Knowledge before action
Hazzam bin Hakeem narrated from his uncle from the Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم who said:
إِنَّكُم أَصْبَحْتُم فِي زَمَان كَثِير فُقَهَاؤه قَلِيل خُطَبَاؤه، قَلِيل سَائِلُوه كَثِير مَعطُوه، العَمَل فِيهِ خَيْر مِنَ العِلْم، وَسَيَأتِي عَلَى النَّاس زَمَان قَلِيل فُقَهَاؤه كَثِير خُطَبَاؤه قَلِيل مَعطُوه كَثِير سَائِلُوه، العِلْم فِيهِ خَيْر مِنَ العَمَل
"You are in a time of many jurisprudents (fuqaha), few speakers/lecturers, many who give and few who ask; so action in this time is better than knowledge. There will soon come a time of few jurisprudents, many speakers, many who beg and few who give; so knowledge in this time is better than action."
This noble advice by the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم builds the principle that Islam has always placed knowledge before action. It is saddening to see that amongst some workers for Islam, action comes before knowledge. This is highly dangerous, since we saw at the beginning of the last century a plethora of patriotic movements rising up against the colonialist occupation only to find that when the colonialists left they implemented the same secular models in their lands. Also we find today, under the banner of Islam, some Muslim governments conducting "experiments" for Islamisation, even though the Qur'an and Sunnah showed in detail the Islamic system, and this has been explained in many volumes of books.
Islam has placed knowledge and thinking as a precondition for action, and this ensures that the action undertaken is the correct action and that the action is according to Islam and is the correct action to achieve the aim. But the question may be asked - what type of knowledge is required? Here are a few areas that anyone working for Islam should seek to understand:
i. To gain an understanding of Islam and its basic concepts. These concepts need to start with the Aqa'id (belief) because this is the basis of all correct actions. A Muslim must be convinced of his basis, because under all strong structures lay a strong, solid foundation. We have witnessed, with great sadness, excellent people with much energy working for the goals of Islam one day and then leaving this work the other because their foundations were weak and all they had was zeal and desire rather than sound knowledge.
ii. To understand the Shari'ah rules. Islam has made it an obligation for a Muslim to understand the Hukm Shari' concerning his actions. So a Muslim must be aware of his obligations. It is incorrect for a Muslim to work for Islam, yet fall short of abiding by the rules of Islam in his personal life. Again we witness with sadness many who openly call out against ‘Western culture' yet in their own lives are engrossed with its films and music, soaps and trivialities the same West gives them. In understanding the Shari'ah rules, one must make sure he or she does not limit themselves to just a specific area which they are inclined to. Rather Islam needs to be taken completely.
iii. To understand the main points of Kufr. This area is unobvious to many. The Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم used to know the thoughts of the Quraish so that he could speak out against them. Also Allah سبحانه وتعالى encouraged this, so in the Qur'an He سبحانه وتعالى points out on many occasions the contradictions that existed with the Mushrikeen. Today the Muslim needs to be aware of the dominant ideology, capitalism, its components and its contradiction with Islam. Again this knowledge requires more than just a superficial understanding such that the call of Islam becomes a general unconvincing call. When Allah سبحانه وتعالى says,
قُلْ هَـذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللّهِ عَلَى بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَاْ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي وَسُبْحَانَ اللّهِ وَمَا أَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ
"Say 'This is my way: I call to Allah with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me. And Glorified and Exalted is Allah. And I am not of the Mushrikeen." [Yusuf: 108]
He سبحانه وتعالى commands the knowledge to be precise. Today we need to understand globalisation, democracy, freedom, interfaith dialogue, and secularism amongst many other ideas that are invalid and cannot be adopted by the Muslims.
iv. Knowledge of the correct Islamic work. If a Muslim were to study Islam correctly he would find that Islam has placed the authority as the most essential organ to safeguard the rules of Islam and the Muslims. This necessitates that in the absence of this authority work is required to bring it back. The Khilafah is the only correct structure Islam has laid down, the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "after me there will be no Prophet, but there will be Khulafah and they will number many". So the correct Islamic work is to call for the Khilafah. That means to work to bring back its return. This work by definition is a political work, and thus requires an aware Islamic political party.
