Thursday, 15 August 2019

Salat Cannot Be Enforced by the State

Recently, another clip from Engineer Muhammad Ali Mirza was released in which he has committed another blunder due to sheer ignorance and misunderstanding the basic principles of Islam. According to the Engineer, the state is responsible for enforcing people to offer the Salat:

The Engineer has quoted some Ahadith and narrations to prove his argument. First he mentions the following Hadith:
أَنَّ النَّبِيَّ صلى الله عليه وسلم كَانَ إِذَا غَزَا بِنَا قَوْمًا لَمْ يَكُنْ يَغْزُو بِنَا حَتَّى يُصْبِحَ وَيَنْظُرَ، فَإِنْ سَمِعَ أَذَانًا كَفَّ عَنْهُمْ، وَإِنْ لَمْ يَسْمَعْ أَذَانًا أَغَارَ عَلَيْهِمْ
“When the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) went out with us to fight a people, he would not allow us to attack till morning. He would wait and see, if he heard the Adhan he would leave them, and if he did not hear the Adhan he would attack them.” (agreed upon)
But this Hadith has no bearing on the issue of the state enforcing the Salat. Rather, this Hadith is concerning Jihad and illustrates the fact that it is forbidden for Muslims to fight a people who proclaim the Adhan, as the Adhan is a salient feature of Islam, and the proclamation of the Adhan from a locality is sufficient to regard it as a Muslim locality. Next, the Engineer mentions the following narration of sayyidina Ibn Mas’ud (radi Allahu anhu):
قَالَ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ لَقَدْ رَأَيْتُنَا وَمَا يَتَخَلَّفُ عَنِ الصَّلاَةِ إِلاَّ مُنَافِقٌ قَدْ عُلِمَ نِفَاقُهُ
“We have seen that no one stayed away from the Salat except a hypocrite whose hypocrisy was known.” (Sahih Muslim)
Once again, I am deeply surprised at how the otherwise intelligent Engineer thinks this is a solid proof for the idea that the state should enforce offering of the Salat. The fact of the matter is sayyidina Ibn Masud’s purpose was to explain the importance of the Salat and that during the time of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) it was only the well-known hypocrites who neglected offering the Salat in congregation. Ironically, this narration actually refutes the Engineer’s entire thesis, because we know of no incident in which the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) punished any of those hypocrites who did not offer the Salat in congregation. The fact that he left them alone demonstrates that it is not the state’s function to enforce the Salat and to punish people for neglecting its offering the mosque or in congregation. I should also point out that this was only applicable during the time of the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) when Islam was manifest and fully established, such that only the open and well known hypocrite would be negligent of offering the Salat in congregation. In our time, it is irresponsible to say that those who are negligent of the Salat or coming to the mosque and praying in congregation are outright hypocrites. No doubt, they are grave sinners whose faith is weak. Some among them may indeed be hypocrites, but we cannot determine that unless the hypocrite himself openly renounces Islam or unless Allah sends down the revelation of prophesy identifying for us who the hypocrites are. But after the sealing of prophesy, it is impossible for the Muslims to determine with absolute certainty whether an individual is a hypocrite. Only Allah Most High knows the true state of a person’s heart, the Muslims are only given dispensation to judge by what is apparent. Now according to the Shari’a, parents are obliged to teach their children to pray when they reach the age of seven, and when they reach the age of ten they may be physically disciplined if they become negligent in offering the prayer. However, once a child reaches adolescence the parents are no longer able to physically discipline him regarding the Salat. This is a clear proof from the Shari’a that neither the State nor anyone else has the authority to enforce the Salat on any individual Muslim. The command to discipline a ten year old child with regard to the Salat is the extent of the parents’ responsibility to ensure that their children are doing right before they reach the age of maturity. Indeed, any Salat that someone is compelled to pray as a sane adult and doesn’t pray voluntarily is unacceptable to Allah. The basic requirement for the acceptance of Salat is that the worshiper must be offering it out of his own free will and not out of fear of any human being. Hence Allah says:
لَا إِكْرَاهَ فِي الدِّينِ
There is no compulsion in Religion
(Sura 2:256)

In an authentic Hadith, the Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) stated:
وَالَّذِي نَفْسِي بِيَدِهِ لَقَدْ هَمَمْتُ أَنْ آمُرَ بِحَطَبٍ يُحْتَطَبُ، ثُمَّ آمُرَ بِالصَّلاَةِ فَيُؤَذَّنَ لَهَا، ثُمَّ آمُرَ رَجُلاً فَيَؤُمَّ النَّاسَ، ثُمَّ أُخَالِفَ إِلَى رِجَالٍ فَأُحَرِّقَ عَلَيْهِمْ بُيُوتَهُمْ
By Him in Whose Hands my soul is, I was about to order for collecting fire wood and then order someone to pronounce the Adhan for the prayer and then order someone to lead the people in prayer and then I would go from behind and burn the houses of men who did not present themselves for the (compulsory congregational) prayer.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)
The Prophet (sall Allahu alayhi wasallam) expressed this to illustrate the severity of neglecting the congregational Salat, but he obviously did not act upon this desire. By not acting upon it we come to know that the Salat cannot be enforced by the state or any other authority.

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