Islamic Governance: Shura/Mutual Consultation Part 3

Developing Just Leadership

Muhammad H. al-'Asi

Sha'ban 04, 1431 2010-07-16

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,

Sometimes people ask “why do we have a particular flavour to the khutbahs that we express? Why do we concentrate/focus so much on, (what they say are), political/ideological issues or matters of strategy/orgaNisa’tion/administration/leadership?” The two part answer to that is that if everyone was speaking about these matters, they would take much of this load off of us. There would be equal distribution of concern/emphasis/explanation of all these matters therefore we would have more freedom to concentrate on other issues. But the fact of the matter is that practically no one speaks about these matters and that forces a person like as yours truly to try to make up the deficiency/deficit. That’s part one of the answer; part two of the answer is (that) we are all in, (let’s say), passengers in a ship but the Captain of this ship and the people who are giving this ship direction are taking us in the wrong direction. We need a new captain and a new direction or else we are going to end up where they take us and eventually, if they continue down this course, we are going to end up in Jahannum in the world to come. So before that happens, the least we can do is begin to open our eyes and send out an SOS to change course before it is too late. That was part two of the answer.

We said in the previous khutbah or two that we’re going to concentrate on the character of those who have imposed themselves by force to run our affairs whether we like it or not or (whether) we agree/disagree- they don’t care. We only have Allah and His Prophet to show us our direction and to offer us our points of reference otherwise we’re lost! So we some to those who rule and the issue of shura i.e. when you solicit the participation of those whom you are ruling i.e. the citizens/subjects/followers/voters/taxpayers. What’s their opinion on the things that are being decided? Do they have an opinion? Once again, we’re not here to pontificate/philosophise. We are here to present to you Allah’s words and the conduct of Allah’s Prophet’s behaviour and you should be intelligent enough as to take these as a measuring standard and then apply them to King so-and-so, President so-and-so or whatever the Executive position of the character in your mind is.

Did Allah’s Prophet… And this is Allah’s Prophet. We’re speaking about a ma’soom i.e. a person who’s impeccable. He’s not prone to making serious mistakes. Allah has protected him from that. How was his position as the ruler of the Muslims? Did he get them involved in life-and-death issues/critical decisions that would affect the everyday life of everyone? Were they involved or not? Remember we’re speaking about Allah’s Prophet who is the prototype of us all. Let us take some incidents in his lifetime that demonstrate to us whether he was making pivotal decisions on his own or whether he had a decision-making process that engaged/involved everyone in it.

The first example that we will touch on was during existential threat of Al Ahzaab- this was when all of the significant powers of Arabia sided with Quraysh and decided that they were going to finish off the Prophet, his leadership, the Islamic community/state/society and governance in Al Madinah. They were living days of mortal danger. These days were encapsulated by the ayaat in Surah Al Ahzaab. How were we Muslims feeling at that time? Allah says

إِذْ جَاءُوكُم مِّن فَوْقِكُمْ وَمِنْ أَسْفَلَ مِنكُمْ

They came from a direction superior to yours (or) above you (or) descending down upon you and from a lower area, beneath you (or) position that you calculate to be inferior… (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 10)

In other words, they were closing in on you from all directions.

وَإِذْ زَاغَتِ الْأَبْصَارُ

… now your vision became blurred/ you can’t see straight anymore… (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 10)

That’s the amount of intimidation/fear/threat/danger/terror/horror that gripped the committed Muslims around Allah’s Prophet.

وَبَلَغَتِ الْقُلُوبُ الْحَنَاجِرَ

… and your hearts jumped up to your throats… (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 10)

Not everyone experiences this. When you feel like death is surrounding you- you’re going to die; the danger keeps on growing. Every moment that is coming is a moment that is bringing you closer to the moment of elimination. A person becomes so fearful/scared that he feels like his heart has jumped into his throat.

وَتَظُنُّونَ بِاللَّهِ الظُّنُونَا

… now you’re beginning to doubt Allah or have second thoughts about what Allah is telling you… (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 10)

Now this is very serious because the Muhajirin had spent roughly fifteen years in planting their faith/anchoring their commitment/solidifying their pledge with Allah/working on their Islamic character and then all of a sudden these hard times challenge them and they begin to doubt Allah and His Prophet.

