All praise is for Allah, Lord of the worlds and may peace and blessings be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and all his companions.
There are two matters that pull back and forth the practicing Muslim youth. The first is the sorry state and degrading position of their nation that they witness. In addition to this, they are unable to offer much in order to liberate this nation from such a predicament. In the event they are actually able to undertake some form of action, it remains an insignificant amount in relation to the enormous and overwhelming threats and challenges they so evidently experience. When they have the desire to expand the scope of their work to become more effective and swifter at producing results, they find that they must cooperate with those who oppose them. Such opponents may oppose them in major principles or in minor subsidiary matters.
Hence, many of these youngsters remain somewhat confounded by the mutual pull of these two pivotal matters: the benefit of working for Islam in an active and effective manner on the one hand and the harm of cooperating with opponents on the other. Indeed, the manifestations of this contradiction and bewilderment increase in accordance with the situations workers for Islam find themselves in. Nonetheless, irrespective of any given situation, the harm that returns to any one of them does not rise to the amount of damage that befalls the Islamic call [ da’wah ] and the future of the Muslims.
This is a matter that requires a deliberate juristic examination and a clear engagement of the issue.
The magnitude of this problem increases in non-Muslim countries, especially with the ever-increasing attacks on Islam in both quantity and manner, and even more so since the events now known as the eleventh of September. In
Furthermore, there is another matter that deepens this crisis which is barely noticed by those who command positions of responsibility; as an expression of the justice we have been commanded to enact at all times as explained in the following ayah [translation of the meaning] “… and let not the enmity and hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety…” we are obliged to say that the measure of freedom enjoyed by Muslims in
The very nature of all this causes one who wants to work for Islam to raise his voice and say, ‘ Oh sensible people! Look at this affliction in which we live; nations have assumed battle positions against us from everywhere just as in the simile put forth by the Messenger, may Allah praise and send peace upon him. There is no doubt that this situation necessitates us to concentrate our efforts and unite with every worker for Islam, irrespective of the organisation he is affiliated to and the classification he is placed in ‘. However, no sooner has he finished his speech, his friend approaches him saying, ‘ But hold on, you want to work with whom? You want to engage in a collective effort with the innovator and deviant! Do you really want to participate in a joint action with such a party and such an organisation when they believe in this and that… ‘
A squabble ensues, an argument flairs up and the Islamic work which is ever so productive gulps down and swallows the torment and agony of neglect, especially with every new emergence of dawn that carries along with its rays, a new and fresh opportunity for Islamic work.
Many university students in
The Problematic Issue
A brother engaged in da’wah in a university centre presented the issue as follows:
We are an independent group of students affiliated to various British universities. We have an unending weariness and discontent at the phenomenon of disunion and lack of cooperation present among Muslim students in universities and colleges. Because of this, we wanted to engage in an action in order to invite all the representatives of Muslim student societies to work side by side and form a single organisation for them, which would help solve some of the common problems faced by all Muslim students in our current time.
We intend to begin this project by establishing a website on the Internet specifically for all the Muslim student societies in
Such an undertaking will require us to invite numerous Muslim student organisations which possess different teachings and methodologies including organisations of the Salafi, Ikhwan, Hizb at-Tahrir, Sufi, and Tabligh persuasions etc.
We know and understand that there are a number of problems that we may come across when trying to unite such organisations which follow different methodologies and concepts. However, we would like to know the verdict of the Shari’ah with respect to some of the issues facing us:
1) Is it possible to encourage those close to our beliefs and the Muslim masses to attend activities set up by such an umbrella organisation as long as such activities do not contravene established Islamic principles as opposed to matters that are open to ijtihad .
2) Is it possible to advertise all the activities of these organisations that adopt such orientations on the website that will be established by the umbrella organisation if the aforementioned condition is adhered to. This will enable us to create a united advertisement banner for the purposes of advertising to all the Muslims in
3) Is it possible for us to sit, converse and hold discussions with all these organisations and their leaders on the common problems we face.
4) Is it possible to hold joint activities in which all the aforementioned organisations can collectively establish e.g., we are able to discuss problems faced by the majority of Muslim students here or that the speaker be from one of these organisations in order to discuss some of the topics viewed important by the speaker.
