Home > Dawah > OD Strategy for Islamic Organizations – Mirza Yawar Baig

OD Strategy for Islamic Organizations – Mirza Yawar Baig


 

Source: http://www.yawarbaig.org/yawarbaig/articles/68-od-strategy-for-islamic-organizations

Contradictions between the Corporate model of Organization building and basic Qur’anic principles of Da’awa and what to do about it.

Mirza Yawar Baig

All praise and thanks are due only to Allah alone and peace and salutations on our Master Muhammad, the last and final messenger of Allah.

قَدْ كَانَتْ لَكُمْ أُسْوَةٌ حَسَنَةٌ فِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ إِذْ قَالُوا لِقَوْمِهِمْ إِنَّا بُرَاء مِنكُمْ وَمِمَّا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِ اللَّهِ كَفَرْنَا بِكُمْ وَبَدَا بَيْنَنَا وَبَيْنَكُمُ الْعَدَاوَةُ وَالْبَغْضَاء أَبَدًا حَتَّى تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ وَحْدَهُ إِلَّا قَوْلَ إِبْرَاهِيمَ لِأَبِيهِ لَأَسْتَغْفِرَنَّ لَكَ وَمَا أَمْلِكُ لَكَ مِنَ اللَّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ رَّبَّنَا عَلَيْكَ تَوَكَّلْنَا وَإِلَيْكَ أَنَبْنَا وَإِلَيْكَ الْمَصِيرُ

Mumtahina 60:4. 4. Indeed there has been an excellent example for you in Ibrahim (Abraham) and those with him, when they said to their people: “Verily, we are free from you and whatever you worship besides Allah, we have rejected you, and there has started between us and you, hostility and hatred for ever, until you believe in Allah Alone,” except the saying of Ibrahim (Abraham) to his father: “Verily, I will ask for forgiveness (from Allah) for you, but I have no power to do anything for you before Allah . Our Rabb! In You (Alone) we put our trust, and to You (Alone) we turn in repentance, and to You (Alone) is (our) final Return.

As you are all aware I live in two incarnations simultaneously – as a corporate consultant and leadership development expert with a global clientele, author of several books on the subject and having trained more than 200,000 managers, administrators, clergy, teachers, scientists, engineers and students worldwide and still counting; and as a Da’aee of Islam. While appreciating and being deeply grateful for all the honour and love that is bestowed upon my by people as a result of the Grace of my Rabb, I don’t accept all the titles that I am normally given when I speak at Islamic gatherings as I don’t consider myself worthy of any of them.

I begin this paper with this introduction to convince you that you must take me seriously. What I am going to say must be seen for what it is – a practitioner speaking. Not someone who has read a few books or someone who is an academic teaching either corporate or theological theory – but as someone who has read more than a few books, has written several books himself and who teaches and has practiced his teachings for more than 27 years and who is consulted (for very good money الحمد لله ) by global corporations, business families and entrepreneurs worldwide. So when I say something it is not merely theory. It is theory in practice.

It is the learning that I acquired by practicing that theory in multiple situations and reflection on it and an understanding emerging from it  – in the light of the Qur’an and Sunnah, Seerah and Islamic history – all of which I have also had the privilege to study in my other incarnation. So if I tell you about a stream, it is there and the water is good to drink. But of course to drink or not is your choice. Of horses and water – if you see what I mean.

There are five principle differences and contradictions between corporate theory and the work of Da’awa of Islam which make it a very unsuitable model to use. I don’t mean using tools of measurement and so on. I mean the whole philosophy of Organization Development that is being used by most modern Da’awa organizations in the West. These are:

1.Seeing is believing versus Belief in the Unseen
2.Source of power is wealth versus Source of power is Allah.

3.All those in my work are Competitors versus all those in my work are Partners

4.Inviting towards self; versus inviting towards Allah
5.Accumulation of wealth versus Baraka

 

AllahY said about His Anbiya:

أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللّهُ فَبِهُدَاهُمُ اقْتَدِهْ قُل لاَّ أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِنْ هُوَ إِلاَّ ذِكْرَى لِلْعَالَمِينَ

An’am 6: 90.   They are those whom Allah had guided. So follow their guidance. Say: “No reward I ask of you for this (the Qur’an). It is only a reminder for the ‘Alamin (worlds).”

AllahY said to His Messengere about his work:

قُلْ هَـذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللّهِ عَلَى بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَاْ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي وَسُبْحَانَ اللّهِ وَمَا أَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

Yusuf 12: 108.             Say (O Muhammad): “This is my way; I invite unto Allah  with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me (also must invite others to Allah with sure knowledge). And Glorified and Exalted be Allah (above all that they associate as partners with Him). And I am not of the Mushrikun (polytheists).”

I want to first state some basic premises that I hold to be true.

  1. 1.That the best method of Da’awa is the method of the Anbiya because they were chosen, trained and guided directly by AllahY Himself and so our method can’t possibly be better than theirs, no matter which age we live in.
  2. 2.That Insha’Allah the Niyyah of the people involved in these efforts and organizations is good and they mean well and are trying to do their best.
  3. 3.My purpose is not to criticize but to try to assist them in their work.
  4. 4.Any Da’awa organization that wants my professional advice (Inc.1) can have it for the asking – as those who know me, know already.

