Rohingya, Aleppo, Yemen, Kashmir and more – What you can do
‘Establishment of Khilafah on the method of prophethood is an obligation upon the Muslims collectively in any circumstances – and its absence is not merely the sin of the generality of its neglect, but the absence of the specific method for the Islamic rule that solves these problems….So, never rest enjoining good and forbidding evil on rulers who could act but choose not to. Call for replacement of the existing system and rulers and the establishment of Khilafah Rashidah, working with those who work collectively to make such a change according to the Prophetic method. Then raise your hands and ask Allah for help.’
Do you sometimes feel overwhelmed by the images that circulate on social media, too horrific for any regulated website – by the sheer scale of the suffering and injustice.
The Siege of Aleppo and aerial bombardment by Bashar’s allies are ‘excused’ by the stories of Isis’s actions – despite the fact Bashar has magnitudes more to account for. The horrors of the genocide and ethnic cleansing in Burma/Myanmar, and the deathly silence from the ‘international community’. The conflict in Yemen – where the oppression by one faction is replaced by oppression from another. The Muslim refugees entering Europe risking life and limb on dangerous seas; exploited by racketeers; blamed by politicians, despite the images of their dead and orphaned children.
People can despair when they feel unable to help – and no one voices their concerns. They either don’t know what they can do; or aren’t convinced the things they do make a difference. Despair is made worse when defeatist Imams or Du’at either ignore the issues or try to ‘pacify’ their emotions exclusively with suggestions of making dua’, giving charity and lobbying politicians in the West.
Making dua’ is essential but people may despair if they are unsure that Allah will answer our dua’. Giving charity is commendable but people can despair if they are unsure if aid reaches the needy – or when they know that their charity isn’t solving the underlying problem, only reduces some of the impact for some of the people, in selective places, for some of the time.
People who despair either stick their heads in the sand and just hope the problems go away – or run around like headless chickens doing irrational things, though possibly well-intended. Examples of irrational behaviour can be to invoke the help from the UN (‘Irrational?’, you ask. ‘Anyone remember Srebrenica?’, I reply). Or petition governments in the West – who, aside from the obvious fact that they can (in large part) be to blame for the origins of these crises, are not likely to let state-sponsored oppression come in the way of trade agreements in this economically uncertain, post-Brexit world. Examples of sticking your head in the sand include ‘keep calm and carry on’ type statements, pacifying their audiences that dua’ and charity are enough.
So, how do you avoid being a ‘headless chicken’ or a ‘head-in-the-sand’ type person? And what should we be doing?
Firstly, don’t do just anything, do the RIGHT thing. The horrors are not like unstoppable event like Tsunamis or earthquakes where we focus on dealing with the consequences of the event. There are solutions from Islam to end such problems. There just isn’t a political will to realise those solutions in the current systems that exist in the world. Muslim narrates that Allah’s Messenger ﷺ said:
إِنَّمَا الإِمَامُ جُنَّةٌ يُقَاتَلُ مِنْ وَرَائِهِ وَيُتَّقَى بِهِ فَإِنْ أَمَرَ بِتَقْوَى اللَّهِ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ وَعَدَلَ كَانَ لَهُ بِذَلِكَ أَجْرٌ وَإِنْ يَأْمُرْ بِغَيْرِهِ كَانَ عَلَيْهِ مِنْهُ
Only the Imam is a shield, behind whom you fight and you protect yourself with, so if he orders by taqwa and is just then he has reward for that, and if he orders by other than that then it is against himself.
Commenting on this hadith Imam Nawawi explained the shield as being a cover for those behind him, since the Imam is the cover which prevents the enemy from harming the Muslims. This is by leading the army, protecting the borders and organizing the Jihad.
So, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ gave a solution for such dilemmas. These are not impossible situations to solve collectively, though they are individually. So, the role of the individual is to contribute vocally for the necessity of the collective application of this Islamic solution. The government of Turkey could have intervened in Syria – and still can. It has a huge armed force. But not the political will. The government of Bangladesh could have intervened in Myanmar – or that of Pakistan could intervene in Kashmir. But there is no political will.
The role of the individuals in that region is to be part of a collective to put vocal pressure on their government to fulfil that collective Islamic duty of enjoining good and forbidding evil. This is the correct action (aka ‘good deed’ / ‘amal salih) required for this action. Muslim narrates that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ
مَنْ رَأَى مِنْكُمْ مُنْكَرًا فَلْيُغَيِّرْهُ بِيَدِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِلِسَانِهِ فَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْتَطِعْ فَبِقَلْبِهِ وَذَلِكَ أَضْعَفُ الإِيمَانِ
Whoever from amongst you sees an evil should change it by his hand, if he is unable to do so then he should change it by his tongue (by speaking against it), and if he is unable to do so then he should reject it in his heart – and this is the weakest of Iman.