As you see brothers, there are a number of issues that are hanging but we desire to begin this project with passion and great effort in order to achieve long term objectives that will lighten this great disunion and present turmoil between students today.
Further, it should be known that we do not intend to substitute these organisations in Britain with this venture but we hope that we be seen as an example to be followed by all individuals affiliated to these organisations that it is possible to establish joint action and unite to work for the purpose of common Islamic objectives and to place differences aside for the sake of unity and Islamic brotherhood.
We would like you to convey your advice on this matter and to explain principles that should be known and observed by Muslim minorities and how to view our roles as Muslim students in this country. May Allah reward you with goodness.
This is how this problem was presented and in response the following worksheet resulted
All praise is for Allah, Lord of the worlds and peace, blessings and praise be upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and all his companions.
Before I begin, we beseech Allah to crown your efforts with success and agreement with what He loves and is pleased with.
Prior to delving into the elaboration of the difficulties of this thorny issue, we have to present some significant ground rules that must be considered when researching this issue since they provide the foundation to a proper conception of this issue; thereafter a judgement and explanation of how to interact with this matter can ensue.
1) It is a must to remind ourselves of the crucial principle concerning Muslims: that they are to be a single nation. There are numerous and concatenated evidences that substantiate this; Allah, the exalted and mighty, said [translation of the meaning], ‘ And verily this nation is one nation and I am your lord so worship me alone ‘.
It is for this reason that the issue of the main body of the Muslims [ jama’ah ] and adhering to it is among the greatest fundamentals advocated by the Shari’ah . Shaykh al-Islam Ibn Taymiyyah, may Allah have mercy upon him, said: “This great fundamental, which is to hold fast altogether to the rope of Allah and not to split, is one of the supreme fundamentals of Islam. The instruction of Allah regarding it in his Book is momentous. Likewise, the censure of those of the people of the Book and others who abandoned it is grave. In addition, the directive of the Prophet, may the peace and blessings of Allah be upon him, concerning it as immense, in general or specific places, such as his saying, ‘ Adhere to the jama’ah, for indeed the Hand of Allah is with the jama’ah ‘…The door to the corruption which afflicted this nation and in fact, other nations, is splitting and differing. This emanated from their leaders and scholars to their kings and sheikhs to such an extent that only Allah is aware of, even though, for a portion of this, a person would be forgiven for their ijtihad in situations when one is forgivable for erring or because of one’s good deeds that erase [bad deeds] or on account of repentance etc. Nonetheless, it should be known that observing and complying with this fundamental is one of the greatest principles of Islam.” 
If this matter becomes clear, every means that leads to the coming together of Muslims and their unity is mandatory. This is a matter in which there is no difference among the ummah .
2) Another fundamental principle is the obligation of cooperation among Muslims; Allah says “ And help one another in righteousness and piety ”. Hence, in the very least of circumstances, cooperation is legislated in everything that truly fits the designation righteousness and piety , regardless of whom one is cooperating with since those being addressed in the ayah are general. Indeed, the writings of some of the scholars of tafsir indicate the address in this ayah to be universal to all creation, both Muslim and kuffar . A multitude of proofs combine on this issue and the Companions and Imams of Islam acted in accordance to this. Accordingly, scholars of Islam affirmed the obligation of performing Jihad with a righteous and unrighteous person. Muslim scholars performed jihad with kings and sultans despite the fact that some sultans were involved with innovations and so on.
3) There remains here a problem concerning the issue of cooperation about which many brothers enquire: cooperating with people of innovation and disobedience e.g., cooperating with the Ash’aris, the Sufis etc. The correct sense of duty emerges from contemplating the noble ayah ; cooperation becomes lawful for whatever truly fits the expression righteousness and piety . If there is a combination of righteousness and transgression, the verdict lies in favour of whichever of the two is dominant. Subsequently, if the benefit derived from cooperating is greater than the harm that occurs from this cooperation, it is legislated and vice versa.