Let us examine each of the principles contradictions I listed above and see how it contradicts with the basic Qur’anic principles of Da’awa, the work of the Anbiya of AllahY.

Seeing is believing versus Belief in the Unseen

The basis of this Deen of ours is Imaan bil Ghayb (Belief in the Unseen). The basis of corporate theory and indeed all Western secular thought is ‘seeing is believing.’

This is the foundation of our faith and of our difference. Let us remember that almost all current, modern Western thought is secular – the denial of God. And so is seriously hampered and handicapped in understanding reality, i.e. the issues of Imaan bil Ghayb. For them, the Unseen doesn’t exist, except where they wish to acknowledge its presence as in radio waves, UV radiation and other things which are unseen but which they accept the presence of based on their effects on the environment. However it is a contradiction which shows up their double standards that they deny their own method when it comes to AllahY. They will not accept the presence of AllahY based on His signs. Neither will they accept that there is a life after death or that there is an accounting for our actions before the One who knows all that we do.

Be that as it may, this is not the subject of our discussion here but I think it is important to keep this in mind before swallowing all Western thought or philosophy, hook, line and sinker because we are so much in awe of it. Since I am one of those who has not only studied in that system but have written books about it and teach in some of their highest institutions, my eyes, by the Grace of AllahY are open to the dangerous delusions on which their principles are based and I am keenly aware of the fallacy of their methods and of the misery and suffering that their single-minded pursuit of power and wealth has unleashed on the world.

I began with the Ayah from Sura Al-Mumtahina which I believe is an Ayah that lays down the law and draws the lines as far as the methodology of the Anbiya is concerned. I have highlighted the beautiful dua of Ibrahimu where he stands out clearly for AllahY and against Ghairulla and then makes this beautiful dua.

So what is Tawakkul?

Tawakkul is the most critical requirement for anyone who intends to do the work of Da’awa because this was the foundation of the work of the Anbiya. Tawakkul begins where all logical expectations, survey results, predictions, prognoses and scenarios end. Tawakkul is the essence of Yaqeen, it is the proof of Imaan and it is the result of a connection with AllahY and can come only as a result of it. It is the thing that AllahYrequires us to demonstrate before the doors of His bounty are opened for us.

Let me tell you a story to illustrate what I mean.

The story is of a mountain climber, who wanted to climb the highest mountain. He began his adventure after many years of preparation, but since he wanted the glory just for himself, he decided to climb the mountain alone. He started to climb but it began to get very late, and instead of taking a break and camping, he kept climbing until it got very dark. The night felt heavy in the heights of the mountain, and the man could not see anything. All was black. Zero visibility, and the moon and the stars were covered by the clouds.

As he was climbing, perhaps only a few feet away from the top of the mountain, he suddenly slipped and fell, falling toward s the earth at a great speed. The climber could only see black spots as he went down, and the terrible sensation of being sucked by gravity. He kept falling… and in those moments of terror, there came to his mind all the good and bad episodes of his life. He thought about how close death was getting, when all of a sudden the rope snagged and he was brought up with a huge jerk.

So there he was, hanging from his rope in mid-air. Only the rope was holding him, and in that moment of stillness he had no other choice but to scream: HELP ME GOD!!

All of a sudden, a deep voice coming from the sky answered: ‘What do you want me to do?’

“Save me God!!” he screamed

‘Do you really think I can save you?’

“Of course,” he screamed. “Only You can save me.”

‘Then cut the rope,’ said the voice.

The next morning the rescue team found the climber, frozen to death, his hands holding tightly to the rope; hanging just six feet from the ground.

Tawakkul is to cut the rope.

AllahY mentioned Tawakkul and made it a condition and sign of Imaan. He said:

وَعَلَى اللّهِ فَتَوَكَّلُواْ إِن كُنتُم مُّؤْمِنِينَ

Ma’aida 5:23…. and put your trust in Allah if you are believers indeed

He also said:

وَعلَى اللّهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُؤْمِنُونَ

Ibrahim 14:11             And in Allah (Alone) let the believers put their trust.

وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا

Talaaq 65:3.    And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, then He will suffice him. Verily, Allah will accomplish his purpose. Indeed Allah has set a measure for all things.

Tawakkul is to take risk; to bet on AllahY and to do it from a position of absolute Yaqeen (faith) and not simply knowledge. The most reliable criterion of Yaqeen is the ability to take risk. To be able to cut the rope. To discard Al-Asbaab-ul-Adna (lower means – resources, worldly means) in favour of Al-Asbaab-ul-A’ala (highest means – Sabr was Salah). Because those are the Asbaab (means) that AllahY told us to seek when faced with difficulty. How much more, when this difficulty is in the cause of His Deen? He said:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ اسْتَعِينُواْ بِالصَّبْرِ وَالصَّلاَةِ إِنَّ اللّهَ مَعَ الصَّابِرِينَ

Baqara 2:153. O you who believe! Seek help in patience and As-Salat (the prayer). Truly! Allah is with As-Sabirin (the patient)

He also said:

الَّذِينَ إِذَا ذُكِرَ اللَّهُ وَجِلَتْ قُلُوبُهُمْ وَالصَّابِرِينَ عَلَى مَا أَصَابَهُمْ وَالْمُقِيمِي الصَّلَاةِ وَمِمَّا رَزَقْنَاهُمْ يُنفِقُونَ

Haj 22:35. Whose hearts are filled with fear when Allah is mentioned; who patiently bear whatever may befall them (of calamities); and who establish As-Salat, and who spend (in Allah’s Cause) out of what We have provided them.

Remember when I am talking about taking risk and discarding Al-Asbaab-ul-Adna I am not saying that you have to completely reject all worldly means forever. I mean that for our worldly work to succeed we need the connection with AllahY. It was the order of AllahY which made Musau’s stick, a snake and an Ayah from AllahY. Musau then didn’t leave the stick behind. He took it with him but now with a different perspective. Having understood the lesson; that all good and harm can only come from AllahY and that any means in itself is powerless to do anything for us, Musau picked up his stick and used it as ordered by AllahY.

However as the Kalima Tayyiba begins with Nafi (denial) of all those who are considered worthy of worship and then goes on to the Isbaath (affirmation) that AllahY alone is worthy of worship; for Tawakkul to happen one first needs to remove all faith and reliance from anything material before one can connect with AllahY. It is like the electrician cleaning the wires and removing all oxidation and other impurities before splicing them onto the power cable because he understands that otherwise the impurities will interfere with the flow of current. So also all reliance on material things has to be cut off before we can join with AllahY. This is the Sunnah of AllahY with respect to all His Anbiya where He took away all worldly resources before He helped them directly by His power, so that the world would be able to see the power of AllahYclearly in action. Same rule applies to this day. So have faith.

In the famous words of Barbara Winters: ‘When you come to the end of the light of all that you know and are about to step off into the darkness of the unknown, faith is knowing that one of two things will happen; there will be something firm to stand on, or you will be taught how to fly.’

May AllahY give her Hidaya, what powerful words which describe Tawakkul like nothing else. Notice please that she uses the word, ‘knowing’ and not ‘believing’. Knowing is certainty, Yaqeen. Belief can be wrong. But what one knows with certainty is true. Islam is to believe with certainty that which we can’t see.

The picture in my mind whenever I read these words is of a man coming to the edge of the cliff and stepping off to walk on air to the other side, confident in the knowledge that the One helping Him makes the rules. The One who makes the rules is not bound by them. Tawakkul is to understand this experientially in the deepest part of one’s being so that when the man comes to the edge of the abyss, he smiles to himself and walks on, without the slightest hesitation in his stride.

The first thing to ask ourselves therefore is, ‘What is my connection with AllahY?’ ‘Where is my reliance? On AllahY alone or on the means?’ Reliance on Asbaab is shirk.

Remember O! People there is no stopping the one who AllahY takes forward and there is no going forward for the one who wants to go without the help of AllahY. I know we will never say the latter publicly but our actions speak louder than words. So let’s see what we do.

A quick self-test is to see how many times the following words/phrases are mentioned in your internal organizational meetings: AllahY, Tawakkul, Hidaya, Ikhlaas-un-Niyyah, Ridha’a of AllahY, changes in the lives of students, market share, profit, income from conferences, number of students attending courses, brand building, exposure to the environment and people, mention in news, TV, press, competition and what to do to them and all similar stuff. Sit with a pen and paper and count. You’ll know. And remember that we don’t have to convince anyone about this. AllahY knows if we are being truthful or not and our results will show up the truth soon enough.

Source of power is wealth versus Source of power is AllahY.

In the corporate world the focus of all effort is revenue. This comes either through the sale of products and services or through voluntary fund raising efforts. The more money, consumers or customers you have, the more products and services you sell, the more successful you are deemed to be. When that happens you shout about it from the rooftops, your face appears on the cover of Fortune magazine, you are the guest in famous talk shows on TV and you are the toast of the town. You are highly visible, you are a ‘Brand’. You are the king of the world and the world wants to shake your hand. All of course until the next quarterly results.

In the work of Da’awa however none of these are criteria of success. On the other hand success is determined by your connection with AllahY, the amount of effort you made and the quality of your humility and repentance. AllahY said about this:

يَا أَيُّهَا الْمُزَّمِّلُ

قُمِ اللَّيْلَ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

نِصْفَهُ أَوِ انقُصْ مِنْهُ قَلِيلًا

أَوْ زِدْ عَلَيْهِ وَرَتِّلِ الْقُرْآنَ تَرْتِيلًا

إِنَّا سَنُلْقِي عَلَيْكَ قَوْلًا ثَقِيلًا

إِنَّ نَاشِئَةَ اللَّيْلِ هِيَ أَشَدُّ وَطْءًا وَأَقْوَمُ قِيلًا

Muzammil 73:1-6      1. O you wrapped in garments (i.e. Prophet Muhammadr)! 2. Stand (to pray) all night, except a little. 3. Half of it, or a little less than that, 4. Or a little more; and recite the Qur’an (aloud) in a slow, (pleasant tone and) style. 5. Verily, We shall send down to you a weighty Word. 6. Verily, the rising by night (for Tahajjud prayer) is very hard but most potent and good for governing (the soul), and most suitable for (understanding) the Word (of Allah).

AllahY taught His Messengere the method of doing Da’awa. He asked him to first build his connection with his Rabb and to stand in Salah in the night and recite the Qur’an and said that the rising in the night for Tahajjud was essential to develop discipline and to understand His Kalaam. One question that we in the work of Da’awa must ask ourselves is, ‘How many of my people (including and starting with myself) pray tahajjud regularly and weep before AllahY and beg for the success of their work? How many are strict followers of the Shari’ah? How many closely follow the Sunnah?’ Personal piety is a pre-condition of success in the work of Deen. If our people are not regular in Tahajjud (notice I am not even mentioning the Fara’idh because to me those are a given), reading the Qur’an, extreme care about Halaal and Haraam, strict compliance with the Sunnah and spending in the cause of AllahY, then we are doomed to failure.

