Chapter Four
Advice to Muslim Youth

Facts For Muslim Youth

At the end of my previously mentioned study published in al U'mma, in which I discussed the positive as well as the negative aspects of the " Reawakening of Muslim Youth" I emphasized two facts:


That this resurgence signifies a natural, healthy phenomenon which is clearly indicative of a return to fitrah (inborn nature), to the roots which-for us in our Muslim homeland-is simply Islam: the beginning and the end, into which we seek refuge from difficulties, and from which we derive a strength of spirit, of hope, and of guidance. Our Muslim communities have tried solutions imported from either the West or the East, but all have failed to bring about any spiritual elevation material prosperity, goodness, or social welfare in any Muslim country On the contrary, the adoption of these imported alien systems has involved us in a labyrinth of difficulties which have generated disunity and disintegration in the Muslim communities. As a result, public opinion now firmly believes in the inevitability of the Islamic solution, i.e., the application of Shar'iah in all aspects of life. It is not surprising, therefore, that the role of young Muslims in this endeavor is characterized by courage, determination, and resolve.


The manifestations of rigidity and strictness in some of our youth cannot be rectified by violence, threats, or allegations which will be counterproductive and may lead to more severity and stubbornness. None of us can doubt the good intentions and sincerity of the youth towards Allah (SWT) and themselves. Therefore, such manifestations can only be remedied by identifying with the young, by understanding their attitudes and thinking, by showing goodwill toward their intentions and aim by bridging the gap between them and the rest of society, by conducting patient intellectual dialogues with them in order to clarify conceptions, to clear up misunderstandings, and to identify similarities and differences.

In pursuance of such dialogues, I have given much advice to Muslim youths. In doing so, I sought nothing but Allah s pleasure. Believers - the Prophet (SA'AS) taught us - should always consult with and advise one another, commanding the common good and forbidding evil and undesirable things with patience and with perseverance. These are necessary requisites for achieving success in this life and rewards in the hereafter. My advice however, is intended to be a landmark which will in shaa Allah, lead us toward our goal, enable us to avoid pitfalls and deviation, and ensure the continuity of our march. Below are some extracts:

Some Extracts

The young are advised to respect specialization. We live in an age m which specialization has become essential; excelling in one discipline does not necessarily mean excelling in another. Just as a physician cannot be consulted on engineering matters, or a physician on law, it is wrong to consider Shar`iah open to the interpretation of all people by claiming that knowledge of fiqh and Islam, cannot be monopolized by a special group of people, and that Islam, unlike other religions does not recognize the existence of a class of clergy, or rijal al din. It ~s true that Islam has never known such a class as the Christian clergy, but it fully recognizes the role assigned to scholars specialized in religious matters and referred to m the following Qur'anic verse:

Nor should the believers all go forth together. If a contingent from every expedition remained behind, they could devote themselves to studies in religion, and admonish the people when they return to them, that thus they [may learn] to guard themselves [against evil].

The Qurian and Sunnah teach us to refer matters of which we have no knowledge to the learned and the experienced:

Before you, also, the messengers We sent were but men to whom We granted inspiration. If you realise this not, ask of those who possess the Message.


When there comes to them some matter touching [public] safety or fear, they divulge it. If they had only referred it to the Messenger, or to those charged with authority among them the proper investigators would have tested it from them [direct]


Ask then. about Him of any acquainted [with such things].

In another verse He says:

And none [O man!] can tell you [the Truth] like the one who is acquainted with all things.

The Prophet (.SA'AS) also said, when he was informed that a wounded man was given afatwa that he must wash the whole of his body before performing ablution and salah which resulted in his death: "They caused his death, may Allah cause their death [as well] Should not they have asked if they were not sure. . .?"

It was indeed shocking to discover that there are people who, even though totally unqualified, are only too ready to give fatawa on the most serious and complex issues: fatawa which may contradict those of both earlier and contemporary 'uluma' Such people may never hesitate to dismiss as wrong the fatawa of other scholars whom they accuse of ignorance, claiming that the gates of ijtihad are not exclusive to a special few but are open to all. This is true, but itjihad requires certain requisites of which such people possess none. Our predecessors have criticized even some of the learned who hastened to give fatwa without careful consideration and knowledge of the matter saying: "Some people hastily give fatwa on matters which, if referred to 'Umar ibn al Khattab, would have caused him to consult all the people [who took part in the battle] of Badr," and also, "The most daring among you in giving fatwa is the most daring [to commit sins which will cause them] to [be sent to] the Fire."

