Hijrah and the Islamic Principles

We all know that the Hijri calendar began with the Hijrah, the migration of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) from Makkah to Madinah. There are many lessons to be learned from Hijrah. Today’s sermon will touch upon one of the most important lessons; that is, the Prophet’s approach in dealing with two very different societies: the polytheistic Makkan society before Hijrah and the Islamic society in Madinah.

In both encounters, history tells us that the Prophet never compromised Islamic principles. These principles are the building block of Islam. Without them, Islam will simply cease to be the one and true religion in the sight of Allah.

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This firmness concerning Islamic principles and tawheed (belief in the oneness of Allah), remained after Hijrah. Never once did the Prophet compromise the basic tenets of Islam. Prayer (salah) was obligatory before Hijrah, even though it was difficult to perform because of abuse and intimidation from the unbelievers. Prayer remained obligatory after the Hijrah, after the Muslim Ummah in Madinah managed to perform it peacefully. Nobody came to the Prophet and said, “Now that we are a strong community and we don’t have to fear any intimidation from the unbelievers. So, let us reduce the number of prayers. We have better things to do like strengthening our community.”

There is no compromise over prayer. The five compulsory prayers must be performed no matter what conditions we are in. Even if we cannot stand, we must do it while sitting down. If we can’t find water for our ablution, we can do dry ablution. If we are forcefully hindered from performing it, we must make up for it later when we are free. There is no compromise on prayer, as much as there is no compromise on other fixed principle, including the Islamic moral values.

In this regard, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) showed us how important it is to adhere to our moral values in whatever surrounding and circumstances. For example, the Prophet led a modest life in Makkah when the unbelievers tried all means to undermine his da`wah and so he did after Hijrah when he was accorded the proper and highest respect. He was never arrogant and never looked down on other people. He was always helpful to the poor and destitute, be they men, women, or children.

That is an example we should all emulate and follow: to adhere to the unchanged principles of Islam even though the world around us changes. We cannot compromise on those principles. For if we do, Islam will cease to be Islam for us.

There is no compromise on the six articles of faith. There is no compromise on the five principles of Islam. There is no compromise on the Islamic moral values. There is no compromise on the fixed Islamic laws.

My brothers and sisters in Islam, even though there is no compromise on those fixed four principles of Islam, we should know that Islam is also a way of life and a system of belief that relates to every situation across time. Islam is not something confined to a certain environment or a fixed period of time. Thus, in Islamic jurisprudence, there is what is termed as ath-thawabit, the unchanged principles, and al-mutaghaiyirat, the evolving rules and regulations.

Evolving rules and regulations prove the flexibility of Islamic jurisprudence to change according to every situation and condition. It allows Islamic jurisprudence to be suitable for all times. But do remember that the evolving rules and regulations are different from the unchangeable principles. The evolving rules and regulations are those that the jurists differ about. These differences arise from their approaches, their ijtihad (personal reasoning) and their understanding of the Islamic Shari`ah. They differ about the best method of implementing the Islamic Shari`ah.

This reflects the flexibility of the Islamic Shari`ah to cope with each and every situation. For example, We should not blame Muslim women who do not cover their faces with a veil as not following the Islamic Shari`ah, nor should we blame those who do cover their faces.

All these, my brothers and sisters, fall in the category open to ijtihad and the differences among the scholars.


References

Based on a Friday Sermon, February 11, 2005 (Muharram 2, 1426 AH). Courtesy of the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore.