The Labor government has set October 14 as the date for a referendum on the “Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice”. The Prime Minister has been campaigning hard to promote a “yes” vote for the proposed change to the Australian Constitution. Prime Minister Albanese has been particularly active among religious and ethnic groups, boasting of having all their support for a “yes” vote. The Muslim community is no exception, as he has claimed that the Muslim community fully supports the “yes” vote. He has met with some representatives of Muslim organisations who have given their support. However, the Muslim community at large has been bypassed and spoken on behalf of by the Prime Minister. We aim to present an Islamic position on the upcoming constitutional referendum so that we are better informed before being spoken for by the Prime Minister or anyone else.
What exactly is the “Voice” about?
Australia’s dark history with its Aboriginal and Torres Strait people is well known. It is a history of colonisation, dispossession, violence, and racism.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were dispossessed of their land and their culture. They were subjected to horrendous abuses and massacres. They were also denied the right to vote, own property and were only recognised and counted in the census in 1967. Between the late 19th century and the 1970s, Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their families and placed in institutions or with white foster families. This policy was designed to forcefully eradicate Aboriginal culture and identity and to wholly assimilate them into white society on subservient terms. The crimes committed by the colonialists abound and were a replication of European violence the world over.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to experience disadvantage in Australia today as a result of historical and present abuses. They have lower life expectancy, higher rates of poverty and incarceration, and poorer access to education and healthcare.
Successive governments have sought to temper this humiliating past and present by engaging the Aboriginal and Torres Strait community on a path of “reconciliation” such that the gap between the Indigenous population and the wider Australian community is narrowed.
The Voice was a key recommendation of the “Uluru Statement from the Heart”, a 2017 document signed by over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders. This was one of five proposed actions pre-set for discussion, and ultimately it was the Voice that was adopted over, for example, the embarrassing section 25 of the constitution that talks about states having the power to ban a race from voting at state elections. The Statement calls for a constitutionally enshrined Voice to Parliament, a body to supervise a process of agreement-making between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and the Australian Government, and a commitment to truth-telling about Australia’s history.
The Voice, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Voice, is thus a proposed Australian constitutional amendment that would establish a body to advise the Australian Parliament and Government on matters affecting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
The Voice would be an independent and permanent body, with its members elected by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It would have the power to provide advice to the Parliament and Government on a wide range of issues, including education, health, housing, justice, and other policies with a practical impact on the indigenous population.
The proposed change has been set to be taken to a vote, a referendum, for Australians to decide on whether to accept the amendment or not. Australians will be asked to vote either “yes” or “no” to the proposed changes to the constitution. A “yes” outcome would see the insertion of a new chapter in the Australian constitution that recognises Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first peoples of Australia and that there shall be a body formed by them to make representations to the parliament on matters relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
What is the overall position of the two sides?
It is important to note that within the “yes” and “no” camps there are varying motives. An official referendum booklet has been issued that presents the arguments of both camps. This by no means represents the totality of the arguments or motives of either side, but represents the approved arguments by the two major political parties in Australia: the Labor government being in favour of a “yes” vote, while the Liberal party advocating for a “no” vote. A summary of the official arguments of both camps follows:
- The Voice is a key recommendation of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, a 2017 document signed by over 250 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander leaders. It is a chance to create a more just and equitable future for all Australians.
- The Voice would give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a direct say in the development and implementation of policies that affect their lives.
- It would help to ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are consulted and their perspectives considered in all levels of government decision-making.
- It would contribute to improving the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
- It would be a symbolic recognition of the First Peoples of Australia and their role in Australian society.
- The Voice is a complex and controversial proposal. It is simply not about “recognition” but goes much further. It is the biggest change to the Australian constitution, legally risky, and with unknown consequences.
- The Voice is unnecessary, as Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples already have representation in the Australian parliament and government.
- The Voice could create a separate system of government for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, which would be divisive and unfair.
- The Voice is too expensive and would divert resources from other important programs and services.
- The Voice is poorly defined and it is unclear how it would work in practice.
- Once changed, the Voice would be permanent and Australians would be stuck with negative consequences.