Despite the profound depth of knowledge of the Rightly­Guided Caliphs, they used to consult and be consulted by their learned companions when confronted with critical issues. Out of the body of fatawa which were made collectively emerged the ijma'(consensus) in the first Islamic era. When consulted, some companions refrained from making any comment, and others simply used to say that they did not know. 'Utbah ibn Muslim reported that he was once Ibn 'Umar's companion for a period of thirty­four months. During that time, Ibn 'Umar was asked about various important issues and he often replied that he did not know. Ibn Abu Layla related the following about at least companions of the Prophet (SA'AS), most of whom were from among the Ansar and were his contemporaries:

When one of them was consulted on a certain issue, he would refer the questioner to another, who in turn would refer him to another and so on until the questioner finally returns to the first person whom he had approached first. They wished to be spared the reporting of a hadith or giving a fatwa in answer to a question.

Furthermore, 'Ata ibn al Sa'ib said that he observed many of his cc temporaries tremble whenever giving fatwa. Among the Tabiun Sa'id Ibn al Musayyib-who excelled them all in fiqh­rarely gave fatwa But when he had to, he used to pray to Allah (SWT) to save him if I was unintentionally wrong and to save those who would follow his fatwa.

The same caution is observed repeatedly in the practice of the a'immah of the followed madhahib. It was the rule rather than the exception for them to reply that they did not know when they were uncertain. Al Imam Malik, for instance, was exceptionally cautious and used to say. "If person is asked about a certain issue, he should think of jannah and of Jahannam and of his own salvation in the hereafter before he replies Ibn al Qasim also heard Malik saying: "I have been investigating a particular issue for more than ten years, but I have not made up my mine about it yet." Ibn Mabdi also heard Malik saying: "Sometimes a matte' is brought to me [to investigate], and I spend the whole night in [contemplating] it." Moreover, Musab related that his father was once consulted on a certain issue but, uncertain, he asked his son to take the questioner to Malik whose reply was: "I cannot tell, go and ask those who know better." Ibn Abu Hasan said: "Malik was consulted on twenty one issues, but he only gave fatwa on two of them, repeating several times after that: 'There is neither strength nor power except what is given by Allah."

It is indeed not my intention to discourage young Muslims from the pursuit of knowledge and learning. To learn is an obligation which is enjoined upon us from the cradle to the grave. But what I intend to emphasize here is that however broad their learning and knowledge may be they are bound to heed those who are specialized. The Shariah has various interdisciplinary branches and usul which these young Muslims are incapable of knowing or comprehending and for which they neither have the time nor the means. Furthermore, I feel obliged to point out that I do not approve of the tendency of some youths who abandon the colleges in which they have enrolled, and in which they have made good progress and are expected to do well, and seek to specialize in Shari'ah. Such people ignore the fact that to pursue knowledge­and to excel in any discipline-is fard kifayah: a collective obligation. It should also be observed that the competition between Muslims and non­Muslims for mastery of the secular sciences is at its highest. When a Muslim seeks to learn, to excel, and acquire insight into such sciences for the sake of Allah (SWT) he is actually performing 'ibadah and jihad.

Let us remember that when the divine message was revealed to the Prophet (SA'AS), his earlier companions had various professions. The Prophet (SA'AS) did not ask them to give up their work and devote themselves to the study of Islam, except, of course, those who were entrusted with a special mission and who had to adjust themselves to its fulfillment. What I honestly fear is that the tendency to give up pursuing other disciplines in order to study and master Shariah may be motivated by an unconscious covert desire for popularity, ostentation, and leadership, especially in meetings, debates and seminars. Such a desire is not easy to detect, because Satan has countless means and inlets into the human soul which is vulnerable to temptation, unless that individual is constantly alert. This means that we should carefully investigate our thoughts, motivations anstrategies; we should constantly try to find out whether these are impelled by mundane or spiritual goals. Self­deception is a snare which confuses motives and blurs clarity of vision. We should never tire of reminding ourselves of this Qur'anic verse: "Whoever holds firmly to Allah will be shown a Way that is straight".

