“Have you not seen how Allah has given an example of a good word
which is like a good tree.
Its roots are firm in the soil and its branches are high up in the heavens.
It gives its fruits in every season by the command of its Lord.
And Allah gives examples for people so that they may reflect.”
(Surat Ibrahim: ayats 24-25)
As-Salaamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmatullah.
Audhu billahi min ash-shaytanir-rajim, Bismillahir-rahmanir-rahim.
We will take this ayat as the theme, subject, and key to everything that we will examine insha’Allah over the following days. Our theme is at-Tarbiyat al-Islamiyat al-Asliyya–Root Islamic Education. What we mean by that is an Islamic education which is absolutely the source of Islam, the pure Islam of that Madinan source of the Messenger of Allah, blessings of Allah and peace be upon him. What you see today in the world is the result, among the people of the umma, of the abandonment of this root Islam. Now, if we say what that root Islam is, everyone would say, “Well, I agree with that.” Then what we have to realise is that over a long period of time, an alteration, a splitting, a breaking, a diverting, a complexification of teachings have pulled the Muslim people away from this original Islam of the Messenger of Allah, blessings of Allah and peace be upon him, and the Sahaba.
Now each one of you will have formed an opinion and an idea and an assessment by your intelligence–and I am not saying that if there are new things in what you hear it is because of lack of intelligence or lack of good judgement on your part–but we must remember that we are the inheritors, all of us, of a confusion and a restatement of Islam from within our own ‘ulama’ that has prevented people from understanding what is the original Salafi message of our Messenger, may Allah bless him and give him peace. And I include in that elements from every aspect and every science within the sciences that could be subsumed under the phrase ‘Islamic sciences’. But if it were simply a matter of ‘ulum, if it was simply a matter of kalam, then we could, of course, have a lovely argument against ‘madhhab’. I am going to try to get you to reach a point prior to madhhab. Not to reject madhhab and not to say ‘therefore we have eliminated it’, but in order to understand what has been made of the concept of madhhab after the madhhab had in fact been a functioning and acceptable political and intellectual reality. In other words, the concept and the thesis of the madhhab position has been altered intellectually and politically throughout the ages and has gathered a portmanteau effect which has weighed it down until you have a ship which is so full of intellectual luggage, so full of methodology, but nowhere impinging on the social process, that the ship sinks.
So, I am saying, let us get onto the life-boat and let us take with us essential rations–of Deen al-Islam. If we take these and you then say, “Ah! But what about this, and what about that, and what about that?” you are going to sink the life-boat. Let us get it onto land and then let us see if any of that material gets washed up by the tide, and we can review it and put back what is possible on a more expansive line. This is what I am suggesting. Because it cannot be that the viewpoint, that the so-called ijtihad—and here again what you think is ijtihad is not what our ‘ulama’ meant by ijtihad in the first five hundred years of Islam–was only opinion, was only ra’y. ljtihad meant something else. We will see again what has been done to the concept of ijtihad. Ijtihad has become the discourteous, ignorant opinion of uninformed journalists and government representatives of kafir puppets put over the Muslim people. So we will have to review the theme of ijtihad in order to arrive back at that thing that was meant, until we discover what lies have been told about our own tradition and our ‘ulama’–the fantasies and imaginations which suggest that to have taqlid is to be a sheep, and that taqlid was inimical to ijtihad which is not correct, as we will see by the review of this material.
Now you know that in Islam there are a series of groupings and splittings and thematic debates which have shaken our people, Mu’tazila, Khawarij and so on. There have been the mutakallimun. There has been the arrival of Abu’l-Hasan al-Ash’ari and so on and so on. You know that there were the Imams of madhhab and I do not mean four. I mean there were several Imams of madhhab. There were the muhaddithun, there were the mufassirun. There were these complexifications and accretions, but at every stage of the way all these phenomena were connected to khalifate and to power and to governance. Now, what we have at the moment is–no fuqaha’! It is as simple as that. What do I mean by that? I mean we have ‘ulama’, but they are castrated, metaphorically speaking. They are impotised, they are unmanned, politically speaking. Why? Because they have assembled a vast body of knowledge–no one will argue it. They can quote you hadith from morning to night. They can make commentary on Qur’an from morning to night. How many will make prayer from night to morning is not our business. But these men cannot impinge on the social process.