Other arguments, not really popularly supported in the No camp, suggest that this is about controlling the Aboriginal population and that it legitimises the invasion and dispossession of the Indigenous peoples.
What do the Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples say on the issue?
It is important to understand how the process of adopting the Voice was undertaken. Although it can be argued that the road to the current proposal has been a long one, and dates back to the early resistance efforts of the Aboriginal peoples and the many actions throughout the decades since European invasion, we will summarise the recent culmination of events that led to the adoption of the Voice.
In 2012 the Australian Government appointed a panel of five ‘experts’ to advise on the best way to achieve constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians. The panel was led by Professor Patrick Dodson, an Indigenous law expert and former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner. The panel handed down a 300+ page report with recommendations on how the process and content of a constitutional change in recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would look like.
On 7 December 2015 a “Referendum Council” was then appointed by the Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, and the Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten. It comprised of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander members and non-Indigenous members from a “range of expert fields and backgrounds”. The Referendum Council was tasked with “Leading the process for national consultations and community engagement about constitutional recognition, including a concurrent series of Indigenous designed and led ‘consultations’” to “Consider the recommendations of the 2012 Expert Panel on Constitutional Recognition of Indigenous Australians.”
The Referendum Council’s work was concluded on 26 May 2017 at the National Constitutional Convention in Uluru and with the issuing of “The Uluru statement from the Heart”.
It is reported that “Independent research consistently showed that more than 80% of First Nations People support the Voice”, a claim, of course, that is consistently contested depending on who is speaking.
Some of the arguments made by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in both camps are presented as follows:
- The Voice is a step in the right direction towards reconciliation.
- It will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a greater say in the decisions that affect their lives and will help to build trust and understanding between the two groups.
- That this is a heartfelt attempt at reconciliation by Aboriginal and Torres Strait peoples, the rejection of which by Australian society would cause further damage.
- The Voice will give Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples a greater say in the development and implementation of policies that affect their lives. This will lead to better outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and will help to close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.
- The Voice will ensure that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are consulted and their perspectives considered in all levels of government decision-making. This will help to ensure that the government makes decisions that are in the best interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- The Voice will be a symbolic recognition of the First Peoples of Australiaand their role in Australian society. That this will help to build a more inclusive and respectful society for all Australians.
- The Voice is not the right way to achieve constitutional recognition. Some believe that a treaty is a more appropriate way to recognize the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- The Voice is too weak and does not go far enough. The Voice should have more power, such as the power to veto legislation.
- The Voice is a government-controlled body and will not be truly independent. The Voice will be prone to be co-opted by the government and will not be able to effectively represent the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
- The Voice symbolises the legitimisation of European invasion and dispossession of the Aboriginal peoples.
- The Voice is divisive and will create a separate system of government for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Some Aboriginal people believe that the Voice will further marginalize Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and will make it more difficult to achieve equality.
What does all this mean in real terms? The fact is Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people were violently robbed, killed and dispossessed over two centuries ago through colonisation, and its dastardly effects continue to this day. The passage of time does not diminish this fact nor its real impact upon Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
The responses before us fall into two broad camps. The first is to reject colonisation and everything it represents in principle, and oppose all efforts to normalise its existence. The second is to accept the reality of colonisation and accept to advance the cause of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people within its established dynamics.
The first choice is a principled position with which Muslims can readily identify. Our religion demands it, and our experience in occupied Palestine demonstrates it. Any effort to legitimise the existence of the Jewish occupation, no matter the size of the carrot or the stick, would never be accepted by Muslims. Our only position is to continue our efforts, despite its difficulties, to realise the complete reversal of this occupation. Being offered a position inside the Jewish occupation, especially at the behest of the occupiers, would rightfully be regarded as an insult, and its acceptance nothing less than betrayal.
The second choice, whilst understandable in human terms, is initially rationalised as an attempt at survival. But survival soon turns into surrender, and surrender soon turns into defeat. After defeat, our very existence becomes endangered, and we then question if the price paid for our survival was worth paying if we no longer exist in any meaningful sense.
