Is Individual Reformation of the Majority population the way to establish the Deen (Khilafah)?

[In the following article the word “Deen” and “Khilafah” has been used interchaneably. Khilafah is the political system of Islam through which the Deen of Islam is implemented comprehensively]

As Muslims we all know that Islam is a complete way of life and it is an obligation to establish the Deen comprehensively which is manifested through the Islamic Political System called Khilafah“. Though all Muslims agree on the obligation to implement the Deen, they differ about the way to work to re-establish the Deen. Since the destruction of khilafah in 1924, Muslims engaged to work to re-establish the Deen following various methods and many without having done a detail ijtihad on such an important issue. Groups/Movement emerged based on various ideas and started working according to their understanding of the situation.

In this article we are going to discuss one such method which is “Individual reformation of the majority population is the way to establish the Deen (Khilafah)“. Often this idea is expressed in the following manner:

We need to build/correct our Imaan first and when majority of the population have perfected their Imaan and A’mal only then Islam can be Implemented comprehensively


We need to work first to bring the Deen into my life and then my family and then my relatives and likewise when majority of the people implement the Deen Islam will be eslablished

The proponent of this idea holds the view that until he becomes perfect he can’t engage in activities in changing the society/state. So he wants to devote himself in perfecting himself first and then his family and when he is successful in doing so, he would engage in activities changing the society to implement the Deen.

This idea of changing society only through the individual reformation of the majority people is based upon few other misconceptions. To understand that this method is incorrect, it is very important that we expose those misconceptions first and insha Allah that will enable us to see the flaws in this method of re-establishing the Deen.

Those misconceptions are:

1. Rasulullah (saw) engaged only in strengthening the Imaan and Aqeeda of the people in Makkah before the establishment of the Islamic state in Medina.

2.Sharia obligations need to be implemented gradually in a chronological order, like first Salah and then Fast and so on.

3. Muslims need to achieve perfection in their individual acts first before engaging in communal activities.

4. Islam will be implemented when Allah will allow everyone to be guided in Islam.

5. Having upright character is an obligatory condition for commanding right and forbidding evil.

6. Commanding right and forbidding evil is limited to personal advice.

7. Rasulullah (saw) established the Islamic state in Medinah because majority were muslims.

8. A state becomes Islamic as a result of all the citizens following Islam in their personal lives.

These misconceptions are discussed in detail below:

1. Rasulullah (saw) engaged only in strengthening the Imaan and the Aqeeda of the people in Makkah before the establishment of the Islamic state in Medina.

From the seerah of Rasulullah (saw) we can find that He (saw) not only engaged in preaching and strengthening the Imaan and Aqeeda but also engaged in intellectual and political struggle with society. He (saw) challenged the authority of the Quraysh. He(saw) challenged the corrupt way they were running the affairs in their society i.e. the existing relationships. He (saw) also exposed their practices, facing with his Sahabah (ra) all types of persecution, boycotts and slander as a result.

This has all been narrated in the books of Sunnah and Seerah regarding the revelation of the verses of the Quran, the incidents surrounding them and the way in which the Prophet (saw) carried them to the people through the struggle. Few verses which were revealed during Makkan period are given below as an example of our prophet’s intellectual and political struggle against the corrupt way of life of the Quraysh:

When the infant child asks, for what crime was she killed” (TMQ al-Takweer, verse 8-9)

The books of Seerah narrate that this Ayah had a profound effect across the society as burying the daughters was a widespread phenomena at that time, albeit a tradition that they were finding difficult to justify.

Woe to those who deal in fraud” (TMQ al-Muttaffifeen, verse 1).

Through the revelation of the above ayah, Prophet(saw) addressed the way that cheating took place in the market place, the Qurayshi leaders were at the head of this particular practice and specifically when the unsuspecting pilgrims came.