Take as an example, the alliance of Muslims, those who are righteous and the unrighteous, those following the Sunnah as well as those afflicted with innovations, in order to repel the transgression of the kuffar . The benefit of this is without doubt greater than the harm of righteous Muslims mixing with unrighteous ones or Muslims following the Sunnah mixing with those practicing innovations. It is for this reason that Muslim scholars affirmed this and declared it an integral part of the belief of Ahl as-Sunnah wa al-Jamaa’ah. The same is said for the unison of these Muslims when giving da’wah to non-Muslims, rebutting their misconceptions or repelling their falsehood. Da’wah and jihad are a doublet; the reasoning behind the verdict in both cases is one and the same, not to mention that it is mandatory to heed the benefit if it prevails over the harm.
It does not go without saying that the matters deemed forbidden by the Shari’ah found in much of the occasions of cooperation with those afflicted with innovations and disobedience is none other than the disagreement to the principle of boycotting people of innovation and disobedience and this opposition disappears on applying the governing guideline of benefits and harms; the ruling lies in favour of whichever of the two is dominant.
One must understand that boycotting between Muslims is an arbitrary matter and not a fundamental tenet and it is not possible for something subsidiary to contradict a fundamental principle or counter it. Further, the enactment of this arbitrary matter is conditional to achieving the type of benefit that is not to have an adverse impact on the tenet. If therefore, boycotting leads to the contravention of the bond of Islamic unity it is prevented and is not regarded permissible until a time the Shari’ah and intellect witness that its benefit is greater than its harm.
4) Primarily, Muslims should name themselves with the name of Islam, Allah, the might and exalted says: “ It is He who has named you Muslims both before and in [this Qur’an] ”. As for these names and labels, even if we are to permit its usage, it is impermissible for them to be a reason for division of Muslims. Neither are they allowed to be a cause for instating them as objects of allegiance and disavowal whereby some Muslims align themselves with others according to such labels, declaring, ‘we offer allegiance to whoever is from our group and disavow those not of us’.
In light of this, the basis is for everyone affiliated to these organisations to cooperate in anything that truly fits the designation righteous and piety , thereby carrying into effect His saying “ And cooperate with one another in righteousness and piety and do not cooperate with one another in sin and transgression ”.
5) The basic principle governing relationships between a Muslim and another involved in innovation or disobedience is that he is to be offered love, support and allegiance [ wala’ ] according to the level of his obedience and that one disavows himself from his innovation and disobedience in accordance with the Messenger’s saying: “Assist your brother, if he be the oppressor or the oppressed.” He was asked, ‘How do I assist him whilst he is an oppressor? He replied, ‘You prevent him from his committing his oppression; that is assisting him.” 
Assisting an oppressive Muslim takes the form of commanding him to do good and forbidding him from committing evil. This oppression that he is characterised with does not nullify the basic level of wala’ granted to him because apostasy is the only matter that nullifies this basic level of wala’ .
6) Cooperation between Muslims never negates the commandment of good and forbiddance of evil. They in fact necessitate one another. It is impermissible to cease commanding good and forbidding evil under the pretence of calling for unity and cooperation with Muslims. Muslims throughout the ages were one nation possessing love and brotherhood for each other. At the same time, they used to command one another with good and forbid each other from evil, Allah, the mighty and exalted, says “ You were the best nation ever raised up for humankind; you command the good, forbid the evil and you believe in Allah ”.
Commanding good and forbidding evil should not be viewed in a different light as just explained such as showing it to sever the unity of Muslims or that it is only a superfluous and recommended matter and should not be paid much attention when there are more pressing things to deal with. What is allowed is to delay commanding the good and forbidding evil or to remain silent in order to meet a correct and valid Shari’ah purpose. Scholars have affirmed that one must refrain from forbidding evil if it results in a greater evil, this again returns back to the governing principle of benefits and harms.
In short, there is no contradiction between these three fundamentals: the unison of Muslims, cooperation between them in righteousness and piety and then commanding each other with good and forbidding each other from evil. If a Muslim puts these three pillars into motion the truth will become manifest to him by the will of Allah.
Establishing an Islamic activity for the purposes of da’wah to Allah in which individuals from various Islamic organisations participate is undoubtedly one of the most obligatory duties as this leads to the accomplishment of this tremendous duty, the duty of giving da’wah to Allah, which is the inheritance of the best of creation, Allah’s Prophets and Messengers, especially in kuffar lands. This also causes agreement between the Muslims.
