The Future of Islam by Umar Ibrahim Vadillo
Bismillahi rahmani rahim
Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmutullah
Shaykh Abdalqadir has asked me to give some words on the topic of the future of Islam. Of course, Islam is eternal, so therefore Islam is always the same. Islam was established finally at the death of Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam, and the Deen of Islam will be the same up until the end of time.
We change. The Muslims change. How we live our Islam and how we interpret our Islam has changed through history and has made the history of Islam possible. What is important when we look at ourselves and want to project ourselves into the future, is first to understand what is at stake when we speak about Islam. What is this extraordinary thing that we share, that is eternal, that it was borrowed, that was taken from Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam, up until our days? The first thing that we have to understand is that Islam is complete. You cannot take a bit of Islam, neither can you take it from what it was before its completion, nor from one of its sections. Some people you may have heard saying that we are living in times of difficulty, and therefore we have to go back to the times of Makka. But the time of Makka is not the full Deen of Islam. The Deen of Islam is Madinah at the end of the time of Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam.
Islam is therefore complete, it is all there, it is all ready for us to use it. The command of Allah is also eternal and cannot change—except by His own Will, naturally. The command given to us, the Shari’at that we have, is forever. The promises that Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, has given us through the Deen of Islam are also eternal, and therefore are as present today as they were at the time of Rasul, sallallahu ‘alayhi wa salam. The Tawhid of Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, is eternal, is today as it was, as it will always be.
So the important matter is how we place ourselves before this extraordinary message. Islam does not need change, it does not need reforms: we need the reforms. During the greater part of the twentieth century, a group of individuals spoke about the necessity to reform Islam, while their own words were the very proof that they were wrong, because it was not Islam that needed reform, it was our way of life. Our destiny as Muslims does not depend on what the kuffar do. It does not depend on their strength, their mischievous behaviour, how they appear to control media communication, sometimes wanting to tell us what Islam is, their economy—none of this matters to the destiny of the Muslims. We do not depend on them. They do depend on us.
The key to understanding this destiny is therefore not in interpreting the events as they come around us or in the time that we are living in, but it is something much more subtle yet much more profound. The key to interpreting everything, ourselves and everything around us, is the relationship with Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala. This is the secret, this is the very matter on the basis of which we will succeed in our task, or we will fail. Our task with Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, is very simple yet extraordinarily overwhelming in its outcome. We are here to worship Him. There is no other purpose. Our destiny, our life, the entire purpose of life is to obey Him, to submit to Him, to fear Him. And to fear Him is to have taqwa of Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, this is the coding message, it is the very tool to interpret the nature of the complexity of the world around us. And therefore it is through this tool, through this basic tool, that we have a chance or we do not, to create a satisfying destiny for ourselves.
Shaykh Abdalqadir, just before I left on my journey about two months ago, delivered a number of lectures on this very topic, on the Tawhid in Qur’an. One of the matters, one of the key conclusions of his study was that if you want to know, if you want to understand life, if you want to understand yourself, you need taqwa. The understanding of the world, what makes the Mumin different to the kafir is Taqwa. Without taqwa you may have the entire knowledge of the Deen, you can memorize the entire Sahih of Bukhari, but that will not make you a Muslim. You will still need something much more primal, much more profound, which is taqwa. Fear of Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala. Now Fear of Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, means also that you do not fear anything else. Rumi said, “You worship what you fear. So watch where you place your fears.”
I have just come from Dubai, and there they will tell you “the Americans, the Americans, the Americans”, and you have to tell them, “Yes! The Americans are amazing but I do not believe in La hawla wa la quwatta illa United States—it is simply not true.” It does not matter how wonderful they appear, how great their voice is of lies, they are not the power, they are not the source of my life.
It is only in saying “La hawla wa la quwatta illa billah” that you have a chance of creating some clarity in your life. In your life as an individual and collectively as Muslims, the only chance is precisely to understand this, to understand taqwa. And this is the very element on the basis of which we can understand what I was saying before, which is that we do not depend on the kafir. Neither do we depend on their state of affairs, because none of this matters. This is other-than-Allah. We depend entirely on how much we become His slaves. And becoming His slaves is of the nature of eliminating your attributes. This is what we are here for, to share this experience, to taste this matter, to go one step every time to be able to understand what it is to eliminate the nafs, as an individual and also as a collectivity.
