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Islam and “Activism”>>.....................(plz read)

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    Islam and “Activism”>>.....................(plz read)

    Islam and Activism

    When looking at the Muslim Ummah, it is clear that there has arisen discontentment with the current world order. This can be attributed to the situation of Muslims throughout the world on both a domestic and international level. Consequently, an awareness of the necessity for change has surfaced thereby inciting the need for action.

    Many Muslims seek to direct this desire for change through the means of activism. Although the phenomenon of activisim is not foreign to the Muslim Ummah, it is relatively new to the Muslims living in the
    West. Parallel to the appearance of activism as a new trend that is rapidly gaining momentum among many Muslims is the emergence of the Muslim activist. The current thinking among Muslims is that the situation of the Muslim Ummah will change through the means of activism, and as a result, many aspire to join the ranks of the activists among the Muslims.

    However, despite the tremendous effort being dedicated towards change, the situation of the Muslim Ummah has not improved substantially. Among the activists themselves, those who have taken the responsibility of leading the Ummah towards change, there exists a considerable degree of confusion. The very definition of what constitutes the main problem of the Muslim Ummah has not been agreed upon. As a result, the Muslims have busied themselves haphazardly chasing scattered objectives that are vaguely defined and fail to address the core issue, which is the absence of Islam as a comprehensive system of life. Furthermore, the level of confusion that exists in defining the methodology for change is even more pronounced. The methods which the Muslims have adopted for themselves to work for the change are based more on innovation, prevailing interests, and circumstance, rather than being based on a profound study of the Islamic sources and the existing realities. For instance, many individuals and organizations are calling the Muslims to integrate into the Kufr political systems, not realizing first that Islam prohibited the Muslims from being a part of any Kufr political establishment and, secondly, that no system would allow any avenue to change the status quo from within its own institutions. Other Muslims are calling for the establishment of Islamic communities as the method for change, failing to realize that the change must occur through a complete reconstruction of the entire status quo and not be limited to finding a niche to reside within the existing status quo. In summary, while there exists a desire for change, this energy is not being utilized towards a comprehensive solution for the situation of the Muslims Ummah. Rather, the resources of the Muslims are either being wasted away in the pursuance of short-lived objectives or are being purposely manipulated to divert the focus of the Muslims from the core issues.

    One can conclude from this brief synopsis of these efforts that there exists a severe crisis in the Muslims insofar as their efforts towards change are concerned. The stark reality is that tremendous amount of effort is being dedicated and resources are being exhausted, while the status quo remains essentially unchanged. The reason for such a predicament that Muslims are facing now may be related to the very nature of activism itself and how Muslims understand it. Before leaping towards activism as a cure-all for the situation of the Muslim Ummah and joining the ranks of the activists, some fundamental questions must be addressed:

    1). What is the definition of activism.

    2). What is the Muslim activist?

    The reason for the confusion that exists among Muslims in general, and among Muslims working for the change in particular, lay in failing to distinguish between Activism as understood in Western vocabulary and the concept of carrying the Dawah. In Western terminology, activism means to engage in any sort of activity in order to exert a change, which is the opposite of pacifism. The definition of activism does not concern itself with carrying out specific acts and abstaining from others based upon a well-defined outlook upon life. Activism, as understood by the West, implies for one to be in a state of action; the issue of whether such actions are correct or incorrect, halal or haram, is irrelevant. Based on this definition of activism, the activist refers to one who is actively engaged in initiating some sort of change in the status quo. As long as the individual is in a state of action, regardless of where the action originated from and where it is heading towards, that individual is considered an activist.

