبعين جزءا فللآمر تسعة وستون وللقاتل جزء وحسبه). رواه أحمد

Ahmad and others narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (Hellfire was divided into 70 layers. 1% for the killer, and 99% for the one who encourage the killer to kill).

– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (إنّ الملائكة لتلعن أحدكم إذا أشار إلى أخيه بحديدة وإن كان أخاه لأبيه وأمه) رواه مسلم .

Muslim narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (The Angels will be cursing anyone who points to his (human brother) with a piece of metal (threatening him), even if he was his brother to the same father and mother).

– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (من حمل علينا السلاح فليس منّا) رواه النسائي

An-Nasa’iy narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (whosoever carries weapons against us, is not from us).

– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (إنَّ كسر عظم المؤمن ميتاً مثل كسره حياً). رواه أبو داود وابن ماجه

Abu Dawod and Ibn Majah narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: ( Breaking a bone of a believer while dead, is just (as evil) as breaking it while he’s alive).

– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (سباب المسلم فسوقٌ وقتاله كفر). رواه البخاري ومسلم.

Bukhari and Muslim narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (slandering a Muslim is Fusuq (vile deviation), and fighting him is Kufr).

– قال سيدنا رسول الله صلى الله تعالى عليه وآله وسلم: (لو أن أهل السماء وأهل الأرض اشتركوا في دم مؤمن لأكبهم الله في النار). رواه الترمذي

Tirmidhi narrated that Sayyidina Rasoolillaah, Sallallahu Ta’ala alayhi wa aalihi wa sallam said: (If all people on earth and all in heavens share in shedding the blood of one believer, Allah Ta’ala will deem them to Hellfire)

There are 10’s if not 100’s more of Prophetic cautioning words from being physically or thru other means involved in a blind violence that may lead to the death of even one person. May Allah Ta’ala grant all those dead all His mercies, and grant peace to all living victims of violence everywhere.

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