Muslims today have begun to awaken from their stupor towards the realisation that Islam is their solution, and the entire world shakes from the Ummah’s revival. What remains are the physical obstacles imposed by the regimes presiding over the Muslims by the Imperialists, and the lack of understanding and clarity of the Islamic concepts that still pervades the Muslim mentality. The feeling of belonging to a single Muslim Ummah has emerged to replace the national and tribal affiliations conjured by the Kuffar. Also, Islam as a political creed has slowly managed to take firm roots in the minds of the Muslims. In spite of the awakening process, much ambiguity still surrounds the ideas and concepts of Islam. For the Muslims to revive, they must possess a clear, well-defined picture of the ideas and concepts, and the necessity of defining the Islamic terminology becomes vital to the revival of the Ummah.
The Definition of the Word Ummah
The word Ummah usually means all of the Muslims. Imam Qurtubi has defined the word Ummah in his book, Tafsir Ahkam al-Qur’an, as multitudes of people bonded by the same creed. But in the verse:
“There should be among you a band of people …” [Al-Imran: 104], it means a group or party, because the verse clearly states ‘min kum’ (among you).
The classical scholars deduced this understanding from this verse:
Ibn Kathir says in his book, Tafsir al-Qur’an al-Adhim, “The ayah means that there should be from this Ummah a group aiming to work for Islam and ordering what is right and forbidding what is wrong.”
Ad-Dahhaq said, “‘They are particular people from the Sahabah, and particular people from the narrators, meaning particular people from the Mujahideen and scholars.'”
Imam Abu Bakr Ibn al-‘Arabi said in his book, Ahkam al-Qur’an, “Ummah in this verse means jama’ah (group).”
Imam AI-Tabari, a leading commentator and interpreter, said in his book, Jami’ al-Bayan, on the meaning of this verse, “Allah (swt) means by this: There should be among you a jama’ah (group) inviting people to Islam and its laws.”
Qadi Al-Baydawi said in his book, Anwar al-Tanzil wa Asrar al-Ta’wil, on the meaning of this verse, ‘Min ‘ (among) here aims at singling out a group of people, because inviting to what is good and forbidding what is wrong requires certain conditions and qualifications that are not shared by all of the Muslim Ummah, like the knowledge of the Divine Law (Shari’ah) and the manner in which the obligation is to be carried out. That is why Allah (swt) addressed everyone at the beginning of the verse and then ordered the selection of a few people. This was to assert that it is the duty upon everyone; so if it is abandoned then everyone would fall sinful, but mitigated from the sin if even a single group of people – qualified for the task – established it.”
The Definition of Politics (Siyasah) in Islam
Politics (siyasah) in Islam means “To look after and be concerned with the affairs of people according to the principles of Islam.” The Islamic Shari’ah mentions politics in its text to mean “The ordering of what is right (ma’ruf) and the forbidding of what is wrong (munkar).” In the Hadith in which the Messenger of Allah (saaw) states, “The Children of Israel were looked after/governed (tasusuhum) by the Prophets” [Muslim], the word tasusuhum is derived from the same root word as siyasah: The word saasa. Also, the Arabic language has clearly defined siyasah as, “Looking after the affairs of people by ordering and forbidding them.” Imam Fairuz al Abadi said in his book, Al-Qamus al-Muhit, “Looking after the affairs of the citizens means ordering and forbidding them.”
Islam has specified the function of governing and looking after the affairs of the people as ordering them to do what is right (what Islam allows and commands), and forbidding them from doing what is wrong (what Islam forbids). By contrast, the Non-Islamic ideologies have defined politics as the art of cheating and lying, twisting of the facts, misleading and deceiving, and exploiting the ignorance of the masses for worldly benefit. Such a definition contradicts the parameters of politics in Islam, which trustworthiness, truthfulness, and dedication to look after the affairs of the people according to the commands of Allah Ta’la seeking only His (swt) Pleasure.
The Art of Politics among the Believers
Politics in Islam is the art of making possible what appears impossible. Islam has no room for compromise or pragmatism, because such practices stagnate the spread of Islam and breed the same deceit and hypocrisy that Islam strictly prohibits. The Messenger of Allah (saaw) began by calling people to worship Allah Ta’ala alone and abandon idolatry and tribalism, targeting to change entire structure of the society. Such an objective would seem impossible by practical standards, but, as a Muslim politician, Muhammad (saaw) understood clearly that Allah (swt) provides victory and would make Islam prevail.