As for the claim that establishing such an activity may compel those in charge to advertise activities undertaken by other organisations that are not Salafi and that some brothers contest this alleging that this entails advertising methodologies of other deviant organisations, this matter requires further analysis and elaboration:
1) Firstly, one has to say that is unjust to describe Islamic organisations with deviation or innovation simply because they do not adopt the name of Salafiyyah. Conversely, it is also unjust and unfair to commend organisations simply on the basis that they adopt the name of Salafiyyah.
All of these groups have positive and negative qualities and a mixture of truth and falsehood. If they had nothing but falsehood they would be out of the fold of Islam and likewise, it is not possible for them to have nothing but truth since this is a description of perfection and is not befitting for any single human being or group. Therefore, the description lies between perfection and the most perfect and being close to the truth and the closest.
It is natural for anyone affiliated to a group to allege that he is closer than others to the truth but I do not intend here to delve into this matter i.e., which of them is closer to the truth, since it is not prudent to generalise the discussion when desiring to appraise these organisations. It is also a matter that has been ruminated to a great extent, so the benefit in that would be limited and knowledge lies with Allah.
2) As for the claim that the organisations which assume the name of Salafiyyah are upon the pure truth, this is also unjust and inequitable. The word Salafiyyah is a term that encompasses everything the righteous predecessors were upon in belief, worship and in character and mannerisms, whereas you find some Salafi organisations have divided within themselves and each group now claims it to be on the truth and the others to be upon falsehood. Either all of them are upon the truth which is impossible since truth is not open to contradictory differences or one of them is upon the truth and the rest are upon falsehood whilst at the same time adopting the name of Salafiyyah. It then becomes established that the mere adoption of this name is insufficient as far as true affiliation to this dignified description is concerned.
Furthermore, many of these organisations that adopt the Salafi title enter into Salafiyyah via the doorway of adhering to some of the apparent Sunnan but at the same time exit Salafiyyah via a number of doorways. The first of these is their endeavour to divide and form censured partisanships even if they claim there is no partisanship involved, the reality however bears witness to that: the split of Muslim gatherings, the severance of the unity that had once united them, and the mass account of categorising and labelling each other as transgressors and innovators even in issues open to ijtihad. This is in addition to the lack of observance of mannerisms and proper Islamic character when dealing with opponents and so on.
With regard to the other organisations, the affiliation of its individuals to these groups does not necessarily imply their agreement with the mother organisation in all its beliefs. It is from the bounty and favours of Allah that the Islamic world witnesses a wide-ranging resurgence to Islam and a specific resurgence by the return of many Muslims to the methodology of the pious predecessors. This is also true for individuals within various Islamic organisations; many of them despite being affiliated to their group by the grace of Allah follow the methodology of the righteous predecessors in many aspects. This differs from one country to another and one time to another.
Consequently, with regard to advertising activities hosted by various Islamic organisations and participating with them, it is not permissible to judge the matter by the mere name of these organisations; rather one must examine it in detail. If the matter entails a preponderant benefit it is legislated and vice versa.
After this clarification, we comprehend that this aforementioned elaboration revolves around the issue of harms and benefits. Indeed, the religion in its entirety revolves around this. In fact, all the laws legislated by Allah for His creation since its inception to the time of our Prophet Muhammad, may Allah send peace and blessings upon him, revolves around this.
You will also discover that if you refer these issues back to the texts of the Book and Sunnah in light of the absolute principles of the Shari’ah and amongst these is the principle of harms and benefits, you will find these issues clear upon contemplation, there being no difficulty whatsoever and all praise is for Allah.
The difficulty arises however on account of certain matters inherited by some du’at from former generations who were new to these organisations; the latter du’at did not renew any contemplation or examination of these matters under the scrutiny of the Shari’ah and reality.
The reason for this as affirmed by our scholars is ignorance or desire. Whatever the case maybe, it disappears with the acquisition of knowledge through questioning scholars who are known to be free of these matters and who earnestly seek the truth and it also disappears through the making one’s speech, action and belief purely and sincerely for Allah and a manifestation of this is to place forward the loftier benefit of Islam and Muslims above personal benefits, partisanship and anything else.