Since every discipline is best known by those who are specialized in it, the young are strongly advised to acquire religious knowledge from trustworthy scholars who have combined depth of knowledge with piety, righteousness, and balance in their own lives. The main sources of Islamic knowledge are the Qur'an and Sunnah, but whoever desires to enrich his understanding and knowledge of both cannot do so without the interpretations of the 'ulama the explanation of scholar, and the comprehension of the fuqaha' who have devoted their lives to the study of both and who originated usul al fiqh, thereby transmitting to us a legacy which only the ignorant and the arrogant can disregard. A person who boasts of possessing knowledge of the Qur'an and Sunnah, but despises the knowledge handed down to us by our learned predecessors, cannot be entrusted with the teachings of Islam. On the other hand, a person who only draws upon the findings of 'ulama and fuqaha as well as the works of the four great jurists of Islam but brushes aside the evidence and indications of the Qurian and Hadith ignores the source of faith an legislation.

There are scholars who specialize in a single branch of Islamic culture not directly related to the Qurian and sunnah, such as history, philosophy and Sufism. These can be useful in their special fields, but they are not qualified to give fatawa or to teach Shariah to others. Some of these may be born orators and preachers and are able to eloquently persuade others but this does not qualify them for scholarly investigation, because they often mix truth with myth the genuine with the false, the significant with the insignificant. They give wrong fatawa on matters not fully comprehended by them. They confuse issues and priorities, unduly exaggerate or underestimate matters. However people who are enchanted by their style and eloquence unhesitantly accept their verdicts and opinions. Thus we need to be reminded that rhetoric is one thing and fiqh is another and that the person who excels in one does not necessarily excel m the other.

Furthermore a person who does not practice what he preaches is not worthy of teaching or guiding people. Practice is manifested in righteousness piety and the consciousness of Allah (SWT) which are the fruits of genuine knowledge. The Qur'an says: "Those who truly fear Allah among His servants are those who have knowledge". Such piety and heeding of Allah (SWT) prevent a Muslim scholar from indulging ignorantly in religious issues unknown to him or from serving through his knowledge­a specific ruler or regime.

A third characteristic to be observed in a truly learned person is balance which is also a unique quality of Islam. We have been unfortunate m this age to witness opposing groups of people who claim knowledge: the excessive and the negligent the extremist and the rejectionist. Al Hasan al Basri warned us that "religion will be lost as a result of the practice of both the excessive and the negligent." The former tend to prohibit almost everything while the latter make everything lawful and permissible.

Some extremists adhere to one madhhab and seek to seal the gates of ijtihad. On the other hand the lax and negligent defame all madhahib and endeavor to refute all doctrines and verdicts embodied therein. There are also the literalists who adhere to the literal interpretation of texts without any consideration for the purpose or rules, and at the other end those who interpret the contents of the texts according to their own whims and desires. In between the two extremes the issues are lost. We therefore need those balanced people w ho have the mind of a faqih and the heart of a pious man; those who reconcile duties with reality. who distinguish clearly between what is to be expected from the less committed and what is to be expected of the committed. and know full well that necessities have their exceptional rules and that in seeking facilitation one must not remove the barriers between the lawful and the prohibited. or. being too cautious. cause difficulties and hardships for people. Al Imam Sufyan al Thawri. well known for his piety and his profound knowledge of Hadith and fiqh' said: [Regarding the Commandments of prohibition in Islam] dispensations and licenses should be sought from a trustworthy fiqih; but strict fatawah can be prescribed by anyone"

Young Muslims are advised to eschew excessiveness and extremism and to commit themselves to temperance and facilitation especially m dealing with the lay people who are not expected to react as the righteous and pious do. A Muslim can. if he so wishes. adhere to a cautious stand on one issue or on a number of issues. But if he always disregards religious facilitation in favor of caution and circumspection Islam will ultimately turn into a 'set of precautions" manifest only by strictness and difficulties although Allah (SWT) enjoins facilitation and spaciousness for His servants. Indeed the Qur'an. Sutu7ah, and the practices of the Prophet s companions al! call for facilitation and warn against excessiveness and against making things too difficult for the believers. The following Qur'anic verses on the subjects of siyam; cleanliness marriage and qisas, respectively. demonstrate this point:

Allah intends every facility for you; He does not want to put you to difficulties.

Allah does not wish to place you in a difficulty .

Allah does wish to lighten your 1ditficulties] for man was created weak [in flesh].

