Chapter Three
Toward a Remedy for Extremisim

After throwing light on the so­called "religious extremism," pointing out aspects of its true nature and characteristics and revealing its most important causes, motives, and stimulants, we now need to outline a remedy for it, its means, and methods. It should be emphasized at the outset that the remedy is inseparable from the causes and must, therefore, be as varied and complex as the causes themselves are. Needless to say, no magical touch can put an end to extremism or bring back the extremists to the line of moderation. The malaise afflicting the soul and mind of mankind is far more deeply rooted than we think, and consequently more difficult to treat. Extremism is essentially a religious phenomenon with a variety of psychological, social, and political dimensions. As such, all of these aspects must be tackled from an Islamic point of view.

I do not agree with the determinists who hold either society alone or the prevailing economic conditions responsible for the causes of the phenomenon, while they ignore the actions and behavior of the young, whom they consider to be totally helpless. It is unjust to hold the young alone responsible and to exonerate the society, the regime, and its governmental departments especially those in charge of education, guidance, and the media. The responsibility is in fact mutual, and each partly played an important part. The Prophet (SAAS) said: "All of you are guardians and responsible for your wards and the things under your care."1 Therefore, we intend to discuss in the following part the duties that should be played by society in order to overcome extremism, as well as the duties of the youth to resist this destructive tendency.

1. Duties of Society

I have already pointed out that the inner contradictions and the chaos which characterize present­day Muslim societies, as well as the estrangement of these societies from Islam, have significantly contributed to the birth and spread of extremism. Therefore, these societies must play a positive role in the remedy. The initial step for a Muslim society is to acknowledge and confirm its genuine commitment to Islam. This cannot be achieved through a verbal declaration or expression, or through a set of slogans or a clause in the constitution stating that "[slam is the official religion of the state," but only through true adherence to the teachings of Islam.

Islam is a comprehensive system of life. It invests its divine character in life and guides it along an ethical direction; it sets up the framework, the landmarks, and the limits which govern the movement and goals of life, always keeping it on the right path, protecting it from pitfalls or from straying. For this reason, Islam consists of beliefs which can enrich the mind, of 'ibadat which purify the heart, of morals which purify the soul, of legislations which establish justice, and of manners which beautify life. To be really Islamic society must commit itself to Islam in its totality, unlike the Israelites who adopted only parts of the Torah but ignored the rest. Consequently, Allah (SWT) admonished them in the Quran:Then is it only a part of the Book that you believe in, and do you reject the rest? But what is the reward for those among you who behave like this but disgrace in this life'? And on the Day of Judgment they shall be consigned to the most grievous penalty.

Furthermore, for a society to be Islamic it must be willing to apply Allah's injunctions and the Sunnah of His Prophet (SA'AS) on all the affairs and aspects of life: social, economic, political, or intellectual. This is the requisite of iman: But no, by the 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 .


The answer of the believers, when summoned to Allah and His Messenger, in order that He may judge between them, is no other than this: they say, "We hear and we obey." It is such as these that will attain felicity .

Our societies must endeavor to eliminate this obvious contradiction we believe in Islam both as a divine creed and a Shariah, but we have abandoned its Shariah and disregarded its guidance and moral teachings.

These we have replaced with imported systems and alien ideologies from both the East and the West yet we still claim to be Muslims!

Our rulers must understand and realize that they are in a Muslim land and are ruling Muslim peoples who are entitled to be governed in accordance with the teachings of their religion. Constitutions, laws, educational systems, etc., must all reflect and express the people's beliefs, values, and traditions, which must also be guided, consolidated, and disseminated via the media. The economic and social policies-at local and international levels­must be formulated within the framework of these beliefs and must serve their goals. The failure of the rulers in Muslim countries to live up to these legitimate expectations is utterly unacceptable and is in stark contradiction to Islam.

Indeed, these rulers' defiance of the conscience of Muslims in most Muslim countries has become intolerable. Some of them openly reject Islam and express their commitment to an Eastern or a Western ideology. Moreover, they deprive Islam of any form of expression. Even the mosque and its religious activities are manipulated to express support for regimes and rulers. Those who dare to object are harshly and severely punished. Other rulers in Muslim countries profess to be Muslims, but their concept of Islam is a version of their own coinage and satanic whims. They pick and choose, accepting that which serves their own egotistic pursuit, and discarding that which does not appeal to them! What they themselves "believe" and declare to be "Islamic" is the "truth," and what they reject is "bat l." In this contention, they disregard all the interpretations of the venerable forebears, as well as their renowned successors and contemporaries. They unscrupulously disagree with the whole Ummah, ignoring the established traditions of the companions of the Prophet (SA'AS), the jurists, the interpreters of the Quran and Hadith. They see no need or reason to consult any of these. Such a ruler considers himself to be a faqih, an interpreter, a narrator, a mutakallim, and a philosopher.

Such a ruler claims to be that one man to whom there is no second. He does not see any need to learn anything even from the Prophet Muhammad (SA'AS) himself, claiming that he relies on the Qur'an alone, forgetting that the Prophet (SA'AS) is the interpreter of the Qur'an. In this respect Allah (SWT) says: "He who obeys the Messenger, obeys Allah". Nevertheless, some of these rulers allow the operation 0f Shariah pertaining only to private affairs, as well as insignificant opportunities for talks about Islam on the radio and on television; they also permit a column in a daily newspaper to appear on Fridays only. Its theme-if any-is confined to religion in its Western Christian conception as a relationship between the conscience of the individual and his Creator. It has nothing to do with either society or life; Caesar and the Lord each gets that which belongs to him! Theirs is the concept of "religion" as "faith" without Shariah, a "din" without an Islamic state, private "'ibadah" without any dawah, jihad, or an obligation to command the common good and prohibit evil and the undesirable. If a person condemns something as wrong, criticizes certain deviations, advocates a call for the right path, confronts basil, either from the platform of a mosque or in a newspaper, he is harshly reminded that he has exceeded all bounds by mixing religion and politics! For such rulers there is neither a place for religion in politics, nor politics in religion. All this contradicts, of course, the teachings of Allah (SWT) and the Sunnah of His Prophet (SA'AS), as well as the practices of the companions and Tabi'un. It is indeed high time for our rulers to realize that there can neither be stability in their societies nor hope for their peoples except treal commitment and adherence to Islam. 'Umar ibn al Khattab (RA'A) said: "We had been the lowest of nations, but Allah honored us with Islam. Should we try to attain honor through means other than Islam, Allah will debase us." Furthermore, unless Shariah is applied, our societies will continue to breed extremists, religious or otherwise.

The second step of the remedy pertains to the attitude of the Society towards the youth. To begin with, we-the old-must not address them from ivory towers, showing a superiority or a disregard for them. This attitude is bound to create a deep rift which will force them to refuse to trust or listen to us. Equally, we must not fail to understand them or to have insight into the deep recesses of their lives and the reality of their concerns. Our attitude towards them should not only be that of accusation mainly concerned with publicizing their demerits, exaggerating their negative characteristics and suspecting and discrediting their intentions and actions in an endeavor to prove them eligible for the most severe punishments. On the contrary, we should first and foremost treat them with paternal and brotherly love, making them feel that they are a part of us, our beloved ones, and the hope of the future of the Ummah. Through love and compassion, rather than through accusations and arrogance, we can come nearer to them. We should stand in their defense since allegations from all directions are raised against them­true and false, well­meaning and malicious. If we cannot assume the role of the defender, for one reason or another, we should at least stand firmly for the application of justice, which neither punishes without evidence nor sides with either the claimant or the defendant.

One of our defects is our tendency to make hasty, generalized final and conclusive judgments on social issues. This is often done without listening to the defense of the accused or the evidence cited­an attitude devoid of any sense of justice. Many people rush to judge these youth without actually knowing them, without mixing With them in order to find out how they think, feel, behave, and react. Many judge them all through the behavior of a few, despite the fact that the majority cannot be held responsible for the deeds and behavior of the minority. It is for this reason that Muslim jurists legislated that the judgment passed on the majority is binding on the whole but not vice versa. Furthermore, some people pass final judgments on a person on the basis of one single instance of behavior for which he may have had his own motives and specific personal circumstances. If his accusers but listen patiently to his justifications, they may change their minds. In any case, no final, changing moral judgment should be passed on a person on the basis of one or two actions. A person should-in the light of the following Quranic verse-be evaluated on the basis of the totality of his actions and behavior: "Then those whose balance [of good deeds] is heavy, they will attain salvation".

On the other hand, there are people who judge the youth through their own personal conception of what religion is and what it means to be religious. In the opinion of such people, these youth Muslims are merely eccentrics suffering from psychological problems. This may be true of a small number, but on the whole the youth are psychologically sound, the sincerity of their deeds is unquestionable­ their private and public practice and performance are, indeed, harmonious. They are free from any dichotomy between belief and practice, between what they publicly profess and what they cherish in their hearts. I myself have known very well many of these young Muslims in many Muslim countries; I bear witness that I found strength in their iman, firmness in their convictions, truth in their words, and sincerity in their work. I also admire their love for the truth and hatred of basil, their ardor for disseminating the divine message, their determination to command the common good and forbid evil and the undesirable, their zeal for jihad, their concern for Muslims everywhere in the world, their aspiration for the establishment of an Islamic society which lives in accordance with the teachings of Allah (SWT), is guided by Islam, and disciplined by Shariah and its ethical values.

My meetings and contacts with these youth have convinced me of the tremendous differences between our traditional Islamic conception and theirs; they are committed to a new vital Islam which opposes our own worn­out traditional belief. Their ',man is warm and ardent while ours is cold; their determination to righteousness is solid and unflinching while ours is apathetic; their hearts fear Allah (SWT) and are full of love for Him-their hearts beat with His remembrance in their constant recitation of the Qur'an. One must also acknowledge their determination to recapture the true Islamic spirit and to reconstruct life according to it. I know that many of them spend whole nights in ibadah, offer siyam during the day, ask Allah's forgiveness at dawn, and emulate good deeds It is for this reason that many people, including myself, entertain the hope that the future of Islam will, in shaa Allah, be realized through the determined endeavors of these youths. This is why I have declared on several occasions in Egypt that the young generation who grew up in righteousness and piety is the real treasure upon which Egypt could build its hopes. They are more valuable than any material considerations.

I equally believe that whoever tries to suggest a remedy for this issue must show balance, justice, and open­mindedness. Otherwise, such a person is himself bound to display extremism while discussing the phenomenon and suggesting its remedy. The first characteristic of balance in this regard is to avoid exaggerating the manifestations of the alleged phenomenon, making much fuss about nothing, thereby spreading fright and terror. This, unfortunately, is our customary tendency in dealing with such issues. Exaggeration is extremely damaging because it distorts the facts, upsets the criteria of judgment, blurs vision, and contaminates clear thinking. Consequently, any verdict for or against the issue is bound to be either unjust or, at least, incomplete.

