From Abdullah Al-Andalusi via MPACUK
"Islam is not a video game where one must gradually progress on each level, until he is ready to commit to a new obligation"
"Many Muslims are told that before they can even think about political work for the revival of Muslim world, they must first 'perfect themselves', and attain a (deliberately) obscure state of 'perfection' in their practice and faith.
In support of this argument, 'Perfect-yourself-first' Muslims (a.k.a ascetics?) cite this narration of the Prophet Muhammed (saaw): 'On the authority of Jabir (r.a,) who said, 'The Prophet returned from one of his battles, and thereupon told us, 'You have arrived with an excellent arrival, you have come from the Lesser Jihad to the Greater Jihad - the striving of a servant (of Allah) against his desires.'
These 'perfectionists' then croon about how striving against one's internal desires is greater, and 'therefore' more important than 'worldly' activities, and 'should be prioritised'. What the 'perfectionist' misses however in this narration, is something so obvious, you'd wonder why you didn't see it before. The Prophet (saaw) talked about the greater Jihad AFTER he had just returned from the lesser Jihad. Apparently the Prophet Muhammed (saaw) seems to disagree with the 'perfect-yourself-first' Muslim as to what comes first...
Of course, the hadith is of disputed authenticity, but that is another matter...
If that wasn't bad enough, the 'Perfect-yourself-first' Muslim must not have read this narration of the Prophet (saaw):
"A man whose face was covered with an iron mask came to the Prophet and said, 'Allah's Apostle! Shall I fight or embrace Islam first?' The Prophet said, 'Embrace Islam first and then fight.' So he embraced Islam, and was shahid (martryed). Allah's Apostle said, 'A Little work, but a great reward.'"
Sahih Bukhari 4:52:63
A new Muslim, before he did anything else, joined a noble fight, and died. I'd doubt he even had time to learn 'the basics' before he went to battle!
These narrations demonstrate a simple truth in Islam, Islam is not a video game where one must gradually progress on each level, until he is ready to commit to a new obligation. Islam has many obligations, but these are achieved through the SIMULTANEOUS work of the Muslim to apply Islam in every area of his life - not one area at a time. Its like saying to a new Muslim who drinks Alcohol and eats pork and non-halal meat 'Do not give up pork and non-halal meat, first you must perfect your abstaining from alcohol', or telling a new Muslim 'Don't seek food sustenance, until you've mastered the prayer'!
One cannot shut down one's career, because one's private life is not perfect, likewise, one cannot neglect to eat, because one hasn't mastered tidying up one's house!
Of course, some scholars which tell Muslims to remain apolitical, and focus purely on spiritual concerns, have been deliberately placed into positions of influence in Muslim countries at the behest of secular Muslim governments, in order to keep the Muslims docile and quiet.
A Secularist is not someone who is merely materialistic. A secularist is someone who separates revelation from lifes affairs (politics). Since Secularism doesn't eliminate Revelation, it just wants Revelation to play no part in life's affairs. Thus 'spiritual perfectionists' can be (and are) Secularists too.
Secularism is like a game of football, it doesn't matter what team you play, just as long as you play. Likewise, you can be materialistic in your life affairs, or you can be spiritualistic away from lifes affairs, just as long as you don't mix the two, and keep playing - Secularism is happy with you.
It's time for 'perfect-yourself-first' Muslims to begin perfecting their understanding of reality, and some wisdom. Islam must be implemented simultaneously in all areas of a Muslim's life, because LIFE ITSELF is simultaneous, and one cannot limit it to one aspect at a time" - Abdullah Al Andalusi