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Madinat al-Muslimeen Islamic Message Board
|Unity of Purpose, Not Uniformity of Opinion|
|06/26/02 at 19:52:37|
First part of four. It's a very good article by Sheikh Salman al-'Awdah on accommodating differences of opinion while uniting the people around the true basic principles of Islam.
Praise be to Allah. We praise Him and we seek his help and forgiveness. We seek refuge with Allah from the evil within ourselves and from the evil of our deeds. Whoever Allah guides, none can misguide, and whoever Allah allows to go astray, none can guide. I bear witness that there is no God but Allah, alone without partner, and I bear witness that Muhammad is His servant and Messenger. May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon Muhammad, his family, his Companions, and his followers until the Day of Judgment.
In the Qur'ān and Sunnah, there are numerous clear and unambiguous texts commanding the Muslims to remain unified and forbidding them from becoming divided amongst themselves. This concept is a basic tenet of every Muslim's beliefs.
"Hold fast, all together, to the rope of Allah and do not become divided amongst yourselves. And remember Allah's favor on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in affection so that by His grace you became brethren. And you were on the brink of the Pit of Fire and He saved you from it. Thus does Allah make His signs clear to you so that you may be guided. Let there arise from amongst you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. They are the successful ones. Do not be like those who are divided amongst themselves and fall into disputes after receiving clear signs. They will have a dreadful punishment." [Sūrah Āl `Imrān: 103-105]
"And do not fall into disputes, lest you lose heart and fail. Be patient, for truly Allah is with those who are patient." [Sūrah al-Anfāl: 46]
"By time; verily man is at loss, except those who have faith, perform righteous deeds, and enjoin each other to truth and enjoin each other to patience." [Sūrah al-`Asr: 1-3]
This is but a small sample of the texts found in the Qur'ān on this matter. The principle of coming together as a community on the basis of righteousness and obedience to Allah is a clear and undisputable principle of faith. The general acts of worship, like prayer, fasting, the pilgrimage, and the `Īd prayers, are all practical examples of this fact.
The advice of the Prophet (peace be upon him) on this matter can be found in many hadīth. Possibly, the most well known of these is: "Allah is pleased with three things for you (among them) that you hold fast, all together, to the rope of Allah and do not become divided amongst yourselves." [Sahīh Muslim (1715)]
This is the plain truth that every Muslim is cognizant of. The problem is to put this truth into practice. Many of our brethren have a lot of zeal for their religion and a strong desire for unity, but they lack the ability to translate this desire into a practical reality. Such people - though they may lament the disunity of the Muslims and hope ardently for their coming together - usually seek to unite people around their own perspectives, opinions, and choices, a task which it is impossible for them to achieve. They should realize that is had not been possible to get the people united behind those who were far superior to themselves. So how can they ever be so presumptuous to expect all the people unite around them?
What is needed is a framework that accommodates differences of opinion while uniting the people around the true basic principles of Islam, not around the opinions and interpretations of a specific individual or group.
Muslim unity originally referred to the political unity of the Muslims under a single government that ruled according to Islamic Law. This was a reality in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him), as well as throughout the era of the Rightly-Guided Caliphs and the following era of the Islamic nations and states that stretched from the East to the West, and to which all the Muslims were loyal subjects.
This is why we find an impressive number of hadīth that are stern about preserving this unity. For example:
"Whoever abandons the community one handspan and dies in that state has died as a person in the state of ignorance before Islam." [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (7054) and Sahīh Muslim (1849) as related from Ibn `Abbās]
"Whoever withdraws his hand from obedience will meet Allah on the Day of Resurrection without any defense." This is a severe warning from Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) against dispute and division.
"Whoever dies without being bound by an oath of allegiance, dies as a person in the state of ignorance before Islam." [Sahīh Muslim (1850) as related from Ibn `Umar]
"There will come trials and tribulations, and whoever desires to bring division to this nation when it is united should be struck down by a sword, no matter who he might be." [Sahīh Muslim (1852)]
Regretfully, those circumstances and the era of Muslim political unity are long gone, and the great Muslim state has turned into many little countries that govern themselves with only a small fraction of Islamic laws, countries that work together and squabble with each other in a manner that is so familiar to all of us. Yet, the obligation for Muslim unity remains, even if it cannot now be realized in the political sphere. It remains as an obligation to preserve the religion and worldly welfare of the Muslims as Islamic Law demands. The very reason for the Khilāfah - the Islamic state - is to preserve the religion and the worldly welfare of the people. Ibn Taymiyah says as much in his book Islamic Politics, when he writes: "Its objective is the preservation of the faith and with it the governance of worldly affairs."
The duty thus remains, but it is transferred to preserving the essential meaning of unity, which is the welfare of the people's faith and their worldly life. Among the things that the Muslims must strive for in this regard are the following:
1. They must purge their hearts of niggardliness, malice, hatred, and rancor and replace them with tolerance, forgiveness, mercy, and compassion. Allah says: "Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah, and those who are with him are stern with the unbelievers and merciful among themselves." [Sūrah al-Fath: 29]
2. They must cooperate with each other in works of righteousness and piety and abstain from assisting each other in acts of sin and transgression. Allah has commanded us to "enjoin each other to truth and enjoin each other to patience."
3. They should work in a way that their efforts are balanced, consistent, and mutually supportive, not haphazard and contradictory. There are cases where certain individuals within a group of Muslims have an ardent desire to revive one aspect of the religion while others among them have an equal desire to revive a different aspect of the faith. Though each of these aspirations are good, the conflict and mutual resistance that arises among these people causes many of their good efforts to go to waste, dissipates their strength, and leads them to abandon their efforts altogether. Because of this, many members of the general public, and even a number of novice scholars, fall victim to anxiety, confusion, uncertainty, and lethargy. They get turned off from Islamic activities and even from studying their religion because of all the enmity, hatred, and bickering they see. Naturally, they seek out an environment of peace and stability that is free from tension, even if that environment is far removed from any positive activity.
4. They must revive the principle of giving good advice to one another and helping one another. The Prophet (peace be upon him) once said: "Help your brother, even if he is an oppressor." A man asked him: "I see how I should help him if he is being oppressed, but if he is an oppressor how can I possibly see to help him?" The Prophet (peace be upon him) explained: "Hinder him or stop him from committing oppression. That is how you can help him." [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (6952)] In a similar narration, the Prophet (peace be upon him) replied: "Take from him for his own good." [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (2444)]
This means that a Muslim can help another by not supporting him in wrongdoing. He does not give him his undivided support. He stands with him in good and against him in evil. No one should be overly enamored of a sheikh or imam or Islamic worker or group or organization or ideology. A person's ultimate loyalty must be for the truth. The truth is sometimes with this person and sometimes with someone else. There are occasions where part of the truth is with one person and part of it is with another. With experience, a person can learn how to identify the truth in these situations. Though he might not be able to ascertain the truth in every instance, he can accustom himself to looking for it, even if he is young or at the beginning of his studies.