There remains a point which may serve to conclude this paper. A matter that may further help establish this cooperation is to avert differing by every means possible. On occasions, differing can be averted by avoiding it and the best thing that can lead to an avoidance of differing in such situations is the implementation of the principle that states that the abandonment of differing is recommended. If some du’at differ in establishing an activity and their difference is that some view all or some of the activity to be permissible and others view it to be impermissible, the avoidance of differing is achieved by refraining from pursuing the activity as long as the position of those who advocate its impermissibility is not anomalous or weak.
An example of this is if some brothers desire to establish an activity in which a woman appears among a mixed assembly of people without wearing lawful hijab, there is no doubt that applying the principle of ceasing to differ calls for the abandonment of such an activity. The basic ruling concerning viewing a woman is one of impermissibility so why should we choose to establish something that revolves around being either forbidden or permissible?
Similarly, if it is suggested to establish an activity in which musical instruments are played, there is no doubt that the obligation is to abandon this because listening to musical instruments at the very least of conditions is either forbidden or permissible, so why should we commit ourselves to such things?
This is what has been facilitated for me to write, we beseech Allah for assistance and correctness for all the Muslims and may Allah send peace and blessings upon our Prophet Muhammad, his family and all his companions.
Emotional Intelligence: A Tool for Change
Why do we consider emotional intelligence to be half of the Prophetic intellect? The answer lies in the word “messenger.” Messengers of Allah are tasked with the divine responsibility of conveying to humanity the keys to their salvation. They are not only tasked with passing on the message but also with being a living example of that message.
When ʿĀʾishah, the wife of the Prophet ﷺ, was asked to explain the character of the blessed Prophet ﷺ, her reply was, “His character was the Qurʾān.” We are giving emotional intelligence a place of primacy in the construct of Prophetic intelligence because it seems implausible that Allah would send a messenger without providing that messenger with the means necessary to exemplify and transmit the message to others. If the Prophets of Allah did not have the necessary knowledge and skills needed to successfully pass on the message to the next generation, the argument would be incomplete. People could easily excuse themselves of all accountability because the message was never conveyed.
We also see clear examples in the Qur’ān that this knowledge was being perpetually perfected in the character of the Prophet ﷺ. Slight slips in his Emotional Intelligence were rare, but when they did occur, Allah gently addressed the mistake by means of revelation. Allah says in the Qurʾān, “If you (O Muḥammad) were harsh and hardhearted, then the people would flee from you.” This verse clearly placed the burden of keeping an audience upon the shoulders of the Prophet ﷺ. What this means is that the Prophet ﷺ had to be aware of what would push people away; he had to know what would create cognitive and emotional barriers to receptivity. When we study the shamāʾil (books about his character), we find that he was beyond exceptional in his ability to make people receptive. He took great care in studying the people around him and deeply understanding them. Only after the Prophet ﷺ had exhausted all the means of removing barriers to receptivity would the responsibility to affirm the message be shifted to those called to it.
Another example of this Prophetic responsibility can be found in the story of Prophet Mūsa when he was commissioned to call Pharaoh and the children of Israel to Allah. When Allah informed him of the task he was chosen for, he immediately attempted to excuse himself because he had a slight speech impediment. He knew that his speech impediment could potentially affect the receptivity of people to the message. He felt that this disqualified him from being a Prophet. He also felt that the act of manslaughter he committed might come between the people and guidance. All of these examples show that Allah’s Prophets understood that many factors can affect a person’s receptivity to learning something new, especially when the implications of that new information call into question almost every aspect of a person’s identity. History tells us that initially, people did not accept the message of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ; they completely rejected him and accused him of being a liar.
One particular incident shows very clearly that he ﷺ understood how necessary it was for him to remove any cognitive or emotional barriers that existed between him and his community. When the people of his hometown of Makkah had almost completely rejected him, he felt that it was time to turn his attention to a neighboring town. The city of Ṭā’if was a major city and the Prophet ﷺ was hopeful that perhaps they would be receptive to the message. Unfortunately, they completely rejected him and refused to even listen to what he had to say. They chased him out of town, throwing stones at him until his injuries left him completely covered in blood. Barely making it outside the city, the Prophet ﷺ collapsed. Too weak to move, he turned his attention to his Lord and made one of the most powerful supplications made by a Prophet of Allah.