The very matter that will create a successful destiny for the Muslims, is to be able to eliminate who we are, to eliminate ourselves from the picture in anything other than being slaves of Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala. Especially in these times, because almost everything that identifies you as being other than a Muslim is working against you. Starting from the fact that you are South African, or Palestinian. Look at their misery, and there is no outcome to the Palestinian issue as long as they insist that they are Palestinians first and foremost, and they take onto the whole cultural element that was already written years before their time by the Irish and by the struggle of other nationalistic nations. They created the very concept of a nation and a flag and a national anthem, and what you still see on Arab television, every night, at the end of the whole session of this stuff they produce for you, is that there is this ceremony of standing before this flag, and this national anthem, that you know very well as Shaykh Abdalqadir has many times pointed out to us.
There was a time in London that there were people just making money in making flags and national anthems for these people. Now you find them standing up in a kind of ecstasy before this ridiculous nonsense. But this stands against them and against all of us individually and collectively.
You talk to them and they have a thesis, they have made a whole history, they have mapped out the world in terms of what makes money. But when you look into it, it is all riba, it is all haram, from the beginning to the end. And those people who have attempted to redeem themselves from a life of disaster, what have they done? They have islamised capitalism. So today, out of their own experience, with their PhDs from that third-rate university in America where they became economists, they come back to their land and they take a little bit of Bukhari here and there, and they started islamising banks and insurance, and the stock exchange. Now there is even an Islamic Dow Jones, just in case you do not know. So Microsoft has finally been islamised. You can invest in Bill Gates and it is halal (in their dollars naturally), in this gambling machine called the stock exchange. They have islamised credit cards—anything you can possibly think of has been islamised: constitutions, parliaments, human rights, everything.
Their knowledge works against us. Their expertise that makes this viable in this society works against us. The only thing that helps you is your identity as a Muslim—the very identity they want to erase from you. Let me tell you that if you want to speak about constitutions, the idea of an islamic constitution is as ridiculous as islamic banking, or islamic whiskey. Every time you speak about constitutions, remember that this is the very tool invented 200 years ago in the French Revolution to eliminate religious identity, it is the very essence of anti-religiousness. It is the very essence of saying, “No, no! Your identity is as a tax-payer. What matters is who do you pay the taxes to? And what matters is what currency you use, and in which environment you are going to be taxed.” Religion is secondary to that, secondary to the extent that tolerance, for example, the whole fantasy of tolerance, is the very essence of saying “religion does not mean anything any more.” There are ‘hindu muslims’—this, that and the other, and the first idiotic sect that you can possibly imagine coming up with another theory, and all are seen in the same light or weight as you are. It is all the same. Therefore it is nothing. Which means the only religion that exists is capitalism. This is another issue which is very important to understand.
So what is left when you abandon these attributes, these false attributes? What is left is the Deen of Islam. This is for very few, and yet only a handful is necessary to be the leadership. To open the path. To undo what has been done wrong in 300 years. To restore it in our generation. This is possible. The person who does not understand that this is possible, he has already lost the Deen, or lost part of the Deen. Remember what Rumi said: “The munafiq is the person who says, ‘That which is halal is not possible.’” Indeed it is totally impossible in itself, because as Rumi argues, how can it be that Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, has given us the order and not the means? Of course He has given us the means. It is in fact the easiest to do what is halal. His famous recipe was, “If you do still not understand, hit your head against the wall. And if you still do not understand, then hit harder!” Because your head does not work.
So Islam is possible. All the means that we require, and which you require as an individual, are available to you, are within your reach. This may be a hard thing to see, but you have to force yourself to understand that all the means that you need to the success in your life and to lead other people to success in Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, are within your reach. If you do not see, open your eyes. When you wake up every morning you must force yourself to see it, and you are forced to see it even farther, and you move on and you move on.
You will know when you are moving on when you can look in retrospect and say, “O my God! This is where I was and this is where I am now,” in the understanding that you can go farther and farther and farther, that the request of means goes at the same speed as you eliminate your self. And therefore what are we saying? All the obstacles that you as an individual and we as a collective will encounter, from here to the success, to the final success, the ultimate success, to the full establishment of the Deen in our time, all the obstacles that we will encounter are created by ourselves. The nature of those obstacles is nothing else but our own false fears. What you will be watching every time you encounter that obstacle is your self, magnified in ‘cine-imax’! It is completely in front of you. What is hidden comes before you, it manifests, and you become overwhelmed. For the Mumin, instead of getting stopped in that event, he realizes and he moves on, because he knows what to do with his obstacle, which is to turn to Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala. When you turn to Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, that door which was closed becomes twenty doors opened. And then you realize that “I am moving forward.” This is the very tool, the very essence of the matter which is what we celebrate here in this gathering—the elimination of everything that is ourselves, everything we call ourselves, that false identity made of historicity and culture, and false images, other than being Muslim. The elimination of all that is what will make us succeed.