5. They must unite themselves on the indisputable principles of Islamic Law that have been accepted unanimously by the earliest generations. They must also accept the existence of legitimate disagreement on matters where their predecessors disagreed. When it is established for us that the Companions or the great jurists among the pious predecessors disagreed on a matter, then we should not be surprised or irritated that this same disagreement continues on after them.
There are many tendencies that are diametrically opposed to what we have presented here. Among them are the following:
One of these tendencies is to reinterpret the texts in ways that were not intended and to assume that the hadīth about holding fast to the community are only applicable to a specific organization, party, or group. This is, without doubt, twisting the hadīth around to give the opposite meaning to the one intended. Instead of these hadīth being taken as a call to general Muslim unity under a single political authority, they are used as a source of division. Each and every group, party, or sect see these hadīth as referring to them and them alone. They call the masses to follow them and to give them their loyalty, and they regard anyone who refuses to do so as being recalcitrant and outside the fold of Islam. Each party and group sees it the duty of the Muslims to follow them to the exclusion of all others. They consider anyone who dies without joining them as dying as one in the state of ignorance before the advent of Islam and as one who will have no defense before Allah on the Day of Resurrection.
Many people have fallen victim to this way of thinking. Allah has already informed us of this in the Qur'ān where he says: "Every sect rejoices in that which they have." [Sūrah al-Mu'minūn:53]
Another of these behaviors is for a person to engage in undermining other legitimate efforts in Islamic work, efforts which are neither deviant, nor misguided, nor contrary to Islam; efforts that by and large are correct. Such efforts may be different from that person's own ideas in the approach taken or in specific details. They may differ in how they apply the textual evidence to specific situations. This is something unavoidable and inevitable. It is wrong for a person to lash out in speech and in writing against those efforts or try to bring them to an end or to go around warning people against participating in them. Even if we were to assume that those other Islamic efforts are somewhat flawed, we must also bear in mind that there are other efforts out there that are by far more flawed, like those of the unbelievers who are out there making themselves and their strengths clearly visible. Then there are the efforts of the heretical Muslims who polarize themselves against others on the basis of their deviant ideas. As for attacking each other on matters that fall within the general framework of Islam that our predecessors agreed upon, there is absolutely no good that can come of it.
A third negative tendency is for people to rally together around a specific set of ideas or around particular opinions relating to secondary matters of Islamic Law. This tendency can often lead us to separating ourselves from other Muslims. It exposes us to the danger of division, if not now then later on. The reason for this is that such matters are in themselves not firmly established. They are subject to change. They are not basic principles, but secondary applications of those principles. We turn them into basic principles for ourselves when we insist upon them and overstate their importance. In reality, they are opinions that are often subject to the discretionary judgment of those who hold them. Often they are merely attempts to bring about positive results in Islamic work. Such matters should never be treated like dogma.
|06/27/02 at 01:38:17|
|Re: Unity of Purpose, Not Uniformity of Opinion pa|
|06/27/02 at 01:33:21|
|Second part of four by Sheikh Salman al-'Awdah |
Clear and indisputable principles of Islamic Law
When we say a principle is clear and indisputable, we imply three distinct meanings:
1. The principle is fixed and established It is neither open to modification or substitution, nor has it been abrogated.
2. The principle is articulated in language that is clear and fully explanatory, leaving no room for ambiguity or hidden meanings.
3. The principle is an established rule to which other, secondary matters are referred and in light of which they are assessed.
The clear and indisputable principles of Islam are not merely fixed and permanent, they are also simple and easy to understand and to convey to the public. They are equally easy for a person to accept and embrace.
These indisputable principles, and no others, are the matters upon which we call the Muslims to unite themselves. They are the basic, clear matters brought by Islamic Law. They are the matters upon which the Prophet's Companions and the pious predecessors who followed them were unanimously agreed. These principles include the obligation of worshipping Allah alone, the prohibition of unbelief, polytheism and hypocrisy, and the prohibition of oppression, usury, and sexual licentiousness. They include the five pillars of Islam (the testimony of faith, prayer, fasting, Zakāh, and the pilgrimage to Mecca) and the six articles of faith (belief in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, His Messengers, the Last Day, and divine decree). They also include the moral teachings that were brought by Prophet Muhammad and all the other Prophets of Allah (peace be upon him), like the need for honesty, justice, and respect for parents, and the prohibition of lying, oppression, and recalcitrance. They also include the prohibition of the sins that are clearly stated in the Qur'ān and Sunnah, like those mentioned in the hadīth about the seven most destructive sins.
These clear, indisputable principles ensure the realization of two noble aims:
The first of these is the protection of the faith. They ensure belief in Allah, His angels, His scriptures, His Messengers, and divine decree. They ensure belief in Paradisa and Hell and all that this belief entails. Likewise, they ensure obedience to Allah in that they enjoin a Muslim to seek Allah's pleasure in his or her worldly life to attain salvation in the Hereafter.
This is realized for the believing Muslims who have true faith in Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him) and follow the light that was revealed to him. Such people will surely find success, to the exclusion of others.
The second aim that is realized is the protection of the worldly affairs of the people. The scholars refer to this matter as protecting the five universal needs: faith, life, lineage, wealth, and reason.
Every command and prohibition found in Islamic Law centers around the preservation of these five universal needs. These needs are secured for the believers as well as for nonbelievers who live within the domain governed by the mercy of Islam, like those who live under Islamic rule and those who Allah protects from harm by way of Islam. History is full of examples of this, as extolled by Sa`d b. Muhammad b. al-Sayfī in the following poetic verses:
When we were in power, pardon was our nature.
Then when you took over, the valleys flowed with blood.
You saw it right to kill your prisoners of war,
Where we had shown prisoners pardon and clemency.
Sufficient for you is this difference between us,
And every vessel pours fourth only with what it contains.
The following two selections are excellent illustrations of what we mean by clear and indisputable principles set forth in straightforward and unambiguous texts:
`Abd Allah b. Mas`ūd said: "Whoever would be pleased to look upon the counsel of Muhammad (peace be upon him) that he gave at the end of his life, then he should read the following verses of the Qur'ān." He then recited verses 151-153 from Sūrah al-An`ām. [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (3070) and al-Bayhaqī, Shu`ab al-Īmān (7539). Al-Tirmidhī graded it as a good hadīth.]
"Say: Come, I will rehearse to you what Allah has really prohibited you from: Do not join with Him anything. Be good to your parents. Kill not your children out of want, for We provide sustenance for you and for them. Do not approach indecent acts, whether open or in secret. Take not a life that Allah has made sacred except in the dispensation of justice. Thus does Allah command you that perhaps you may learn wisdom. And do not approach the orphan's property except to improve it until he attains the age of majority. Give full weight and measure. No burden do We place on a soul greater than it can bear. Whenever you speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned, and fulfill the covenant of Allah. Thus does Allah command you that you may remember. This is My Way leading straight. Follow it. Follow not other paths. They will scatter you all away from His Path. Thus does He command you that perhaps you might fear Him." [Sūrah al-An`ām: 151-153]
Likewise, Ibn Abī Shaybah in his work al-Musannaf quotes Ka`b al-Ahbār as saying: "The first of the Torah to be revealed was ten verses, and they are the ten verses that were revealed in the Qur'ān near the end of Sūrah al-An`ām. They are referred to as the Ten Commandments. They are the crux of all the divinely revealed scriptures." [Ibn Abī Shaybah, al-Musannaf (35844)]
The Messengers (peace be upon them) all came with the Message from Allah. The different manifestations of the Message were in conformity with each other in matters, and they differed with each other in matters. Among the things upon which they were all in conformity were these Ten Commandments that ensure the welfare of both the religion and the worldly life of humanity. As for the matters about which they differed they were subsidiary issues relating to legal matters such as what is permissible or impermissible. Such rulings were revealed by Allah for a specific period of time and were thus subject to modification, substitution, and abrogation.
