DEVELOPMENT OF THE UMMAH: An Extension of Personal Development of Every Muslim.
— Bello Nafisat Omowumi
It is no news that the Muslim Ummah is in a deplorable state. We are battling disunity amongst ourselves, ineptitude in leadership, ideological warfare between the liberal movements -secularism, Atheism, and all the isms that sprang up from the West. Also culminating into this debacle is the ignorance that has prevailed over majority of Muslims, both the pseudo-scholars and their numerous followers. This problem is all because of one reason; deserting the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of His Messenger.
For a Muslim to be assured safety in this world of confusion, he should ensure that he undergoes a series of Islamic self-development. This is in contrary to the position of those calling for us to unite in order to take our place as rulers of the world. In a nutshell, this article presents the areas every Muslim should focus on in order to develop themselves and contribute their quota to the Ummah.
DEVELOPING OURSELVES TO DEVELOP THE UMMAH.
It has been revealed in the Qur’an that Allah will not change the condition of a group until they themselves change amongst themselves, He (Allah) says: “…Verily! Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change themselves…” (Ra’d 13:11). Therefore, it is on this basis that the following points were proposed:
1. Returning back to the Qur’an and Sunnah, along with the methodology of our pious predecessors: Islam is a collection of rules and articles of faith, of knowledge and action, of things we should know and things we should do. The religion is made up of Aqeedah, Fiqh and Ādāb (etiquettes and socializing). The details related to all of these areas have been addressed in the Qurʾān and Sunnah. The verses of the Qurʾān and the statements of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) are the sources of our religion. The companions (Sahabah) took directly from the Prophet (Peace be upon him) by watching him as a practical example. ‘A’ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) said: “The Qurʾān was his character,” and the Sahabah witnessed the Prophet exemplifying the Qurʾān in his daily life. Ibn Mas’ūd (May Allah be pleased with him) said, “They (the companions) possessed the most pious hearts of this Ummah. They were the most profound in knowledge and had the least constraint. They were a people whom Allāh has chosen for the companionship of His Prophet, so hid character and ways, for by the Lord of the Ka’bah, they are upon the straight path.” [As-Shari`ah by Al-Aajurri]
“O you who believe! Obey Allah and obey the messenger and those of you who are in authority…” (Nisaa 4:59)
2. Acting within the constrict of the Shari’ah in all sphere of our lives: The religious law of Islam is seen as the expression of Allah’s command for Muslims and, in application, constitutes a system of duties that are incumbent upon all Muslims by virtue of their religious belief. The Sharīʿah differs from Western systems of law in two principal respects. In the first place, the scope of the Sharīʿah is much wider, since it regulates the individual’s relationship not only with neighbours and with the state, which is the limit of most other legal systems, but also with God and with the individual’s own conscience:
“Then We have put you (O Muhammad) on plain way of (Our) commandment. So follow you that, and follow not the desires of those who know not” (al_Ja`thiya 45:16).
3. Authenticating our ‘Aqeedah (Creed): The foundation of our faith which qualifies us as Muslims should be strongly fortified in order for our development as an Ummah to be successful. This is the heart of the messages that all Prophets came to teach us, as it was confirmed in numerous Ahadith and verses from the Qur’an, one of which Allah says:
“So know that none has the right to be worshipped except Allah, and ask for forgiveness for your sin, and also for the believing men and women…” Muhammad 47:19
4. Steadfastness upon the path of Islam: The Muslim would face challenges and hardships which could necessitates steadfastness and adherence to his noble principles. Such steadfastness emanates from strong faith and unshakable trust in Allah, and yields its ripe fruits in all spheres of life.
Sufyan Ath-Thaqafi reported, “I said, ‘O Messenger of Allah, tell me about Islam in one word that I would not ask anyone other than you (according to Abu Mu’awiyah he said, “anyone after you”).’ The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) said, ‘Say I believe in Allah and then stand steadfast.’” (Musnad Ahmad, 14869).
Our Islam should be free from inadequacy and being apologetic: “Verily, those who say our lord is Allah and stood firm, on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve” al-Ahqaf 46:13
5. Seeking Beneficial Knowledge: Islam is a religion of knowledge. Islam gives too much importance on seeking knowledge, as knowledge is the key to success. Seeking knowledge is better than any value in the world. Allah Almighty says in glorious Quran: “And say: My Lord, increase me in knowledge.” (Quran 20:114).
Harnessing knowledge protects us from many difficulties. It has many benefits in this world and also in the hereafter. Learning about religion will make easy for us the path to Paradise:
On the authority of Abu Dharr al-Ghifaari, he said: The Prophet (SAW) said: Whoever follows a path in pursuit of knowledge, Allah will make easy his way to Jannah (Reported by at-Tirmdhi)
The main purpose of seeking knowledge is to bring us closer to our Creator; Allah, The Almighty. It is not simply for the pleasure of the mind or the senses. Knowledge accordingly must be linked to values and goals.
6. Enjoining Good and Forbidding Evil: The diseases of the heart [psychological and spiritual diseases] are worse than diseases of the body. This means that one must find a doctor who is skilled in treating such diseases. Because the diseases of the heart are so many and cause the spread of evil and corruption, Allaah has enjoined the believers to treat these diseases, by enjoining that which is good and forbidding that which is evil. Allaah has made the Muslim Ummah the best nation ever raised up for mankind, in order to do this important task, as Allaah says:
“You (true believers in Islamic Monotheism, and real followers of Prophet Muhammad and his Sunnah) are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma‘roof (i.e. Islamic Monotheism and all that Islam has ordained) and forbid Al-Munkar (polytheism, disbelief and all that Islam has forbidden), and you believe in Allaah” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:110].
In another verse before this, Allah says:
“ Let there arise out of you a group of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining good and forbidding evil…” [Aal ‘Imraan 3:104]
It was reported in Sahih Muslim from Abu Hurayrah that the Messenger said:
“Whoever among you sees a bad thing, then he should change it with his hand, if he cannot then with his tongue, if he cannot then with his heart and that is the weakest of faith.”
If all the aforementioned are carefully followed and jealously guarded, I am sure that the calamities that we experience as Muslims these days would reduce to the barest minimum. If a Muslim who is conscious of what is expected of him on earth busies himself with learning, praying, enjoining goodness, forbidding evil and other acts, he would not have time to dabble into issues that would cause his ship to capsize.