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Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Id Bayaan 1 October 2008: Ashraf Dockrat

Id Bayaan [1 October 2008/1 Shawwaal 1429]

As we gather here on this blessed day, greeted on our way here by the malaaikah, the angels of Allah who welcome us here and greet us again as we part from this Id ghah, we realize that we are united here in purpose. On this occasion where we give thanks we do so in a gathering of Muslims that shows strength and unity. This concept of unity is the topic of our talk this morning.

In a hadith Rasulallah sallallahu alaihi wasallam is reported to have said: This Din (religion) of Islam began in strangeness and will once again be strange. Glad tidings to those who are the strangers.

What constitutes the strangeness of Islam today?
Muslims find themselves in different parts of the world with nothing to unite them.
Muslims find themselves divided by ethnicity, race and tribal affiliations.
All of this despite the hadith of the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam which states: All of you are from Adam and Adam was from clay. And that there is no preference for the Arab over the non-Arab accept in taqwa (God conciousness).
Strangeness is nowhere stronger when one group of Muslims are actively involved in battle with another without religious justification. When in Palestine Hamas and Fatah are at loggerheads while the Israeli occupation of the blessed lands continues with all its barbarity.
What can be a greater expression of strangeness when a Muslim leader asks for help from the enemies of Allah to fight fellow Muslims. When Pakistan allows its airspace to be used to attack Afghanistan and when Muslim countries in the middle-east allow the military bases of the enemies of Allah on Muslim lands. Muslims forget the command of Allah: You will not find a people who believe in Allah and the last day befriending those who oppose Allah and his Rasul even if it is against their fathers, brothers or family.

Disunity and weakness has been predicted by Rasul sallallahu alaihi wasallam when he said that people would gather around you as people gather to eat a meal, or that you will be like the flotsam and jetsum of a flood in your weakness. When the Prophet was asked about this disastrous condition of the Muslims, he explained that this was not because of their small numbers, rather they will be many. This weakness will be because they love the world and dislike death.

Disunity has weakened our affair to the extent that non-Muslims ask that if Islam was a true religion they will not be disunited and so far from the means of strength even.

What strangeness is worse than the situation where the voices of those that call to unity and strength seem strange and foreign? There can be no greater strangeness than this.

Are we not on account of the Din and Shariah we possess the most deserving of respect, honour, knowledge, virtue and progress? We are the direct inheritors of the Propeht sallallahu alaihi wasallam and the Sahabah. Has the time not come when Muslims have to regain their lost status and hold onto their mission and awaken from their slumber?

Let us for a moment reflect on Europe. Each of the countries are strong, nevertheless they have put their differences aside to form the European Union. United by a common currency these disparate countries have united. The Euro and the common economic system they have is for all to see. This is cause to reflect. We are divided and Muslim countries as at each other’s throats. We deprive one another of food and support and we yet claim to be under the shade of one Din. We have become the prey of wolves? Where are our leaders? And what are their concerns?

It is essential for Muslims to introspect. We have to in the face of this injustice hold onto the rope of Allah and unite our voices. We have to unite ourselves under the banner of Lailaha illallah Muhammadur rasul lullah. There is nothing greater to remove the disunity and friction than this. Achieving unity should be the concern of every individual of the ummah. Every journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. What is this first step? It is to know the rights and responsibilities of your fellow Muslim. It is to acknowledge the huquq al-ibād and to assert our brotherhood. “Certainly the Muslims are brothers, so join (fa aslihu) between your brothers”.

If we ponder over this concept of ukhuwwah al-Islamiyyah (Muslim Brotherhood) we will see that it is the most difficult call to Muslims today. If we realize what Din is and we Understand Din and practice on it (amal) we will love for our brothers what we love for ourselves. We will dislike for them what we dislike for ourselves, resist those actions that cause him/her harm, care for the sick and weak and help and give service to those as best we can. There can be no place for zulm at all.

Din al-Islam has two essentials that are fundamental and foundational:
tawhid 2, Equality between people.

If this is achieved we will achieve success. We have to realize that this is where the solution lies and try our best to achieve this.

Unity is not a concept about which we have a choice about. It is a fard of Din. Allah says: “And do not be like those who became disunited and broke into groups after clear signs came to them and for them is a great punishment” and Allah Ta’ala says: “And this ummah of yours is one ummah and I am your Lord so worship me.”

All scholars (here we are not referring to pseudo-scholars who hope that a Mahdi will appear and solve all the problems we face) are concerned with how this unity of the ummah can be achieved. The slipping of the Khilafah from the hands of the Musims meant disunity between Muslims. The matter has gone so far that Muslims lifted sword against Muslim. How many khutbahs and how many books have not been written analyzing this phenonomenon and providing solutions for achieving a united ummah.

We are not here talking about differences of fiqh and law. These differences existed from the time of the sahabah and are a blessing. Those that call for the abandonment of taqlid and see Muslims unity in a common jurisprudence have a very shallow understanding of the problem or the solution.

It is the wisdom of Allah that people have not been united into what the Quran calls a single people. Instead Allah tells us that who He blesses he unites on truth. “If Allah so desired he would have created mankind into one nation and you will continue differences accept who your Lord has blessed and for this reason Allah created you and fulfilled the word of your Lord that He will fill Jahnnam with people and Jinn” (Hud: 118-119). Ibn Abbas (RA) in his tafsir of this verse says that Allah created them for mercy not for differences. Muslims have to hold fast onto obedience to Nabi sallallahu alaihi wasallam. What is disliked is fanacticism and intolerance especially in matters where difference of opinion and positions are perfectly allowed and accommodated in the shariah.

