Enforcing Good and obliterating Evil Part 4

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Sha'ban 23, 1433 2012-07-13

Bismillah Ar-Rahmaan Ar-Raheem. Alhumdulillah. Peace and blessings on Muhammad (sallalahu alaihi wa alihi wa sallam), his Noble Companions and Family. Dear Committed brothers, dear committed sisters,

There’s a couple of ayaat, at least, that beg our attention in the current conditions that we are in. Many Muslims nowadays have their minds focused on what is happening in the Muslim world. There’s a people’s movement and there’s a counter people’s movement and in the midst of all of this there’s a lot of talk on Islamic leadership, Islamic parties, and Islamic future. In this context we ask you to place your attention on these following ayaat. The first ayah is ayah number one-hundred-and-four of Surah Aal Imran, it says, the meaning of the ayah is something like this

وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ ۚ وَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ

From you or out of you shall be an ummah who call towards or who guide towards al khayr and they authorise or they enforce al ma’ruf and they delegitimize or they dis-establish al munkar; and they are those who are successful. (Surah Aal Imran verse 104)

Another ayah says

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ

You exist as the best ummah brought into existence (for) interacting with people… (Surah Aal Imran verse 110)

What’s your description (or) what’s your condition? Once again, (it has) the same wording as the previous ayaat. Both of these ayaat are in Surah Aal Imran one-hundred-and-four and one-hundred-and-ten. It says

تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ

… you authorise or you enforce al ma’ruf and then you dis-establish and you forbid al munkar and you commit yourselves to Allah… (Surah Aal Imran verse 110)

The reason these ayaat are brought to your attention, (by yours truly here), is that they speak to the current flow and ebb of our thoughts and our predictions. There is much talk about Islamic governance- let us take a cursory look at the quintessentials of Islamic governance. The first one is justice is the basis of this governance. Justice is the foundation of an Islamic government. Equity, fairness, social institutions, social justice, social legalism- all of these underlie what we talk about when we use the word Islamic governance. Then, because now there are certain names in the news we look at certain Islamic personalities, certain Islamic leaders- now they are placed in positions of decision making. Who are they? How should they be? What are their qualifications?

The first one is being a just ruler- what you expect in people who step into these positions? The first thing you expect of them is justice.

وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ

… and if you govern or if you rule or if you adjudicate… (Surah An Nisa’ verse 58)

These all tolerate the way an tahkumu is translated.

وَإِذَا حَكَمْتُم بَيْنَ النَّاسِ أَن تَحْكُمُوا بِالْعَدْلِ

… if you govern or if you rule or if you adjudicate among people that you rule or that you judge or that you legislate or that you arbitrate (you do so) with justice… (Surah An Nisa’ verse 58)

Another feature of someone- whether it’s a party or an individual, whether it’s one person or a group of persons with him- is the feature of taqwa. We can’t expect to have Islamic leaders if they don’t have this necessary element or this quintessential character of taqwa. This taqwa, (as we said many times before), means that Allah’s power and authority is recognised, considered, acknowledged, affirmed and feared before any of the other authorities or powers in the world. This is a feature of taqwa. If a person does not place Allah as his only authority and power with all that is due to it before these worldly authorities and powers he or they disqualify from the position of Islamic leadership or Islamic governance. Of course, in addition to that, this party or this person- Islamic as they may be- are expected to have the feature of scholarly knowledge. They have to be versed with what Allah and His Prophet are saying and how Allah and His Prophet are guiding them. If they are going to assume a position of leading Egypt or leading Tunisia or some other Islamic territory in this world, they need to understand the Qur’an and the Sunnah. How are they going to do that if they don’t understand this? So knowledge, which is another way of saying thinking- we look for thinking individuals; not people who like automatons quote an ayah not knowing its context, not knowing the content of it, not knowing the circumstances and the conditions for what it is meant- that’s a disqualifier if they don’t know (or) if they don’t think.

The other one is: obviously they need to have a sound character, a sound body and a sound attitude. If they have this then at least they have taken the first step in the right direction.

Another feature of Islamic governance is the wording in the Qur’an

لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ

When it comes to the matter of deen, no authority, (whatever that authority is), and no person, (whoever that person is, even if it is the Prophet of Allah) can force anyone to become a Muslim… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 256)

There’s much more meaning to this ayah but in this context there are, (what is called), minorities, there are, (what are called) other religions, there are other faiths and persuasions- whatever the case is, in this area no Islamic party or people who ascend to power and now have the right to decide the affairs of society have grounds to interfering with the faith and convictions of others who are not Muslims. Absolutely not! They have to guarantee this for them. If these people want to have Churches and Synagogues, they have all the right in the world to have their Churches and Synagogues even in the Arabian Peninsula.