I was visited by a man from Qatar, who presented himself as this Islamic authority and an Islamic leader. He said, “Kitab wa Sunna”. I said, “How can you say, ‘Kitab wa Sunna’, if you work for this Amir, when this and this, and more that you know that I do not know is haram and should be punished and is unacceptable?” He said, “Oh, he is a very nice man, he is a very charming man, but he is rather stupid and he does not understand these things so we do not discuss them with him.” He was prepared to accept the complete surrender of that political and legal authority for the tenure and the salary of a silent ‘alim, who would underwrite every haram act of that government.
So what we find is that we have ‘ulama’ and no fuqaha’. It has to be that those people who talk about the creation of an Islamic state have arrived at this thesis. I refer to the modernists and the elements like Maududi and some intellectuals in the Ikhwan al-Muslimin, who talk about Islamic constitutions, when this is not acceptable—when this is in fact the structural process of the enemies of Islam. Constitutionalism is not Islamic, it is masonic and therefore jewish. They talk about an Islamic state when what they are referring to is that they would take on the infra-structure of a modern technological society and then somehow there would be some moral tidying up on the edges, so you would end up with a kind of Islam that was like the United States under Herbert Hoover—which is that it was a monopoly capitalism but nobody got drunk. This is not the case. This is not the Islamic thesis at all.
So what we want to do is to go back to the very beginning of the process and see how, piece by piece, we can get a picture. The point that we will go back to–it is not conceivable that an intelligent Muslim could disagree with it, and it will have to mean that at the beginning, all later ‘aqida, all later critiques, all later reformism, has to be thrown out as bid’a, whether it is from Ahl as-Sufiyya, whether it is from the Ahl-al this or Ahl-al that–you will have to say, “None of this is anything but accretion, let us find what they originally had.” And that would also mean Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn Abd al-Wahhab, because they introduced elements in ‘aqida which were not in this primal thesis, and which contradict, and which double back, in a later generation, on their own people so that they say something and then they pull back from it later on. As the wahhabis first rejected madhhab then were forced by the ‘ulama at a later stage to accept Ahmad ibn Hanbal, but they do not open the books of Ibn Hanbal–they put them up on the wall as a protection for them. And then they say, “We’ll take al-Ash’ari”, but things in al-Ash’ari are contradicted by the Kitab at-Tawhid of Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab. Now they are talking about getting rid of al-Ash’ari because they are now so strong and so rich and nobody bothers about the law and nobody gets punished for doing anything unless he has got an income of under a thousand dollars a year.
No, we do not want any of this, we want now to look at this original thesis. And we want in these coming gatherings to look at this basic material which comes from the Kitab of Allah and the Sunna. Everyone is quite correct when they say ‘Kitab wa Sunna’. I am adding the outrageous, dangerous concept that if we say ‘Kitab wa Sunna’ it implies governance. And that we have a model for this governance, which is the city of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, Madinah al-Munawwara. Islam is not an idealism, it is not an unachieved dream thwarted by the greed and power lust of generations of corrupt men. The Islam of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, was achieved, was laid down, did happen, did last, did endure, and then was swept away. And we accept that first Salafi record on which our deen is based and without which we could not have any deen, because we must have Sunna with Kitab.
So we will have to look into this in a structured, patterned way. And in doing it we will have to assess the significance of a certain line that emerges that has harmony, intellectually, spiritually and politically, with that first phenomenon.
This is now just like chapter headings of what we are going to do. I am going to propose at a later date, that even what has been taught to you as the history of Islam is not the history of Islam at all. It has been taught to us as a dynastic panorama on the one hand, and a history of schools and sects on the other. And my thesis to you is that the history of Islam is a series of repeated manifestations of Islamic governance where the amir was answerable to a body of responsible fuqaha’ who governed according to the Kitab wa Sunna of the Salafi community. And that can be found sporadically here and sporadically there.