Let us remember that our Rabb doesn’t need us. We need Him. We are not doing Him a favour by doing Da’awa. He is doing us a favour not only by giving us the tawfeeq to do Da’awa but also by not holding us accountable for the numbers who come to Islam because of our effort. We need to get recruited for His work. We need to show to His satisfaction that we are deserving of the honour of doing His work. We need to convince Him to use us.

That is the only requirement. Once that happens, AllahY will teach us what to do and will support us. Until that happens, no amount of worldly resources will help. The focus in Islam is on the Unseen. The source of power is AllahY and not material wealth. Material is to be used, like the shoe on your foot. Not to be placed on your head or held in your hand.

About making effort for the sake of AllahY unmindful of the number of people who respond to those efforts AllahY gave us the example of Noohu. He said:

قَالَ رَبِّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُ قَوْمِي لَيْلًا وَنَهَارًا

فَلَمْ يَزِدْهُمْ دُعَائِي إِلَّا فِرَارًا

وَإِنِّي كُلَّمَا دَعَوْتُهُمْ لِتَغْفِرَ لَهُمْ جَعَلُوا أَصَابِعَهُمْ فِي آذَانِهِمْ وَاسْتَغْشَوْا ثِيَابَهُمْ وَأَصَرُّوا وَاسْتَكْبَرُوا اسْتِكْبَارًا

ثُمَّ إِنِّي دَعَوْتُهُمْ جِهَارًا

ثُمَّ إِنِّي أَعْلَنتُ لَهُمْ وَأَسْرَرْتُ لَهُمْ إِسْرَارًا

Nooh 71:5. He said: “O my Lord! Verily, I have called my people night and day (i.e. secretly and openly), 6. “But all my calling added nothing but to (their) flight (from the truth). 7. “And verily! Every time I called unto them that You might forgive them, they thrust their fingers into their ears, covered themselves up with their garments, and persisted (in their refusal), and magnified themselves in pride. 8. “Then verily, I called to them openly (aloud); 9.”Then verily, I proclaimed to them in public, and I have appealed to them in private.

But the result of this was colossal ‘failure’ in our modern terms. He did this for not a few days, months or years but for 9 ½ centuries as a result of which less than 100 people accepted Islam. May AllahY forgive us, but going by our modern standards; he is not the sort of person we would like to invite to our international conferences.

Take the case of our own Master Muhammadr. In 13 years of intensive, full time work, day and night, he managed to get less than 100 followers. Once again…okay I won’t complete my sentence. But you do get the message, I hope.

But what was the status of Noohu with AllahY? AllahY quoted his example for us to follow and told us how many years he did his Da’awa and under what conditions. Let us remember that ultimately it is not how many students came to your class or what kind of feedback you got but whether Allah accepted your work or not, which will count. And that we will know only when we stand before Him.

And that is why AllahY taught us what to do even when we are visibly successful.

إِذَا جَاء نَصْرُ اللَّهِ وَالْفَتْحُ

وَرَأَيْتَ النَّاسَ يَدْخُلُونَ فِي دِينِ اللَّهِ أَفْوَاجًا

فَسَبِّحْ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّكَ وَاسْتَغْفِرْهُ إِنَّهُ كَانَ تَوَّابًا

Nasr 110: 1-3 When comes the Help of Allah (to you, O Muhammadr  against your enemies; conquest of Makkah), 2. And you see that the people enter Allah’s religion (Islam) in crowds, 3. So glorify the Praises of your Lord, and ask for His Forgiveness. Verily, He is the One Who accepts the repentance and forgives.

Ask forgiveness when you are winning? No shouting from the rooftops? No prancing stallions, waving battle standards, blaring trumpets, beating drums. No TV, no public accolades, no prize distribution ceremonies. But sitting in the saddle, head bent so low that the forehead touches the saddle?  Behaviour that is anathema to modern corporate R&R (Reward & Recognition). No beating the chest; instead repent, ask forgiveness, praise AllahY and thank Him for His help. Ascribe the success where it belongs – to the Creator, not to the creature.

All those in my work are Competitors versus all those in my work are Partners

Corporate strategy is founded on the principle of ‘grabbing’ market share. Grabbing implies taking something away from others in an act of violence. Competition is defined as anyone in our line of business and all such must be neutralised and if possible, destroyed. So competitive strategy is focused not only on how to win ourselves but also on how to make the competitor lose.

In Islam and the work of Da’awa everyone in the work is a partner. AllahY said:

إِذْ أَرْسَلْنَا إِلَيْهِمُ اثْنَيْنِ فَكَذَّبُوهُمَا فَعَزَّزْنَا بِثَالِثٍ فَقَالُوا إِنَّا إِلَيْكُم مُّرْسَلُونَ

Ya Seen 36:14.            When We sent to them two Messengers, they belied them both, so We reinforced them with a third, and they said: “Verily! We have been sent to you as Messengers.”