These are the positions before us, and as principled Muslims, we can never accept to side with the oppressor against the oppressed, nor legitimise their crimes or help facilitate the surrender of their victims. Tokenistic gestures designed to achieve just that should be rightfully and comprehensively rejected.
What does it mean to vote in a referendum?
Referendums (in Australia) are used to approve or change the Australian Constitution. A vote is undertaken by the people to decide whether or not a change or approval goes ahead.
The Australian Constitution is a constitutional document that lays down the fundamental principles that determines how the state is governed. It is the supreme law in Australia. It sets down the political structure of Australia as a federation under a constitutional monarchy and outlines the structure and powers of the Australian Government’s three constituent parts: the executive, legislature, and judiciary.
Voting in a referendum thus means to take part in a process that determines the content of the constitution. The content of the constitution is thus determined by the majority of people. Ultimately the laws and principles laid down to govern a country are determined by the people and then the resultant constitution becomes the supreme reference for all other laws enacted in the country.
What is the Islamic Hukum regarding voting in a secular referendum?
When one votes in a referendum they are directly taking part in making (supreme) laws or principles that a country will be governed by. People come together and agree that a majority vote on a matter will establish that issue as part of the Constitution. Simply put, this is man-made legislation. Allah (swt) has made it clear that ruling by other than what Allah (swt) has revealed is at minimum a great sin, He (swt) said:
وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْكَـٰفِرُون
“And those who do not rule by what Allah has revealed are (truly) the Kaafiroon (disbelievers).” [Al-Ma’idah:44]
وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلظَّـٰلِمُونَ
“And those who do not rule by what Allah has revealed are (truly) the dhaalimoon (wrongdoers).” [Al-Ma’idah:45]
وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ فَأُو۟لَـٰٓئِكَ هُمُ ٱلْفَـٰسِقُونَ
“And those who do not rule by what Allah has revealed are (truly) the faasiqoon (rebellious).” [Al-Ma’idah:47]
Allah (swt) condemns the one who seeks judgement from false judges (taaghut):
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى ٱلَّذِينَ يَزْعُمُونَ أَنَّهُمْ ءَامَنُوا۟ بِمَآ أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَآ أُنزِلَ مِن قَبْلِكَ يُرِيدُونَ أَن يَتَحَاكَمُوٓا۟ إِلَى ٱلطَّـٰغُوتِ وَقَدْ أُمِرُوٓا۟ أَن يَكْفُرُوا۟ بِهِۦ وَيُرِيدُ ٱلشَّيْطَـٰنُ أَن يُضِلَّهُمْ ضَلَـٰلًۢا بَعِيدًۭا
“Have you (O Prophet) not seen those who claim they believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you? They seek the judgment of false judges, which they were commanded to reject. And Satan (only) desires to lead them farther away.” [An-Nisa’:60]
Even if one’s intention was to vote for what Islam commands, assuming that it is what Islam commands, that person has agreed to a process that does not reference the Islamic texts (revelation) when deriving and adopting a hukum (ruling). Instead, the process references the majority opinion. Allah (swt) rebukes taking the whims and desires of man as a reference point, He (swt) said:
وَأَنِ ٱحْكُم بَيْنَهُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ ٱللَّهُ وَلَا تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَآءَهُمْ
“And rule between them by what Allah has revealed, and do not follow their desires.” [Al-Ma’idah:49]
The Islamic texts clearly state that the Hakimiyyah (soverienty/ruling) must belong to Allah (swt) and connected it to His (swt) worship. He (swt) says:
إِنِ ٱلْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ أَمَرَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوٓا۟ إِلَّآ إِيَّاهُ
“Verily the ruling is to none but Allah. He has commanded that you worship none but Him.” [Yusuf:40]
The proposal sounds like a just cause, should we not stand on the side of justice?
