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Islam and Politics – Chief Justice, Mufti Taqi Uthmani حفظه الله

The Purpose of Politics

We explained yesterday that if we were to accept and believe that the purpose of Islam is to govern, then this would lead to a whole series of ills, and the first of these ills is that if one declared politics to be the actual purpose, everything else would assume a secondary role. Actions which are direct forms of worship would no longer remain the actual purpose: they would be reduced to being a means to achieve the actual purpose, and so their importance would be diminished.

Today we will continue to focus on other ills that will prevail if we were to assume that the purpose of Islam is to govern.

Another evil is that if all acts of worship are viewed as a means to attain the higher purpose, the natural consequence is that one does not consider it to be much of a problem if one has to sacrifice some of them for that higher purpose. If political activities and gatherings keep one from attending the prayer in congregation, or from going to the Masjid, it would seem there is nothing wrong with that. Even missing a prayer would not seem evil. Even to lapse into one or more of the makroohaat — things strongly disapproved of in Islam — would not seem to matter much, if one did so in order to achieve the supposed higher purpose.

Yet another evil is that people who engage in direct forms of worship and who exhort people to do likewise by reminding them of their merits and blessings, are accused of being oblivious of the actual purpose of religion. Sometimes they are even belittled and made fun of. Books about ethics and the virtues are considered of secondary importance, and are even treated by some as though they were unnecessary, or a distraction from the real purposes of religion. Even Taṣawwuf (Sufism) and self-reform, as practiced in conformity with the Noble Shari‘ah and the Sunnah, are frowned upon. Those engaged in acquiring and propagating the Islamic branches of knowledge are considered to lack a proper outlook on religion.

The final evil which we wish to highlight, which results from the above thinking, is that people are likely to develop unbecoming notions about many of the Prophets عليهم السلام, because the majority of the Messengers whom Allah sent, failed to achieve what the people we are discussing, regard as the real purpose of religion. Of the one hundred and twenty-four thousand Prophets AS, only a mere handful are known to have established or run a government. Apart from the Noble Prophet Muhammad ﷺ, our Masters Yusuf, Musa, Yusha, Dawud, and Sulaymaan AS did so; but it is not proven that any other Prophet AS did. Does this mean that apart from these august souls, no other Prophet AS attained the ‘real’ purpose of religion? Those who consider political success the true purpose of religion would presumably not hesitate to say that the other Prophets AS failed.

To sum up, politics has an important place in religion, but to declare it to be its principal purpose would upset the whole system of priorities and preferences. On the other hand, to suppose that religion is limited to prayer and fasting while completely neglecting the other branches of religion as irrelevant would also be a great mistake.

The reality is that religion has many branches, and politics is one of them.

In order to live according to Islam, it is necessary to act upon all its injunctions, whichever branch they belong.

In practice, however, it is not possible for a person to dedicate himself or herself to all its branches. Tasks and responsibilities need to be distributed, with some people choosing to working for one and applying their efforts to it, while others do the same for another. There is nothing wrong with that. But it would be wrong to think that the branch one has chosen is the sole purpose of religion, when it is just one of many. The work one does is just one of many things that need to be done. For example, a person may choose to engage in politics, because he thinks that is where they can accomplish the most. Such a person — provided their motives are sincere – is actually practicing on Islam!

 

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