What do we expect to see every time we go deeper into ourselves, every time that our relationship with Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, is turned one bit farther, every time we come closer to Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala—what do we expect to see? Clarity. Clarity. Shaykh Darqawi many times in his letters, explains what it is to become close to Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, in abandoning the nafs, in the countless ways in which he analyses this matter, to the extent of science. Those who want to go deeper into this matter, go to Shaykh Darqawi. I do not think it could be made more clear for the people of today. You can see, he goes and says, “Strip it out! Take it out! Go away! Disappear! Do not put your self before your obligations!” in this extraordinary way. But rather eliminate it. And what he says is, “What you will see is certainty. Certainty. Certainty which becomes like light. Certainty in “La hawla wa la quwatta illa billah”. That certainty, which is reality itself, is like starting to see the whole world in a completely different way. Everything that was before a prison, is turned around. Everything that before became an obstacle, becomes a solution, a door. Because remember, it does not matter how difficult it becomes—again we see ourselves—we should realize that the more difficult the situation is, and I must agree these are extraordinary events in the history of Islam. We never lived without Khalifate. The task may sound big, but the Mumin must realize that with this big task comes big means. In other words it is for an extraordinary generation that this gift comes that Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, has given us to bring forward the Deen in these times. It is for extraordinary people.
“Inna maa al-‘Usri, Yusra” —with the difficulty there is the ease. And in this particular difficulty there is easiness to it. There is a path and there is benefit for the people of this time like there has never been. For the people who had it all done, there has been benefit, naturally. But what is to come are extraordinary matters for extraordinary people. This is how we need to see these events. Events that will turned with the ease with which we turn a page in a book. The difficulty is not going to be in turning the page, it is going to be in ourselves, in turning ourselves and opening our hearts in order to see that the book is there, and that all we have to do is turn the page. The difficulty is in turning ourselves, not in the things before, what the hand will have to do is much, much less than what the heart has to do. That is why Shaykh Darqawi in this very matter says, “The affairs of the heart make the affairs of the limbs irrelevant. What you turn with your heart, whatever you can do with your heart makes whatever you can do with your hands irrelevant.”
So therefore, do not be of those who see themselves and say, “What do I have? What do I know? Who am I?” to determine what you can do. Because let me tell you, you should not waste your time. You can do nothing. Zero. Your hands will not lead you to anything, anywhere. But you have one tool that can turn everything around—everything! Things that you could not turn with your hands, even collectively, all of us put together, you can turn with one thing, with this, your heart.
Your heart has the extraordinary quality of making something big, huge and enormous into something tiny. Something tiny and unimportant, great and big. Something distant, to bring it close to you. Something close to you that is imprisoning, to throw it back, throw it away. You can do that with the heart, you cannot do it with the limbs. This is what we have. This is our tool. It is with this that we can move forward. And see clarity, see what to do. The thing will open before you like the very essence of everyday-ness unfolds—like you breath, then the things will come and they will open before you in a way in which there is no doubt. You will know exactly where to go. The things will come with clarity.
Doubt is the very means of the mess we find ourselves in. Success is in identifying what are the things worth changing, in recognising the problems before us, the very big monsters that we have self-generated, which seem to stop everything to do with the Deen of Islam—in understanding that each one of those enemies that we have created, they are the very tools to our success. We must understand that we can turn things that look like a big problem, just like that, into the big solution. That we can turn around every bit of our incapacity in our means to move forward.
It is not difficult to imagine that part of this struggle of the Muslims in moving forward has got to do with the economic system that we are living in. An economic system is nothing. What is an economic system? Riba! Riba. What is Riba? Riba is nothing, but it has become a religion, it has become the way of living of everybody else. What I said about the constitution is the very essence of this false deen, that enforces everybody to follow it without any tolerance. Because tolerance is only applicable to all the other religions, not to capitalism. Capitalism can be ruthless, non-negotiable. You cannot go and say to your bank manager, “You know something, this month I am not going to pay you the interest because I do not believe in it. I am actually agnostic. This interest, you keep it. I am not going to pay anymore.” They will not look at the matter with a great degree of tolerance. But they will put you in jail. And if you refuse to go to jail, they will kill you. This is the full extent of their deen. Their commitment is total.