The Messengers didn’t see each other as competitors. They were partners reinforcing one another. Ibrahimu and Lutu were both Anbiya at the same time. Ibrahimu didn’t say, ‘It’s great that Lut is not successful in his work. It is good that there are no subscribers to his Da’awa.’ The Sahaba and Tabiyoon were contemporaries of one another. There is not a single instance where they acted as competitors in the matter of Da’awa. Today however we see very little difference in the observable behaviour of Islamic Da’awa organizations who act like Coke and Pepsi in their attempts to grab market share or at least to sabotage the efforts of their ‘competition’. This is completely against and contrary to the Sunnah of the Anbiya who AllahY ordered us to follow.

I believe the reason lies in the title that is given to this ‘modern’ Da’awa – Commercial Da’awa. I find it very strange that nobody objects to this disgraceful title. Da’awa and commercial? The contrast doesn’t hit anyone? See what AllahY said about the cardinal principle of the work of His Anbiya:

أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللّهُ فَبِهُدَاهُمُ اقْتَدِهْ قُل لاَّ أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِنْ هُوَ إِلاَّ ذِكْرَى لِلْعَالَمِينَ

An’am 6: 90.   They are those whom Allah had guided. So follow their guidance. Say: “No reward I ask of you for this (the Qur’an). It is only a reminder for the ‘Alamin (worlds).”

يَا قَوْمِ لا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلاَّ عَلَى الَّذِي فَطَرَنِي أَفَلاَ تَعْقِلُونَ

Hud 11: 51.                 “O my people I ask of you no reward for it (the Message). My reward is only from Him, Who created me. Will you not then understand?

ذَلِكَ الَّذِي يُبَشِّرُ اللَّهُ عِبَادَهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ قُل لَّا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ أَجْرًا إِلَّا الْمَوَدَّةَ فِي الْقُرْبَى وَمَن يَقْتَرِفْ حَسَنَةً نَّزِدْ لَهُ فِيهَا حُسْنًا إِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ شَكُورٌ

Shura 42: 23.   That is (the Paradise) whereof Allah gives glad tidings to His slaves who believe and do righteous good deeds. Say (OMuhammadr): “No reward do I ask of you for this except to be kind to me for my kinship with you.” And whoever earns a good righteous deed, We shall give him an increase of good in respect thereof. Verily, Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most ready to appreciate (deeds).

فَإِن تَوَلَّيْتُمْ فَمَا سَأَلْتُكُم مِّنْ أَجْرٍ إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلاَّ عَلَى اللّهِ وَأُمِرْتُ أَنْ أَكُونَ مِنَ الْمُسْلِمِينَ

Yunus 10:72.   “But if you turn away [from accepting Allah], then no reward have I asked of you, my reward is only from Allah, and I have been commanded to be one of the Muslims.”

قُلْ مَا سَأَلْتُكُم مِّنْ أَجْرٍ فَهُوَ لَكُمْ إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلَّا عَلَى اللَّهِ وَهُوَ عَلَى كُلِّ شَيْءٍ شَهِيدٌ

Saba 34: 47.    Say (O Muhammadr): “Whatever wage I might have asked of you is yours. My wage is from Allah only. And He is Witness over all things.”

وَيَا قَوْمِ لا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مَالاً إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلاَّ عَلَى اللّهِ وَمَآ أَنَاْ بِطَارِدِ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِنَّهُم مُّلاَقُو رَبِّهِمْ وَلَـكِنِّيَ أَرَاكُمْ قَوْمًا تَجْهَلُونَ

Hud 11: 29.                 “And O my people! I ask of you no wealth for it, my reward is from none but Allah. I am not going to drive away those who have believed. Surely, they are going to meet their Lord, but I see that you are a people that are ignorant.

The Anbiya came to be obeyed and followed in all aspects of life and even more especially in their own work. AllahY said about this:

أُوْلَـئِكَ الَّذِينَ هَدَى اللّهُ فَبِهُدَاهُمُ اقْتَدِهْ

An’am 6: 90    …They are those whom Allah had guided. So follow their guidance.

So whose guidance are we following when we call our work ‘Commercial Da’awa’? Whose guidance are we following when we take money to do the work of Da’awa? I mean especially those who take money to teach or speak at Islamic conferences. We have become like other motivational speakers on the so-called Speakers Circuit (may AllahY forgive us, we even call it that) and charge fees to talk about the Glory of our Rabb. Isn’t this shameful to put it politely? Organizations we work for charge others fees to allow us to speak at their functions. And all of us, who claim to have an Islamic education, fail to see how we are doing this work of Da’awa directly against the basic foundational principle of Da’awa which AllahY mentioned so many times in different ways but with the same meaning:

وَيَا قَوْمِ لا أَسْأَلُكُمْ عَلَيْهِ مَالاً إِنْ أَجْرِيَ إِلاَّ عَلَى اللّهِ

“And O my people! I ask of you no wealth for it, my reward is from none but Allah.

Money brings with it greed. And believe it or not, we are not protected from Shaytaan and so we compete like people selling Coke and Pepsi and use their language.

Thus is the work of the Anbiya reduced to a commercial activity to be judged by the same standards that the sellers of bottled toilet cleaners use to judge themselves.

What lessons do we learn from the Seerah about the behaviour of Rasoolullahr even with his real enemies? Who do we seek reward from when we work for high salaries, prevent those who can’t pay our fee into our classes, will not speak unless there are 10,000 people in the audience and act like prima donnas? Is this the way to do the work of Anbiya? Then please find me one example of a Nabi who charged a fee to talk about the greatness of AllahY.