Then there is a social law. Muslim Ulema’ and Fuqaha’, Muslim scholars refer to this as Sunnah At Tada’fu’. The nature of societies and political orders in the world is (such that) there is tension between them and among them. This is a social law. It has accompanied humanity in all of its history. You can’t find a generation of Muslims or a generation of non- Muslims in which their societies did not have tension and friction and an engagement of disagreement all the way to warfare. These people who assume these responsibilities have to be aware of this. Then there is this feature that we spoke about- al amr bi al ma’rul wa an nahi an al munkar. Of course, you’ve heard this many times; but this is something that you are going to have to think about more. The reason why these ayaat that have these words in it don’t resonate in today’s Islamic context is because we don’t think about it! It’s our fault. There’s nothing wrong with identifying our faults and correcting them. You see- in Islamic literature there are two other words that eclipse al amr and an nahi. This ayah in this context speak about al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar. Now, let me tell you, this whole sentence is sabotaged by the misuse of words or mistaken translations. The word that is used by ninety-percent of the Muslims when they want to express this ayah in English, they say

وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ

… to enjoin what is good and to forbid what is evil… (Surah Aal Imran verse 104)

Now we ask you- the thinking Muslim who you are- what does it mean to enjoin good? Can you tell us what that means? Or to forbid evil- how does that work? If you are going to be given the instruments of state (and) now you are a statesman; now you have to make decisions impacting society- what does it mean to enjoin the good or to forbid the evil? Does it mean an nasiha? This is what many people believe; this is what many people think. They mean to advise concerning al ma’ruf or to advise for al ma’ruf and to advise against al munkar. No! That’s not what it says. Al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar is not advice; it’s not nasiha. Other people think or are thinking or other people have the notion that al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar is a call to al ma’ruf and an uncall to al munkar and that’s not what it means. Al amr bi al ma’ruf is to authorise and to enforce al ma’ruf. Look- the word here is al ma’ruf- something that all human beings know to be good. It by passes religions and denominations and sects and ideologies and philosophies- there’s something in human nature that tells everyone that something is good- that is al ma’ruf and we are responsible for enforcing it. First of all, authorising it and then enforcing it- that’s al amr. It’s not just speaking, it’s not just consenting to something without enforcement. That’s al amr bi al ma’ruf. An nahi an al munkar (is the) same thing but on the other side. Al munkar is something all human beings know to be unacceptable, repugnant, bad and abominable- that’s al munkar. Everyone knows it. Look- if someone commits a sin, (whoever and whatever his religion or her religion are), they know inside of them “something went wrong. I did something wrong.” He could be a Muslim, he could be a Christian, he could be a Jew, even an Atheist. There is something in him or her that says “I’ve done something wrong.” That is a munkar. That which we call “something wrong” that is identified by human nature and by common sense (is what) we are responsible for delegitimizing it and disestablishing it. We want it out of the public realm and out of the public mind. Al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar goes beyond a circle of halaal and haraam. There are some Muslims who think in a circle of halaal and haraam. (It is) true (that) al ma’ruf is halaal- that is true and another truth is al munkar is a haraam but there are other things that are not identified specifically as halaal and specifically as haraam as being ma’ruf and munkar. You would ask “what do you mean by this?” OK- let’s give you an example so that you can understand, so that these ayaat and these guidelines and these hadith are not just some theory there in the blue yonder. Let’s say someone wants to have a newspaper and this newspaper is a medium of communicating the truth. In objective terms there’s nothing wrong in having a newspaper but what if the person wants to have a newspaper to promote a batil? There is nothing. (If) you look at all the ayaat in the Qur’an (and) you look at all the hadiths of the Prophet, there’s no specific ayaat or hadith that says you cannot have a newspaper that promotes al batil (or) we can’t have al batil in our society. But what if someone’s ideas are disturbed and they think something is borderline. You see- the Prophet comes in here and he clarifies this issue for us- al halaal is explicit and clear and al haraam also is explicit and clear but between them there are some, (what you may call), un-clarified or confusing issues, there is not a final statement about them. Here is where we are going have to step in and with our own ijtihad- ijtihad becomes impossible if we don’t work our minds. As we said many times before, one of the major problems we have today is we have deactivated our minds. Al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar go beyond this strictly halaal definition of things and strictly haraam definition of things. That’s why when in today’s world someone says al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar- let’s take an nahi an al munkar, (we’ll be short about this as we said because of the weather), how do some people define al munkah? First of all, you’re going to realize they contracted it, they shrank it. Only to be defined in the realm of persons (or) individuals. Therefore they will say “a munkar is if a person breaks his or her fast during the month of Ramadhan.” They tell you “if a young lady is not wearing her hijab as outlined in the Qur’an and Sunnah that is a munkar.” They say “drinking or intoxicants- you know, consuming alcohol and liquor and hard stuff is a munkar.” They say “excessive and indulgent entertainment is a munkar.” Realize, in all of this the munkar has shrivelled into persons. No one, except for a few, expands their horizons of thought and says “wait a minute, monsanto (is a munkar.” This may seem strange to use a word like monsanto in a khutbah but it is a word that echoes in other quarters of society); the engineering or the changing of the genetics of what we are eating or the modification of the genetics of what we are eating so that the wheat that we are eating today is not the wheat that was being consumed in the 1940’s, in the 1950’s or the 1960’s- it’s different wheat. In the 1970’s the genetic modifications set in and they began to interfere with what we are eating on the genetic level. Why are we, the Muslims, not aware that this is an expression of a munkar? We are supposed to take issue with this and say you can’t do that! In another ayah in the Qur’an Allah says

