Moulana Sadruddin Islahi RAH
Chapter 1: THE MUSLIM UMMAH AND THE PURPOSE OF ITS EXISTENCE
The Noble Position of the Ummah
When the ummah was brought into existence, its Creator stated about it:
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ
You are the best nation raised up for mankind. (Al-Imran 110)
This address is comprised of two parts:
1. The Muslim nation will be the best among nations, unlike any other nation or group or party in the characteristics of thought and action.
2. This group, the Muslim ummah, has not arisen in the theater of life to live routinely like the other nations and groups but has been brought forth with a special significance and with a very specific objective. There is a fundamental difference between it and the other groups in the world. It is not merely one of them but distinct and exalted from them and has been created and specifically sent for a specific need of theirs. And now it is forever appointed for their service (raised for mankind). Accordingly, in the statements of the Holy Prophet also in clear words this ummah is designated as “mab`ooth” (sent or appointed). For instance:
Verily you have been sent as facilitators and not as creators of difficulty. (Bukhari, vol 2)
From the statements of Allah and His Messenger, it becomes apparent that all the nations and peoples of the world are on one platform while the Muslim ummah is on another. It is the possessor of a distinct character and the carrier of a exalted position. Since its position and character is separate and exalted from the other nations, then it necessarily follows that in its manner of thought, its way of action, its interests, its values, the standards of its likes and dislikes, its nature and its goal and vision- in short- in each and every aspect, it enjoys a separate and distinct position. And no single aspect of this ummah can ever be comparable to any other nation or group.
The Purpose of Existence: Iqaamat-ul-Deen
Thus far, this much is clear that the existence of this ummah has a specific and exalted purpose. Now the question remains as to what that specific and exalted purpose is. The Holy Quran, immediately following the previously mentioned words, answers this very question:
تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ
You enjoin the good, forbid the wrong and believe in Allah. (Al-Imran 110)
In other words, that specific mission for which this Muslim nation has been raised is to stop humanity from wrong thoughts and wrong actions and bring them to the correct way. To describe this particular work or purpose, Allah has selected two more expressions. The first of these is Shahadat-e-Haqq (Witnesses unto mankind). Accordingly, its command is:
وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ
And thus we have made you the Balanced Nation so that you may be witnesses unto mankind. (Baqarah 143)
There is also a verse of similar words and meaning in Surah Hajj, and although it has not been fully clarified in any of these verses as to what it is that the ummah has been appointed to bear witness to, the reason for this is only that it is self-evident. What could it be, for which it has been made responsible to bear witness to the people of the world, other than that which it has been given from Allah? The proof for this also lies in the very words following the verses mentioned above:
وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا
And the Messenger to bear witness over you. (Baqarah 143)
Think about what it is that the Messenger of Allah (Ë) has been sent to bear witness to in front of the people of faith? If that thing could only be the true religion which was being revealed unto him (Ë), and there cannot be two opinions of this- as is the case, then there also cannot be two interpretations of the fact that what this Balanced Nation has been established to bear witness to, is this true way of life, which you can call deen-ul-haqq or just simply haqq (truth).
The second interpretation is Iqamat-ul-din.
Abdullah b. Mas‘ud, explaining the status and rank of the Noble Companions, states:
Allah has selected them for their closeness to the Prophet and their establishment of his deen. (Mishkat)
This hadith also proves this point that the goal of this ummah’s existence is the establishment of Allah’s deen.
On the basis of these three statements from the Quran and Hadith, you can choose whichever expression you wish for the purpose of existence of the Muslim ummah: Amr bil Ma‘roof, Shahadat-ul-Haqq, or Iqamat-ul-Din. Because these are three interpretations of the same intent, and whichever you use, the meaning and intent are one.
However, despite the similarity of the meaning and intent, if you examine these three interpretations in depth and compare them in every aspect, you will find that the comprehensiveness, depth and clarity of the last expression (iqamat-ul-din) is not present in the others.
It has depth because the word iqamah (establishment) has been used, and this word, as will become clear soon, presents the whole picture. It is comprehensive because the concerned verse does not merely mention what the obligation of life of the Muslim is, but also makes clear that this same obligation was for all the prophets and their people. In other words, the concept is that believing in Allah and accepting the covenant of his worship means that his deen be established. It is clear because that thing which the people of faith must establish is explicitly present in the concerned verse and has been mentioned by name as al-deen (the way of life revealed by Allah).