This is why Ibn `Abbās said: 'In Sūrah al-An`ām there are clear and unambiguous verses. They are the foundation of the Book. Then he read from Sūrah al-An`ām "Say: Come, I will rehearse to you what Allah has really prohibited you from " [al-Hākim (3291) and Ibn Abī Hātim in his commentary on the Qur'ān] It seems as if Ibn `Abbās had been asked about the passage of the Qur'ān: " in it are clear and unambiguous verses; they are the foundation of the book" and this was the answer that he gave.
A similar statement is cited from Ibn `Abbās by al-Tabarī in his commentary on the Qur'ān: "The clear and unambiguous verses are the three verses from Sūrah al-An`ām, and likewise these verses in Sūrah al-Isrā':
"Your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him and that you be kind to your parents. If one or both of them attain old age during your lifetime, say not to them a word of contempt nor repel them, but address them in terms of honor. And out of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility and say: 'My Lord, bestow on them your mercy as they cherished me in childhood.' Your Lord knows best what is in your hearts. If you do deeds of righteousness, verily He is Most Forgiving to those who turn to him again and again. And render to kinfolk their rights and to those in want and the wayfarer, but do not squander your wealth like a spendthrift. Verily spendthrifts are the brothers of devils, and Satan is ungrateful to his Lord. Even if you have turned away from them seeking your Lord's mercy that you hope for, speak to them kind words of ease. Make not your hand tied stingily to your neck nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach so that you become blameworthy and destitute. Verily, your Lord provides sustenance in abundance for whoever He wishes and he withholds it as well, for he is Well-Aware of His servants and sees all that they do. Do not kill your children for fear of want. We shall provide sustenance for them as well as you. Truly killing them is a great sin. Nor approach adultery. It is a deplorable act and an evil way. Nor kill a soul that Allah has made sacred except in the dispensation of justice. If anyone has been slain wrongly, We have given his next of kin authority in the matter, but let him not exceed the bounds in the matter of taking life, for he is supported (by the Law). Nor approach the orphan's wealth except to improve it until he attains the age of majority. Fulfill your pledges, for every pledge will be asked about. Give full measure when you measure and use a balance that is sound. This is better and fairer in the final estimation. Do not pursue what you have no knowledge of, for surely hearing, sight, and the heart all will be questioned. Nor walk on the Earth haughtily, for you cannot rend the Earth asunder nor reach the mountains in stature. The evil of all such things is hated by your Lord. These are among the precepts of wisdom that your Lord has revealed to you. Take not with Allah any other god, lest you be thrown into Hell, blameworthy and rejected." [Sūrah al-Isrā': 23-39].
These verses give definition to matters which are clear, indisputable, and indispensable, upon which all unity must have its basis. There are in fact ten clear and indisputable principles outlined in these texts:
1. The obligation of worshipping Allah alone and the prohibition of polytheism.
2. The obligation of showing kindness to one's parents.
3. The obligation of safeguarding life and the prohibition of murder, regardless of whether the victim is one's own child, another relative, or a stranger.
4. The prohibition of indecent acts, both those acts that are openly indecent like drinking, fornication, and adultery, and those that are secret, like the malice, hatred, envy, and hypocrisy that one harbors in the heart and those acts of indecency that one conceals from others.
5. The obligation of both safeguarding wealth and giving those who are needy what they are entitled to. This includes the prohibition of transgressing against the property of orphans.
6. The obligation of fulfilling one's contracts and covenants, regardless of whether it is a covenant with Allah or with another human being, though the more resolute the covenant, the more serious the matter will be.
7. The obligation of upholding justice in both word and deed - and this is one of the greatest principles - and the obligation of justice in giving weights and measures. Allah says: "So establish weights with justice and do not rig the balance to show deficiency." [Sūrah al-Rahmān: 9]
8. The prohibition of arrogance and unethical behavior. Such behavior is recognized by way of our common humanity, our reason, and our innate dispositions.
9. The necessity of following the Straight Path of Allah and avoiding paths that are deviant. Allah says: "This is My Way leading straight. Follow it. Follow not other paths. They will scatter you all away from His Path." [Sūrah al-An`ām: 153]
10. The necessity of not pursuing matters of which one has no knowledge. A person must feel responsible for what he chooses to listen to and see and for his heart and tongue, for Allah says: " for surely hearing, sight, and the heart all will be questioned." [Sūrah al-Isrā':36]
As for this last point, many people feel that they must form an opinion on every matter, even though they may not have the ability or experience to do so. Maybe they are too young or possess insufficient understanding of the pertinent issues. Maybe they have not studied the matter in enough depth or are too busy with other, more important concerns.
Ibn Taymiyah says: All of the Messengers (peace be upon them) agree on matters of belief like belief in Allah, the angels, the Book ,the Prophets. They also agree on the fundamental matters of conduct, like those mentioned in Sūrah al-An`ām. This is part of the universal religion that all of the Messengers (peace be upon them) came with.
|Re: Unity of Purpose, Not Uniformity of Opinion pa|
|06/27/02 at 01:35:07|
|Third part of four by Sheikh Salman al-'Awdah |
Establishing Unity of Purpose
Building Muslim unity on the basis of the general precepts that we have outlined is the best way to ensure that it lasts, because those precepts are clear and unambiguous and because all other matters of religion are referred back to them. Equally important is that these principles are permanent and unchanging and leave no room for doubt or criticism. Therefore, if we go forward on these principles, we will not have to worry about falling into dispute about them a few years down the road. Unity built on such Islamically sound principles is strong and enduring and impervious to disintegration. When unity is not built on these principles, it is threatened with collapse whenever the people involved grow in understanding or their circumstances change. The same can be said for unity that is built on the right principles if extra conditions or opinions are imposed as part of the basis for that unity.
Take , for instance, students of Islam. When they first embark on their studies, they take the opinions and judgments of their sheikh as statements of fact, because they do not yet have the ability to investigate matters on their own. However, when they advance in their studies and grow in knowledge to the level where they can investigate matters for themselves, they start disagreeing with the personal judgments and opinions of their sheikh. The unity of opinion that once existed between the sheikh and his students ceases to exist. Therefore, unity cannot be based on matters of opinion that are subject to review and change. When unity is based on sound, definite principles, then it can endure.
Unity based on something as ephemeral as staunch adherence to a particular opinion is a fragile unity. The same goes for unity based on a specific way of applying the general principles of Islam to a particular set of circumstances.