O you who believe! The law of equality is prescribed to you in cases of murder: the tree for the free the slave for the slave the woman for the woman. But if any remission is made by the brother [of the slain]. then grant any reasonable demand and compensate him with handsome gratitude. This is a concession and a mercy from your Lord. Ahadith which recommend moderation and balance and warn against

excessiveness in religion:

Beware of excessiveness in religion. [People] before you have perished as a result of [such] excessiveness. "Ruined are those who indulge in tanatu (hairsplitting)." And the Prophet (SA'AS) repeated the above hadith thrice. In addition, Abu Hurayrah related the following:

A Bedouin once urinated in the masjid. The people rushed to punish him, but the Prophet (SAAS) ordered them: "Leave him alone and pour a bucket of water or tumbler of water [over the place where he has urinated]. Your mission is to make things easy and not to make them difficult. " It is true that whenever the Prophet (SA'AS) had to choose between two options he always chose the easiest, unless it was a sin. He also addressed Mu'adh (RAA) when he heard that the latter prolonged ,salah: "O Mu'adh! Are you putting the people on trial?" The Prophet (SA'AS) repeated this thrice to emphasize that creating difficulties for people or attempting to use force with them always leads to fitnah (discord, dissuasion from one's Islamic commitments).

Moreover, a person may­ in seeking perfection and caution ­ have the right to make things difficult for himself, but he should not impose or force the same on other people and therefore unconsciously alienate them from religion. For this reason, the Prophet (SAAS) used to prolong Aalah whenever he was alone and to shorten it whenever he led others.

He said in this respect:

Whoever among you leads the people in salah he should shorten it, for amongst them are the weak, the sick, the old, and the one who has business to attend to. And if anyone among you performs salah alone, he then may prolong [salah] as much as he wishes.

Bukhari reported that the Prophet (SAAS) said: "As I start salah I wish to prolong it, but as soon as I hear the crying of a child I shorten it so as to make it easier for the child's mother" Muslim reported in his Sa,hih that the Prophet (SA'AS) uto recite-when leading people in ,salah-short rather than long verses from the Qur'an, 'A'ishah (RA'A) also said: "As a gesture of compassion, the Prophet (SAAS) warned people against wi,sal [i.e., joining successive days in ,siyam]. But the people said to him: 'You do that.' He said: 'I am not like you. My Lord gives me food and drink."'

Tendency to Make Matters Easy

The tendency to make matters easy is more urgently needed at this time than ever before. We live in an age which is immersed in materialism, lost in distractions, full of evils so overwhelming that the person who sticks to his religious principles faces a great deal of difficulty and stricture. This is the reason why the fuqaha' have approved of facilitation in times of hardships and trying calamities.

In calling non­Muslims to Islam and when conducting dialogues with them young Muslims are advised to follow the approach which has already been outlined for them. Several verses can be cited in this respect:

Invite [all] to the Way of your Lord with wisdom and nice preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious.

Evidently, the above verse commands not only "nice preaching" but also "the most gracious." Therefore, if there are two ways to conduct a dialogue, the best should be adopted in order to win people's hearts and to bridge gaps. One of the best ways is that on which points of agreement are first mentioned and discussed leading to the points of disagreement. The Qur'an states:

And dispute not with the People of the Book, except with means better [than mere disputation], unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong [and injury]. But say "We believe in the revelation which has come down to us and in that which came down to you. Our God and your God is one, and it is to Him that we bow [in Islam]".

Any remaining points of disagreement will be judged by Allah (SWT):

If they wrangle with you, say: "Allah knows best what it is you are doing. Allah will judge between you on the Day of judgment concerning the matters on which you differ".

If this is the way a Muslim is required to conduct a dialogue with a non-Muslim, how then should a Muslim talk to his Muslim brother with whom he shares this great ~n? Some of our Muslim brothers confuse frankness and harshness in expressing the truth, although the two are unrelated. A sagacious daiyah is he who conveys and communicates the message to others in a gentle manner and in the "most gracious" terms without, of course, compromising the content of his message. Factual evidence should teach us that the content, no matter how great it is, is likely to be distorted and lost through a harsh approach. This is why it was said: "He who commands the common good should do it with common sense."

Al Imam al Ghazah wrote in his book, Al Amr bi al Ma'ruf wa al Nahi, an al Munkar: "A person commanding the common good and forbidding that which is evil and undesirable should show compassion, sympathy, wisdom, and knowledge." To demonstrate this he related the story of a man who came upon al Ma'mun, the prominent 'Abbasi caliph, and started to "counsel" him about vice and virtue in a rough and crude manner with no consideration for his status. Al Ma'mun, who had a good knowledge of fiqh, addressed the man: "Speak more kindly. Remember that Allah has sent someone better than you to a ruler worse than me, and commanded the former to speak mildly; he has sent Musa and Harun, who were better than you, to Pharaoh, who was worse than me, and commanded them:

'Go, both of you, to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds, but speak to him mildly. Perchance he may take warning or fear [Allah]'.

