But there are two points to observe here:
a. The Prophet did not confine himself to talk about matters of belief only, but also and like other Prophets before him, explained the moral and social consequences of this belief. It is this, more than theoretical talk about a belief that resides in the heart, that usually causes people with vested interests in an anti-Islamic jahiliyya system to strongly oppose and persecute Prophets.
b. In calling people to new faith, the Prophet did not address them in a dogmatic or purely emotional way. He used a rational argument as well as material evidence. He challenged them intellectually and warned them sincerely. He asked them to ponder over and learn the lessons of history, and explained to them the fact that he was inviting them to the only way that would lead to their material and spiritual happiness in this and the life to come.
c. The fact that this wise way of introducing Islam to people is not to be confined to the Makkan period is alluded to in the Prophet’s Hadith about the strangeness of Islam.
This Hadith explains and confirms what I said about the similarities of situations. It tells us that there will come a time when people shall view Islam in the same way that the Makkans viewed it when it first appeared. Ibn Taymiyyah, with his usual deep insight, deduced from this Hadith that when Islam becomes strange the second time we must adopt the same methods in propagating it that were used when it was strange the first time. That is to say we must concentrate on the main basic issues, use reason and rational argument in establishing the truth of these principles and prove the falsity of opposing ideologies.
In conformity with the sunna of the Prophet we should therefore do our best to explain the social and moral consequences of these basic truths, formulate a comprehensive critique of our society, and offer it a convincing alternative.
In doing so, it would be unrealistic, and unnecessarily rigid to confine ourselves only to the Makkan teachings of Islam. It is unrealistic because like early Makkans, many people including non-Muslims, are now familiar with the details of Islam that were revealed at Madinah. We cannot therefore treat them as if they were ignorant of the Madani surahs and we cannot, without weakening our position, refuse to answer some questions such people raise. Such rigidity is harmful because it deprives us of an advantage which God put at our disposal. Each of the messengers before the Prophet Muhammad, besides calling people to the basic truth of religion, was concerned with the particular social problem of the particular people to whom he was sent. Thus, Moses concerned himself with liberating his people from the sent. Thus, Moses concerned himself with liberating his people from the oppressive rule of a dictator, Shu’ayb with the problem of eradicating economic injustice and Lot with a social perversion. Islam is meant to be for all people and all ages to come, so is dealt, in its completed form, with all the basic human problems. Now that all this treasure is at our disposal, and since people at a particular and a particular place may feel the urgency of any one of these problems, we can win them over to the right path by offering the solution to the problem which concerns them. I see no reason why we should not make use of this advantage. To do so effectively, to present Islam to any society in a convincing manner, we have to beware of confusing principles of Islam with the particular historical form which those principles took at some period in the past, including that of the Prophet. The principles are the essence, their application at a particular time is the external changing from. But we should also beware of imposing on them an unsuitable form just because it happens to be that of a contemporary materially advanced society like that of the USA.
I now consider briefly in the light of the sira a collection of misconceptions of the Islamization process
a. Some groups while not going to the extent of consciously believing that they are the only Muslims, work and plan on that assumption, and so refuse to acknowledge the valuable contribution of other groups, individuals and official bodies and try to isolate themselves from them. There was indeed nothing Islamic at the time of the Makkan period except that which the Prophet and the few Muslims around him did. But the Prophet acknowledged as good, and encouraged everything which, in accordance with his Islamic standards, was good. Thus, while at Madinah he remembered and praised hilf al fudul, a confederacy whose aim was to defend the oppressed and help the poor and, in whose formation, he took part when he was twenty. Why should we then refuse to acknowledge the Islamic nature of a thing or work just because someone else did it? I believe that the right attitude is to acknowledge the Islamic nature of a thing or work just because someone else did it? I believe that the right attitude is to acknowledge and encourage everything Islamic irrespective of who did it, and consider it an asset for the Islamization process.
b. There are some who think that we cannot have an Islamic state in a particular country,
- until we have made almost everyone who is to be a member of it a genuine and perfect Muslim. But the Prophet did not do that; and it is certainly wrong and utopian to think that such a state cannot be created in a country until a majority of its people have been convinced or even until we have given a proper Islamic education and training to all the personnel who are to man its institutions.
- until we have prepared a blueprint of that future society. Again the Prophet did not do that; and it has not been done by any reformist or revolutionary movement at any time.
- until we have as rulers, men as knowledgeable and pious as Abu Bakr and Umar. But we do not perform any act of worship at the high standard of Abu Bakr and Umar, nor did they themselves reach the higher standard of the Prophet. Let our state therefore be as imperfect as our prayer; it will still be better than a non-Muslim state, just as our imperfect prayer is better than no prayer at all Let us now assume that a group of Muslims working for the creation of an Islamic state somewhere in the world are,
- sincere; and
- are adopting the right method of Islamization
Does this mean that they are sure to achieve their end? If not why? And what then is the use of their work?
The answer is that their success depends upon one other condition, which is that the number of those who are fairly genuine among them must be fairly reasonable in comparison with those who are opposed to them. Otherwise, they may be killed by their enemies, or compelled to leave their land for another, as were other Prophets and many genuine believers.
Even then their efforts will not be without value. Firstly, because God says “if you help God, He will help you” and since in this case His help does not— for the reason we mentioned—come in the form of victory over their enemies, it is bound to come in the form of punishment for those enemies, as a revenge for the wrong they did.
So if the sincere small group of Muslims does not succeed in replacing the larger groups of unbelievers, it at least causes their downfall. In so doing it succeeds in lessening the amount of evil in the world and thus in giving good another chance to flourish.
Secondly, they shall of course have their real reward in the real life, the eternal life after death, and enjoy the greatest happiness of being forever in the presence of Allah.