The Islamic Movement In The Field Of Propaganda Horizontal Expansion
The Islamic Movement should work hard for extending its activity to all the groups and classes of the community, and for spreading horizontally by nurturing the public Islamic Awakening. This way, no place in social life will be empty of the Movement’s presence and activity. The Movement’s message will be everywhere, and its soldiers and children will be there, with many times their number in followers, supporters and advocates.
This can only be achieved through working in the field of information and mass media in such an organized and well planned manner that makes use of the latest innovations and technologies of information and mass media that science has reached so far. Such work should draw on the Western and Eastern capabilities and tools as much as it can and whenever they are found, so long as they would lead to the achievement of aspired aims, for (A good believer should always seek the word of wisdom. Whenever he finds it, it is he who should get it ).
The Movement should use the help of specialized experts who know how to address the public as a whole and each group separately, and are well versed in the sciences of psychology, sociology, politics and mass communication and in how to put them to service in the best interests of the Movement and Islam.
The Movement should even start planning as of today for qualifying advocates of the Call who can speak the language of our age and deal with contemporary environment on equal footing, as well as medianen who believe in the nobleness, comprehensiveness, universality and balance of the Islamic Call and have the capability to convey the Message to the people in the language of today and by using the logic of knowledge.
In the following pages, we will discuss the most important social brackets to which the Awakening, followed by the Movement, should spread: from the educated, through workers, to merchants and others.
The Movement And The Cultured Elite
The cultured elite is the first group that the Islamic Movement should spread into and affect significantly, so as to set right its conception of Islam and Islam’s creed, laws, culture and history, and enlighten its members about the Islamic Movement and its objectives and achievements.
The Misunderstanding of Islam by Many of The Cultured
Despite the spread of the Islamic Awakening among many of the cultured youth, many of them are still ignorant about Islam, or the Islamic knowledge they have is incomplete, distorted or vague as a result of the aftereffects of the ages of backwardness or the impact of the new distorting influences of ideological invasion.
Some of them, though university educated, still believe in superstitions, follow charlatans, allow polytheism to interfere with their faith, let heresy mingle with their worship and permit haphazardness to impose itself on their conduct, while they think at heart that they are truly religious.
Some of the cultured still make turns around the shrines of saints as if these shrines were other Ka’bas. They seek the help of the defunct, wear amulets, believe in evocation of spirits, swear by names other than Allah, promise offerings to dead , not to Allah, and slaughter corbans for (dead) people, not to Allah.
Although these are relatively few as a result of the sweeping materialistic wave and the Western ideological invasion, they still have presence because of the influence of the deviated sufism, which can still wield some power in most Muslim countries, and are supported, both overtly and covertly, by official authorities for reasons that an intelligent person cannot miss!
Those cultured individuals should know the fundamentals of proper belief and creed and learn the ways of worship approved and accepted by Allah.
Many of the educated are still ignorant of the elements of immortality and the aspects of power and greatness in Islam. They hardly know anything about the characteristics or principles of Islam. They take their knowledge of Islam from orientalists and missionaries, or from the current state of affairs of Muslims, thinking that the situation of people around them is what Islam is about, and therefore attribute people’s backwardness, corruption and ignorance to Islam, while Islam is innocent of all of that.
The cultured ought to know where to learn their Islam and what sources will provide them with the proper Islamic teaching. They should know that Islam is an evidence against (untrue) Muslims, but Muslims are not an evidence against Islam. Some of the cultured people still believe that they can be truly religious Muslims while they agree to be ruled by a law It is the duty of those to realize that Islam is a creed and a system of laws and that Allah has not sent down His Book so that it may be recited for the dead but that it may rule the living (We have sent down to you the Book in truth, so that you might judge between people as guided by Allah) (We have sent down to you the Book in truth, so that you might judge between people as guided by Allah) (We have sent down to you the Book in truth, so that you might judge between people as guided by Allah) [Surat Al-Nisa’, 105]. They should also realize that he who does not judge by what Allah has sent down falls under the bad descriptions of unbelief, injustice or wickedness, or all of them put together.
Some of the cultured still imagine that Islam is a form of Christianity, and Christianity agrees to the division of man and the splitting of life between God and Caesar (Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s) [Matthew: 22:21].
This way, they confine Islam to the relationship between man and Allah as a special relation whose only place is man’s conscience. If that relationship goes beyond the conscience, then the only place it will go to is the mosque, but nowhere else.
As for life and its order, culture and its trends, education and its curricula, economics and its applications and law and its punishments, what has Islam got to do with such things? [they wonder].
What is worse is that some of them claim to be Muslims, may even boast of being Muslims, and pray and make umra or pilgrimage, and at the same time advocate secularism, absolutely prefer nationalist ties to Islamist ties and adopt a purely Western line of thinking without carefully selecting or even testing what they follow: they adopt Darwin’s theory of evolution, Freud’s theory of psychoanalysis, Marx’ theory of materialistic interpretation of history and Durkheim’s theory of how religions evolved; but they do not see any part in all that for Islam.