    Unfortunately, Muslims have largely adopted for themselves this viewpoint as a model for carrying the Dawah. The prevailing opinion of the Muslims is that changing the situation of the Ummah will occur through activism. However, this is a false notion because of two fundamental reasons. First, activism is defined as the antagonist of pacifism, which is to engage in any type of activity in order to create some sort of change in the status quo. This definition does not concern itself with whether such actions are based upon the correct Islamic method for changing the status quo or even a correct assessment of the reality. Rather, activism requires for the activist only to be active. Such a definition contradicts with the basic principle in Islam that Muslims are bound by the Quran and the Sunnah in their actions. In working to change the situation of the Ummah, the Muslims are not free to choose from a myriad of activities based upon what they think will create the change. The issue for a Muslim is: What specific methodology did Islam outline in the Quran and the life of the Prophet (saaw) to change the situation of the Muslim Ummah? For example, in order to perform the prayer, the Muslim undertakes specific steps in a well-defined and systematic manner, such as performing the wudu, reciting certain things, and engaging in specific movements. And even performing the movements of the wudu is governed by rules that define how to perform the wudu. If this methodology is not adhered to, then the prayer would not be considered valid. Similarly, in order to change the situation of the Ummah, the actions of the Muslims must be directed by a specific methodology and not left to the human mind or circumstance to decide. Allah (swt) says in this regard:

    The authority belongs only to Allah.

    It is not fit for a believing man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decided upon an issue, that they have any choice in the matter.

    Therefore, defining the objectives of the Muslim Ummah must be based solely upon Islam, and the methodology to achieve this change must be based upon the methodology outlined by the Prophet (saaw). The Prophet (saaw) worked towards a very specific objective, which was to establish Islam as a political entity in a society. This political entity became the vehicle through which the Muslims implemented Islam, protected the dignity of Islam and the Muslims, and conveyed the Dawah of Islam to other nations. Furthermore, the prophet (saaw) worked to establish this entity through a specific methodology. This methodology consisted of building a group of people bonded together solely by the Islamic Aqeedah and cultured with the Islamic personality, interacting with the society to disseminate the Islamic concepts while refuting the Kufr concepts, and then seeking the power in order to rule in a society where the public opinion has been prepared to accept Islam as a system of life.

    Allah (swt) did not order the Muslims to engage in activity for its own sake but rather to implement Islam and to carry the Dawah following the model prescribed by the Prophet (saaw) and not the model of activism as defined in contemporary Western vocabulary. Many Muslims believe incorrectly that any action, as long as it complies with Islam, is part of the methodology for changing the status quo and carrying the Dawah. This is a misnomer because many actions comply with Islam but do not address the critical issues needed to create the change the status quo and are not a part of the methodology for carrying the Dawah. The actions of praying, reciting Quran, fasting, and giving charity, though they are required or encouraged by Islam, are not part of the methodology for carrying the Dawah. Carrying the Dawah is achieved by implementing Islam as a comprehensive ideology and system of life to the world through the mechanism of the Islamic State. If this state does not exist, then carrying the Dawah is shifted towards working to establish the Islamic system. And this process requires the Muslim to carry out specific actions based upon a well-defined methodology, the same manner that the Prophet (saaw) did. Such actions include exposing the corruption of the current regimes in the Muslim World, revealing the plots and conspiracies of the Kuffar against Islam and Muslims, culturing the Muslim Ummah with the political understanding and maturity needed for them to lead the world and govern the affairs of society, and clarifying the Islamic concepts while removing the incorrect ideas from the thinking of the Muslims. To claim that any action, as long as it complies with Islam, constitutes working for the change would scatter the resources and efforts of the Muslims in endless directions.

    Secondly, no endeavor in life occurs without one defining the problem, setting a specific objective, laying out a specific methodology which consists of precise steps in order to achieve this objective, and all the individuals involved to unanimously agree upon the definition of the problem and the course of action required to solve the problem. It would be considered absurd for an engineering company to set for itself the objective of designing a new prototype automobile and undertake to achieve this objective by requiring its staff to learn engineering. Rather, it would be expected for that company to require its staff to learn specific disciplines in engineering in order to acquire the specific knowledge and tools needed to build a car. Engineering is an extremely broad field of knowledge which contains many disciplines, many of which are irrelevant to designing an automobile. It would be fruitless if the companys staff diverted its energies to learn the mechanics of designing bridges, freeways, and space stations, even though these aspects are a part of engineering. Furthermore, it would also be expected for that company to encourage its staff to acquire specific tools that are relevant towards addressing the specific issue of building a prototype model for new automobile. One does not have to learn every computer program and application, read every engineering journal, and rehash every branch of mathematics and physics in order to address this issue. In addition, one would not expect the employees in this company to merrily work in any way that suits them. Simply working harder will not solve the problem that the company is working to achieve. Rather, there must exist a specific format which defines what types of activities to undertake and they type of work that needs to be done, and apportions this work to specific individuals.