Take for instance, a group of people that unite around the idea of resting between the two prostrations in prayer, or reading aloud in prayer, or performing qunūt, taking their issue of choice to be a fundamental condition of faith. Some of them go so far as to make this issue - though it is not obligatory in itself - a badge of distinction that sets them apart from the Muslim masses. This is wrong, because Muslims should never strive to set themselves apart from the rest of the Muslims. They should only allow this to happen if standing for the truth sets them apart, but of course, without the intention of being different. When unity is based on something like this, it is destined to fall apart. The same goes for the dubious unity achieved by declaring those who hold opposing views on controversial matters as being outside the fold of Islam. With the passage of time, people's ideas change. They learn other points of view and the evidence upon which those points of view are based. Those seeking the truth objectively will change their views when they are convinced that another opinion is more correct, breaking up the unity based on commonality of opinion that once existed.
People can never come together unless they can learn to tolerate differences of opinion. Even prophets differed with each other, in spite of the fact that revelation from Allah would come to them day and night. Look at the story of Mūsā and his brother Hārūn (Moses and Aaron, peace be upon them) when Mūsā left him with the people while he went to speak with his Lord. Mūsā (peace be upon him) instructed his brother, saying: "Act on my behalf among the people. Do right and follow not the way of those who do mischief." [Sūrah al-A`rāf: 142]
But after Mūsā departed, the Israelites took a calf for worship. "The people of Mūsā in his absence took for worship the body of a calf which they made out of their golden ornaments." [Sūrah al-A`rāf: 148] Hārūn (peace be upon him) forbade them from this, warning them that their deeds were from Satan and exhorting them to follow his brother. All the same, he remained with them.
When Mūsā (peace be upon him) returned and saw what he saw, he became angry. "He threw down the tablets and seized his brother by the hair of his head and drug him towards him." [Sūrah al-A`rāf: 150]
He then rebuked him on his decision to stay with them, saying: "O Hārūn! What kept you back, when you saw them going wrong, from following me? Have you disobeyed my order?" [Sūrah TāHā: 92-93] Mūsā was criticizing Hārūn for the stance that he took.
Hārūn (peace be upon him) replied: "O son of my mother! Seize me not by my beard nor by the hair of my head. Truly I feared lest you should say: 'You have caused a division among the Children of Israel and you did not observe my word'." [Sūrah TāHā: 94] He made it clear to Mūsā (peace be upon him) that he was looking at the matter from a different angle. He thought it best not to cause division between them and to stay among them until Mūsā (peace be upon him) returned and gave a decision on their affair.
Qatādah, a scholar from the students of the Companions, commented on this verse: "The righteous people before you also hated division."
Hārūn's overriding concern was for maintaining the unity of the Israelites until Mūsā (peace be upon him) returned and decided upon a course of action. During that time, he did his utmost to advise them. Here we have two Prophets disagreeing on how to deal with difficult and unforeseen circumstances.
The reason for this is that this matter required the Prophets to use their own discretion. They had to gauge for themselves what was in the best interests of Islam. They were not disputing the tenets of monotheism - the message towards which all the Prophets called - nor were they disagreeing on whether or not to reject polytheism and its adherents - such rejection is part of the testimony of faith. They only disagreed as to what course of action would yield the best results, considering the circumstances. May Allah protect us all from ever falling so far into ignorance as to assume that they were disagreeing on the principles of faith. That would run contrary to their status as Prophets of Allah.
Another case in point is what went on between Mūsā (peace be upon him) and Khidr. Their story is related in the chapter of the Qur'ān entitled Sūrah al-Kahf. Mūsā (peace be upon him) objected to Khidr's behavior on three separate occasions. He objected to Khidr drilling a hole in the poor fishermen's boat, he objected to his killing what appeared to be an innocent boy, and he objected to his not taking compensation for repairing a wall in a town of inhospitable people. Khidr then explained to him the unseen reasons for why he did what he did. Khidr also explained that it was revelation from Allah, saying: "I did not do it of my own accord." [Sūrah al-Kahf: 82].
The story of Mūsā and Khidr gives us an important lesson about how to work with each other in spite of our disagreements. It also gives us a lesson in patience and self control, because most people find it difficult to be patient about things they do not understand
Mūsā (peace be upon him) was one of the major Prophets and Messengers. The first time he objected, it was out of forgetfulness, the second time it was out of what he saw as a violation of Allah's Law, and we can contemplate on what his third objection was about.
We also have the story of the dispute between Mūsā and Ādam (Moses and Adam, peace be upon them). Abū Hurayrah relates that The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "A dispute occurred between Ādam and Mūsā. Mūsa said: 'O Ādam! You are our father and you have brought failure to all of us. You got us expelled from Paradise.'
"Ādam replied: 'O Mūsā! Allah chose you for His words and wrote them for you with His hand. Do you then criticize me for a matter that Allah had decreed four hundred years before He created me?'
"Thus did Ādam win his dispute with Mūsā." [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (6614) and Sahīh Muslim (2652)]
This is not the place to discuss in detail all the implications of this hadīth. However, Ibn Taymiyah wrote an excellent short treatise entitled "al-Ihtijāj bil-Qadr" (Predestination as a Defense) that deals with this hadīth at length.
What is important to us here is that Mūsā and Ādam (peace be upon them) had a disagreement. Mūsā rebuked Ādam for something and Ādam countered his criticism with something else, and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon them all) gave a judgment in favor of Ādam's argument. He did so because Ādam used Allah's decree as a defense for something that had already passed, something that Ādam had already repented for and for which Allah had forgiven him.
Then there is the story of the meeting of Mūsā and Muhammad (peace be upon them) during Muhammad's ascension. When Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) passed by Mūsā (peace be upon him) on his return from his meeting with his Lord, he informed him that Allah had enjoined upon him and his followers fifty obligatory prayers a day. Mūsā (peace be upon him) responded: "I had to deal with the severest situations with the Children of Israel and I can tell you that your people will not be able to bear that. Go back to your Lord and ask him to lighten the burden."
Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) returned and Allah reduced the number of prayers for him and when he went back, Mūsā (peace be upon him) told him the same thing. This happened two more times until at length when the prayers were reduced to five, he refused to return to his Lord and ask for another reduction. He said: "I feel ashamed to go back to my Lord again about this matter." [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (349) and Sahīh Muslim (162)]
In this story we see from Mūsā (peace be upon him) an appeal being made, an attempt to convince, a suggestion given, and even pressure being applied. But we observe that this had its limits. No doubt, Mūsā (peace be upon him) had a basis for what he said in the experience he had with the Children of Israel and what he saw of their shortcomings and weaknesses. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) accepted his suggestion the first, second, and even the third time. After that he felt ashamed to go before his Lord again with that request. There was a great wisdom behind this refusal, because his followers have the special distinction and status of being the carriers of the final Message and they have qualities not possessed by the Children of Israel.
Allah has made the personalities of different individuals unique. It is a mistake to assume that because somebody is sterner in matters of religion that he is necessarily more God-fearing. Often such sternness is merely an aspect of that person's personality and not a reflection of that person's religiousness.
During the Battle of Badr, Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) asked his Companions what they though should be done with the prisoners of war.