Indeed Islam commands us to be on the side of justice “even if it be against ourselves”. The question however is what can be deemed justice and how should one achieve this justice? Justice can only be achieved by implementing Islam. Allah (swt) says:
لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِٱلْبَيِّنَـٰتِ وَأَنزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ ٱلْكِتَـٰبَ وَٱلْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ ٱلنَّاسُ بِٱلْقِسْطِ
“Indeed, We sent Our messengers with clear proofs, and with them We sent down the Scripture and the balance (of justice) so that people may administer justice.” [Al-Hadid:25]
And so anything outside Islam is not justice. The Australian government seeks to solve the abuses and inequalities meted out towards the indigenous population by designing and legislating a law conjured up by secularists and voted upon by the population. At every step, solutions have been recommended through a process not referring to what Allah (swt) has revealed.
One may argue however that there are references in the Sunnah regarding justice emanating from the non-Muslim king, Al-Najaashi or references in the Quran that encourage fair dealing and truth-telling such as in the following verse:
يَـٰٓأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءَامَنُوا۟ كُونُوا۟ قَوَّٰمِينَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ شُهَدَآءَ لِلَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَىٰٓ أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ ٱلْوَٰلِدَيْنِ وَٱلْأَقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيًّا أَوْ فَقِيرًۭا فَٱللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا فَلَا تَتَّبِعُوا۟ ٱلْهَوَىٰٓ أَن تَعْدِلُوا۟ وَإِن تَلْوُۥٓا۟ أَوْ تُعْرِضُوا۟ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيرًۭا
“O believers! Stand firm for justice as witnesses for Allah even if it is against yourselves, your parents, or close relatives. Be they rich or poor, Allah is best to ensure their interests. So do not let your desires cause you to deviate (from justice). If you distort the testimony or refuse to give it, then (know that) Allah is certainly All-Aware of what you do.” [An-Nisa’:135]
The description of Al-Najaashi is one of fair dealing, that is, he does not favour one side over another because of some innate attribute or closeness in ties. He affords the same and equal privileges to both sides of a dispute and so on. This is like what is described in the above verse whereby Allah (swt) commends truthful testimony even if it were to bring harm upon oneself or a family member. He (swt) also commands not to have some kind of bias towards the rich because of possible favours that can be gained or to show bias towards the poor out of sympathy. Allah (swt) commands the truth and it must be told and judgement must be issued whether favourable or not even against oneself. So fair dealing is commanded in Islam and it must be something that a Muslim is characterised with. This is different though to taking part in legislating something that humans deem to be just. One is dealing with people fairly and as per Allah’s (swt) commandments, and the other is a subjective man-made law being legislated by those who have wronged (colonialists) without referring to revelation.
So the matter is not whether we are for justice, or in favour of dealing fairly and uprightly with others, but the matter is how we define justice and the prohibition of legislating in a kufr system that is naturally not capable of achieving the outcomes Allah (swt) has ordained.
Does this mean we are advocating for a “No” vote?
Islam simply prohibits taking part in a legislative process whereby the Quran and Sunnah is not the source of reference. So we are neither advocating for a “No” or a “Yes”. We advocate that only Islam is capable of solving the problems of humanity.
The Muslim experience with the colonialists
The intention of this piece is not to tell the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples what to do with regards to the upcoming referendum, but given Muslims also have historical and current experiences in dealing with European invaders and colonisers, these common experiences, albeit with some differences, can be a source of reflection on who we are dealing with and should further inform our relationship with the colonisers. Our experiences in this regard should also elevate our awareness with regards to the politics of what may be occurring in these events. The political machinations of what is occurring here is not new and should be a cause for contemplation of how our politics as a community in Australia has been affected by colonialism in our lands of origin.
In the 19th century, European colonisation of Muslim lands reached its peak. Britain, France, and Russia all established colonies in North Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia. These colonies were ruled with an iron fist, and Muslims were subjected to brutal forms of abuse. At the conclusion of WWI and the defeat of the Uthmani Khilafah after it entered the war, Britain and France divided the spoils of Muslim land between them in what was known as the Sykes-Picot agreement. Arbitrary borders were drawn up, puppet rulers appointed and foreign institutions established to maintain the colonialists’ stronghold over the people and their lands. Sharif Hussein was given Transjordan and initially the Hijaaz, Faisal bin Hussein given Iraq, Fouad made king of Egypt and later Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud was given the Hijaaz and Najd, which they named Saudi Arabia.
