March 29, 2021
Excerpts from the book “Back to Basics: The Justice and Spirituality School” [not published yet]
Translated from the Arabic by the Editorial Board
The Justice and Spirituality School summarizes the branches of Iman (Faith) and the Sunna of the best of creation in 10 principal virtues (Editor’s Note: These ten principal virtues are considered the 10 Milestones of the Prophetic Method):
- Companionship and Community
- Remembrance of God
- Proper Comportment
- Determination and Moderation
The First Virtue of the Prophetic Method: Companionship and Community
Companionship for the sake of God is love for the sake of God, coupled with building bonds of brotherhood, sisterhood, and mercy. This Companionship raises the newcomer to our circles in the degrees of love of God and His Messenger. Community means organization. It is impossible to effectively confront the powers of disbelief and oppression if you are scattered and disorganized. There is a tension between the organized movement and its rules, structures and responsibilities on the one hand, and the gentleness required for bringing hearts together on the other. Therefore, only those of strong Iman are capable of remaining firm in the arena of activism. Three characteristics prevent these strong believers from retreating and falling behind: their absolute trust in God, their high opinion of God’s servants, and their patient bearing of the harm that befalls them from both their brothers and their enemies – all for the sake of God.
The path of love for the sake of God is not free of obstacles. It is obstructed by love of leadership and authority, and by limited experience in dealing with others with gentleness and mercy. Some will claim to seek God, but when the chance to achieve an air of authority and superiority over their peers flashes before their eyes, “they forget God, so he causes them to forget themselves. Such are depraved transgressors.”(1)
The Second Virtue of the Prophetic Method: Remembrance of God
Remembrance is to worship God with all of one’s heart, mind, and soul. It is to worship with constancy and humility. Everything that believing men and women do is an act of worship that brings them closer to God if their actions are guided by sincerity, guaranteed by the sunna, and supported by God-consciousness. “God only accepts from those who are truly conscious of Him.”(2) Some forget this fact, claiming that they can gain God’s pleasure and acceptance simply by organizing and debating in the arena of activist competition while they neglect the basics of worship. Remembrance for them means nothing but chants and slogans that they claim to be “Islamic.” This is nothing but tribulation and profligacy.
The Justice and Spirituality Movement distributed a booklet entitled The Day and Night Schedule of the Believer, which includes a program of times for Remembrance and a description of how to transition from a life of heedlessness and indifference to a life of presence in worship. Some read this pamphlet like it was a newspaper, as if merely taking a casual glance at its contents was enough.
This is a misunderstanding of epic proportions. How can someone truly desire justice and Ihsan if their heart is not fully awakened, or if they briefly awaken and then go back to sleep, or if they trip and do not get back up and press forward on the path towards perfection?
It is your life! It is your choice! It is your grave! It is your Resurrection! It is your Garden or your Fire! He is your Lord! How could any obstacle stop you from seeking your Creator? How could you allow the clamor and obsessions of the world to drown out the Call of God? What are you? A word without meaning?
The Third Virtue of the Prophetic Method: Sincerity
Believing men and women are distinguished from hypocrites by four characteristics that are readily apparent to anyone who sees their behavior: when the hypocrite “speaks, he lies. When he makes a promise, he breaks it. When he argues, he is belligerent. When he is entrusted, he betrays the trust.”(3) This is the description of the divinely inspired Prophet (God bless him and grant him peace), who speaks not of his own desire.
Brothers and sisters, if you contemplate the origins of the sicknesses and symptoms that our people and the umma are suffering from, you will find that hypocrisy lies at the root of it all. If you open the Book of God, you find that the hypocrites will be in the lowest rung of the Fire.
A hypocrite of a higher rung is one who grew up in an environment dominated by hypocrisy and was never able to break free of its gravitational pull. A hypocrite of the lowest rung is one who stubbornly insists on hypocrisy while claiming that they have turned to God. They put on a show of their Islam, deceiving the people around them. “They would conceal their deeds from the people, but they cannot conceal them from God – for He is with them when they conspire in the dark of the night to conjure falsehoods that He does not approve…”(4)
Woe to you! People may be deceived by your hypocrisy. But can you deceive your Lord, who knows your heart inside and out, while you journey towards Him day by day, preparing for yourself a disgraceful and painful end?
Such are people who betray themselves, attempting to deceive God and the believers. The Justice and Spirituality Movement, all thanks due to God, is like a body of water that naturally expels impurities. There is no place among us for cowardly hypocrites, the most disgraceful of creation. The stances of the movement prove, by the grace of God, that its practices of speaking truth to power and confronting oppressors are distinctions that have withstood both threats and enticement. However, I offer here a reminder, in the hopes that it may benefit the believers. Satan and base desires can always creep into good work and corrupt it. May God protect us. May God envelop us in His care.