The corporate world judges people by the salary they make. They reduce human talent and wisdom to a priced commodity based not on its efficacy or value but on how popular that person is with the general public. We do the same and forget that with AllahY popularity with the public is not a criterion at all. Salaries don’t buy dedication – something that our ‘commercial Da’awa’ organizations know too well. Dedication comes from being conscious of the value and majesty of this work and feeling blessed to be in it. A great example of modern times in the so-called Jamat Tabligh (I say, so-called because that is not their name for themselves), which has no paid positions at all, globally. It does no public fund raising at all. The people of Tabligh never ask for money. They only ask you to go out with them in their Jamat tours to invite others towards Islam. You can’t officially donate money to the Jamat. It has no website, no Facebook page, no Twitter, no nothing. Yet it is by far the largest and most powerful Da’awa organization in the world with members not in thousands but millions in every country on earth. It is not my purpose to go into the details of how this is possible to do but only to quote an example that is before us all to see. Maybe it has something to do with the number of them who stand in Tahajjud every day and cry for the Hidaya of the world.

‘So what about Fund Raising?’ you ask. After all fund raising has become a major activity in itself with more and more innovative ways being invented to delve into the reluctant pocket. People are quick to quote from the Seerah the incident ofRasoolullahr raising money for Tabuk. Before I say something about that let me hasten to warn those who take examples from the Seerah to be very careful not to cherry-pick and then mould incidents from the Seerah to support their own activity. Rather to convert their activity to conform to the Seerah. The Seerah is for us to follow, not to use at will to justify ourselves and our actions. Cherry picking from the Seerah is dangerous because AllahY told us to follow it entirely, not to cherry-pick as we wish. Tabuk is not a good example simply because Rasoolullahr was not raising funds to pay salaries of any organization. Nor was he raising funds to do social work, no matter how noble. He was raising funds for jihad, plain and simple.

However Tabuk fund raising is a very good example to illustrate something that I have never heard anyone talk about – the basic principle of fund raising in Islam.

About fund raising of Tabuk the incident that is narrated most often is about the generosity of Abu Bakr Siddique (RA). What nobody mentions is the situation of Rasoolullahr himself. What was the situation of Rasoolullahr’s household when he stood up to ask for funds? Did he have wealth and sustenance stocked for his family? Or was he in the same state as Abu Bakr Siddique (RA)? The basic principle of fund raising in Islam is that the fund raiser first invests his entire wealth in the work of AllahY’s Deen and only then asks for others to contribute. After all it makes sense to take advantage of all the good things that you remind others about when it comes to investing for the cause of AllahY, if you truly believe what you say. My brothers and sisters, let me remind you that AllahY’s Jannah is not cheap. Neither is the company of Anbiya on the Day of Judgment. It requires investment in this life. Which means that you will have to make a choice, scale down your lifestyles, contribute your own funds and work voluntarily. AllahY will put Baraka in your lives and fill them with peace and tranquillity which all the money in the world can’t buy. But you have to do it yourself.

So how to raise funds? First remind yourself that the essence of Tawakkul is to know that the One who makes the rules is not bound by them.

Go to the fund raising and look at the people and say, ‘La ilaha ill-Allah’ there’s nobody who fulfils our needs but AllahY. These people can’t even take a breath on their own. What can they do to help me? La hawla wala quwwata illa billa. Then make dua – ‘O AllahY use them if you wish or give me directly because you don’t need to use anyone. And if you give directly I will sing your praises from the rooftops.’

Then first make the biggest contribution yourself before you ask anyone. AllahY wants to see how much you believe in what you plan to say about the value of giving for His sake. If you believe in it then prove it by giving first. Then offer them the opportunity – never ask, never beg, don’t lower your prestige because you are asking for AllahY’s work. Offer them the opportunity for their own benefit. And leave it to Him to do what He wills. It is His work, and He promised to help those who help His cause. So don’t lose any sleep.

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ وَيُثَبِّتْ أَقْدَامَكُمْ

Muhammad 47:7.       O you who believe! If you help (in the cause of) Allah, He will help you, and make your foothold firm.

Believe in His promise because His promise is always true. Just check to see if it is indeed His work that you are doing. This is important. Not everything we call His work is actually His work. So don’t be wedded to your own bright idea. Seek for answers in the Book of AllahY and the Sunnah of His Messengere because there is no better guidance. Do only what pleases AllahY, not what is most popular or has the greatest demands. People’s fads and likes and dislikes have no meaning before AllahY. Do what is pleasing to AllahY and He will help you. Shut down all the rest because AllahY will not help you in those activities.

Inviting towards self; versus inviting towards AllahY

In the corporate world inviting towards yourself is a given. Inviting towards yourself is the basis of differentiation. It is the philosophy of branding. You don’t ask people to clean their teeth; you tell them to buy Colgate. You don’t ask people to use air travel; you tell them to fly Emirates.