هُنَالِكَ ابْتُلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ وَزُلْزِلُوا زِلْزَالًا شَدِيدًا

At that time the committed Muslims were exposed to a bala’, times of trials and tribulations- hard, dangerous and severe times … (Surah Al Ahzaab verse 11)

OK- this is the scenario. These are some of the facts/background information that goes into the following/what happened? Allah’s words of truth are describing and detailing for us what was happening with these committed Muslims. In those times of danger- not necessarily a danger against a persons life but a danger against the Islamic society’s leadership and state- they can all go; everyone’s against them. In the middle of all of this, the Prophet of Allah sends for two persons- Uyayna ibn Hussan and the other one’s name was Al Haarith ibn Awf. These were the two commanders/leaders of Ghatfan. This was one of the major power factions that had joined the confederate/allied forces that were encircling Madinah. The Prophet of Allah says I want to speak to both of you- come. And they come. He says, (and we’re paraphrasing) tell me- if I were to give you one third of (what we call today) the gross national product of Al Madinah, would you abandon this alliance? They said yes. So the Prophet in principle agreed with them that he would pay them one-third of all that Al Madinah produces if they would just break away from this grand military alliance. Did the Prophet stop here? No. He summoned Sa’ad ibn Muadh and Sa’ad ibn Ubadah (radi Allahu anhuma) the two heads of Al Ansar in Al Madinah and he told them this is the discussion that I had with the two representatives of one of the most important factions in this military blockade that is threatening Al Madinah. What do you say/think? What is your opinion? The Prophet of Allah is telling/asking these two individuals (who were) experienced leaders prior to the advent of Rasulillah to Al Madinah. He asked them this before the agreement was finalised. They both said to him is this something that Allah ordered you to do and therefore we have no choice? We have to do it? Or is it something that is your personal preference that you want to do? Or you are doing it for us? You see: there is a matter here of the leader of all of the Muslims who is the Prophet of Allah who is a ma’soom and an Imam and what does he do? He asks the opinions of those who are with him and they frankly- (the Prophet was doing this) not out of wanting to be so courteous to them that they don’t want to speak their mind or they disagree with him and they don’t want to express it. No. There was a free flow of internal thinking between Allah’s Prophet and those who were with/besides him. So when they asked him these questions how did he respond? Rather this is something I am doing for you. By Allah I’m not doing this except that I see these Arabs/Arabians have come to finish you off en mass and they have descended upon you from every direction and what I wanted to do was break their lock/jam against you. Do they stop here or do they continue to express themselves? They continue to express themselves. This teaches us what the normal relationship should be between those who are making life-and-death, war, economic, social, political and strategic decisions. Saad ibn Mu’adh answers the Messenger of Allah saying O Messenger of Allah, in years that have passed we and these same people that you have reached an agreement with used to be Mushriks/people of idolatry together. We did not conform to Allah; we didn’t even know Allah. At that time they did not have the ambition to eat one piece of date with us. Not that Allah has lifted our esteem with Islam and honoured us with you Oh Prophet of Allah- we give them our money/wealth/posession?! Meaning the third of the total agriculture and what else of Al Madinah. We don’t need to do that, meaning we don’t want to do that. By Allah the only thing we will give them is the sword or a fight/war until Allah judges between us and them. Then the Prophet of Allah didn’t object/cut them off/say “what are you saying?” or “but I’m Allah’s Prophet. I know what I’m doing. Why are you talking back at me?” The same attitude/political behaviour that we have in the world today was absent. None of that was around. He said and so it is. You and what you said. So Sa’ad took the paper/agreement that wasn’t finalised and razed everything in it and then he said let them go with their full force against us. That was one incident that explains to you the nature of interaction/exchange of ideas/internal thoughts and feelings that went on between Allah’s Prophet on one side and the rest of the Muslims and their representatives on the other side.

Another example… We all know this, but this is a reminder.

