Channel: Jamal Badawi
In the Name of God, the benevolent the Merciful, the creator and the Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings upon his servant and messenger Muhammad forever. I mean, I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except the one true God. And I bear witness that Muhammad is the messenger and servant of God is our fashion I greet you with the universal greetings of peace. It's a greeting that has been used by all of the profits from Abraham through to Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon the mall. Assalamu Aleikum, which means peace be unto you. I'm your host, Ahmed Rashid. Today we have our seventh program in our series dealing with the social system of Islam. And we'll
be continuing our discussion of the topic of social responsibility and social concern in Islam. I have joining me as usual on the program, Dr. Jamal Badawi of St. Mary's University, brother, Jamal assalamu, alaikum Ani.
I wonder perhaps before we get into the meat of today's program, if I could just ask you is is our fashion to take a few minutes to summarize the main points that we touched on last week in our program,
when the first point was to try and emphasize that Islam is not an individualistic oriented type of religion, which regulates mainly the relationship between man or mankind and God. But it goes much beyond that. Also, it's a good aesthetic in the relationship between mankind between one person and the other. Indeed, between the human being and the universe, even at large, it's more comprehensive in that particular orientation. We also indicated by way of evidence that in the Quran, it addresses people in deplorable not only in matters of government, economic system, social system, but even in matters of belief, even in matters of pure worship, like prayers, the plural
form is used to show again this collective orientation of the face.
We discussed also some of the mechanisms where this can be translated into action and how to build a righteous society. And that is the important standard concept of uncomparable model for Narayana, Moncure, or enjoining. Good and forbidding evil. We indicated that enjoining good and forbidding evil is an obligation on a Muslim, it's not voluntary, it's an obligation if he's true to his face, because that is part of the cooperation for the common good of the society. We mentioned also the saying of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him in which he indicated that if a person sees something wrong, or even then once you try to change it by action, if not by words, if not, you should feel
bad in his heart about it, or at least deny it by his heart.
And we indicated that there's some wisdom in this order of importance, but one should also take into account what is more effective in a given situation. And finally, the last part of the program, if I recollect, we discussed one of the main objections to this kind of joining the good and forbidding the evil that some people say I don't want to get involved. And he said that this apathetic feeding is harmful not only to the person, but the society at large. And sooner or later, if everybody turns his face the other way, and not try to correct the wrongs in society, the punishment and the destruction, destruction will affect everybody, not only the carpet, but everybody else would be
also affected by that.
Well, I'd like to begin today's program by looking at another objection that is sometimes raised when we discussed this whole question of enjoying the good and forbidding the evil. And that has to do with the suggestion by some people that
this principle of enjoying the good and forbidding evil goes against an injunction of the Quran, they're referring to the section in the Quran, which says that there should be no compulsion in religion.
How would you respond to somebody who put that point of view forward? There's full harmony between both, really it's true that there is a verse in the Quran and it's in the second chapter of 256, which says that
they should be no compulsion in the matter of faith or religion. The right way has been made clear henceforth from wrong or from false with. It is a cherished Islamic principle that you cannot hold.
Somebody to believe in something that he did not or he or she did not accept,
either by force or by any other improper means.
But this does not at all, in any sense, negates the collective responsibility to fight evil and corruption in society and indecency. Indeed, tell me, of any community anywhere, which tolerates the spreading of even corruption, and say, No, we can do anything about it like gravity, there is no compulsion in religion. I mean, it doesn't really, the application is quite different. No compassion, vision means that you're free to accept whatever face you want. But you're not free to destroy and damage society and infringe on the rights of other people. Just like saying compassion is bad, who said that always compassion is bad, when the cop stops you because you did emit some
traffic violation or ask you to take a breath, breathalyzer test or whatever your competitor lies, you're compelled to do that. But society accept that because there are legitimate reasons, but you don't say right, you're doing something already against your will. But that's part of the order that has to be maintained and society. If this is applicable to any community in general, it is even more important in the case of an Islamic authorities.