AllahY on the other hand said to His Messengere:

قُلْ هَـذِهِ سَبِيلِي أَدْعُو إِلَى اللّهِ عَلَى بَصِيرَةٍ أَنَاْ وَمَنِ اتَّبَعَنِي وَسُبْحَانَ اللّهِ وَمَا أَنَاْ مِنَ الْمُشْرِكِينَ

Yusuf 12: 108.             Say (O Muhammad): “This is my way; I invite unto Allah  with sure knowledge, I and whosoever follows me (also must invite others to Allah with sure knowledge). And Glorified and Exalted be Allah (above all that they associate as partners with Him). And I am not of the Mushrikun (polytheists).”

We on the other hand invite towards our organizations in opposition to others doing the same work. When did you ever hear of ABC sending people to DEF’s courses because the DEF course is at a more convenient time or the teacher is a better teacher than the ABC teacher? When did you ever hear of ABC and DEF collaborating about what to teach, how to teach it and where to teach it? On the other hand we hear story after story of ABC going into a country that DEF is already in and all the turf wars resulting from that. So who are we inviting towards? And is our work the same as what AllahY mentioned in the Ayah above?

The other attendant problem which is a very major matter is that about Ikhlaas-un-Niyyah. When we invite towards ourselves and our organization, what is our Niyyah? To please AllahY? How can that be when AllahY Himself told His Messengere to describe himself as someone who invites towards AllahY. No Nabi ever invited towards himself. They all invited towards AllahY. We on the other hand, caught up in our corporate philosophy are hopelessly embroiled in brand building. In the process we are dividing the Ummah.

We use key individuals and build them into brands  not concerned even about what will happen to that individual based brand when that individual departs to meet His Rabb. We don’t even think of how strongly this contradicts what the Anbiya did. We use every opportunity to gain publicity, exposure, visibility and to put our brand out there in people’s faces for them to see and notice and speak well of us. There is not a flood, disaster or calamity, no widow to be supported, no orphan to be sheltered, no hungry mouth to be fed, but that it must be done only with the backdrop of our banner and logo. May AllahY help us all, what do we think this does to our Niyyah? What is the Ikhlaas of our Niyyah?

I dread standing before AllahY and seeing my book of deeds clean like a freshly wiped slate because all that I did was to build my brand and not for the pleasure of AllahY.

We use our international conferences as major fund raising and brand building exercises all geared to take away someone else’s market share. Who is that someone else? Another organization working to spread Islam. Who is the ‘market’? Muslims. So taking it away from him means what? Our conferences are reminiscent of major rock music events. Strobe lights, gyrating cameras on gantries, sounds almost bordering on music, markets with people milling around all over (how come nobody talks about the need to segregate in these bazaars?). 15 minute speeches by a galaxy of stars whose only claim to fame is the number of people who will come to watch them perform. And believe me, it is a performance. To give the poor speakers their due, what else can you do in 15 minutes? And the final criterion of success of the conference is, ‘What was the collection?’ Box office. No less. If you don’t believe me, sit and quietly listen to what people say in your internal conference meetings.

Accumulation of wealth versus Baraka

The basic principle of finance is ‘more is more and less is less’. The basic principle of Baraka in Islam is ‘less is more’.  So we lose sleep over the fact that we don’t have enough physical, visible resources when we should remember that we are the people of the Ghayb about whose RizqAllahY said:

وَفِي السَّمَاء رِزْقُكُمْ وَمَا تُوعَدُونَ

فَوَرَبِّ السَّمَاء وَالْأَرْضِ إِنَّهُ لَحَقٌّ مِّثْلَ مَا أَنَّكُمْ تَنطِقُونَ

Dhariyaat 51: 22-23 And in the heaven is your provision, and that which you are promised. 23. Then, by the Lord of the heaven and the earth, it is the truth (i.e. what has been promised to you), just as it is the truth that you can speak.

AllahY taught this lesson of not relying on resources but relying on Him alone for the work of Deen to the Sahaba. When the Sahaba tended to veer off-track and rely on material strength, AllahYimmediately corrected them.

لَقَدْ نَصَرَكُمُ اللّهُ فِي مَوَاطِنَ كَثِيرَةٍ وَيَوْمَ حُنَيْنٍ إِذْ أَعْجَبَتْكُمْ كَثْرَتُكُمْ فَلَمْ تُغْنِ عَنكُمْ شَيْئًا وَضَاقَتْ عَلَيْكُمُ الأَرْضُ بِمَا رَحُبَتْ ثُمَّ وَلَّيْتُم مُّدْبِرِينَ

ثُمَّ أَنَزلَ اللّهُ سَكِينَتَهُ عَلَى رَسُولِهِ وَعَلَى الْمُؤْمِنِينَ وَأَنزَلَ جُنُودًا لَّمْ تَرَوْهَا وَعذَّبَ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُواْ وَذَلِكَ جَزَاء الْكَافِرِينَ

ثُمَّ يَتُوبُ اللّهُ مِن بَعْدِ ذَلِكَ عَلَى مَن يَشَاء وَاللّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ

Tawba 9: 25. Truly Allah has given you victory on many battle fields, and on the Day of Hunain (battle) when you rejoiced at your great number but it availed you nothing and the earth, vast as it is, was straitened for you, then you turned back in flight. 26. Then Allah did send down His Sakinah (calmness, tranquility and reassurance, etc.) on the Messenger (Muhammad), and on the believers, and sent down forces (angels) which you saw not, and punished the disbelievers. Such is the recompense of disbelievers. 27. Then after that Allah will accept the repentance of whom He will. And Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.

