Islam is a complete way of life. It is vital for Muslims to deal with all that takes place around them as is written in the Quran; that enjoin good and forbid evil. Islam is not merely a passive religion that we keep in our personal lives. For every Muslim, there is a political component and, where appropriate, even a military component in the way of Islam. This is particularly true when we see oppression against Muslims. In such circumstances, a true Muslim,far from being a passive preacher,must have a more holistic approach to life. And this is reflected in the life of the Prophet (peace be upon him) and his companions, all of whose lives are exemplified by social and political struggle as much as a spiritual struggle illustrated in prayer and fasting.Yet, Muslims today have lost track of the need to strive socially and politically.
Where we stand today, Islam is being attacked, Muslims are being persecuted, and Muslim states are being dissected and neutered. This is a process that did not start now, but one that has steadily flowed throughout history, whenever our enemies found the opportunity, take for example, Spain in the 15th century, The Maghrib under France, British India, Uthman Europe after World War I, Occupied Palestine, just to name a few. More recently in Somalia, Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon, amongst others. Islam today, without doubt, is threatened.
From Morocco to Philippines, from Chechnya to Somalia, we are facing internal divisions and external threats that seem beyond the ability of the Ummah to cope. How things stand today is visible to everyone. The vivid images of mass murder and imprisonment in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan and more brings tears to the collective Muslim eyes. Yet, somehow the need is to hold our emotions and think clearly to fight back and regain our faith, strength and unity. The perennial question remains: what can a Muslim do? Is it that Muslims must live under oppression and endure and hope that Allah (swt) will save us? Or is it that this is perhaps Allah's Will? Yet, Islam does not appear to be a passive religion:
And fight them on until there is no more Tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in Allah. But if they cease, let there be no hostility except to those who practice oppression.
(Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #193)
(Al-Baqara, Chapter #2, Verse #193)
A doctrine of passivity and fatalism does not seem to hold. If one takes this principle of fighting oppression, and sees oppressors in powerful countries such as the United States and Israel, which as individuals we Muslims cannot fight,a Muslim is faced with a moral quandary. Clearly, in the singular, Muslims today are quite helpless. As individuals Muslims can be locked up, tortured or simply eliminated. But as a people, united in faith to the idea of Islam, we can fight them, insh’Allah. To do so, we need our collective strength. We need to be organized, creating a movement to establish a Muslim state that can project our collective will.
Looking at a world map, we see a host of Muslim states. One may wonder, why establish an Islamic state when there are so many that profess to be Muslim states. The problem is that there is no Islamic state today because we do not see any country today that reflects a state in the spirit of Medina, even remotely so. We cannot consider Saudi Arabia or Iran as Islamic states. To analyze the problem, let us look at defining an Islamic state today: This is astate that practices Islamic Law; whose government is not oppressive; that does not provide lip service to Islam but also practices it in letter and spirit and a state that is not a client state of the United States.
The long and short of it is that today there is no state that comes remotely close to the ideal of a Muslim state as was established in Medina-tun-Nabyi. In some ways, perhaps Sweden is closer to a Muslim state than most professed Muslim states. It is plain to everyone with how much dignity Sweden treats its citizens, how it conducts itself in international affairs, and how it combines welfare and free markets, production and environmental consciousness, justice and freedom of speech.
An Islamic state is one where the state is based on the principles of the Quran and Sunnah and reflects the spirit of the state of Medina. This is a state where justice prevails and where tyranny is banished. In an Islamic state, disagreements in government are not resolved through bloodshed but through enlightenment and wisdom built on the Quran and Sunnah. It is also a state where corruption is an outcast and not considered a daily fact of life. Some of the central principles that we believe are important for an Islamic state today are given near the end of the book under the chapter titled Central Principles. Much of this book attempts to find one possible solution to some of the major issues including political model, economic model, education and various social issues.
To recap, there is no place on earth today where an Islamic state exists as in the spirit of the state of Medina during the Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) time. We would need to do the hard work, with our sweat and blood to create this Islamic state. We would also need to determine where such a state could best be conceived.
However, unlike the Hizb-ut-Tahrir, we cannot see the Islamic state as an end in itself; the Islamic state can only be a means to an end, a tool if you will, and one that can only be utilized effectively if we first change ourselves. For the Quran reads Because Allah will never change the Grace which He hath bestowed on a people until they change what is in their (own) souls: and verily Allah is He Who heareth and knoweth (all things).(8:53)
To change ourselves we would need to diagnose what is wrong with us, both at the individual and collective levels, and look beyond the symptoms and at the actual causes. The Islamic state would then be a tool for us to utilize in correcting those illnesses we suffer.
We must remember however that such a state would need to be established while being besieged by our enemies; countries that today attempt to control the world and would do everything in their power to stop us. Even supposing that we, by the Grace of Allah (swt), attempt such a state at a random location in the Muslim world, it is more likely than not that the United States or whoever else, would find some pretext to label us terrorists, twisting the truth and fabricating evidence. We have seen this course of events time and again most recently in Somalia. If Muslims attempted to, with the Grace of Allah, create an Islamic state, they would face the greatest military, political and economic might collected by the enemies of Islam today, applied to stop us.
Now, like ants we would labor away, toiling away at a colony, only to see it destroyed. Even if such a state can attain massive economies of scale and scope with respect to a host of issues, creating such a state seems impossible and hopeless, in relation to the reaction we will face against us.
Thus, our choice would have to be careful indeed. First off, to fight oppression, this Islamic State would need to have the wherewithal to do so, that is, the ability to project conventional military might. There are few countries in the world that have this and few Muslim countries that can compete, given the might of our enemies.
Today, we are at a crossroad,with three choices before us. One road will take us to assimilating into the Western civilization and relegating Islam to the role that Christianity today plays in the West or that the religion of the Romans played in their age. The second road leads us to reviving Islam in its true spirit and meaning. The third choice is to decay and die where we stand.
What is certain is that if we are to take the second road, to revive Islam in its true spirit and meaning, it is clear that the way forward is together, as the entire Muslim Ummah rather than in separate nationalisms. Divided into different nationalisms and cut across our petty differences, racial, cultural and otherwise, we are bound to fail as we did in Spain. It is most striking to compare the similarities of Muslim Spain to the politics of Muslims today. Each little principality nearsightedly fixated on their proud "Me First" slogan. Some of these myopic states even joined Western powers to fight their brothers. Each of these states was taken down one at a time. Once Spain was conquered, Islam was razed out of every nook and corner of her. If we look at contemporary history, from Ataturk's "Turkey First", we now have "Pakistan First", "Bangladesh First", "Iraq First", "Egypt First" and more.
Spanish Muslims allied themselves with Christians to fight fellow Muslims to guard their narrow and myopic interests. How different from this folly is what we are doing today? See the Pakistan Army fight the Mujahideen and aid Western Allies in Afghanistan. Remember that without Pakistan's strategic, political and logistic support, NATO and the US would be hard-pressed to maintain the presence there.
The Quran reminds us that our Creator will not change our condition unless we change ourselves, as was mentioned earlier but let us recap this critical factor one more time: Because Allah will never change the Grace which He hath bestowed on a people until they change what is in their (own) souls: and verily Allah is He Who heareth and knoweth (all things).(8:53)