Because it's really a standard community, our society has a an important mission, also a responsibility which is graver even, which requires taking concerted action, to propagate the good and to try to arrest or check evil. This is not really interference in the freedom of belief, or religion. It is indeed, protection of the freedom of religion against those who want to tamper with an item. So the issues are not the same as
not contradiction at all. Now, a lot of same vein, there are also some people who suggest that there's a
verse in the Quran to the effect that
a person should not bother with somebody who's misguided if they are
guided to themselves. I mean, if they're, if they're doing okay, and they're trying to lead a righteous life and so on and so forth, that they should not get involved with somebody who perhaps is misguided. What's your response to this? Well, I guess perhaps the reference that you're speaking about, is in certain metadata, which is the fifth chapter in the Quran in verse one or eight, when it says yeah, you had Medina and then what Allah
end of the verse, which means all you who believe.
Mind are God's your own souls.
If you follow the right guidance, it doesn't bother you, it doesn't hurt you, that other people are not following contact you.
But it appears that the MIS understanding of this, the significance and meaning of this verse is not something new, that they progress the question now because even in the date of the Prophet peace be upon him,
he was quite careful. A couple of things to indicate what is really meant by by this particular injunction, indeed,
his first halifa or Calif, after him, after the death of the Prophet mo buck,
was quoted in naturalism.
And I would, I would, as telling people, you people are putting this verse where it does not belong, or you're misinterpreting this understanding that verse, that is he meant by saying, alright, you know, since I am good and trying to be pious, I don't care about other priests, I don't try to change anything. He said you, in his words, actually, in the analysis of Jonah Hill, as if you're at Monza you misunderstand, you put it in the wrong place.
And he says, I have heard the Prophet, the Messenger of Allah, that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him say that if people see an oppressor, and they do not try to check him, it would be about time that God would have a punishment that would engulf all of them. Which means that collectively speaking, even if you're good, you don't try to stop evil. God's punishment would involve the good and the evil, because they did not try to do anything about it. And then you continue to say is, I have also heard the Messenger of God, that's how much peace be upon him say,
that if there is any people or nation or community, whatever, among whom rebellion against God is a practice or common and they are able to change and they do not change that God would be about to engulf them with his punishment. So both of them in terms of oppression as well as evil
All corruption in society. It follows that like the previous verse also, there is no, no problem at all of reconciliation, because
just like you saying that there is no compulsion, matters of faith, but this doesn't mean that you have a license to do whatever you want good or evil. And when this verse also speaks about,
not worrying, in a sense of not killing yourself, because somebody doesn't believe. But if he doesn't believe and does not infringe
on the rights of others, does not spread corruption and evil in the community, then it's fine. That's where the rest is applicable. But somebody's deliberately cutting at the roots of society. And it's a no no, no mind yourself. This is something that's alien to the spirit of Islam, one cannot turn his back
to his responsibility, his or her responsibility to establish the will of God on earth, which is the whole purpose of the creation of the human race. I'd like to pick up on
the phrase, the will of God.
When the will of God is mentioned, there are some people who fear that this, this phrase will be interpreted that as the will of God will be interpreted in, in such a way, depending upon the individual who's who's using the particular phrase, they might interpret it in any particular way that they they see fit. In fact, many people would argue that
there are religious communities and there are individuals who use the wilderness, this their idea of the will of God in their own way to be able to even justify wrongdoing or evil, or there's in justices that are created as a result of that situation. Is there any guarantee that this abuse of this, this notion of will of God
will not take place in Islamic situation now? Okay, well, if we mean, first of all, by the guarantees, that there is a guarantee that nobody would ever abuse it, then one has to be honest and say that there is no face on earth? That's a principle that, no, I mean, there's no place on Earth, even that you can guarantee that everybody will be perfect, right? You know, that there's no guarantee for compliance, so long as there are imperfect human beings. There's no question about that. But if you mean by guarantees, which I suppose is really what you're at, as to whether it's in the teachings of Islam, itself, exactly. There are built in sorts of mechanisms, or guarantees, to
make sure at least that you cannot justify on theological basis. I mean, you can just fight anything, of course, yes. But you can tell right on the basis of this in Islam, or that I justify this wrongdoing, at least that somebody can prove you wrong, and that you're violating the principles of Islam? The answer to that question is yes, indeed, there are unique and very strict guarantees to that effect. To start with this whole notion of somebody claiming that he's implementing the will of God. It appears to me,
emanate from the notion or understanding of what revelation is,
which I believe that even among other communities of believers, the concept of revelation in Islam is a little bit different.