AllahYconverted their victory into a rout and then when the core group of Sahaba rallied around Rasoolullahr, responding to his call,AllahYsent down the angels to help them and re-converted defeat into victory. And then AllahYrevealed the Ayaat which spelled out clearly what had happened and why so that the lesson would be learnt well. The Sahaba learnt that lesson very well.

 

In the battle of Mo’ata Abu Hurayrah (RA) who became Muslim during Khaybar was in the army. He said, ‘I attended the battle of Mo’ata. When they came close we saw what nobody can face, weapons, preparation, silk, brocade, gold and my eyes became dazzled (bariqa basari).’ This showed on his face and Thabit bin Arqam (RA) who was next to him saw it. This was an experienced and senior Muslim handing down his experience to his junior. He said to Abu Hurayrah (RA), ‘It seems you are seeing a huge force.’ Abu Hurayrah said, ‘Yes, just look at them.’ Thabit bin Arqam (RA) smiled and said, ‘You were not with us in Badr. We are not given victory because of our numbers.’

 

AllahYsaid:

فَلَمْ تَقْتُلُوهُمْ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّهَ قَتَلَهُمْ وَمَا رَمَيْتَ إِذْ رَمَيْتَ وَلَـكِنَّ اللّهَ رَمَى وَلِيُبْلِيَ الْمُؤْمِنِينَ مِنْهُ بَلاء حَسَناً إِنَّ اللّهَ سَمِيعٌ عَلِيمٌ

 

Anfal 8:17.      You killed them not, but Allah killed them. And you (Muhammadr) threw not when you did throw but Allah threw, that He might test the believers by a fair trial from Him. Verily, Allah is All-Hearer, All-Knower.

That is the power of being accepted by AllahYbecause only then will one be guided, protected and supported with forces not visible to the eyes. Victory for Muslims comes from AllahYon the basis of their piety and defies all laws of strategy and tactics.We are people who were sent to take from the treasures of AllahY and give to the world. This was our true brand. Our real differentiation. We were the givers to the world and the world loves those who give.

But then we forgot how to take from the treasures of AllahY and started chasing the world instead of giving to it. So we lost our prominence, our nobility and our grandeur. We became like anyone else and the world started to hate us because they saw us as competitors for worldly goods.

Going forward

As I write this I am aware that one must also provide solutions if possible. Many organizations are immersed in the corporate model and have also found their ‘niche’ in the ‘market’. Now what do they do?

First of all, I suggest that you read what I have written and see how much of it applies to you. After all you only need to correct what needs to be corrected. So if you are already working according to the way of the Anbiya then all power to you.

If not, then what must be changed, must be changed no matter how painful, because the alternative of finding out that you were wrong on the Day of Judgment will be far more painful. Imagine that we discover that all our work was worthless because we looked for worldly gain and fame and approval of people and popularity and so it is said to us, ‘What you wanted was given to you. Today there is nothing for you here.’ May AllahY protect us from such a fate.

As for salaries and the usual argument, ‘Abu Bakr (RA) also took a salary,’ let me clarify. Abu Bakr (RA) was forced to accept a salary and then he took the bare minimum that he needed to support his family. Then before he died, he gave a piece of land that he owned to the Baithul Maal in return for his salary for two years of his Khilaafa. Sayyidina Omar ibn Al Khattab (RA) wept and said to Ayesha (RA), ‘Your father set a very high standard for all those who come after him.’ Let those who take his name remember the whole story and not quote only a part to justify the corporate salaries that they take home. Anbiya took nothing.

So I say, take what you must from the Islamic organization. But only what is essential to your basic needs. Nothing more. Seek the Fadhl of AllahY elsewhere and Insha’Allah he will give it to you. There are many modern examples of people doing that. It is not my purpose to list them here but those who are interested may write to me and I will tell you about them.

As for being in a ‘niche’ – the basic principle that I am speaking about is to examine what that niche is. If it is something that is in keeping with the Sunnah and the work of Anbiya and you are doing it in that way, then go ahead. If not, change. Close it down. Stop doing it. Remember that only the work of Da’awa that is done according to the way of the Anbiya is sure to be rewarded. By all means use technology to the fullest extent. When I am warning you against the corporate model, I don’t mean the tools of corporate functioning. I don’t mean reporting channels, technology, tools of working more efficiently, quality systems and so on. I mean the philosophy of corporate growth, significance, measurement of success, competing in the market place, the whole concept of market itself and gaining prominence. Those must be discarded. It is not about the nuts and bolts of managing. It is about the principles of leadership. Believe me, there is a difference. A vast difference. The difference between Jannah and the other place.

It is clear (and certainly logically as well) that before we can expect to do the work of AllahY, we must first become accepted by Him. We must get the job first, to be able to do the job. So we must apply, beg, plead, show our ability, sincerity and willingness so that AllahY accepts us for that most significant and honourable of jobs – the job of the best people on earth – the Anbiya of AllahY. Only when we are accepted, can we expect to get the powers, authority, resources, forces, knowledge and the understanding to carry out the work satisfactorily.

AllahYwill help all those who He accepts for the work of His Deen as He helped the Anbiya. But that is provided we first prove ourselves worthy of His attention and the work of His Deen.

Please remember that AllahY made the rules of Da’awa and His Anbiya followed them. So success will come to only those who follow the Anbiya.

For the rest; well it is between you and your Rabb. I ask AllahY to forgive me and you.

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