Thus, al Matmun was able to give his critic a significant advice. Moreover, Allah (SWT) has also taught Musa ('AS) that his message to Pharaoh should be delivered in such a mild gentle way: Go to Pharaoh, for he has indeed transgressed all bounds; and say to him, would you want to be purified [from sin]?-and that I guide you to your Lord, so you should fear Him?.

Further examination of the dialogue between Musa (AS) and Pharaoh­as related in the Qur'an- reveals that the former has carried out very carefully Allah's advice, despite the latter's tyranny, arrogance, insults, accusations, and attacks, as evident in Surat al Shuara .

A study of the Prophet's life and his Sunnah which pertains to this theme also reveals kindness, mercy, and mildness, which allows no place for roughness, cruelty, or hardheartedness. The Quran describes the Prophet's attitude in this regard:

Now has come unto you a Messenger from among yourselves. It grieves him that you should perish and ardently anxious is he over you. To the believers he is most kind and merciful . It also describes the Prophet's relationship with his companions:

It is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. If you were severe or hardhearted, they would have broken away from you.

One day, a group of Jews came upon the Prophet (SA'AS) and greeted him with: al samu alaykum which literally means "death be upon you" instead of the usual al salamu alaykum. 'A'ishah (RA'A) was angered by this and replied: alaykum al samu wa al lanah (death and curse be on you). But the Prophet (SA'AS) said no more than "wa alaykum" (and upon youi. He then turned to' A'ishah (RA'A) and said: "Allah loves that one should be kind in all matters. A'ishah also related another hadith: "Allah is kind and He loves kindness; and confers upon kindness that which he does not confer upon severity, and does not confer upon anything else beside it [kindness]. Also: "Kindness makes things beautiful, absence of kindness makes them defective.''

Jarir ibn 'Abd Allah related that he heard the Prophet (SA'AS) say: "He who is deprived of tender feelings is in fact deprived of all good.'' What other punishment could be harder than being deprived of all good?

Hopefully, these Islamic texts are sufficient enough to convince those youths who follow offensive and violent means that they must eschew the violence, excessiveness, and extremism which have become their characteristics and follow the path of wisdom, amicability, and tolerance.

Several Relevant and Important Points in the Ethics of Da'wah

I would like here to emphasize several relevant and important points in the ethics of da'wah and dialogue:

1. Parental and kinship rights must be observed. Neither parents nor brothers and sisters should be treated with coarseness or disrespect on the grounds that they are transgressors, innovators, or deviants. These failings do not cancel their rights for kind and lenient treatment. Parental rights in particular are categorically expressed in the Qur'an:

But if they strive to make you join in worship with Me things of which you have no knowledge, obey then not; yet bear them company in this life with justice [and consideration], and follow the way of those who turn to Me [in love] .

Similarly, one can learn a great deal from prophet Ibrahim's gentle and persuasive approach-as illustrated in the Qurian'-in trying to lead his polytheist father to the Truth. Ibrahim persevered in his tender solicitude despite his father's brusque and repellent tone. What then if the parents were Muslims and kind? Even if they violate some injunctions of the Shariah, they are still entitled to parental as well as Islamic rights.

2. Islam teaches the equality of all human beings, but this should not be confused and misunderstood. There are certain differences, such as age, which must be observed and which require us to show politeness and respect. We must indeed observe the rights of relatives, spouses, neighbors, and rulers. Islamic ethics teach us that the young must respect the old, that the old must show compassion toward the young. There are many ahadith which command such attitudes: "Respect for an old Muslim is a glorification of Allah and: "A person who does not show compassion to the young, respect to the old, and gratitude to the learned is not one of us.''

