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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.

Arab solidarity and patriotism are prerequisite to face terrorism and challenges

awkaf

Elements

  1. Islamic calls to unity and cooperation
  2. Dangers of disunity and disputes
  3. Patriotism is a national and religious duty
  4. Inevitability of Arab and Muslim solidarity
  5. Effects of Arab solidarity in face of terrorism and challenges

Topic

It is a sign of Islamic faith grandeur that it promotes human values and ethics, among—not only Muslims but also, all humans; it encourages Muslims to impart these values in their communities. It also promotes the calls to unity, cooperation, friendship, mutual sympathy, solidarity, fraternity and reciprocal support with a view to achieving social peace.

The Islamic sacred texts clearly defend and preach these values:

  • Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “And hold fast, all together, unto the bond of Allah, and do not draw apart from one another. You have to remember the blessings, which Allah has bestowed upon you: how, when you were enemies, He brought your hearts together, so that through His blessing you became brethren; and [how, when] you were on the brink of a fiery abyss and He saved you from it. In this way does Allah make clear His messages unto you, so that you might find guidance” (the Quran, 3: 103).
  • Allah (may He be Exalted) says “help one another in furthering virtue and God-consciousness, and do not help one another in furthering evil and enmity” (the Quran, 5: 2)

Similarly, the prophetic statements also promote Muslim unity and solidarity:

  • Al-Nuʿman Ibn Bashir (May Allah be pleased with him and his father) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said: “The likeness of believers in their mutual kindness, compassion and sympathy is just like one body; when any of its limbs suffers, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever” (Recorded by Muslim).
  • ʿAbdullah Ibn ʿUmar (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him) said, “A Muslim is a brother of his fellow Muslim. He should not oppress him nor should he hand him over to [evils]. If anyone fulfills his brother’s needs, Allah will fulfill his needs; and whoever covers up the fault of a Muslim, Allah will cover up his fault on the Day of Resurrection” (Reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

The Muslim union, cooperation and coordination in all fields are all inescapable duties for any nation with ambitions for success, progress, prosperity in face of difficulties and challenges.

  • Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “The Believers are but brothers” (the Qur’ān, 49: 10). For Islam, the nation must be friendly united and integrated.
  • Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “This is your nation, one nation, and I am your Lord so serve Me” (the Quran, 21: 92)
  • Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “This is your nation, one nation, and I am your Lord so remain conscious of Me” (the Quran, 23: 52)

Muslim union is an inevitable duty as a translation of the divine scheme of Islamic faith and law as well as their religious ultimate goal and way. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “And know that this is the way leading straight unto Me, so follow it and follow not other ways, lest they cause you to deviate. These are the Divine commandments ordained for you, so that you may live upright” (the Quran, 6: 153).

Promoting union and integration and discouraging from disunion and disintegration, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said:

“Surely, Allah likes three things for your and dislikes three things for you; He likes  that you worship Him and associate none with Him; and that you all take hold of the bond of Allah and keep apart from disunity. He dislikes engagement in chitchat, persistent questioning and squandering wealth” (Recorded by Muslim).

The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) also said,

“A faithful believer to a faithful believer is like the bricks of a wall; they strengthen each other. Saying that, he clasped his hands interlacing his fingers” (Recorded by al-Bukhari).

It is necessary to expedite to union and coalition and denounce disunity and disintegration holding fast to the Muslim fraternity in all life practical possibilities.

Islam also calls to union and friendship and makes several caveats against differences and disputes, which are only conducive to weakness and defeats. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “Be not like those who have drawn apart from one another and have taken to conflicting views after all evidence of the truth has come unto them: for these it is for whom tremendous suffering is in store” (the Quran, 3: 105). Allah also says, “Do not dispute; else you will fail and lose your strength. Be steadfast, for certainly, Allah is with the steadfast” (the Quran, 8: 46).

Indeed, Muslim differences and disputes incur grave dangers and evil consequences; they preclude cooperation and solidarity, lead to disintegration and disunity and undermine Muslim material, military and intellectual powers.

It is no doubt that our need to deepening and entrenching patriotic values and senses is currently most urgent. Sincere loyalty to the nation must take precedence over all other interests including the partisan, sectarian, organization or international interests. For Islam, the value of one’s homeland is greatly important. That the moment when he was departing Mecca, the Prophet paid his loved city saying: “I know that you are the best of Allah’s Land and the most beloved to Allah. Unless you people drove me out, I would not have departed” (Recorded by Ahmad).