We can show you a line that goes from Madinah al-Munawwara at the time of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace, through to Imam Malik, and from Imam Malik continues for five hundred years–in the Middle East, to the gates of India and to the gates of Russia, right across North Africa, right into Europe. For five hundred years, you find that the leadership was in the hands of slaves who were fuqaha’ and before whom amirs bowed their heads. And I say that is Islamic history, and not this other thing that has been invented by the orientalists which we have fallen for–of dynasties and epochs marked by changes in the style of jugs and arches.
You see, the theme of this is so red hot, so extraordinary that you cannot conceive when you hear it, of why we did not all get the point before. Because, as I say, we are not stupid. I am as astonished as you are. I could not have found this material in a library, although it is all in the library. So the alim has got it and he has missed it. Because he is not faqih. Because he is not embodying these three elements that make a faqih.
Let us now just make one definition in advance of my presenting my thesis, of what constitutes the faqih. Fiqh. Giving judgement. The qadi’s role. The qadi’s role has three elements, and he must be able to embody these three elements or there is no Islamic governance. The first aspect of the qadi is that he must know the Salafi situation of Kitab wa Sunna according to the Salafi community and he must know the ‘amal of Madinah. He must know what the people, the Muslims, did. I am going to justify this claim later. I have to, because I have made a specific statement about Madinah. Let us say he must know the Salafi situation–legally. He must know the root, basic, legal parameters of the hudud, and he must know what the punishments are. He must know the usul, he must know the necessary and relevant hadith by which he will arrive at a legal decision. He must know the abrogated ayats. He must know those ayats which refer to this matter, that is primary. Then he must know the ‘amal. I will say necessarily, must know the ‘amal of Madinah.
Then having this knowledge his next necessity is judgement. In other words he must be an acceptable qadi, he must have an acceptable moral character, he must be able with that acceptable character, in that accepted position, to make a judgement about what is brought before him and arrive at an answer in harmony with that knowledge, and not overstepping it and in complete taqlid in every aspect, until the point when that taqlid stops. That we will come to later.
Then the third thing is that having passed the sentence, which is in itself an act of his power by Allah and his political reality, he must do it in the knowledge that the total superstructure of the Islamic society can see that the sentence is executed–because the third dimension of this role of qadi is that his sentence is carried out. And by that token, governance of the Muslims is demonstrated to the people. So this is the thesis that we are looking at.
As well as taking you on this path and process by which we recover a Salafi position and a Madinan position, I want to, as a result of this, indicate to you what will be the foundations of an acceptable Islamic education on three levels. And the first two levels I want to put to you–the third I will not put to you because it is not possible in this time span to do it–but I would like that we lay down these three elements, these three stages of Islamic education. In other words, we would have to see that the duty of the Muslims politically, is the reformation of an educated community headed by an elite of committed, educated, informed Muslims who will put what they know into political action. In other words, they will from the first day, have no concept that they can form a political judgement as we now have armchair qadis who have as much power over the Islamic nexus as the American citizen has over his society, when he criticises it while watching it on television.
I would say that the talib’s Islam would be based on three books and would have these three elements. We have said Kitab wa Sunna, but Sunna, we must make clear, means the usul necessary to govern and control every aspect of the society with particular emphasis on the economic aspect. Be-cause, in what has been done to us, we are the slaves, not of guns, not of tanks, not of ideology, not of soldiers, but of economic practice and the theft of resources.
These three elements would be, first of all, naturally Kitabullah. Now I would say for the talib that he would need to know the Arabic language, which we must assume and take as given. The beginning is Arabic. After Arabic we say he will have to know the Kitabullah, but it is not enough to say I have got the book and I have the language. Secondary to that, he must have the knowledge of the abrogated ayats. Thirdly, he must know the nuzul, he must know the story, the de-tails, surrounding the descent of that ayat, or series of ayats, or sura. He must know what is connected to it, otherwise he might make imagination, he might be led astray into Batinism and so on and so on. And I would say that for this, and there should be no controversy over my choice, that for the talib level, we would accept for its renown and for its clarity and for its simplicity, and for in fact its wonderful capacity to include all the essential elements, and for its clear statements about the Arabic grammar that we can all understand, we would accept the very renowned and already very popular Tafsir al-Jalalayn. That is not controversial. We all accept it, we all use it and respect it. So we would say Tafsir al-Jalalayn for the talib level.