Abū Bakr said: "O Messenger of Allah! They are your people and your kinsmen, so spare them and take your time with them. Perhaps Allah will forgive them."
`Umar said: "O Messenger of Allah! They expelled you and they rejected you. Bring them forward and smite their necks."
`Abd Allah b. Rawāhah said: "O Messenger of Allah! Look for a valley filled with dry brush. Make them enter it, then set them afire."
Al-`Abbās said: "You have broken your ties of kinship."
Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) went inside without saying anything. The people began saying to each other things like: "He will act upon the opinion of Abū Bakr." and: "He will take the opinion of `Umar." and: "He will accept the opinion of `Abd Allah b. Rawāhah.
Allah's Messenger then came out to them and said: "Allah makes some people's hearts so gentle that they become gentler than milk, and Allah makes some people's hearts so hard that they become harder than stone. O Abū Bakr! You are like Ibrāhīm (Abraham, peace be upon him) who said: 'And whoever follows me is from me, and whoever disobeys me, then You, O Allah, are Forgiving and Merciful.' And Abū Bakr, you are also like `Īsā (Jesus, peace be upon him) who said: 'If you punish them, then they are indeed Your servants, and if you forgive them, then indeed you are the Mighty, the Wise.'"
Then he addressed `Umar and said: "O `Umar! You are like Nūh (Noah, peace be upon him) who said: 'Do not leave of the unbelievers anyone on Earth!' And `Umar, you are also like Mūsā (Moses, peace be upon him) who said: 'My Lord! Make their hearts harder so they will not believe until they see a painful punishment!'" [Sunan al-Tirmidhī (1714) and Musnad Ahmad (3632)]
Gentleness in this case is praiseworthy, because it is for Allah, but at the same time we can recognize it as a personality trait. I might just be a person who is naturally gentle and pins his hopes on the people accepting Islam, becoming believers, and fearing Allah. For this reason, I am always lenient and indulgent with them, hoping to draw them closer to Islam. Abū Bakr is a good example of this type of person. This is why Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him)said: "Allah makes some people's hearts so gentle " His gentleness was not outside the framework of Islamic Law, as would be the case if he gave them his approval to commit sins or to transgress against Allah's Laws.
We can see sternness and severity in the same way. This is why the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Allah makes some people's hearts so hard " This hardness and sternness is not reprehensible, since it is not born of obstinacy and extremism and it does not seek to deny people their rights. It is sternness for the sake of Allah.
We are not here talking about the reprehensible hard-heartedness mentioned in the verse: "Thenceforth were your hearts hardened. They became like stone or even worse in hardness." [Surah al-Baqarah: 74] We are talking about sternness on truth and anger for the sake of Allah. Just as Abū Bakr is an example of proper gentleness, `Umar is an example of proper sternness. Abū Bakr, though, is better than `Umar, since Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) said that if Abū Bakr's faith was weighed against the faith of all the Muslims combined, his would outweigh theirs. He is the Muslim who carries the epithet Siddīq, which means the most upright in faith. He is the best of the Muslims after Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) and he has virtues shared by none other.
The point being made here, however, is that neither gentleness nor severity alone can be taken as an indication of religious piety. A gentle person and a stern person could be equally religious. The gentle one expresses his religiousness with the gentleness that Allah has placed within him, while the stern person expresses his religiousness though the sternness that Allah has made part of his personality. Each one, through his deeds, can bring about a lot of good.
We have seen disagreements that have occurred between Prophets as well as a disagreement that occurred between the Companions of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) concerning prisoners of war. The Companions disagreed on numerous other matters as well, so many in fact that we would be hard pressed to try and enumerate them. They disagreed about when to pray while on the road to Banū Qurayzah. There disagreement on numerous matters of Islamic Law are well known.
This is a fact that can neither be avoided nor denied. It is a part of human nature. Compounding this matter is that people have different degrees of knowledge, different levels of understanding, and different opinions about the authenticity of the texts that they rely upon. These and many other factors lead to disagreements.
It is fruitless to deny the existence of disagreement. It is like denying human nature. The best thing to do is to acknowledge its existence and try to place it into a proper framework to make sure that disagreement never infringes upon the necessary principles of the religion, matters that our pious predecessors were unanimous about. There is nothing wrong with setting other guidelines for disagreement as the situation requires them, so that matters can be studied and reviewed properly, as long as the basic, indisputable principles of the religion are left intact.
Some of these guidelines follow:
1. Disagreement is allowed in secondary matters, not in basic principles:
Disagreement must not occur in the basic principles of the religion. The predecessors were, for example, unanimously agreed on the fact that prayer is an obligatory pillar of Islam and that whoever denies its being obligatory is an unbeliever. At the same time, they disagreed about certain details related to the performance of prayer and the conditions for its valid performance. They disagreed on the legal ruling regarding the person who neglected prayer. If any of these points is taken as a basis for unity, then discord, polarization, and antagonism will be the inevitable result
For instance, a brother once asked me about a certain group that exists in one of the countries of North Africa. This group claims that if a person disputes the unbelief of someone who neglects prayer, then that person is not from the people who will be saved. The position of this group is wrong for a number of reasons.
Firstly, none of the early scholars ever held such a position.
Secondly, such a stance implies that the great jurists al-Shāfi`ī, Mālik, and Abū Hanīfah are not from the group who will be saved, since they do not claim that a person who neglects prayer is an unbeliever.
I may prefer the view that one who neglects prayer is an unbeliever, or I may take the view of Ibn Taymiyah that a person who never prays at all, not even occasionally, is an unbeliever, and I may do so on account of the textual evidence that supports this view. Nevertheless, the issue remains a point of Islamic Law about which the earliest Muslims disagreed. The fact that I prefer one viewpoint over another is not a problem. But if I were to go so far as to take my viewpoint and treat it as if it is an absolute and indisputable principle of Islam, and make it a necessary basis for Muslim unity, then I have fallen into a grave error. I may also be attacking legal opinions that just might be more correct than the one I hold.
The pious predecessors were unanimously agreed on the fact that the Qur'ān is from Allah and that it was revealed and uncreated. They all recognized the authority of the Qur'ān. They differed, however, on the meaning of some of its verses. They disputed as to whether or not a particular verse was abrogated by another. They differed about the different ways of reciting the Qur'ān.
They also agreed about the authority of the Sunnah, as Allah says: "Take what the Messenger gives you and refrain from what he prohibits you." [Sūrah al-Hashr: 7] They disagreed on whether or not a certain hadīth is authentic. They differed about how to reconcile the meanings of two hadīth that apparently contradict one another. They disagreed on how to understand some of the texts. These are some of the reasons for the differences of opinion that they had, even in some matters that seem to us so obvious that we are surprised that they disagreed about them at all.
For instance, they disagreed about how the call to pray was to be executed, in spite of the fact that it had been called five times a day every day since the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him). They disagreed about raising the hands in supplication while standing in prayer. They disagreed about the exact times of the prayers. They disagreed about many aspects of how to perform the pilgrimage. They disagreed on matters pertaining to Zakāh. We can read about these and may other disagreements in the books of Islamic Law. The fact that these disagreements exist does not give us license to do as we please. It is for the student of Islamic Law to decide about these matters on the basis of the sound principles and methods of that discipline.
