Exclusive study: Islamic Movements and Ethics of Public Work (1)
The Islamic movement in general is currently going through a sensitive stage, in terms of openness to society in all the countries where it is existing. Despite the different forms of hardships that Islamic movements, most notably the Muslim Brotherhood, have faced, yet there are common aspects in their various experiences, especially after trying to present themselves as a realistic alternative and providing appropriate solutions to the problems of their societies in order to guide them to the path of renaissance, freedom and development. However, all this was met with brute force from all those who adopt strict aversion to the Islamic approach.
In a certain moment, the will of different peoples was compatible with this stage; therefore, they freely chose representatives of the Islamic project to advance their ranks and stand at the forefront, whether at the political level as in the case of parliaments and government formation, or at the level of service and social work as is in syndicates, municipalities, and student unions.
Accordingly, there was much talk about the Islamic movement and its members in various media outlets, including newspapers and magazines, TV channels, and radio stations, which prompted the Islamic movement to assign its prominent figures, cadres, and adherents for presenting and promoting the Islamic project in its correct form, levelled by its sons and advocates, which is normal in all projects (whether religious or political) and there is no problem with that. However, the Islamic project differs from other projects in that it educates its sons and followers that they have noble objectives that are much loftier than just seeking worldly gains.
Achievement of the requirements of Iman (the belief in Allah as the one and only God) is the ultimate goal that adherents of the Islamic project aspire to reach; and they only hope for winning Allah's ‘Redha’ (pleasure) and pray for Allah to accept their work. Here, a problem arises, as the public work that the current stage requires may be conflicting with sincerity of purpose, objective, intention and dedication to Allah, where the human soul presses for obtaining its share of reward for such work, which is completely against sincerity of dedicating all our efforts for winning the pleasure of Allah.
As a result, cadres and advocates of the Islamic movement abstain from engagement in public work and keep away from its fields as if they were fleeing a monster. This move away from public work may adversely affect the Islamic project, as the failure of appropriate competencies to carry out these tasks and perform these roles leaves these spaces vacant for anti-Islamic potential adversaries to occupy. This behavior led to the fact that the Islamic movement did not find properly qualified people to take responsibility after the outbreak of the Arab Spring revolutions; and perhaps almost all Islamic movements worldwide suffer from the same fatal disease. However, this reality has uncovered many defects and disadvantages that were unseen to us, all as a result of abstention from engagement in public work.
Therefore, in the coming lines we will try to closely explore and diagnose this dangerous problem.
Forms of this disease
The forms of this disease, which targets sincerity in the heart of a believer when entering the fields of public work, are divided into three sections, as mentioned by Ahmed Al-Ja’li:
The first section afflicts the action before commencing it,
The second section afflicts the action during performance,
The third section afflicts the action after its completion, as follows:
1- Corrupt intention
Corruption of intention is a disease that afflicts the action before commencing it, where a person has an objective other than devoting his deed to Allah, such as aiming to please someone or obtain a personal benefit through this work. The intention is considered corrupt when other objectives and purposes accompany the intention of devoting the action to Allah, as such personal benefits and purposes are in this way inconsistent with sincerity in performing the action only for the sake of Allah. Abu Hurairah (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (May peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Almighty Allah says, 'I am the One Who is most free from want of partners. He who does a thing for the sake of someone else beside Me, I discard him and his polytheism.”
Sometimes the intention is completely free from intent to win the pleasure and admiration of people as well as their praise for doing the action, but the problem arises when the person becomes too absorbed in that action, focuses on it with too much interest only in order to complete it perfectly and achieve success; but the intention in this case is solely directed towards achievement of success in the job for the sake of success itself and to achieve complacency, self-admiration and self-actualization through it. According to American psychologist Abraham Maslow, we have five categories of needs: physiological, safety, love, esteem, and self-actualization. In this theory, higher needs in the hierarchy begin to emerge when people feel they have sufficiently satisfied the previous need. Accordingly, achieving success in work is one of the means for achieving complacency self-actualization; therefore we must consider not to fall into this problem, and to make sure that the objective of achievement of success in work is only to please Allah Almighty, and not for only achieving complacency, even if success in doing good deeds is considered the glad tidings which a believer receives in this life. Abu Dharr (May Allah be pleased with him) said: The Messenger of Allah (May peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) was asked: "Tell us about a person who does some good deed and people praise him, will this be considered as showing off?" He replied, "This is the glad tidings which a believer receives (in this life)." However, mere achievement of success should not in any way be the sole goal and target of our actions.
2- ِAr-riyaa - showing off
Ar-riyaa or showing off is a disease that afflicts the good deed and its doer during performing it. Although a person may have succeeded in achieving sincerity of intention and submitted his whole being to Allah, but in the course of doing his good deeds, although he intends to please Allah, he may like people to see him and express admiration of his action, and in this case his ‘self’ pushes him to show off and appear at the forefront of rows with the aim of achieving popularity among people and earning their praise and appreciation.
3- Al-'ujb – self-admiration
Even after a good deed is over, such hidden diseases continue to pursue the action and attempt to invalidate and nullify it. Perhaps one has already succeeded in devoting his intention to Allah and avoided showing off or the love of showing off his good deeds to win praise, admiration and appreciation of others, but after completing the work he sits with himself and thinks about success of the work he had finished and wonders how beautiful it was and how his performance was perfect and skillful, and he feels over proud of his skills and abilities, without thinking that these deeds were performed in this perfect way owing to the Grace of Allah and the kindness He has bestowed on him – whether this ujb or self-admiration is shown to others and manifested publicly or was lurking within himself without showing it to others.
Consequences of the problem
In the face of these problems, cadres of the Islamic movement find themselves in front of one of two options, with consequences for each one of them:
First: That individuals completely abstain from participating and engaging in public work, even if his abilities, talents and experiences qualify him for doing such action and filling the vacancy, so that he can distance himself from the striving of his inner soul and bearing the difficulties of sincerity of intention only for the sake of Allah, Lord of the Worlds.
This results in keeping these cadres away from the vital fields of public work, even though they are qualified to fill such vacancies.
Second: That the Islamic movement leadership pushes some qualified individuals to fill vacancies in the broad sectors of public work against their will, which exposes them to suffering significantly in resisting deviation or corruption of their intentions.
This puts the individual in constant disorder, continued anxiety, and too much thinking about this dilemma, which sometimes affects the quality of performance of the work that he is supposed to undertake perfectly.
Certainly, cadres of the Islamic movement have the right to live such legitimate concerns for fear of wasting their efforts and letting their deeds go to waste. Allah Almighty says: in Surat Al-Mumenoon, Verse: 60 [And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear, because they are sure to return to their Lord.] This has to do with fear and taking precautions, as it was recorded that A'ishah (May Allah be pleased with her) asked the Prophet (May peace and blessings be upon him): "O Messenger of Allah, (And those who give that which they give with their hearts full of fear...), Are these the ones who steal and commit Zina and drink alcohol while fearing Allah!'' The Messenger of Allah replied: No, O daughter of As-Siddiq, they are the ones who pray and fast and give in charity while fearing that it will not be accepted from them.
They have the right to be afraid of these fields of public work, while they repeat in their morning and evening supplications the Prophet’s Dua’, “O Allah, I take refuge in You lest I should commit shirk with You knowingly and I seek Your forgiveness for what I do unknowingly.”
The foregoing points are considered an outline to explain the problem and its causes, and, Allah willing, next time we will discuss how to address this problem practically. May Allah grant you success in performing sincere deeds that He may accept and be pleased with you.