Umar ibn al-Khattab once said, “I have not regretted my silence once. As for my speech, I have regretted it over and over again.”
That is one of the reasons why I have remained silent since the beginning of fitnah (turmoil) in Egypt. During the time of fitnah, everyone goes through confusion. If you open your mouth when you are confused, it is very likely that you will say something that is confusing too. Therefore, the safest option is to remain silent.
Another reason why I usually remain silent about fitans is I do not know the true situation. We get news from various media outlets. Every media outlet has its own agenda. They project news like they want. They broadcast things the way they see it. They take sides. Media people are not people of taqwa. They are not after the truth. They are after money. Their target is to increase their audience.
After looking at different news channels, we develop our own perceptions. Then depending on our perceptions, we start taking sides and giving judgments.
The current situation in Egypt has been a fitnah that has polarized the Muslim ummah like never before. I have contemplated a lot over what has been happening in Egypt and had many random reflections, and I wanted to see things without taking sides. I was not writing anything because putting this wide array of thoughts articulately proved to be very difficult. Nonetheless, for the last few days, the urge to write something about this issue has been so great that I have finally composed this piece, and I ask Allah to give me the ability to speak that which is true and straight.
Brother Abu Musaab Wajdi Akkari once delivered a wonderful lecture titled Plots and Reactions (Protests). In this lecture, Abu Mussab dissected the trials and tribulations the Arab World has been experiencing for quite some time based on three principles:
- Is the way of bringing change Islamic?
- Is the call of those who want change Islamic?
- Can we guarantee that the outcome of protests and demonstrations would be what the protesters intend?
These questions are very fundamental. However, I have discovered that majority of my reflections center around Abu Musaab’s first question, and so will be this piece InShaAllah.
According to Brother Mussab, everything starts with change. We want change for better. We want to forbid evil and bring change for the sake of Allah. The Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) said:
“If one of you sees something wrong, let him change it with his hand; if he cannot, then with his tongue; if he cannot, then with his heart and this is the weakest faith.”
The deen of Allah is complete and perfect. Like the deen of Allah tells us to bring change, it also provides us with guidelines about how to bring change.
In Islam, end does not justify the mean. For example, if you steal money and then give stolen money as sadaqa, will this sadaqa be of any benefit? It won’t be. Because to begin with, the means through which the money was earned was haram.
The same can be said about change. If the process or means of bringing change is not in agreement with the legislation of Islam, it is very unlikely that this unlawful process will bring any real or positive change.
Unfortunately, the Muslim ummah and people of Egypt in particular have adopted the wrong approach of bringing change. They have adopted protests and demonstrations. The concepts of protests and demonstrations are totally alien to Islam, even if these protests and demonstrations are peaceful.
This is probably a shocking revelation, but you have heard it right. Protests AND demonstrations of any form are not part of Islam. There is no narration in the Quran or in the authentic sunnah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) that supports going out of home and taking streets for any reason.
How was Hosni Mubarak removed from power? Through protests and demonstrations. Men and women took the streets for days. They slept in the streets. They sang and danced in the streets. They committed sins and many unislamic activities.
What was the outcome of such unlawful means of bringing change? Yes, there was a change. Mubarak was removed. However, anyone with slight insight and knowledge of history perceived that this change was the way forward of more protests, demonstrations, fighting, chaos, and bloodshed.
And this is exactly what has happened.
Because the means of bringing change was unlawful and thus the change brought was devoid of divine blessing.
Had the people of Egypt paused for a moment and reflected for a while before taking streets, they would have surely understood that there is a difference between change and quick fix.
When you take streets, you really do not call for a change. You call for a quick fix which will give you an instant gratification.
Change on the other hand is a gradual process. This process is initiated though proper planning and building of a strong foundation.
We need to look at the seerah of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) to understand change. Had Allah willed, He could have sent down the Quran altogether and brought people out of darkness. Had Allah wanted, He could have granted Muslims victory in Makkah without suffering.
But Allah did not choose a quick fix. He chose a gradual way of change that lasted 23 years. Twenty three years!
It started from iqra and progressed through careful and cautious planning of the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ). Despite being directly assisted by Allah, we do not find any example where he (ﷺ) took a step or a decision without proper planning, caution, and long term thinking.
That is why when Khabbab (رضى الله عنه) came to him and asked him (ﷺ) to ask Allah for victory, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) replied, “There was a man among those before you for whom a ditch was dug in the earth and he was placed in it. Then a saw was brought and places on his head and he would be cut in two. He would be raked with iron combs which would remove his flesh from his bones or sinews, and that would not deter him from his deen. By Allah, this business will be complete so that a traveller can go from San’a to Hadramawt fearing only Allah, or the wolf for his sheep, but you are trying to hasten things.”
It is not the way of Muslims to hasten things. Everything has its appointed term. That is why a Muslim does not act on emotion. He perseveres.
Though perseverance, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) was teaching the companions that taking the easy way was not the means of bringing a lasting change. Through hardship and endurance, he (ﷺ) was building a foundation for a change that would sustain till the Day of Judgment.
And what did the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) do when things became unbearable in Makkah? He (ﷺ) migrated. The companions migrated too. Some companions migrated twice. Protests and demonstrations were not the option.