One of them even said once, “I am a Muslim Marxist”! I do not know how the two could be present in one person!
And from where does he get his inspiration then: from the Quran, or from “capital” and “the Communist Manifesto”? And whenever a dispute arises, who is his example and judge: Mohammad or Marx?
Would it be acceptable from any person to say, “I am a Muslim Budhist” or I am a Muslim Christian”? If not, then how could he say, “I am a Muslim Marxist”?
Is it because Marxism is not a religion, but fights all religions and regards religion as the opium of peoples?
If so, then this should make it more imperative to reject Marxism, for if Islam does not agree to combine with another religion, even though a scriptural one, then how would it agree to combine with a doctrine that rejects all religions?
However, Marxism, although denying all religions, has the nature of a religion that demands absolute devotion from its followers and would not have itself combined with any other religion or belief by any follower.
Marxism is a dominating totalitarianist philosophy that, by its very nature, does not leave room for Islam or any other religion, except, under conditions of leniency and necessity, when such religion is allowed to take the place of the tail, not the head, and act as a follower, not a leader.
Some of the cultured still believe that the political weakness, military defeats, cultural backwardness and modest scientific and technological capabilities of Muslims are caused by Islam, and that the victories and progress of the West are due to its freedom from the stranglehold of religion and to its adoption of secularism which separates the State from religion.
They would be taught the real facts of religion as these should be learned from their original sources: the Holy Quran and the Prophet’s Sunna (tradition), just as the best generation of our Nation (the Prophet’s companions and followers) learned them. Then they will find that the facts of Islam, if learned properly and followed conscientiously, would bear only the best fruit.
There is nothing in the facts of Islam but what frees the mind; purifies the soul; solidifies the will; strengthens the body; builds families on the most formidable of foundations; leads societies to progress on the basis of science, faith, mutual dependence and ethics; establishes governments on pillars of justice, shura [consultation] and ruling by what Allah has sent down; and guides all mankind to what is most proper.
They should also be told that he who studies the history of Islam and examines Islam’s ups and downs, victories and defeats, flourishes and setbacks, strengths and weaknesses, will certainly find that the ups, victories, flourishes and strengths come about only when Muslims become close to Islam and its values and teachings, under the leadership of a Caliph, a commander, a scholar or a movement, as happened in the era of the rightly guided Caliphs before the dissent was unleashed on them, or during the reigns of Omar Ibn Abd AI-Aziz, Abu Jafar Al-Mansoor, Haroon Al-Rashed, Noor Eddin Mahmood Al-Shaheed, Saladdin Al-Ayubi and others.
But defeats, setbacks and periods of weakness and decline come only when Muslims stray away from the truth of Islam, and the farther they stray, the graver their calamity.
Some of the cultured are still ignorant of things that are taken for granted in Islam: we have seen writers dealing with the crucifixion of Christ as an established fact, while Islam categorically refuses all allegations that Jesus was crucified. Some others speak of how Eve had lured Adam into eating from the Forbidden Tree and had thus brought about his expulsion from the Garden, and consequently the misery and suffering of mankind on this earth.
This idea is derived from the Torah and the Books of the Old Testament, but they have no grounds in Islam. For it was Adam who ate, and it was Adam who disobeyed Allah (We had already, beforehand, taken the covenant of Adam, but he forgot, and We found on his part no firm resolve) [Surat Taha: 115],
(Thus Adam disobeyed his Lord, and fell into error. But his Lord chose him [for His Grace]: He turned to him, and gave him guidance)
Adam was the one who bore the prime responsibility, and his wife only followed suit in eating. Many of the cultured still look at culture from a Western perspective. To them, dancing comes at the forefront of the elements of culture, and a people that does not dance is a people that is not cultured! Tell them that we have dancing with swords and clubs, and without them; tell them that we have club – fen and dabka [a Lebanese folk dance], and other forms of folk dancing like those of any country which people perform on joyous occasions such as weddings and feasts – tell them that and you will be a target for their mockery because you do not grasp the one and only meaning of dancing: that a woman dances with a strange man, and a man dances with a strange woman, their bodies touching and their hearts moving to the music. But do not ever allow your mind to think of evil, because they are not humans, like me and you, that have instincts and lusts: they are above suspicion and lust, they are even angels walking on earth!
As for the concept of halal and harem [what is lawful and what is forbidden], which prescribes that a Muslim is not free to do what he likes, but has to act within the inviolable limits set for him by Allah (He who transgresses the limits set by Allah verily wrongs himself) [Surat At-Talaq: 1], it is a strange concept that is not accepted by those cultured people.
How Should the Islamic Awakening Deal with the Cultured?