It is regrettable that a great deal of what has been or is being said or written in the aftermath of the crisis resulting from the authorities' clash with the Muslim youth in Egypt and the emergence of so­called "religious extremism" is not free from exaggeration and excessiveness in the attempt to tackle the issue. These attempts are influenced by the inconducive, ill­willed atmosphere shared by the majority of people against the youth. This attitude provoked the Egyptian sociologist, Dr. Sad al Din Ibrahim, who observed their phenomenon to respond to this campaign directed against the youth in an article published in al Ahram newspaper. Dr. Ibrahim pointed out that those who have taken part in analyzing this issue are actually ignorant of its rudiments.

Indeed, it would have been more proper if these people had kept silent or had approached the subject with truth and fairness, examining the phenomenon in a realistic and balanced manner.

But this requires qualities which these people do not possess. A balanced opinion would take into consideration the fact that religious extremism is often a reaction to another opposing extremism such as permissiveness and laxity in religious matters or cynical attitudes towards religion. Therefore there should be an attempt to bring both extremes to the moderation of Islam. The very nature of living occasionally sets one form of extremism against another in order to create a balance, a concept found in the Qur'an:

And did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, the earth would indeed be full of mischief: But Allah is full of bounty to all the worlds. Strangely enough the extremist Muslim youth are unfairly treated but other extremist groups-especially those who lead an immoral and totally irreligious life ­ are not condemned. Nor are such people ever imprisoned or subjected to harsh punishments. Jusrequires that both types of extremism be condemned.

Is it fair then to put all the blame on and direct our vexation at the youth who live for and in accordance with the teachings of Islam-those who regularly perform their salah, eschew prohibitions, lower their gaze, and guard their modesty and chastity; those who carefully investigate what is lawful and what is prohibited; those who adhere adamantly to what they believe to be an Islamic norm of behavior­ such as growing a beard, wearing above­the­ankle clothes, using mouth­cleaning siwak; those who avoid vain talk, who never smoke, and prudently spend their money on what is useful? Is it fair to condemn these young people who have grown up in piety and righteousness, however excessive and strict they may be, while we keep silent about the immorally permissive behavior of others among whom it is hard to distinguish between the "male" and the "female"? Morally as well as intellectually Westernized, the latter have been completely uprooted from Muslim culture. Is it fair to make so much fuss about and condemn so­called "religious extremism" and yet keep silent about "irreligious extremism"? Is it fair to disparage and sneer at a young woman who veils her face because she is convinced that her action is in tune with Islamic teachings and through which she seeks Allah's acceptance, and yet keep silent about another who walks about in the streets or seashores or appears on television or movies almost naked, deliberately seeking to provoke the instincts, claiming that she is simply exercising "personal freedom'' which is sanctioned by the constitution? Do constitutions provide for "personal freedom" with regard to nakedness and banality but prohibit it with regard to modesty and chastity?

If society had stood against those who were immoral and irreligious and had endeavored to change all the manifestations of evil, the phenomenon of "religious extremism" would never have existed in our countries. Even if it could have appeared-for one reason or another_ its impact would have been less significant than it is at present. We also need to acknowledge that extremism is universal, manifesting itself in various ways and areas, such as religion, politics, thought and behavior.

There are indeed many very active non­Muslim religious extremist groups; they have neither been condemned by the world-as Muslim groups have been-nor have they been treated by their countries as the Muslim groups have been in theirs. We have seen Jewish religious extremism in Zionist Israel, being embodied in parties and organizations that declared their principles and aims without any fear or shame Moreover, the Zionist state, formed by ursurping a Muslim land, was ideologically based on religious extremism and deduced from lewish Scriptures and the Talmud, as well as from their belief to be God's chosen people and the divine masters of the world, and that violence is lawful for them to achieve their goals. The Christian kataib ("Falangists") groups in Lebanon similarly exercise extreme forms of violence and practice religious extremism; they slaughter Muslims, mutilate their bodies, cut off their private parts and put them in their mouths, assault Muslim women, burn Muslim religious books (including the Qur'in), and seek to degrade everything related to Islam and Muslims ­ all this being done in the name of Christianity and Christ, the Apostle of peace and love, who addressed his followers: "Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you. . . if anyone hits you on the right cheek, let him hit the other one too".

Moreover, we have witnessed many forms of Christian religious extremism all directed against the Muslims, not only in Lebanon, but also in Cyprus, Eritrea, the Philippines, as well as in other places and countries. It matters little whether it is Catholic extremism, Orthodox extremism, or Protestant extremism; it is Christian extremism­a new Crusade.

Furthermore, almost every year extremist Hindu religions groups massacre many innocent and peaceful Muslims. The irony is that those who slaughter human beings in cold blood prohibit the slaughter of animals because they claim it is cruel and merciless to kill a living creature! For this same reason, they do not kill mice but allow them to eat up the wheat that grows in millions of acres. All of these creatures, they claim, should not be harmed because they have "souls"! But these people never hesitate to slaughter Muslims, as if the latter were the only beings devoid of souls!

In addition to all this we have to realize that we live in an age of uneasiness, anxiety, and rebellion generated by the spread of a materialism which has twisted human thought and behavior. Although man has succeeded in landing on the moon, he has failed miserably to realize his happiness on earth. It is obvious that the twentieth century has witnessed rapid progress in all the fields of science, a development which only brought about material­not spiritual-prosperity. This, however, has not been able to create the happiness and peace of mind for which so many of its beneficiaries had hoped. On the contrary, it has caused an ever­increasing number of people-like the hippies ­ to feel lost and confused, and to rebel against this "modernization" by going back to nature. For them, life has no meaning, and civilization has failed to answer their persistent questions: Who am I? What is my message? Where did I come from and to where am I going? Such anxiety and rebellion found an echo in our countries as well, where it led either to irreligiosity or to a greater commitment and adherence to Islam. Some young Muslims found the answers to their questions in Islam and therefore turned to it with warmth and often with excessive zeal.

It would be unreasonable to expect peace and tranquility in the present age of rebellion, or moderation and balance in a world characterized by extremism. Nor would it be logical to demand from these enthusiastic young people the "wisdom and maturity" of their elders. Man is, in a sense, a product of his environment. The secret services must abandon their harsh methods, torture, and assassinations. We must spread and encourage an atmosphere of freedom, welcome criticism, and reactivate the practice of our forebears in advising each other. We have an example of this in the practice and the following words of' Umar ibn al Khattab: "May Allah bless the person who points out my faults to me." Hence he always encouraged and supported those who advised or criticized him.

One day while he was with a group of his companions, a man said to him: "O, Caliph, fear Allah..."'Umar's companions were angered by this, but he asked them to let the man express himself freely, saying: "There is no good in you if you do not speak up (like this man), and there is no good in us (the rulers) if we do not listen (to your advice and criticism)."

On another occasion, 'Umar addressed his audience: "If any of you sees any deviation in me, it is his duty to put it right." Upon hearing this, a bedouin stood up and said: "By Allah, if we see any deviation in you, wc will put it right with our swords (i.e., even if we have to use force)," 'Umar was not angered, but was pleased enough to say: "Al Hamdu /i Allah that there are Muslims ready to use their swords to put 'Umar on the right path."

An atmosphere of freedom produces ideas which can be rationally discussed and analyzed by the learned, either to be adapted and adopted or to be discarded and rejected and eventually disappear. Otherwise ideas are bound to thrive secretly, to be nurtured covertly, and to eventually take roots, develop and grow until they become dominant and strong, taking people by surprise because they were neither aware of their birth nor development. Deviant thought and understanding are the sources of extremism, and sound thought and correct understanding must therefore be utilized in its treatment. It is indeed a grave mistake to resort to power to counter deviant thought; confused thoughts must be carefully, patiently, and intellectually rectified. The brutal methods adopted by tsecret police, by leaders of military coups who torture and kill whoever disagree with them, cannot possibly put an end to extremism. They may succeed temporarily, but they will ultimately fail in their endeavor. If one extreme group is crushed, another-even more violent-is in the making.

The first duty then is to create a rational Islamic awareness based on an enlightened fiqh in the teachings of Islam: a fiqh of deep insight which does not concentrate on the marginal issues only but on the essentials as well; a fiqh which relates the parts to the whole, the branches to the roots, the hypothetical to the definitive; a fiqh which seeks judgments from the original sources, not only from the branches. Creating such an awareness and developing such a fiqh among the extremist is not easy. Moreover, to change the beliefs and convictions of people needs sincere effort, great patience, and the support and guidance of Allah ta 'ala.

Those in authority imagine-or are led to believe-that such changes can be easily effected by the media. They think that these channels can alter the intellectual as well as the spiritual convictions of people in the direction they desire. They either unwittingly or deliberately ignore the fact that the state­controlled media and their spokesmen, agents, and agencies are incapable of actualizing the required changes and consciousness, because the form and substance of such endeavors are totally rejected by the youth. This has been attempted by various regimes in different countries where the authorities exploited some ulama' and speakers to lecture prisoners in order to brainwash them. But all these lectures, speeches, and sermons were mocked and failed miserably to achieve that end. The aspired imparting of knowledge can only be realized by 'ulama who are free from the crippling influence of authority-scholars who enjoy the confidence of the youth because of the originality of their knowledge and the impeccability of their religious convictions. In addition, this requires a naturally conducive atmosphere free from the false promises and intellectual terrorism which prevail behind closed doors. Furthermore, such transformation cannot be achieved overnight through lofty inculcation and martial orders. On the contrary, it requires free encounter' constructive dialogue, and mutual communication, all of which are needed to realize this goal in the long run. What I wish to emphasize in this respect is the danger of confronting one form of intellectual extremism with another; that is, confronting obstinacy with obstinancy, bigotry with bigotry, reacting to a misdeed with another misdeed. The danger manifests itself, for example, in a tendency to accuse of kufr the extremists who accuse others of being kufar. Perhaps some of the people who adopt such an attitude cite the following hadith as evidence of the truth of their claim: "He himself who accuses a Muslim of kufr commits kafr:' The truth is that if we behave in this manner, we fall into the same pitfall. However, the hadith under consideration does not include a Muslim who accuses another Muslim of kufr as a result of judicial misinterpretation and misunderstanding. This can be demonstrated by authentic ahaith as well as confirmed events in the lives of the companions (RA'A).

We have a good example in the attitude of the caliph 'Alir ibn Abu Talib (RA'A) towards the Khawarij who fought him and unjustly accused him of the kind of repulsive abominations that could not be hurled against an ordinary Muslim, let alone Ali, the most renowned and courageous Muslim hero, the cousin of the Prophet (SA'AS) and his son­in­law. Nonetheless, 'Ali condemned the Khawarij's false and nugatory allegations without branding them kuffar, as they had done to him. Furthermore, he accommodated them in the fold of Islam thinking well of their intention.

Hence when the people asked 'AII whether the Khawarij were kuffar, he replied: "They have escaped kufr...." The people persisted: "What are they then?" 'Ali answered: "Our brothers in the past who wrong us today!" This means that the Khawarij are to be judged as those committing baghy, not as kuffar or murtaddin. Bughat-in this case-are those who do not obey a just Muslim imam on the basis of a judicial misinterpretation.

