COLLECTIVE WORK FOR ISLAM
By The Tarbiyah Department
There is no doubt that publishing essays about Islam, listening to lectures, attending conferences, writing books, giving charity and building Masjids are an important vehicle of the work for Islam; yet, they form only part of a larger picture. The work for Islam, in essence, is the reaction of Muslims, both individuals and communities, towards the teachings, requirements and objectives of the Divinely ordained way of life: Islam. This way of life can become a reality in the life of individuals and nations only through sincere, perseverant and diligent work; this work should be precisely organized according to the teachings of the leader of this Da’wah, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH): “You have indeed in the Messenger of Allah a beautiful pattern (of conduct) for anyone whose hope is in Allah and the Final Day, and who engages much in the praise of Allah” (33:21)
And in this context, we should point out that the Prophet (PBUH) has given us a unique example of persistent work and sacrifice for the cause of Allah. He renounced all the conveniences of this life and strove for spreading the word of Allah that he was ordered to deliver; his life was but a long episode of strife and work for Islam.
Based on the Qur’an and Sunnah, the work for Islam may be viewed at various levels. Here, we will discuss three of these levels:
(1) Establishment of the Muslim individual,
(2) Establishment of the Muslim home and
(3) Establishment of the Muslim community.
I. Establishment of the Muslim Individual:
This stage is extremely important since it forms the basis for the subsequent stages. It consists of one’s struggle with oneself trying to modify the entire course of his/her life until it complies with the teachings of Islam. The following is an attempt to summarize the basic requirements for a Muslim Da’iyah in order to be fit as a building block in the Muslim community.
1. Physical fitness:
In order to be able to perform the duties of Islamic work, a Muslim Da’iyah has to do his best to remain healthy and strong. The Apostle of Allah (PBUH) urges us to observe our duties toward our bodies by saying, “Your body has a right upon you”. He also said “The strong believer is better in the sight of Allah than the weak believer, and in both there is good”. Imam Al-Banana, founder of the contemporary islamic movement said “A Muslim should have a physical examination and starts promptly treating whatever ailment he has; he should keep away from anything that harms his body, including stimulants and alcohol, and follow a regular schedule of physical exercise”.
2. High moral standards:
The moral standards of a Muslim are those that Allah SWT has taught us in the Qur’an and which Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) explained in detail, both practically and in words, through the Sunnah so precisely that Allah, describing the Prophet’s character, said “And you (stand) on an exalted standard of character” (68:4)
Summarizing he moral standards of a da’iya, Imam Hassan al-Banna said, “A Muslim should:
A. Be sensible, being easily touched,
B. Be truthful in both speech and actions,
C. Be humble, always asking for a position that is lower than what he really deserves.
D. Be decisive, never hesitant
E. Always keep his promises
F. Be courageous and persistent; the best forms of courage are telling the truth, keeping secrets, admitting one’s fault and willingness to give others their rights.
G. Be reverential and serious; when he laughs, it is just by smiling and not grinning ear to ear.
H. Always stay away from places of unlawful entertainment and from friends of evil.
3. Education and knowledge:
In order to be able to deliver his message, a Muslim should build a reasonable cultural and educational background. He/she should start by clearly understanding the essence of Islam based on its original sources, the Qur’an and the Sunnah, then by reading what is available of authentic Islamic literature. This should help him build an undistorted picture of this Deen, its laws and objectives, in terms of both individual and community life.
It is recommended that a Muslim Da’iya should:
A. Have own library, no matter how small,
B. Master his profession,
C. Be acquainted with the various means of reforming the society to the extent that he becomes able to choose among various means based on the needs of da’wah,
D. Perfect the recitation of the holy Qur’an and understand its meanings,
E. Study the Sirah of the Prophet (PBUH),
F. Study the history of the early Muslim generations, and
G. Be familiar with the basics of the Islamic Shari’a.
4. Ability to earn a living:
Islam urges us to earn our living in a lawful way. Imam Al-Banna said, “A Muslim brother should, no matter how rich he is, have a profession that generates him some income. He should not be very keen to get the government job, yet he should not refuse it. In other words, he should not concentrate all his effort on how to obtain such a job and should forsake it once he finds out that it conflicts with his commitments toward his Da’wah. A Muslim brother should perform properly all the duties toward his job. He should completely avoid earning money through unlawful ways; he should avoid any form of usury, whether explicit or implicit, in all his monetary transactions; stay away from all kinds of gambling and should purify himself from any money that he has earned through any way that is suspected to be Haram. He should save some money for emergency cases, and should avoid getting involved in too much spending on luxury. Finally, a Muslim should make sure that the money he spends, as much as he could, go into firms owned by Muslims”.
5. Correct faith:
Imam Muslim reported that the Prophet (PBUH) said “Whosoever accepts Allah as his Lord, Islam as his Deen and Muhammad (PBUH) as his Prophet, shall be admitted to Jannah”. This Hadith establishes the criterion for assessing the creed of a Muslim. Imam al-Banna wrote:
A. A brother should always be mindful of Allah, being sincere in what he says or does, and always remember the Hereafter and get ready for it with worship, especially nafilah (voluntary acts of worship). He should always praise Allah and recite the Du’a that Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) has taught us for the various occasions.
B. He should also keep his wudu’ at all times, as much as he can.
C. He should observe the regular Salah on time and in Jama’ah, fast the month of Ramadan and perform pilgrimage if possible.
