April 23, 2001

Importance of Collective Work: Jama’ah


Why should we today work in a jama’ah? Surely, all these different
groups today are a disease in the Ummah, and if anything they are serving to
increase the problems. Yes, there are many sincere people working in these jama’ahs
but at the end of the day they end up fighting each other so how can they be
a good thing, and why should I join these jama’ahs when this will probably mean
that I will end up arguing against other Muslim brothers. These are the arguments
of the Muslims today against all the different groups that are operating within
the Ummah. Many people use these arguments as a basis for them to work individually
by giving a few hours and a few pounds here and there and insha-Allah this will
be sufficient to deal with the problems of the Ummah.

Well, let’s ask a question. How many Muslims today are working
to solve the problems of the Ummah? One million out of one billion? Ten million?
How many? And the problems that we are facing today, are they small-scale or
are they very large and serious problems? So these ten million people will they
help the Ummah by working individually or by working collectively? Will the
Ummah be able to solve its problems by all these people acting in an individual
manner and then somehow these actions would coincide to provide the all-encompassing
and eagerly anticipated solution. How likely is it that we will be able to solve
our problems by everybody working separately? Would we win the wars, would
we establish the hospitals, would we build our mosques as individuals? Even
in our Islamic Societies, what would happen if every member of the Islamic Society
decided to do his own thing as he saw fit, quite simply there would be chaos
and we would never achieve what Allah demands of us. So collective work is necessary,
and individual work is a disease affecting our Ummah.

What is it that these jama’ahs are trying to achieve? Well, there
are certain things which Islam makes fard (obligatory) on us to do collectively.
These include the spreading of the message of Islam (da’wa), the establishment
of the Islamic State (khilafah) and the defence of Muslim lands (jihad). All
of these are fard on the Ummah and surprisingly enough we have not fulfilled
any of these. The Shari’ah states that all of these duties are fard and a quick
scan of some of the Islamic Movement’s texts on these subjects would make this
quite clear (this can be found in the key books of any of the following: Hasan
al-Banna, Abul A’la Mawdudi, Ahmad ar-Rashid, Assam al-Bashir and Abdullah Azzam). 

For example, the Qur’an in Sura al-Maidah from verses 48-50 makes it clear that
the implementation of the Shari’ah is fard. Therefore, the Ummah has to implement
the Shari’ah and since the Khilafah is the only way to implement the Shari’ah
in its totality then it is fard on the Muslims to establish the
Khilafah. Now
today the only way that the Khilafah can be established is through collective
work, and there is an usul-ul-fiqh which states that “anything which leads
to something which is necessary is in itself necessary”. Since the implementation
of the Shari’ah is fard, establishment of the Khilafah is fard, and therefore
collective work is also fard, if this is the only way to establish the
Some of the scholars are of the opinion that the situation of the Ummah is so
bad that collective Islamic work is fard ‘ayn i.e. if somebody is not working
as part of a group then he is sinning. Although this is the opinion of some
scholars and not all of them agree.

So Muslims have to unite around the Qur’an and the Sunnah so
that they can relieve this fard. But today there are many groups that are working
to establish Islam so how does one decide between the various groups? First of
all, everybody should keep an open mind whether they are part of a group or
not, and secondly, they should observe the ethics of disagreement and then they
should measure each group by the Qur’an and the Sunnah and the opinions of the
scholars. Essentially, an Islamic group should not focus onto one issue in
but rather should focus onto Islam as a whole and work to implement all of it.
The criteria which form this group are therefore the criteria of other Muslims
as a whole, i.e. the characteristics of ahlus Sunnah wal Jama’ah. One attempt
to clarify the key points of ahlus sunnah has been made by Imam Hasan al-Banna
in his twenty principles which define the understanding of the Islamic movement
(this has been supported and explained by many scholars, one of them is Shaykh
Abdullah Khateeb).

There are though many problem between groups today in [North America],
but we should ask ourselves a question here. Are these problems the fault of
the groups by definition or are they the problems of the people within these
groups. The answer is simple. As long as the brothers and sisters have open
minds and as long as they observe the ethics of disagreements then there will
not be a problem. Nowadays, most people join different groups because of their
friends or their situations, not because they have measured all of the groups
by the Qur’an and the Sunnah, so there is no need for this extremism in the first
place. But if people close their minds to their own scholars and their own friends,
and argue with their brothers and sisters on this basis then there really is
little hope because this is a victory for ignorance.

Finally, one has to ask everyone one question. Is it possible
that we will be able to keep ourselves Islamic by ourselves alone? Do we not
need the help of our brothers and sisters to keep us on the right path? Does
Islam not encourage collectivity in prayer, pilgrimage, and in our societies
for any other reason except to provide strength to the Muslims? And is it not
the case that Shaytan attacks the lonely but leaves those who unite for the
pleasure of Allah? Even when we walk through town, why is it that we can look
at a girl when we are by ourselves but we we would never do so when we are with
our brothers. It is because we are stronger as brothers and sisters than we
are as individuals. And in today’s increasingly individualistic society we
need a mechanism by which we can keep ourselves in touch with other good Muslims.
Yes, group-ism is wrong because anybody can be wrong, but collective work with
modesty and an understanding of the ethics of disagreement is the only way for
us to achieve the duties that Allah has made obligatory for us.

(courtesy of http://www.ymuk.net)

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