Conference Papers – Priorities in the Fiqh and the Muamalat
by Umar Ibrahim Vadillo
From the 8th International Fiqh Conference held in Pretoria,
South Africa on the 18-20 October 2003
All Praise is due to Allah, the most Compassionate, the most Merciful, the Lord of all the worlds, the King of the Day of Judgment, Who has gathered all knowledge in His Essence and Who is the Creator of all knowledge for eternity. All peace and blessings be upon His beloved Prophet, Muhammad, who was not taught by man but by Him. He was the last and most honoured Prophet, the last in the chain of prophethood that was brought to this world and who has guided us to the right path. May abundant peace and blessings be upon his Family and his Companions, who were chosen among the good and benevolent.
Allah says in Surat al-Fath:
It is He who sent His Messenger
with the Guidance and the Deen of Truth
to exalt it over every other deen
and Allah suffices as a witness.
Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah,
and those who are with him
are fierce to the kafirun,
merciful to one another.
(Qur’an, 48: 28-29)
Allah has chosen for us Islam as our Deen. Allah has filled this Deen with immense rewards and secrets for the Muslims, while He has cursed the kafirun. The Muslim is the one that submits to Allah, and this includes obeying His Commands. The kafir has negated submission to Allah, and for that reason lives a life of ignorance. Kufr is a lower form of existence, and for this reason there is no way in which kufr can stand supreme over Islam: this is an impossibility. On the contrary, Islam in all circumstances reigns above kufr and determines its nature, possibility and existence.
Throughout history the Muslims have enjoyed times of great splendour followed by times of decadence, yet our Deen has never been compromised, and the promises of Allah have remained intact. Only the Muslims, in their test of life, are the ones questioned. This is the difference between Uhud and Badr. Our test consists of trusting and obeying Allah and the result is our failure or success. But Islam always remains above the test. Islam is not in question, we are in question. Our failure as Muslims is not a failure of Islam, but our own failure: we are the source of our own tribulations. For the kafir, on the other hand, success is impossible. It does not matter what the circumstances are. His only chance of being successful is to enter Islam. Given these premises, the measure of our success is our trusting and obeying Allah, independent of what the kafirun might or might not do. The kafirun, on the other hand, no matter what they do, depend on the behaviour of the Muslims to find their place in the world. Our behaviour as Muslims is not dictated by reaction to the kafirun, but only by our obligations to Allah. We follow and fear Allah, but not the kafirun. The kafirun are there as a mercy to us, so that we can come nearer to Him. Our task is therefore simple: trust and obey Allah and be merciful to the muminun. And then the result is inevitable: victory over kufr.
Victory as an aim
Our Deen is so immense that if you look in it for victory you will find victory. If you look for victory, the Shari‘ah will reveal to you the path to victory. The key issue, therefore, is how we approach the Shari‘ah. The question is on us, on our approach. This means that if we want the full establishment of the Deen of Islam, with the restoration of a Dar al-Islam and the Khalifate, the possibility of success is there before us and attainable, independent of the circumstances. Here Rumi, rahimahullah, spoke with great clarity when he said: “What is halal is possible. The hypocrite is the one that says ‘that which is halal is not possible’. But how could it be impossible? Allah has given us an obligation, how could He have not given us the means? If you do not understand that ‘what is halal is possible’ then you should hit your head against the wall. And if you still do not understand then hit harder.” The hypocrite cannot guide us. Allah says in Surat an-Nisa’:
The munafiqun are in the lowest level of the Fire.
You will not find any one to help them.
(Qur’an, 4: 144)
When we look at the fiqh as the great body of jurisprudence by the greatest jurists of Islam, we may at first be overwhelmed by the immensity and detail of the affair. Everything is there. Also, the fiqh has remained essentially the same for hundreds of years, during which great periods have been followed by lower periods. It is how the Muslims have approached the fiqh that has changed.
