III. THE ISLAMIC MOVEMENT: ITS TASK, CHARACTERISTICS, AND TOOLS
The duty of the Islamic movement is to help people submit to Allah as individuals and groups by working for the establishment of an Islamic community deriving its rules and teachings from the book of Allah and His Prophets’ sunnah.
The General Task: Universal Outreach
The Islamic movement is a universal organization that reaches out to encompass the workers in the Islamic field all over the world. This outreach is a precondition for success in conveying purely and clearly the Islamic message in ways relevant to the needs of the present time. This outreach is designed to call people to Islam, strengthen their belief in it, and organize them to work and to wage jihad in its cause.
In order to establish Islam functionally in the world the Islamic movement must strive against the thoughts and philosophies left over from colonialism, whether of European socialism or American capitalism, until the Ummah or Muslim community can recover its independence and genuine identity. From the very inception, the Islamic movement has been almost obsessed with the need to purify Islam from the garbage of unlawful innovations and superstitions, and to introduce it to the people of the world in a pure form worthy of its excellence and greatness above all contending religions and ideologies.
The Islamic Movement is rooted in some basic principles, namely, that:
- Islamic teachings and rules are comprehensive and designed by Allah to govern the affairs of man at all levels of community, from the family to the whole of the human race.
- The fundamental theme of Islam throughout history has been -there is no god but Allah,- which means, that Allah alone is Divine and Sovereign.
- Islam alone can provide the power for Muslims to liberate oppressed peoples from The control of those who worship the false gods of modernist and postmodernist cultures, namely, from taghut, so that these false gods will no longer be in a position to persecute or put obstacles in the way of sincere people and so all religion will be exclusively for Allah.
- The adoption and adaptation of capitalist, socialist, communist or other manmade systems, either in whole or in part, constitutes a denial of Islam and disbelief in Allah the Lord of the worlds. Such adoption and adaptation diverts Muslims into unguided, haphazard, and wasteful efforts. Allah, the Almighty, has said:
If anyone desires a religion other than Islam (submission to Allah), never will it be accepted of him and in the hereafter he will be in the ranks of those who have lost (all spiritual good). [Qur’an 3:85]
Hasan AI-Banna summarized the Islamic movement’s general task of universal outreach as follows:
Our task in general is to stand against the flood of modernist civilization overflowing from the swamp of materialistic and sinful desires. This flood has swept the Muslim nation away from the Prophet’s leadership and Qur’anic guidance and deprived the world of its guiding light. Western secularism moved into a Muslim world already estranged from its Qur’anic roots, and delayed its advancement for centuries, and will continue to do so until we drive it from our lands. Moreover, we will not stop at this point, but will pursue this evil force to its own lands, invade its Western heartland, and struggle to overcome it until all the world shouts by the name of the Prophet and the teachings of Islam spread throughout the world. Only then will Muslims achieve their fundamental goal, and there will be no more "persecution" and all religion will be exclusively for Allah. "With Allah is the decision, in the past and in the future: on that day shall the believers rejoice." [Qur’an 30:4]
Within this general task, there are many specific duties. The Islamic movement must develop:
1) Internal governance sensitive to Allah’s command:
Judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and follow not their vain desires, but beware of them lest they beguile you from any of the (teachings) that Allah has sent down to you. [Qur’an 5:52]
2) Public relations designed to carry out Allah’s injunctions:
Thus have We made you a community justly balanced, that you may be a witness over the nations. [Qur’an 2:143]
3) A practical judicial system reflecting the authority of Islamic law:
By your Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make you judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against your decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction. [Qur’an 4:65]
4) Military defense adequate to all demands in accordance with Allah’s decree: "Go forth, (whether equipped) lightly or heavily, and strive and struggle with your goods and your persons in the cause of Allah. This is best for you, if You (only) knew. [Qur’an 9:41]
5) Economic institutions and policies designed to foster the production of wealth through broadly-based private ownership with proper regulation to avoid concentration of either economic or political power.