3. Consideration must be given to those people who have rich experience and who were very active in the field of dawah. If-for one reason or another-they become slack and lose their enthusiasm, we must not forget their contribution annot defame or discredit them. This is the Sunnah of the Prophet (SA'AS), as evident in the story of Hatib ibn Abu Balta'ah, who sent a message to the pagans of Quraysh requesting protection for his children and relatives left behind in Makkah in return for information about the Muslims' strategy and weaponry being prepared to conquer Makkah. When the message was intercepted and Hatib confessed, 'Umar ibn al Khattab (RA'A) was so outraged with this treachery thut he requested the Prophet (.SA'AS) to let him cut off Hatib's head. But the Prophet (.SA'AS) refused, saying: Consideration must be given to those people who have rich experience and who were very active in the field of dawah. If-for one reason or another-they become slack and lose their enthusiasm, we must not forget their contribution annot defame or discredit them. This is the Sunnah of the Prophet (SA'AS), as evident in the story of Hatib ibn Abu Balta'ah, who sent a message to the pagans of Quraysh requesting protection for his children and relatives left behind in Makkah in return for information about the Muslims' strategy and weaponry being prepared to conquer Makkah. When the message was intercepted and Hatib confessed, 'Umar ibn al Khattab (RA'A) was so outraged with this treachery thut he requested the Prophet (.SA'AS) to let him cut off Hatib's head. But the Prophet (.SA'AS) refused, saying: "How do you "How do you know; perhaps Allah has looked at [the deeds of] the people [who fought in the battle] of Badr and said to them: Do whatever you please for I have forgiven you [your past and future sins]." Hatibs early embrace of Islam and his courage and struggle during the battle of Badr made the Prophet (SA'AS) accept his excuse. thus reminding his companions­and indeed all Muslims­of the special status of those who fought in the battle of Badr­the first battle between the Muslims and the kuffar.

4. advise the young to abandon their daydreams and their unrealistic idealism. They must come down to earth and identify with the masses, those who live from hand to mouth in the downtrodden parts of the big cities and in the impoverished and totally forgotten villages. In such places one can find the uncorrupted sources of virtue, simplicity, and purity in spite of "necessity s sharp pinch." There one can find the potential for social change. the opportunities for effort. struggle, movement, help, and reconstruction: there one can mix with the masses and show kindness and compassion towards the needy. the orphaned, the brokenhearted, the weary, and the oppressed. The realization of such objectives, which is in itself a form of 'ibadah, requires collective effort. the formation of committees dedicated to eradicating illiteracy. diseases, unemployment, lack of initiative, and harmful habits. i.e., addiction to smoking, alcohol. and drugs; and on the other hand, to exposing and fighting corruption. deviation. oppression. bribery. and other practices. The struggle to relieve the suffering of the poor and to provide them with proper guidance is indeed a suitable form of 'ibadah, the significance of which many Muslims are unaware. even though Islamic teachings not only encourage the propagation of charitable deeds but commend them as individual and collective duties.

Charitable deeds done for the welfare of the community are the best forms of 'ibadah and are considered branches of iman, as long as those who do them do not seek praise and cheap popularity but only the pleasure of Allah (SWT). Let us remind ourselves of those ahadith in which we learn that several acts, ranging from commanding the common good and forbidding the evil and the undesirable to simply removing harmful things from a path way. are all charitable deeds. Abu Hurayrah relates the following hadith:

Sadaqah is due on each joint of a person, every day the sun rises. The administration of justice between two men is also a ,sadaqah; assisting a man to mount his beast i.e., donkey horse, camel, etc.], or helping him load his luggage upon it is a sadaqah; and a good word is a sadaqah; and every step taken towards salah is a ,sadaqah, removing harmful things from a pathway is sadaqah.

Ibn 'Abbas (RAA) also related another ,hadith to the same effect:

A ,salah is due on each joint of a person every day. A man m the audience said: "This is the most difficult thing you have required of us." The Prophet (.SA'AS) then said: "Your commanding the common good and forbidding that which is evil and undesirable is a .salah, your help for the weak is a salah your removing of dirt from a pathway is salah, and every step you take to the [prescribed daily] ,salah is salah."

Buraydah (RA'A) related that the Prophet (.SA'AS) said:

"A man has three hundred and sixty joints. He must give sadaqah for each one of them." They [the Prophet's companions] said: "Who can afford to do so, O Apostle?" thinking that It was a financial ,sadaqah. The Prophet (SA'AS) then said: "Heaping earth upon some phlegm in a masjid is ,sadaqah, removing an obstruction from a pathway is ,sadaqah.

There are many ahadith which rank cheerfulness towards other Muslims helping the blind, the deaf and the weak, advising those who are lost and confused, relieving the distress of the needy, etc., as forms of ibadah and sadaqah. In this way, a Muslim lives his life as a vital source virtuous deeds, either performing good or commanding it upon others, thereby guarding against the infiltration of evil. The Prophet (SA'AS) said: "BIessed is he whom Allah has made a key for righteousness and a lock against evil."

However some enthusiastic idealists may argue that such social activities would hinder the propagation of Islam and the efforts to make people understand it. They believe that Islamic education is more obligatory than these social engagements" My reply is that social involvement is itself a practical dawah which reaches the people in their own environment. Calling people to Islam is not mere talk; dawah is participation in the affairs of others and the seeking of a remedy to their problems. Al Imam Hasan al Banna was quite aware of this and therefore established a charitable institution for social services and financial assistance in every branch of the Muslim Brotherhood he founded in Egypt to call for Islam. He was conscious that the Muslim is commanded to do charitable work just as he is commanded to bow down and to prostrate himself in 'ibadah for Allah (SWT). The Qur'an says:

O you who believe! Bow down, prostrate yourselves and adore your Lord and do good that you may prosper. And strive in His cause as you ought to strive [with sincerity and under discipline]. He has chosen you, and has imposed no difficulties on you in religion.

The above defines the Muslim's three­part role in this life: his relationship with Allah (SWT) Whom he should serve through 'ihadah; his role in society which he should severe through charitable deeds; his relationship with the powers of darkness and evil against which he should wage jihad. But enthusiastic idealists might further argue that efforts should be concentrated on the establishment of an Islamic state which applies Shariah in all aspects of life within the state and works to call for Islam outside its borders. The realization of this goal, they argue, will automatically solve all the foregoing problems. The establishment of an Islamic state which applies Shariah and strives to unite all Muslims under the banner of Islam is, of course, the duty of the whole Ummah. All du'ah must do their utmost to achieve this objective, employing in the process the best means and methods. But the realization of this is conditional upon a number of imperatives, some of the most important of which are: to unite all efforts, to remove all obstacles, to convince the suspecting minds of the nobility of the cause, to bring up Islamicallyorientated youngsters, and to prepare local as well as international public opinion to accept their ideology and their state. All this requires time and, indeed, perseverance. Until that dear hope is realized, Muslims must unite efforts in order to serve their communities and to improve their societies. Such engagements will mold, prepare, and test the abilities of future generations for the leadership of the Ummah.

It is unacceptable for a Muslim who could, if he so wished, provide a cure for a patient at a public clinic or a charitable hospital to refuse to do so because he is waiting for an Islamic state to be established and provide such services. Nor would it be proper for a Muslim who could organize zakah services to be indifferent to the miseries and distresses of the poor, the orphaned, and the old and widowed, by simply hoping that the future Islamic state would help through a comprehensive system of social welfare. It is equally improper for a Muslim to show indifference to the tragic and costly disputes between other Muslims claiming that these matters will be dealt with by thefuture Islamic state, which will reconcile people and fight the aggressor.

On the contrary, the duty of the Muslim is to strive against evil and work for righteousness to the best of his abilities, no matter how little this might be. Allah (SWT) says in the Qur'an: "So heed Allah as much as you can".

The following may help to illustrate my concept regarding the desired Islamic state. An orchard of olive and palm trees takes a relatively long time to produce fruit. Is it then logical-or even practical-for the owner to do no other work, to reap no other fruit, but to only wait for a crop of the desired olives and dates? Of course not. He must plant other fast-producing trees as well as vegetables to fertilize his land and to earn a living, nurturing at the same time his olive and palm trees which will eventually provide his anticipated and desired crop.

5. My last paternal advice to young Muslims is to liberate themselves from the fetters of pessimism and despair and assume innocence and goodness in fellow Muslims. However, this optimism requires a conscious recognition of several important conditions:

First: Human beings are not angels. They have not been created from light, but molded from clay. They­ like their father Adam before them- are all fallible. We learn from the Qur'an: "We had already, beforehand, taken the covenant of Adam, but he forgot, and We found on his part no firm resolve".

Recognition of our human fallibility and proclivity to temptation will enable us not only to tolerate and to cherish a sympathetic understanding of the faults and blemishes of others, but will move us to remind them to have faith and hope in Allah's mercy and to warn them of Allah's anger and of His punishment. Allah (SWT) addressed His Messenger the Prophet Muhammad (.SA'AS):

Say: "O My Servants who have transgressed against their souls! Despair not of the mercy of Allah: for Allah forgives all sins: for He is Oft­forgiving, most Merciful"

The possessive pronoun in "My servants" signifies Allah's love and concern for and indeed His benevolence toward human beings, which finds room for abundant mercy and forgiveness for all sins however great they may be.

