Knowledge is the Solution
In the past thirty five years of my life while working in Da’wa, I have come to the conclusion that many before me have realized. That is: “if you can get 30% of what you say through to your listeners, then you are really good!”
The problem that I am referring to is common to every classroom; many students come to the classroom with a state of mind that defies the purpose of teaching; a mindset that is already pre-set and conditioned for a certain logic which only leads to a predetermined and foregone conclusion. Some students come to class with an “Irja'a” background, while others come with “Sufism”, “Jihadis” or “Counterfeit Salafis” backgrounds. They all share a common trait that we mentioned earlier: they listen to the teacher but then their brains modify, twist and condition the teacher’s words to fit and serve their original state of mind, given that most do it subconsciously. During this mental process, their minds always delude them to believe that the teacher’s words are in agreement with their preset mentalities. It is always a delusion of their minds that the teacher has said this or meant that, without this or that being the intent or what is truly meant by the teacher.
I have made this introduction to draw the attention to the fact that not every saying we hear being attributed to an Imam, scholar or teacher is actually his. It is, in many cases, the interpretation of the mind of the person who is quoting it.
Having said that and having seen many unqualified individuals, and at times hypocrites, talk about “How to Revive the Islamic Ummah”, I feel that it is imperative and critical to illustrate, as clear as I can, my own vision of such a vital and crucial topic.
It is important for every doctor to diagnose the true cause of an illness to be able to prescribe the best medication to cure or salvage the patient. Similarly, one has to identify the root cause of the problem at hand to find the best solution for it. In this short essay, I wouldn’t claim that I identified all the causes of the state which Muslims suffer nowadays. However, I would like to focus on a major cause, which is Ignorance: Muslims’ major and fundamental ignorance of their own religion. Muslims recite Quran and they do not know what it really means. They pronounce the “Shehada” (testimony of faith) without a clue to what it really means. That is why we see most Muslims defy Islam even with the intention to follow it! Of course, some know that what they do or say is wrong and in defiance of the teachings of Islam, but they do it anyways. This is either because of being weak, or for monitory gains, power, or fame.
The Prophet PBUH was faced by ignorant people of Quraish. Of course, we are not saying that Muslims of this time are like the Kuffar of Quraish. No, we only say that the method which the Sunnah showed us in dealing with such situation is the best way to handle it.
The solution to the crisis of the Ummah is to learn Islam. Knowledge is the key to gain back what we have lost. Knowledge is strength. Ignorance is pure weakness even with the best of intentions. It is not enough to have a good intention for an action to be correct, the action must be correct and in accordance with the teachings of the Prophet PBUH. Similarly, knowledge is half of a correct Fatwa (in fact it is the key to both parts of the Fatwa, knowledge of the ruling and knowledge of the situation).
Ultimately, those who resort to any solution other than knowledge are bound to be wrong. It is irrelevant how much we think their approach is correct, or how many evidences are collected to support them, as evidence with poor knowledge is a proof of what it was assembled to prove rather than what it is actually supposed to prove.
My stand on this issue is that: Seeking knowledge, no more and no less, is the solution for the revival of the Ummah. This is what the Prophet PBUH did for 13 years in Mecca. No fighting, no Jihad, no clashes, even when the Kuffar were hitting him and Muslims hard- everywhere and all the time.
Some will ask: then what? What is after Knowledge? The answer is clear. Allah SWT knows… no one can predict what comes after. We can spend our lives learning and teaching. Teaching people what La-Illah-Illa-Allah means. Whether we see the outcome in our life-times or not is irrelevant. Quran teaches us that many prophets reached the point of despair in the journey of Da’wa, but then Allah SWT rewarded them by giving them victory over their enemy: “(Respite will be granted) until, when the messengers (almost) give up hope (of their people) and (come to) think that they were treated as liars, there reaches them Our help, and those whom We will are delivered into safety. But never will be warded off our punishment from those who are in sin” (Yusuf 110).
How good is it for the few good to face the majority of evil with no proper means and tools of victory? Knowledge secures the means needed for victory, in every way. Allah SWT said: “Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion, the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: `They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me.' If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked” (Al-Nour 55). This is the ultimate truth. However, Allah SWT guides Muslims to be wise, smart and ready. He SWT said “Against them make ready your strength to the utmost of your power”. (Al-Anfal 60). The strength we are asked to prepare under the present circumstances is knowledge. We have to remember that this Surah (Al-Anfal) was revealed in Medina, where the strength of weaponry and swards was available and enough. The strength in Mecca was knowledge and only knowledge, until the command of Allah SWT came with the change.
The problem with those who adopt other ways, regardless of the ways they adopt, although appearing to the poor, untrained and un-knowledgeable mind as Sunnah, it is not! Sunnah taught us what the scholars of Ahlul Sunnah call: “Transient Stages of Rulings” (مرحلية الأحكام). Ahlul Sunnah believe in the chain of causality, and that Allah SWT created everything for a reason. They also believe that, for the Mu’amalat, the Illah of Hukm (effective cause) is always relevant to the ruling. They see the Seerah as a guidance, which explains how and under what circumstances a ruling can be adopted. Rulings of Quran are not separate from the situation for which they where revealed. This view is of separation is a wrong interpretation of Quran and it goes against the fundamentals of principles of Jurisprudence.
Thus as we stated before, the situation the Ummah finds itself in today is similar (not identical) to that of the Meccan time. The Ummah’s revival is in learning the meanings of the Tawheed that the Prophet PBUH spent 13 years in Mecca instilling in his companions.
However, those who are being attacked in their own country, and are under fire from any enemy of their land or faith, have the right to defend themselves no matter what it might cost. That is how normal human beings deal with aggressors who invade their land, home, and wealth. That was the stand of the United States against the invasion of Britain in the American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). That is also what Canadians did when the United States invaded Canada (1775-1776) after Canada refused to join the US as the 14th colony. The invasion ended in an embarrassing outcome for the US and Canada prevailed. Examples in History are beyond count. It is only dignitary to those who are invaded to die for their own land. That is what history teaches us, in East and the West.