وَذَكِّرْ فَإِنَّ الذِّكْرَىٰ تَنفَعُ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ

Then, remind (and) conscientise them- of a certainty, this dhikrah benefits the committed Muslims. (Surah Adh Dhaariyaat verse 55)

In the Battle of Uhud, the Prophet of Allah wanted to have the Muslims fight from within the confines of Al Madinah. That would have been advantageous because they would not have been in the open field exposed to the full force of their enemies. They can take advantage of knowing the structures/streets/alleys of Al Madinah. So when they now knew that they were going to take on the Mushrikin in Uhud the Prophet of Allah asked them how they feel about this. Should we fight them out in the open or inside Al Madinah? This is a military affair. The hardest things to solicit people’s opinions on are the military affairs but still, (for) Allah’s Prophet to teach us that we should not be above soliciting the opinions of the others who are in the same boat/struggle that we are in/who have the same enemies that we have asked them what do you think? Then, the majority of people who were still young said we want to go out and fight them in the open. They expressed themselves with enthusiasm/numbers and the Prophet of Allah who made his opinion known found that his opinion was a minority opinion. Only a few people agreed with him. So when he saw the public sentiments/determination/enthusiasm in a military decision that said we want to go out and fight the Mushriks at the battlefield away from/beyond Al Madinah the Prophet goes in and puts on his military gear/outfit so to speak. During this short time period the same people - these were basically the young/youth Muslims- who were arguing for going out saw that the Prophet was going to do what they suggested but did not agree with what they suggested they sought of began blaming themselves i.e. Why did we do this? Why did we convince the Prophet of a military decision that was not compatible with his own decision? So when he came back and they saw him ready to step along with them to the war-front they said Oh Prophet of Allah- we’re sorry. We didn’t mean to overrule your decision. We want to take back what we told you. And he said once a decision is made, I put on my military uniform and now I have the weaponry on me. The decision has been made and it was made because of what we call today “the popular opinion.” We know what the consequences of Uhud was. The most difficult day- in the opinion of most of the people who studied and wrote about the Prophet’s Seerah- was in Uhud. It was as a result of the Prophet engaging and applying the sincere opinion of the majority of the Muslims. We don’t want to stop at every example and then shift your attention to every decision that is made in today’s world in Arabia, America and in other places. How do they make their decisions? Has anyone consulted you? They want to build a structure around the Ka’bah; they want to “modernise Makkah”; they want you to see the Ka’bah/Al Bayt Al Haram as if it is a miniature structure when they have these skyscrapers going up in the air around it! They’re making their military/political decisions by bringing in hundreds of thousands of Mushrik and Kafir forces into Arabia. How’re they doing all that? Are they taking the opinion of the Muslim public like the Prophet? These are not Prophets! They are no where near Prophets. They are not even virtuous people. They need all of the public opinion support (and) intellectual feedback that they can get, but are they soliciting/asking for any of that or are they just going about doing whatever they want to do? The people who are making decisions for us act as if they are ma’sums/don’t make any mistakes/above the law. (As if) Allah is with them and to hell with the rest of the people. That’s how they act. The Prophet of Allah who is the leader/Imam/Hadi/Ma’sum/Nabi/Rasul was the one who was asking other committed Muslims with him what do you think? How do you feel about this?

Another example… In the Battle of Badr the Prophet of Allah chooses a particular position/locale to fight from. Then a person with some experience, his name is Al Habbaab ibn Al Mundhir (radi Allahu anhu), comes to him and he advises him to change that position and for reasons that are very well explained i.e. it would be more advantageous/benefit of the committed Muslims if they fight from this new position so that the water is available to them and will not be blocked by the Mushrik enemy coming from Makkah. What did the Prophet say? “Oh I’m too important to consider a person’s opinion?!” He said that’s fine and he changed the position of the Muslims to the new position from which they can fight with an advantage.

Another example concerning the prisoners of war at Badr. These prisoners of war, (in today’s language), were war criminals and the Prophet of Allah favoured to take them in as prisoners of war and an ayah from Allah in a subtle way corrected Allah’s Prophet. The ayah in Surah Al Anfal says

مَا كَانَ لِنَبِيٍّ أَن يَكُونَ لَهُ أَسْرَىٰ حَتَّىٰ يُثْخِنَ فِي الْأَرْضِ

It doesn’t behoove a Prophet to have prisoners of war until and unless there is a significant build-up of warfare and then an expansion into other areas of the world… (Surah Al Anfal verse 67)

Meaning when the scale of warfare goes beyond what it was in Badr then it becomes an option to have prisoners of war.

When we have Allah correcting a decision that was made by Allah’s Prophet’s some people begin to think “you mean to tell me Allah’s Prophet was less than ma’sum?!” No. That’s not what we’re saying. What we are saying is Allah’s Prophet wasn’t an Angel; Allah’s Prophet was a human being and within human nature there is instead of doing what is 100% right to do what is eighty-five-percent right. So the ayaat in the Qur’an come to fill in the other fifteen-percent or whatever was lacking/short of the perfection of the decision. What’s so hard to understand about that?! But if you, (we’re not talking to you personally) or some people who insist on the Hasma of the Prophet to an extent that eclipses his human nature, you run the risk of making the Prophet a semi-divinity/Angel. He’s a human being brothers and sisters not an Angel.