The Fourth Virtue of the Prophetic Method: Sacrifice
Sacrifice is to give generously, to be of help, to serve, and to courageously protect the defenseless. Its opposite is arrogant selfishness, haughtiness, insatiable greed, and turning a blind eye to the pain of the marginalized and the suffering of the poor. It is all a question of mettle – vile people do not give; they covet. They do not console and bring comfort; they turn away and stay aloof. They do not rise to the occasion when help is needed; they wrap themselves up in an illusory sense of well-being enjoyed by faint-hearted cowards and disobedient profligates.
The Fifth Virtue of the Prophetic Method: Knowledge
Knowledge is whatever brings us closer to God, sharpens our insight into our ultimate destiny with Him, helps us to understand our obligations to Him, and plants our feet firmly on the path of following and upholding the Sunna of the Messenger of God. Beyond that, knowledge is learning and understanding the theological foundations of the religion and the details of acts of worship. It is functional sciences produced by the intellect, or derived from human experience, or obtained by those who diligently pursue wisdom, who are most deserving of it wherever it is found. These functional sciences are necessary for the flourishing of life, and they are an indispensable tool for anyone dedicated to confronting oppression and arrogant falsehood. On the other hand, these sciences can also become a cursed plague if they are packaged with an underlying philosophy of disbelief, heresy, and atheism.
The Sixth Virtue of the Prophetic Method: Action
Iman consists of conviction in the heart, testimony with the tongue, and actions of the body. Those who have Iman are only known by good deeds. God says: “Those who have faith and do righteous deeds, for them is every good and a beautiful place of return.” (5)
Those who work for this world are among those who will be “working in exhaustion and loss, entering a blazing Fire.”(6) Such are the hypocrites who make a show of their deeds. And those who “strive for the Hereafter as is due while they are true in faith”(7) “will enter the Garden wherein they are provided with abundance beyond any account.”(8) And those who strive further to attain the Pleasure of God, closeness to Him and the bliss of gazing upon His Face are the people of Ihsan. “And God loves the people of Ihsan.”(9)
The Seventh Virtue of the Prophetic Method: Proper Comportment
Proper comportment is to be distinguished in both substance and appearance from the deceptive, empty trappings of materialist society. It is for the fresh water drawn from the springs of the Quran to flow in our discourse, undiluted by the speculative language and expressions of new-fangled ideologies and philosophies. If we are not intent upon distinguishing ourselves in this manner, we will one day find that we have dissolved in the acid test of materialism.
We can observe this dissolution among those who pontificate about changing society while raising hollow slogans in the name of Islam, even though they have in fact succumbed before taking their first step. They are defeated when they hide their Islam, when they look down upon the Sunna, or, worse yet, when they give in to a sense of shame and allow themselves to behave with hypocrisy.
The Eighth Virtue of the Prophetic Method: Self-Discipline
Self-discipline consists of patience, gentleness, long-winded perseverance, and enduring hardships. Such are “a people whom God loves and they love him – humble before the believers and proud before those who deny truth.”(10) How can we achieve the necessary balance between unrestricted mercy and uncompromising resistance to all forms of falsehood?
The Ninth Virtue of the Prophetic Method: Determination and Moderation
We speak here of pressing forward on the path of moderation with gentleness and resolution. Moderation is the art of presence, walking in the world without deviating from the ultimate goal of the Hereafter and Ihsan.
The Tenth Virtue of the Prophetic Method: Jihad
The ignorant portray jihad as if it means violence, end of discussion. As if Islam were a curse for the human race! But consider this: when the oppressors initiated violence, then offered the false promise of democracy, then slapped the will of the people in the face and subjected their Muslim opponents to prison, torture, and massacre, what does it mean? In these circumstances, staying silent is a disgrace and non-violent resistance is an obligation.
As for the jihad of development, it consists of the peaceful deconstruction of the edifice and institutions of disbelief and falsehood in our midst and building in their place a new generation whose mentality, lifestyles, and livelihoods are rooted in Iman.
“And the life of this world is nothing more than the enjoyment of delusion.”(11) “And the Hereafter is better and more lasting.”(12) “And God is better and more lasting.”(13)
The goals of the Hereafter and the Face of God are not attained through subjecting oneself to abasement, masking passive escapism with the trappings of spirituality, or appeasing oppression and falsehood.
There is no god but God, Muhammad is the Messenger of God. Glory be to God, praise be to God, there is no god but God, God is greater. There is no ability or power except through God. May God send His peace and blessings upon our master Muhammad, his Family, his Companions, and all who follow him.”