Muslims and the Message

Let us hasten to add, however, that a serious concentration on the effort to improve ourselves cannot and should not act as an excuse for social and political apathy. This, in fact, is a contradiction in terms. There can be no internal struggle – no internal Jihad – if its results do not overflow into the external struggle to make known the message. But what we do know is that during or after an effective inner Jihad, the message that would then flow from us would not be a message of the truncated and fanatical variety that we so often see around us today. A fanaticism that is making it difficult for the Ummah to stand on one leg let alone balance itself.

A cursory look at how Islam spread in the past ought to illustrate this point. In Indonesia Islam was not spread by the sword or by “pseudo ” revolutionaries, but by people who had imbibed in their characters and personalities the greatness of the Islamic message. And where the Muslims entered in battle array – such as Egypt – the sword of battle was wielded along with the sword of truth. The Egyptians (both those who embraced Islam and those who did not) collectively raised their hands in thanks after their liberation from the eastern Roman Empire. The reason for their success was simple. These Muslim merchants, scholars, and warriors were representatives of the highest values known to any civilisation – the values of communal love, respect for human dignity and the respect for freedom of thought and religion. These were people who knew that if an injustice was committed against them that to requite the injustice was permissible. But they also knew that to forgive was better. They were people who, when it came to differences of opinion – a natural part of being human – understood clearly the principle contained in a Prophetic tradition where a matter requiring a legal ruling arose amongst the companions in the presence of the Prophet (s). The Prophet (s) then asked Amr ibn ul-`As to provide them with an answer. Amr replied : “How is it possible for me to give judgment while the Prophet (s) is here amongst us?” The Prophet (s) then said: ” Give your judgment, Amr. For if you are right then you have gained two rewards (one for being correct and the other for sincerely trying to find a solution) and if you are wrong then you will be granted one reward (for having at least tried to solve the problem). These, too, are people who embraced the sublime principle contained in the Qur’an:

” And do not let others’ hatred of you cause you not to be just – be just for that it is nearer to piety.” (Surat al-Maida : 9)

To vie amongst ourselves in decadence and not in righteousness, and to merely pour scorn upon non-Muslims whose twin sources of information are our own narrowness and the writings of many a bigoted orientalist, is to commit a grave wrong both against humanity and against Allah the most Merciful of the Merciful.

(This article which appeared in “The Dome” newsletter in 1991)

© Azzawiya Masjid

Peace and Blessings upon the Prophet, his Family, and his Companions

© 2012 As-Sunnah Foundation of America

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