© Muhammad Haniff Hassan, September 2001
Activists involved in da’wah should understand how some decisions can affect the strategy or execution of a programme. The role of those in authority is not one to be envied. Generally, there are 3 categories in planning a da’wah programme.
1. A da’wah programme involving personal one-to-one da’wah (da’wah fardiah) such as da’wah to one’s neighbour, falls under the responsibility of the individual initiating the programme. In this category, the individual is able to make his own plans and decisions with the clear knowledge that any repercussions of his actions will only affect himself.
2. This is large-scale planning and programming that involves the collective effort of a jemaah. Programmes may involve developing financial institutions or organising activities for a mosque – certainly requiring the involvement, planning and support by a group such as in a da’wah organisation. Any decisions will have to be made within the framework of the organisation. While decisions and responsibilities are made by the group collectively, any repercussions from those decisions will affect the community as a whole.
3. In this category, planning and programming is made by a jemaah but the programme itself is directed towards the ummah or society. Programmes of such scale would involve matters concerning the society at large and as such should receive the agreement of those affected in terms of mass support in its planning and execution. It would be unfair for the group to make decisions for the community withour proper consultation (musyawarah) and receiving their support.
An example of the above is when it comes to launching jihad in the name of defending the rights of the Muslim community.
Jihad is a task that cannot be carried out by an individual or an individual group group. This responsibility requires the mobilisation of the whole ummah as repercussions such as the loss of lives, wealth, social instability and others will fall heavily on the whole ummah. No individual group can make decisions in such matter without the consenses of other groups those represents the community or the community itself.
In the seerah of the prophet s.a.w, one would find that jihad was permitted towards the end of the Meccan period but was not implemented by the Messenger s.a.w until he was in Medina. Before launching an expedition, Prophet Muhammad called for a meeting of the Muhajirin and Ansar in order to receive their mandate. He was especially careful to receive and hear the opinions of the Ansars who were new to Islam.
The leader of the Ansars made a speech declaring that they, the Ansars, were not going to follow the footsteps of the Jews who told Prophet Musa, “Go you and your Lord in jihad. We shall wait here.”
As such the action of a militant group in Malaysia involved in bank robberies and attacks on a police station, is much regretted for those who love da’wah. The negative repercussion of their action has affected all other da’wah groups although they did not approve of the actions taken. And its effect has been damaging.
Today, all the da’wah organisation, activists and programmes in Singapore that had no relations to the millitant group are under suspicion. Good relations that have been meticulously and gradually fostered with non-Muslims may have crumbled due to these negative incidents to the extent that da’wah activists who had no connection with the group may have had to pick up the pieces and start to explain Islam all over again to non-Muslims. In the meantime, those responsible for the reprehensible actions remain in hiding. Time and resources are again being diverted from more important and immediate tasks.
The Ulama of Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jemaah have never rejected the call of jihad as one of the syariah of Islam. Nevertheless they are always aware of its repercussion, especially when it comes to raising arms against the authorities.
They have learnt from the history about Abdullah b Zubair who revolted against the rule of the Bani Umayyad, Hussein r.a who went against Yazid b Muawiyah and the incident of Al-Harrah in Medina. These are specific incidents in which, the victims were not just the perpetrators but also thousands others who were innnocent family members and citizens. Since then, there has never been an incident in which Ulama of the Ahlus Sunnah Wal Jemaah, raised their weapons against the authorities.
When Bani Abbasiyah adopted Muktazilah’s school of thought, leading to the imprisonment, torture and eventual death of Imam Ahmad B Hanbal, and the flight of Imam Syafi’i fled to Egypt, all the other scholars remained patient and continued with their da’wah efforts and correcting the wrong through dialogue and advice until good prevailed over evil. Were they cowards?
We should look to Rasulullah s.a.w as the best example for us to emulate. The prophet established Medina without any use of arms or bloodshed. Unfortunately many of us lack patience, act rashly and expect immediate results for our actions. The Ulama have set the following guideline;
“Man ista`jala syaian qabla awanihi, uuqiba bihirmanihi”
“Whosoever hasten something before its time will be barred of any benefits from his effort.”
We should heed these words of wisdom from our scholars.