“اللهم إليك أشكو ضعف قوتي، وقلة حيلتي، وهواني على الناس، يا أرحم الراحمين، أنت أنت رب المستضعفين وأنت ربي، إلى من تكلني؟ إلى عدو يتجهمني؟ أو إلى قريب ملكته أمري؟ إن لم يكن بك علي غضب فلا أبالي، غير أن عافيتك أوسع لي، أعوذ بنور وجهك الذي أشرقت له الظلمات، وصلح عليه أمر الدنيا والآخرة، من أن ينزل بي غضبك، أو يحل علي سخطك، لك العتبى حتى ترضى، ولا حول ولا قوة إلا بك”
“Oh Allah, only to You do I complain about my lack of strength, my insufficient strategies, and lowliness in the sight of the people. You are my Lord. To whom do you turn me over? Someone distant from me who will forsake me? Or have you placed my affair in the hands of my enemy? ”
The Prophet ﷺ felt that he was the reason why the people were not accepting the message. His concern that “my low status in the eyes of the people,” informs us that he understood that people naturally judge the seriousness of a message based on the stature of the message bearer. The people of Ṭā’if were extremely ignorant, so much that they adamantly refused to enter into any dialogue. In reality, this was not due to any shortcoming of the Prophet ﷺ; he demonstrated the best of character and displayed extreme patience in the face of such ignorance. But the beginning of the supplication teaches us what he was focused on: making sure that he was not the reason why someone did not accept the message.
Because his message was not geographically restricted like that of other Prophets, those who inherited the message would have the extra burden of transferring the message to a people with whom they were unfamiliar. The intelligence needed to pass the message of the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ around the world included an understanding of the cultural differences that occur between people. Without this understanding effective communication and passing on of his message would be impossible.
A sharp Emotional Intelligence is built upon the development of both intra- and interpersonal intelligence. These intelligences are the backbone of EQ and they provide a person with emotional awareness and understanding of his or her own self, an empathic understanding of others, and the ability needed to communicate effectively and cause change. Emotional Intelligence by itself is not sufficient for individual reform or societal reform; instead, it is only one part of the puzzle. The ʿaql or intellect that is referenced repeatedly in the Qurʾān is a more comprehensive tool that not only recognizes how to understand the psychological and emotional aspects of people but recognizes morally upright and sound behavior. After that this intellect, if healthy and mature, forces a person to conform to that standard. Therefore, we understand the ʿaql to be a comprehensive collection of intelligences analogous to Howard Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences theory.
Taking into consideration the extreme diversity found within Western Muslim communities, we see how both Moral Intelligence and Emotional Intelligence are needed. Fostering and nurturing healthy communities requires that we understand how people receive our messages. This is the interpersonal intelligence aspect of EQ. Without grounding the moral component of our community, diversity can lead to what some contemporary moral theorists call moral plasticity, a phenomenon where concrete understandings of good and evil, right and wrong, are lost. Moral Education (Moral Education, which will be discussed throughout the book, is the process of building a Morally Intelligent heart) focuses on correcting the message that we are communicating to the world; in other words, Moral Intelligence helps us maintain our ideals and live by them, while Emotional Intelligence ensures that the message is effectively communicated to others.
My father would often tell me, “It’s not what you say, son; it’s what they hear.”
Interpersonal understanding is the core of emotional intelligence. My father would often tell me, “It’s not what you say, son; it’s what they hear.” From the perspective of Emotional Intelligence, this statement is very accurate. The way we interpret words, body language, verbal inflections, and facial expressions is based on many different factors. The subtle power of this book lies in the simple fact that your emotional intelligence is the primary agent of change and thus the most powerful force you have. You must understand how people perceive what you are communicating to them. What is missing from my father’s statement is the primacy of Moral Intelligence. Throughout this book, I attempt to show how the Prophet Muḥammad ﷺ demonstrated a level of perfection of both of these intelligences.
