The Islamic Way of Islamization
Dr. Ahmad Shafaat
The general understanding of the way our
societies are to be Islamized is that there should arise a strongman
with a big stick who should force people into obeying injunctions of
Shari'ah. The injunctions that usually come to people's mind are
those that prohibit drinking or prescribe certain punishments for
theft, adultery, etc. It is because of this understanding that we
sometimes welcome dictators, especially when those dictators know
how to use Islam.
But such an
understanding of Islamization has nothing to do with the authentic
Islam. For, otherwise God would have chosen the Prophet of
Islam from among the great kings or military generals of the world,
which He evidently did not do. He rather chose him from among the
poorest and the weakest of the earth - a destitute orphan from a
nation that was already one of the poorest in the world.
Even after choosing his Prophet, God did
not give him any irresistible worldly power to enforce His law. In
fact, for most of the Prophet's life God kept power in the hands of
his enemies who first persecuted him as well as his followers and
then kept them under military pressure by a vastly outnumbered army.
God finally did give the Prophet political power but almost as soon
as he was given this power God took him away from this world.
God did not send
the Prophet with a stick but with knowledge, wisdom and a book of
revelation. With these he sought to change people's hearts
and minds. He appealed to their reason and their sense of right and
wrong and then left them free to decide. He told them:
"There is no
compulsion in religion. The right way now stands out clear from
the way of error..." (2:256)
He sometimes used harsh and scolding
language and sometimes used sweet words. And sometimes he challenged
to a debate:
evidence, if you are truthful."
But all of this time his aim was to
reach people's hearts and minds.
After the Prophet, the work of
Islamization must of necessity be done by the 'ulama, not by the
rulers, unless, of course, rulers are from the 'ulama. There are two
types of 'ulama: 'ulama haqq and 'ulama batil.
Ulama haqq are those who because of faith in their hearts have
made a deal with their Lord in accordance with the following words
"God has bought from
the believers their lives and their possessions in return for
the jannah." (9:111)
Because they have
given up attachment to the life of this world, they fear none
but Allah and speak against serious wrong that they find around
themselves. Such 'ulama rise among all Muslim peoples and
among all Muslim sects, both Shi'a and Sunni.
'Ulama batil, on the other hand,
are attached to the life of this world.
They declare one part of the Qur'anic truth while distorting or
hiding another part. They are dumb when it comes to basic wrongs in
their societies but speak loudly when it comes to unimportant
sectarian differences or superficial issues of the kinds. They are
often on the payroll of the rulers of their countries.
The work of Islamization begins with
balagh, declaration of essential truth. In fact, in some sense
balagh is the whole work of Islamization. The Holy Qur'an
says of the mission of the Prophet that:
"The Messenger has
no obligation except to deliver the message." (5:99)
When balagh is properly done,
that is, when the teachings of Islam are spread sufficiently widely
without subtraction or distortion, then certain developments
automatically take place in the society and bring about Islamization.
It is obvious, however, that proper
balagh cannot take place unless there exists in the society an
atmosphere in which people are free to express their views.
But such an atmosphere does not exist in most
Muslim societies which are ruled by repressive kings and
dictators. An important part of Islamization, therefore,
is for 'ulama haqq to try and rid Muslim countries of these
rulers and to thus remove the restrictions that are put on people's
freedom of expression.