    Similarly, working to revive the Muslim Ummah cannot proceed under a vague motto such as work for Islam or be active. The nature of the problem must be understood, the objectives of the Muslim Ummah must be clearly spelled out, and the effort to achieve these objectives must follow a specific recipe outlined by a well-defined methodology. Defining the problem, the objective, and the methodology which outlines how to work for the change, cannot be approached in a superficial or emotional manner because the very status of the Muslim Ummah is at stake in resolving these issues. Addressing these issues must be achieved through a profound thinking process based upon a serious study of the Islamic sources and of the existing realities, and the formula for change must be established solely upon the Islamic texts and upon the irrevocable realities which govern this world.

    In conclusion, activism is a foreign term which many Muslims have borrowed for themselves as a formula for change. As a result, many Muslims ardently believe that engaging in any sort of activity, so long as it complies with Islam, will achieve this change, and all that is needed is for the Muslims to set aside their differences and pool their resources together. Such a model for change amounts to a recipe for disaster because it is calling the Muslims to scatter their resources haphazardly along an endless myriad of conflicting objectives, methods, and understandings, and then to conglomerate all of this chaos together and hope that some sort of momentum for revival will emerge from the mess. Any effort that is not based on a clear foundation of thoughts and a well-defined course of action will constitute wasted energy that will actually create obstacles to the process of revival. Before leaping towards any activity, the Muslim must ask himself some questions, such as: Is this activity based upon a correct understanding of Islam, the method of the Prophet (saaw), and a profound study of the problem, or is it based upon a superficial understanding of the problem? Will a certain activity contribute significantly towards addressing the central issue of reviving the Muslim Ummah, which is the absence of the Islamic system, does it simply address the symptoms of the problem? Most importantly, is this activity going to help the Enemies of Islam in any way or will this activity have the potential to be used by the Enemies of Islam to further their agenda?

    Equally important in distinguishing between activism and carrying the Dawah is differentiating between a Muslim activist and a Dawah carrier. According to many Muslims, the terms Muslim activist and Dawah carrier have been used interchangeably to describe the same person. This has caused many to believe that all that is required for the Dawah carrier is that he be a sincere Muslim and have a willingness to change. While sincerity and the desire to work for the change are important qualities, the Dawah carrier must possess other essential qualities as well, and these qualities are what distinguish the Dawah carrier from the activist. While an activist will confront any issue at face value and attempt to tackle an issue or problem with various activities, the Dawah carrier must possess the ability to think about the issues that face him, and he must proceed in carrying out his actions based on a deep study of the issue or problem at hand. The central concern for the activist is to be in a continual state of activity, regardless of whether or not the activity correctly addresses the issue, whereas the focal point for the Dawah carrier is the Halal and the Haram. The Dawah carrier would not rush to adopt any thought or course of action unless it was presented with the necessary evidence (daleels) to prove that the action or thought emanates solely from Islam and is based upon a correct assessment of the nature of the problem. The Dawah carrier would not rush emotionally towards any call for change or engage in any course of action simply because it carries the slogan of Islam. Rather, the Dawah carrier would first think and ponder upon whether such actions are in compliance with the methodology of the Prophet (saaw) in working for the change and whether such activities are based on a profound understanding of the problem, which will lead to a comprehensive solution.

