Articles and Selections

Muhammad, the Prophet of Mercy

mokhtar

Prof. Dr. Muhammad Mokhtar Jum‘ah Minister of Awqaf

Allah, the Almighty, sent our Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) as a mercy to the worlds. Allah, the Almighty, says, “And We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the worlds” (the Qur‘ān, 21: 107). Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) introduced himself saying, “O People! Verily, I am a gifted mercy.” The Qur‘ān asserts this meaning declaring, “There has certainly come to you a Messenger from among yourselves. Grievous to him is what you suffer; [he is] concerned over you and to the believers is kind and merciful” (The Qur‘ān, 9: 128).

The Book sent with Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) is a Book of Mercy; Allah, the Almighty, says, “And We send down of the Qur‘ān that which is healing and mercy for the believers” (the Qur‘ān, 17: 82). His religion is the religion of mercy, security, safety and peace for all human beings. It is a religion that lays firm foundations of peaceful coexistence among all people in a way that saves the lives of all people and protects the property of all people on pure human bases without discrimination among people on the basis of religion, color, race or ethnicity. All lives are safeguarded; the honor and property of all people are protected; and all trusts are to be rendered to whom they are due without exception. This is our Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) entrusting his cousin Ali when he migrated to Medina to return the trusts to those who harmed him, drove him out and stripped many among his Companions of their wealth and property.

On the day when Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) went to Ta’if to invite people to Islam, they denied his mission and bestirred their slaves and street boys to throw stones at him until his feet bled. Thereupon, the angel of mountains came to him and said, “O Muhammad, Allah listened to what your people had said to you. I am the angel of the mountains, and Allah has sent me to you so that you may give me your orders. If you wish I will bring together the two mountains that stand opposite to each other at the extremities of Mecca to crush them in between.” To all surprise, Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “No, but I would say, O Allah, guide my people for they have no knowledge. I rather hope that Allah will raise from among their descendants people as will worship Allah alone and testify that there is no god except Allah.” When asked to pray against the disbelievers, Prophet Muhammad said “I was not sent as a curser, I was sent as Mercy.”

Islam is the religion of mercy and peace for the whole world. Islam does not sanction killing any person for his beliefs. When Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) saw a woman who has been killed in the battlefield, he said: “Who killed her? Female is not the one with whom fighting should have taken place.”

This asserts the fact that disbelievers are not to be killed just for their disbelief and that fighting has been sanctioned to repel aggression, because there is no compulsion in religion. Moreover, rudeness in speech should be shunned as Allah, the Almighty, says to our Prophet Muhammad, “And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah. Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him]” (the Qur‘ān, 3: 159).

The Qur‘ān addresses the disbelievers at the tongue of our Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) and the tongue of his Companions saying, “And indeed, we or you are either upon guidance or in clear error” (the Qur‘ān, 34: 24). The Qur‘ān does not say, we are upon guidance and you are in clear error even though their misguidance is clear. This is known among the rhetoricians as the style of fairness and this is our culture that treats the other with fairness even in speech.

Islam ordered us to speak to people good words as He says, “And speak to people good [words]” (the Qur‘ān, 2: 83), i.e. to all people. Indeed, we have been ordered to say that which is best, “And tell My servants to say that which is best” (the Qur‘ān, 17: 53) and do that which is best, “And not equal are the good deed and the bad. Repel [evil] by that [deed] which is better; and thereupon the one whom between you and him is enmity [will become] as though he was a devoted friend. But none is granted it except those who are patient, and none is granted it except one having a great portion [of good].” (the Qur‘ān, 41: 34-35). This is our Prophet and these are the manners of our Prophet who said, “I was sent to perfect good character.”

If our religion is the religion of mercy and our Book is the Book of mercy and our Prophet is the Prophet of mercy, then what is the problem with us and what has befallen us? How did some of those who are counted as Muslims reach this degree of harshness? And what is the way out?