This method as a whole is capitalism. So it is not strange if we say that a great part of the things to be moved in our future will be how Islam appears to be the end of capitalism, and that we will be fighting capitalism, not christianity. Christianity is finished. There is nothing left. There is a trickle of romance and a little bit of emotion left. They do not have Shari’at, they do not have anything. All you have to see is one of these programmes of the evangelists, and in five minutes you see what the whole thing is about. It has become just emotions. Hands up, and doing this horrible stuff they do. It is the same for the jews. The great majority, as Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, tells us in the Qur’an, are atheists. And we do not need to speak about the hindus or the buddhists, or whatever this new lot is that appear, because they are absolutely nothing.
We will have to do it. We will have to change. And this will happen, because Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, in Qur’an already speaks about this matter of Riba, with great clarity and with great power. He first of all informs us: “Wa ahall allahu-l-bay‘a wa harama riba’”— “Allah has permitted trade and forbidden riba.” And here he tells us what to do. There is the halal and the haram. Therefore the task of the Muslims is to establish what is halal.
He also informs us that Allah and His Messenger have declared war on riba and the people who practice riba, which means that even if we do nothing, still riba will not survive, riba will collapse. This is the very nature of the thing we are fighting. It is a fantasy whose only destiny is to collapse. Therefore, you do not want to build your house on such an illusory fantasy, you want to move out of it. This will be done by those people who capable of leaving this matter for what will be the successful affair, and they will the people who will lead the way for others.
In the events to come in our lifetime, we will see the most important crisis capitalism has ever had, the biggest one. It will make the events of the previous century, in 1929, look like a little hiccup. Those events which brought about a total transformation of the world and the political realities of the current world, which brought about fascism and Hitler in Germany, which completely changed the political picture of people, will be repeated again but on a much larger scale. The crisis that will come will be associated with the dollar and the financial systems, the fantasy systems of the United States—ironically, according to some, now islamised: the stock exchange and all these fantastic gambling machines. All these things will be wiped out. It will be in those events and the years to come that Islam will be the force, but stronger. Because fascism was not an answer to all these disasters, and it was still part of kufr.
Islam will be the voice that will come out of this event. And we are the people preparing the path, preparing ourselves for these events to come, building the lifeboat that you will desperately need in those events, because all this cosmetic economy that we are living in today will be wiped out. The more dependent you are on the technical machine, the more you will suffer. So those closer to the centre of gravity in Europe and in America will suffer more than people in, for example, Albania. It is more probable to say that when this event happens, the people in Tirana will tell you, “A crisis in which stock exchange, did you say? New York?” But this will not be an affordable commentary for those people living in London, for instance. Or those who have made their living out of this cosmetic economy. A handful will be prepared. A handful of people will be ahead of their time and they will be building up the tools that will drive us through.
At that time you will need community. Today it is easy for people to say, “No, No. I do not need to belong to any sect. Or any group. Because I am just fine on my own.” Which is absolute nonsense if you are a Muslim. If you are a Muslim you need an Amir, you need Amr, to belong to a community. There is no personal morality like the christians have, we have a social reality. As individuals we can do nothing. These events will tear us apart, and throw us left, right and centre, like everyone else. But as a collectivity, we will be able to answer. To be able to come together will be not just a matter of choice, it will be a necessity. And I welcome this necessity, because although it is actually as necessary today as it will be then, it will force the Muslims to wake up—some of those who are just hanging in the periphery, playing the game of “I am a Muslim on my own,” and making their own rules of how they determine their own destinies and that type of personal morality which you find today among people.
To have a community will be necessary. Murabitun is one of the few that is looking at this matter, people that are coming together. One of the few who have forged Amr in this time. We have also forged in this time an understanding of ourselves and our community, and the celebration of this science of tasawwuf, bringing it forward from the past and making a path through these dark ages into a new day on which we can celebrate once more the Khalifate, and we can see again one nation—not 27—with one flag, and one Shahada. One nation gathered for the sake of Allah, subhanahu wa ta‘ala, for the fulfilment of His Shari’at. A nation that will reform the world, because it does not need to reform the Shari’at. The Shari’at will be the very tool, the very essence of our existence. And the abandonment of our affairs will have been fulfilled, in as much as we have eliminated all the traces of this false culture that we carry forward, collectively and as individuals. We will have created the one identity that will make us human beings, which is being slaves of Allah, to submit to Him, which is to be a Muslim.
Assalaamu ‘alaykum wa rahmutallah.