In light of some recent comments on Hizb ut-Tahrir’s work and the topic of pragmatism, in this article we would like to clarify what our work actually entails, how we view pragmatism and our understanding of fard kifayah.
Sometimes people in the West are unsure what the work of Hizb ut-Tahrir actually is. Occasionally the work of the Hizb is misrepresented by those who don’t understand it. Based on this misrepresentation Muslims in the West are invited to reject the Hizb and adopt a pragmatic approach to their engagement with their societies. Instead of examining the merits of the Hizb’s adopted thoughts, the Hizb is labelled as “extremist” and we are invited to shun it along with all others that liberalism cannot tolerate. Such misrepresentations are not new, but occasionally are aired publicly by those one might expect to scrutinise more thoroughly; hence we take this opportunity to explain the work of the Hizb and our view on pragmatism.
Clarifying the work of Hizb ut-Tahrir
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a political party that is currently working as a political party in Muslim countries to resume the Islamic way of life, by establishing the second Khilafah rashidah on the way of Prophethood.
The work to resume the Islamic way of life entails intellectually struggling against the false criteria, concepts and convictions that exist within the society. The false concept, for example, is exposed intellectually and the correct Islamic concept is presented as its replacement. When this is done repeatedly and in a variety of styles, the false concept is abandoned as it no longer finds supporters, or it is driven underground if it can only find a few stubborn supporters who are ultimately too ashamed or afraid to mention it publicly anymore.
Examples of such thoughts may affect individuals in their daily lives, such as reliance on other than Allah, making the means as a condition before relying on Allah, or lack of clarity about Allah being the provider of rizq. When an individual is confused about these thoughts they find difficulty living according to Islam, their life becomes difficult and their akhirah is put in jeopardy. When these false ideas are referred to or praised publicly, then their harm is far greater and they hold the whole society back from Allah’s mercy and pleasure, such that the society is weakened and becomes easy prey to its enemies.
Some criteria have a more profound effect on society than others.
One such example is that today the West is aggressively imposing dictators on Muslim lands, while promoting the false idol of democracy as the saviour to all our problems. In such an atmosphere the criteria of pragmatism is especially damaging, as it is the foundation of democracy and the main excuse for its proponents. Democracy has brought great harm to Western societies and would bring even worse harm to Muslim lands. Therefore, the false idol of democracy needs to be smashed in the minds of the Muslims and the misused criteria of pragmatism needs to be exposed and its correct Islamic application needs to be explained.
The Hizb’s work in any society is to struggle against such false ideas at both the individual and societal level, publicly and privately. However, as people are mostly affected by the publicly expressed thoughts and emotions, especially those that go unchallenged, the most effective way to change the criteria, concepts and convictions in a society is to challenge them publicly. Private discussions are also part of the dawah to Islam, of course.
This is the obvious course of work in Muslim lands where the Hizb is working to change society. If this work was to be neglected then there is no hope that these societies could ever change. It is not possible to imagine a route to change that does not involve publicly challenging the false thoughts prevalent in a society. Once one realises the importance of this work he undertakes it according to his ability, despite the dangers and risks involved, as he has firm conviction in its obligation, he is anxious to please Allah, and he knows that nothing can harm him except what Allah wills.
Such people who challenge the false thoughts, and then ultimately challenge the artificially imposed government are the politicians who will revive their society and this ummah. Without them the ummah cannot return to the Islamic way of life, either as individuals or as a society. The non-Muslim lands will never see an example of Islam in practice and will never be offered Islam properly. The ummah is in desperate need for sincere and aware politicians who refer every matter back to the Islamic Shariah, so producing such politicians is the main work of the Hizb.
Regarding the Muslims who live outside of the Muslim lands, so are not expected to resume the Islamic way of life and establish the Khilafah where they live, they too are being influenced by the false criteria, concepts and convictions that are prevalent in their societies. They too are in need of sincere aware politicians to stand up for their Islamic rights, to expose the false thoughts that influence the lives of everyone, Muslim and non-Muslim, and to show that Islam is the salvation and correct alternative to the miserable oppression everyone is enduring.
Such political personalities should be at the forefront of the dawah to Islam, giving confidence to the Muslims to reject the false thoughts, respond to those who propagate them and even to invite people to embrace Islam, or at the very least see Islam as the solution to the world’s problems.