فَلَيُغَيِّرُنَّ خَلْقَ اللَّهِ

… and they, the followers of Iblis, are going to tamper and change Allah’s creation… (Surah An Nisa’ verse 119)

Now how come this meaning of munkar does not expand from the poor individual to those who are decision makers in our society?

In today’s world, money buys politicians- that’s a munkar. The combination of wealth and power is a recipe for a disaster impending societies who commit that crime and munkar.

وَإِذَا أَرَدْنَا أَن نُّهْلِكَ قَرْيَةً أَمَرْنَا مُتْرَفِيهَا

… and if We, (in reference to Divine power and authority), want to destroy a social order, We have two classes- those in power and those in wealth- combined into one… (Sural Al Isra’ verse 16)

Why are we not aware of it? Because we are dumbed down by others and by our own selves. Al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar is not a rite it’s a wajib, it’s a an obligation it’s a mandatory upon every Muslim and Muslimah.

وَالْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَالْمُؤْمِنَاتُ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاءُ بَعْضٍ ۚ يَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ

Committed Muslim men and women are supporters and allies of each other as they do al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar… (Surah At Tawbah verse 71)

So when there’s a munkar to be abolished and there’s a ma’ruf to be promoted men and women committed to Allah are equally responsible for that. It is not like “I want to do this. I feel like this is an extra effort and I want to authorise al ma’ruf and de-authorise al munkar.” It’s not a voluntary activity. Listen to this- even a criminal, someone who committed a crime, and he paid for that in whatever (form, whether), it was a kaff’fara, a banishment from a certain jurisdiction, a fine that he had to pay out of his pocket- however way he made up for that wrong in his life he or she is still not absolved from al amr bi al ma’ruf wa an nahi an al munkar. Every descendant of Adam is prone to mistakes (or) every descendant of Adam will commit some type kind of mistake and the best of these who get involved in these either minor sins or major sins, minor crimes or major crimes- whoever they are- the best of them is who turn to Allah ask Him for forgiveness and pledge not to do it again. Once they do this they come back to the Islamic circle of responsibilities and commitments and they also are responsible for al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar. Al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar is the responsibility of everyone. It’s not a responsibility of individuals. You see the wording in the Qur’an

كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ

You exist as the best ummah brought into existence (for) interacting with people… (Surah Aal Imran verse 110)