Apart from what has been mentioned above, a Muslim must seek knowledge continuously and must always strive to excel in his or her understanding.
If a Muslim was to engage in gaining knowledge he would realise quickly that knowledge without action is like a donkey with books on its back. This knowledge would be of no use to the people no matter how much he gained and how much of a faqih he became. Islam has said that the most essential component in carrying Islam and bringing back the Khilafah is to carry Da'wa. That is to invite people.
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says,
ادْعُ إِلِى سَبِيلِ رَبِّكَ
"Invite to the way of your Lord..." [An-Nahl: 125]
Also Islam has mandated that Da'wa should be carried immediately after knowledge. Never in the history of Islam has a Da'wa carrier stayed at home after being affected by Islam. The stories of the Sahabah (ra) are all an evidence for this. Also the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "Convey from me even if it is one ayah".
The following needs to be kept in mind when carrying Da'wa.
i. Da'wa should be a focused work. The Muslims need to be told in a clear, unambiguous way that the many problems we see are due to the absence of the Khilafah and that Islam demands the Da'wa carrier to discuss this issue. Muslims must expose the plans of the West in our lands, their agents in the form of our leaders and all that stems from their corrupt ideology that distances the Muslims from uniting once again under this strong leadership such as the erroneous concepts of nationalism, pragmatism, gradualism and the like.
ii. A Muslim should not talk about what he does not know. The Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم always sought revelation from Allah سبحانه وتعالى before he spoke a word. This forms a general rule that one cannot speak out of ignorance.
iii. Da'wa should be carried purely for the pleasure or Allah سبحانه وتعالى. A Da'wa carrier must not seek benefit or position from carrying Da'wa. Rather he must do this purely for the sake of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. This principle, that is to carry Da'wa for the pleasure of Allah سبحانه وتعالى if understood, will ensure the Da'wa carrier does not stray from his path and change his argument to suit the people.
iv. When carrying Da'wa nothing should interfere with the correct idea and the conveyance of it. The Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم was the best example, and he conveyed this message without allowing egoism or personality into the discussion.
v. The call should be carried without compromise. It is not permissible to change the message in order to please the people or to win a temporary supporter. Rather this call needs to be frank, carried with wisdom, that is using the best of styles but conveying the haq (truth) completely. Furthermore the ideas that are carried must not be reconciled with the Western ideology and its standards. It must rather be derived purely from Islam.
vi. The carrier of the Da'wa must be ready to face the trials and tribulations that those who oppose it will place in his or her path. The only way to prepare for this is to have the clear knowledge of the key Islamic ideas such as al Qadaa wal Qadr, or Rizq (sustenance) being from Allah سبحانه وتعالى, or Al-Tawakkul (reliance on Allah [swt]) amongst other ideas. Also they must equip themselves with the knowledge of the previous Prophets (as) and their companions and how they bore hardships and finally they must be close to the Qur'an as there is not any other book but this that has the ability to motivate, inspire and energise.
Working with an Islamic Party
Allah سبحانه وتعالى has made carrying Da'wa Fard upon every Muslim. He سبحانه وتعالى has also obligated upon the community to establish at least one group to call to al-Khair, that is Islam, to enjoin al-Maroof (all that is good) and forbid al-Munkar (all that is evil).
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the Qur'an,
وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
"Let there arise from amongst you a band of people, who call to Al-Khair, enjoining al-maroof and forbidding al-munkar. And they are those who will gain success." [Al-Imran: 104]
This ayah obligates the establishment of a group. If one was to study the nature of the task to re-establish the Khilafah one would find that for this work to be effective, there needs to be a collective effort. Furthermore the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم worked with the Sahabah (ra) as a group to change the Kufr society and transform it to an Islamic one.