Since then the Muslim lands have been ruled by rulers whose loyalties remain with the colonialists. The puppet rulers ruled with tyranny, cemented the divisions within the Ummah setup by the colonialists, squandered our resources, relinquished land to our enemies, fought devastating proxy wars, suppressed Islamic sentiments, jailed and killed Islamic Scholars, accelerated the spread of fahsha’ and munkar throughout the Muslim world, facilitated further western military invasions, destroyed economies, the environment and the social structure. All this under the instruction of the colonising nations, albeit at times competing between themselves as to who would take the lion’s share. Every step of the way the West’s sole aim was to consolidate their control of our lands and to ensure no autonomous political project could take hold so as to threaten the West’s crazed imperialist scramble over the Ummah’s body.
The colonialists appointed “indigenous” rulers to make their control over our lands a little more palatable. These rulers initially ruled under European/colonial mandates and thus were not autonomous. As time elapsed, direct presence and ruling became more difficult for the Europeans as the populations wanted to see the end of foreign interference. The countries then transitioned to “independence” though it is common knowledge that those that rose to power had their allegiance firmly placed with their colonial masters. A flurry of moves to “independence” occurred from the 1930’s through to the 40’s, 50’s and 60’s. The ummah still deals with the devastating consequences of being ruled by puppet rulers whose allegiance is to foreign nations such as America, Britain, France and Russia.
Palestine is a painful case in point regarding the ugly face of colonial powers and those they appoint over us. Britain ruled Palestine (Transjordan) under a British mandate, appointing Sharif Hussein, a supposed Hashemite, as the face of local representation. Initially Sharif Hussein was promised an independent Arab state that included rulership over the Hijaaz and parts of Al-Shaam in return for leading a revolt against the Uthmaani Khilafah. The treason of Sharif Hussein in allying with the British against the Uthmani Khilafah came home to roost when the British and French reneged on their promise after they allowed Ibn Saud to unite Najd and Hejaz to form Saudi Arabia. Later the colonialists would hand over Palestine to the Jews as a realisation of the Balfour Declaration made in 1917. Jews were encouraged to migrate to Palestine and to purchase land. Initially the Palestinians resisted the plot, however the matter was decided and the treacherous rulers allowed for the occupation of Palestine to begin in 1948 with the UN voting to partition Palestine. The Muslims did initially resist in a war fought over several months, but with the backing of the UN and the treason of the Arab rulers, Jewish occupation of part of Palestine succeeded. The PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organisation) was formed close to two decades later as a supposed representation of the Palestinian people, initially taking up resistance, but then later infamously recognising “Israel” and now ceding much land and authority to the Jewish occupation. As such, the recognised “representatives” of the Palestinian people have become nothing more than a tool to legitimise the surrender of land to the occupation, normalising relations with the occupier.
Through these examples several lessons can be drawn with regards to how the colonialists function:
- Colonialist authority is not up for negotiation. They will renege on promises, discard previous allies, temper resistance by giving small concessions and institute violence in their endeavours.
- The colonialists will only ever recognise a representative body if that body is in line with their interests and toes its authority.
- Establishing official representation of a people is meant to temper demands and resistance of the people, subvert true sentiments, undermine true representation, divide and distract the people through heated internal confrontation and negotiation, control the response of the people, and legitimise outcomes against principled stances.
- Official bodies recognised by the government play by the government’s rules.
- Colonialists create the problem and then pretend to be the mediators in rectifying the problem.
- Colonialists do not seek to establish their authority through the strength of their ideology but through cunning politics enveloped in greed and racism.
These lessons suffice, although many more can be drawn, to inform the type of relationship we should have with colonial governments. Locally, at minimum it should be one that is kept always at arm’s length and one that is not dictated by government agenda that only legitimises their intervention in the Muslim community. In the Muslim lands, it must be one of total rejection and strong resistance of any dictates or interference so that no leeway is given to solidify their grip on power over the Muslims.
The consistency of how the colonialists operate across the world is plain to see, as Muslims we should be a beacon of light with regards to how a people respond to their injustice.
