When we speak about the religion which we as Muslims strive to follow and achieve salvation with, we find that there are three main components which are of great importance: The Sender who is the Almighty God, the Messenger who is the Seal of all Prophets, and the Message which are the Islamic teachings. Unfortunately today we find that there are those amongst the Muslim population who emphasize and focus their efforts in only one or two of these areas, but not all three. Some will spend all their lives worshiping and meditating Allah and doing nothing but engaging in ritualistic acts while neglecting the Prophet (peace be upon him and his progeny) and the teachings of Islam, such as the Sufis. There are also those who focus only on praising and respecting the rank of the Prophet and his Ahlul Bayt (peace be upon them all) and exercising their love to them, while ceasing to pay much attention to Allah and abide by the teachings and practices of His divine religion. And finally, there are those who focus only on the teachings of Islam and strive to follow it by the Book in such a fanatical way without having any ma’refat (recognition) or insight behind the Islamic laws, totally ignoring the Sender of the religion and His messenger. Today we come to know this group of extremists as the Wahabis, or Salafis.
Each of these three groups who only focus on one of the three core aspects mentioned above have gone astray, and have failed to realize the main purpose of religion. When we speak about the Resalah (Message), there are four major aims and key components which Allah has revealed in this religion.
The first is the Holy Prophet and his successors and the importance of expressing Muwaddah (reciprocal love) and obedience to them, as they are the divine representatives in the universe and the model for human perfection. It is wrong to think that the Prophet is separate from the message and has only come to deliver the message and walk away. Rather, the Prophet and his Purified Family are an essential part of the message and this is confirmed in the Prophet’s statement in the well-known authenticated Hadith al-Thaqalayn: “I am leaving for you two precious and weighty things that if you adhere to both of them, you shall never go astray after me. They are the Book of Allah, and my progeny, that is, my Ahlul Bayt. The Merciful has informed me that these two shall not separate from each other until they come to me by the Pool (of Paradise).”
Muslims are obliged to pay Khums and to understand and spread the word of the injustices committed against the Holy Progeny, and to keep their remembrance alive and learn more about their lives. This also includes visiting and paying respects to them and seeking their intercession.
Secondly, Islam was revealed to give a warning for all of mankind regarding the Day of Judgment, punishment and reward, accounting, and the consequences of our deeds. The third is to instill and build the foundation of faith which is the Oneness of God, His absolute Justice, Resurrection, Prophethood, and guardianship (Imamate). It is to comprehend and practice the essence of Tasleem (submission), to gain ma’refat of Allah, to practice the teachings of Islam and respect its signs, and to develop ourselves to reaching the level of certitude (yaqeen).
As for the fourth, which is very critical and the main goal of the divine religion sent to mankind, it is to promote the idea of Islah, that is, reform, repair or reshape. This concept can be accomplished in different ways such as to enjoin the good and forbid the evil, to stand up against oppression and injustice, and to support the oppressed and uphold the truth. It also means to account and question the leader, to consult with others, to be righteous and be good to your fellow brethren, and to forgive your brothers and sisters in humanity. To do Islah is also to establish justice on earth to the best of your ability, to exercise good manners and morals, and to contribute to society in such as way that you protect its interests and develop it in all ways you can. To accomplish Islah also means to maintain relation with your kin and relatives and to give a helping hand to those who need it. The list goes on and on regarding how to accomplish reform on this earth to better mankind and elevate it to the stage of perfection, which is what pleases Allah and what He desires.
If we analyze the four key goals mentioned above, we will realize that Islah is the real fruit of Islam, without which the religion becomes hollow and there is no point to worship or practice. Hence, we find the idea of Islah is emphasized in both the Qur’an and hadiths. Allah warns us of those who spread corruption on earth and do not reform. In fact, all of the prophets and messengers were sent for the purpose of bringing about reform on earth: “And when We did appoint for Moses thirty nights (of solitude), and added to them ten, and he completed the whole time appointed by his Lord of forty nights; and Moses said unto his brother, Aaron: Take my place among the people. Do right, and follow not the way of mischief-makers.” (7:142) And when Prophet Hud (peace be upon him) addressed his people, he summarized his goal in these words, “I only desire (your) betterment to the best of my power; and my success (in my task) can only come from Allah.” (11:88)
Allah knows who exactly the reformer is and who brings about corruption on earth. So great in Allah’s eyes is the person who does reform (mosleh) that He has promised not to waste the reward of the reformer. Even if there is a city filled with corruptive people, He will not punish its people if there are those who promote good in it (11:117).
Allah also emphasizes the importance of Islah happening after repentance, after achieving the level of piety, and after forgiveness. One of the most important examples of Islah that is relevant to us nowadays is to bring together two conflicting parties: “And if two parties of believers fall to fighting, then make peace between them. And if one party of them doeth wrong to the other, fight ye that which doeth wrong till it return unto the ordinance of Allah; then, if it return, make peace between them justly, and act equitably. Lo! Allah loves the equitable.” It is our responsibility to bring about reform in the community surrounding us and not just be engaged with our own matters. We must follow the news and pay attention to the Muslims in the other parts of the globe and support the oppressed among them when the need arises. As the prophetic hadith says, “He who is not concerned with the affairs of the Muslims is not a Muslim.”
So important is this role of Islah that one of the common names by which our Living Imam (may Allah hasten his reappearance) is referred to as “Abu Saleh”, meaning the one who will bring about reform on earth such that it will be filled with equity and justice, after it was filled with tyranny and oppression. Our 12th Imam will certainly be following the footsteps of his great-grandfather Imam Hussain (peace be upon him) who struggled on the plains of Karbala and sacrificed everything he had for the sake of bringing reform and repair in the religion of Prophet Muhammad! Sure enough by his method of reform, the tree of Islam was watered with his pure blood and we are thus able to benefit today from the pure Muhammadan Islam, after he saved it from corruption and deviation, which was – and is – sadly an existing danger today from the enemies of Islam, and within the Muslims themselves!