There are some people, for example, who believe that revelation does not necessarily refer to a particular holy book, or scripture.
Not necessarily or not exclusively, nor does it refer specifically to certain legal injunctions. But they claim or feel that revelation is something experiential. It's a kind of spirit within you or in you, guiding you and showing you the right path.
What that sounds attractive. But I think there is a big difference between personal insight.
And between revelation which is specific, which represents an actual reflection of the true when I'm glad
to explain that the big danger of claiming that revelation is a matter of experiential feeling. The spirit guides me, I feel that I feel so good because the spirit make me think that this is the right decision to make. It's very dangerous. I think you must have heard recently about, I think it was probably the Yorkshire Ripper in Britain, who started murdering several prostitutes. And then he was questioned. He simply said, one, this is the will of God. You know, the Spirit of God guides me to do this. God wanted me to do this. Well, anybody doing any kind of evil and say God wants me to do this can take excuse of this loose concept of revelation that it's only personal or individual
spirit guiding me, there's a big danger.
A Muslim would not say that there is no relevance whatsoever of personal insight that God may grant, especially to those who are pious, there is no denial of that. But your insight is not binding on me. My insight is not binding on you, or justify even in taking action, for example, on the basis of that, that pertains or infringes on the
rights of other people is a very poor excuse indeed. And isn't it in Islam, the line is drawn quite clearly, the only decisive expression of the Word of God, or the source of it is the specific words of the Quran, which is regarded by the Muslim as the Word of God revealed specific, specific words, expressions, as well as the explanation given by Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, he was also guided,
you know, by the engine of revelation in whatever he taught in the matters of faith.
And that removes this experiential part of the will of God or interpretation or misinterpretation of God from being a law. It's not binding on someone else. But even then, if you say, all right, how about if people differ as to how to interpret the will of God? Are they clear texts of the Quran and Sunnah? Even then it is not just an experiential matter, there is the concept of each matter that you could discuss in some other series, maybe on the question of Islamic law, and how does it work the mechanism, but basically, it says that you cannot say alright, here is the verse in the Quran, I inserted the will of God in something which is not clear to apply this world that lands, alright,
that's a and cyclical, or something that everybody must accept.
There is a mechanism whereby, as a scholar, as a jurist, you can't do it alone, you have to discuss our other jurist, you have to come up with some consensus on the basis, you give the evidence on the basis of Quran and to say, prophetic tradition that this is how the answer to that question is given. Nor does that interpretation, even give a license to everyone in all areas to try to enforce everything by hand, for example, in a matter of criminal law, even if the interpretation is right, and consented to buy, buy on the Learn scholars, and they could give their clear evidence from the words of God, still, if you have to have a state, adjust state to implement certain aspects of
criminal law. So you cannot just take the law in your hand and go around and say, I am enforcing or applying the Word of God. So I think there are new countries. And this is only like I said, and scratching the surface of the depths of Islamic law, and how does it the mechanism of it.
Now, another aspect of our main concept here, and that is, at the positive side, I've been enjoying the good
or social concern. How does this relate to to worship which is, which is more important.
It's difficult really to put them into a particular hierarchy.
For one reason, the Islamic concept of worship, that worship is not just rituals are going up and down or attending face, right or left.
