(c) Muhammad Haniff Hassan, August 2002
Allah taala designed the universe according to a natural set of law and order (sunnah). Among this sunnah is that everything will happen at their appointed time. This is stated in the Quran.
“For each period is an appointment” (Ar-Ra’ad : 38)
An event will materialize when the factors leading to it allow it to come to fruition. These factors will undergo the process of natural law and order, they do not happen by accident. In general, these factors are not spontaneous. They will go through the process of evolution (nothing to do with Darwin’s Theory of Evolution).
Allah Himself fulfills His will according to certain sunnah even though the Almighty is not obligated to follow these natural set order. It is merely an example that serves as a lesson for us.
Hence when the disbelievers challenged the prophets to prove the truth to their da’wah by invoking Allah to punish them, He did not accede. This was because the moment and factors leading to their punishment had not arrived. And in the Quran, the Almighty explained;
“They asked you to hasten on the Punishment (for them): had it not been for a term (of respite) appointed, the Punishment would certainly have come to them”( Al-Ankabut:53)
Another example is when Allah taala wanted to save the prophet Nuh from the flood that would befall his people, He ordered the prophet to build an ark. The prophet who was advance in age did not have many followers or the knowledge of building an ark. Why then did Allah not simply save him without the trouble of having to build a ship. The Prophet and his followers could have easily been transported to a safer place. The answer in the story is that every effort to uphold Islam must undergo the process of natural law and order. It cannot just happen with an “abracadabra!”
While we acknowledge Islam to be the truth and have faith that it will always be protected by the Almighty, we should not be taking any shortcuts in realizing our objective in this effort. We should be making our plans according to natural laws and logical reasoning.
This is similar to Allah taala assigning Prophet Muhammad the responsibility of conveying the message of Islam over a period of 23 years. It would have been easier if He made every listener a believer. Considering that the prophet was dearly loved by Allah, it would seem his da’wah mission should be made smoother. Unfortunately this would have been against the law of nature.
When da’wah efforts do not follow the laws of cause and effect or happen at their appointed time, then the result could be disastrous. Achieving something without first producing the required factors will place a strain on the process of natural laws. The result will be failure, as efforts that goes against the laws of nature is doomed to fail. This is consistent with the sayings of the prophet that the religion is not made difficult except by those who makes the affairs of religion difficult.
This should be our view in accomplishing our da’wah effort. We would like to see our daughters wearing hijab in national schools, and the Syariah Court to go beyond family and inheritance laws. We would like to see Islam as the foundation of social justice, Islamic financing leading us away from usury and an Islamic media that gives news coverage that is morally upright and just. We would also like to see our madrasah producing not just asatizah but also successful professionals.
The list is endless and can only be realised after we have fulfilled all its criteria and conditions. All these efforts must be carried out in phases.
While we cannot deny the existence of mu’jizat and karamah from Allah taala, we should not expect Allah to grant karamah on us just so that events can be speeded up such that they occur outside of their appointed time.
Karamah is a gift from Allah that is beyond our control and should not be included in planning our da’wah effort. Nevertheless we should continue to pray that Allah will assist us in our efforts.
It would also be a mistake for us to operate outside the laws on nature on the assumption that Allah taala will assist us just as He did in parting the sea for Prophet Musa and making the fire cool for Prophet Ibrahim.
The Prophet Musa did not plan to evacuate the Israelites with the expectation that Allah will part the sea for him. It was only when he was trapped that he asked Allah for assistance. Prophet Muhammad’s hijrah was also not a magic act.
This does not mean that we should become passive and submissive in our da’wah effort. Instead we should have the aspiration to effect changes, identify the requirements necessary to realise our objectives according to rational process and to make the effort to its end.
The fruition of the effort will be dependent on our level of commitment and sacrifice. The less effort we put in means that we should expect less results.
Allah created everything within its own natural ecological environment. So too, da’wah. Its “ecology” is dependent on its varying environment. When the lines are crossed, it is a easy for da’wah to be destroyed.
We are obligated to make our efforts and practice patience when those efforts have not been realised due to whatever reasons. In such circumstances patience means acceptance of what has been determined by Allah.