Second: It is imperative to understand that no one but Allah (SWT) knows what goes on in the innermost depths of a person. Therefore we are obliged to judge people in accordance with what they profess-what appears to us. If a person, for instance, confesses that "there is no god but Allah, and that Muhammad is His Messenger," we should treat him as a Muslim. This is in keeping with the Prophet's Sunnah. He said:

I have been ordered [by Allah (SWT)] to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah, and that Muhammad is Allah's Messenger, and until they perform ,salawat perfectly and give zakah. If they do all that, then they save their lives and property from me and they are accountable to Allah.

This is the reason why he would not punish the munafiqin, although he was sure they were plotting against him. When his companions suggested that he should kill them to preempt their threat, he replied: "I fear that the people would say that Muhammad kills his companions!"


The following will, in shaa Allah, illustrate this point: A Qurayshi adolescent once came upon the Prophet (SA'AS) and asked permission to fornicate. The Prophet's companions were so outraged by the young man's request that they rushed to punish him, but the Prophet's attitude was totally different. Calm and composed he asked the young man to come closer to him and asked: "Would you approve of it [fornication] for your mother?" The young man replied: "No" The Prophet (.SA'AS) said: "[Other] people also would not approve of it for their mothers." Then the Prophet (SA'AS) repeatedly asked the young man whether he would approve of it for his daughter, sister, or aunt? Each time the man answered "No," and each time the Prophet (.SAAS) added that "[Other] people would not approve of it for theirs." He then held the young man's hand and said: "May Allah forgive his [the young man's] sins, purify his heart, and fortify him [against such desires]."

The Prophet's sympathetic attitude clearly indicates a gesture of good-will, a conviction in that inborn goodness of man which outweighs the elements of evil which could only be transient. So he compassionately and patiently discussed the issue with him until he was able to convince him of its wrongfulness. Not only did he do that, but the Prophet (SAAS) prayed to Allah to forgive and guide him. Extremists could argue that leniency on this occasion was understandable, as the young man had not actually committed fornication.

Let us, therefore, consider the following example: A married adulteress became pregnant, confessed her sin to the Prophet (.SAAS), and determinately and repeatedly insisted that she should be stoned to death to expiate her sin. When Khalid ibn al Walid (RAA) cursed her as she was being stoned, the Prophet (SAAS) said to him: "Khalid, be gentle. By Him in whose hand is my life, she has made such repentance that even if a wrongful tax collector were to repent he would have been forgiven."

Some may argue that this woman had transgressed but then repented. Here, therefore, is another example: During the lifetime of the Prophet (.SA'AS) there was an alcoholic who was repeatedly brought to the Prophet (SA'AS) and was repeatedly punished, yet still persisted. One day when he was brought again on the same charge and was lashed, a man from among the people said: "May Allah curse him! How frequently has he been brought [to the Prophet (SA'AS) to be punished]?" The Prophet (SA'AS) said: "Do not curse him. By Allah I know he loves Allah and His Messenger." It is also reported that the Prophet (SA'AS) said: "Do not assist Satan against your brother."

The Prophet (SA'AS) prevented them from cursing him because their action could create discord and ill­feeling between the man and his Muslim brothers-his transgression should not sever the bond of brotherhood between him and other Muslims. Deep contemplation of the above examples and incidents amply demonstrates the Prophet's insight into the inherent element of goodness in man. We need, more than ever before, to study and follow the exemplary pattern that the Prophet (.SAAS) has set for us. Those extremists who indiscriminately accuse whoever makes a mistake of kufr or shirk must understand that they have to change their strategy and learn that a great deal of the corruption and perversion they abhor results mainly from ignorance of Islam, bad company, or forgetfulness. The solution is to help people overcome and defeat all these problems. To be harsh, to accuse others of kufr, and to find fault with whatever they do only serves to alienate and estrange them. A wise man once said: "Rather than cursing darkness, try to light a candle for the road."

This is my advice for the enthusiastic and sincere young Muslims whom I hold very dear. My intention in all this is found in the following words of Prophet Shuayb (AA) as revealed in the Quran:

I only desire [your] betterment to the best of my power: and my success [in my task] can only come from Allah. In Him I trust, and unto Him I look.