As for matters of aqidah then all the sahabah where like a single solid wall firm of tawhid and the oneness of Allah. This made the ummah strong and they gained ascendency. Decline set in after this period. A decline that no Muslim can be happy with. When the capital of the Muslim world was Baghdad already a weakness started creeping in. There is weakness in consultation with other Muslims in other parts of the Muslim lands i.e. a weakness in administration and there was weakness in the concept of tawhid and belief amongst Muslims. The fatal blow was when in 656 AH the Tartars invaded the Muslim lands. Muslims were united again when the Uthmaniyyah Khilafah/ Dawlah united many disparate Islamic peoples and lands. However once again the failure to establish tawhid in the lands led to their fall. The European Colonialist found their way to the Muslim lands, assaulted these lands and occupied the land and the thought of its inhabitants. They became worst than what they were. Yet many sincere Muslims continued to be concerned with the situation of the Muslim ummah.

What we have to do is study carefully what unites us and remove the cause of division.

We have seen that the aqidah of tawhid and the fact that we are united on one aqidah and on one concern that emanates from it. We share a common vision and world view which unites us wherever we are on the globe and whatever the social, economic or ecological challenges humankind may be facing.

The first step then is to identify those obstacles which come in the way of achieving unity:

The first of these obstacles is the stagnation of many of the Muslim communities. Movement and activity is a solution to many problems.

There is also a strong relationship between freedom and unity. Sometimes these two concepts find themselves in opposition to one another. The lack of freedom and the resultant discontent because of the oppressive regimes who restrict these freedoms is the reason for much disunity. Good Muslims languish for years under horrendous conditions in prisons in Muslim countries. The disunity, the call for Jihad and the opposition to the corrupt leadership is a reason for disunity.

The inability to recognize that what is relatively insignificant and temporary needs to be sacrificed for what is permanent, important and fundamental. At times this requires sacrifices from some groups that is no less than the sacrifice of a shahid of his life for the cause of islam. The requirement for this is a strong Imaan and a good understanding of Islam.

Another no less significant cause for disunity is the economic disparity in the Muslim world which makes unity a pipe dream for most. In this regard it is significant to note that only 4% of the economic activity of the Muslim countries is between Muslim countries themselves while 96% of the economic activity of Muslim countries is with non-Muslims. A Muslim cannot find and source all his needs from Muslim countries and is forced to go to the West.

Disunity is also caused by the export of foreign culture and values to the Muslim countries.

The rise of nationalistic sentiments and false notions of nationhood and patriotism has been the cause of disunity after the decline of the Uthmanli Dawlah. Personal interests and narrow parochial thinking took preference over what was important and relevant to the ummah at large.

These are some of the challenges we have to face. Some are inheritied some are intractable yet it remains a fard and a requirement of shariah to achieve unity at all costs. As people concerned with the welfare of the ummah we all have to work together to put bricks into the wall of the unity of Islam.

Now that we have seen the obstacles let us move to the imperatives which have to drive us in order to realize the blessed unity. A unity based on a common worldview.

Firstly our aqidah is one. The risalah of Nabi Muhammad Sallallahu alaihi wasallam and the accompanying worry and concern that he had for the salvation of the ummah and of all of mankind is one. The Shariah is one. What then can be the reasons for our disunity?

Secondly we should be united by a common language which is Arabic. It is Arabic that carries our common ideas, our united culture, the thoughts of the Quran and sunnah and the legacy of Islam. Similarly the Arab nations need to learn the languages of millions of Muslims such as Urdu in order to better relate to their brothers.

Thirdly, we need to unite in professional associations and guilds. Tradesmen, doctors, lawyers, economists and academics need to pool their resources locally, nationally and internationally.

Fourthly it is necessary for us to have a common sense of daʿwah and a common support for duʿāt. In fact we all need to feel the responsibility to invite non-Muslims to Allah. Our daʿwah needs to include the concern for the socio-economic concerns of humanity. In our country where people go to bed hungry regularly and where there are child-headed households as a common occurrence, we need to be more concerned with daʿwah. We will be united through our common concern.

Fifthly we need to create centres of concern. Centres devoted to the concern of uniting the ummah and humanity. Every masjid needs to be transformed into a markaz to fulfill this task.

The sixth point we need to make is that of economics. We need to realize that very often in our modern world the political system serves as a slave and an adjunct to the capitalist economic system. Muslims need to provide leadership by providing just and fair economic systems and encourage trade and economic support for Muslims throughout the globe.

Lastly we need to think about how the Muslim world and the Muslim lands can achieve unity. For this we need the political will which has always been the hallmark of Muslims and their administrations.

In conclusion let us remember that there is no magic wand of unity. There is no Sultan with great power that can achieve this unity. Unity between Muslims in every part of the world can be achieved through unity in method and through justice. We all have a part to play in achieving this unity. Islam is ours. We have to share a common worldview. A worldview that insists that every person on the face of the earth should enter jannah. We have to take possession of that common worldview based on a love for humanity.

Yes this is a difficult task. It requires ikhlaas and sincerity. But remember: Every journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.

Id Mubarak!


Blogger smithsan said...

The starting-point of this research was the desire to set forth a variety of possible relationships which are all in accordance with Islamic belief.
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