2. Disagreement is allowed in means, not in the ultimate ends:
The purposes and objectives of Islam are agreed upon, like protecting the five universal human needs and calling people to the worship of Allah. Muslims are unanimously agreed that it is an obligation to call others to Islam, and this obligation may be on an individual or on the Muslim community as a whole. Allah says:
"Invite to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, a" [Sūrah al-Nahl: 125]
"Invite to your Lord." [Sūrah al-Hajj: 67]
"Say: This is my way. I invite to Allah upon sure knowledge." [Sūrah Yūsuf: 108]
Approaches to this work may differ from time to time and from country to country. In Islamic Law, any approach taken in inviting people to Allah can be assumed to be permitted unless there is explicit evidence to show that it contravenes the Law. People may come up with novel ways of calling others to Islam. In some cases, a certain approach may become mandatory if there is no other way available to successfully convey the Message. Today, the diversity of media at our disposal gives us many options. We must exercise our judgment and use our discretion to utilize these means effectively. We are bound to disagree on how to do so, but this should not cause us to get angry with each other or cause us to become divided. We must keep in mind that we all have the same goal - to spread the message of Islam to those who need it and to those who are ignorant of it, and to as wide a cross section of humanity as possible.
3. Differences in emphasis are permitted:
There are many obligations in Islam that fall on society as a whole and not on every individual equally. For this reason, some people will engage in calling others to Islam, while others will engage in enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. Allah says: "Let there arise from among you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong. They are the successful ones." [Sūrah Āl `Imrān: 104] This means that among the Muslims there must be some who are engaged in this work.
Other Muslims will be engaged in other activities. Some will devote themselves to jihad. Then there are those who specialize in learning and teaching others the matters of their religion. This goes for all other activities of life. In fact all those who work to protect the welfare of the people, those who treat their illnesses, assist them in their travels and in their settled lives are engaged in fulfilling the collective obligations of Islamic Law, whether they are aware of it or not.
Therefore, it is not right for a person who Allah has guided to excel in a certain activity to belittle the work engaged in by others. Allah refers to such behavior when He says: "And they forgot about a good portion of the Message that was sent to them" [Sūrah al-Mā'idah: 13]
No single individual can encompass all aspects of Islamic Law and all the requirements of Muslim society. Every Muslim is needed, some fulfilling these duties and some fulfilling those. Forgetting the relevance of activities and duties other than those in which we ourselves are engaged is a cause of enmity and hatred.
Regarding the verse "And they forgot about a good portion of the Message that was sent to them", Ibn Taymiyah writes:
Allah informed them - the People of the Scripture - about their forgetfulness of what was sent to them, referring to their abandoning some of the works that they were commanded to perform. This was a cause for hatred and enmity to spread among them.
This is exactly what is happening between us today, like the disputes we find people engaging in with regard to the principles of their faith as well as many secondary matters, and like the scholars and worshipers who resemble the Jews and Christians when each tells the other that they have nothing to stand upon. Allah says: "The Jews say the Christians have nothing to stand upon and the Christians say the Jews have nothing to stand upon yet they profess to follow the same Book." [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 13]
Likewise we see the jurist who concerns himself with outward deeds and the Sufi who concerns himself with spiritual matters condemn each other's approach They accuse each other of being outside of the faith or at least treat each other with the same level of aversion. Hatred and enmity grows between them, though Allah has commanded us to purify our hearts as well as our outward actions. Both pursuits are part of our religion and both are obligatory. Many of our pious jurists are only concerned with the ritual purification of their bodies and give it inordinate attention while neglecting the obligatory and voluntary matters related to the purification of their hearts. The only kind of purification they understand is physical. Conversely, we find many Sufis and ascetics inordinately concerned with the purification of their hearts to the exclusion of the necessary and voluntary acts of outward purification.
We find the jurists becoming plagued by misgivings making them use too much water and fearing that all sorts of pure substances are tainted with impurities, avoiding what Islamic law does not command them to avoid. All the while their hearts are full of envy, pride, and rancor towards their brethren. In this way they resemble the Jews. I do not mean to generalize. I am only speaking of what affects a portion of the jurists.
As for the Sufis, they are apt to fall into gross acts of negligence while they go to excesses in rectifying their inner selves. Some of them go so far as to make ignorance of what is evil and must be shunned a means of purifying their souls. They fail to make the distinction between keeping the inner self free from desiring what is wrong and the heart being able to recognize what is in fact wrong, the latter being a religious obligation. Due to this ignorance and negligence, they might fail to avoid things that are impure and fail to perform the obligatory acts of physical purification. In this way they resemble the Christians.
Enmity arises between these two groups because both of them went to extremes and "forgot about a good portion of the Message that was sent to them." In this way they lost sight of the truth. They can even go so far as to oppress each other and commit acts of aggression. Sometimes they attack each other. Sometimes they attack the rights that Allah has over them. Both of these things, in fact, go hand-in-hand. This is why Allah says "Due to envy among them" [Sūrah Āl `Imrān: 19] Each group goes against the other without realizing the truth that the other possesses, so they do not refrain from attacking that truth.
What we find is that the religion is the single cause for bringing about unity and feelings of mutual affection. This requires acting upon all aspects of the religion, which we can sum up as the worship of Allah alone, without partner, both outwardly and inwardly. Likewise, the reason for division is to forget about a good portion of the Message out of envy for one another.
The effects of unity are to attain Allah's mercy, His pleasure, and His blessings. This leads to success in this world and the Hereafter and an illuminated countenance on the Day of Resurrection. The results of division are Allah's punishment, His curse, and a darkened countenance on the Day of Resurrection. Allah's Messenger (peace be upon him) will disassociate himself from such people." [Ibn Taymiyah, Majmū` al-Fatāwā 91:12-17)]
The Sheikh was using this example that sprung from the circumstances and difficulties of his time. We can, though, apply his words to any of the many rival groups today, even those groups that due much good and act in accordance with the Sunnah. We find between them rivalry in their activities, in matters of knowledge, and in their devotions. This leads these good people to treat each other harshly, to fall into enmity and hatred, and to fail to acknowledge each other's rights.
|Re: Unity of Purpose, Not Uniformity of Opinion pa|
|06/27/02 at 01:36:42|
|Last part of four by Sheikh Salman al-'Awdah. |
Have very good advices for all Muslims as to how we can build a community united on the common purpose of worshipping Allah and spreading His religion. (Thanks to IISNA.com for sending these articles to us through email@example.com)
A Three Part Breakdown
Most things can be placed in one of three graded categories: highest, lowest, and medium. Take wealth, for instance. You have your extremely rich, your desperately poor, and your people of moderate means who make up the majority. The same goes for beauty. Some people are breathtakingly beautiful, others are ugly, and the rest of us - the vast majority - are average. Then you have attributes like strength, knowledge, honesty, and decency with most people possessing moderate amounts of each, while a few people excel in them and some are sorely deficient.