*With the Heart in Mind is available for pre-order at https://www.qalam.foundation/qalambooks/with-the-heart-in-mind
Bayhaqī, Shuʿb al-ʾĪmān, vol. 3, p. 23.
 Ibn Kathir, al-Bidāyah wa al-Nihāyah, vol. 3, p. 136.
Fitnah of Our Times: Never Ending Debates and Drama On Muslim Social Media
It is extremely sad that the only excitement and enjoyment many Muslim youth get from the deen – and for some, their only involvement – is by getting embroiled in controversies, polemics, debates, seeing people argue, refutations, etc… I am referring to the general masses and not those that are directly involved in polemical dialogue.
Rather than spend time in worshiping Allah, perfect one’s prayer, fulfill the rights of Allah and the creation and engage in productive activities, so many of us today are hooked on the quarrels and disputes that take place between different groups/sects/religious leaders. We love the drama that takes place, we can’t wait for the next episode of the debate, we get excited when one person challenges another about some matter of religion. Get a few brothers or sisters together, and the only discussion that takes place these days is who won the debate and which scholar refuted which other scholar, and so on and so forth.
Stop being an Audience: Deen is Nasiha Not Entertainment
Anyone who talks or writes about polemics gets a big audience, whilst there is very less interest in listening to someone who avoids such things and teaches you your deen. It’s the same type of enjoyment – in a sense – that people get from football rivalries or boxing matches, but with a religious flavour to it. Social media is amass with such controversies.
One scholar posts something about his dispute with this person or that group on his Facebook page and his followers all comment and even argue amongst themselves in relation to his post. The followers of the refuted group/individual then start attacking the person who refuted and they also argue amongst themselves. This soap opera just continues and never seems to end. Many of us sadly thrive on this. We enjoy all the bickering and argumentation, such that being a Muslim would be boring without it.
When I was growing up, we didn’t have the internet and social media, and Al-hamdulillah it saved us from much fitna. These days, what someone thinks on one side of the world is debated and counter debated several times within a matter of hours. The harms of social media are increasingly outweighing its benefits.
The debates of today are not munadara- these were supposed to be cordial discussions.
My sincere advice to especially young Muslims is that please do not let your precious time be wasted in such matters. Let those that are arguing and debating fight it out amongst themselves; you do not need to get involved. Avoid giving them ammunition or pouring oil on fire. Instead, identify those who you trust and learn your deen from them and then get busy in beneficial things – and avoid the others. We seriously need to reconsider our priorities.
May Allah guide us, Ameen.
Prophets and Social Activism
Bt Shaykh Tarik Ata
The undeniable primary role of prophets was to call society to Allah and establish a relationship with him. Along with their ideological engagement, the Quran references the social aspects prophets addressed. In long passages from chapters 7 and 11, the Quran describes particular social problems that seemingly were widespread at the time. For example, the people of Noah suffered from a system of social hierarchy which stereotyped the commoner as being weak minded and invaluable “So the eminent among those who disbelieved from his people said, “We do not see you but as a man like ourselves, and we do not see you followed except by those who are the lowest of us [and] at first suggestion. And we do not see in you over us any merit; rather, we think you are liars.” The people of Madyan suffered from widespread monetary conning and exploitation “And do not decrease from the measure and the scale.” Prophet Lot called out his people’s practice of homosexuality as being something despised by God “Do you approach males among the worlds And leave what your Lord has created for you as mates? But you are a people transgressing.” They said, “If you do not desist, O Lot, you will surely be of those evicted.” He said, “Indeed, I am, toward your deed, of those who detest [it]. My Lord, save me and my family from [the consequence of] what they do.”
What must be pointed out, however, is that the social change sought out by prophets was related to their theological duty. These social ails threatened, first and foremost, society’s relationship to Allah. Therefore, these verses constantly reference Allah and return the issue back to theology. After every attempted refutation of the prophet’s position, the prophet responds with theology as if to make it known that their duty as prophets is to call people to Allah and establish that relationship between the individual and their Creator. Thus, elements of social activism enacted by prophets were not to allow unrestricted lifestyles with the ability to choose what is right or wrong based solely on their customs or desires. Rather, their efforts aimed at redirecting society to Allah; to free them from the creation in order to become servants of the creator.