The approach of the Islamic Awakening to the cultured elite should take two directions: the curative and the preventive. The curative approach is a remedial of the wrong concepts harbored by the cultured, by bringing them around through quiet, objective, academic argument, not through insults, beating about the bush or enthusiastic eloquence. It guides them to the documented sources from which they can know what they should know about Islam, its Book, its Prophet, its Creed, its Shari’ah, its history and its culture.
This approach is most suited to dealing with the youth who have not yet fallen under the influence of fanaticism for a principle they have adopted or have been brought up on, and also for dealing with those who have set themselves on a quest for Truth for Truth’s sake.
As for fanatics and those who have made themselves a profession bidding on progressionism, liberalism, rightism, leftism etc, an argument with them is seldom useful, except when it is held by way of making a point or refuting a point.
The second approach, the preventive, aims at establishing a sound, documented Islamic culture that combines academic accuracy with clear expression. The purpose of such a culture is to give adequate doses of understanding of Islam and rectify those wrong concepts that have proliferated among the cultured, in addition to countering the false and invented beliefs without explaining them in any elaborate manner. The objective of this approach is to protect the youth against poisoning by invading ideologies. The knowledge they will acquire would serve as a “vaccine” against the ideological plagues that sweep overtly over our land or infiltrate covertly into it.
We have to keep from this arena – the arena of the cultured elite – those common preachers, the preachers of the masses, who do not speak the language of this age, nor can they use the logic understood and accepted by the cultured, as they can address only the faithful hearts which they can warm with their enthusiasm, but not the liberalized minds which seldom say yes but always ask why and how.
Popular preachers are like popular writers: the former excite the emotion with their eloquent speech, and the latter with their eloquent writing. A pen is one of the two tongues, as the old Arab adage says, though the tongue may be more capable of provoking and exciting the audience through the voice and its effects on them, and it is more so when coupled with vision. Such preachers and writers have their role and their use | inasmuch, as the knowledge possessed by each of them is good. However, in the circles of the cultured elite, the damage they do is often more than the good they can achieve.
The Islamic Movement And The Masses
Paying attention to the cultured elite does not mean neglecting the masses, as the two actions are not conflicting. Popularity is a main characteristic of the Islamic Movement. The Movement is popular in the sense that it is not a governmental or official movement, nor is it an aristocratic one. It is a movement that has emerged from the heart of society to express its feelings and interact with its masses, speaking in their behalf and supporting their demand for rights. The enemies of the Movement abroad, and their agents inside, have tried to isolate the masses from the Movement, sometimes by misinformation and distortion, others by coercion and intimidation, and still others by different means.
However, it is more dangerous that the Movement should alienate itself from the people through arrogance, accusation, disregard, desperation or preoccupation. There is a real danger when the Movement forgets its interrelationship with the people, neglects their problems and woes and crawls into its shell, talking only to itself and hearing only its own voice, thus putting itself in solitary confinement away from the people.
The Islamic Movement will be successful only when it manages to make the people move with it, supporting its cause, getting angry at what angers it, feeling pleased with what pleases it, appreciating its stances and efforts and cursing its enemies. It will be successful when it focuses its efforts on merging into the people, running through them like blood through veins, and mingling with them, like body with soul and vision with eyes, so that each cannot be separated from the other.
This will be possible only when the Islamic Movement adopts the causes of the people and reacts to their feelings, feeling joy at their happiness and becoming sad at their grief, sharing in their bitter and worse times, and becoming one with them.
Telling of the Truth, Not Anesthetizing With Dreams
Our belief in the people and faith in the power of the masses should not make us mislead them away from bitter reality, or anesthetize them with hollow dreams.
The advocates and intellectuals of the Islamic Movement should tell the Nation about its diseases as these diseases actually are, not hide them as people do with those who are afflicted with incurable diseases. They should give the people the facts, even though such facts may be bitter, not feed them rosy dreams without trying to bring these dreams to reality.
Muslim Sufi educationists have distinguished between hope and wish, saying, “Hope is what is coupled with work, otherwise it is a wish”!
Hope is the motive of believers, but wish is the craft of those who have nothing to do.
The Quran says to those who claim that the Garden is theirs alone, although they neither believe nor strive (Those are their [vain] desires. Say, “Produce you proof if you are truthful”) [Surat Al-Baqara: 1 1 1].
Imam Ali Ibn Abi-Talib said to his son Al-Hassan, “Beware of depending [totally] on wish. Wish is the stock of fools”!
An Arab poet says:
Do not be a slave to wish. For wish is the capital of the penniless.
Hope, aspiration and looking forward to a better day are the moving power and the fuel of any movement seeking to change dark reality into a bright tomorrow.
But hoping and aspiring are different from wishing, as wishes can combine with despair of realizing what is wished while hope and aspiration are the opposites of despair and hopelessness.
We must explain the harsh reality to people: we have to tell them of the dangers lurking in the future, so that they may brace themselves against the future’s suffering and not live under the illusion that the future will be a bed of roses without thorns, or a paradise where they will get all the goodies without toil.
There is a mistake that has to be corrected in the advocation of Islamic slogans and solutions to the Muslim masses: when Muslims raise the slogans, “Islam is the solution”; “There is no hope for us without Islam”; or “Islam is the only way out of our economic, social and political problems”, the common people imagine that just chanting these slogans and supporting their advocates in the elections to carry them to Parliament on a majority vote etc. would solve all problems with a magic wand or a miracle from heaven! . The Islamists and their intellectuals must explain, plainly and directly, to the people that Islam solves the problems of people through people themselves, and that Allah will not send down His angels to the earth to do people’s work for them: tilling land, nurturing animal and piscine wealth, boosting industry, reviving trade, building infrastructure, mobilizing Muslim potentialities for productive work, or keeping the Nation from idleness and squander of energies.
It is people who perform all these tasks and other tasks that are needed for good life and are lacked by a good contemporary society and sought after by a wise and thoughtful humanity.
Omar Ibn AI-Khattab told some people who had taken residence in the mosque, waiting for what Allah would send down to them, “None of you should sit idle and not go after his lot that Allah has destined for him, saying “O Allah, send down my lot to me” while he knows that heaven does not rain gold and silver. Allah says, (And when the prayer is finished, then you may disperse through the land and seek of the bounty of Allah) [Surat Al-Jumu’a: 10].
The Holy Quran plainly states this inviolable law when it says, (Verily never will Allah change the condition of a people until they change what is in them selves) [Surat Al-Ra’d: 11].
This is the first starting point, i.e. changing our wrong concepts, dead and corrupt ideas, hateful traits and rejectable morals into correct concepts, vivid and good ideas, praiseworthy traits and noble morals. People must prepare themselves for a life different from that which they are accustomed to: a life of work and production, not idleness and loafing; a life of seriousness, not joking; a life of austerity, not luxury a life of justice, not; a life of toil, not laziness.
Correction of Wrong Concepts
It is the duty of the Islamic Movement and its advocates to correct the wrong Islamic concepts that spread among the Muslim masses, so that Islamic concepts may be a tool of construction and progress, not destruction and backwardness.
Many of the religious understand some major Islamic values wrongly, including belief, piety, righteousness and straight forwardness.
Look at these verses of the Holy Quran: (If the people of the towns had but believed and feared Allah, We should indeed have opened out to them [all kinds of] blessings from heaven and earth) [Surat Al-A’raf: 96].
(And for him who fears Allah, He [ever] prepares a way out, and He provides for him from [sources] he never could expect) [Surat Al-Talaq: 2-3].
(If they [the Pagans] had only remained on the [right] way, We should have bestowed on them rain in abundance) [Surat Al-Jinn: 1 6].
(Before this We Wrote in the Psalms, after the Message [given to Moses]: “My righteous servants shall inherit the earth). When the common people read these verses in the Holy Quran, they think that what is meant by the verses is observing the rites and the faridas – prayer, fasting, tasbih (uttering the formula “Subhan Allah”, i.e. “Glory be to Allah”), tahlil (uttering the formula of faith “La ilaha illa Allah”, i.e. “No god but Allah”), takbir (uttering the formula “Allahu Akbar”, i.e. “Allah is the Greatest”), etc – and keeping away from all the forbidden things, i.e. wine, gambling, etc. This certainly is part and parcel of religion, but not all religion, nor even all faith and piety.
While Allah the Almighty has created man so that he may worship Him (I have only created Jinn’s and men, that they may serve Me) they may serve Me) [Surat Al-Dhariyat: 56] [Surat Al-Dhariyat: 56] they may serve Me) [Surat Al-Dhariyat: 56], He has also meant for man to be His vice gerent on earth, settling and building it with knowledge and labor ( I will create a vicegerent on earth ) [Surat Al-Baqara: 30], (It is He Who has produced you from the earth and settled you therein) [Surat Hud: 61]. The word “settled” here means “wanted you to and build it”. This settlement is a kind of worship.
Faith, piety, righteousness and straightforwardness make imperative that we balance our religion with our earthly life; worship Allah by following His universal practices; prepare all our might for meeting our enemies; till the land and work the factories; and take up every science or craft that the Nation may need for its religion or earthly life, as this has been regarded by Muslim faqihs (jurisprudents) as that the whole Nation would be a collective duty sinful if all people failed to accomplish it. The aspired piety is not beads jiggled by a dervish or a turban wrapped around the head of a self style sheikh, nor is it a hermitage or a secluded corner chosen for prayer by a worshipper: it is knowledge and work; religion and life; soul and material; planning and organization; development and production; perfection and excellence; (It pleases Allah that a man carrying out a task should do it well) [Al-Bayhaqi] (Verily Allah has prescribed proficiency in everything) [Muslim].