This three-tiered breakdown works for most matters. Some people are at the epitome of some given quality, trait, or skill, others are almost completely bereft of it, while the vast majority possess it to some modest degree. The attribute of moderation is no exception to this rule. Some people are extremely balanced and moderate in their outlook and their behavior. Others are very weak in this respect. Most people, however, are somewhere in between.
Why then should we fail to accept that Muslim unity can embrace three broad groups of people:
1. Reasonably moderate and balanced people who make up the majority of the scholars, reformers and Islamic workers, as well as the majority of the general Muslim public. There will be differences among them, of course, since everyone cannot be alike, but they will all fall within this general category.
2. People who tend towards staunchness and severity. These people tend to hold strict opinions and pursue difficult courses of action, since these things suit their natural inclinations and their psychological dispositions. These people can carry out certain aspects of Islamic Law that others may neglect, and they can make a positive contribution as long as they can keep their staunchness and severity within the bounds of Islamic Law and avoid excessiveness and religious extremism.
This kind of personality is needed for Islamic work as well, because there are some people out there that can only be handled by such a personality. We must also recognize that among our opponents are extremists and radicals who can only be kept in check by people as hard and harsh as they are.
3. People who are very lenient and tolerant and possibly even casual to a certain extent. These people also have a role to play as long as they do not put into doubt established principles of the faith nor the indisputable teachings upon which Muslims are unanimously agreed. They must be accepted into the general framework of Islamic work that we are discussing.
There are, however, general conditions to which all three groups of people must conform:
1. They must not forget the value of others. No one group from among these three should ever impose their approach on others, thinking that their way is the only correct way of doing things. They must suffice themselves with the idea that their way is the best way for themselves to exploit their own gifts and strengths. They must recognize that others are doing good things as well. This is one of the wisdoms behind Allah creating people with various dispositions and personalities, able to excel at different activities and carry out a variety of important duties. The rallying cry of the people should be: "All of us are on one of Islam's ports of call and who knows when it will need to dock at our harbor." We should not make our rallying cry: "These have nothing to stand upon and those have nothing to stand upon" just like the People of the Scripture did before our time.
Each of us is on the truth, a different picture of the truth. The truth is not limited to what you or I are doing. It is much broader than that.
2. They must all adhere to the necessary principles of Islam, the minimum of which are the indisputable principles that we have already mentioned. People must avoid losing sight of the religion and they must equally avoid extremism. They must even avoid taking their claims of "moderation" out of the proper context. The Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "This religion is easy. No one becomes harsh and strict in the religion without it overwhelming him. So fulfill your duties as best you can and rejoice. Rely upon the efforts of the morning and the evening and a little at night and you will reach your goal." [Sahīh al-Bukhārī (39) and Sahīh Muslim (2816)]
3. When we respond to each other or criticize one another, we must keep it as restrained as possible. We should avoid hurling accusations and do our best to engage in well-mannered, well-intentioned dialogue. Each group must recognize the worth of the other and the good work that they do instead of minding each other's business. Whoever feels that he must explain to someone else what he believes to be true, then he must do so without cutting off relations with the other party and without belittling their efforts. I say this, though I believe that students, scholars, and the general Muslim public must be able to accept differences of opinion and that such disagreement should not diminish the love and concern that they have for each other. I also believe that the disagreement of the scholars is not a lamentable form of disagreement, nor do I believe that it has to be a threat to unity. The problems occur only when people turn such disagreements into causes for hatred and violent arguments.
The biggest problem is that the followers of different sheiks and groups tend to go overboard in their adherence to their sheiks' views, exaggerating their importance and even lying to defend them. This is why Ibn Taymiyah said:
Whoever raises somebody else - it does not matter who he is - up on a pedestal to the point where friends and enemies are determined on the basis of how much they agree or disagree with that person in word or deed, than he is causing division and sectarianism in his religion. If a person prefers to take his knowledge and understanding from the approach of a certain scholar and his followers, then he must not make them the criterion for his acceptance or rejection of others. A person should try to accustom himself to bringing understanding to his own heart and then acting upon it. This will prevent him from going out of bounds, since the depths of a person's heart are cleansed by trials.
No one should call to or defend a certain legal ruling or belief merely on the strength of it being from those who he chooses to follow. He should only do so for what is commanded by Allah and His Messenger (peace be upon him). A person should first call to what is found in the Qur'ān - for it is a guidance and a light - then what is found in the words of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) who is the leader of all the people of knowledge, and then turn to the words of the prominent scholars.
A person who calls others to matters of faith will be one of two kinds of people. He may be a scholar qualified to use his independent juristic discretion, capable of referring back to the legal texts of the first three centuries and deciding which legal decisions are the strongest. Otherwise, he will be a follower who merely follows the words of those early scholars. This is because the scholars of the first three centuries were better than those who came after them.
Once this is clear, we should declare what Allah commands us to declare: "Say: We believe in Allah and the revelation given to us and to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes, and that given to Moses and Jesus, and that given to all the Prophets from their Lord. We make no difference between them and we submit to Allah." [Sūrah al-Baqarah: 136] We should enjoin what Allah has commanded and prohibit what He has forbidden. We must then do the same with the commands and prohibitions of our Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), since Allah says: "Take what the Messenger gives you, and refrain from what he prohibits you." [Sūrah al-Hashr: 7] The legal injunctions of our faith are built upon three things: the Qur'ān, the Sunnah, and the Consensus of the scholars.
Observations and Words of Caution
1. We must seek out our areas of agreement, not our points of contention. Whoever goes into a matter looking for things that will displease him will definitely find such things, either in the generality of someone's statement, or in some difference of opinion, on in some legal verdict. People should deal with each other without suspicion and without digging up each other's faults.
2. Muslim unity and solidarity must be based on faith. Whoever is clearly a Muslim and clearly possesses faith has with him the basis for brotherhood. Faith increases and decreases, as does a person's Islam. All Muslims share a common set of rights that are set forth in the sacred texts. As for correcting the mistakes that people make, this does not run contrary to the spirit of brotherhood as long as this correction comes in the spirit of advice and in a concerned and clement manner. Correcting someone's faults does not entail denying that person his rights.
A single person might have within him elements of faith and hypocrisy. A person might deserve one's loyalty in some matters while requiring one to keep one's distance in other matters. Scholars give the following example to illustrate this point: A person can have his hand cut off for stealing, but he still has the right to receive funds frkm the public treasury if he is poor.
Allah mentions these relationships in the following verses and makes clear that correcting people and giving them advice are activities in harmony with the spirit of brotherhood:
"The believers, men and women, are protectors of one another. They enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong." [Sūrah al-Tawbah: 71]
"The believers are but a single brotherhood, so make peace and reconciliation between your brothers, and fear Allah that perhaps you might receive mercy." [Sūrah al-Hujurāt: 10]
"You are the best of peoples brought forth for humanity, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and believing in Allah." [Sūrah Āl `Imrān: 110]
3. Correcting others is a desired goal, but it must be carried out with mercy and kindness. The one doing so must have love in his heart for his brother and a sincere desire to give beneficial advice. He should keep a good opinion of his brother and look for excuses for his behavior. He must observe his brothers rights. He should be ever vigilant to make sure his heart never feels happy that his brother has fallen into error.