To those of weak judgement do not entrust your property which Allah has made a means of support for you. [Qur’an 4:5]
6) Educational and cultural infrastructure designed to overcome ignorance and evil and to carry out the instruction of Allah in the first revealed verse of the Qur’an:
Proclaim! (or read!) in the name of your Lord and Cherisher who created. [Qur’an 96:1]
7) Family values to shape and train the character of young boys and girls, in accordance with the saying of Allah, "O you who believe! Save yourself and your families from a fire whose fuel is men and stones." [Qur’an 66:6]
8) Spiritual encouragement so that in their private lives people find it easier to advance in wisdom and in peace of soul: "Truly he succeeds who purifies it." [Qur’an91:9]
9) Personal empowerment to bring alive as civil activists every person in society, either as a leader or follower, according to the saying of Allah, "But seek, with the (wealth) which Allah has bestowed on you, the home of the Hereafter, and do not forget your just enjoyment of this world; but do good as Allah has been good to you and avoid occasions for mischief in the land." [Qur’an 28:77]
10) Leadership at all levels of human community, in the family, neighbourhood, national government and international institutions, in order to bring together Muslims everywhere so they can excel again in all endeavors, and recover the flag of jihad and call mankind to Allah and the good news of His Revelation.
The most important features or characteristics of the Islamic movement required for it to carry out this general task are the following five:
1) Guided by Allah
The direction and methods of the movement must come from the eternal religion of Allah. The movement serves Allah and not its members, in accordance with Allah’s teaching:
Say: Truly, my prayer and my service of sacrifice, my life and death, are all for Allah, the Cherisher of the worlds. [Qur’an 6:162]
The Islamic movement is not a political party that aims to gain or achieve some vested interest or power as is common in ordinary parties. Its leaders are expected to obey only the commands of Allah.
2) Self Motivated
This movement originates in the reality of Islam and not in reaction to or as an outgrowth of the socialism and capitalism of the secular West. The movement calls only to Islam, the true religion, which fact is its major source of power.
The Islamic movement is designed to liberate man in dynamic change, not enslave him in efforts to stabilize and control the world, as do most utopian movements, including capitalism, in the West. Unlike these secular manmade systems, the Islamic movement addresses human needs and everyday problems from the spiritual and moral perspective of Revelation. It stands in awe of the universe, every aspect of which is merely a sign from its Creator and therefore promotes science and technology not to gain power or to register new discoveries but to learn more about the greatness of Allah.
The Islamic movement promotes progress in developing improved tools of economic growth because Muslims are enjoined to multiply the bounties of Allah and benefit from all that is good. This is the essential meaning of the Prophet’s saying:
"Take wisdom from whatever container it comes from," and "Knowledge is what every Muslim should seek the most; wherever he finds it, he is the one who most deserves it."
4) Comprehensive and balanced
The Islamic movement addresses all the needs of man in proper balance. Therefore it is referred to as:
a) Salafi da’wah, because it derives from the pure sources of Islam, the Qur’an and sunnah;
b) The Sunni way, because it works to revive the sunnah of the Prophet (s) in its members and in every human community;
c) The Rabbani covenant, because it teaches that a pure and clean heart and a close relationship with Allah are the basis and origin of all good; and
d) The Political movement, because it tries to address everyone’s needs by changing both public policy and the institutions of society from which such policy issues.
5) Unity in diversity
The Islamic movement recognizes the legitimacy of different positions on public issues, but it requires unity in basic principles (usul), and seeks to bring people together around the fundamentals of Islam. In the words of Imarn Hasan AI-Banna:
We are not a political party, although politics in accordance with Islam is deeply rooted in our ideas; and we are not a welfare organization nor a sports team, although welfare and sports are part of our method; we are not any of these because these are all forms, techniques, or means designed for specific objectives and for a limited period of time.
