Posted by: admin | February 16, 2008

MS09.1 – Protection of Religion

Structure of Posts on the Darooriyaat
This post looks at the first of the Darooriyaat (or Essentials): al-Deen (Religion) and the associated maqsad (objective) Hifdh al-Deen i.e. The Protection of Religion. Before we get into the details of how this protection is achieved we will introduce the structure of the next few posts on the Darooriyaat and how the information will be presented.

The protection of any one of the darooriyaat (singular: daroori) is considered from two perspectives:

  1. That which supports its presence
  2. That which leads to its absence (threatens its presence)

Taking this two-pronged approach we will highlight those things which support the presence of the daroori and discuss how they are promoted, encouraged and obligated to achieve this end. For those things which threaten the presence of the daroori we will see how they are prevented, discouraged and prohibited.

    For each of the darooriyaat we will look at their (hifdh) protection from both these perspectives, starting first with Hifdh al-Deen, the Protection of Religion, the first maqsad we are discussing here at bitesize islam.

    Hifdh al-Deen (Protection of Religion)
    First of all it’s important to define what the intended meaning of each of the darooriyaat is. For example, what do we mean by religion?

    The word “deen” in Arabic means ‘religion’ in its most general sense, the plural of which is Adyaan and from which the term Muqaaranat al-Ayaan is coined, i.e. Comparative Religion. In addition to this, the word deen also has a wider meaning encompassing all systems, ideologies or ways of organising life whether originating from revealed sources or from the human mind.

    However when the word deen is used with the definite article ‘al‘ making “al-Deen” (The Religion) then the intended meaning is the religion of Islam. As Allah says in the Qur’an Verily, the religion (al-Deen) with God is Islam“[Qur’an 3:19].

    From the Perspective of That Which Maintains al-Deen
    Those things which help preserve al-Deen are encouraged, promoted and obligated. Some examples of these are as follows:

      1) Belief in the Foundations of the Religion
      The Islamic Creed (‘Aqeeda) is the most fundamental way of preserving and protecting one’s religion and belief in it is obligatory. The articles of faith are: Belief in The One God, His Angels, His Books, His Messengers, The Day of Judgement and al-Qadr (Destiny).

      These points compose the core of Islamic Belief and without them there is no Islam. They will be expanded on in much more detail on our series on ‘Aqeeda in due course Insha Allah.

      2) Adherence to the Foundations of Worship
      Another fundamental way that the religion of the Muslim is protected is by adhering to the obligatory pillars of worship (‘ibadaaat), commonly known as the “Five Pillars of Islam” i.e. The testimony of Faith, The five daily prayers (Salah), Fasting in the month of Ramadhan (Sawm), Paying the Zakat, The Hajj Pilgrimage .

      The ‘ibadaat have both an individual and communal aspect and therefore adherence to their practice serves to protect the Deen of both the individual and the collective body of Muslims.

      3) Seeking Knowledge
      The Arabic for knowledge is ‘ilm and there is no distinction made in Islam between religious and worldly knowledge. Therefore the pursuit of both worldly and religious knowledge is considered to be one of the ways that can help one preserve their Deen. The only factor to distinguish what knowledge is pursued or not is whether the knowledge is beneficial or not. Furthermore there is no distinction made between the sexes in this pursuit. As the Prophet Muhammad (s) said quite generally in a well known hadith: “Seeking knowledge is an obligation on every Muslim.” [Related by Ibn Majah and Bayhaqi]

      4) Da’wah (Invitation)
      Inviting people to the message of Islam (Da’wah) preserves, protects and indeed strengthens the Deen. We are encouraged to spread the teachings of God’s final revelation by word and by deed. As we read in the Qur’an: “Invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching…” [Qur’an 16:125]

      Da’wah is a truly noble calling and was the role of all the Prophets of God from Adam to Muhammad (peace be upon them all). Allah himself honours the noble position of Da’wah in the Qur’an: “Who is better in speech than one who calls to Allah, works righteousness, and says, ‘I am of those who bow in submission’?” [Qur’an 41:33]

          Summary: The above are different examples of how the daroori of al-Deen can be protected and preserved by first believing, then practicing, then gaining knowledge and finally spreading this to others. al-Deen is one of the most important of the Maqasid and its protection and preservation is requested from every individual Muslim in his or her own life and from the collective body (Ummah) of Muslims as a whole.

          From the Perspective of That Which Threatens al-Deen
          Those things which threaten the presence of al-Deen are discouraged, prevented and prohibited. Some examples how this can be achieved are as follows:

            1) Abandoning Shirk (Polytheism) and Kufr (Disbelief)
            The Arabic term Shirk refers to associating partners with God in those things which are solely reserved for Him, namely worship (‘ibaada) and obedience (taa’a). Shirk is considered one of the gravest sins in Islam and so to preserve one’s Deen, an abandonment of this is essential. The same can be said for Kufr, which is outright disbelief and is of course the antithesis of al-Deen which is built on belief in the One God.

