Islam and Politics: Part 1 What are the Qur’anic characteristics of a strong nation? (video HERE)
What are the Qur’anic characteristics of a strong nation? How does the Muslim community contribute to building it? And what is our response to the calling of the General Election?
A nation ought to be strong, wise, mature, charitable and attentive to the rights of people. In order to achieve this, its constituents must bear these characteristics by taking account of themselves and the society they have presently produced. Through this accounting, they should become evermore sincere in the way of building a strong nation. Interaction with each other in this path would increase their collective strength and unity.
The Muslim community in particular is one that lives and breathes the word of Allah; it manifests the Qur’an in their vision and understanding. This would then impact those around them.
The Muslim community also flies with two wings. This means there is a balance of characteristics in navigating what can often be complex subjects. Just like a bird or plane needs both wings to work together to take flight, to manoeuvre and land – and just as one working without the other curtails proper movement, the Muslim community must make use of both these wings together.
One is its strength and preparedness; the other is its wisdom, intellect and insight.
With regards to the first wing, with the election cycle upon us, the Muslim community must make its preparations by understanding its responsibilities, its values and how this election in particular will likely shape the continent for decades to come.
It must also make clear its positions and expectations from those seeking our votes and that the Muslim community will not be scapegoated or ignored. The Qur’an states
وَأَعِدُّواْ لَهُم مَّا اسْتَطَعْتُم مِّن قُوَّةٍ وَمِن رِّبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدْوَّ اللّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ“Make ready against them whatever force and war mounts you are able to muster, so that you might deter thereby the enemies of God, who are your enemies as well, and others besides them of whom you may be unaware” (8:60)
This verse calls the Muslim community to preparedness through all means and this would not only help against those whom you know are against you but even those whom you may not have yet realised. In this context preparations includes registering to vote, making oneself aware of manifestos and policy positions and campaigning for the party or leaders that meet proper Islamic values.
With regards to the second wing, it must use its wisdom and insight to realise that no longer must it position itself as a marginalised community speaking from the sidelines but rather being a moral force that grounds society with the highest levels of moral consciousness.
Often the Muslim community make throw away comments like ‘If only they followed Islam, all of these issues would be resolved.’ Muslim and Islamic presence must not see itself as on the peripheries merely telling people what is right and wrong, but rather must be part of the strong foundation of that society.
The Qur’an differentiates between those spaces built on falsehood and then seek change from the outside versus those spaces built on a strong footing from the outset.
وَالَّذِينَ اتَّخَذُوا مَسْجِدًا ضِرَارًا وَكُفْرًا وَتَفْرِيقًا بَيْنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ… وَلَيَحْلِفُنَّ إِنْ أَرَدْنَا إِلَّا الْحُسْنَىٰ وَاللَّهُ يَشْهَدُ إِنَّهُمْ لَكَاذِبُونَ
“And [there are] those who took for themselves a masjid for causing harm and disbelief and division… And they will surely swear, “We intended only the best.” And Allah testifies that indeed they are liars.”
لَّمَسْجِدٌ أُسِّسَ عَلَى التَّقْوَىٰ مِنْ أَوَّلِ يَوْمٍ أَحَقُّ أَن تَقُومَ فِيهِ
“A mosque founded on righteousness from the first day is more worthy for you to stand in.” (9:107-108)
In this sense it is better for us to establish from day one a moral government that leads with these principles, rather than elect a people who’s foundations are causing harm and division of people and then seeking to reform them after.
The Qur’an then provides us with a series of verses which speak to the principles of how to change people and a society such that those who may previously have been your enemy would become close patron’s of yours.
1) Belief in Allah (swt) 2) Be upstanding to your responsibilities 3) Call toward Allah (swt) 4) Repel evil with goodness and people will change
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ قَالُوا رَبُّنَا اللَّهُ ثُمَّ اسْتَقَامُوا تَتَنَزَّلُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْمَلَائِكَةُ أَلَّا تَخَافُوا وَلَا تَحْزَنُوا وَأَبْشِرُوا بِالْجَنَّةِ الَّتِي كُنتُمْ تُوعَدُونَ
1) “(As for) those who say: Our Lord is Allah, then continue in the right way, the angels descend upon them, saying: Fear not, nor be grieved, and receive good news of the garden which you were promised.”
The first step is to work from the perspective of Allah (swt) and not party politics or personal interest. And be upstanding as we have been commanded to be. This means that when external influences come to us or preferences may weigh on us, we remain resistant to these. As a result the angels flock to support us. This means the ghaib – unseen realms – will support us
نَحْنُ أَوْلِيَاؤُكُمْ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَشْتَهِي أَنفُسُكُمْ وَلَكُمْ فِيهَا مَا تَدَّعُونَ
2) “We are your guardians in this world’s life and in the hereafter, and you shall have therein what your souls desire and you shall have therein what you ask for:”
The angles state they are our guardians in this world, on the premise of our working for Allah (swt) and upholding our responsibilities.
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًا مِّمَّن دَعَا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَالِحًا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِي مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ
3) “And who speaks better than he who calls to Allah while he himself does good, and says: I am surely of those who submit?”
Calling toward Allah (swt) means action and activity, not just sitting still and hoping or merely talking. There are efforts to advantage of the opportunities that are before you.
وَلَا تَسْتَوِي الْحَسَنَةُ وَلَا السَّيِّئَةُ ادْفَعْ بِالَّتِي هِيَ أَحْسَنُ فَإِذَا الَّذِي بَيْنَكَ وَبَيْنَهُ عَدَاوَةٌ كَأَنَّهُ وَلِيٌّ حَمِيمٌ
4) “And not alike are the good and the evil. Repel (evil) with what is best, when lo! he between whom and you was enmity would be as if he were a warm friend.” (41:30-34)
When you see evil in society or government, repel it with goodness; bring about that change. You will see through this goodness that you spread it will change even the hardest of hearts or the most vigorous of enemy to becoming a good friend.
This is how Muslims contribute to building a nation. Our new series is going to focus on an Islamic understanding of politics and responsibilities toward the UK in this election cycle. May Allah (swt) help to bring about a nation which is the best of those heralded for mankind.