With this understanding, Islam motivated the Muslims to confront the Kufr surrounding them and spread Islam to the world while enduring all the obstacles that stood before them. Muhammad (saaw) exemplified the non-compromising, victorious mentality of the Muslim politician in the incident when the rulers of the Quraysh asked the Messenger’s uncle, Abu Talib, to convince him (saaw) to compromise and accept their offer. His glorious and well-known reply was; “If they put the Sun in my right hand and the Moon in my left to leave this path, I will never do that, until it is proclaimed and implemented everywhere, or I perish in the process.” [Ibn Hisham]
If the Prophet (saaw) understood politics in the same pragmatic framework adopted by the Kuffar politicians, he would have accepted the situation, advocated it or remained silent, and Islam would die as an ideology from the moment it emerged. As a Muslim politician, he remained firm in his path, following the commands given to him by Allah Taa’la to the letter, never stopping to compromise his principles or constrain his vision to conform to the circumstances surrounding him. When the Quraysh approached him with offers of kingship, immeasurable wealth, and social status, Muhammad (saaw) flatly rejected all of them and made clear to the society his unwillingness to cooperate or integrate when Allah Azz wa jal ordered him to recite the verse,
“Say: O you disbelievers! I worship not what you worship, nor will you worship that which I worship. And I will not worship that which you worship, nor will you worship that which I worship. To you your way, and to me mine.”
Applying the rules of Allah Ta’ala constitutes a political action that differs from a mufti, teacher, or a preacher. While the mufti will say alcohol is Haram (prohibited), the teacher will say that methanol and ethanol are alcohol, the latter being an intoxicant, and the preacher will say drinking alcohol will lead one to hellfire. But the Muslim politician combines a1ll aspects in addition to his function as a politician. He will say, “Alcohol is Haram (prohibited), and Allah Azz wa jal ordered us to forbid it and to punish the one who drinks it as well as the one who sells it and the one who permits others to sell it.
Consequently, Islam obliges us to implement the punishment, and the only one who can do that on our behalf is the Khalifah, appointed by us (the Ummah) as a matter of duty and worship for us. In the absence of the Khalifah, entire Ummah will fall into sin unless it works to remove the Kufr regimes and establish Islam by appointing a Khalifah to punish those who drink alcohol and do other Haram; and thereby relieving the Ummah of the sin of not having a Khalifah to implement Islam and avoid the punishment of the Hellfire
Every Muslim must be a Politician
Islam obliges every Muslim to act as a politician, as indicated by Muhammad (saaw) when he said, “Each one of you is a guardian and each one will be questioned for those he is responsible for…” [Bukhari, on the authority of Abdullah Ibn Umar]. In several Hadiths, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) emphasised the importance of the political dimension in Islam. Without the political facet, Islam would shrink to a collection of rituals, and the application of the Shariah in the affairs of the world would evaporate. When Muhammad (saaw) stated, “By the One Who owns my soul, you must order what is right and forbid what is wrong, or Allah (swt) will surely send His punishment upon you. Then you will pray to Him and not be answered [Tirmidhi, on the authority of Hukhayfa],” he clearly indicates the obligation of manifesting the political dimension in Islam.
The establishment of the Islamic State occurred only once by the noble Prophet (saaw) and his Companions (raa). For thirteen centuries, the Islamic State protected the blood and property of the Muslims, implemented the justice of the Islamic system, and carried the mercy of Islam to the entire world. Because of the efforts of the Prophet (saaw) and the Companions (raa), one billion Muslims from many nations walk the earth and Islam is felt all over the world.
The Muslim Ummah today is living in a difficult time in the absence of Islam and under the rule of Kufr. Muhammad (saaw) stated that the Ummah will face such a tribulation, after which the Khilafah will return again to encompass the entire world and last until the Day of Judgment. Such an opportunity to reestablish Islam and do the same work that the Companions (raa) did will not happen again. The Muslims should seize this opportunity and acknowledge that, in the end, every soul will have two roads to tread: The road to Paradise, and the road to Hell.