Then, secondly, we come to the politics, law and hadith. For this we will take one book, which contains hadith, usul and the amal of Madinah, and that is al-Muwatta of Imam Malik. al-Muwatta of Imam Malik which is the earliest of our great books of which Imam ash-Shafi’i said:
“If there were any book after the Kitabullah by which I would swear,
it would be al-Muwatta of Imam Malik.”
That would be the second book of this Tarbiyat al-Islamiyat al-Asliyya. The third element, because in this execution of the Shari’a–and in this establishing of an Islamic power structure, and base, and phenomenon, it is absolutely essential that those people, who take on the heavy responsibility of this taqlid, that will prepare a very, very small group for this electrifying ijtihad which we will later talk about and which we will later define, have in them the rahma of Allah. And it is not gained by any other means whatsoever except by love of the Messenger of Allah, peace be upon him. Because he has said in a much honoured hadith:
“You are not mumin until you love me more than yourself,
your family and your possessions and the whole world.”
The means to this compassion and this rahma is the love of the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and give him peace. And so for this we have selected a book of sira. As you know there is a vast sira literature, and we have selected a book which is very early, which is about a thousand years old, and which has in it no fantasy, no fabulous elements, no hagiography of exaltation and metaphysical speculation, but simply tells the wonderful story of the Messenger of Al-lah, may Allah bless him and give him peace. First by saying what Allah has said about him in His book. And these are not just the famous ayats that we know–“Rahmat lil’alamin,” and so on, but ayats which we do not recognise at first as connecting to the Messenger of Allah, Allah’s blessings and peace be upon him, and that are in themselves an education and an inspiration for us. That is the first wonderful thing about this book.
The second thing is that everything it says about him and that he has said about himself, and which his Sahaba have said, come from hadith that have been scrutinised by its author, who is one of the greatest of the muhaddithun in the history of the science. Again, it is all based on pre-checked pre-examined hadith by a science which is not being practised anymore. Which is another thing in a later stage we are going to have to examine, to explain why the use of hadith has been degraded and the meanings of the hadith have been dishonoured.
And the third thing is that this book, in its quality, is suffused with a love of the Prophet, peace be upon him, that is so overwhelming that you cannot read it without being affected. And the key to this is that the man who wrote the book was cutting heads, and hands, and marking backs, and passing sentences, and giving orders to amirs. He was living it. He was on the edge. And he could not do it without help. He could not do it without the rahma of Allah. He could not do it without the ‘ibada that gave him great, great love of the Messenger, may Allah bless him and give him peace.
We have taken ash-Shifa‘ of Qadi ‘lyad as the third book in this basic Islamic education. We have Qur’an al-Karim with Tafsir al-Jalalayn. We have al-Muwatta of Imam Malik, and we have ash-Shifa’ which is renowned all over the Maghrib, all over West Africa, very well known in Syria, very well known among the people who study hadith, and very well known among the people who study the sira literature. Again, a book of impeccable credentials, that is honoured wherever it is read, and has in it no element of controversy whatsoever. That basically is the talib’s level of Islamic study.
Now we will just touch on the second level of Islamic study which would be for those people who would become the effective core members of an active Islamic society, who would be fuqaha’, qadis, and therefore passing judgements. And for this we would have to extend systematically out to the essential elements of Islamic learning.
We would then, of course, have to extend, and I will just give headlines now for you, we would have to extend the Qur’anic study to beyond the Jalalayn, into deeper areas of knowledge. We would then with al-Muwatta extend that knowledge–not into the portmanteau effect, not into the cases and the cases and the qiyas and the qiyas but by an extension which would give them a sense of this tradition, that I will be referring to later, where this happened in later years among the Muslims, that is, the carrying out of the sentence, the governing of people according to the Book and the Salafi record.
