بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
والصلاة والسلام على رسوله الكريم
وعلى آله واصحابه اجمعين
The distinction between Din and Madhhab is observed by modern political thinkers like A. A. Mawdudi, G. A. Parwez and Dr. Israr Ahmad. This idea that Islam is not merely a ’’religion’’ – in the traditional sense of the word – but a total system that encompasses all spheres of life, including social, political and economic, has deeply penetrated the minds of many Muslims who were nurtured on the writings and discourses of these 20th century Islamic ’’intellectuals’’. The modern political fikr is in fact a hotchpotch of various ideological currents including but not limited to Kharijism, Shi’ism, naturalist and materialist philosophies, modernism and Marxism. One can clearly see elements of all these in the warped understanding and approach to Islam by those who advocate this 20th century political fikr. The Shi’i element in particular strongly informs the political dimension of this fikr in the idea that the exact form of government that the Muslims must strive for has been legislated and ordained by Allah. Shi’i polemicists often argue that it is illogical that Islam gives us detailed guidance on apparently mundane matters as hygiene but that the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wa-aalihi wasallam) could have died without designating his successor. Likewise, the followers of the 20th century political fikr argue that it is critical to establish an Islamic state, because how it is possible that Islam is concerned with apparently routine matters as personal hygiene and dress but not governance or politics. Now in a previous article, I recognized the existence of a political narrative that is intrinsic to Islam, which is especially concerned with liberation of the weak and oppressed and the desire for a charismatic leadership of a saintly Imam, but this should in no way be confused with the modernist fikr of Mawdudi or Sayyid Qutb. Rather, the political narrative which I speak of as being intrinsic to Islam is better expressed in the movement of Mulla Omar’s anti-modernist Taliban (despite their shortcomings), historic Mahdist, apocalyptic uprisings, and the armed revolts of charismatic individuals from the Ahl al-Bayt against the tyrannical and impious Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties – such as the uprising of Imams Zayd, Nafs al-Zakiya, and Muhammad al-Sufi in Taliqan (may Allah have mercy on them). In other words, the political narrative which I subscribe to is apocalyptic, pietist and anti-modernist, in stark contrast to the materialist and modernist fikr of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Muhammad Iqbal, Hasan al-Banna, Ali Shariati, ’’Ayatullah’’ Khomeini, Taqi ud-Din an-Nabahani, Abul-Ala Mawdudi, G. A. Parwez, Dr. Israr Ahmad and Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi.
Returning to the revisionist distinction between Din and Madhhab, it is argued that other world religions, notably Christianity, are examples of madhahib, while Islam is unique in that it is a Din that is not only an alternative to Christianity and Judaism, but to communism, capitalism and other social, political and economic systems. But a distinction with this meaning is not evident in the Quran. The religion or cult of the idol-worshiping pagans, which lacks political, legal and economic dimensions, is nevertheless considered a Din:
هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ
He it is Who has sent His Apostle with guidance and the Religion of Truth to manifest it over every Din, even if the polytheists hate it.
(Sura 9:33; 61:9)
لَكُمْ دِينُكُمْ وَلِيَ دِينِ
For you your Din and for me my Din
Addressing the people of the Scripture, particularly the Christians, Allah says:
يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لَا تَغْلُوا فِي دِينِكُمْ
O people of the Book, do not exaggerate in your Din
(Sura 4:171; 5:77)
Regarding the Jews and Judaism, He says:
وَغَرَّهُمْ فِي دِينِهِم مَّا كَانُوا يَفْتَرُونَ
They were deluded in their Din by what they invented
It is argued that Islam does not observe the same dualism between spirit and matter as Christianity does. That is the dualism which allowed Christendom to accept secularism, the absolute separation of religion and state. Of course Islam rejects the notion that religion and state are to be kept totally separate, since our Religion has a strong legal dimension and expects the state to maintain morality in the public domain. Nonetheless, Islam does recognize a distinction between religious affairs and purely worldly affairs, as the Prophet Muhammad (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) stated:
إِنْ كَانَ شَيْئًا مِنْ أَمْرِ دُنْيَاكُمْ فَشَأْنَكُمْ بِهِ وَإِنْ كَانَ شَيْئًا مِنْ أُمُورِ دِينِكُمْ فَإِلَىَّ
’’If it is something from the affair of your world, then it is your matter, but if it is something from the affairs of your Religion, then refer to me.’’
(Sunan Ibn Maja #2471)
The Hadith proves that the secular affairs of the Dunya are not included in the Din of Islam. In such matters, the people do not have to refer back to their Religion for detailed instructions. Allah Most High has gives his great creation, humanity, the gift of the intellect. He does not intend to spoonfeed and dictate to us every detail of our worldly life, which would render the use of our own intellect redundant. The detailed instructions of Islam are primarily regarding how we should worship Allah, and ethical, moral issues of right and wrong, allowed and forbidden. In our secular, temporal affairs of this world, Allah says we should conduct them through shura (mutual consultation), and in doing so our decisions will be blessed by Him and yield positive results.