On another occasion towards the end of the Prophet’s life there were some individuals who didn’t want to go out and fight/to war. They were vacillators. An ayah in Surah At Tawbah came to address the position of Allah’s Prophet. This ayah is saying to the Prophet as he dealt with these equivocators/vacillators

عَفَا اللَّهُ عَنكَ

May Allah forgive and amnesty you… (Surah At Tawbah verse 43)

Why did you give them permission?

لِمَ أَذِنتَ لَهُمْ حَتَّىٰ يَتَبَيَّنَ لَكَ الَّذِينَ صَدَقُوا وَتَعْلَمَ الْكَاذِبِينَ

… that permission should not have been given until you can verify those who are true to their commitment from those who are disingenuous/lying. (Surah At Tawbah verse 43)

There’s a very famous hadith of Allah’s Prophet that explains how much we need each other. We’re not talking about Muslims needing Kafirs/Munafiqin; we’re talking about how much sincere/struggling Muslims of different ranks need each other. The Prophet’s hadith is, (and we’ll end it with this because I said the weather is not favourable although I have a little more to go),but I am a human being just like you are and you bring me your issues that are disputed among you- meaning I become in certain instances your judge (when) you disagree on things or you cannot reach a solution about certain things among you- you bring me your issues, and it may be that some of you who are coming to may express your opinion much better than others. If two persons disagree and one of them has a way with words, i.e. he can express himself very thoroughly and to his personal advantage and the truth may be on the side of the other person but he just doesn’t have a way of expressing himself. And so when I judge I do so according to the information that you present to me. What I hear from you I have to make a decision based on that. And in the case that I judge for one person against the other at the expense of the right of the other, then the result of that is a chunk of fire in the world to come that goes to the person who is taking the right of another person and claiming it to be his own right. Now you gage/judge for your own self; you don’t need any input from us/anyone else. You take these ayaat and the Prophet of Allah’s character and you contrast that with today’s rulers i.e. the Kings/Presidents all around the place and you reach the conclusion. Do we have rulers in the image of Allah’s Prophet or do we have rulers who think they are a God-given to humanity and they are so precious (that) they don’t want to hear what anyone else has to say.

Dear committed Muslims, Brothers and sisters…

You may be, (and correctly so), getting the cumulative impression that the ayaat and ahadith that we are expressing in context and relative to the affairs of life are de-legitimising the rulers that we have. That is true. We don’t de-legitimise them because they are following Allah and His Prophet. No one can ever be able to do that. You can’t say the ultimate decision maker in an Islamic country/society is not legitimate when he is acting in the spirit and character of Allah’s Prophet. What we have nowadays are rulers/tin-pot dictators who could care less for Allah and Rasulillah therefore it is timely for us to bring these ayaat and ahadith and in view/light of these ayaat and ahadith realise/open up our eyes and see who is ruling over us. The tin-pot dictators that we have are no where near the sophisticated dictators in history or in our time. In today’s world we have dictators but they play their dictatorial policies cleverly. They have institutions, elections, town meetings and political parties and with all that they have- because they don’t have Allah and His Prophet- they are sinking. But look at us! There’s no Parliaments to speak about, and if there are, they are dummy Parliaments. We don’t have any political parties that are permitted to express the Islamic heart and mind on certain issues. Anytime Muslims want to put together a party in a Muslim country the Government in that country tells them “it’s against the law.” What do they mean “it’s against the law?” Are we not Muslims? The voting process in Muslim countries is a sham. Many times it’s one person who is running for President and if there is a competitor he’s a shadow image and they come up with success’s. They say ‘ninety-point-one-percent of the people voted for them.” They becoming more sophisticated and going down to the eighties and seventies! But all of that is a lie and with all of this we still don’t have Muslims of courage who can stand up and quote these ayaat and ahadith so that we can have the image of Allah’s Prophet shine and the image of the usurpers of today’s political orders de-legitimised. We say it frankly. We have nothing to hide. If someone scared that our mind is beginning to understand what Allah and His Prophet are saying- that’s their tough luck!

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