At the beginning of the last century, during the last days of the Osmanli Khalifate, some reformers from Egypt and Syria started to question the fiqh and consider it to be outdated. They embarked on a programme of reform in order to create a new fiqh based on a new pragmatic methodology, using — as the protestants also say — direct access to the sources: the Qur’an and the texts of hadith. But the fiqh was not outdated, they were outdated. These reformers, in questioning the fiqh, started to change the approach to the fiqh. Instead of victory they were looking for a way to accommodate the Muslims to the world of the kuffar. In doing so, the reformers became an instrument of the kuffar. These reformers failed to understand the fiqh. They were not looking at the fiqh with the right eyes. Yet we live in a world still dominated by the work initiated by these reformers. The fiqh, in its vastness, requires a direction, an aim, otherwise the most insignificant point may carry the same weight as the most fundamental and essential issues — or even more weight. This aim which orientates our approach to the fiqh can only be the present, full establishment of all the aspects of the Shari‘ah, including those political and economic matters that are now presented as non-religious matters. That is in itself our definition of victory. The aim is victory and aim requires leadership.
Leadership is not a title, but vision: to be able to see. That is the unique ability for understanding and implementing victory. If one does not have a road-map to victory one cannot lead; that is why it is impossible to fake leadership. The leader comes with a visible sign: victory itself. The unification of the Muslims will come from victory, its carrier will be our leader. It is important to know that all the attempts to create leadership among the Muslims during the twentieth century have failed since they were founded on a false basic premise: that leadership can be elected or brought out of consensus. The idea is that unity will originate from a kind of parliamentarian mechanism where all the ideas are represented and a consensus between all the different positions will be commonly reached. But that which is common among all the most disparate ideas is by definition baseless and therefore irrelevant. That baseless commonality is then placed on top of everybody as a tool of control that paralyses any real initiative. This consensus approach is therefore essentially anti-leader, lacking the uniqueness and direction that leadership provides. Therefore consensus is the means of defeat.
This parliamentarian philosophy so alien to us has been sold to us under the Arabic name of ‘shura’ and has become the present means of interacting among Muslim groups and nations. It has produced organisations such as the Organisation of Islamic Conference and the Islamic Development Bank, which guarantee the preservation of the present status quo.
Another aspect of the religious reform is its personal morality: puritanism. This morality places the isolated individual deprived of leadership at the centre of the decision-making or moral judgement. This way of thinking implies a fundamental shift in the approach to the fiqh. When the individual has to decide in isolation, automatically it puts all social issues out of reach. For example, the issue of the restoration of the Dinar and the Dirham, seen from the perspective of the individual, is a non-issue since it requires a whole community for it to be applied. Thus personal morality means that most social issues are abandoned, especially those that carry the highest political or economic weight (equal to their importance). Only the individual belonging to the jama’a can act in these matters and for that, once more the figure of the leader, the Amir becomes necessary. To illustrate this point a bit further I will relate to you a recent case I experienced in South Africa. A well known car dealer approached me with great concern. He had realised that the sale of his cars involving finance through the banks was riba’. He was distressed by it and had approached most of the leading ‘ulema in the country. He had received three answers but none of them could satisfy his concern. One group said: “Everything is alright. This is the way of the country and we cannot change it.” But he thought that that solution cannot be right, something must be done. Another group had said: “Abandon your car sales and open a shop where you do not have to sell with finance.” Hearing this he thought that the answer could not be to become another Indian shopkeeper, many of whom are in any case closing down due to the fierce competition of the big supermarkets. And the third group said: “Refer your clients to an Islamic bank for the finance of the cars, instead of an ordinary bank.” He was not happy with that either because he had already discovered that the interest charged by the Islamic bank is in fact similar to or higher than the ordinary banks. So he then asked me, “What is your opinion?” I put it to him simply: “Do you have an Amir? If you do not have an Amir and a community under him, you are not equipped to deal with this matter. I cannot advise you on your own, but I can advise you with your Amir. And by the way, what you do with your car business, which is part of capitalism, is irrelevant to what needs to be done in the restoration of the halal. The first step will have nothing to do with your garage. The first step will have to be the minting of the Dinar and the Dirham.”
I was amazed that none of the other ‘ulema had understood that the question cannot be solved within the boundaries of personal morality, but that the matter which not only affects him but all of us — including all the ‘ulema who answered the question — needs ‘Amr.
When it comes to the use of the fiqh, this alien personal morality imposes a particular view that forces a reduced interpretation within the parameters of a code of personal practice which implies that key issues are simply not seen. The Dinar and the Dirham, for example, are not seen by them, no matter how many times they appear in the fiqh. The fiqh must be approached from the frame of the community led by an Amir; only then are all the matters given the understanding in which they were formulated in the first place. Without ‘Amr there is no understanding of the fiqh. Puritanism must be rejected. Secondly, the reading of the fiqh must entail a sense of purpose: an aim that only the Amir can provide. In conclusion, Islam requires ‘Amr/leadership, and without it our approach to the fiqh will be necessarily deficient.