There is no doubt that many factors lie behind this phenomenon including the domination of unqualified and unspecialized persons over the Da‘wah discourse and their hijacking of it for long periods and the wrong belief that is common among some of them that going to the extreme bolsters one’s religion. There is a pressing need to correct all these misconceptions while asserting that Islam is the religion of mercy, tolerance and ease. Learned jurists have agreed that jurisprudence implies ease. No jurist ever said that it implies extremism; Allah, the Almighty, says,

  • “Allah intends for you ease and does not intend for you hardship” (the Qur‘ān, 2: 185).
  • He, the Almighty, also says, “And He has not placed upon you in the religion any difficulty. [It is] the religion of your father, Abraham. Allah named you “Muslims” before [in former scriptures] and in this [revelation] that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you may be witnesses over the people” (the Qur‘ān, 22: 78)
  • He, the Almighty, also says, “And know that among you is the Messenger of Allah. If he were to obey you in much of the matter, you would be in difficulty, but Allah has endeared to you the faith and has made it pleasing in your hearts and has made hateful to you disbelief, defiance and disobedience. Those are the [rightly] guided. [It is] as bounty from Allah and favor. And Allah is Knowing and Wise” (the Qur‘ān, 49: 7-8).
  • Whenever our Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) was given an option between two things, he used to choose the easier of the two as long as it did not involve any sin or severing ties of kinship. However, if it involved sin or severing ties of kinship, he was the farthest from it.

The Necessity of Collective Ijtihad

أ.د/ محمد مختار جمعة وزير الأوقاف

D / Mukhtar Mohamed Juma
  Minister of Awqaf

Our communities have suffered from odd fatawa and opinions and from the yearning of some unqualified and unspecialized persons looking for fame, prestige or ostentation for odd and strange opinions just to attract attention or serve the interests of their groups or organizations.

Collective ijtihad increasingly becomes more urgent by day when considering the large number of modern issues and developments, the related details, interrelationships and sensitivity as well as the apparently conflicting views and opinions of some early scholars and jurists, who issued fatawa befitting their life, time and place. More to the point, some unqualified and unspecialized persons, who are unaware of ascertaining the effective cause of rulings, extend some rulings to new cases entirely different from the original cases due to their ignorance of realities and the conditions of sound analogy.

It is in this context that the invitation of his Excellency the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar Prof. Dr. Ahmad al-Tayyib appeared in his speech in the opening of the general conference of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs held in Luxor under the title: “Imams and Preachers Vision of the Renewal of Religious Discourse and the Decomposition of Extremist Ideology.” He called for adopting the collective ijtihad to which senior scholars from all over the world, who are noted for their concern for the nation and its problems, shall be invited. They shall bravely address the controversial and undecided issues, especially those related to:

  • Terrorism
  • Determination of the meaning of Dar al-Islam
  • Joining the armed violent organizations
  • Rebellion against and hate of society, making it lawful to violate the blood of citizens by murder and explosion
  • Human rights issues
  • Freedom
  • Social and societal issues such as:
  • Women issues
  • Determination of the beginning of Islamic lunar months by astronomical calculations
  • Issues of Hajj, especially assuming the clothes of Ihram in Jeddah for air and sea travelers and throwing pebbles at all times among many other exigent issues they find it their national duty to study and sort out.

The Muslim leadings muftis shall be motivated and encouraged to issue fatawa that impose hard work and forbid laziness and failure to do one’s duties provided that such fatawa shall be precisely written apart from ambiguous terms and general legal texts that are impractical and fail to change the reality.

It is no doubt that this collective ijtihad would greatly and constructively contribute to the elimination of odd opinions and the elimination of the causes of extremism summarized by the last general conference of the Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs as follows:

  • Intellectual isolation, rigidity, blind imitation, misunderstanding, strict adoption of literalistic interpretations of texts, shifting away from the objectives and ultimate ends of fiqh-related texts, misconceiving the universal rules of legislation and allowing unqualified and unspecialized persons to lead the Da‘wah missionary activities.
  • Some groups and organizations abuse the religion taking it a means to achieve some political and partisan interests giving precedence to their interests over the high national and religious interests. Meanwhile, the spiritless practices in religion and religious politics dominate over the sincere devotional practices sincerely intended to Allah alone.
  • Some colonial powers succeeded to recruit agents in many Arab and Muslim countries by means of reciprocated interests, vicious promises to some groups, or even bribery and purchase of their conscience.

        Nevertheless, this collective ijtihad could lead to a great extent of ecumenism among scholars and eliminate many of the causes of division and disagreement which would undoubtedly contribute to the unity of the nation, especially in the face of the odd, deviant and extreme ideas.

