By Alima Ashfaq
I'm not sure about you, but when I saw the pictures of Egypt, I was rather disturbed and intrigued, however more than this – I was confused. As a Muslim living in the West, I asked myself, what stance should I take? What is the right thing to do? Then I quietly asked myself, do I even really care? The answer is that I do care, therefore, I did some research to equip myself with the basics of what was happening right now in Egypt.
alḥamdulillāh, we have been blessed to host Shaykh Waleed Basyouni for Fiqh of Love soon, and after much planning we prepared for our up and coming Ilminar hoping to help bring our community knowledge that would equip them to master one aspect of their lives. Subhan'Allāh, lo and behold, a few hours before our Ilminar was to take place we received news from Shaykh Waleed that he wished to change the topic to Egypt.
At that moment, I asked myself, why now, why not tomorrow… When we can spread the word further? However Allāh willed that the Shaykh would speak about two subjects dear to his heart, love and Egypt. As Shaykh Waleed switched topics from the fiqh of love to the fiqh of his homeland, he said:
“My heart is just hurt, I can't talk about this…yet, I'm full of optimism and certain, that things will be much better in the Middle East, especially after what happened in Tunisia.”
Looking back now it was a blessing, wa lilahil hamd.
Hence, the question arises again; As a Muslim living in the West, I asked myself; what stance should I take? What is the right thing to do and what lessons can I learn from this?
The Shaykh started with us, me and you – looking at ourselves and how each one of us fit into the picture of these events.
“Every Muslim in the world is watching and paying attention to what is happening in Egypt and it makes the person think about these instances…what does it mean to us? How do we contemplate on this matter? What lessons can we learn from it as Muslims? We should ask ourselves; is our ṣalāh different at this moment in time? Are we making du‘ā’? If our ṣalāh is not different, then there is something wrong with us, why are we not feeling the pain of our brothers and sisters?”
Only after the matter is corrected within ourselves, can we move onto the next stage of obtaining a clearer picture of what are we dealing with.
“Currently we're dealing with injustice, and this action of oppression is UGLY, and dhulm portrays darkness, as the Prophet Muḥammad (sal Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) said; 'Ad-dhulm dhulumat yawmal qiyamah.' Injustice is so terrible and evil that it will turn to darkness on the Day of Judgment when the tyrants will come into presence. It is reported in a hadith al-qudsi that Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) says: 'O my servants, I have forbidden oppression on myself, so forth I have made it forbidden on you as well.'” (Muslim)
Shaykh Waleed then expressed how this statement of Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) forbidding injustice and oppression should be acted out in our daily lives.
“No one should treat each other with injustice… It's agreed upon in all systems, whether constitutions, religions, secular systems and man made laws – when you see this injustice, you will recognise the ugliness of it… Injustice is ugly in every matter and against everyone. You cannot treat someone with fairness and then not be fair with the others. You have to be just with every matter, and with everyone. You cannot be fair with Muslims and not with non-Muslims.”
Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) says: “O you who believe stand before Allāh (subḥānahu wa ta'āla) with justice and do not be unfair to people who you hate” (referring to the people of Mecca, even after they have repeatedly wronged you).
Then Sh. Waleed highlighted how justice should be implemented in our daily lives, he touched upon how those in authority should respect their positions.
“Injustice becomes so ugly when it comes from the people of power, when it comes from those who you expect to uphold justice in society, because their injustice is much more powerful than that of the average people, because when the people of power do good their goodness is more than the average person. It's exactly the opposite, when they do bad it will be much worser than the average person.”
“Subhan'Allāh, the citizens of Egypt have been so patient with all of this [injustice] for so long. Eight million people have come to express the injustice, the basic rights that they have been deprived of for years.
The citizens have been abused for decades and they've been taking it and have been patient with it, and now after all these years of patience, the situation has been reversed. Now the public is putting peaceful pressure on them, yet these dictators cannot take the pressure for one day, but these people have been taking it for years. This happens because the people of injustice are so weak, they cannot take this pressure for even a week.”
After discussing the plight of the oppressed, Shaykh Waleed went into an important and often misunderstood topic. What is the role of government in Islam?
The government was never supposed to be a dictatorship that controlled the lives of its people, not at all, rather they are supposed to serve the public, serve them and make their lives easy – not to control their lives and enslave them… I'm saying this because even today we have a debate even in the West in regards to; how much of a role the government should play in peoples lives.
In the time of the Prophet (sal Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) a man came to the Prophet and said; “I have committed a sin that I will need to be punished for.” The Prophet (sal Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) turned his head from him and went to pray 'isha. Later on in the evening, the man came back to the Prophet and repeated his question. The Prophet asked him; “Did you pray 'isha with us?” To which the man replied; “Yes.” To this the Prophet replied; “Then this is enough” and they both parted.
The Prophet (sal Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) didn't ask the man what sin he had committed, because if he had, the man may have been worthy of the punishment like Ma'iz who came to the Prophet (sal Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) and admitted that he committed adultery. Subhan'Allāh, in the case of Ma'iz there was man that insisted that Ma'iz turn himself in. Hence, after insisting to the Prophet, he (sal Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) had the punishment applied. However, after it was applied, the Prophet (sal Allahu 'alayhi wa sallam) turned to the man that had advised Ma'iz to turn himself in and said; “Even if you had seen Ma'iz having intercourse with that woman with your own eyes and you covered him with your garment, it would have been better then coming and telling me about it.”
