article picked 4U by - Mohammad Shahrour

May 27, 2020

Conclusion: Getting Our Priorities Right

The rediscovery of a clear distinction between Islam and Eman in the Book requires us to revise how we are used to set our priorities: Top Priority Our top priority must always be Islam, belief in God, the Hereafter, and ‘doing what is righteous’ (our ethical norms). Islam or being an assenter must be the shared platform upon which we cooperate and interact with the rest of the world. Most of the inhabitants of this earth are Muslim-Assenters in the sense that they naturally accept Islam’s beliefs and ethical values, even though they are shaped and articulated differently in each state and society.

As for the practice of rituals and belief in messengers, Eman, it is evident that they are (ethically) neither self-sufficient nor self-explanatory. They need to be authenticated by the moral ethos of Islam. It is our task to inform all traditional Muslims about the real understanding of Islam and tell them that they are not just followers of Muhammad but that they are first and foremost Muslims, that is, assenters to God, as we hear in the following verse:

And they say: “None shall enter Paradise unless he be a Jew or a Christian.” Those are their (vain) desires. Say: “Produce your proof if you are truthful.” Nay, whoever submits His whole self to God and is a doer of good, he will get his reward with his Lord; on such shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. ( Al-Baqara 2:111–12)

It is our responsibility to advise people of the importance of ‘doing what is righteous’ and ‘doing what is fair and just’ and to tell them that these are fundamental pillars of Islam and Eman. Every Muslim on this earth is called upon to fulfil this duty. It is the only criterion in judging a person’s righteousness.

The gates and avenues of ‘doing what is good’ are many and they will be kept open until the Day of Resurrection. Innovation and diversity in ‘doing what is good’ is of high priority and will be rewarded by God because everything that is of benefit to His creation is registered with Him for all eternity.

Second Priority : Second on the list of priorities are the religious obligations of Eman (prayer, alms tax, fasting, pilgrimage), which are entrusted to the mu’minun who follow the Prophet Muhammad. This does not mean—as we have said several times—that the religious obligations are detached from Islam and from ‘doing what is righteous’. It only implies that they are particular obligations which do not enjoy universal validity or political significance. They are ritual obligations that do not permit alteration or diversity. Innovations—either by adding new rituals or removing old ones—are illicit acts (bid’a).

In the realm of Eman, innovations are impudent and reprehensible. In the realm of al-Islam, however, innovations are good and laudable. Until now, we have not gotten our priorities right. Absolute priority is given to things that are, in fact, of minor importance, as a result of which we let the top priorities slip into second place. Inexplicably, we have given absolute priority to the pillars of Eman rather than to the pillars of Islam, resulting in our minds being completely preoccupied with the most insignificant details of ritual performances.

In all or most traditional Muslim countries we notice a huge mix up in priorities such examples: A slip in the fast during Ramadan is to us more scandalous than the widespread corruption in our society, and the question of how to make up for a missed prayer is given more attention that the question of how to stop the fraud and deceit that cripple our societies and make life unbearable. Now we move on to the Islamic Revival ( al-sahwa al-islamiyya) and the Reawakening of Faith (al-sahwa al-Emaniyya)

Once we have accepted that Islam is the natural religion of all human beings (din al-fitra), enjoying universal validity and applicability, we are able to sustain a true Islamic revival. The following observations will help viewers to understand why the implementation of Islam—a proper Islamic revival—will be beneficial to all societies. Since Islam means wealth and welfare for everyone, we observe that in every society on this globe:

– Employment is higher than unemployment. This shows that human societies advocate a culture of work ethics, a commitment to labor, and striving for the better. The concept of predestination and fatalism by which individuals’ lives are once and for all predetermined is utterly un-Islamic.

– Health care and medical treatment are provided in order to prolong life and sustain health. The thought that each individual’s life span has been predetermined, that the duration of life should not be ‘artificially’ prolonged by medicine, is fundamentally un-Islamic.

– The fight for justice is essential for the proper functioning of human societies. The existence of fraud and deceit undermines the social and moral fabric of society and, hence, committing these things is relatively heavily sanctioned by the legal systems of most countries.

– Orphans are normally taken care of by orphanages and other welfare organizations regardless of the children’s ethnic or national origins.

– Sophisticated guidelines are laid down for the production of consumer goods and deviations are harshly punished.

In most countries, the main objective of the economy is the production of food, clothes, furniture, and luxury goods.