The Role of the Leader
First, the leader is obligatory. There is no alternative to it. Then the leader must be allowed to lead his community. The leader may have his own Council but he is not dictated by it. The Amir dictates his Council and everyone else.
Ultimately the ummah also needs a leader. That leader cannot be faked with a mere title or a throne, for he will be able to show his genuineness by a single and irrefutable act: the achievement of victory. This necessary quality cannot be hidden. His sign will be clearly manifested. Unity of all the Muslims will necessarily follow. He will be the only path to unity. This outward manifestation of his leadership is the reflection of an inner state that allows him to see what others cannot. His unique ability will be to make easy what others find difficult and to be able to find the weakness of the enemy when others only see overwhelming strength.
Our leader will carry a different mentality to what is common today. He will not be of those who suffer from what the French call ressentiment (resentment), those are the people who justify their goodness by the badness of their oppressors, a mentality that has become an essential part of the iconography of the reformist Islam of the twentieth century. Think of all those magazines with pictures of people bleeding, killed or about to be killed, where the Muslims are always placed in the role of the victim. The leader will be able to bring a new mentality which is not reactionary but self-confident and self-dynamic, best represented by that famous expression of Nietzsche, “the laughing lion”. The leader does not try to please mankind or the world, but to please Allah, and thus he will not be a populist, but a man of contemplation with an ‘ibada pure and complete above the rest. Allah says in Surat al-An’am:
If you obeyed most of those on earth,
they would misguide you from Allah’s Way.
They follow nothing but conjecture.
They are only guessing.
(Qur’an, 6: 117)
Dunya will be at his service, not the other way round. Dunya must serve him because he is not part of it. He will be more likely seen in the wildness of the hadra in a night of sama’a than in the conference rooms of the OIC, because the dhikr is where he finds the comfort of the abandonment of himself, once more to return more ready to lead the Muslims. The leader will discover the fiqh by his own ability to lead, because he will be able to reveal the missing means that everyone was looking for. This reading of his will allow us to reveal insights not only about ourselves but also about the enemy in a way that up until now has escaped us. He will show us an easiness that we have not encountered before. That easiness will be the very path that will lead us to victory.
Forging the Leader
We are not waiting on the leader, like we are not waiting on the Mahdi or the Messiah. Our task is to create the environment in which this leader will emerge. After all, we have the leader — or the lack of it — that we deserve. We must deserve a good leader. We should stop worshipping those political and economic institutions that have made their way through the reform of the twentieth century. We should abandon the illusion that they will bring unity; they are the very instruments of failure. We should encourage leadership among ourselves by accepting the authority of those among us with the ability to rally the community and establish the fard of Islam on the basis of Allah’s command, particularly when it relates to the zakat and the salat. The Jumu‘a must be the voice of the leader, not the preaching of morality by newly created priests. The leader must run the mosque and all mosque committees must be abolished.
Then we must go one step further. We must redraw the map of our world. We must force ourselves to see that Allah has given us all the means to succeed. And anyone who does not, must be politely invited to hit their heads against the wall. It is not a rational battle before us, but a more primary battle in which the meanings of every rationale are in question. Pragmatism at hand must be erased as a formula for decision-making, and must be substituted by a higher vision of strategy that has an aim that reaches beyond us. In this battle of the meanings the tools of tasawwuf are absolutely necessary. The elimination of the nafs in the hadra must translate as the elimination of our worldly concerns when we face the world: a worldless world in which the presence of Allah is our guidance. The people with this quality will not fear the world, which does not matter to them, they will fear Allah, and it will be among them that the leader will arise.
They will be the ones who will be able to turn the rules of the game in their favour and recognise what others have been blind to: that the entire creation, the good and the bad, is in our favour. Yes, the entire world is in our favour. Not only the fervent ‘ibada of the Muslims, but also capitalism. Capitalism can be seen as a problem, but for the leader it will be seen as a blessing. How? Because capitalism is false. When you see your opponent playing a bad strategy in chess, you will not oppose his moves, but rather encourage them. You, on the other hand, will not follow his strategy, but define your own. That is why it is as foolish to oppose capitalism as it is to defend it. We must play our own game. When they say that paper is valuable, and gold is worthless, we should say to them, “Yes. Wonderful, all the paper is for you, but we, primitive and ancient people, we will keep the gold.” It has never been easier in the history of the Muslims to take the wealth from the kuffar, because they believe in fantasies. They believe their own lies.