D. A brother should always renew his repentance to Allah, ask Him for forgiveness as frequently as possible; and should avoid any form of iniquity, both major and minor; and should stay away from anything that is suspected to be haram (i.e., Shubha).
E. He should be very cautious in spending his time; he should only spend it in what is good for him in this life and the Hereafter.
F. He should always renew his intention to strive in the cause of Allah, and prepare for jihad.
G. He should do his best in restraining himself; he should lower his gaze, control his emotions and desires and direct them only toward Halal and away from Haram.
6. Correct `Ibadah:
Islam teaches us to follow a middle path between exaggeration and negligence. Al Bukhari reported that a group of three men came to the houses of wives of the Prophet (PBUH) asking how he worshipped (Allah); and when they were informed about that, they considered that worship to be insufficient for them and said “Where are we from the Prophet (PBUH)? He has been forgiven his faults of the past and those to follow”. Then one of them said, “I will offer the prayer throughout the night forever”. The other said “I will fast through the year without breaking my fast”. The third said “I will keep away from the women and will not marry forever”. Allah’s Apostle came to them and said, “Are you the same people who said so and so? By Allah, I am more submissive to Allah and more afraid of Him than you are, yet, I fast and break my fast, I do sleep, and I also marry women. So he who does not follow my sunnah, is not from me (not one of my followers)”.
7. Self discipline:
A Da’iyah should be able to exert complete control over himself and his desires. He should realize that his most fierce enemy is his own soul and that if he cannot control it, it will lead him to Hell fire, we seek refuge in Allah from it.
A disciplined `self’ is extremely important at times of hardship, since it enables one to face the difficulties and overcome the obstacles that any Da’iyah is likely to encounter on the road of Da’wah.
8. Organization and proper time management:
For a believer, time is life, and life is the only capital he/she has to invest in his trade with Allah (SWT). Therefore, the Qur’an describes as losers those who are in negligence of the meaning of their life: “Many are the Jinn and men We have made for Hell: they have hearts wherewith they understand not, eyes wherewith they see not and ears wherewith they hear not. They are like cattle–nay more misguided: These are the neglectful” (7:179)
The Prophet’s companions were always keen to spend their time in the best way and they always asked Allah to bless their time, in order to be able to perform their duties properly. The Prophet (PBUH) taught them “Whenever the dawn of a day breaks, it calls: O son of Adam, I am a new creature (of Allah), and I am a witness over your deeds. So take your best out of me, for I will never come back until the Day of Resurrection”. So let every Muslim know that he/she is given some time to work for his/her own good, and for the good of his/her Ummah in this life and in the Hereafter.
9. Helping others:
A Da’iyah should consider himself as a candle that burns in order to give light to others. Isn’t the primary goal of our Da’wah to rescue people out of darkness to light? Imam al-Banna summarizes the behavior of the Muslim brother in the community as follows:
A. A brother should have proper judgement under all circumstances; anger does not make him forget favors and love does not make him overlook mistakes; he always tells the truth even against himself.
B. He should be very active and trained in community service; he becomes very pleased when he is able to help someone; he visits the ill, helps the weak, and should be foremost in good work.
C. He should be forgiving, merciful even to animals and should always treat people according to Islamic teachings; a Da’iyah never backbites or pries into someone else’s affairs.
D. He should give people their rights even before they ask for them. On the other hand, he should ask for his rights in the best way, observing Islamic rules.
II. Establishment of the Muslim Home:
This is the second phase of the work for Islam. The importance of the Muslim family as a unit in building the Muslim community cannot be overemphasized. The family is the nucleus of the society; whenever the nucleus is healthy and strong, so will be the whole structure. If both the husband and wife are precisely shaped according to Islamic teachings as shown in the first stage, they will be able to build a home that complies with these teachings. Islam has put the criteria for choosing one’s husband or wife, stated the rights and duties of each partner, made it mandatory upon both partners to do their best in the upbringing of their children, and put fair and adequate solutions to the problems that may arise during the course of family life. In all that, Islam takes a middle path; no exaggeration and no negligence.
The first objective of marriage should be to establish the Muslim home and produce a progeny that will be able to advance the message of Islam to the rest of the society. The Muslim Da’iyah, after passing successfully the first stage, should establish a Muslim home. He/she should make his/her spouse respect the Islamic ideas and make sure to follow Islam in all aspects of family life. If he/she fails to do so and the family life is not regulated by Islamic rules, this will form an un-surmountable obstacle on his way of Da’wah. Warning against the choice of a wife based on something other than Islam, the Prophet (PBUH) said “A woman is married for her wealth, her nobility, her beauty or her Deen (religion); he is a winner who marries the one with piety”
III. Establishment of the MUSLIM Society:
This stage represents the culmination of the previous stages. It gets its importance from its noble objective; the establishment of the best nation “You are the best nation that has been raised up for mankind” (3:109)
It is very naive to think that the road to the establishment of such a nation is an easy or a short one.
The means of conveying the message of Islam to people have changed a great deal during recent years, and we should make optimal use of such progress. We should exploit all available means to deliver our message to people, men and women, educated and common folks, in their homes and places of work.
We should explain to people all the aspects of Islam in a clear, precise and an unambiguous manner, and this is the theoretical part of our Da’wah. We should then urge them to put it into practice in their lives and, in doing so, we should exploit all available means, and this is the practical part of our Da’wah. In this, our guide is the Qur’an in which there is no falsehood, and the authentic Sunnah of the Prophet (PBUH) and the example of the early Muslim generations. Our objective should be only the pleasure of Allah through performing our duties toward Him and guiding others to His way.