If such people are powerful and rebel against the imam, he should not hasten to fight them, but should send to them people who can rectify their errors by arguing nicely, wisely, and patiently with them in order to prevent the shedding of Muslim blood and to preserve Muslim unity If they persist in their attitude and initiate war, they should be fought until they abide by Allah's command. But during fighting, those of them who flee from the battlefield should not be persecuted, nor should their wounded or prisoners of war be killed, their women should not be taken captive, and their belongings should not be confiscated. They are to be treated as Muslims who are fought only because they constitute a menance to the Ummah, since the aim is not to exterminate them but to bring them back to the fold of Islam. Convictions can neither be altered by force nor by the threat of the sword.

Another instance of' Ali's attitude is worth mentioning as evidence of the unprecedented level of the freedom of expression-especially that of the opposition-attained in the early days of Islam; a level which other countries achieved only many centuries afterwards. The Khawarij dissented because they rejected 'All's acceptance of arbitration claiming that: "The [command] is only Allah's." Ali replied to this with his laconic, proverbial saying: "This is a word of truth twisted in the service of basil." In spite of their opposition to him, 'All told them clearly and frankly: "We are committed not to prevent you from .salah in mosques, nor from your share in booty, nor to initiate fighting with you unless you create corruption in the land (of Islam)." Thus 'All granted the opposition-the

Khawarij-all these rights, although each of them was a fully trained, armed soldier capable of taking up arms at any moment. It is also worth pointing out in this respect that although an authentic hadith describes the Khawarij as dissenters there was a consensus among the 'ulama'to refrain from branding them as kaffar, and sanctioned fighting and killing them, and although they themselves have branded all Muslims kuffar. Al Imam al Shawkani says in Nayl al Awtar:

Most of the Sunni jurists are of the opinion that the Khawarij are Muslims on the basis of their witnessing that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is His Messenger, and their regular observance of the other pillars of Islam. Their sinfulness is the result of a reliance on an erroneous interpretation on the basis of which they held all other Muslims to be kuffar. This led them to proscribe their opponents and to openly accuse them of kufr and polytheism.

Al Khatabi says:

Although the Khawfirij have strayed from the right path, Muslim 'ulama' are unanimously agreed that they are an Islamic group. Therefore they have permitted intermarriage with them and eating the animals they slaughter. Furthermore they should not be considered kuffar as long as they continue to adhere to the fundamentals of Islam.

'Iyad says:

This was probably the most complicated issue for the mutakallimun until the faqih 'Abd al Haqq asked Imam Abu al Ma'ali about it. The latter refused to decide, asserting that to accommodate a kafir in the fold of Islam or to expell a Muslim from it is a very serious religious matter. 'Iyad added that the qadi Abu Bakr al Baqillani has also refused to decide, saying that: The people (the Khawarij) did not profess kufr but have uttered things which can lead to kafr.'

Al Ghazali says in al Tafriqah bayn al iman wa al Zandiqah:

One has to be extremely cautious about banding people kuffar. To leave a thousand kuffar alive is less serious a wrong than to shed the blood of one Muslim.

Ibn Battal says:

The majority of 'ulama believe that the Khawarij do not stand outside the fold of Islam. 'All was asked whether the people of Nahrawain (who were Khawfirij) were kuffar. He replied: 'They have escaped kufr." Ibn Battal is also of the opinion that the Khawfirij are to be considered bughat if they dissent and initiate war. The 'ulamat have agreed that the issue of takfir [to brand people or individuals kaffar] is a dangerous one with grave consequences.

2. Duties of Young Muslims

The first duty of the Muslim youth is to rectify their views and thoughts with a view to knowing their din on the basis of clear evidence and Understanding and according to a proper methodology. The right start is acquiring the proper methodology of comprehending Islam, and of dealing with themselves, people and life.

Historically, Muslim scholars have established certain principles and methods which have enhanced the proper comprehension, and deduction of matters and issues whether supported by texts or not. This led to the establishment of the science of usul al fiqh: a discipline which studies the methodology of deriving laws from the sources of Islam and of establishing their juristic or constitutional validity. Thus, they established the principles of the controlling and controlled evidence, the subject and object of controlling aspects of evidence: the main and the subsidiary, the imperative and the negative, the general and the particular, the absolute and the restricted, the pronounced and the comprehend. They also established the total aims of the Shariah, such as safeguarding people's welfare, counteracting evil and harm; they divided needs into: essential, necessary and comforts. This is indeed a unique science of which there is no equal, and of which Muslims have the right to be proud. In addition, there are other principles and rules of fiqh which may not be available in the books of usul but are found in various books on usul al tafsir and Qur'anic sciences, as well as usul al hadith, and Hadith sciences. In addition to these, there are various rules and principles scattered in books of beliefs, hadith interpretation, and jurisprudence which can be observed by those who have acquired an insight into the purpose of Shariah and its innermost recesses.

What is required, therefore, is not a shallow understanding of the texts but rather a deep knowledge and a genuine comprehension of the purposes of Qur'anic verses and the ahad'ith. The fiqh, the awareness, and the knowledge required must take the following into consideration

First: Knowledge of and insight into Shariah cannot be complete without considering all the particular aspects in relation to the general context of the entire truth of Islam. To issue a judgment a Quranic verse or a hadith must be interpreted in the light of other ahadith, the Sunnah of the Prophet (.SA'AS) as well as the practice of the companions (RA'A), and must be understood in the light of the Qur'an and the general context and purposes of Shariah. Otherwise there will be a defect in this understanding, and a confusion in deduction and derivation which could create contradictions in Shariah and subject it to ridicule and to calumniations.

For this reason, Imam al Shatibi set two conditions for ijtihad: (1) understanding the purposes of Shariah in its totality, and (2) the ability to derive and to draw conclusions on the basis of this understanding.' This can only be fulfilled when there is a deep and wide knowledge of the texts, especially the ahaith and the traditions, in addition to an insight into the reasons, the events, the circumstances, and the purposes of each text, as well as an ability to distinguish between the eternal and unalterable and those formulated to meet a temporary need, an existing custom or tradition, or certain transient circumstances which can be changed when the latter change.

One day I was lecturing on proper Islamic dress for women, according to the Qur'an and Sunnah, when a person in the audience said that the hijab mentioned in the Qur'an must include an additional outer covering. I replied that the hijab is not an end in itself, but rather a means for decently covering those parts of the body which the Shariah prohibits to be exposed. In this sense, it can differ from one place and time to another. But the man shouted furiously that the garment required is very clearly specified in a Qur'anic text, and we therefore have no right to change it. He cited the following verse:

O Prophet! Tell your wives and daughters and the believing women, that they should cast their outer garments over their persons (when abroad). That is most convenient, that they should be known (as such) and not molested.

I replied that the Qur'an sometimes specifies certain means and methods that were suitable and common at the time of the revelation, but were never meant to become permanently binding if better or similar ones are found. The following example is sufficient enough to demonstrate my point. Allah (SWT) said:

Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power, including steeds of war, to strike terror into (the hearts of) the enemies of Allah and your enemies.

The steed is specifically mentioned above because it was­at the time of revelation-one of the most powerful means known at the time. But there is indeed no reason why Muslims in our times and in earlier days should not use tanks and armored vehicles to achieve the end referred to in the above verse, i.e., to strike fear into the hearts of the enemies of Allah (SWT) and of the enemies of Muslims. Similarly, the woman's outer garment could be any dress which satisfies the objective expressed in verse that Muslim women should be recognized and not molested.

If such is the case of the Qurian, which has an eternal and comprehensive nature, it is only logical that the Sunnah is even more open to such an examination. The Sunnah comprise a multitude of teachings, the legislative and the nonlegislative, the general and the specific, the eternal and the changeable: a change necessitated by a change in the reasons and the exigencies. In issues and matterrelated to eating, drinking, and dressing, for example, there are legislative as well as nonlegislative Sunnah. Eating with the fingers rather than with silverware is not compulsory. The former method was more natural and suitable to the simple life and nature of the Arabs at the time of the Prophet (SA'AS). However this does not mean that using a spoon is haram (unlawful) or makruh (condemned or discouraged), since it is now so widely available that it in no way indicates any extravagance or excess. But this does not apply to silver or gold tableware, the use of which has clearly been forbidden. Similarly we have to abide by the injunction to eat with the right hand as the purpose of this teaching is fundamental and unalterable, and because it seeks to establish a uniform custom among Muslims, directing them to follow a right­hand approach in everything. The Prophet (SA'AS) ordered us: "Say bism Allah [before you begin] and eat with your right hand." In another hadith he said: "None of you should eat or drink with his left hand, because Satan eats and drinks with his left hand." Furthermore, during the Prophet's time, Muslims had no idea whatsoever of sieves, which were later known and used to advantage. Could this be regarded as a prohibited innovation or a hateful practice? of course not.

Another example is the issue of wearing a short thawb (garment), which pious young Muslims adhere to and insist on wearing despite the problems which it creates for them, as if it was one of the fundamentals of Islam. These young people put forth two arguments: (1) The dress has to be a short thawb because this is the type of dress the Prophet (SA'AS) and his companions (RAA) used. They further believe that other costumes lead us to imitate the kufar, a practice prohibited in Islam; and (2) It has to be short because there are ahadith which prohibit wearing below­the­ankle izar or thawb such as: "The part of an izar which hangs below the ankles is in the Fire. With regard to the first argument, the Prophet's Sunnah knawn to us is that he wore whatever was available to him. For this reason, he wore shirts, robes, and izars. The Prophet (SA'AS) also wore garments and garbs made in the Yemen and Persia, which were embroidered on the sides with silk. He also wore Tmarnah (cap) with or without a turban. Al Imam Ibn al Qayyim says in Al Hady al Nabaw':

The best guidance is the Sunnah of the Prophet (SA'AS), the things he regularly practised, ordered, and encouraged people to do. His sunnah in dressing is that he used to wear whatever was available for him whether made of cotton, wool, or linen. He is known to have worn cloaks from the Yemen, green cloaks, jubbah, garments with full­length sleeves, shirts, pants and robes, shoes and slippers. . . He used, sometimes, to grow a plait in the back.

The textile industry was unknown then, so people used to wear clothes imported from the Yemen, Egypt, and Syria. In our time, we wear- without any inhibition-underwear, head coverings, shoes, etc., which were unknown during the Prophet's time. Why then this excessive fuss about the thawb in particular?

As for the argument of imitating the kuffar, we are actually prohibited from imitating their distinguishing characteristics ­ as followers of other religions-such as sporting the cross, wearing ecclesiastical costumes, celebrating non­Muslim festivals, all of which indicate adherence to a different religion. Ibn Taimiyah explained all this in detail in his book: Iqti'al Sirat al Mustaqim fi Mukhalafat Ahl al Jahim. With the exception of such conspicuous matters, judgment is made on the basis of intention and purpose. If a Muslim deliberately imitates the kuffar, he would be held blameworthy on the basis of his intention. But if a person unintentionally does things which the kuffar do, or chooses something which is easier for him, or for his job such as wearing the "overalls" by a factory worker or an engineer, he is not to be held blameworthy. Nonetheless, it is more becoming of a Muslim to distinguish himself from non­Muslims in all material and spiritual matters to the best of his ability. The gist of the matter is that wearing a short thawb is more desirable' but wearing a long one is not prohibited if it is just a habit and is not meant to show arrogance, as has already been pointed out.