How the Hizb views difference of opinion
Hizb ut-Tahrir has always been at the forefront of explaining the Islamic approach to difference of opinion among the ulema and that even a semblance of an evidence is enough to consider an opinion Islamic, if it is built upon it. Hence, the approach for ulema who make ijtihad and arrive at an opinion that they are convinced of, should be that they believe their opinion is the correct one, while other opinions may be correct. The Muslims who follow an ijtihad will trust that the opinion they follow is correct, but acknowledge that another opinion may be correct. However, this is regarding genuine Islamic opinions that are built on Shariah evidences, not mere fantasies that are built on desires, benefits and imagination. Therefore, liberal secular interpretations of Islam have no Shariah basis and do not deserve to be respected by any Muslim.
The Shariah rules should be adopted on the strength of evidence, not the imagined benefits to be attained. If we make an imagined benefit the criteria for choosing between two or more Islamic opinions, then we may knowingly follow an opinion that has weaker evidence and thus be farther from the opinion that pleases Allah. Moreover, one cannot claim to be following the Messenger ﷺ in this case, as one is actually following the imagined benefit, regardless of the teaching of the Messenger. Muslims should not be satisfied with following any opinion, rather we should do our utmost to follow the most correct opinion
Understanding fard kifayah.
Finally, the issue of fard kifayah (obligation of sufficiency) can become confused, with it being relegated to a mere option to choose from, while in fact it’s meaning is that it remains obligatory until it is fulfilled, extending to all Muslims who could fulfil it and becoming fard ayn for them, if those primarily addressed by it are incapable or unwilling to fulfil it. The issue of incapability is a legitimate Shariah excuse to lift an obligation, however it should not be abused. A person should not be declared incapable, when in fact they are.
The Messenger of Allah is reported to have said
ما نَهَيْتُكُمْ عنْه فَاجْتَنِبُوهُ، وَما أَمَرْتُكُمْ به فَافْعَلُوا منه ما اسْتَطَعْتُمْ
“What I forbade you, abstain from and what I ordered you from to do, do what you are able.”
All Muslims, therefore, should look at their capability and do what they can to support the work to establish Allah’s deen and resume the Islamic way of life. Capability is not restricted to ulema, academics and those who are already active in politics; rather all Muslims are charged with learning the deen and work to revive it, as much as they are able.
For example, Muslims living in the West may not be able to be political leaders on the streets of Lahore or Cairo, but they are still in contact with people who can be. Many journalists and academics in Muslim universities who are smitten by the secular ideology like to point to the West as the ideal model to be emulated, while Muslims who actually endure it can do a lot to expose its pitiful reality. There really are so many useful actions that Muslims in the West can do to support the work to resume the Islamic way of life in Muslim lands.
It is not acceptable that one would look only at his street or local community and declare their problems to be his priority and not those of Muslims overseas. It is unacceptable because it shows a lack of understanding of the reality and cause of the problems both communities are facing. It is wrong to consider that global issues are of a lesser priority than local issues. All issues, whether personal, familial, communal, societal or global, all stem from the adoption of incorrect concepts, criteria and convictions among the people and by the state. Today advocates of the liberal secular ideology promote harmful thoughts that harm individuals, communities and societies, so all must be resisted, exposed as false and replaced with the correct Islamic thoughts. This work to resume the Islamic way of life is the same wherever one happens to be.
If we were to find a moment when two obligations are upon us and we can only do one of them, then we must prioritise according to the Shariah, not the easiest, or the one with the most imagined benefit. If we must pray or save a life, we must save the life. If we must pray or feed the poor, we must pray first then feed the poor. There are many examples, each with the Shariah indicating the priority. The Sahabah in fact demonstrated the higher priority for electing the khaleefah over burying the Messenger ﷺ. We are now in a time where the duty to elect the next khaleefah was neglected for a century, so our task is not merely choosing a leader, but reviving the thoughts in the society to resume the Islamic way of life. One should not say I have to choose between praying or learning the deen, or I must choose between refuting the false ideologies and earning a halal living. Such duties are not in conflict and both can be done at the same time.
The work to resume the Islamic way of life is a duty upon all Muslims, because having a khaleefah who implements the Shariah is a duty which has been neglected by those most capable for more than a century. Until that obligation has been fulfilled, the duty will fall upon all other capable Muslims, each doing as much as they can, hoping to meet their Lord while He is pleased with them.
A final piece of advice is that we must avoid the temptation to comment about the work of other groups and parties, even if their opinion differs with our own. Our efforts should focus on the mighty task of changing the reality ummah and the revival, such that the Khilafah can be established as soon as Allah wills.
Media Representative of Hizb ut-Tahrir in Britain