Becoming Khaeriyah (The Best) Ummah

Ilustration (photo: Pesisir News)

By Imam Shamsi Ali, President of Nusantara Foundation, New York

Many Muslims forget that they were born and destined to be a leader as Allah said in Surah Al Baqarah verse 124: “inni jaa’iluka linnaas Imaama” (Verily I am going to make you an Imam (a leader) for mankind (to follow you).

The leader referred to in the verse is a leader with the nature and character that has been set by Allah.

Leadership is not only about power but also many people want power and it is usually gained by haram (forbidden) ways. Those who do that commonly have personal interests and short term aims. 

In Islam, a leader must have knowledge, oriented, and based on righteousness. In the Quran, the leader is called “imaman lil-muttaqiin” (Leader of the pious people).

The verse quote shows that Muslim leaders must uphold the values of piety (taqwa) in society and they must have it too because without the piety, a leader will spread the moral damage for the wider community.

There are at least two important reasons why muslim must have a piety leader.

First, this Ummah has destined becoming a middle ummah (wasathiyah). That’s why this ummah must be an excellent example for all mankind and all muslim leaders must be great example.

Second, this Ummah has destined becoming an excellent ummah (imtiyaz) as mentioned in Surah Ali Imran verse 110 : “You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. If only the People of the Scripture had believed, it would have been better for them. Among them are believers, but most of them are definitely disobedient”.

With that special character, this ummah must control leadership.

However, the question is, how to be excellent ummah? In the verse itself, two things are mentioned: 1) You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong, 2) believe in Allah Subhanallahu wata’ala and I will share the details of those two things in several important points to be an excellent ummah.

First, the ummah needs to change their faith perspective so it will not be passive and defensive.

Almost all the words of “faith” in the Quran are the verb, “aamanuu”. It shows that faith is not something passive, but it requires being active and proactive.

Therefore, besides being a foundation in all aspects of life, faith must also be an engine for the journey of life. The believers have self-confidence, courage, and strength to face all problems with their faith.

History proves that great civilization was created by the faith of the children of the Ummah in the past. Look at history, from Medina, Baghdad, to Europe centered in Cordoba, Spain.

Second, the urgency in organizing the heart. The heart is the center of life. Heart as a commander which is determining the direction of life.

Various problems raising among this Ummah are caused by disease of the heart. There’s something wrong with the heart. Brotherhood (ukhuwah) and the unity of the Ummah (wihdah) are dependent on the heart of every muslim because the Holy Quran says “ta’liful quluub” (fa allafa baena quluubikum).

If the heart is clean, healthy and well organized, then whatever differences exist among this ummah will be easy to manage. Differences in nationality, ethnicity, race, interpretation of religion, madhhab will not be a factor of division.

The brotherhood and the unity of the Ummah are intertwined from silaturrahim (keeping ties with kinship). Silaturrahim is interpreted as a connection of mercy (love) which is certainly centered on the hearts of believers.

The urgency in managing the heart also aims to prevent various deviations committed by this ummah.

Third, the urgency in building the right mindset about the world and religion. In general, there are two types of muslims in viewing worldly life. 

The first group considers it as a place to prepare for the happiness in the hereafter. This is the right mindset but it will be false if their preparation for the afterlife is only limited to the spiritual aspects and they completely ignore worldly life. 

The second group are those who see worldly life as everything so they consider worship as a side activity that is not really important.

The two groups above often feel the most right. The first feels the most religious and the second feels the smartest but actually both are far from religion and the world. In Islam, the world and the hereafter are two related things. The desire to be happy in the hereafter must be a motivation to build a good worldly life.

It is important to understand religious concepts with the right mindset and do not ever think as if religion exists to teach death so many people aspire to “die” in the way of Allah rather than “live” in the way of Allah.

Therefore, the concept of “dead in the way of Allah”, for example, needs to be directed into the concept of “living in the way of Allah” so this ummah will live life with full sincerity. By living in the way of Allah, in Allah’s will, a muslim will die in His way.

Another example is zakat. It should not be adequately understood as “giving 2.5 percent of net income” but more than that, it should be understood as an order to strengthen the economy of the ummah. That is the mindset of the Prophet in understanding zakat when it was first required because in order to pay zakat, a muslim must have income more than just meeting their basic needs.

For that purpose, Rasulullah Shalallahu alaihi wa salam gathered his rich and generous companions to buy wells and markets from the Jewish  in Medina. After they bought it, they developed the market into an economic empowerment center of the ummah, so their economy will no longer be weak and weakened economically by other ummah. (To be continued…) (T/ri/RE1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)