Indeed, the Quran itself indicates this point very clearly. For example, in chapter two, verse 170 701, it says righteousness is not that you turn your face towards east or west, that it's your fault. But then it goes on what is righteousness, it defines it as aspect that pertains to belief in God. So faith is one aspect that's related to social justice, such as the, for example, giving the poor, there's joy, right? Things that pretend to pure acts of worship, it's part of it like prayers,
things like fulfilling your promise, which is basically a social issue, and being patient and have perseverance. So all of these moral and social political aspects are all ingrained in the definition, Islamic definition of worship or righteousness. So this is one thing to start with. So it's very difficult then to make a very close line of distinction between a worship and social concern or pure worship and such, because all of them are some form of worship. Indeed, there are some interesting things that that you find in the sing of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him to clarify this point.
In one of his saying, narrated
in both Bukhari and Muslim as well as other differences, like the mizzi, and the say, he said, a person who is looking after he's really working hard or
exerting to look after an orphan, or a poor person. He is just like the person who is fighting or putting his life on the line for the sake of God. And just like a person who stands at night, in prayer and fast during the day, so the pure acts of worship, like fasting prayers, and sacrificing your life, even for the sake of God, are just like as good as taking care of the often it shows that social concern is a real thing. It's not something subsidiary to worship. It's part of worship.
In another occasion, the prophet peace be upon him was traveling and it was very, very hard. Some people were fasting, some others were not. So what happened is that those who are fasting, they could not, you know, stand up just fell because we were so exhausted. The people who were not fasting, they started making some kind of tents to protect other people provide them with service. You know what the prophet said about that? He said that those who are not fasting has taken all the rewards today.
So serving the community was just as good as somebody who's devoting himself and going through the suffering of thirst and hunger that was narrated Also in, in Bukhari and Muslim and it necessary to
this is the kind of attitude that Islam takes towards this whole notion of social concern. You cannot separate it and say worship and being pious or going to the temple is one thing, and social involvement is another bit intertwined.
After all, this plan is both worship as well as social and individual behavior.
At this point, I could ask you to give us a few examples of how social concern can be translated into concrete action. One of the most crucial,
translatable aspects of social concern is social solidarity.
This might take variety of forms, it might take a form of solidarity within the family, which is very important because the family is the cornerstone of society. That includes injunctions in the Quran pertaining to kindness to parents, kindness to wives, kindness to children, because again, as Islam sees it, if you have a broken family, you have a broken society. And it appears that most of the social problems we face today is partly at least if not largely a result of family breakdown. So, by having this solidarity, love and affection and unity within the family, you will get a basis for social solidarity. But solidarity also in the in the more common or more general, collective
aspect involve lots of things it involves, first of all, the obligation to protect or try to do the best you could in any job or assignment that is given to you. It also involves the fact that each person should feel that he is partly a guardian, over the interest, an overall good of society not to Tennessee, I don't care, you know, it doesn't affect me.
The Prophet peace be upon him as narrated, both in Bukhari and Muslim said that each one of you is like a shepherd. And each one is responsible for, you know, what is assigned to or what is
given to him by responsibility. And then he went on explaining the variety of forms of this leadership, because everybody is answerable for God as to how he fulfilled this type of
responsibility. Another sub concept also in the social, collective aspect is cooperation. In the Quran, for example, a very widely quoted verse in chapter five, verse two, what I want to identify with taqwa
That is you should all cooperate and bind together, cooperate with each other, in righteousness, and acts of piety, but don't cooperate in Acts of advice, and rebellion against God. So this is again one aspect to keep the society together, cooperating and marching towards its ultimate objective. It involves the protection of the weak, one of the sake of the Prophet peace be upon him as merited. And
he says that if any group of people in a neighborhood wake up and one of them wakes up in the morning hungry, that God is really disassociating himself from them that he didn't care enough about one of them who's hungry. And another heavy said, it's not a believer, one who sleeps with full stomach while his neighbor is sleeping hungry.