How do we explain Islamic conquests?
The topic of Islamic conquests is a large one, however it would suffice to briefly elucidate the divine objective of such conquests and how Islam commands that the people of conquered lands be treated. The contrast, then, between it and the European colonial wars will be clear.
The message of Islam elevated warring Arab tribes in the middle of the desert, that the world had taken no notice of, into world leaders. It was the message of Islam that bound the hearts of once rival tribes, people of different economic and social statuses, and of different colours and races, into a solid unified community whose sole purpose was to implement what was revealed to them through the Prophet (saw) and to take the message to all peoples around the world so that the rest of humanity equally joins the community of believers, united by nothing else but an idea – the divine doctrine of Islam. The message of Islam that the Arabs accepted propelled them immediately on to the international arena, in direct interaction, and consequently confrontation, with the Roman and Persian empires and many more. The message of Islam was not to be confined to Bedouins as a unique and exotic culture isolated from the rest of the world. They understood the very purpose of the Prophet’s (saw) mission:
وَمَا هُوَ إِلَّا ذِكْرٌۭ لِّلْعَـٰلَمِينَ
But it (Islam) is nothing else but a reminder to the whole world [Al-Qalam:52]
وَمَآ أَرْسَلْنَـٰكَ إِلَّا كَآفَّةًۭ لِّلنَّاسِ بَشِيرًۭا وَنَذِيرًۭا وَلَـٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ ٱلنَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
We have sent you (O Prophet) only as a deliverer of good news and a warner to all of humanity, but most people do not know. [Saba’:28]
It was clear that the conveyance of Islam and spread of the Islamic message was and is the basis upon which the Islamic Ummah defines her relationship with all peoples of the world. The spreading of the Islamic ‘aqeedah (creed) is the sole motivation for the Islamic conquests that occurred during the Prophet and Sahabah’s time. The goal of the Islamic authority is not to steal the vital resources or to massacre people of a different race or to create conditions to open new markets for its goods and services, nor is it to deceive the peoples concerning the truth of what is actually about to happen to them. Indeed none of this is the motivating factor for the conquests, as is illustrated in the statement of the delegation of the Muslims to Rustum (of Persia) before the battle of Al-Qaadisyah:
“By Allah, your embracing of Islam is more beloved to us than your booties!”
The same sentiment was expressed by ‘Ubaadah Bin As-Saamit (may Allah be pleased with him) in his statement to Al-Muqawqis (of Egypt):
“Our fighting of an enemy from those who have declared war against Allah has not been for any desire or coveting for the Dunyaa (worldly life) nor has it been to seek an abundance of wealth from it.”
The purpose of the conquests in spreading Islam is explained in the sayings of many scholars that state similar words to that of Dr. Akram Diya’ al-Umari:
“Al-Jihad absolutely does not aim to impose the Aqeedah (belief) upon the people. Rather, it aims to remove the obstacles before the spread of Islam upon the earth, whether that is by weakening the contemporary political power or eliminating it. That is where the Muslims take over control of the land and nobody is pressured away from Islam wherever he may be”.
In other words, the purpose of the conquests is to remove the obstacles in the way of the practical implementation of the ahkaam (rulings) of Islam upon the population so that the people can witness the exemplary treatment of the human condition, the justice of the Islamic way of life, and the good treatment of all human beings. It does not force people into accepting the Islamic creed, but conducts the dawah (invitation) through its implementation upon them so that people experience its mercy and accept the Islamic creed voluntarily. Those who decide not to enter into Islam are left to the creeds they choose to adopt. Islam leaves non-Muslim citizens to practice their beliefs in relation to things like worship, foodstuff, clothing, marriage and divorce. All people under Islamic governance (the Khilafah) are treated absolutely equally in terms of ruling, judiciary and the management of their general affairs. It is strictly forbidden for the Islamic authority to discriminate based on deen (religion), race, colour or anything else.