All the examples given above pertain to purely personal behavior. In that capacity they are less serious than the issues related to the community as a whole, the affairs of the state, and international relations which are more complex and constitute a danger to the community, the state, and humanity at large in the absence of an insightful jurisprudence which takes into consideration the proper dimensions of human needs and social interests.

When we ca]l for the resumption of a true Islamic lifestyle and the establishment of a truly Islamic society led by an Islamic state, we must recognize the fact that we live in a world in which human relations are interrelated and complex, ideologies are numerous, distances are shrinking, and barriers are beginning to collapse. It is a world that has become smaller than ever before due to unprecedented technological progress We must also take into consideration the fact that the community includes the powerful and the weak, men and women, adults and children, the righteous and the transgressor. This diversity must be taken into consideration when we seek to guide, legislate, or give fatiawa.

A Muslim who seeks Allah's pleasure may choose to place restrictions on himself and stick to the most extreme and cautious opinions in his endeavor. He can deprive himself of all the means of entertainment such as singing, music, photography, television, etc. But can any modern state afford to do without these? Can any effective journalism do without photography? Can any ministry of Interior­or passport office, immigration or traffic department-or an educational institution do without photography which has become the most important means of discovering and preventing crimes and forgery? Can any contemporary state ignore the times it exists in and deprive its subjects of the invaluable services of television and rely only on the radio, on the grounds that television depends upon photography which is haram as some students of "religious education" argue these days?

In short, what I wish to emphasize here is that a person's restrictions on himself may be tolerated and accepted, but it would be intolerable and indeed unacceptable to force these restrictions upon the various groups in the community as a whole. The Prophet said: Whoever leads people in salah should shorten it because among them are the weak, the old, and those who have business to attend to. This guidance on leading people in salah is also applicable to leading people in any aspect of life.

One of the most serious problems is the failure of some religious people to take account the fact that the ahkam of Shaniah are not equally important or permanent, and therefore different interpretations can be permitted. There are hypothetical judgments which mainly deal with transactions, customs' and manners. These are open to ijtihad. Disagreement-based on authentic ijtihad-on these issues represents no harm or threat. On the contrary, it is a blessing on the Ummah, and demonstrates flexibility in Shariah and a spaciousness in fiqh. There were indeed differences of opinion and disagreement among the Prophet's companions (RA'A)-as well as their successors ­ on various issues. But such disagreement never caused or created ill­feelings or disunity among them.

On the other hand, there are a.hkam dealing with matters of faith, belief, and 'ibadah which are firmly established in the Qurian and Sunnah and ijma'(consesus), and which have become definitive and categorical. Although they are not requirements of din, they represent the intellectual and behavioral unity of the Ummah. Deviation from these ahkam is a deviation from Sunnah: it is sinfulness, prohibited bida (innovation), and could lead to kufr. In addition, there are those a,hkam which must be necessarily known and obvious toall people, learned or otherwise. Rejection of these ahkam is a clear denial of Allah (SWT) and of His Prophet (.SA'AS). There should be differention between ahkam based on fundamental or subsidiary issues, whether proven textually or by ijtihad; there should also be differentiation between the categorial and the hypothetical ahkam in texts, and between the necessary and the unecessary ahkam in din. Each has its status.

Our great fuqaha have differed widely in their interpretation of some issues, and one can indeed ftnd various opinions on a single issue. There is disagreement, for example, on the heinous sin of murdering a Muslim under duress. Should the punishment fall upon the murderer or upon one who compelled him to do it? or should it fall upon both or neither, since the crime was not completely premeditated and committed by a single person? All these possibilities were voiced and supported by some fuqaha' Even within each madhhab we find different opinions, narrations, ways, and approaches among the 'ulama' Suffice it to say that the subject of that disagreement within Imam Ahmad's madhhab-which is established on and follows tradition-has included enough opinions and narration to fill a twelve­volume book, al In.saf fi al Rajih min al Khilaf.

In view of this, young Muslims should be fully aware of the issues which are open to disagreement and those which are not. But more importantly' they should know the standard norms of behavior practised in settling differences and disagreements. They must learn adab al khilaf (ethics of disagreement),'! which we have inherited from our a'immah and 'ulama' We must learn from them how to be open­minded and tolerant toward those with whom we disagree about subsidiary religious matters. How can we differ and disagree yet remain united brothers who love and respect each other and who refrain from exchanging accusations? First of all, we must realize that disagreements on marginal and subsidiary matters and issues are natural. There is indeed a Divine wisdom in making a few a,hkam in Shari'ah categorical in both their definitiveness and meaning, and in making hypothetical ones which constitute the bulk of a,hkam and on which there is broad scope for fruitful disagreement.

It is a blessing that Allah (SWT) has bestowed on some Muslim ulama' the ability to ascertain, to examine closely, and to decide on matters of disagreement without prejudice against any madhhab or opinion. These include the following a'immah: Ibn Daqiq al 'Id, Ibn Taymiyah, Ibn Qayyim, Ibn Kathir, Ibn Hajar al 'Asqalai, al Dahlawi, al Shawkani, al San'ani, and others. But differences are bound to arise and continue because they are deeply rooted in the nature of man, life, language and -Divine commandment. Attempts to eradicate these differences will fail, because they will actually be battling against human nature, against life, against all sunan. As we have already mentioned, disagreement based on authentic ijtihad which does not create discord or disunity is a blessing for the Ummah and an enrichment of fiqh. Objective disagreement in itself poses no threat if it is coupled with tolerance and openmindedness, and if it is free from fanaticism, accusations, and narrowmindedness. The Prophet's Companions differed among themselves on many issues and practical a,hkam, but they still never condemned one another and had very cordial and strong relations. 'Umar ibn 'Abd al 'Aziz said: "I never wished that the Prophet's companions had rot had disagreements. Their disagreement was a mercy."

Different interpretations even emerged during the life of the Prophet (SA'AS). These were sanctioned by him, and he did not single out one party or group for blame. Immediately after the battle of the Akzab, the Prophet (.SAAS) said to his Companions: 'whoever believes in Allah and the Last Day must not perform ,salat al asr until he has reached [the dwellings of] Banu Qurayzah. Some of the Companions found. This practically impossible, and therefore performed salat al Asr before reaching their destination. Others­who were literalists-only performed salah when they reached the dwellings of Banu Qurayzah as the Prophet (SA'AS) had asked them. When the Prophet (SA'AS) was told, he approved of the action of both parties although one of them must have been wrong.

This clearly indicates that there is no sin in acting upon an interpretation which is based on solid evidence, sincere genuine intention and ijtihad. Ibn al Qayyim described those who applied the essence of ahadith as Ahl al Qiyas (analogy applicants) and those who applied the letter of a,hadith as Zahiriyah (literalists).

Unfortunately, there are people these days who not only assume that they know the whole truth and all the answers, but who also try to coerce other people to follow them, believing that they can eradicate all madhahib and disagreements and unite all people in one single stroke. They tend to forget that their own understanding and interpretation of the texts are no more than hypotheses which may be right or wrong. Moreover, no human (i.e., no 'alim) is infallible, even though he may satisfy all the conditions and requisities of ijtihad. All that is certain is the reward he will obtain for his ijtihad, whether it was right or wrong, should the intention be sincere. Therefore, such people would achieve nothing except the creation of an additional madhhab! It is strange and absurd that while they disapprove of people's adherence to different madhahib, they themselves try to persuade people to imitate them and follow their new madhhab.

No one should jump to the conclusion that I reject their call for adherence to the texts or their own interpretations and understanding. This is absolutely the right granted to everyone who can fulfill the conditions of ijtihad and its means. No one has the right to close the gates of ijtihad which were opened by the Prophet (SA'AS) for the whole Ummah What I do reject is their self­presumption, arrogance, vanity, and disregard for the findings of their learned predecessors, their disrespect for the fifh we have inherited from our great forebears. I reject their false claim that they alone are right, as well as their erroneous impression that they can eliminate disparity and disagreement and unite people on one opinion-their own.

One of the followers of this "one­opinion" school asked me once why all Muslims should not agree on the juristic opinion supported by the text I replied that the text first has to be authentic and accepted by all, its meaning has to be plain, and it should not be contradicted by another text, whether stonger or similar in evidence. There should be full agreement as regards the three preceding points. A text may be regarded as authentic by an imam, but another imam may see it as weak or as authentic but without proven evidence justifying its given meaning; a text may be regarded as general by an imam but as particular by another, or it may be seen as absolute or restricted; it may also be regarded as categorrical or abrogated. Such variance leads to producing different ahkam i.e. something may be wajib or haram, mustahabb or makruh. In short all these difference fall within the considerations pointed out by Ibn Taymiyah in his book, Raf al Malam an al A'immat al A'lam, and mentioned by Waliy Allah al Dahlaw' in his book, .Hujjat Allah al Balighah, and in his, al Insaf fi Asbab al Ikhtilaf, and detailed by al Shaykn 'Al. al Khafif in his book, Asbab Ikhtilaf al Fuqaha' Let us consider the following ahadah:

1. "Any woman who wears a gold necklace will be made to wear a similar one [made] of fire on the Day of Judgment. And any woman who wears gold earrings will have a similar one [made of fire] on the Day of Judgment.

2. "Whoever desires his beloved to wear a ring [made] of fire [on the Day of Judgment], let him give him [her] [to wear] a gold ring. And whoever desires his beloved to wear a necklace [made] of fire [on the Day of Judgment], let him give him [her] [to wear] a gold necklace. And whoever desires his beloved to wear a bracelet [made] of fire [on the Day of Judgment], let him give him [her][to wear] a gold bracelet. But you can do whatever you please with silver.

3. It is also related by Thawban (RA'A) that the Prophet (SA'AS) warned his daughter Fatimah (RA'A) against wearing a gold chain. In response, she sold it, bought a slave with the money, and set him free. When the Prophet (SA'AS) was told of this, he said: "Thanks to Allah (SWT) who rescued Fatimah from the Fire.

Justists have different attitudes toward these ahadith:

1. Some have examined their isnad and, finding them weak, rejected them and considered them insufficiant for prohibition, which requires clear cut evidence and careful investigation, especially with respect to matters of general concern and which Muslims have generally accepted.

2. Others have agreed that the isnad is correct but that the ahadith have been revoked because other evidence in other sources have permitted women to adorn themselves with gold. Al Bayhaqi and others have reported the consensus on this matter which has been accepted in fiqh and become a standard practice.

3. Some considered the ahadith applicable to those who have not given zakah on the gold they have, basing their opinion on other ahadith which have not, themselves, escaped criticism. Furthermore. zakah on women's jewellery is a subject of disagreement among the different madhahib.

4. Some jusrists argue that these ahaith seek to warn women who vainly adorn themselves with gold, deliberately intending to draw attention to their wealth. Al Nasal also reported some ahadith which are relevant to this issue under the title: Bab al Karahiyah li al Nisa'.fi Ihar Hilal Dhahab (Disapproval of Women's Display of Golden Jewelry). Other jurists say that they are related only to excessive adornment out of vanity or pride.

5. In our own times, Shaykh Nasir al Din al Albani has come out with an opinion different from the consensus on permitting women to adorn themselves with gold, which has been accepted by all madhahib for the last fourteen centuries. He not only believes that the isnad of these ahadith is authentic, but that these texts are categorical in this matter; i.e. prohibiting gold rings and earrings. In this he disagreed with the consensus of the fiqh of all madhahib and the practice of the Ummah throughout the past fourteen hundred years.

Has the existence of these ahadith prevented disagreement on their authenticity or guidance? Can the modern "traditionalist school" eradicate disagreement and unite all people on one opinion on the basis of ahadith or a tradition which they use as evidence? The answer is clear enough: people will continue to disagree and differ amongst themselves, and this will, in shaa Allah, pose no danger or problem. Allah ta 'ala says: "To each is a goal to which Allah turns him".

In this respect, I feel inclined to admit that the religious leader who, in this age, has understood the essence and ethics of disagreements was hasan al Banna (d. 1949). He brought up his followers to believe in and adhere to these ethics. Despite his unflinching commitment to the cause of Muslim solidarity and his sincere efforts to unite the various Muslim groups and make them agree at least on minimum Islamic concepts and principals, as is clear from his own known work al Usul al 'Ishrun, he was convinced of the inevitability of disagreement on the subsidiary issues and the practical ahkam of Islam. This he has eloquently discussed in many of his messages which have proved to be useful In Dawatuna (Our Da'wah), al Banna spoke of the characteristics of his da'wah as being general ones which neither patronize a particular sect nor advocate a particular line of thought. Interest is in the core of din and its essence; it hopes that all endeavors are united so that a more fruitful work can be done to produce greater results; it supports truth everywhere; it likes consensus and dislikes eccentricity; it attributes a great deal of the mishaps which have befallen Muslims to misguided disagreement and to disunity; it believes that love and unity are the major factor of their victories, and that the only hope for invigorating and revitalizing the present­day Ummah lies in reviving and adopting the practice of the early generations of Muslims. But, in spite of his strong belief in the necessity of unity and dislike of disunity, al Banna wrote:

We believe that disagreements on subsidiary religious issues are inevitable for various reasons, the most important of which are:

Intellectual differences resulting from the level of intelligence and depth of knowledge, the multiplicity and interrelatedness of the facts, and the inherent ambiguities of the Arabic language which are bound to affect the interpretation of the texts. In all these people are different, and therefore disagreement is inevitable.

The abundance of the sources of knowledge in some parts of the Islamic world and their scarcity in other places is also an important factor. Malik said to Abu Ja'far: "The Prophet's companions scattered into remote regions, each group possessing specific knowledge. If you were to force them to follow one opinion you would create fitnah.

There are also cultural differences. Al Shafi'i (RA'A) used to give different fatawa in accordance with the different conditions prevailing in Iraq and in Egypt. In both cases he used to base his verdict upon what he believed to be truth.

The opinion of the imam toward the narrator is another factor. One imam may consider a narrator fully reliable, but another may have doubts about the same narrator and consequently refrain from taking what he has transmitted in full confidence.

Also, a cause of difference lies in assessing the evidence of ahkam; some give precedence to people's practices over ahadith narrated through by one single narrator, etc.

For these reasons we believe that a consensus on subsidiary religious matters is not only impossible but incompatible with the nature of din, because such a demand is bound to generate rigidity and excessiveness, which are contrary to the Islamic imperatives of flexibility, facilitation, and simplicity. Doubtless, these virtues will enable Islam to meet the requirements of all times.

Furthermore, we understand the reasons of those who disagree with us on subsidiary and marginal issues. Such disagreement does not affect our mutual love or cooperation, as we are all contained within the comprehensiveness of Islam. Aren't we all Muslim, required to like for our Muslim brothers what we like for ourselves? Why disagreement then, and why cannot each of us have our different opinions, and also try to reach an agreement, if possible, in an atmosphere of candor and love?

The companions of the Prophet (SA'AS) had disagreed in fatwa, but that did not create any disunity or rupture. The incident of the salah and Banu Qurayzah is a case in point. If these who have known the ahkam better than us have had their disagreements, isn't it absurd that we maliciously disagree with each other on frivolous matters? If our a'immah, who more than any one else know the Qur'an and Sunnah, have had their disagreements and their debates, why cannot we do the same? If there was disagreement on even clear and well­known subsidiary issues, such as the five­times­a­day adhan, which were supported by texts and by tradition, what about the more delicate issues which are subject to opinion and deduction?

We also need to remember that during the time of the Caliphate, disagreements were referred to, and settled by, the

Caliph. Since there are no caliphs these days, Muslims must find a judge to which they can refer their case. Otherwise, their disagreement will lead to another disagreement.

Finally, our brothers are fully aware of all this and have consequently more patience and open­mindedness. They believe that each group of people has specific knowledge and that in each da'wah there are elements of truth as well as falsity. They carefully investigate the truth and accept it, and they try with amicability to convince those who are wrong. If the latter are convinced it is indeed very good, but if they are not they remain our Muslim brothers. We ask Allah to guide us and to guide them.

The above is a brief summary of Imam al Bannas views on juristic disagreements and his attitude toward them. It clearly shows his deep knowledge of Islam, of history, and of reality.

I would also like to relate an ancident in al Bannas life-which could have been the experience of other 'ulama'as well-to illustrate these concepts and views. One day during Ramadan, al Banna was invited to deliver a lecture in a small village in Egypt. The people in that village were divided into two groups which held different opinions regarding the number of raka 'at in salat al tarawih. One group argued that according to the tradition of' Umar ibn al Khattab (RA'A), they should be twenty. The other group insisted that they must be eight, maintaining that it was known that the Prophet (SA'AS) never exceeded this number at any time. Accordingly, each group accused the other of bidah, and their disagreement reached a dangerous level, almost leading to open physical conflict. When al Banna arrived they agreed to refer the matter to him.

The way he handled this event is instructive to all of us. He first asked: "What is the juristic status of salat al tarawih?" The answer was: "A sunnah, and those who perform it are rewarded, those who do not are not punished." He then asked: "And what is the juristic status of brotherhood among Muslims?" The people replied: "fard [Obligatory], and it is one of the fundamentals of Iman." He then concluded: "Is it therefore logical or permissible according to Shariah to abandon afard for a sunnah?. He then told them that if they preserved their brotherhood and unity and each went home and performed salat al tarawIh according to his own genuine conviction, it would indeed be far better then arguing and quarreling.

When I mentioned this to some people, they said that al Bannas action was evasive­an escape from the truth, i.e., from pointing out the difference between a sunnah and a bidah. This, they insisted, is the duty of a Muslim. I replied that this is a matter where there is room for different opinions, and that although I perform eight raka 'at, I do not accuse those performing twenty of bidah. They persisted that making a decision on such matters is a duty which a Muslim must not evade. I insisted that this is true when the choice is between halal and haram, but in matters on which the juristic schools of thought have had their disagreements and, consequently, each one of us his own view, there is no need for bigotry or zealotry.

Many fair Muslim ulama have clearly sanctioned this. The following quotation is from one of the .Hanabilah books entitled Sharh Ghayat al Muntaha:

Whoever rejects an opinion reached by ijtihad does so because of his ignorance of the status of the mujtahidun who will be rewarded, be they right or wrong, for their laborious, timeconsuming findings in this respect. Those who follow them commit no sin, because Allah has ordained for each of them that to which his ijtihad had led him, and which becomes part of the Shariiah in that respect. There is an example in the permission to eat, out of dire necessity only, the meat of a dead animal. However, this is prohibited for a person who deliberately chooses to do so. Both of these are wellestablished juristic verdicts.

Ibn Taymiyah says in al Fatawa al Misriyah:

Consideration of unity [among Muslims] is the right course. The basmalah can be uttered loudly to fulfill a commendable interest. It is also advisable to abandon the preferable in order to create harmony and intimacy, just as the Prophet (SA'AS) gave up the re­building of the Ka'bah [on the foundations laid down by Ibrahim] so as not to alienate 1the people of Makkah]. The a immah, like Imam Ahmad, are of this opinion with regard to the basmalah, to replace the preferable with the acceptable in order to preserve unity. Ibn Taymiyah referred to the following hadith with regard to the building of the Ka'bah. The Prophet (SA'AS) said to 'Aishah (RA'A): "Had your ople not been in jahilyah (the attitudes and mentality of pre­Islamic time) until recently, I would have rebuilt the Ka'bah on the foundations [laid] by Ibrahim."

Ibn al Qayyim also discussed the issue of qunut in Salat alfujr. Some people have considered qunut as bidah, others as supererogatory to be practised in times of hardships as well as other times. In his book Zad a1 Ma'ad, he argues that the Prophet's Sunnah sanctions qunut during the times of hardship, and that this has been accepted by hadith scholars who follow what the Prophet (SA'AS) did. They therefore did qanut at the times the Prophet (SA'AS) is known to have done qunut and abstained from it at the times he is known to have abstained from qunut They see qunut as a sunnah and abstaining from it as also a sunnah Therefore they neither object to those who continually do qanut or to those who abstain from it, and they do not consider it bidah. Ibn al Qayyim writes:

A proper posture to ask Allah's blessings and to offer thanks to Him is when a person stands up after kneeling in Salah. The Prophet (SA'AS) did both in this posture. It is acceptable for the imam to utter qunut prayers these loudly so that the people behind him can hear. 'Umar ibn al Khatt.ab raised his voice when reciting the Fatihah, and so did Ibn 'Abbas during the salah for the dead in order to let people know that it is sunnah to do so. Such practices are subject to acceptable disagreement; neither those who do them nor those who refrain are blameworthy: the same applies to raising the hands during Salah, the various ways of tashahhud, adhan, iqamah, as well as the types of hajj as ifrad, qiran and tamattu'

Our purpose is only to mention the Prophet's Sunnah, which is our guiding principle in this book and which we seek to investigate. Having said that, I wish to point out that I have not tried to deal with what is permissible and what is not. Our concern is with the permissible practice which the Prophet (SA'AS) used to choose for himself, and which is the best and most perfect. If we say that there is no indication in his Sunnah that he consistently performed qunut during Salat ul Fajr or uttered the basmalah loudly, this does not mean or indicate that we should consider consistency in performing them as makruh? or bidah. It only means that his guidance is the best and most perfect.

