Posted by: Seeker of the Sacred Knowledge | August 7, 2011

Confronting the Challenges of Today’s World


Sayyidi al-Habib Umar bin Hafiz (may Allah preserve him) was asked in an interview: It is clear that da`wa (calling to Allah) focuses on a person’s development and connection with Allah. A Muslim in today’s world, however, is confronted with changing circumstances and challenges such as the accusation that Muslims are terrorists. What does someone who wants to know the truth do?

He replied: “True understanding of the religion stems from the knowledge that its methodology is comprehensive because it has been received directly through revelation. The ability to distinguish between good and evil and between truth and falsehood does not come from adopting a particular bias or slant but from returning to the foundations, through which we understand the Sacred Law and through which people understand what is incumbent upon them.

When someone has a firm grounding in the Sacred Law he is able to distinguish between that which draws him close to Allah and that which distances him from Him, and between good and evil. Allah says: if you fear Allah He will grant you a criterion.[1] These foundations, because of the width which they permit, do not leave an individual in a state of isolation from what is going on in the world. This the distinguishing feature of this methodology: it allows an individual to know where he stands in terms of his perspective on what is around him. If he is confronted with the accusation that Muslims are terrorists or any other accusation he is able to decide for himself whether it is true or not, because he has the knowledge of what Islam is and what it calls to.

Those who subscribe to this methodology have different roles. Some will be specialists, whose time is dedicated to the da`wa. Their role is guiding people and clarifying the foundations for everyone. Others will not be able to dedicate everything to the da’wa because of the nature of society – they will be busy with their family or their work. However every person, whatever his position in society, knows his role, his responsibility and his area of specialization. Following this methodology is not restricted to those who are specialists in teaching and spiritual purification.

Every individual in whatever field he is may follow these general guidelines and divine and prophetic directives and thus knows how to act in his own situation. People’s areas of specialization must be respected for the good of the Muslims and the proper functioning of society. Muslims must also work together in all that benefits society.

What must be avoided are things which are doubtful, making judgements without proper evidence and provoking discord even when this outwardly seems the right thing to do. The scholars say that it is impermissible to forbid someone from doing a wrong action if doing so will lead to a wrong action which is greater. They also say that it is impermissible to forbid someone from doing a wrong action if there is not scholarly consensus (ijma`) on the wrongful nature of that action. The expansiveness of the Sacred Law allows room for an individual’s opinion as long as it is based upon qualified independent legal reasoning (ijtihad) and not upon caprice, bigotry or ignorance. On this basis we deal with the circumstances that confront us. Everyone in their particular field must fulfill their role in a state of awareness of Allah desiring benefit for people and clarification of the truth to them on the basis of that which is common ground and that which brings benefit and defends society from harm. Everything must be done in a correct way.”

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[1] Sura al-Anfal, 8.29

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