Capitalism as an Opportunity
It is fundamental to understand capitalism because it has become the dominant religion in kufr. It does not matter what religion you follow, capitalism is the muamalat of all us: the same banking system, the same money system, the same credit cards, interest, mortgages and protocols. What this means is that what we understand traditionally by religion has become a form of personal choice and morality that has nothing to do with the social and economic process (these processes belong totally to capitalism). Furthermore, the attempt to bring religion into politics or economics is seen as a sign of intolerance (tolerance here playing the role of a new capitalist moral.) Thus, you are allowed to question God, but you are not allowed to question VAT, interest or taxation. Imagine the situation: you walk into your bank and when the banker asks you for the payment of the interest on your mortgage, you say to him: “I am sorry but I am not going to pay you, I have become an agnostic of interest.” No, they do not tolerate your argument, because their system is an orthodoxy and cannot be questioned. Religion, on the other hand, can be questioned because it is a matter of personal choice according to them. This is when you realise that capitalism has become the muamalat of today; the saying of “Ad-Deen al-muamalat” means that capitalism is the religion of today.
The Dollar Crisis
And yet, capitalism is false. Capitalism is facing what will undoubtedly amount to the biggest crisis in its history. This crisis, already named as ‘the dollar crisis’, will be of critical importance to the reshaping of the world around the plan of a world state (this plan is already set in place).
This crisis will be so important that we are obliged to understand it. The cause will be riba’ itself. Its being haram will manifest once more in the form of a crisis the nature of which we know from previous cases, except this one will be the biggest one. Essentially, this crisis is based on the existence of far too many dollars. In derivatives alone (a prolific type of financial instrument), there is a bubble of 160 trillion US dollars, which represents 40 times more than world trade (4 trillion US dollars in value), that is, 40 times more than everything tangible that the people of the world trade with each other over a year. The problem is that this dollar bubble multiplies by two every two and a half years. So it will continue an unsustainable progression reaching 40, 80, 160 times the volume of world trade, up until naturally, mathematically, it will have to explode. The second problem is that this bubble cannot be stopped from growing. Therefore the crisis is inevitable. The timing is unknown. We only know that every day that passes will make the crisis worse.
What can we do before this important event? The logical conclusion is to take a position before the crisis comes using the only asset that withholds its value in crisis: gold. Getting hold of the commodity, that is of the mineral production, at this stage will give us a tremendous tool in the after-crisis period. This position will involve acquiring gold in exchange for the present paper money, or even better, exchanging a borrowed dollar for future gold. What is future gold? Gold mines, or buying at the present low prices the future production of the mine for 20 or 25 years. This position will benefit us in two ways at the time of the crisis: one, from the sliding value of the dollar, and two, from the rising price of gold. A strong position in gold mining will not only allow us to survive the crisis, but will give us a solid position to mint the new gold and silver currency: whatever the price of gold might be, we will have our own supply.
The second element in this crisis strategy is obviously ‘to make gold function as money’. This objective entails: first the minting of the currency and the establishment of payment systems based on the metals, such as for example, the present e-dinar payment system; secondly, the setting up of the architecture of a gold economy, which implies what we call the ‘infrastructure of Islamic Trading’. The key to this infrastructure is the setting up of a network of Islamic/Open Markets that will enable us to create new wealth based on trading. We must remember the hadith of Rasulullah, sallallahu alayhi wa sallam:
“Nine-tenths of risq (provision) comes from trading.”
We cannot afford to live without trading, as we are today. What the World Trade Organisation calls trading is not trading but monopolistic distribution. Trading can only exist with Islamic/Open Markets. This affair has been elaborated in detail, and most of it can be obtained in written form through the Murabitun media. The network of Open Markets will allow us to recreate caravans, guilds and our halal forms of finance (qirad). The result is the formulation of a real alternative to capitalism, based on the ayat:
Allah has permitted trade and He has forbidden usury.
