Part Nine: Our Gathering
Our gathering is for one single purpose, with one single `Aqeedah, and under one single intellectual flag.
In our discussion of the Jama'ah, we explained that it is impossible to achieve the objectives of Islamic work without collective effort which is regulated by the Shari'ah. We also mentioned that the Islamic movement cannot fulfil many of the legal obligations without adopting a collective approach. In fact, our Shari'ah does not neglect this point. It states that whatever is vital for the fulfilment of a religious obligation becomes an obligation in its own right. It also obliges Muslims to co- operate in executing good deeds, in their piety and holding fast unto the common 'cord of Allah' (Islam). We also concluded that collective work is an obligation of individual responsibility (Fard Ain) that must not be rejected or neglected by any Muslim.
Joint effort is, therefore, a necessity for Islamic activism. It enables it to secure and maintain the means of strength, otherwise our efforts would be scattered and our mettle considerably weakened. But, we must ask ourselves whether any kind of collectivism is suitable for the concentration of our energy. In other words, are there forms of collectivism that would reduce our strength and introduce elements of weakness into our ranks? Are their groups or types of people which it would be beneficial for the Muslim Jama'ah to reject from its midst?
The acceptable and praiseworthy types of collectivism are those which are conducive to the achievement of the Jama'ah's objectives by legally permissible means. If, however, joining hands with some particular groups would lead us away from these objectives and hamper our progression, leading to the severance of Allah's assistance and protection, then this type of collective work would not be acceptable.
Our Shari'ah, white instructing us to adhere to collective work and forbidding divisions, has also commanded that we should distance ourselves from certain people and prohibit ourselves from having them in our ranks. We must take the middle course in this regard, avoiding either extreme. We are not to join hands with all and sundry with no restriction or control. Neither must we refuse all types of co- operation and end up standing each in isolation from the other. Not all collectivism is legally acceptable, neither are all refusals to work jointly with others. It is up to us to distinguish between acceptable groups and the others, between praiseworthy co- operation and prohibited collusion.
By studying our Shari'ah, its injunctions and restrictions; the history of our Ummah and the experience of Islamic movements past and present; our own experience to date and our situation and surrounding reality; we come to the clear conclusion that there are three conditions that must be met in order that our co- operation is legally acceptable:
- Unity of purpose.
- Unity of `Aqeedah.
- Unity of the understanding of the religion of Allah ( SWT ).
Once these three conditions are fulfilled, differences in opinion or approach would cause no harm. Disagreement on all other issues apart from these three issues is acceptable and does not preclude unity and co-operation, but disagreement over them or over any of them is not permitted and does not allow unity and co- operation. There is no harm if we differ over some minor juristic matters; indeed, our meritorious predecessors have differed for centuries over a number of juristic issues. Some Muslim jurists differed over the legality of fighting during the holy months. Some permit the taking of Jizyah from the People of the Book and the Magians only, others permit taking it from all polytheists and disbelievers except for those living in the Arabian Peninsula. There are many other such examples of divergence in opinion on minor juristic issues, such as the distance which requires shortening Salah while travelling and reciting al-basmalah aloud in 'loud' Salah.
Any disagreement of the type Ulama call `Ikhtilaf tanawwu' (divergence of variety) is legally permissible even amongst members of the same Jama'ah. On the other hand, all without exception must follow the same line in matters related to the work and activities of the Jama'ah as long as it is regulated by the Shari'ah and takes the right course in these matters.
If the differences, however, are of the type known as Ikhtilaf tadhad (divergence of contradiction), the unity of those on either side of the disagreement is not permissible. The wrong party must be made aware of the right path, and when they do revert to it they are most welcome to join the fold. If they persist in their wrong then total rejection is the only acceptable stance to take against them. An example of this is the question of the permissibility of singing, music, temporary marriage (zawaj al-mut'ah) and other similar issues. It cannot be said in these cases, however, that some of our Ulama have permitted these activities. It is not acceptable to say that some Ulama in the past have judged these errors to be permissible and that we should not close the door of Ijtihad (reasoning) on them today. In fact, the Ulama who said this had practised Ijtihad but their efforts led them to the wrong conclusions. The right judgement on these matters is now clear to the Ulama, seekers of knowledge and lay people alike. It is not acceptable to follow a scholar's opinion which has become known as erroneous. Anyone who does this today must have the right judgement explained to him, and if he persists in his erroneous convictions he must not be welcome in the Jama'ah.
Now we return to the three conditions which any gathering whatsoever must meet: unity of purpose, unity of `Aqeedah and unity of the understanding of the religion of Allah ( SWT ).
We cannot accept into our ranks those whose ultimate goal is other than seeking of Allah's Pleasure. We reject all those who seek the pleasure of any other than Allah, those who strive hard in order to seek mere worldly gains or the praise of mortals, or the fulfilment of their own whims and desires.