On the basis of these features, the interpretation Iqamat-ul-deen has the right to be the predominant terminology, and the use of this term is more appropriate to make apparent the purpose of existence of the Muslim ummah.
The Meaning of Iqamat-ul-Deen
The term iqamat-ul-deen is comprised of two words: iqamat and deen. To understand the concept necessitates that you first understand the individual words.
When the word iqamah is used with a material, tangible object it implies straightening it. For example, the Quran says:
فَوَجَدَا فِيهَا جِدَارًا يُرِيدُ أَنْ يَنقَضَّ فَأَقَامَهُ
They found there a wall on the point of falling down, but he set it up straight (fa aqaamahu). (Kahf 77)
And when the word is used with abstract things, the word means to grant them their full and proper rights. In other words, the concerned work be completed in the best possible way, with complete attention and utmost diligence. The Imam of Lugha (Arabic Language) Allamah Raqhib Isfahani states:
To establish a thing means to fulfill its due rights in the best possible way, as Allah says: “O People of the Book, you are on nothing until you establish the Torah and Injeel (tuqeemul-Tawrat wal-Injeel).” (Mufradat)
This concept can be understood with the example of the Quranic commandment to establish prayer (iqamat-ul-salaah). The iqaamah (establishment) of Salaah, according to the spirit of this definition, would thus mean that it be performed with all of its external etiquettes and conditions and all its inner (spiritual) qualities. That way the purpose of salat can be achieved in both letter and spirit. Therefore the establishment of deen would mean that its followers fulfill the due right of accepting it in both intellectual and practical capacities.
The linguistic meaning of deen is obedience (itaa’ah). And technically it means that way of Allah’s obedience and that system of human life that has been given by Allah to his servants through the Prophet to act upon, the details of which are present in his book and in the Sunnah of His Messenger. An examination of these details leaves absolutely no doubt to the fact that there is no human problem and no branch of human life that falls outside of its domain. This deen extends from the intellect and understanding of the human being and the depths of his heart, to his houses of worship and the four boundaries of his home, to the circles of his relatives and his cultural institutions and to the last corner of all his collective and international problems, and imparts its continual guidance about every problem, every matter and every branch. It does not approve of any individual or private life for a human being in which he is free to do as he wills, and it is absolutely not prepared to accept the existence of any world for human life where it itself is not present. It considers the articles of faith, the creed, acts of worship, morality, piety and excellence all its branches. It does not leave alone even such matters as the etiquettes of the bathroom and matters of marital life. Even the application of criminal laws are part of deen:
وَلَا تَأْخُذْكُم بِهِمَا رَأْفَةٌ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ
“Let not pity withhold you in their case, in a punishment (deen) prescribed by Allah.” (Noor: 2)
If you can understand the terms iqamah and deen, then the understanding of iqamat-ul-deen will become self obvious. If iqamah means to fulfill the due rights in both intellectual and practical capacities, and deen implies that complete obedience of Allah, from which not a single corner of human life is unrelated and whose demands end only when reaching the last limits of humanity’s matters, then the concept of iqaamat-ul-deen necessarily is- and it can only be such- that the believers in the deen are fully cognizant of it, its fundamental concepts, its principles, its commands and its guidance; and that they be aware of its goal and aim, what position it gives them in this life, what ultimate end it designates for their existence, what ways of struggle and effort it advises for the attainment of that end, which things it commands and what it prohibits, what manner it advises its followers to adopt in the various departments of human life; in short, in the individual and collective capacity, how it demands one to live on this earth and what it demands one to do and be. The term necessitates that they be aware of all this and mold their practical lives according to this awareness, and that they practice every guidance of the Quran and Sunnah, implement every commandment of the shariah, and that the foundation of the national life be based on the principles of this deen and only this deen. In every matter only that viewpoint be adopted that this deen teaches. And that color be cast over society that it wishes. So much so that an onlooker can see a Quranic environment and a society that is a living Quran. Just as when an extremely tall structure is stood up and everyone can see with one look what it is and how it is, likewise this entire deen be so dominant over and established in human life that it can be seen and recognized from afar.
Posted by Syed Abdur Rahman Umari