Subhan'Allāh, how little have we learnt and understood the true meanings of our religion. I once heard Sh. Ṣalāh as-Sawy say that the true 'ālim does not seek to oppress, constrict, and punish people but seeks to make an out or an escape for people.
“It is not the government's job to spy on people, to punish them or lash them. The government is not there to control our lives…”
“In the time of 'Umar he was walking in the streets of Madīnah with Abdurrahman bin 'Awf and they passed by a house where the people were busy drinking alcohol and partying. Abdurrahman turned to 'Umar and said; “what shall we do?” At this 'Umar who was the Khalifa turned to him and said; “we should repent to Allāh, as we should not be spying on the people.” Allāh said; “Don't spy on people.” Even the government shouldn't spy on people, the role of government is very limited and it shouldn't seek to go into the personal lives of people. If we look at what is happening today when even the internet, television, Facebook, and Twitter can be controlled, this should not be the picture Islam presents about the government.”
Then Shaykh Waleed specifically mentioned the case of Egypt and Mubarak.
When I look at what is happening in the world and you see that people are scared of Islam and Islamists, it makes me ask the question; was Mubarak ruling Egypt with Islam? They were ruling Egypt with secularism that came from the West. The Ummah has been trying every system, and they've been beating their people, and losing economically, yet it doesn't work. Isn't it the right of people that they live with Islam, their religion and allow it to guide them? The failure of these systems is an excellent example that these secular systems don't work. It created corrupt dictatorships in these regions.
Shaykh Waleed then derived lessons from the current situation, in comparison to what has happened in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The change always comes from inside and when it comes from within it's a powerful change which is real. Look at the change in Tunisia and the change which is happening in Egypt. Look at the cost of this change versus the change in Iraq, look at Afghanistan – where is the change?! It seems like the media is blind to this comparison. This change has to come from within, it's meaningful and less costly in all aspects! You don't need to bring aircraft from all over the world to make it happen.
We shouldn't underestimate the power of the masses, of individuals. Look at the people of Egypt, who thought they'd make this change? Women in their old age, men who are unemployed, young women who perhaps don't even wear hijab, men and women who are from all walks of life. These are people who are not part of any religious or political movements, they are the true shakers of society. We shouldn't underestimate their role. We should care about those individuals who live amongst us in society. We should not ignore the importance and role of people. Welcome people them to our masajids and centres. Care about their education, their rights as a citizen in your neighbourhood, and social rights. This applies to Egypt and all other places.
When I look at them I remembered the Prophets, I remembered that most of the followers of the Prophets were the average people of society.
He continued the discussion in regards to being proactive in the West using many means.
We should remember the obligation of naseeha – “Ad-Deen an Naseeha; to Allāh, to the leaders and to the public.” Islam is based on this and it doesn't go against unity when we do this. We can advise leaders, and this can be done in many ways by writing to them, speeches, openly in public, etc…
Part of being proactive in the West is that we have to be active in giving advice with good manners, we should contribute positively to society… so what is happening in Egypt doesn't happen here or anywhere else. We should immediately talk about issues and keep the channel of communication open.
It is very clear in our religion, that public property is forbidden for people to touch, to destroy and terrify people and it doesn't matter if you are from the police or from the protesters. We are allowed to protest as long as it's done peacefully. A story comes to mind when the guard of Ibn Taymiyyah's cell asked him, “Am I doing something wrong by guarding your cell?” He was hoping he would be let off in the excuse of obeying the authority. However, Ibn Taymiyyah turned to him and said; “I think you are one of the transgressors!” Hence, if a person is given an order by the authority and it is incorrect, they're not allowed to carry it out. There is no excuse for someone to kill a innocent soul and destroy buildings.
You're allowed to express your opinions, and there is nothing from Islam to prevent this as it is based on the benefit on that moment of time, and this changes in different times and places. At this moment of time there is some disadvantages to the situation, yet the greater benefit of expressing their opinions is more valid at this moment of time.
Something that touched me personally about the whole lecture, was the stance of the people on the ground. I can't feel the pain as they do, and who better to express their feelings than Shaykh Waleed's father, who is currently in Egypt.
“Yes son, we may have some shortages, yet we don't mind the shortage of food, as long as this regime will change. This is what my own father has said to me.”
These instances show us the importance of the leadership of the Muslim world that it has to be wise, and wise enough to know what is best for the Muslim Ummah, and securing a bright future for the them. Most of the religious movements at the present moment are based around one leader who speaks in the masājid, and who doesn't have enough experience to be able to be part of a movement that will play a major role in such situations. alḥamdulillāh, two major scholars Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Muḥammad Salim Al-Awa have spoken out.
Shaykh Waleed ended on looking at ourselves and what we can do in the meantime.
We should turn to Allāh at this time, in all of our salawat and sincerely turn to Allāh for those people who as we speak are falling in their blood.
Subhan'Allāh, as a student listening in, it was enlightening to learn about these lessons and the justice of Islam which is often misunderstood. Now it's time to… Take Action!