(Qur’an, 2: 274)
Trading is the alternative to capitalism. The steps to create the trading infrastructure have already started and programmes under my directive have been put in place with regard to the currency and the establishment of the infrastructure. This initiative of ours is the only one I am aware of in which Muslims are planning to deal with the crisis. Our strategy aims at the revival of the muamalat of the Muslims which has been ignored and buried under capitalist practices for the last 100 years. The restoration of the muamalat of the Muslims will be in itself the opening of new doors and horizons toward the ultimate aim: the restoration of the Khalifate. This Murabitun initiative represents the end of the reformism of the last one hundred years, and the birth of a new force towards the return of the Islam of Madinah, based on the Madinan model and the Madinan values. This is what we refer to when we speak about the ‘Amal of the Ahl al-Madinah, one of the key elements of the Murabitun agenda.
The problem that we face today is not a problem of the fiqh, but a problem of the reformist values that have forced us to compulsively imitate the kuffar. These reformist values are behind this trend in which, if the kuffar have banks, these modernist reformers tell us that the fiqh actually allows Islamic banks; if the kuffar have stock exchanges, these misguided reformers busy themselves trying to formulate with their fiqh a new Islamic stock exchange. And the same goes for Islamic constitutions, Islamic credit cards, Islamic parliaments, Islamic human rights, and so on and so forth. All these people and ideas are part of the past. To those who make the haram halal, we warn them by reminding them what Allah says in Surat al-Nahl:
Do not say about what your lying tongues describe:
‘This is halal and this is haram,’
inventing lies against Allah.
Those who invent lies against Allah are not successful —
a brief enjoyment,
then they will have a painful punishment.
(Qur’an, 16: 116)
These people have mislead the Muslims for over a hundred years since Muhammad Abduh. Their time is over. Now is the time to forge the leader who will read the fiqh with the eyes of victory and who will unveil for us what is clear, yet hidden to many: the real Islamic model, not based on a copy of the kuffar but on its own intrinsic order. Dinar, Dirham, Suqs, Caravans, Qirad, Waqf, Guilds, ‘Amr, Khalifate. These are the new/old instruments of conquest with which we will create the space for the leader to emerge. These are the elements which constitute our muamalat. This spirit of construction and growth based on our muamalat will do away with all the false leaders who have been the curse of the twentieth century and who still linger on in our present day. These are the false leaders who have been telling us to wait for the Saviour, the Mahdi or whatever they want to call it. These people have been telling us that the time has not yet come, that we are not ready, that our Iman is weak, when in fact it was their Iman that was weak. They have forgotten that Allah says in Surat al-Nisa’:
Do not say, ‘You are not a mumin’,
to someone who greets you as a Muslim,
simply out of desire for the goods of this world.
(Qur’an, 4: 93)
Our muamalat will also do away with those blind leaders who, because of their incapacity to see victory, have launched the Muslims into helpless and irrelevant battles pre-designed to fail. These are the people who from the comfort of their home have sent their followers in their thousands to a suicidal death, yet they disguise the failure in their suicidal tactics as a success of martyrdom, intended to lure the next lot.
Another group are those false leaders who are blind and cannot see the victory. They apparently invoke secret powers. These people give to themselves special powers from the Unseen and say: go and fight and the angels will help you, and if you question them about their strategy then they reply, “Do you not believe in angels?” We should say to them, “If you have an army of angels why do you need us? Go and fight your battle yourself.” They should seek wisdom, but instead they shortcut it by bluffing their trusting followers with false pretences. Allah says in Surat al-An’am:
Say: ‘I do not say to you that I possess the treasuries of Allah,
nor do I know the Unseen,
nor do I say to you that I am an angel.
I only follow what has been revealed to me.’
Say: ‘Are the blind the same as those who can see?
So will you not reflect?’
(Qur’an, 6: 51)
Finally, a last word. The key to our success will not come from looking at the world. It does not matter what great enterprise Allah puts before us, our centre must remain in our ‘ibada. Our ‘ibada is our strength and our guidance. There we can withdraw endlessly and deeper and deeper for the meanings that we require. Our ‘ibada is essential to us, and it is everything to the leader. Allah says in Surat al-Fath:
Truly We have granted you a clear victory,
so that Allah may forgive you your earlier errors
and any later ones
and complete His blessing upon you,
and guide you on a Straight Path.
and so that Allah may help you with a mighty help.
(Qur’an, 48: 1-3)