4. Do not think, dear reader, that these words are being directed at anyone other than yourself. I am speaking to you directly. The problems that we as Muslims are suffering from today are widespread and deeply rooted. The entire Muslim nation is infected with them. The problems that we are facing are from ourselves more than they are from our enemies. They start from within our individual selves. If we cannot purge them from our hearts, our minds, our words, and our deeds, then we will not be able to succeed.
We are always waiting for others to change their opinions and reform themselves, but we never seem willing to do so ourselves. We confuse steadfastness in faith with obstinacy towards our own opinions, because we learned these opinions first from our sheikhs and teachers, even if those opinions might be weak.
5. It is dangerous to categorize other people. This was an affliction of the nations of old that came before Islam. It is also the sickness of many groups today. When a person sees from another something he does not like, he hastily categorizes that person and declares him to be from this group or that, according to the prejudices of his own mind. In this way, he can dismiss the other person and erect a permanent barrier between him and that other. He can also build a barrier that prevents other people from benefiting from the disliked individual. He just has to declare: "He is a Salafī" or "He is an Ikwānī" or call him a "Tablīghī", or a "Qutbī" to get the desired effect. Often such declarations are made without any knowledge, and more often than not out of malice. The one making the accusation rarely knows the details of what the other person actually believes, and is often just parroting the categorization made by others without even knowing who categorized the person in the first place.
For a person to be able to declare someone else as belonging to a certain group or subscribing to a certain ideology, he needs to possess three things. First, he must be a person of knowledge and insight and he must possess the integrity to make a sound decision. Secondly, he must have detailed knowledge of that other person and the principles and beliefs to which that person subscribes. Judgments can only be made about something that you understand. Lastly, he must have full knowledge of the school of thought or group that he declares that person to be a part of. Though very few people possess these three qualities, we see that an overwhelmingly large number of people take the matter lightly and categorize anyone they see who seems to agree with the ideas of this group or that in any matter whatsoever, no matter how trivial.
May the peace and blessings of Allah be upon our Prophet Muhammad and upon all of his family and Companions.
|Re: Unity of Purpose, Not Uniformity of Opinion|
|06/27/02 at 09:15:44|
|sis an and bro asim,|
much thanks to you both for posting these articles here. i have only scanned the three new ones very quickly, will have to read them more carefully later when i have more time, but they seem to be very very good.
can you please tell me about this sheikh?
i don't really know about any current teachers except mokhtar maghraoui, hamza yusuf, and a little about zaid shakir, so i'd appreciate whatever perspective and background on sheikh al-'awdah you could give.....
|Re: Unity of Purpose, Not Uniformity of Opinion|
|06/27/02 at 14:08:09|
this is from his site [url]http://www.islamtoday.net/english/[/url]
Who is Sheikh Salman?
Salman b. Fahd b. `Abd Allah al-Oudah was born in 1376 A.H. He was born in the al-Basr, a village on the outskirts of the city of Buraydah in the district of al-Qasīm.
He is married and has twelve children, the oldest of whom is Mu`ādh.
He spent his early years in that village, and then moved to Buraydah to study. He spent his first two years there completing elementary school, then transferred to the Academic Institute in Buraydah where he studied for six years. This institute had gathered together an impressive group of the regions noteworthy scholars, among them Sheikh Sālih al-Sukaytī, Sheikh `Alī al-Dāli`, and Sheikh Sālih al-Bulayhī and many others like them (may Allah have mercy on them all.) This education afforded him the opportunity to sit with them and benefit from their knowledge and their mode of conduct. His enrollment in the institute also gave him the opportunity to benefit from its library which at that time contained a large number of books. There was also a library from which books could be borrowed and which was constantly acquiring new books that the people needed.
He committed to memory a number of short treatises on various subjects. Among these were:
- Al-`Usūl al-Thalāthah, al-Qawā`id al-Arba`ah, Kitāb al-Tawhīd, and al-`Aqīdah al-Wāsitiyyah, all of which pertain to Islamic beliefs.
- Matn al-Ajurrūmiyyah in Arabic grammar, which he memorized and then taught to his young pupils in the mosque.
- Matn al-Rahbiyyah in the laws of inheritance.
- Zād al-Mustaqni` which could possibly be the most famous and most comprehensive treatise in Islamic Law according to the Hanbalī school of thought. He studied a large portion of its commentary in the Academic Institute and studied its commentary with a number of scholars, notably Sheikh Sālih al-Bulayhī and Sheikh Muhammad al-Mansūr (may Allah have mercy on them both).
- Nukhbah al-Fikr by Ibn Hajar al-`Asqalānī in Hadīth terminology. He memorized it in his student years and then taught it to his own students and assisted them in memorizing it.
- There are a number of treatises that he has partially memorized, among them Alfiyyah Ibn Mālik in Arabic grammar and a number of treatises in jurisprudence and other subjects.
He received his Masters degree in the Sunnah and its sciences from the faculty of `Usūl al-Dīn (Principles of Religion). His Masters thesis was entitled The Strangeness of Islam and its Legal Rulings in the Light of the Prophetic Sunnah.
Among the roughly fifty books that he has published are: The First Strangers, Characteristics of the Strangers, Withdrawing from Society and Participating in It, A Discussion with Sheikh Muhammad al-Ghazālī, Who has the Right to Engage in Independent Juristic Reasoning?, and Guidelines for Studying Islamic Law. These publications are all currently available on the Arabic pages of the website www.islamtoday.net
He used to give weekly lessons for the general public in the main mosque of Buraydah as well as other lessons where he taught the commentary of the book Bulūgh al-Marām. He also gave daily lessons after the Morning Prayer, where he gave a commentary on Sahīh al-Bukhārī, Sahīh Muslim, and some commentary on the Qurān. He also taught such books as Kitāb al-Tawhīd, al-Usūl al-Thalāthah, and Nukhbah al-Fikr. These lessons were lost, along with other beneficial works of the Sheikh, during the crisis that had to endure along with a number of other Islamic workers.
He was imprisoned for five years, from 1415 A.H. until the end of 1420 A.H. on account of some of his books and some of the lessons that he had given. He was released along with his colleagues and resumed his activities from his home, giving lessons after the Sunset Prayer from Wednesday to Friday weekly on topics such as Quranic commentary, ethics, education, and personal reform. He is currently supervising the popular website IslamToday at www.islamtoday.net, which is the first website in the Kingdom to offer such a high level of diversity in its subject matter and material. He also gives classes and lectures over the Internet and by phone to a wide range of listeners.
He also works daily in answering the questions that Muslims send to him through his e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org. He is also busy with compiling and preparing a number of his writings for publication.
|Re: Unity of Purpose, Not Uniformity of Opinion|
|06/27/02 at 23:54:02|
I hadn't seen the site before, the sheikh is very familiar throughout the entire Muslim world and is very knowledgable and respected, mashallah. His opinions carry a great deal of weight. I remember a few months back when he gave the fatawa, whoever helps the disbelievers against the Muslims is a disbeliever (kafir) himself and it caused much fear amongst some of these rulers of Muslim lands, fear for their lives. The article was posted here some time back.
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