The Prophet urged Muslims to seek perfection in everything they do, even if it was killing a small reptile. A Prophetic tradition says: “He who kills a lizard at the first stroke will have so many good deeds to his credit. He who kills it at the second stroke will have so many (less than the first) and he who kills it at the third stroke will have so many (less than the second)” [Ahmad; Muslim; Abu-Dawud; Al-Tirmidhi; Ibn Majah]. Endeavoring to do everything well is required, however the thing in question may look trivial.
The Prophet’s companions did not look at Islam as a religion for monks or hermits, nor did they regard faith and piety as an isolation from life or an absolute preoccupation with faridas at the expense of life-enhancement.
Abdel Rahman Ibn-Auf, upon receiving a generous offer from Sa’d Ibn Al-Rabu, declined the offer politely and said, “I am a merchant, so show me where the marketplace is”. He traded and made millions in profit. This did not take him out of the sphere of faith and piety, for he was so faithful and pious that he became one of “the Ten Who Received Glad Tidings”, whose certain entrance into Paradise has been foretold by the Prophet, and with whom the Prophet was pleased at the time of his death – and one of the six members of the Shura (consultative) Group (the six companions of Omar ibn al-Khattab, who formed a council, at Omar’s behest, to elect one from among themselves as Caliph after Omar).
Pious believers are those who strive in this worldly life while being careful to always do well, armed in so doing by their trust in Allah and their faith and righteousness. Therefore, Allah blesses their endeavor in this world, and will not deny them their reward in the Hereafter.
The Islamic Movement And The Working Classes
By working classes, I mean industrial workers and craftsmen of all specializations who form large groupings at present, especially in major towns and cities, and are united by organized trade unions that can bring daily life to a halt if they decide to call a strike in defense of a right or in protestation against an injustice.
What meets the eye in this regard is that the Islamic Movement has had little effect on the worker community to date. The leftists are still more influential and have a louder voice in this sector of our society, and they can manipulate the will and voice of workers in their interest to a large extent.
This is unfortunate, because the parent Islamic movement -the Muslim Brotherhood led by Imam Hassan Al-Banna – had begun with a group of Egyptian workers who had taken the oath of allegiance to the Imam in Ismailia and pledged to support the goal he had been seeking.
Despite the fact that the Islamic Movement has driven its roots deep in the ranks of pupils and students in most Muslim countries, its presence in all worker circles is limited. The Sudanese National Islamic Front Leader, Dr Hassan Al-Turabi, has pointed that out in his book about the Islamic Movement there, despite the fact that the Movement is very influential in the Sudanese society, as it has monopolized certain fields and can wield much weight in others. I do not know the reason for the Islamic Movement’s failure to spread among the workers.
Is it the poor religious sense among workers? But what has weakened this sense at the time when these same workers are members of a people of which religion is part and parcel?
Is it the poor knowledge of real Islam and its mission in life, coupled with the effect of imported ideas? This also requires an explanation.
Is it the Movement’s failure to recognize and sponsor the causes of workers and support their legitimate demands vis-à-vis the greedy capitalists and unjust rulers who exploit them?
Or is it the success of Leftists, who had planned well for influencing and patronizing the workers as a prelude to using them for promoting their destructive principles and materialistic philosophy. Leftists are well-qualified for such a task, and they also possess means of temptation and use tools that the Islamic Movement could never bring itself to use. Whatever the reason, the Islamic Movement should review its strategy in this regard, for workers are a vital group in our Muslim community. Islam is still a strong driving power and stimulant of the masses, particularly when they realize that Islam is the religion that best recognizes work and does workers justice. Islam’s economic, social and legal rules protect workers and workers rights and support workers against those who do them wrong or try to exploit or manipulate them. It also calls for providing work for every unemployed worker, and social care for every disabled member of society who cannot work.
Perhaps a new factor is now at work in the Islamic Movement’s favor among workers: that is the collapse of the Communist philosophy and system which has consequently led to the foundering of dictatorial regimes in Eastern Europe. The workers have rebelled against the dictatorships that had spoken in their names. Even Mother Russia, the cradle of Socialism, has set itself on a new course leading to reconsideration and reconstruction of its community according to the philosophy of “perestroika” .
The Marxist, socialist regimes, which had been built by workers for workers, have failed to bring about the happiness that workers were aspiring to – that happiness which workers have revolted on feudal and capitalist regimes to attain. even been established than they do under communist rule.
A very good example to illustrate this point is the tow parts of Germany fare and feel in each of them? the people of East Germany felts as if they had been living in a large prison: as soon as they had half a chance to defect to west Germany, they fled en masse.
What better evidence could we ask for?