Everywhere in the seerah, we find that mending personal relationship with Allah was given preference before anything. Before the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) started calling his people to Islam, Allah told him to pray the night prayers. After reaching Madinah, the Messenger of Allah (ﷺ) built his masjid even before building his own house. Individual relationship with Allah should be therefore everyone’s priority before he or she becomes engaged about bringing change at a greater level. Because your inner strength comes from your relationship with Allah. Our immediate goal is to earn the pleasure of Allah. We can die anytime and after death, we will be asked first and foremost about our responsibilities at individual level.
Unfortunately, the brothers and sisters of Egypt got it wrong. They have fallen for wrong means of bringing change. Emotionalism got the better of them and they took the streets. In this way, they removed Mubarak and forced a change from outside. Then another party organized demonstrations and the army took the benefit. And now another party is organizing protests and demonstrations against a power hungry army and people are dying in the process.
A true change comes from within. For change to sustain, you need people who are strong internally. Change cannot be forced from outside, even if you die in the process. If change does not come from within and is forced from outside, such change will be shaky and it will collapse.
That is why I want to know the inner strength of Egypt.
I want to know the percentage of Egyptian Muslims who attend fajr at masjids every day.
I want to know the percentage of Egyptian Muslim youths who pray five times a day, stay away from boyfriend girl friend type relationship, abstain from zina, pornography and masturbation, and have beard.
I want to know the percentage of Egyptian Muslim women who observe hijab in proper manner.
I want to know the percentage of Egyptian Muslims who pray the night prayers regularly.
I am not asking for something unreasonable. These are some of the basics of our religion. Before you call for change or Islamic rulership, you have got to get your basics right. Those who have taken streets for change without getting the basics right can be compared to a sports team, who does not know the ABC of the game but aims for world cup.
During the Caliphate of Ali (رضى الله عنه), a man came to him and asked him, “Why is it that we have so much chaos during your time whereas there was so much peace during the time of previous caliphs?” “It is because they ruled over people like me whereas I am ruling over people like you,” replied Ali (رضى الله عنه).
Probably you are thinking that I have bad opinion about my brothers and sisters in Egypt. I have good opinion about my brothers and sisters in Egypt, but I have more confidence in the verse where Allah said:
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. [The Noble Quran 24:55]
It is not that Sisi has established himself. It is Allah who has established him, whether we like it or not. Had the deeds of Egyptians were righteous; Allah would have surely given them a better leader.
When Hajjaj bin Yusuf was killing Muslims left and right, some people came to Hasan Al-Basri and suggested him to organize a revolt against Hajjaj. Al-Basri said, “Hajjaj is a punishment that Allah has sent upon us because of our deeds. So repel it by repentance and good deeds.”
The equation is simple. If every one of us tries to change and mend our relationship with Allah, Allah will make us inherit the earth and will establish over us a just and righteous ruler. This is the promise of Allah and Allah never breaks His promise.
Did anyone among the companions ever in their dreams think of power and positions? They did not. They were ever busy about improving their relationship with Allah. They were ever concerned about pleasing Allah. They had fulfilled their covenants with Allah, and Allah thereafter established them upon the earth.
I do not want to comment about whether democracy is in agreement with Islam or not, but I find it very laughable when I see an Islamic party making speeches and asking people to vote them so that they can go to power and establish Islamic rulership. I simply cannot imagine any companion giving speech and asking vote from people for power. Let alone asking for it, responsibility had to be thrust upon their shoulders, and they would always remain fearful about being asked about it on the Day of Judgment. Where do so called Islamic parties stand compared to the standards of companions? Even if they get themselves elected through manipulating the emotions of people and playing Islamic rulership card, and even if they establish Islamic rulership after election, will they be able to sustain it with millions of hearts needing spiritual purification? Before Allah blessed the Muslims with halal and haram, the Messenger of Allah perfected the imaan of Muslims. Aisha (رضى الله عنه) said: “(Be informed) that the first thing that was revealed thereof was a Surah from Al-Mufassal, and in it was mentioned Paradise and the Fire. When the people embraced Islam, the Verses regarding legal and illegal things were revealed. If the first thing to be revealed was: ‘Do not drink alcoholic drinks.’ people would have said, ‘We will never leave alcoholic drinks,’ and if there had been revealed, ‘Do not commit illegal sexual intercourse, ‘they would have said, ‘We will never give up illegal sexual intercourse.’”
So my dear Egyptian brothers and sisters: leave the streets and go home. Mend your relationships with Allah and be dutiful to Him. Repent to Him and ask His forgiveness. Persevere and perfect your servitude to Him. Do not stand in front of the transgressing army when you know that they will kill you. Do not get yourself killed when you neither know if you have earned the pleasure of Allah nor you know if you are going to die for Allah’s cause without doubt. Remember that cheap ways like protests and demonstrations are not the way to change; rather change has to come from within, and that will happen only when you will mend your relationship with Allah. InShaAllah, if you show your sincerity to Allah, Allah will bless you with a righteous leader. Allah said:
And said, ‘Ask forgiveness of your Lord. Indeed, He is ever a Perpetual Forgiver. He will send [rain from] the sky upon you in [continuing] showers. And give you increase in wealth and children and provide for you gardens and provide for you rivers. [The Noble Quran 71: 10-12]