One of the most beautiful expression of this, to show again, the beauty of this unity and solidarity, as narrated in Bukhari and Muslim he says, The example or the similar keywords of true believers, with each other is like a big
structure, which is supporting each other helping each other. In another he said that believers in their mutual affection, love and concern for each other. Unlike the one body, if any part of that body aches, the whole body export, you can say it's only my eyes, etc. The whole body share so the people should be regarded in a given community as one single body not to ignore the suffering of any of those organs as they are right the rest of the body is okay. You know, it's healthy. This is only one aspect of social justice. Islam. Could you perhaps is to go on and elaborate
A little bit for us about the concept of social justice in this.
that's a topic by itself. But maybe at this point, we'll just make a quick reference to that, because I understand social justice also could be part of upcoming series on economic system, yes, but maybe I can just touch for cross reference on it. Here. You see the word.
Justice is not even a very accurate translation of the original Arabic word which is odd, and had to mean much more than justice. It means
just balance, just balance. It is used, for example, in reference to the cosmic things. In other words, it's the God created the whole universe with an adjusted balance.
It is used in the Quran, indeed, the exact words
are delicate, aloka father, like in chapter two, for example, 87 in the Quran,
in chapter in chapter 82, in the Quran, that God created the mankind or the humankind, in the most appropriate fashion, in Jew proportion, look at the cemetery no is different from the other, you don't get one hand which is bigger than the other one leg, of course, we talk about the normal case, but the fashioning in do proportion, shows again, this added, just balance, integration of mankind. But in the in the area of social menu, again, God speaks of, of Agile example, in chapter four, verse 58, when it says, God ordains you, or commands you to render trust, to those who
are to whom this trust are you and that you should judge between people. And when you judge between people judge with justice. So justice is one important element. But it's more than just justice. It's like,
total balance. The idea here is not just the justice in the legalistic sense or judicial sense. But rather to establish a social structure, which does not persecute one group, one minority or one race, or the week.
It is justice and just balance in the economic system that doesn't go to right to too much towards the right or left dependence, reasonableness and moderation in the matter of politics and government, the same thing. So
it's, it's a very, very broad and very important concept that touches on almost every topic that we discussed.
Now and a few minutes that we have, remaining. And to conclude this portion of our series, I wonder if perhaps I could ask you to distribute or quickly summarize for us the main characteristics of a truly Islamic Society, or at least an ideal to strive for one. First of all, to describe society as a truly Islamic Society, regardless of the failure, or success or degree of success of Muslims of achieving that ideal. It must, first of all be a society in which the ultimate authority is in the hands of God, not in the hands of any human being, depending on his interpretation, or misinterpretation, and have seen again, how Stan provide the guarantees, to have the proper
methodology of interpretation.
When you have a society established on the basis of this, these rules will not be just rules enforced by government because you fear it will be your punished if you don't follow them. But it gives it a sanction, a spiritual sanction, it gives it respectability, that it's not another human being like you, you make it you make your neck you realize that those rules are not biased for male against female or for one against the other or one group of society because it's coming from God who is the birth of all human beings. Secondly, that it is a society that has a mission, a historic mission, which is far beyond just mere existence or survival or national glory, but mercy and to all
mankind, and total universal brotherhood and equality. Thirdly, it is a society that should be a balanced society justly balance as we mentioned before, that takes care of the various needs of the individual versus various segments in society, the coordination between spiritual and material progress. Firstly, it is a society where the controls is not just an appeal to the power of the law, or just spirituality, but both of them act on the individual to motivate him or her to comply. And indeed, if the challenge that we face today is both for Muslims and non Muslims to strive towards this idea, in line with divine guidance, it is a challenge for all to strive towards the better and
common good of all. Thank you very much, brother Jamal. Thank you for watching. That's our program for today. Assalamu alaikum, peace be unto you