Secondly, if the current structures do not act, we need to collectively call to change those structures. We know that secular governments such as Turkey, Bangladesh or Pakistan, maintaining ‘me-first’ nation state policies, do not act to solve the problem. So the role of the individuals then becomes to be part of a collective to put vocal pressure to change opinion amongst all sections of society – in particular the powerbroker – to change the system, and break from secular, ‘me-first’ nation state models to an Islamic system that acts as a shield for the sake of Allah.
This is following the good deeds according to the method of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ, good deeds that would fulfil the aim to realise the solution Allah has given. Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى says:
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُمْ فِي الْأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَىٰ لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا ۚ يَعْبُدُونَنِي لَا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا ۚ وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَٰلِكَ فَأُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
Allah has promised those who have believed among you and done righteous deeds that He will surely grant them succession [to authority] upon the earth just as He granted it to those before them and that He will surely establish for them [therein] their religion which He has preferred for them and that He will surely substitute for them, after their fear, security, [for] they worship Me, not associating anything with Me. But whoever disbelieves after that – then those are the defiantly disobedient. (Al Nur: 55)
It is not correct to restrict these good deeds to individual acts of worship. The examples from the Sunnah amply illustrate the specific righteous good-deeds that lead to Allah producing this change from a state of collective fear to a state of collective security, conditional upon firm belief, where the actions stipulated are collective and political done by believers who fulfil their individual obligations as well. Establishment of Khilafah on the method of prophethood is an obligation upon the Muslims collectively in any circumstances – and its absence is not merely the sin of the generality of its neglect, but the absence of the specific method for the Islamic rule that solves these problems.
Thirdly, related to this is the ‘belief’ includes belief that we rely ONLY on Allah; and that victory comes from Allah. Invoking unIslamic institutions or entities that have serial histories of inaction or harmful action contradicts this reliance upon Allah, which would be manifest by sticking to His commands and prohibitions.
وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ ۚ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا
And whoever puts their trust in Allāh, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allāh will accomplish His purpose. Indeed, Allāh has set a measure for all things. (Al Talaq: 3)
Finally, dua’ is essential because it is He who brings the help and makes the change – not us. But it is not the correct way to approach Allah سُبْحَانَهُ وَ تَعَالَى expecting that He answers our prayers without fulfilling that which He asks of us. Imam Ahmad narrates that Messenger of Allah ﷺ said:
يا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَزَّ وَجَلَّ يَقُولُ مُرُوا بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَانْهَوْا عَنِ الْمُنْكَرِ مَنْ قَبْلِ أَنْ تَدْعُونِى فَلاَ أُجِيبَكُمْ وَتَسْأَلُونِى فَلاَ أُعْطِيَكُمْ وَتَسْتَنْصِرُونِى فَلاَ أَنْصُرَكُمْ
O people, Truly Allah says enjoin the good and forbid the evil before you call upon me which means that I don’t answer you and you ask me and I don’t give to you and you seek Victory from me and I do not give you that Victory (because you did not enjoin the good and forbid the evil first).
So, never despair – because despair comes from not knowing what to do – or from knowing that what you are doing, no matter how good it is will never solve the problem, because it is neglecting avoiding the solutions Allah and His Messenger ﷺ gave.
So, never rest enjoining good and forbidding evil on rulers who could act but choose not to. Call for replacement of the existing system and rulers and the establishment of Khilafah Rashidah, working with those who work collectively to make such a change according to the Prophetic method. Then raise your hands and ask Allah for help. And know that Allah is All-Aware and in full control.
وَاللَّهُ غَالِبٌ عَلَىٰ أَمْرِهِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
And Allah has full control over His affair, but most of the people do not know. (Yusuf: 21)
Those of us who live outside of Muslim countries cannot sit idly by, even if we are not struggling to change the systems in the places where we live. We are part of this Ummah, so the obligation to work with those who are working with on the prophetic method to establish Khilafah in the Muslim lands falls upon us as well. We need to preserve our Islamic identity so that we realise that obligation and understand Islam as a complete way of life. We are capable of convincing others of that obligation – and can show how Islam addresses human problems in a way that capitalism has failed to do. Indeed, we can invite non Muslims to look at this complete way of life, so that they understand that Islam offers an alternative way that is better for the whole of humanity.
27th Safar 1438/27th November 2016
Dr. Abdul Wahid is currently the Chairman of the UK-Executive Committee of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain. He has been published in The Times Higher Educational Supplement and on the websites of Foreign Affairs, Open Democracy and Prospect magazine – and appeared on the BBC, Channel 4, Al Jazeera and other broadcast media.