Allah (swt) says in Surah Al-Hajj, verse 78, وَجَاهِدُوا فِي اللَّهِ حَقَّ جِهَادِهِ هُوَ اجْتَبَاكُمْ وَمَا جَعَلَ عَلَيْكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ مِنْ حَرَجٍ مِّلَّةَ أَبِيكُمْ إِبْرَاهِيمَ هُوَ سَمَّاكُمُ الْمُسْلِمينَ مِن قَبْلُ وَفِي هَذَا لِيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ فَأَقِيمُوا الصَّلَاةَ وَآتُوا الزَّكَاةَ وَاعْتَصِمُوا بِاللَّهِ هُوَ مَوْلَاكُمْ فَنِعْمَ الْمَوْلَى وَنِعْمَ النَّصِيرُ “And strive hard in Allah’s cause as you OUGHT to strive. He has CHOSEN you, and has not laid upon you in religion any hardship: it is the religion of your father Ibrahim. He has named you Muslims both before and in this (Qur’an), that the Messenger may be a witness over you and you be witnesses over mankind! So, perform the Salah, give the Zakah and hold fast to Allah. He is your Mawla, what an Excellent Mawla and what an Excellent Helper!” [Al-Hajj 22: 78]
Ibn Kathir (RM), the great scholar of Islam, in his Tafsir of this verse says, “(He has chosen you,) means, `O Ummah of Islam, Allah has selected you and chosen you over all other nations, and has favored you and blessed you and honored you with the noblest of Messengers and the noblest of Laws.….Then He mentioned His blessings to this Ummah, whereby He mentioned them and praised them long ago in the Books of the Prophets which were recited to the rabbis and monks.” Allah (swt) has bestowed upon this Ummah a great honour and status. But this immense position in life and abundant blessings from our Rabb (swt) is linked to a great responsibility which Allah (swt) also mentions in the verse above – to be “the witnesses over mankind”. This important and major role of the Muslims is also mentioned in Surah Al-Baqara, where Allah (swt) says, وَكَذَلِكَ جَعَلْنَاكُمْ أُمَّةً وَسَطًا لِّتَكُونُواْ شُهَدَاء عَلَى النَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ الرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًا “Thus We have made you the ‘ummatan wasata’ (Just Ummah), that you be witnesses over mankind and the Messenger (Muhammad) be a witness over you.” [2:143]
Ibn Kathir in his Tafseer of this verse states that ‘Ummatun Wasata’ means the best and most honoured nation, explaining that this is because: Firstly, this Ummah will testify on the Day of Judgement to all the other nations of the world – past, present and future – that the Prophets conveyed the Message of Allah (swt) to mankind; and Secondly, because He (swt) entrusted the Muslims with the complete legislation, the best Manhaj (way) and clearest Madhab (methodology) in His Qur’an and Sunnah.
Allah (swt) therefore entrusted the Muslim Ummah with the Deen of Islam, as the witnesses over humankind, to deliver it to humanity. By delivering Islam to the people, it does not simply mean conveying it as a belief to those around us, or simply forming groups and organisations to convey the invitation to Islam to the non-Muslims in societies. Rather, it necessitates the carrying of the Dawah to establish Islam in authority, dominance and a position of leadership in this world, such that it becomes the standard of right and wrong for humanity, and the basis by which it organizes its affairs in all fields of life, and the means by which justice is administered to the nations of the world – such that humankind is taken from the darkness of man-made laws and systems to the light of the Laws and System of the Lord of the Worlds (swt). This requires a STATE which will implement fully the complete Islamic legislation that Allah (swt) entrusted this Ummah with, and that will use all the tools in its means to convey the Deen of Haqq to humanity. We saw for example how within a few decades of the Prophet ﷺ establishing the first Islamic state in Madinah, the authority of Islam had spread to lands as far away as India and Spain, bringing whole nations under the folds of its rule.