    Another essential quality of the Dawah carrier, and perhaps the most neglected, is political shrewdness. The Prophet (saaw) said in one hadith: A Mumin (believer) will never fall into the same hole twice. It is worthy to keep in mind that a Dawah carrier, by the nature of his work, is occupying the position of leadership by default. And political sharpness is one of the key characteristics that are possessed by the leaders of any independent nation. Therefore, a Dawah carrier must be well aware of the issues which affect the Muslim Ummah, and this awareness cannot be built upon the public media or an emotional understanding. Rather, this awareness must be established upon a profound study of the international situation, the major powers and their objectives, and how all of these factors relate to the affairs of Muslims. Furthermore, the Dawah carrier must be well aware of who the Enemies of Islam are and the nature of their plots and conspiracies against the Muslims. A Dawah carrier cannot accept any call or movement that gives the Enemies of Islam an authority over the Muslims or plays into the agenda of others. And he cannot accept to lead the Muslims by adopting a course of action or an option for change that is either made available by the Enemies of Islam or will not settle the issue affecting the Muslims in a comprehensive manner. Therefore, the Dawah carrier will naturally reject actions such as working in collaboration with non-Islamic parties, carrying joint activities with non-Muslims, participating in the current political systems, as methods of change, because such options are made available to the Muslims by the Enemies of Islam to contain the Islamic movement. By the same token, the Dawah carrier would also reject options such as Gradual Implementation or applying Islam within a non-Islamic political framework such as a monarchy or a republic, because such alternatives amount to accepting Islam only as a partial solution and not a complete solution.

    Therefore, contrary to popular expectations, one would not see a Dawah carrier basking in the spotlight because, once under the spotlight, an individual has accepted for himself to be contained by the media. One would not see a Dawah carrier sharing the platform with non-Muslims or seeking any assistance from the Kuffar or being in any position where he is supported by a Kufr system, because no system would elect to offer support to someone who is working to truly change the system and replace it altogether. A Dawah carrier would not be rallying the Muslims behind superficial actions or solutions that address only the symptoms of the problem. The Dawah carrier would not be addressing the people with irrelevant speeches about spirituality and morals that have no relevance to the real issues that profoundly affect the Muslims worldwide. Islam is a comprehensive system that Allah (swt) as a practical solution to humanity and not as an abstract theory for intellectual enrichment; therefore, the Dawah carrier would convey Islam as a dynamic ideology designed to shape the thinking of the people and not as an academic theory or a philosophy. In a similar fashion, the Dawah carrier would not be a part of any call or movement to compromises Islam or implements parts of Islam while neglecting other aspects. The Dawah carrier would not call the people to accept the status quo because Islam came to change the status quo, as Allah (swt) stated very clearly in the Quran:

    It is He Who has sent His Messenger with the guidance and the Deen of Truth (Islam) to make it superior over all other deens, even though the Mushriks hate it.

    Rather, the Dawah carrier would be calling the Muslims to adopt Islam as a comprehensive system and way of life based on a profound intellectual creed. Therefore, the Dawah carrier would be calling the Muslims to adopt Islam as their sole reference in their outlook, their ideas, and their lifestyle. And a paramount feature of the Dawah is for the Muslims to work towards establishing the Islamic system in its totality.

    In conclusion, the Muslims must be aware that the method of change is through following the methodology of the Prophet (saaw), and not through the model of activism. The methodology of the Prophet (saaw) calls the Muslims to work towards understanding Islam as a comprehensive ideology based on a powerful intellectual Aqeedah and to carry the Dawah to the world by establishing Islam in its totality. The method prescribed by activism, on the other hand, creates a mentality whereby Muslims are leaping towards any sort of action that presents itself, which ultimately leads to scattering the resources of the Ummah into endless directions. Likewise, the distinction between the activist and the Dawah carrier must be understood. Islam does not ask the Muslims to be activists who seek to engage in any sort of activity for the sake of maintaining a continual state of activity. Rather, Islam obligates the Muslims to be Dawah carriers thinking and acting based solely upon Islam, politically aware of their environment, and seeking to establish Islam in its totality through the methodology defined by the Quran and the Sunnah, not for power or prestige but for the Pleasure of Allah.

    "Only for Allah and to gain His pleasure"