Moreover, an individual is permitted to continue his salah behind an imam of a different madhhab even if he believes that the latter has done something which nullifies his ablution, or makes his salah nugatory, if the imam's madhhab permits that. Ibn Taymiyah says in al Fawakih al Adidah:

Muslims are unanimous on the admissibility of performing Salah behind each other as was the practice of the Companions and the Tabi'un, as well as that of the four great jurists of Islam. Whoever rejects this practice is a straying mabtadi' who deviates from the teaching of the Quran, Sunnah, and the consensus of the Muslims.

Although some of the companions and the Tabiun uttered the basmalah loudly and other did not, they nevertheless continued to perform Salah behind each other. So did Abu Hanifah and his followers, as well as al Shafi'i and others who used to perform salah behind the Malikiyah in Madinah, although the latter did not utter the basmalah, neither loudly nor in their hearts. It is said that Abu Yusuf performed Salah behind al Rashid who had been cupped.'9 Because al Imam Malik has given afatwa that there is no need to renew ablutions in thicase, Abu Yusuf continued his salah behind al Rashid.

However, Ahmad ibn Hanbal was of the opinion that ablution must be done after cupping and nosebleeding. Confronted with a hypothetical situation whether a member of the congregation who notices a discharge of blood from the imam, who does not renew his ablution, should continue his Salah behind him, Ibn Hanbal said: "It is inconceivable not to perform Salah behind Said ibn al Musayyab and Malik." He then added that there are two considerations in this issue:

(1) If the man is not aware of anything that invalidates the imam's Salah he should continue behind him. This is agreed upon by the forebears and the four great jurists; and (2) If he was sure that the imam has done something which renders him impure, such as touching his genitals or women out of sexual desire, cupping or vomiting, and did not renew his ablution, he then must act according to his best judgment, because this is an issue about which there is a great deal of disagreement. The majority of our forebears are of the opinion that the salah of those behind such an imam is valid. This is the opinion of Malik's madhhab, but a second opinion in al Shafi is and Abu Hanifah's. Most of Ahmad's texts support this opinion, which is the correct one.

3. Knowledge, Values, and Actions

Knowledge of, end fiqh in, din help in the assessment of the value as well as the status, in the Shariah, of actions and duties which have their specific place in the scale of the commandments and the prohibitions. Such knowledge prevents any confusion regarding status, variations, or similarities concerning the juristic value of actions. Islam has given a specific value to each specific action according to its positive influence on life or according to the degree of damage and negative effect which it may create.

Among the commandments there is the mustahabb, (the commendable) action, the neglect of which is not punishable but the performance of which is rewardable. There is also the confirmed Sunnah of the Prophet (SA'AS) such as things which he always did, never neglected, but did not categorically command others to do. The companions (RAA) used to neglect some of these to prove that they were not wajib. For this reason, both Abu Bakr and 'Umar used to refrain from offering dhabihah (animal sacrifice). Another type of wajib according to some madhahib, is that which is commanded but not categorically ordained. Fard is that which is categorically and unequivocally obligatory and whose performance is rewarded and negligence punished; failure to observe it is fisq, sinfulness, or iniquity; failure to believe in it is kufr.

It is common knowledge that fard is classified into two categories: fard kifayah (collective obligation), and fard ayn (individual obligation). The individual obligation has to be performed by each Muslim. The collective obligation, on the other hand, entails no punishment on those who have not participated in it if others have done so. Individual obligations are further classified. The most important are those faraid which are considered in Islam fundamental articles of faith: the shahadah- i.e., the act of witnessing that there is no god but Allah and that Muhammad is His Prophet, Servant, and Messenger, the verbal content of that act-salah, zakah, siyam, and hajj for those who can afford the journey. There are other fara'id of a lesser status than the aforementioned, but they are still absolutely compulsory. There is no doubt that Islam gives precedence to fard ayn over fard kifayah. Thus kindness and submission to parents, which is fard ayn has precedence over jihad, as long as it is fard kifayah. A son is therefore not allowed to participate in jihad without the prior consent and permission of the parents. This is enshrined in authentic ahadith. Moreover, a fard ayn which is connected with the rights of the community has precedence over another fard ayn which is connected with the rights of an individual, or a number of individuals, like jihad and devotion to parents. Therefore in the case of foreign aggression against a Muslim land, jihad becomes fard ayn with a precedence over the rights of parents. Further, fard has precedence over wajib, wajib over sunnah, and confirmed sunnah over mustahabb. Islam also gives precedence to acts of common social nature over those which concern individual kinship, and prefers acts which benefit more than one person to those which only benefit an individual. For this reason Islam prefers jihad and fiqh over personal 'ibadah, reconciliation between warring parties over voluntary salah, siyam, and sadaqah. Similarly, "a just ruler is rewarded more for his adherence to justice for a single day than he is for his performance of voluntary 'ibadah for sixty years".

Some of the grave mistakes committed by Muslims during the period of decline and decadence are outlined below:

1. They neglected-to a great extent­the collective duties of concern to the whole Ummah such as scientific, industrial, and military advancement and excellence, without which Muslims cannot attain strength or power. They neglected ijtihfid, inference of ahkam, da'wah, and the opposition to unjust rulers.

2. They also neglected some individual fard ayn obligations, or at least underrated their value, such as the obligation on every Muslim to command the common good and to prohibit evil and the undesirable.

3. They gave more attention to some of the fundamental pillars of faith at the expense of others; thus they paid more attention to Siyam during Ramadan than Salah. That is why those who offered Siyam were more than those who performed Salah, especially among the women. There were indeed those who never prostrated before Allah (SWT) in prayer.

Moreover, there were those who gave more attention to salah that zakah, although Allah (SWT) combined both in twenty­eight places in the Quran, which made some of the Companions (RA'A) said that "The salah of a person who does not give zakah is invalid.' And it is for this reason that Abu Bakr al Siddiq swore to declare war on those who failed to equate between salah with zakah.

4. They attached more importance to some nawafil (supererogulataries) than they did to furud or wajibat. This can be observed in the practice of the Sufis, who concentrate on rituals, dhikr, and tasbih and neglect collective duties such as condemnation of corruption and resistance to social and political injustice.

5. They paid more attention to individual 'ibadah, such as salah and dhikr, and neglected the collective 'ibadah such as jihad, fiqh, reconciliation between people, and cooperation in the dissemination of righteousness, piety, compassion, and tolerance.

6. Finally, most people attached a great deal of importance to subsidiary matters at the expense of fundamental issues such as belief, Iman, and tawhid (unization of God), as well as the goal of moral and spiritual efforts, i.e., the seeking of Allah's pleasure.

The prohibitions are classified into the following: those which are makruhat (hateful) but do not entail punishment; those which are detested but not categorically prohibited and are therefore nearer to haram than halal. The mutashabihat (doubtful) are those not known to many people and are therefore committed out of ignorance. Those who commit then commit haram. The categorical haram (unlawful prohibitions) are those detailed in the Qur'an and Sunnah. Allah (SWT) says: "Why should you not eat of [meats] on which Allah's name has been pronounced, when He has explained to you in detail what is forbidden to you?.

These prohibitions are divided into two: major and minor. The minor ones can be expiated by the performance of religious devotions such as salah, siyam, and charity. We learn in the Qur'an that "Good deeds remove those that are evil. In the Prophet's traditions we learn that constant adherence to the five daily salawat, salat al jumuah, and siyam, during Ramadan expiates whatever minor sins a person may commit in between if he avoids the major ones. Those can only expiated by genuine repentance. The worst of these sins is shirk-the association of other beings with A(SWT)-a sin which is never forgiven:

Allah does not forgive that partners should be set up with Him; but He forgives anything else to whom He pleases; to set up partners with Allah is to devise a sin most heinous indeed.

Next in order are sins mentioned in ahdith such as: disobedience to parents, bearing false witness, sorcery, murder, usury, taking liberty with the property and money of orphans, and false accusation­especially of fornication-of chaste Muslim women. Defectiveness and confusion have resulted from the following:

1. People are more busy trying to stem makruhat or mutashabihat than maharramat and the negligence of wajibat. Also, their concern is for those matters on which there is disagreement as to whether they are halal or haram, rather than those matters which are categorically haram.

2. Many people are too absorbed in trying to resist the minor rather than the major and mortal sins such as fortune­telling, sorcery, consecration, using the tombs of certain people as places of salah and ibadah, making animal sacrifices for dead people, seeking help from the dead and so on. Such sins contaminate the purity of tawhid.

Similarly, people, i.e., individual Muslims, are different. Some religious youth commit a gross mistake when they look at and treat people as if they were similar and equal in their knowledge, endurance, iman, etc., and therefore fail to distinguish between the people at large and the learned and committed Muslim; between those who have only recently embraced Islam and those whose beliefs are well­established; between the weak and the strong; in spite of the fact that there is room in Islam for every one of these according to their status and their readiness. In recognition of these natural differences, Islam provides opportunities for perseverance and facility, fara'id, and nawafil, and the obligatory and the voluntary. Hence Allah (SWT) says:

Then We have given the Book for inheritance to such of our servants as We have chosen: but there are among them some who wrong their own souls; some who follow a middle course; and some who are by Allah's leave, foremost in good deeds. That is the highest grace.

In this respect, the person who wrongs himself has been defined as he who commits prohibitions and whose observance of the obligatory duties is incomplete. And the person who follows a middle course is he who performs only the obligatory duties and eschews prohibitions. The person who is foremost in good deeds" is he ``who, in addition to performing the obligatory as well as the recommended, eschews not only prohibitions, but also the recommended against as well as the doubtful acts All these types of people, including the person who wrongs himself are included in the fold of Islam, and belong to the chosen Islamic Ummah to whom Allah (SWT) has given the Quran: "Then We have given the Book for inheritance to such of Our servants as We have chosen. It is therefore wrong and indeed nonsensical to exclude people from the fold of Islam and the Ummah simply because they have wronged themselves. It is equally wrong to fail to recognize and admit such classification and to treat people as if they are all foremost in good deeds Consequently, enthusiastic young Muslims should not hasten to accuse other Muslims of fisq, to show animosity and antipathy toward them simply because they have committed some minor sins or some acts on which judgment is obscure and on which there is contradicting evidence, and which cannot therefore be considered as absolutely haram. In their own sincerity to their cause, these young people have forgotten that the Qur'an has clearly distinguished between minor and major sins or faults: the former do not exclude the Muslim from the fold of Islam and can be expiated by eschewing the latter.

Allah (SWT) says:

Yes, to Allah belongs all that is in the heavens and on earth. He rewards those who do evil according to their deeds, and He rewards those who do good with what is best. Those who avoid great sins and shameful deeds, only [falling into] small faults, verily, your Lord is ample in forgiveness.The core of the principle for tolerating small faults or sins lies in the interpretation of the Arabic word Iamam (small faults). There are two important interpretations of Iamam which we must not overlook. Ibn Kathir says the following is his own interpretation of verses 255­256 in Surat al Nisa':

The word muhsinun has been interpreted to mean those who avoid great sins and shameful deeds, i.e., the major prohibitions. If such people commit small faults, Allah will forgive and protect them, as He promised in another verse: "If you [but] eschew the most heinous of the things which you are forbidden to do, we shall expel out of you all the evil in you, end admit you to a gate of great honor. Those who avoid great sins and shameful deeds only commit small faults, which is a clear exclusion since small faults lamam are subcategories of minor sins and shameful acts.