We are, however, an idea and a creed, a system and a syllabus, which is why we are not bounded by a place or a group of people and can never be until the Day of judgement, because we are the system of Allah and the way of His Prophet (s).
We are the followers of the Companions of the Messenger of Allah, and the Raisers of his flag as they raised it, and like them, popularizers of his way, and the memorizers of the Qur’an as they memorized it, and the preachers of his da’wah as they preached it, which is why we are a mercy for mankind.
In addition to these five general characteristics, the Islamic movement must have seven specifically organizational ones, namely:
1) Freedom from the special Interests of politicians and powerbrokers, especially those who dominate the government.
This organizational independence, however, does not preclude members of the movement from holding political and appointive office as long as they work to protect the movement from harm and to secure its sincerity of intent and purity of action.
2) Gradualism In both thoughts and action, because the road to success is hard and long and the goals are ambitious and grandiose. The gradualist strategy pursues these goals through a tactic of incremental steps, each planned to build on the previous step in a carefully optimized time frame. Imarn Hasan al-Banna in his Instructional Discourse divided the stages of da’wabinto three stages:
a) Introductory: Disseminating concepts and ideas among the people through oratory and writing, civic action and other practical methods.
b) Preparatory: Identifying good and reliable cadre to bear the burden of initiating and sustaining jihad. This is a period of building wisdom among the leaders and military discipline among the recruits. At this stage no one will be admitted to the movement except those willing to carry out their responsibilities in full obedience.
c) Execution: The stage of relentless combat and constant effort to achieve the goals. This stage will weed out all but the most honest and sincere, both in their own commitment and in their obedience to the chain of command. [Risalat Ta’alim (Arabic)]
3) Low-Profile, with a maximum of productive action and a minimum of publicity, in order to:
a) Purify action from the desire to he seen and praised by others;
b) Save energy and time for productive and constructive action; and
c) Ensure the safety of the movement and its members. The Prophet Muharnmad (s) said, "Seek secrecy in what you do."
4) Strategic orientation for long-range victory. The hugeness of the task ensures that the way will be long and hard, so the people working in this field should prepare themselves both mentally and physically to meet any hardship and to sacrifice:
Do men think that they will be left alone on saying we believe, and that they will not be tested? We did test those before you, and Allah will certainly know those who are true from those who are false. [Qur’an 29:1-3]
Members of the Islamic Movement should adopt and follow a long term plan so they do not lose the way or seek the fruit before it is ripe. This requires a full understanding that securing power for an Islamic government is a means for a larger goal, so when they gain power they will thank Allah and not retreat from their task out of fear. "There is no help except from Allah;" [Qur’an 2:26] and "You will not, except as Allah wishes." [Qur’an 76:30]
If someone retorts: "But crooks and tools of outside interests gain power a lot faster and more easily," then reply that the two ways are different and the Islamic Movement will accept power only clearly gained in justice. If it would accept the reins of power held by others, it would have gained a false and fraudulent power, as have so man others. "Now then, for that (reason) call (them to the faith) and stand steadfast as you are commanded, and do not follow their vain desires."
5) Openness in work but secrecy of organization. One may not work for Islam in secret, or through a front, and still claim to exhibit wisdom. The message of Islam should be broadcast from the housetops and the truth should be witnessed always and everywhere Those who hide the truth through silence are not merely dumb but evil. "Whoever sees a wrong-doing should change it by his hand; if he cannot, by his tongue; and if he still cannot then by his heart, arid that is the weakest of faith." Those who call to Allah should proclaim the truth at their place of work and to all around them in every way. Allah says, "Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching." [Qur’an 16:125]
This does not mean, however, that the Islamic Movement should reveal all its strategies, plans, and organization, because this would be foolhardy and put the movement and its members in danger. The slogan should be, "Work in public but organize in secret" which accords with the Prophet saying. "Seek secrecy in what you do", and "War is dissimulation."