Fake Practice of Religion for the sake of Political Interests

أ.د/ محمد مختار جمعة وزير الأوقاف

D / Mukhtar Mohamed Juma   Minister of Awqaf

Undoubtedly, the superficial practice of religion and the merchandise of religion for political interests are most dangerous challenges facing the Arab and Muslim communities. Some focus on form and appearance at the expense of content and essence giving form and appearance the absolute priority even if they fail to meet the human and moral standards that make them models and examples to follow. Actually, those persons, who are keenly interested in their external appearance at the expense of their behavior against the teachings of Islam, are among fatal elements conducive to destruction and repulsion. Assuming the appearance of devout people while exercising mistreatment, telling lies, cheating, deceiving, or devouring the wealth of people with falsehood is very dangerous. Indeed, those who do that are among the hypocrites. Our Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he tells a lie; and whenever he promises, he breaks his promise; and whenever he is entrusted, he betrays” (Recorded by al-Bukhari in his Sahih).

Likewise, those who confine devoutness and practice of religion to acts of worship and diligent performance of rites while they misunderstand religion and exceed the proper bounds in excommunication (takfir), carry arms and revolt against the community are similar to the Khawarij who were the most practicing Muslims in their prayer, fasting and night prayer. However, they did not acquire the sufficient religious knowledge that would prevent them from shedding the blood of innocent people and thus they violently revolted against the community with their swords. If they sought knowledge first, as stated by Imam al-Shafi‘i (may Allah shower him with mercy), it would prevent them from that because Islam is a religion of mercy before anything else and hence everything that keeps you away from mercy drives you away from Islam. What matters most is the acceptable behavior and not the empty words as said: “Actions speak louder than words.”

Nonetheless, the acts of worship only bear fruit when they refine the human behavior and manners. He whose prayer does not prevent him from indecency and wrongdoing, his prayer is not acceptable. Allah, the Exalted, says: “Indeed, prayer prohibits immorality and wrongdoing, and the remembrance of Allah is greater. And Allah knows that which you do” (al-‘Ankabut: 45). He whose fasting does not prevent him from perjury, Allah will not accept his fasting. Our Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever does not give up perjury and evil actions, Allah is not in need of his abstention from food and drink” (Recorded by al-Bukhari in his Sahih). When it comes to Zakah and charity, Allah accepts only what is good and wholesome. Our Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “Allah the Almighty is Good and accepts only that which is good” (Recorded by Muslim in his Sahih).

Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “Allah does not accept a prayer without ablution, nor does he accept a charity from defrauded spoils” (Recorded by Muslim in his Sahih). The acceptance of pilgrimage is contingent upon licit provision and good conduct. The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “Whoever performs Hajj and does not have sexual relations with his wife, and does not do evil or sins then he will return (after Hajj free from all sins) as if he were born anew.” He also mentioned a person who travels widely with his hair disheveled and his body covered with dust lifting his hand towards the sky (to make supplication): O Lord, O Lord, whereas his diet is unlawful, his drink is unlawful, and his clothes are unlawful and his nourishment is unlawful. How can then his supplication be accepted?” (Recorded by Muslim in his Sahih).

More dangerous than the superficial practice of religion is the merchandise of religion for political interests whereby reference is made to those who take religion as a means to seize power abusing the religious sentiments and exploiting people’s love of their religion, especially the laymen. They give false impression that the goal for which they seek power is to serve the religion of Allah and support and empower it. We do not judge the intentions of people; only Allah can judge them. However, the experience we had with the terrorist group and other Islamist political groups and allies confirmed two things:

First, their cause was not religion at all; it was a bitter conflict over power and marginalization of others with arrogance and insolence in a way that made people averse to them and their behavior, which became a heavy burden to religion. We are now in need of strenuous efforts to remove this negative stereotype from minds of many people who linked between the behavior of those people and religion.

Second, they wronged their religion, distorted its purity and tolerant civilization and proved that they are not a people of religion or competence. Does religion call a man to betray his homeland, reveal its secrets, sell its documents and act as a spy against it? Does religion call a man to incite violence, killing and corruption and form what is called the qualitative committees that sow corruption on earth in an unprecedented treason against the homeland in service of the interests of its enemies? I have asserted and is still asserting that this terrorist group, which employed religion to deceive people and serve its interests to rise to power, is ready to collaborate with Satan to achieve its goals and ambitions for powers at the expense of religion, homeland or nation.