There are some points to consider before choosing which group or groups are correct to ensure that the action undertaken is one with full awareness. As with all actions, Allah سبحانه وتعالى will account us for obedience to him and so to just choose any group would be impermissible, rather the one or ones that fulfils the obligation pointed out in this noble ayah must be considered. These are the points:
i. This group must call to Islam. Allah سبحانه وتعالى mentions in this ayah the word ‘Al Khair', which is Islam. So if they were a nationalistic, democratic, capitalistic, socialist group etc... then they would not fulfil the command in this ayah. In fact joining groups who are based upon these foreign ideas or who call for such ideas would be sinful, as to call for these ideas and to gather around them is haram.
ii. This group must call to the vital issue, as defined by Islam. The vital issue today is the re-establishment of the Khilafah. It is the Khilafah that will implement Islam, and without it, it would be impossible for the society to adhere to all of the laws of Islam. By definition, calling for the Khilafah is a political work, as it involves changing the society to establish an authority and removing the present authorities based upon non-Islam. So this group must be a political group or party.
iii. It must have a clear method of affiliation. It has been observed that many groups are tarnished with infighting, strands, wings and the like. This is due to the members of these groups not having a unified aim and sets of ideas. Rather the people are often chosen because they show some sort of enthusiasm to do work regardless of them carrying the same ideas and aims.
iv. The group must have a ‘culturing process'. That is they must have a way of developing newcomers to the group as well as established members. This culturing must be taken seriously and all should need to go through it. This ensures they are built and developed with the Islamic culture, purifying their intentions and thoughts, building their concepts and strengthening their resolve. So the initial zeal and enthusiasm is transferred to a sound knowledge and consistent work. It is saddening to see the many who begin to work for Islam and then stop this work; this can generally be attributed to a lack of culturing with Islam in this group.
v. This group must be clear in its language, and bold in its actions - to enjoin the Maroof and forbid the Munkar requires from the Muslim to challenge all that is wrong and uphold all that is right.
vi. The group must study the reality clearly and comprehensively. Islam mandated that the reality in which the group works must be understood. This includes the study of the thoughts and ideas that exist in society as well as the plots and plans of the Kafiroon and her agent rulers in our lands. To just have a generalised understanding of the reality would not allow the people to understand the true nature of the problem we face.
vii. The group must not look down upon the Ummah nor abuse them for not working with them or not adhering to Islam. Rather it should seek to lift up their spirits, energise them, wake them from their slumber and bring about this change. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said, "Whoever says the people are destroyed are the most destroyed of the people." [Sahih Muslim].
viii. The group should have a strong atmosphere that gels the members together. This atmosphere must be a pure one and it should be based upon seeking the pleasure of Allah سبحانه وتعالى. We witness many groups that exist in the West that are run like a company, where the members have to continuously be forced to undertake actions. This is contrary to the way of Islam where the strength of the idea makes a person willingly want to sacrifice his time and effort. The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم wrote in a letter to Abdullah Ibn Jahsh, when he sent him to lead an expedition to keep an eye on Quraysh at Nakhlah, between Makkah and Ta'if: "Do not coerce anyone of your companions to proceed with you, and go forth with my order with those who follow you."
These three points; gaining knowledge, carrying da'wa and working with an Islamic Party would be the practical way to work for Khilafah. So after this, we would say join this work with the sincere ones who seek to achieve the highest place in Jannah. Strengthen your resolve, for the Ummah yearns for change, and this change requires work. May our deeds be multiplied in reward in the eyes of Allah سبحانه وتعالى and may we become the ones who will be the "beloved" to the Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم!
The Messenger Muhammad صلى الله عليه وسلم said: "Islam began as something strange, and it shall return to being something strange, so give glad tidings to the strangers." It was asked, "Who are those strangers, O Messenger of Allah?" He replied, "Those that correct the people when they become corrupt." This is the narration of at-Tabaraani in his al-Kabeer.