It has been narrated that when the Prophet invited the tribe of Bani `Amir bin Saa'saa' to Islam, they sought to secure a promise from him that kingship of the Arabs should pass to their tribe after his demise. The Prophet naturally refused this and turned away from them. He did not accept among the ranks of the Muslims a people who had sought gain and pleasure in this life, rather than the eternal Pleasure of Allah.
It is our right and duty to reject from our midst all those whose ultimate goal is not the Pleasure of Allah ( SWT ). We reject all the nationalists and secularists; indeed, we must show enmity and hatred towards them. We also reject all those whose preoccupation and knowledge is solely related to worldly matters, those who take their whims and desires as their gods, those who persist in committing major sins openly. As for other Muslims who commit minor sins and acts of disobedience, each should be considered separately in accordance with the `criterion of evil and good' which decides whether it is good or not for the Jama'ah to include him as one of its members.
Neither do we accept in our ranks those who differ with us over fundamental issues of `Aqeedah. Both disbelievers and innovators (the followers of bid'ah) are not to be allowed in our ranks under any circumstances.
The Prophet commanded Muslims to fight the innovating Khawaarij sect, even though they performed Salah, observed fasting and recited the Qur'an. The companions of the Prophet fought the Khawaarij, killed them and were happy to do so; and `Abdullah bin `Umar distanced himself from those who refused to fight them. This matter has been settled once and for all. It is our right and duty to reject all the innovators who do not follow the teachings of our meritorious predecessors in all matters of `Aqeedah. We dismiss the Khawaarij, the Shiites, the Sufis, the Murji'ah sect and the Mushabbihah, the Mu'attilah, the Mutawaqqifah who refuse to judge those who profess Islam as either true believers or disbelievers. We also reject all those who have a deviant understanding of Islam. We do not join with those who innovate in religion or reject the teachings of our meritorious predecessors in matters of `Aqeedah; those who differ from us in our objectives, understanding of Islam, our Walaa' and Baraa', those who want to set out on the road using means other than those provided by Islam, such as working through political parties.
The Prophet refused the pledge of allegiance from a man who had embraced Islam but refused to pay out Zakah or practise Jihad because of his stinginess and cowardice. He rejected the man, saying, "A religion with no Zakah or Jihad! With what are you going to enter Paradise?". It is thus our right and duty to reject all those who turn their backs on Zakah, Jihad, Da'wah or Hisbah. And no-one has the right to reprimand us for doing so. No-one should cite the example of the tribe of Thaqeef who had stipulated their exemption from Zakah and Jihad as a precondition for embracing Islam. For although the Prophet did accept their pledge of allegiance under these conditions, he said, "They will pay Zakah and practise Jihad." He accepted them knowing, as Allah ( SWT ) inspired him, that they would pay Zakah and fight Jihad in due course.
We refuse to co-operate with those who differ with us in our `Aqeedah, ultimate goal, understanding, goal, path, provisions and attitudes of love and hatred towards those who deserve them. Any gathering or union which does not meet the correct conditions for holding such a gathering will definitely lead to intellectual unsteadiness and the loss of the truth in the midst all the falsehoods that surround us. This will consequently lead to a total paralysis, thus the incapability of scoring any progress in the field of Islamic activism.
Our fortresses are threatened from within because we have allowed contradictory and deviant creeds and ideologies to share them with us and they have undermined our very structure. Our fortresses are crowded and falling apart, unable to withstand the blows of the enemies, let alone prepare us for mounting an attack. Our advice to our fellow Muslims is that we must hasten to clear our fortresses from
142 those who have been causing this confusion. If they were to accept this advice, well and good. If not, then we have fulfilled our duty towards them by offering them this counsel.
As for us, we must learn not to join in with any other than the people of Truth, the people of complete and sincere Truth.
Commenting on the verse,
"And hold fast, all of you together, to the Rope of Allah (this Qur'an) and be not divided among yourselves." [Surah Ale-Imran (3), Ayah 103.]
Al-Qurtubee said, "Allah ( SWT ) has made it obligatory for them (the Muslims) to hold unto His Book and refer to it whenever disagreement arises between them. He also commanded us to hold fast to the Qur'an and the Sunnah in both conviction and action, for this would be the cause for unity, harmony and benefit to the life in this world and the religion, in addition to the avoidance of discord."
May Allah have mercy on our Ulama. How knowledgeable they were! Those who seek unity, harmony and avoidance of discord, those who aspire after success in this world and the maintenance of the religion must endeavour to achieve a unity based on holding fast to the Qur'an and the Sunnah, in both belief and action.
We must point out here that many of the sects and groups with which we are legally prohibited from unifying are acceptable partners with whom to co-operate and from whom to seek assistance for the benefit of this life and religion. There is a great difference between seeking unity and seeking assistance. The jurists (fuqaha') have sanctioned the employment of infidels to fight for Islam under certain conditions. Some of them also permitted fighting alongside the Khawaarij against the disbelievers. Yet we do not accept the disbelievers in our ranks nor the Khawaarij in our midst. The difference between seeking their assistance and unifying with them is clear and simple and must always be remembered.