The Islamic Movement and Businessmen and Financiers
Among the fields that the Islamic Movement should invade and influence is the field of traders, businessmen and financiers. Except for those whom Allah protects against wrong-doing, the members of this class live in the world of figures and balance sheets, money and capital, loss and profit, monopoly and competition.
Such mentality often makes its owner forget the barrier between halal and haram and neglect the dhikr [remembrance] of Allah and the performance of salat [prayer] zakat [alms].
That is why the Prophet was careful to guide and admonish traders against the evils and perils lurking on the path of commercial activity.
He warned them against cheating, saying: (He who cheats us is not one of us)
He warned against monopoly, saying (He who monopolizes [a commodity] is a sinner).
He warned against much swearing by Allah in trading, criticizing those merchants who make Allah the Almighty a commodity (so that they would not buy or sell without swearing by Allah).
He warned against false oath, as it (may forward a transaction but will deprive the seller of Allah’s blessing).
He warned against riba [usury], saying: (Allah curses those who receive riba, those who pay it, those who write its contracts and those who witness it)
He warned against the Gharar [sale of goods that are not present] because of the involved ignorance of the buyer and the consequent dispute over the sale once the commodity is present.
The Holy Quran also admonishes against fraud in measuring or weighing, saying (Woe to those that deal in fraud. Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure. But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due. Do they not think that they will be raised up? On a Mighty Day. A day when [all] mankind will stand before the Lord of the Worlds?) [Surat Al-Mutaffifin: 1 -6].
On the other hand, the Quran praises those, merchants who are not distracted from their duty to Allah and His faridas. It describes those who visit mosques regularly for prayer, (In them [the mosques] He is glorified in the mornings and in the evenings [again and again], by men whom neither trade nor sale can divert from the remembrance of Allah, nor from regular prayer, nor from paying zakat: their [only] fear is for the Day when hearts and eyes will be turned about ) [Surat Al-Nur: 36-37].
Merchants and businessmen hold a large portion of the Nation’s wealth. They control people’s supply and set the prices of needed commodities. They influence the Nation’s economy and financial policy.
Therefore, merchants and businessmen should be [made] aware of what they must and must not do, and of what they have to give out of their wealth in zakat and in dues other than -zakat.
Merchants and businessmen should not be regarded as hopeless cases who do not fall within the scope of the Awakening and who are preoccupied with worldly life alone.
Merchants and businessmen are human like other people: they are affected by promises and warnings, and they can be influenced by the word of wisdom and the patient and suitable approach.
In the early days of the Prophet’s Message, many merchants took up the Belief in Allah and His Messenger and supported the Message of Monotheism, even if their action exposed their commerce and capital to destruction and waste.
There was Abu-Bakr, Osman and Abdul-Rahman Ibn-Auf, who were among the very first to take up Islam, and they are among “the Ten Who Received Glad Tidings”.
Their hijra [migration] to Medina forced them to abandon their homes and wealth in their quest- for Allah’s pleasure and grace and their endeavor for supporting Allah and His Messenger. They welcomed their lot and were content to take it for the sake of Allah. In our contemporary age, we see many faithful merchants and businessmen who prefer the Hereafter to this life, spending, of their free will, for the support of their religion and not holding to the good wealth sent down to them by Allah out of His Grace, for they regard themselves and their wealth as a property of the Islamic Call and the Islamic Movement.
Financiers in the Christian West provide missionary foundations all over the world with the funding necessary for their work, donating billions of dollars for that purpose. The same applies to Jewish capitalists who, despite the known Jewish miserliness and money worship, have given generously to the Jewish cause before and after the establishment of Israel. Muslim financiers must not do less, as they know that the wealth is Allah’s wealth and they are only appointed by Allah as its guardians, and that they are required to strive in Allah’s cause with their money, and that they will be rewarded by Allah for everything they spend for the sake of Allah’s cause.
There is an important point in regard to material contribution and donation that we have to cast light upon: I know that there are many among rich Muslims who are pious and straightforward and wish to give of their wealth in quest for Allah’s pleasure. They donate much and give freely and generously. However, they need to know how and where to spend their money. It is required in the field of Islamic work and donation that those who have money to spend on charity should know that it is not so important to spend the money as it is important to spend it in the right ways.
It is vitally important in this connection to arrange priorities, giving precedence to what is more important, followed by what is important, and so on.
It is really regrettable that the majority of rich Muslims, particularly those rich Muslims who spend their money on philanthropic purposes, pay most of their attention to the construction of mosques and similar institutions of a purely religious nature. This has been a cause for many complaints from workers in the fields of Call and Islamic work.
Our brothers in the Islamic Call Organization in Africa complained of it. Our big brother Dr Mohammad Nasser and his colleagues in the Supreme Council for Islamic Call in Indonesia complained of it, too. It has also been a cause for complaint among our brothers working in the fields of Islamic preaching and education and other brothers who work in confronting secularism, Marxism and other ideologies and trends.