On his way back to Medina after his expedition to Khaybar, the Prophet pointed to Medina with his hand and said, “O Allah, I make the area which is in between Medina’s two mountains a sanctuary, as Abraham made Mecca a sanctuary. O Allah, bless us in our Saʿ (a certain measure which equals 4 mudds) and Mudd (a handful of an average person used as a unit of measuring)” (Recorded by al-Bukhari).

Shawqi says,

For homelands’ rights are due debts and favors in blood of all free people      

It is no doubt that our Arab nation is currently suffering a very crucial phase necessitating all Arabs to integrate, cooperate and hold fast to unity in face of challenges. Al-Nuʿmān Ibn Bashir (may Allah be pleased with him and his father) narrated that the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said:

“The example of the person abiding by Allah’s order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is like the example of those persons who drew lots for their seats in a ship. Some of them got seats in the upper part, and the others in the lower. When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water (and that troubled the others), so they said, ‘Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) saving those who are above us from troubling them. So, if the people in the upper part left the others do what they had suggested, all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they prevented them, both parties would be safe” (Recorded by al-Bukhari).

The Arab union and cooperation are inevitably essential to the protection of Arab interests and political regimes against the imperial schemes and plots to invade the Arab nation and disintegrate the Arab lands with a view to dominating them. The real Arab solidarity turns the united Arab nation into a very significant and insurmountable power in the international political forums and economic blocs as well as in fields of thinking, culture and media production.

The Arabs, as an integrated and united nation, can create a powerful political and economic entity rich with many talents and distinctive characteristics. The Arab solidarity signifies the real cooperation for construction of communities; the partial solidarity is indeed imperfect and fails to meet the Arab national prospects. The Arabs are in need of an inclusive renaissance and a comprehensive solidarity, which entail integration of all efforts and mobilization of all energies. This universal mobilization makes it the duty of all individuals to work together seriously against terrorism and terroristic organizations, which endanger several Arab countries to achieve security and peace for all Arabs and humankind in general.

The phenomenon of terrorism is the most serious domestic challenge encountering the Arab and Muslim worlds. It is not a new problem. The world suffered this problem long time ago. It has only currently increased in scope and scale leaving more victims and giving rise to new unprecedented terrifying forms. Terrorists kill and destroy the lives of innocent people sparing none, even children, women, aged or young people. Worse indeed are the crimes of burnings, oppressions and mayhems, which are frequently done in the name of Islam while Islam is free from these hideous crimes; Islam is the religion of mercy, civilization and humanity. It forbids the violation of human blood, honor or property. Allah (may He be Exalted) says, “And do not take the life which God has made forbidden, except in justice” (the Quran, 6: 151). Similarly, in his all-inclusive Farewell Speech on Ḥajj, the Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “Indeed, your blood, your property and your honor are as sacred and inviolable as the sanctity of this day of yours, in this month and in this town of yours. He then said: have I conveyed this message [to you]? In reply, they said: Yes. He said, O Allah, be a witness to this.” (Recorded by Muslim in his Sahih collection and Ahmad in his Musand).

It is no doubt that the past years witnessed a drastic change in this phenomenon; terroristic crimes increase by day and it is not expected to end unless all countries work collectively to face this phenomenon. The Arab solidarity in the broad sense of the word means the real cooperation in face of these challenges. Endeavors should work on uprooting terroristic cells and organizations to build new communities and promote the Arab union. Actually, solidarity and cooperation have great benefits for sake of Arab union and solidarity. They can entrench relations between individuals, communities and countries and strengthen friendship and peace to mitigate the bad effects of terrorism and ably face challenges.

It is necessary for comprehensive solidarity to mobilize all efforts and energies and invest expertise and minds of Arabs and non-Arabs in collective work within all fields. It is a point of pride for Muslims that their faith is one, their prophet is one, their prayers’ destination is one, their culture is one and their history is the same and so will be their present and future. We should work together for the prosperity and happiness of all.

At last, we affirm the necessity of Arab solidarity and cooperation amongst the Arab people to face challenges and protect the Arab national security and common interests. Bearing in mind the challenges that face the Arab nation, solidarity is urgently necessary and brooks no further delay, especially the battle against terrorism and terroristic elements until the complete elimination of these elements.