6) Psychological independence. There has been much discussion about the -feeling of isolation- that Syed Qutb called for when he said, "There should be a group that takes the lead and proceeds alone in the middle of the ignorance found everywhere on this earth. This group should be in this environment but isolated from it, and should not be of this environment, though it should communicate with it."
The concept of isolation referred to here by Syed Qutb is distinct from the nihilist or rejectionist isolation of many non-Muslim groups. Muslims are isolationist in the sense of psychological independence, based on the manner and behavior, and of their feelings. This is what the Prophet (s) called when he warned: "Do not be a follower who says, I am with the people right or wrong. But maintain disciplined behavior, so when people do good, you should too and when they do evil, you should avoid it."
Effective work, movement, and da’wah are not possible if one is physically isolated and out of contact with people, because one must be sensitive to their differences and tailor one’s approach accordingly. These people who are committed to Islam as individuals but reject the duties of work in a movement must be approached in one way. Some people are open enemies of Allah and his Messenger (s), both as individuals and as members and leaders of non-believing groups. Other people are proud of being Muslims but do not live in accordance with its rules. These people, who represent the majority of Muslims today, cannot be equated with those who deny non-believers. Each group must be addressed distinctly and with the personal knowledge that comes from communication.
The message of the callers to Islam should be adapted to the closeness or distance of the potential audience, to their acceptance or rejection of the message, and to their friendship or enmity. Some of them need awareness, education, and guidance, while others, as a last resort in self-defense need the sword. This flexibility requires the callers to Islam to remain in contact with all elements of society. This relationship should aim at affecting the others positively, while avoiding a negative effect on oneself, and at purifying their lives while avoiding contamination of one’s own. The Prophet (s) said: "The patience of one of you (in jihad) is better than (worshipping) Allah for 60 years."
7) Moral consistency. For a Muslim the end never justifies the means, no matter what the aggravation. Unlike most un-Islamic movements, who are machiavellian even in excess of their own teachings, the Islamic movement must be principled in action.
How many people or parties actually practice what they preach in either the executive or legislative branch of government? These people and parties do not subscribe to a spiritual and moral creed designed to protect them from the hypocrisy endemic in the arena of politics.
The interests of secular people change and are translated into party programs, and these are often directed toward the self-serving advantage of party leaders, who sell out the interests of their supporters for personal gain. They gain power easily and manipulate it even more easily, because they are not constrained by religious and moral obligations. Instead they have objectives, strategies, and tactics that need to he accomplished regardless of the cost.
In contrast, the laborers in the Islamic field do not work for themselves. They are bound by religious and moral obligations, which they cannot discard or change.
This characteristic of moral consistency is based on five principles:
a) Islamic work must not be contaminated by any un-Islamic means in pursuit of its goals and objectives, even if these means be only words or slogans.
Say: The truth’s from your Lord, let him who will, believe and let him who will, reject it. [Qur’an 18:29]
b) Islam is an organic whole and cannot be partitioned. Giving up part of it is abandoning it all. We need only recall the story of the "Quraish" when they made the Prophet Muhammad (s) a very tempting offer in return for giving up part of the Message of Islam. Allah instructed him to refuse their offer:
Say O you who reject faith, I do not worship what you worship, nor do you worship what I worship, and I will not worship what you have ever worshipped, nor will you ever worship what I worship. To you be your way, and to me mine. [Qur’an 109:1-6]
c) Islam requires major effort and sacrifice. The magicians of Pharaoh when they learned the truth of Allah from the Prophet Moses (s), ignored Pharaoh’s threats and replied, "Never shall we regard you as more than our Creator. So decree whatever you desire to decree: for you can only decree [what concerns] the life of this world." [Qur’an 20:72]
When the Prophet (s) was offered kingship, honor, and money merely to slacken somewhat his efforts and compromise his message, he refused and said,
By Allah, if they put the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left to abandon this call, I will not until Allah gives victory to this din or I die struggling for it.