Experts and faithful supporters of the Call agree that there is something that is more important than building mosques: it is the building of people, men who build civilizations, win victory for messages, achieve hopes, establish prayer in mosques and realize progress in institutions.
Building a center for spreading the call and enhancing the awareness of Muslims is one of the first deeds that bring a Muslim closer to Allah and serve Islam in a proper way. Spending money in such a way is a priority, a great deed that wins a Muslim the pleasure of Allah. Such a center will help in promulgating the right Islamic ideology among the young Muslims, correcting their doctrine and reforming their conduct. It will cultivate in their hearts the love of Islam and the jealousy for it, through various means and approaches, including trips, camps, workshops, lectures etc.
Qualifying preachers who are well trained, capable, knowledgeable in both religious and worldly matters and wholly devoted to their task through possession of the means of sustenance that enable them to see to their mission properly is a duty whose neglect constitutes a sin, and whose discharge represents a good deed worthy of Allah’s reward and people’s praise. It is, in fact, a deed that deserves devotion of money, time and effort for its implementation.
The Islamic Movement And Women Activity
The Islamic Movement has given attention to woman since the dawn of the call. Imam Hassan Al-Banna established the “Muslim Sisterhood” section and assigned it the task of spreading the idea among Muslim women and raising up a generation of women who could shoulder part of the burden carried by the men of the “Muslim Brotherhood” in their endeavor to establish Allah’s religion in the land.
This section played a significant role, and the Sisterhood had its share of hardship, especially where caring for the families of imprisoned members of the Brotherhood and delivering food supplies and money to them were concerned, despite the risk they ran against the agents of Criminal- Investigations Department. Some of them suffered extreme hardship for Allah’s cause, such as our sister Zainab Al-Ghazali.
The deficiency of Islamic Work in Women’s Circles
However, we have to admit that women’s Islamic work has not yet reached the desired level, though the call has spread among women, especially university students and secondary school pupils.
Although over sixty year have passed since the Movement emerged into existence, no women leaders have appeared that can confront secular and Marxist trends single-handedly and efficiently.
This has come about as a result of men’s unrelenting attempts to control women’s movement, as men have never allowed women a real chance to express themselves and show special leadership talents and abilities that demonstrate their capability of taking command of their work without men’s dominance.
When Will Women’s Islamic Work Succeed?
I believe that women’s Islamic work will succeed and prove itself in the arena of the Islamic Movement only when it gives birth to female Islamic leaders in the fields of Call, thought, science, literature and education.
I do not think that this is impossible or even difficult. There are genius women just as there are genius men. Ingenuity is not a monopoly for men. It is not in vain that the Holy Quran tells us the story of a woman who led men wisely and bravely and made her people fare the best end: it is the Queen of Sheba, whose story with Solomon is told in Surat Al-Naml.
I have observed in the University of Qatar that girls make better students than boys. Other colleagues in the university made the same observation. This is particularly true because girls have more time for study than boys, who are occupied by many things and have cars in which they roam the streets all the time.
The Spread of Hardline Ideas in This Field
I must say frankly here that Islamic work has been the scene of spreading hardline ideas that now govern the relationship between man and woman, adopting the strictest opinions to be ever found on this issue.
This is what I saw for myself in many conferences and symposiums even in Europe and the United States. For several years in a row, I attended the annual conferences of the Muslim Student Union in the United States and Canada in the mid- 1970’s. Both men and women attended the lectures and debates, listening to comments, questions, answers and discussions in every major Islamic issue, including the academic, social, educational and political. The only sessions restricted to women were those allocated to dealing with the questions that concerned women alone.
However, I attended some conferences in the United States and Europe in the 1980’s, and found that women were kept away from a good part of the important lectures and debates. Some of the women also complained that they had become bored with the lectures that focus on woman’s role, rights, responsibilities and position in Islam and had come to regard the repetition of those lectures as a sort of punishment imposed on them. I denounced that in more than one conference I attended, telling the participants that the rule in worship and religious learning was participation and that there never existed in Islam a mosque that had been reserved to women alone and not visited by men.
Women attended the sessions in which the Prophet taught Muslims the Religion. They also participated in (or at least attended) the Jumaa’ (Friday), the two Id s (bairams) and congregational prayers together with men. They asked questions about minute female matters without being prevented from learning the Religion by their shyness, as Aisha (may Allah be pleased with her) herself said.
The books of Sunna abound in questions that were directed to the Prophet (peace be upon him) by women, including those asked by women who wanted answers to questions that concerned only themselves and those asked by women on behalf of all women, as the woman who said “O Messenger of Allah, I have been sent to you by women”.
Women also asked the Prophet to allocate a separate day for them that they would have to themselves without the men, so that they might have the time and privacy to ask whatever they liked without being inhibited by the presence of men.
This was another privilege given to women besides the public lessons they attended together with men.