Ibn Kathir then mentioned the following: Ibn 'Abbas said, "I have not come across things which are closer to lamam than in the following hadith narrated by Abu Hurayrah:

Allah has decreed for Adam s son [Man] his share of fornication which he will inevitably commit. The fornication of the eye is the gaze [to look at things which a person is forbidden]; the fornication of the tongue is the utterance; the inner self wishes and desires, and the private parts testify to this or deny it.

Hence, Ibn Mas'ud and Abu Hurayrah say that lamam includes gazing, winking, kissing, and approaching sexual intercourse without committing actual fornication.

The other interpretation of lamam is also related by Ibn Abbas to mean a person who commits a shameful deed but repents of it. He then quoted a line of a verse which can be paraphrased to mean: "Allah, O Your Forgiveness is plenteous, because there is no one among Your servants who does not commit small faults. Abu Hurayrah and al Hasan supported the above. Some also argue that lamam are those which are committed by a person without seriously giving them consideration, and not very often. All this means is that there is enough room in Islam for everyone who does not persistently commit great sins, because Allah's mercy extends to all those who repent.

One of the most instructive Islamic examples for teaching people how to overlook the small mistakes and faults of those who perform the obligatory duties, as man is not infallible nor an angel, comes from the attitude of 'Umar ibn al Khattab (RA'A). It is related23 that some people went to Abd Allah ibn'Umar when he was in Egypt and told him that they observed that many teachings of the Qur'an were not being adhered to by their contemporaries, and wanted to question the Caliph, 'Umar ibn al Khattab, about this matter. 'Abd Allah then took. them to 'Umar (RA'A) in Madinah. When 'Umar met 'Abd Allah, the latter informed him of the purpose of the visit and of the people who came with him. 'Umar (RA`A) then asked Abd Allah to arrange for a meeting. When the people from Egypt came to the meeting, 'Umar (RA'A) turned to the nearest of them and said: "Tell me truly, have you read the whole Qur'an?" The man answered in the affirmative. Umar then asked him, consecutive questions: "Have you yourself strictly followed its teachings in your intentions in order to purify your heart and to reflect on your actions'?" The man answered in the negative. 'Umar (RA'A) then asked: "Have you strictly followed its teaching in your gaze [by not looking at things which Allah has prohibited], in your utterance, and in your living'?" To each of these the man answered in the negative. 'Umar (RAA) then asked the same questions of the other members of the group who all answered in the negative to each question.

'Umar (RA'A) then said: "How can you demand from him [the Caliph, in this instance 'Umar himself! to force people to adhere to your own understanding of Allah's Book when you yourselves have failed to do that as you have admitted? Our Lord knows that each one of us is liable to commit some evil actions." He then recited the following verse: "If you [but] eschew themost heinous of the things which you are forbidden to do, we shall expel out of you all the evil in you and admit you to a gate of great honor.

Turning to the group he asked: "Do the people of Madinah know why you are here?" When they answered in the negative, he then said: "Had they known, I would have made an example of you [by severe punishment]." This incident is narrated by Ibn Jarir in Ibn Kathir's tafsir, and Uqbah approved its authencity and isnad.

With this far­sighted knowledge and insight into the Qur'an, 'Umar was able to settle this issue immediately on the spot, and therefore prevented an infiltration of bigotry and zealotry. Had he shown any leniency in the matter, a great fitnah with far­reaching grave consequences could have been initiated.

4.Sympathetic Understanding of the Abilities, Limitations, and Circumstances of Others

Another aspect of fiqh lacking in extremists is to cherish a sympathetic understanding of and a deep appreciation for the varying levels of individual abilities limitations and circumstances which may hinder other Muslims in coping with the requirements of ideal Islamic life. It would be a great mistake to expect or demand all people to become martyrs like Hamzah ibn Abd al Muttalib (RA'A) by firmly standing up against the perpetrators of oppression, injustice, and exploitation, and to sacrifice everything for the cause of da'wah. This is a virtue which none but the exceptionally persevering few can aspire to or actually realize. Some people may be content with only quietly voicing the truth; others may even resort to complete silence out of their conviction that the prevailing conditions have reached such a dominance that it is futile, and probably dangerous, to object openly or try to change things. Others may believe that reform must begin from the bottom, not from the top, and thus direct their efforts towards individuals who they believe are capable of effecting the desired change and reform after being armed with clarity of vision and purpose, though the eradication of Westernized and secular regimes and systems cannot be realized without a deep­rooted and longterm collective struggle led by a popular Islamic movement and based upon clear­cut objectives, well­designed methods, and­fortitude.

However, the Shariah justifies -even requires- silence on seeing munkar(evil), if it will lead to a greater munkar. This is in keeping with the Islamic axiom that a Muslim can choose to endure a lesser evil lest a greater one may result thereof. Such a choice is sanctioned by the Qur'an, and is especially obvious in the story of Musa ('AS) and his brother, Harun ('AS), who were commissioned to preach the divine message to Pharoah and his people. Musa ('AS) ascended Mount Sinai and left his people with Harun ('AS) as deputy. But as soon as Musa ('AS) had left, the Israelites began to worship a golden image of a calf, as was suggested to them by the Samiri, and refused to listen to Harun's dissuasions against such deviation.

Harun had already, before this said to them: "O my people! You are being tested in this: for verily your Lord is Most Gracious: so follow me and obey my command." They had said "We will not abandon this cult, but we will devote ourselves to it until Musa returns to us.

Finding them adamant, however, Harun ('AS) kept silent. When Musa ('AS) returned and discovered the deviation of his people, he was angered and full of grief, rebuked Harun ('AS) and was very rough with him:

"O Harun! What kept you back, when you saw them going wrong, from following me? Did you then disobey my order?".

Harun ('AS) replied:

"O son of my mother! Seize [me] not by my beard nor by [the hair of] my head. Truly I feared lest you should say: 'You have caused a division among the children of Israel, and you did not respect my words!' ".

Harun ('AS) considered the preservation of the unity of the community until its leader returned­so that he would not be accused of taking a hasty decision and of initiating-discord, a good reason for his silence. This is relevant to the hadith, mentioned earlier, in which the Prophet (.SA'AS) said that he would have destroyed the old Ka'bah and rebuilt it on the foundations laid down by Ibrahim ('AS) but for his consideration of the fact that his followers had only recently abandoned their paganism.

Other examples are to be found in the Prophet's command to Muslims to endure the injustice of their rulers if they do not have the power to oust them and replace them with righteous ones, lest this should create an even greater fitnah and discord and lead to catastrophic results, such as the shedding of Muslim blood, the loss of property, and instability without having achieved any tangible result. Such rulers may therefore be tolerated unless, of course, the condition reaches a clear­cut deviation and kufr or riddah. The Prophet (SA'AS) said in this respect: "Unless you witness open kufr for which you have evidence from Allah."

Both instances clearly demonstrate the importance of maintaining unity in the face of an uncertain success. On the other hand, it is instructive to the dreamy idealists who want Muslims either to be absolutely perfect in observing Islamic teachings or to leave the fold of Islam altogether. For them there is simply no midway. In the opinion of such idealists physical force is the only method which should be used to change munkar overlooking the other two ways: with words and with the heart, and that all this depends on the ability and circumstances of the individual. They seem to have forgotten the fact that Islam does not sanction overburdening people whose different abilities and circumstances must always be taken into consideration. The Shariah has certainly taken into consideration different circumstances and certain necessities to the extent that in compelling circumstances, the prohibited becomes lawful and the waj b is abrogated. Ibn Taymiyah's discussion of this is very apt. He writes:

Allah (SWT) has told us in many places [in the Qur'an] that.

He places no burden on people greater than that which they are capable of. He said: "On no soul does Allah place a burden greater than it can bear". Also: "But those who believe and do righteousness, no burden do We place on any soul but that which it can bear, and: "No soul shall have a burden laid on it greater than it can bear" , as well as: "Allah puts no burden on any person beyond what He has given him".

Allah has also commanded man to obey Him as best he can. He said: "So heed Allah as much as you can". The believers themselves have prayed to Him: "Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden like that which You laid on those before us. Our Lord! Lay not on us a burden greater than we have the strength to bear". Allah (SWT) accepted their request. All these texts, therefore, show that He does not put a burden on a person which the latter cannot fulfill, contrary to the philosophy of the pre­determinist Jahamiyah; He does not punish those who fall into error or forget, contrary to the fatalist Qadariyah, and the rationalist Muitazilah.

The point to be emphasized is that if a ruler, an imam, a scholar, a jurist, or a mufti, etc., exercises ijtihad to the best j of his ability and with a genuine heal of Allah, his ijtihad ·:is that which Allah has asked of him, and He will not be punished if his verdict is wrong. This is contrary to the predetermined Jahamiyah who view a mujtahid as obedient to Allah but may or may not have reached the truth. This is contrary, also to both the Qadariyah and the Mu'tazilah, who view all those exercising ijtihad to have reached the truth; their attitude in this regard is basil (false).

The same is granted to the kuffar: those who received the Prophet's da'wah in the land of kufr, recognized him as the Messenger of Allah, believed in what was revealed to him, and obeyed Allah as best they could- like the Negus and others- but could not emigrate to the homeland of Islam and could not adhere to the totality of the Shari'ah, either because they were not permitted to emigrate or because they were not allowed to practise their beliefs openly; and those who had no one to teach them Islamic Shari'ah. All those are believers among the people of Jannah, in shaa Allah. Examples are the believer among the people of Pharaoh, the wife of Pharaoh, and Yusuf the Truthful ('AS) who called the people of Egypt­who were kuffar-to iman and monotheism although he was unable to tell them all that he knew about Islam. But they still refused to listen to him. In the Quran, the believer among the people of Pharaoh said to them: "And to you there came Yusuf in times gone b­y, with clear signs, but you ceased not to doubt the mission for which he had come. At length, when he died, you said, "No apostle will Allah send after him".

Moreover, although the Negus was the king of the Christians, they did not obey him when he asked them to embrace Islam. Only a small group followed him, and therefore, when he died there was no one to perform sa/ah on him. However the Prophet (SA'AS) performed salah on him in Madinah where a large number joined the salah as the Prophet (.SA'AS) told them of the Negus' death and said: "A righteous brother of yours from the people of Abyssinia has died," The Negus, however, was unable to adhere to a great number of the teachings of Islam, and he did not emigrate to the homeland of Islam, participate in jihad, nor perform hajj. It is also related that he did not perform the five salawat, nor siyam, or give zakah, because these would reveal his conviction to his people whom he could not go against. We know for sure that he could not apply on his people the judgments of the Qur'an, although Allah has commanded His Messenger to apply these judgments on the People of the Book if they seek Him. Allah also warned the Prophet not to let the People of the Book persuade him to deviate from even part of what Allah has revealed to him.