The verses above therefore emphasize that the Muslim Ummah has been CHOSEN for the role of human leadership, and that it should occupy a central position in this world because it has been assigned a great role in the development of humankind based on the Deen of Islam. In fact, the Muslim Ummah was raised up by Allah (swt) specifically for this purpose and role of delivering Islam to humanity, as Allah (swt) says in Surah Al-Imran, كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللّهِ “You are the best of the nations raised up for (the benefit of) men; you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong and believe in Allah.” [3:110]
So, on the Day of Judgement – when we are in the Court of Allah(swt), we will need to give proof to Him (swt) that we did our utmost in word and deed – to fulfill this vital role and obligation as Muslims – to bring the leadership of Islam to mankind. This means working to re-establish the state which is ruled by Islam alone – the KHILAFAH (Caliphate) based upon the method of the Prophethood. This mission to establish the rule of Islam and convey the Deen of Islam to humanity through it – is the LEGACY of our beloved Prophet ﷺ and was his main mission in life, which was handed down to us as his Ummah by Allah (swt) and obliged upon us as the inheritors of his Deen. Indeed, in the verses above, Allah (swt) conveys to every believer – man and woman – that out of the whole of creation – He (swt) hand-picked us, not only to be guided to Islam and be Muslim, but as those He (swt) assigned with this vital duty to – strive in His Cause, and carry this mission.
This therefore means taking ownership of this responsibility and not leaving it to others to fulfil, as each of us as Muslims has been selected for and charged with this task. But it also means appreciating the huge opportunity which is in our hands of earning the immense rewards promised to those who engage in this dawah to establish a state ruled by Islam alone. It is a ‘Golden Opportunity’, an opportunity that was not given to previous Muslim generations, except the generation of the Messenger ﷺ. It is an opportunity to be the Beloveds of the Prophet ﷺ, to be in his company in Jannah as well as the company of the other prophets and the righteous who carried the Mission of Allah (swt). However, as with any opportunity that Allah (swt) gives us, He (swt) can also take it away, shutting the door to that treasure of rewards and blessings, if we do not embrace the duty in the manner that He (swt) expects, for Allah (swt) says, وَإِن تَتَوَلَّوْا يَسْتَبْدِلْ قَوْمًا غَيْرَكُمْ ثُمَّ لَا يَكُونُوا أَمْثَالَكُمْ “And if you turn away, He will exchange you for some other people and they will not be your likes.” [Muhammad: 38]
This requires then, for us to strive in this mission to establish the System of Allah (swt) upon this earth – as we OUGHT to strive (as much as we are supposed to) as Allah (swt) says in the first words of Surah Al-Hajj, verse 78. It requires us to struggle in His (swt)’s Cause as much as we owe to Allah (swt), that is deserving of the honour He (swt) has given us as the ‘Witnesses over Humankind’. This means giving this great responsibility the proportion of our time, attention and efforts that reflects its vital importance and that it rightfully deserves as a duty that should hold a central position in our life and not one which is on the edges of it.
Understanding the importance of this mission as a Muslim Ummah, of taking humanity from the darkness to the light, also means realising that our lives as Muslims cannot be ordinary lives like that of the disbelievers, just chasing the things of this dunya and focused on the temporary interests of this world – whether it is our studies, our jobs, our children, our families, our home, our social lives, or leisure and entertainment – such that we make these things the main priorities or worries in our life that consumes most of our energies and thinking. The pursuit of such interests is the purpose of existence of the disbeliever but not ours as Muslims for Allah (swt) has given us a HIGHER PURPOSE – to be His Shuhada-an-Naas – His witnesses over mankind!
Allah (swt) says, مِنَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ رِجَالٌ صَدَقُوا مَا عَاهَدُوا اللَّهَ عَلَيْهِ فَمِنْهُم مَّن قَضَى نَحْبَهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّن يَنتَظِرُ وَمَا بَدَّلُوا تَبْدِيلًا “Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah: of them some have completed their vow (to the death), and some (still) wait: but they have never changed (the terms of their commitment) in the least.” [Al-Ahzab: 23]
May we be counted as from those who fulfilled our covenant with Allah (swt) and fulfilled the great mission He bestowed upon us of establishing His Deen in authority and leadership in this world. Ameen.
Dr. Nazreen Nawaz
Director of the Women’s Section in The Central Media Office of Hizb ut Tahrir