We would take the Tartib al-Madarik of Qadi Iyad because it gives this record and will let them see an example on which they must be based, and on which they have no choice but to be based. The Tartib al-Madarik is a record of human achievement, Islamically, that, I tell you, when you study it, you will say, “I did not know such men existed on the face of the earth!” And the Tartib al-Madarik is more electrifying than any of the books of the Tadhkirat al-Awliya’ and so on–much more electrifying as a phenomenon of the human splendour of the people that this Islamic deen has produced. It is magnificent, in its raising up of the human being.
I want to begin directly with al-Muwatta and to examine why it is significant, and what its significance is and we will, by extension in this matter, have to review first of all, the popular understanding of what is madhhab. Then we will have to review what, in fact, was madhhab. Then we will have to review what became of madhhab and then we will have to review how, by brilliant tricks, they managed to get rid of madhhab and leave nothing in its place except pamphlets and journalism, and having done that, we turned round and there was not an Islamic government to be seen anywhere! That is very interesting, and we should take note of it.
Then when we have examined all that material we will go deeper into al-Muwatta of Imam Malik and in the next stage after that insha’Allah, I want to look at it, at its absolute, electric, immediate relevance to social structures, institutions and political phenomena as existing today. And we will demonstrate, insha’Allah, quite clearly and simply, how you can transform monopoly capitalist society into an Islamic society without an inflationary crisis, by the abandonment of the jewish monetary system that at present governs the whole world including the communist world. That is not uninteresting. And it is not complex–it is stunning in its simplicity! And you will see very clearly that Islamic economics, which is a phrase that we hear a lot nowadays, is not monopoly capitalist and it is not state socialist. It has its own totally idiosyncratic, individualised economic pattern. This position, is far from being something that will drag you back fourteen hundred years into the horror of the past–if you are a christian of course, fourteen hundred years ago is a nightmare–but if you are a Muslim it is a dream of delight, so we do not worry about that.
The point is that it is not in any way going back. It is not romantic. It is applicable as long as the earth stands! It is as simple as that. And the reason they have created this myth of primitivism in relation to what is called Islamic fundamentalism, is that in this pattern there is absolutely no place for yahudi power–none whatsoever. None! Because there will be and there can be no riba’, and when you see what the definition of riba’ is you will say, “Then why did they tell me it just meant interest?” because it means much, much more. When you see what it is you will see that it will automatically make the Islamic heartland, and the continent of Africa, for example, immediately, the wealthiest portion of the earth. And the dominant elements of the kafir society will by definition be bankrupt, insha’Allah.
We have reached the first step, and the first step is that we have just given you an overview of our theme, which is Root Islamic Education. And we have said basically, that for the talib level we would have three books–Qur’an, al-Muwatta, and ash-Shifa’ of Qadi ‘Iyad. We have said, to summarise, that we have to review the term madhhab, we have to review what happened to it. And we have said that Islamic governance is of its nature one by which amirate is basically held, supported, controlled, effected by fuqaha’ who have the power to prevent people going beyond the limits set out in the Kitab and the Sunna as embodied in these hadith and that ‘amal of Madinah.
That is our theme and that is what we will address ourselves to in this coming week, insha’Allah, step by step, and from now on it will be boring or it will be intoxicating. There will be nothing in between. Those who are not interested in taking this on, and acquiring this, and embodying this, will be bored. And those who desire this, and want to make it happen, can only be intoxicated by it. We are a people for whom sciences are intoxicating, and who in another context have made of intoxications, a science. That is another subject which has to be reviewed in its time.
For the moment, I am leaving nothing on the board. I declare all groups, all organisations, everything as bid’a and wahm except what is Kitab wa Sunna. And I will not deviate from that, and I will not end up in a position that says anything other than that. But we will arrive at a deeper understanding of it–not a broader understanding. We will become narrow, fundamentalist, fanatical, precise and dogmatic on the issue of holding to pure Islamic teaching. And if we do not lose that, we cannot go wrong.