'Umar ibn Abd al 'Aziz (RA'A) encountered a great deal of animosity and suffering because of his unwavering commitment to justice. It is believed that he was poisoned because of this. However, the Negus and others like him are happy in Jannah, although they did not adhere except to that part of the Shariah which they were able to, and although they applied the laws and judgment which were applicable.

5. Knowledge and Insight into the Sunan of Allah's Creation

Islam is the religion of rational and critical minds. This is why one of its fundamental goals is to make man aware of the paramount significance of gradation, fortitude, and maturity. Haste is an inherent characteristic of man in general, and of the young in particular. Indeed, haste is an outstanding characteristic of our own age. It has made our youth eager to saw the seeds today and to harvest the next day. But Allah's will in His own creation does not allow that: a tree goes through stages of growth, short or long, before it bears fruit. The very creation of a human being illustrates this very clearly:

Then We made the sperm into a clinging clot; then of that clot We made a [foetus] lump; then We made out of that lump bones and clothed the bones with flesh; then We developed out of it another creature. So blessed be Allah, the best Creator.

A child is born, breast­fed and weaned, then he/she gradually grows from childhood to maturity. Similarly, life gradually moves from one stage to another until Allah's sunan (patterns) are realized. Islam began as a simple ~n, then gradually the obligatory duties were introduced, the prohibitions prescribed, and legislative matters detailed. Gradually, the structure took full shape, and Allah's favors and blessings were diffused everywhere. Then the following verse was revealed:

Thisday have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you and have chosen for you Islam as your religion. Such development and stages are plain enough", but they are rarely, at all, observed or acknowledged.

The enthusiastic young people are outraged by the corruption that surrounds them as they witness, and daily live, the rapidly worsening condition of the Islamic Ummah. The common concern initiates group meetings; they undertake to put things right, to salvage what is worth keeping. But in their haste and enthusiasm, they lose clarity of vision, they begin to daydream and build castles in the air, believing that they can blot out all forms of corruption and falsehood in addition to; establishing the ideal Islamic state overnight. They underestimate or

disregard the incalculable obstacles and pitfalls that exceed their means and potential. Their dilemma is like that of the man who asked Ibn Sirin to interpret a dream for him: he dreamed that he was swimming on dry land, flying without wings. Ibn Sirin told him that he too was a man of too many dreams and wishes. 'Ali ibn Abu Talib (RA'A) warned his son: " . .and beware of relying on wishes, for they are the goods of fools"

It is common knowledge that corrupt realities cannot be changed by immature strategies based only upon good wishes and intentions It is pertinent here to draw attention to an invaluable book: Hatta Yughayyiru Ma fi Anfusihim (Until They Change That Within Their Souls) written by the Syrian scholar Jawdat Sa'id. The book discusses the "patterns of change of the soul and of society" and its title is derived from the following two Quranic verses:

Verily, never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change it themselves [with their own souis].


Because Allah will never change the grace which He has bestowed on a people until they change what is in their [own] souls. True to its title, this book is a deep social and psychological study in light of the teachings of the Quran. One of the best parts of the author s introduction is the following:

There are those among young Muslims who have the readiness and the determination to sacrifice their lives and wealth for the cause of Islam. Unfortunately, there are only a few among them who choose to spend their lives pursuing a serious research in order to perfect a particular discipline or clarify an obscure truth. For example, problems such as the dichotomy between belief and behavior, between what is professed and what is actually done. Such issues pose questions which badly need objective and well­informed answers without which any constructive reform is impossible. The sluggishness of existing studies is due to the fact that the Islamic world has not yet fully realized the importance or the necessity of research due to its common belief that: '`The sword is mightier than the pen" rather than "Think before you leap." These different perceptions remain in total confusion: neither the real relationships nor the natural order in them were studied or comprehended.

Moreover, the conditions of iman have not yet been carefully studied in the Muslim world. This does not mean that Muslims have not learned the fundamentals of iman and of Islam. But by this we mean the psychological conditions, i.e., that which must be changed within the soul, because this change brings about the fruition of iman, that is, the condition of conformity between action and belief.

It is still believed that self­sacrifice and sadaqah are the highest of virtues without serious consideration of that which makes these so. Mere sacrifice cannot realize goals in the absence of its well­planned, well­thought strategies. This conception encourages young Muslims to sacrifice their lives and wealth yet fails to make them endeavor and persevere to study and to comprehend. Another reason is that self­sacrifice could result from a momentary impulse; but the pursuit of knowledge demands unflinching perseverance, consciousness, critical analysis, and insight, all of which ensure continuity and enhance success. Yet, many young Muslims enthusiastically embark upon deeds and studies in various fields, but after they start their enthusiasm begins to wane, they give way to boredom and eventually discontinue what they have started.

We must investigate these impending attitudes to discover the causes of such inalertness to, and discontinuity of, serious studies, all of which occur as a result of specific causes and factors which cannot be detected by hasty minds.

The trend to look for the hasty reform and change of reality in the absence of self­change and consciousness is equally absurd. Feeling the impact of the present reality on our condition is one thing, but consciousness of our own roles (i.e., that which is in ourselves) in perpetuating it is quite another. This is indeed what the Qur'an seeks to teach humans by explaining what happens to them, and by emphasizing the following: that the core of the problem is "that which is in the self or the soul," not an external injustice. This is the essence of historical and social change which the Qur'an sanctions. Failure to realize this plain truth blurs our vision and initiates those pessimistic and submissive, or despotic and ; non­Islamic, philosophies.

The gravest self­inflicted injustice is, indeed, the faito perceive the inherent subservient relationship between man, the universe, and society. As a result, man misjudges his own abilities and fails to put himself where he can harness human and natural potential to advantage in accordance with the sunan inherent in these. Accordingly, we can say that two attitudes are open for the human mind when confronted with a problem: to believe that the problem is governed by certain patterns and can therefore be solved and controlled; or to believe that it is mysterious and supernatural and therefore not governed by any patterns, or that such patterns cannot be revealed. Between these two extremes there are numerous other intermediate attitudes: each hypothesis has a practical result which is relatively reflected in the attitudes and behavior of people depending on the direction they adopt.

The failure of Muslims to live in accordance with the teachings of Islam is a problem which is easily proved. Even when the problem is accepted, the question still remains: which of the foregoing attitudes should Muslims take? The discussion of the issue in such a way as to bring it to the awareness of the Muslim will help him to determine his attitude toward the problem and to abandon the ambiguous attitude which he might take. In many cases, when the two attitudes are entangled and therefore paralyze the effect of each other, the issues remain ambiguous. A solution requires, to a great extent, a sound hypothesis.

6. A Dialogue on the Sunan and Conditions of Victory

Below is the dialogue which took place between a young Muslim enthusiast and myself. He asked and I answered:

Q: Are we not following haqq (truth) and our opponents following basil (falsehood)?

A: Yes, indeed.

Q: Has not our Lord promised us that haqq will triumph over basil, and iman over kufr?

A: Yes, and Allah (SWT) will never break His promise.

Q: So, what are we waiting for? Why do we not wage war against batil?

A: Our religion instructs us that victory is governed by certain sunan and conditions to which we must adhere. Had it not been for such considerations, the Prophet (.SA'AS) would have declared war on paganism at the beginning of the Makkan period. He would not have tolerated performing ,salah at the Ka'bah when it was surrounded by idols.

Q: What are these sunan and conditions'

A: First, Allah (SWT) does not make haqq triumphant simply because it is so; but He makes it victorious through the united body of the righteous and brotherly people who believe in Allah ta 'ala. This is clear from the following verse: He it is that has strengthened you with His aid and with the believers, and has put affection in their hearts.

Q: But what about the angels who descended to aid ,haqq against batil, such as those who aided the believers during the battles of Badr, al Khandaq, and Hunayn?

A: The angels are there and will come to the rescue of the believers when Allah (SWT) so wills. However, they will not descend in a vacuum: there must be true believers down here on earth who strive to make ,haqq prevail and who need aid from heaven to strengthen them. The Qur'an is clear on this issue as is clear in the following verse which was revealed during the battle of Badr: Remember your Lord inspired the angels [with the message]: "I am with you. Give firmness to the believers. I will instill terror into the hearts of the unbelievers".

Q: If there are true believers, would that ensure victory?

A: They have to spread Islam to the best of their abilities, multiply their numbers, and conduct dialogues with their opponents in the hope of convincing them of the truth of their claims. In this way they will obtain the power to encounter their enemies. It would be irrational for one single person to attempt to stand up against a hundred or a thousand The maximum number mentioned in the Qur'an of unbelievers that a true believer full of vigor and determination could stand up against is ten: O Prophet! rouse the believers to fight. If there are twenty among you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred; if a hundred, they will vanquish a thousand of the unbelievers .

But in times of weakness, the numbers are different:

For the present, Allah has lightened your [task1 for He knows that there is a weak spot in you: But [even so1, if there are a hundred of you, patient and persevering, they will vanquish two hundred, and if a thousand, they will vanquish two thousand, with the leave of Allah For Allah is with those who patiently persevere.

Q: But our adversaries are always on the alert; they have excelled in sabotaging our endeavors to spread the divine word. Q: But our adversaries are always on the alert; they have excelled in sabotaging our endeavors to spread the divine word.

A: This certifies the claim that there is an indispensible condition without which no victory can be guaranteed, i.e., patience in the face of suffering, perseverance in the face of defiance and provocation. The Prophet (SA'AS) told his cousin 'Abd Allah ibn 'Abbas that "Patience is a prerequisite of victory." This is also the advice of Allah (SWT) to His Prophet (SA'AS):

Follow the inspiration sent unto you, and be patient and constant until Allah decides, for He is the Best to decide .

And in another verse:

And be patient, for your patience is but from Allah, nor grieve over them, and do not distress yourself because of their plots, for Allah is with those who restrain themselves and those who do good.


So patiently persevere, for verily the promise of Allah is true. Nor let those who have [themselves] no certainty of faith shake your firmness.


And therefore patiently persevere, as did [all] messengers of inflexible purpose; and be in no haste about the [unbelievers].

And again:

Now await in patience the command of your Lord, for verily you are in Our eyes, and celebrate the praises of your Lord while you stand forth.

Q: But we may patiently persevere for too long without ever succeeding in establishing an Islamic state which will apply the Shari'ah, resurrect the Muslim Ummah, and once again raise the banner of Islam.

A: But, do you not in the meantime instruct an ignorant person, guide someone to the right path, or lead another to repent? When he answered in the affirmative, I added: This is a tremendous achievement which brings us closer to our goal. The Prophet (SA'AS) said: "If Allah enables you to guide one person [to the Straightforward Path] it is better for you than all the best breed of camel [you may possess]." Furthermore, the obligatory duty which we will be asked to account for is to make da'wah, to instruct and work, but not necessarily to achieve our aims ourselves. We must sow love and pray to Allah (SWT) for a great harvest. The Qur'an indeed, instructsus:

And say:

"Work [righteousness]: .Soon will Allah observe your work and His messenger, and the believers. Soon you will be brought back to the Knower of what is hidden and what is open. Then will He show you the truth of all that you did".