            2) Avoiding the Muharramaat (Prohibitions)
            Earlier we saw that to protect al-Deen the adherence and practice of the pillars of worship was encouraged and indeed obligated. By the same token, those things prohibited in Islam (muharramaat) should be avoided in order to protect the religion. Once again returning to our definition of the Shar’iah as a set of ‘dos’ and ‘donts’ if one does not adhere to these, then what is left of the religion?

            3) Prohibition of False Beliefs and Ideas
            Following on from the points mentioned earlier about adhering to Islamic Belief and avoiding Shirk and Kufr, it is also imperative for the Muslim to guard against false beliefs and ideas which could potentially affect his or her Deen. This includes rejecting all superstitions, ideologies and beliefs which contradict Islamic principles.

            It is fairly straightforward to how this is achieved from an individual perspective but it is open to interpretation as to how this can be achieved from the collective body. Does it mean prohibiting the dissemination of beliefs and ideas deemed contradictory to Islamic teachings and if so, how can this be achieved in the face of modern means of communication?

            4) Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil
            This is one of the unique features of Islam. It is not sufficient for the believer to simply believe and worship God in his or her personal space ignoring that which is going on around them. Enjoining the Good and Forbidding the Evil (Amr bil-Ma’roof wan-Nahi ‘an il-Munkar) is an important characteristic of a believer and is a sign of having great concern for the society and world in which one lives.

            The values of Islam are universal and its goodness and justice is for everyone, not just Muslims. Where possible, the Muslim is encouraged to try and effect positive change to the best of one’s ability and try to stop the spread of those things deemed harmful by the Shari’ah.

            This positive change is particularly relevant here is enjoining those things which help maintain the religion and forbidding those things which threaten it.

            5) Avoiding Bid’a (Religious Innovation)
            The term bid’a is a generic Arabic term meaning “something new.” In this context it refers to the introduction of new unlegislated practices in matters of the religion. Its scope is not only limited to areas of worship and the general definition of a what can be called a religious innovation is “something which is done with the intention of drawing closer to God but is not according to what has been prescribed by God or His Messenger Muhammad (s) either by increasing, decreasing, restricting or changing that which was prescribed.”

            Bid’a as a concept is the subject of some discussion and misunderstanding amongst contemporary Muslims, therefore I think it will be beneficial to dedicate a specific post to look at this in more detail.

            In short however, we can say that if religious innovations are allowed to creep into Islam, then the very presence of al-Deen is threatened, so for obvious reasons this is something to be opposed and prohibited.

            6) Jihad in all its Forms in Accordance to its Principles
            If there’s one Islamic term that engenders fear in people it’s Jihad. Unfortunately misused by some Muslims and misunderstood at times by both Muslims and non-Muslims, the intended meaning of this noble concept has been confused and misconstrued.

            Jihad is an Arabic term meaning to strive in all its forms. We do not restrict its meaning to mean only a personal spiritual struggle (Jihad an-Nafs) nor do we limit it to meaning a military struggle (Jihad al-Saif), rather we adhere to its intended all-encompassing meaning, that in all spheres of his or life, personal or public, a Muslim must always strive their best.

            Jihad can be of several types, and struggling in the face of those things which threaten the presence of al-Deen is encouraged and at times obligated. This continues at all times in the struggle with one’s inner self, fighting against our base desires and against the whispers of Shaytan. At other times this jihad make take another form, speaking out against injustice (indeed enjoining the good and forbidding the evil is also a form of jihad). There may also be times when the level of required struggle may take a physical or military form against that which threatens al-Deen.

            Of course any discussion on Jihad is not complete without mentioning the strict code of conduct which governs the military aspect of Jihad. As this is beyond the scope of this post, you can read quite a detailed discussion about this here. Also for a general understanding of Jihad, its meaning and place in the modern world, there’s a good article at IslamOnline.

                Summary: These examples have shown us how those things which threaten al-Deen are identified and opposed. There are those things such as shirk, kufr, the muharramaat and bid’a which are avoided and prohibited in and of themselves. We mention Jihad and Enjoining the Good/Forbidding the Evil as these are the ways in which these and other threats to al-Deen are met, opposed and challenged.

                Conclusion
                The examples mentioned in this post are just that, examples. There are no doubt other ways that the daroori of al-Deen can be protected from both perspectives as mentioned at the start of the post, though I am confident that we have covered the main methods Insha Allah.

                From what we have discussed however, it should be clear the different ways in which this hidfh (protection) can proceed. Hifdh al-Deen is one of the most important objectives of the Shari’ah and therefore protecting it both from an individual and collective perspective is of paramount importance.

                In the next post we will move on to the next daroori in the list, al-Nafs (Life) and will see how the objective of Hifdh al-Nafs is achieved both in terms of promoting that which maintains it and preventing that which threatens it.

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                1. […] have already seen the importance of seeking knowledge in MS09.1 when we were looking at Hifdh al-Deen and although no distinction was made, as the objective being […]


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