One may attempt to refute this analysis of these Quranic passages as being selective and not representative of the larger picture. Such a concern is invalid since these stories are presented in multiple chapters throughout the Quran consistently portraying the prophets as upholding the duty of changing theology and calling people to follow Allah’s commands. It does not limit their social engagement to the political authority with the intention of freeing society from their shackles or to allow them the freedom to choose any lifestyle they please. Even the story of Moses, which involves a great tyrant, centralizes monotheism. Likewise, the final phase of his life dealt with rebuilding the children of Israel after enduring decades of oppression and injustices. Even then the central focus is their theological deviations while alluding to their social deviations as being rooted in weak theology.
To put it concisely, prophets’ involvement in greater society revolved around preaching theology and expressed social criticism using theology. The primary goal of social engagement and criticisms of injustice and oppression was an effort to alleviate society from that which taints its theology or creates barriers between the individual and Allah. One example from the Quran is Surah Al-Ma’oun which reads “Have you seen the one who denies the Recompense [the Day of Judgement]? (1) For that is the one who drives away the orphan (2) And does not encourage the feeding of the poor. (3)” The verses ascribe abuse of orphans and the poor to disbelief in the day of judgement – a pillar of faith.
Labeling Prophets as Activists
Another recent phenomenon is the labeling of prophets as activists. Since prophets hold a high status in Islam and are considered a pillar of faith the topic of prophets and speaking on their behalf is sensitive. Furthermore, it indicates that improper belief in them threatens the person’s faith as a whole and for this reason the Quran forbids speaking ill of them or mocking them even lightheartedly “And if you ask them, they will surely say, “We were only conversing and playing.” Say, “Is it Allah and His verses and His Messenger that you were mocking? Make no excuse; you have disbelieved after your belief. If We pardon one faction of you – We will punish another faction because they were criminals.” Following these verses is a description of hypocrites (those who outwardly accept Islam but their hearts reject it) eluding to the reader that disrespect of prophets is an attribute of hypocrites and a form of hypocrisy. Anything less than the utmost reverence and respect for prophets is unacceptable and therefore is best to refer to them in a manner that the Quran and hadith affirm.
Both the Quran and hadith tradition address the prophets with titles and attributes that highlight their piety and relationship with Allah. They are not labeled with secular titles void of religious connotation. Furthermore, these titles and attributes can only be understood in a positive manner. For example, al-ameen, which means the truthful and trustworthy, is consistently a praiseworthy attribute that is understood in a positive manner. Words that can be understood both positively and negatively, such as an activist, should not to be used as titles for prophets such as referring to them as activists. An activist can promote good and can promote evil depending on what they are actively promoting. And although prophets had elements of social activism, activism in contemporary times is packaged with politics and ideologies that are often inconsistent with Islamic principles and prophetic characteristics.
One may say that they referring to prophets as activists does not indicate any disrespect so what is the problem? Allah says in the Quran “Do not make [your] calling of the Messenger among yourselves as the call of one of you to another.” Bedouins during the time of the Prophet would call upon him with loud voices using his name or kunya Abu Al-Qasim. Such was the nature of Bedouins who had rough personalities and this verse prohibited them from this characteristic. Calling prophets does not carry positive religious value nor does it offer an aspect of uniqueness. Anyone can be an activist, a Muslim and non-Muslim, a good person and a bad person, a pious person and an un-pious person, but only people chosen by Allah can be prophets and messengers. Therefore the most appropriate manner to address them is with the title “messenger” or “prophet.”
I encourage Muslims to reflect upon the following verse “O you who have believed, do not raise your voices above the voice of the Prophet or be loud to him in speech like the loudness of some of you to others, lest your deeds become worthless while you perceive not.” Disrespect of the Prophet can occur without one being aware and could have dire consequences such as the nullifying of the person’s deeds.
Allah knows best.
 Quran 7:59-93, 11:25-95
 Quran 11:27
 Quran 11:84
 Quran 26:169
 See Quran 6:74-82, 7:59-94, 11:25-95, 26:1-191
 Quran 2:40-105, 7:138-163
 Quran 9:65-66
 Quran 24:63