By Dr. ‘Ali al-Qarahdaghi | Translated by Suhaib Webb
“All praise it due [alone] to Allah the Lord of everything that exists. Peace and blessings be upon the one sent as a mercy to all: Muhammad the truthful guide, upon his brothers [in faith] all of the Prophets, his pure family, his noble companions and those who follow their guidance until the Last Day.
The Role of the Muslim Community
Allah [the Exalted] decreed that the Muslim community would be a continuous and everlasting community. Consequently, He made it the best nation sent to humanity and the final community, completing the Prophethood of Muhammad [may the peace and blessing of Allah be upon him].
“Muhammad is not the father of any of your men, but he is the Messenger of Allah and the last of the prophets; and Allah is knower of all things.” (Surah 33:40)
This means that the divine message was completed in the Qur’an and Sunna making it independent and in need of nothing else to assist it.
“This day I have perfected your religion and completed my favor upon you and I am pleased for you Islam as your religion.” (Surah 5:30)
Tools for Revival:
The conclusion of Prophethood and the completion of the true religion implies the following:
The message is appropriate for every age and every place, able to solve an assortment of different challenges: religious, thoughts, cultural, intellectual, political, social and economical. This [longevity and comprehensiveness] is due to two fundamental features:
Those aspects which are fixed
These represent a protection for the Muslim community from melting away due to challenges brought on by a host of communal and cultural realities.
Tools for revival and development
This is accomplished through independent interpretation of the legal sources either by extracting of religious rulings directly from the Book and the Sunna for the one who processes the ability to do so and has met its conditions, or a selective type of legal interpretation related to choosing from previous legal opinions.
“If they would have only referred it to the Messenger, or those in authority over them, those who are able to extract [the trust based on knowledge would have made it known to them.” (Surah 4:83)
This legislative tool [ijtihad] is not restricted solely to the arena of secondary legal issues. On the contrary! It encompasses every [religious] text which is eligible for ijtihad whether issues of creed, thought, jurisprudence, and situations for which a text does not address. Since Allah sealed the previous holy books with the Qur’an, and the prophets and the messengers with our master Muhammad [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him], He made for the Muslim community scholars, revivers and the divinely assisted group which will remain on the truth, defend it and revive it until the faith it is returned upon what the Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] and his companions [may Allah be pleased with them] were upon. The Prophet [may Allah’s peace and blessings be upon him] said, “Surely Allah will raise for this community, at the beginning of every century, someone who will revive their religion for them.” [Related by Abu Dawood, Hakim and al-Bani considered it sound].
The word “someone” in this hadith reflects a general meaning which could refer to a single person or a group. Ibn al-Athir wrote, “In addition, it is not restricted to the scholars of law because the Muslim community could reap benefits from its leaders, the scholars of hadith, those who recite the Qur’an or those who are gifted speakers.”
Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi, commenting on this hadith, adds: “According to my understanding this hadith informs us that no century will appear except there will appear with it a new dawn, new hopes and a new [sense of] revival, such that the Muslim community will face the future with hearts filled with optimism, resolute towards doing good and sincere in their intent towards change. In particular, this is an opportunity for the Muslim community to stand at the dawn of a new century and employ a sincere introspection, engage in an effort to benefit from the past, rejuvenate its expectations and to rise with the future [I’ve honored the original wording of Dr. al-Qaradawi because of its beauty which implies that the future serves as the wings with which the Muslims fly] humbly toward their Lord; hoping that today will be better then yesterday and tomorrow better than today.”
Jamal al-Din al-Afghani:
In my estimation one of the revivers of the 14th century [20th century C.E] was al-Sayid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani [may Allah have mercy upon him]. In fact, he was the leader of those revivers who served Islam and brought the spirit of revival and a comprehensive awakening. Not only did Allah [The Exalted] inspire him towards the development of thoughts and ideas, but He inspired him to develop men and thinkers such as Muhammad ‘Abdu and al-Sayid Rashid Rida. The result was that this school impacted every Islamic reform effort at whose forefront was the Muslim Brotherhood lead by Imam Hassan al-Bana. [May Allah have mercy upon all of them]. We plan here, in this article, to discuss in a condensed fashion the need the Islamic community has for the reformist thoughts of al-Sayid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani al-Hussayni through the methodology of reform and renewal.A Final Word Regarding al-Afghani his origin and religious affiliation: Dr. Muhammad ‘Emarah, answered these contentions stating: “Those who question his race and religious orientation would like to, in light of these accusations, establish his dishonesty, for indeed, he has stated about himself that “I am Afghani.” And his words and writings illustrate that he was a sunni. Thus, the objective of behind these accusations is to destroy the man who is cherished by all.”
On His being a Mason (added by Suhaib Webb)
I have come across published hand written letters of al-Sayid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani that clearly prove he was involved with the Masons. However, some of those letters are authentic and yet others of questionable origin. I asked Dr. Muhammad ‘Emarah about these accusations and he said, “He joined the Masons with the understanding that their general open call was good. However, after some time, he was made aware of their true nature and abandoned them.” Now Dr. Muhammad ‘Emarah has written a 5 volume encyclopedia on Muhammad Abu [may Allah have mercy upon him an others]. He is more than qualified to make such an observation.
Also, I asked Dr. Taha Jabi al-‘Awani about this school and her thinkers and he stated that this school’s main error was in approach and that they were not free of mistakes. He reiterated that, with that being said, we can still take benefit from them. [Suhaib]
End of Part One
*Qatar University member of The International Association of United Muslim Scholars