Desiring reform

بسم الله والحمد لله والصلاة والسلام على رسول الله وعلى آله وصحبه ومن تبع هداه وبعد

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In the Qur’an, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى Mentions the statement of Shu’ayb عليه السلام to his people:

إِنْ أُرِيدُ إِلَّا الْإِصْلَاحَ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُ ۚ وَمَا تَوْفِيقِي إِلَّا بِاللَّهِ ۚ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ وَإِلَيْهِ أُنِيبُ

“…I only desire reform to the best of my power. And Tawfeeq cannot come except from Allaah, in Him I trust and unto Him I repent.”  [Surah Hud: 88]

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1. Reform within any society must begin with one’s own self. This reform will eventually reflect on the society one lives in and give one the moral right to seek the same correction from others.

In the first part of the above ayah, Shu’ayb عليه السلام tells his people

وَمَا أُرِيدُ أَنْ أُخَالِفَكُمْ إِلَىٰ مَا أَنْهَاكُمْ عَنْهُ

“I wish not, in contradiction to you, to do that which I forbid you”

Ibn Katheer explains that: “He is saying, ‘I do not forbid you all from something while I do it myself.”’

2. As-Sa’di wrote in his Tafseer that “…I only desire reform to the best of my power…’ means that Shu’ayb is saying:

ليس لي من المقاصد إلا أن تصلح أحوالكم، وتستقيم منافعكم، وليس لي من المقاصد الخاصة لي وحدي، شيء بحسب استطاعتي

“I do not have (any other) reason except reforming your conditions (by which you will gain) uprightness and benefits. I do not have any reason for (benefiting) myself…”

3. One’s intentions must be noble and upright (and sincerely for the sake of Allaah) and serve the purpose of the conditions one wants to change. There must be a higher goal and aim that benefits everyone and not just the person alone. Following the Sunnah of Prophet’s and Messengers in the reform of societies is crucial.

4. Regarding not ‘walking the talk’, Allaah سبحانه و تعالى Says in the Qur’an:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لِمَ تَقُولُونَ مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ
كَبُرَ مَقْتًا عِندَ اللَّهِ أَن تَقُولُوا مَا لَا تَفْعَلُونَ

“O you who believe! Why do you say that which you do not do? Most hateful it is with Allah that you say that which you do not do.” [As-Saff: 2-3]

5. Dr. Khalid al-Hulaybi wrote: “Rarely do people live up to everything that they say. It is part of our human condition. Some of us almost always follow through with what we say, so that there is almost never a discrepancy between our words and deeds. Some of us act before we speak. Some of us speak readily, then drag our feet when getting around to doing what we say we are going to do – but ultimately get it done. There are those of us who mean what they say, sincerely, but never get around to doing it. Then there are those who nobody should bother waiting for them to do anything, because they never seriously mean to do what they say…” [see: http://en.islamtoday.net%5D

6. Ibn Uthaymeen said when speaking of the ‘dilemma facing the youth’: “Life is totally a submission to specified (Shari’) limits so that everything progresses according to it’s intended aim. This subjugation is for the order of society, e.g. submission which is necessary for the reformation of society and the prevention of anarchy.”

He رحمه الله تعالى also said: “Many people nowadays are acquiring theoretical knowledge in religious matters whilst no importance is attached to reforming and improving the people nor their education…” [Kitab al-ilm, p.33] – Meaning that the (Islamic) knowledge that is being gained is merely for mental exercises and does not translate into positive action on the ground.

7. Correcting the affairs (of one’s own self and others) is of different levels and should be within the means of the person and as much as one is able. One’s capacity is taken into account in fulfilling obligations and a Muslim is encouraged to do good actions based on his/her ability. Ash-Shaykh Salih al-Fawzan حفظه الله تعالى has provided some guidelines and necessities in the reformation of society (read here: Factors in reforming society)

8. Sh. Dedew Shanqeeti has a muhadara addressing community-based reform and means of achieving it – see here

8. A nice khutbah on this topic by Dr. Muhammad al-Arifi – found here

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And Allaah’s Help is sought in rectifying the affairs of the Ummah.

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