d) Righteous people must on guard against those of the non-Muslims who have a disease in their hearts, and the righteous must remain close to Allah so they cannot be easily swayed or accept the imposition of unsuitable solutions. "And this (He commands), judge between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their vain desires, but beware of them lest they beguile you from any of the (teaching) that Allah has sent down to you. And if they turn away, be assured that for some of their crimes it is Allah’s purpose to punish them, for truly most men are rebellious." [Qur’an 5:52]
When Ka’ab ibn Malik, the famous companion of the Prophet, was approached by an envoy of the king of Gassan with a letter from the king which read, "We know that your friend is treating you harshly (the Prophet had ordered a social boycott of the three Muslims, including Ka’ab ibn Malik, for failing to join the expedition of Tabuk, and no one was allowed to speak to them), so come and join us." When Ka’ab read it, he said, "this is another test." He realized that his situation had reached the point where a non-believer wanted to convert him to fight the Prophet, so he burned the letter.
e) Truth and knowledge of right and wrong can he known only from revelation, not from human reason alone, and one must accept divinely revealed truth even it be against one’s will. From the Islamic perspective, dishonesty and cheating people, regardless of how small the matter, is hypocrisy. The Prophet (s) said "The one who pleases people by making Allah angry will receive from Allah only humiliation, and the one who pleases Allah but thereby makes people angry will receive from Allah only honor." The Prophet also said, "Do not be a follower who says, I am with the people, right or wrong. But maintain disciplined behavior, so when people do good, you should too, and when they do evil, you should avoid it."
Tools of the Islamic Movement
Imarn Hasan AI-Banna proclaimed that, "Our tools are the tools of our righteous predecessors, and our weapons are what our guide and leader, the Prophet Muhammad (s) and his companions used to address the world, despite their limited number and resources. These tools are five.
1) A deep internal love of Allah and belief in His help and His support. "If Allah helps you, none can overcome you: if He forsakes you, who is there, after that, that can help you? [Qur’an 3:160]
2) A conviction that the Qur’an is a universally applicable guide. "There has come to you from Allah a (new) light and a perspicuous Book, with which Allah guides all who seek His good pleasure to ways of peace and safety." [Qur’an 5:17-18]
3) A strong sense of the rights and importance of brotherhood. "The believers are but a single brotherhood." [Qur’an 49: 10]
4) Firm reliance on Allah’s love and justice. -Because all their sufferings and efforts were reckoned to their credit as deeds of righteousness whether they suffered thirst, or fatigue, or hunger, in the cause of Allah, or took any steps that angered or confounded the unbelievers, or sustained any injury whatever from an enemy; for Allah does not fail to give a just reward to those who do good. [Qur’an 9:120]
5) Supreme confidence that they are among those chosen by Allah to bring truth, justice, and peace to the world.
Our predecessors in faith heard the call to Allah, so they believed, and we pray that Allah will make this faith beloved to us as it was to them because this love of Allah and Islam is our faith. Our faith is our greatest strength and our most powerful tool; it is also the source of the second most powerful instrument of the Islamic movement, which is jihad. The companions of the Prophet (s) knew that Islam prevails only through the sacrifice of self and wealth in jihad, and they were right.
They heard the call of Allah, "Say, if your fathers, your sons, your brothers, your mates, or your kindred, or the wealth that you have gained in commerce and fear to lose, or the dwellings in which you delight, are dearer to you than Allah or His Messenger, or striving in His cause, then wait until Allah brings about His decision, for Allah guides not the rebellious." They answered the call and offered everything willingly, rejoicing in their bargain with Allah Almighty.
When they fought in the Cause of Allah, they fought to death. Some donated all their resources, saying we have kept for our families only Allah and His Messenger, while others exclaimed while the sword was readied above their necks, "Strike on either side. It makes no difference as long as I die as a Muslim for the sake of Allah." As they were committed in battle and magnanimous in sacrifice, so shall we be.