When Islam is in power…..

(c) Muhammad Haniff Hassan, June 2002

There seems to be widespread concern about Islam being in power or playing a lead role, whether at a national, community, institutional or organizational level. While one would hardly be surprised to find non-Muslims who feel this way, unfortunately there are also some among the Muslims who are ignorant and weak in faith who share the same sentiment. Uppermost in their minds are the changes that will be implemented once Islam takes over.

And should anyone blame them? The resounding call often heard from the proponents of the da’wah movement is the concept of da’wah as an agent of change from jahilyyah to Islam. Often they hold on to the idealism and belief that Islam has to be raised through the process of inqilabi ie through total change or revolution. Spurring them on are slogans such as “raise Islam on the ruins of jahiliyyah”.

Hence with such images in place, the general public is lead to believe that Islam in power will bring with it drastic changes in their lives – civil laws will quickly be replaced with hudud laws, interest-based banking system will be curtailed, music and singing will be prohibited, all women will be forced to put on hijab and so on.

Needless to say civil lawyers, banking and finance officers, singers, actors and politicians with alternative views will have reasons to be concerned over their careers.

The new breed of young Muslims, who are very conscientious of their religious obligations, however are convinced of such course of action should take place once Islam is in power as stated in a hadits “Verily those who witness a wrong should correct it with their hands.”

However, the concept of “Raising Islam on the ruins of jahiliyyah” is not the only approach we should take as it is a concept that was derived from the ijtihad of human and is not a fixed commandment.

From the seerah of the prophet, we can see two models that have led to the success of Islamic authority.

The first was found in Medina. Muslim power rose in the city through the process of da’wah filled with wisdom and kindness. It brought the Muslims and the non-Muslim in Medina to a consensus without any incidents of demonstrations or bloodsheds. The Jews were able to remain in their villages and with their own lifestyles.

When Rasulullah found that the market place was dominated by the Jews, he did not order that it be closed. Instead he set up another market as a alternative for Muslims.
Medina had all the political institutions in place – ready for the implementation of Islamic syariah. Nonetheless revelations were still being received in stages. Liquor was not immediately prohibited even though Rasulullah s.a.w was in power. Neither was hijab made obligatory immediately.

The second model was during the reinstatement of Islam in Mecca. Despite the show of military might by the Muslims when they entered Mecca, history has documented that the number of lives lost were minimal in comparison. Even Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Musyrikin was given the honour of providing immunity to anyone who wanted protection. He and the rest of the tribal leaders remained in administrative positions in Mecca despite the fact that the prophet had many other sahabah like Abu Bakar, Umar, Ali and Othman who were capable of taking over.

Allah even corrected the prophet when he attempted to secure the keys to the Kaabah such that it remained in the hands of the person who had cared for it.

Upon looking at the size of the Kaabah, the prophet remarked, “If it wasn’t for the fact that the Quraisy are still new to Islam, I would have demolished it and rebuilt the Kaabah according to the dimensions built by prophet Ibrahim.”

The prophet was also very forgiving to the people of Mecca who had tortured and waged war on him. When they were brought before him, the prophet promptly told them to leave, saying “You are all freed.”

The only destruction that took place was that of the idols that were placed around the Kaabah and the city of Mecca. This was to safeguard the principle of tawheed in Islam.

Nonetheless da’wah should not simply take on a conformist stance just so that it would not appear radical or to remain in power. Instead changes should be made and planned with sensitivity to the principle of tadarruj or “in phases”. This was the underlying principle that the Messenger used when he was in power and that is the principle in Allah’s syariah for mankind.

It would be impossible for proponents of the da’wah movement to please all parties nor should they try to. No matter how much wisdom they practice, there will always be critics and objections till the Kiamah.