The Prophet (saw) wrote to the people of Yemen:
“He who is upon his Judaism and his Christianity, should not be coerced away from their faith” [narrated by Abu ‘Ubaydah in Al-Amwaal]
He (saw) also said:
“Whoever harms a dhimmi (non-Muslim Citizen), then I will be his adversary on the Day of Judgement” [narrated by Imam Aḥmad]
It was the Islamic conquests, the sincerity in their motivation and the exemplary treatment of people through the implementation of Islam that made Islam reach many of us and our ancestors. It is that positive experience of ourforefathers and the timeless strength of the Islamic creed that has allowed the Muslims to continue to hold fast onto their deen despite Islam today not being represented in governance anywhere in the world and the colonialists dominating the current world order. From parts of Europe, Africa, Asia and the Middle East, people of different origins and racial backgrounds all had Islam touch their hearts through the practical implementation of Islam in society without compelling one to accept the Islamic creed.
It is a natural fruit of the opening of lands to Islam that it liberates the peoples from the oppression and repression of the systems of despotism and symbols of tyranny.
It is as Rib’iy Bin ‘Aamir (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “Allah brought us to bring whom He wills out from the worship of the servants (i.e. people) to the worship of Allah, from the constraints of this Dunyaa (worldly life) to its vastness and from the injustice of other ways of life to the justice of Islam”
The best nation raised for humanity
Allah (swt) says:
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ تَأْمُرُونَ بِٱلْمَعْرُوفِ وَتَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ ٱلْمُنكَرِ وَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِٱللَّهِ
“You are the best community ever raised for humanity—you encourage good, forbid evil, and believe in Allah.” [Aal-‘Imran:110]
He (swt) also said:
وَكَذَٰلِكَ جَعَلْنَـٰكُمْ أُمَّةًۭ وَسَطًۭا لِّتَكُونُوا۟ شُهَدَآءَ عَلَى ٱلنَّاسِ وَيَكُونَ ٱلرَّسُولُ عَلَيْكُمْ شَهِيدًۭا
“And so We have made you (believers) an upright community so that you may be witnesses over humanity and that the Messenger may be a witness over you.” [Al-Baqarah:143]
It is not befitting that the Muslim community moves like a feather in the wind, being taken whichever way the liberal-capitalist governments wish to use us for their own interests and in the interest of the secular-liberal-capitalist order they seek to perpetuate over humanity. We must carve out our own political project that aims to re-propel Islam onto the international arena. First, this means carrying Islam locally without the influence of the government or the secular political party of the day, nor by following the liberal trends that seek to launder their past so as to consolidate their present authority. We must be clear that we believe with conviction that only Islam can liberate a people just like it liberated and catapulted desert Arab tribes into world leadership with justice. Second, we must acknowledge that the true objective of Islam, illustrated in the ayah below, can never be realised without re-establishing the presence of Islam on an international arena represented in a state/polity on the methodology of Prophethood.
هُوَ ٱلَّذِىٓ أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُۥ بِٱلْهُدَىٰ وَدِينِ ٱلْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُۥ عَلَى ٱلدِّينِ كُلِّهِۦ وَكَفَىٰ بِٱللَّهِ شَهِيدًۭا
“He is the One Who has sent His Messenger with guidance and the religion of truth, so that it prevails over all other ways of life. And sufficient is Allah as a Witness.” [Al-Fath:28]
The world so desperately needs the return of Islam for humanity’s salvation. The ‘modern’ world has dominated for long enough by those who have plunged the globe into darkness. We, the Muslims, bear some responsibility for losing the Khilafah and allowing the colonialists to leech off the rest of humanity.
We must not wish to be seen as fair and just by bending to the narrative of those in power and their illusion of justice. Nor do we wish to be seen to be unjust by following the narrative of the opposition. Justice will shine when we carry Islam wholeheartedly, comprehensively and without flattery, fear or favour.
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ قَوْلًۭا مِّمَّن دَعَآ إِلَى ٱللَّهِ وَعَمِلَ صَـٰلِحًۭا وَقَالَ إِنَّنِى مِنَ ٱلْمُسْلِمِينَ
“And whose words are better than someone who calls (others) to Allah, does good, and says, “I am from the Muslims.” [Fussilat:33]