The ummah here is an expression of a consolidated effort that takes more than one person so don’t wiggle out of this responsibility by saying “oh wait a minute this doesn’t apply to me- I’m going to wait until we have an ummah or I am going to wait until we have an Imam” or whatever the rationale there is “and at that time I will be concerned with these ayaat in the Qur’an.” As if Allah revealed these ayaat only for specific times in history?! (As for) other times which we are in right now, many people think “well- absolve me from this responsibility. Bug off. I don’t want to hear it.” They may not say this in their words but in their behaviour this is how they behave. Some people think that they are so weak they can’t tolerate responsibilities. The Prophet of Allah addresses this psychology. He says none of you should underestimate himself or herself (or) none of you should humiliate himself or herself. If he or she sees something and has an urge to say something for or against it and nothing is said that is how you degrade yourself. When the occasion urges you to say something pertaining to al ma’ruf and al munkar and you don’t then the Prophet says Allah says what withheld you from saying what had to be said in the context of that time of urgency? What was wrong with you? He said Oh my Sustainer, I feared people (or) I was afraid of people. I was afraid of the government (or) I was afraid of the people around (or) I was afraid of the police- I was afraid of that… There’s a thousand things that they will say that they were afraid of. And Allah responds to that but didn’t you know that I am the One who is more befitting to fear? If you fear anyone it’s Allah. What is this fear of transient human beings, of inferior officials, of powerless entities?! Yeah- they may have worldly power but that’s not the end of being. The worst they can do is terminate a life! OK- here’s my life, it’s gone. It’s not the end of it. We go on to Allah. They lose and whoever is with Allah wins. Then, another hadith of the Prophet says should I tell you of something that is of a degree above praying and fasting and spending? They said yes. He said that you make amends among yourselves. This is in reference to the interconnectivity of the committed Muslims with each other. Once this interconnectedness decays or decomposes then it is referred to as al haaliqa which means the terminator. It cuts off those relations that Allah assumes (or) that Allah says should exist among you the committed Muslims. Some people here will throw in an argument (saying) “but al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar cause people to run away.” No, it is not al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar that causes people to run away or people to flee, it’s the attitude of the person. There are some people who have a character (and) that character causes people to go away. They may be express Allah’s words or the Prophet’s words but they do it in a voice and in a manner and a character that is against human nature- don’t confuse these two issues together. Some people- actually there are many people who- confuse them and they think they go together. You could be aamir bi al ma’ruf and naahi an al munkar with the best character, with your nerves intact, with your penetrating mind, with your consideration of the other, with your choice of words (and) with your affection. The Prophets of Allah (alayhim as salaam) were warning their own people against the consequences of the power structure around and at the end of the day these Prophets would say to them

إِنِّي أَخَافُ عَلَيْكُمْ عَذَابَ يَوْمٍ عَظِيمٍ

Indeed I fear for you the punishment on an awesome day. (Surah Al Shu’ara’ verse 135)

This is like a parent; it’s like a mother and a father fearing for their own children. This is how those who are in positions of responsibility should feel for the citizens and the inhabitants that they are responsible for. The Prophet is saying there are two categories of people (that) if they are set straight and if they are right then the rest of the people are but if they decompose and they go alry then the rest of the people do- those who have knowledge and those who have authority or those who have power. So when we speak about al amr bi al ma’ruf and an nahi an al munkar it is extremely important to concentrate on these Ulema’ and Umara’ many of whom are bought over by money. Just like financiers buy decision makers and politicians, financiers also buy Ulema’ and Fuqaha’ and clergymen. (It’s the) same thing. There are some who are not bought and there are others who are bought and sold in the market. The Prophet of Allah says, (we’re translating this with some license), if you see in the future to come my ummah incapable of saying to a dhaalim you are dhaalim then Allah has said farewell to that ummah.

Dear committed brothers and sisters…

(In) about a week from today we shall begin the month long observance of Ramadhan- fasting the month of Ramadhan. We want to say at this advantage point a week or so before this month begins (that) to prepare a month long exercise of sensitising yourselves to the power-presence and the authority privilege that only belongs to Allah this month is not a month to be spent by changing night into day. It’s not a month to be spent abstaining from three meals in the course of fifteen or seventeen hours and then indulging at one time in the course of fifteen or seventeen minutes in three meals. We, (not you personally, not we here personally- we’re talking about the larger Muslim presence in the world), have been violating the tenets, the definition, the objectives (and) the strategy of Ramadhan for so long and we ask Allah dearly, warmly (and) from the depths of our minds and hearts together to forgive us our past and to imbuild in us into our future with reliance upon Him. Remember, this is a month in which Allah says

فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ

… He is closer to us than anything and anyone else… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 186)

In this ayah- Allah is telling you and telling us and everyone who is listening

فَإِنِّي قَرِيبٌ

… He is closer to us than anything and anyone else… (Surah Al Baqarah verse 186)

There can be no one closer to you than Allah. This month of Ramadhan is meant to bring home to you in your deepest feelings (and) in your deepest thoughts the fact that you are the closest human being to Allah and Allah is the only Creator and the Only Maker who is closer to you than the other person who you may think is the closest person to you- (be it) your mother, your spouse, your child or whoever, Allah is closer than all of them. If we fail to go into this month with this intention and with this objective we will have missed the meanings of this month and (be) giving more time for these oppressors and these tyrants to ride roughshod over us as they have been doing in all of these generations.

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