The Problem of Islamic Work in Women’s Activity
The problem of women’s Islamic work is that it is men who direct it, not women, and men are careful to maintain their grip on it, so they would not allow female readerships to emerge. Men impose themselves on women’s Islamic work, including even women’s meetings, as they exploit the shyness of reticent Muslim women and never allow them to take command of their own affairs. This way, no female talents are given a chance to prove themselves in the pursuits of the Islamic Movement or to be seasoned by experience and struggle and taught in the school of life by trial and error.
However, our Muslim sisters are not wholly free of blame, for they have surrendered to this sorry state of affairs’ contenting themselves with a life of ease and tranquility in which men thought and chose for them. It is high time they took the initiative, opened wide the doors of effort and work for the Call and shut up those self-appointed female voices that have imposed themselves on the doctrine, laws and values of this Nation. These strange voices, loud as they are, represent only a defeated, downtrodden minority that has no weight both in religion and in worldly affairs. I was invited to give a lecture to female students of an Algiers university last year. As is customary after a lecture, I started taking questions from the girls in written or oral forms. Some young men were present, and one of them took it upon himself to collect the questions, sort them out and pass along to me what he thought should be answered and abandon what should not. I objected to his conduct, saying, “Why does not one of the girls do that on behalf of her colleagues”? “Why do you men have to ‘poke your nose’ in women’s affairs ?. Take your hands off them! Let them do whatever they like, sorting out their own questions and choosing what they deem fit and then making one of their kind read them aloud”, I said. It was as if I had lifted a heavy burden off the chests of the girls, and one of them hurriedly came forward to assume the role that one of the men who had escorted me to the gathering was playing.
A similar incident took place this winter in Manchester City in Britain, where a Muslim student convention was held. A lecture to Muslim women had been scheduled for me, to be followed by questions and answers. Again, one of the good young men assumed responsibility for receiving and sorting out questions, but I said to him bluntly, “There is no reason for you to be here. It would be better if one of the girls did that for her colleagues, for they have a right to run their own affairs here”. However, the good brother told me that he had been assigned that task according to the practice followed there and could not abandon it. He did have his own explanation, which I had to accept in fact.
Another complaint from our sisters in Egypt and Algeria is that when an active, motivated and religion serving girl marries a conscientious, abiding man whom she came to know through Call related work, he forces her to stay at home and denies her participation in the Movement, putting out a torch that was lighting the path of other Muslim girls. It has apparently become so common that an Algerian girl working in the Islamic field once wrote to me asking whether it was harem for her to refuse marriage for the sake of avoiding the end of others of her sisters in Islam who had ended up in a life of laziness and idleness away from the field of the Movement and the Call, at the time when work was allowed to communist and secular women.
A Potential Objection and Its Rebuttal
Hardliners may ask how we want Muslim women to play an active role in the Islamic Movement and act as leaders to prove their presence in the field of Islamic work while they are ordered in the Holy Quran to stay in their homes (And stay quietly in your houses, and make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance) [Surat Al-Ahzab: 33].
My answer to such zealous questions is that this verse was addressed to the Prophet’s women, who had a special position that no other women would have, and were subject to restrictions that do not apply to other women. Allah the Almighty says to them in the Holy Quran, (O consorts of the Prophet! You are not like any of the [other] women) [Surat Al-Ahzab: 32].
However, this verse did not prevent Aisha from going to war in the Battle of the Camel, to demand what she thought right in politics, supported by two of the senior Companions of the Prophet who had been nominated for the caliphate and are among “the Ten Who Received Glad Tidings” (of sure entrance into Paradise).
Her regret of that situation, as told by historians, was not because her going out of her house was illegal, but because her political view was not successful, may Allah grant her forgiveness and bless her soul.
However, if we examine the opinion of those who claim that this verse was meant for all women, we will find that it does not mean confining them to the houses and never letting them out, as such confinement was stipulated by the Quran as a punishment for sinning women who proved to have committed adultery with evidence given by four witnesses before the Shari’ah set their punishment at the hadd [pi. Hudud, major punishments in Islam] mentioned in the Quran and hadith. Allah the Almighty says (If any of your women are guilty of lewdness, take the evidence of four [reliable] witnesses from amongst you against them; and if they testify, confine them to houses until death claims them, or Allah ordains for them some [other] way} [Surat Al-Nisa: 1 5].
Moreover, Allah’s saying (And make not a dazzling display, like that of the former Times of Ignorance) [Surat Al-Ahzab: 33] indicates that it is legal for women to go out if they are dressed modestly and do not make a dazzling display, for a woman is not to be prohibited from displaying herself within her home, as she is allowed to dress and make herself beautiful as she likes at home. What a woman is ordered to refrain from is to make herself beautiful and display herself when she goes out on the street or goes to the market or anywhere else, so as to avoid any suspicion of dazzling display.