– Simple rules are given for the interaction between men and women. Most importantly, the inheritance of property by male and female descendants is regulated by testaments —not by complicated, gendered, and unjust inheritance laws as they are cherished by the clerics (fuqaha”). In short, a true Islamic revival means endorsing moral and social

values that foster civil society, in the shape of welfare organizations, trade unions, NGO’s, community groups, business associations, self-help groups, coalitions, and advocacy groups. Unfortunately, generations of so-called scholars (ulama”) have failed to turn Islam into a universally applicable and practical religion. Instead, they have promoted the values of slavish ritualism and a mentality of flight from this world to the Next, that is, a form of escapism that left them unable to give common people guidance on how to fulfil their aspirations in this world. We believe that this mentality of escapism and slavish ritualism is the reason why political Islam and the Islamist movement will fail to get overwhelming support of the majority of the population in most countries of this world. A true reawakening of faith ( al-sahwa al-Emaniyya), a revival that does not exhaust itself by an increase in ritualistic performances through prayer, fast, and pilgrimage, is characterized by:

  1. An increase in the number of people who fast during the month of Ramadan and who disburse the month-specific voluntary donations because Eman (in this respect) means (also) wealth and welfare.
  2. An increase in the number of people who pay alms tax because Eman means wealth and welfare. Since voluntary donations and the ritual of zakat are essentially social activities uniting society by means of charity money, it is—unlike prayer, fasting, and pilgrimage—also an activity of Islam, and not just exclusively of Eman.
  1. An increase in the number of people who take part in the burial prayer for deceased fellow believers, showing their condolence, compassion, and commiseration because Eman means wealth and welfare.
  2. An increase in love for the Messengers. Every true moral act that is achievable by everyone everywhere in the world belongs to the realm of Islam. The followers of Muhammad’s

messenger hood does not possess a monopoly over moral righteousness. We know that high moral virtues existed before the life of the Prophet, who embodied some of these noble virtues, hence they are not essentially grounded in his Sunna. The fact that they were also embodied by people before him shows us that they can be found outside the realm of Eman. In contrast, the (very specific and particular) rituals practiced by the followers of Muhammad’s messenger hood belong exclusively to the realm of Eman.

Eman came after Islam, not before. It is not correct to say that Islam was imposed on earlier religions because we know that there was no other religion that existed before Islam. It is, however, correct to say that Eman was imposed on earlier religions. Surat Muhammad states that people had faith in Muhammad (Eman) after they had believed in something else (‘He will remove from them their ills and improve their condition’, Muhammad 47:2).

Islam, with its belief in the existence of God and good deeds, is firmly placed in this world and yet also leads into the Next. As for Eman, its place is also in this world but, unlike Islam, it is separated from the state and the organizations of civil society. To talk about a currently ongoing Islamic revival is nonsense. If we take the example of any arab country and look at what has happened in these countries since their independence and today, we see that Islam has almost entirely disappeared. We are observing a deep slumber, not an awakening! In contrast, in other so-called non-Islamic countries we recognize that al-Islam is everywhere because in those countries wealth and welfare are ever growing, bypassing the so-called Islamic countries by a hundred miles.

The current reawakening of faith ( al-sahwa al-Emaniyya), it is sad to say, will not feed us, will not eradicate hunger and poverty, and will do nothing to reform state and society. Its focus on prayer, dhikr, recitation, death, Paradise and Hell, that is, on life in the next world, will only improve the state of the individual’s soul, it will do nothing for society at large. It replaces a life-affirming attitude with an obsession with death and the Afterlife. It will keep the believers unsympathetic to the plights and sufferings in this world as it will shut their eyes to the glaring despotism and autocracy of the political tyrants who seem to have been installed everywhere.

It is a sobering thought that the impact of an increase in prayer, fasting, and pilgrimage on political culture is laughably negligible, and the political regimes will feel its weight like that of a dust speck. We need to unite and teach the now so called traditional Muslims that what they call Islam is not copywritten for them, they just plagiarized it and privatized it as their own, sleeping on it, sleep walking with it, stepping over everyone with their nonsense, hypnotized, brainwashed by it, diseased by it, causing everyone wanting to distance themselves from them.

Islam is for all, not to a group, and definitely not to a special group of clerics and scholars that are basically claiming a jack of all trade but, really are masters of none, just ignorance and enslaving of the masses, we need to correct this false belief, I have an issue with it, and I’m doing something from this platform, and so should every one according to their own abilities….

Sunnah of the Prophet (Introduction) is next.