Perish be the power of Abu Lahab! And perish again! His wealth will not enrich him. He will be burnt in a Fire of blazing flames. And his wife, too, who carries wood. In her neck is a twisted rope of palm fibre“. (TMQ al-Lahab, verses 1-5)

Prophet (saw) addressed the corrupt leaders and exposed them in front of the society like Abu Lahab as is evident in the above ayah.

Hence we can see that the Dawah of the Prophet(saw) was not confined in preaching Imaan and Aqeeda in Makkan period. He (saw) called for a radical change in the way they were living their lives, and the manner in which the society was dealing in its worshipssocial valueseconomic practices. Their whole way of life and identity was being addressed, with a view to replacing them with a new Deen and a new way of life. Hence, he(saw) used to address the whole system of life by which the Quraysh lived their lives and was offering the system of Islam as an alternative led by the Prophet (saw) himself.

2. Sharia obligations need to be implemented gradually in a chronological order, like first Salah and then Fast and so on.

Some carry the idea that Islam needs to be implemented gradually like first salah then fast and so on. Through this gradual path one day Islam will be implemented in the whole society. But Sharia doesn’t allow us to implement Islam gradually and there is no chronological order of implementation for Sharia obligations. As soon as someone believes in Islam or a Muslim reaches puberty all the obligations of Islam becomes obligatory on him. He needs to fulfill all the obligations simultaneously without exceptions. It is not allowed for a Muslim to wait/suspend an obligation until he fulfills another obligation without any Sharia reason. Let us look at some of the examples from the seerah of Rasulullah (saw):

Five times Salah was made obligatory in Makkah at the 10th year of Prophethood. Did Rasulullah (saw) allowed any of the Muslims in Medinah to build his Imaan for 10 years and then pray salah or the Salah was implemented immediately by the new Muslims? Alcohol was forbidden in the 13th year of prophethood in Medinah. Anyone who became Muslim after alcohol was forbidden, was he allowed to first perfect his Salah and then stop taking alcohol or this prohibition was implemented immediately on all Muslims? Muslims, whenever they embraced Islam was subject to implement all of Sharia obligations at once but not in any particular chronological order. As soon as revelation came to Muhammad (saw), Muslims had to implement it immediately. The following examples will clarify these points more clearly:

a. Leaders of Bani Thaqif came to Rasulullah (saw) and he offered them to accept Islam. But they wanted few haram things to make halal for them (Fornication, drink wine, deal with usury, not to pray and not to destroy their idol Al-lat). They started negotiating with Rasulullah to allow them those haram for few years and then months and so on. Rasulullah (saw) declined all those conditions. Rasulullah (saw) didn’t even allow those conditions for once. They were not allowed to implement islam gradually. [The Sealed Nectar, Page – 523]

b. Al-Baraa bin Azib Radiya-allahu anhu narrated: A man covered in iron armour approached the Messenger of Allah and said: “O Messenger of Allah, should I fight or embrace Islam first?” The Messenger of Allah said: “Embrace Islam and then fight” He became Muslim and fought and was killed. The Messenger of Allah said “He did very little but was rewarded a lot.”
[Bukhari & Muslim]

In this case Rasulullah (saw) didn’t stop him joining in the battle just because he was a new Muslim or advised him to perfect his Imaan,Salah and so on and then join the battle.

c. Abu Hurairah Radiya-allahu anhu narrated that Amr bin Aqyash Radiya-allahu anhu had lent money with interest and he didn’t want to become a Muslim until he collects it. On the day of the battle of Uhud he asked: “Where are my cousins?” They said: “At Uhud” He asked: “Where is so and so?” They replied: “At Uhud” He asked about someone else and he was told they are at Uhud. He went ahead and put on his armour and went to Uhud. When the Muslims saw him they said: “Stay away from us Amr” He said: “I’ve embraced Islam” He then fought until he was injured and was carried away to his family. Saad bin Muadh Radiya-allahu anhu told his sister to ask him whether he fought for the protection of his people or for the sake of Allah and his Messenger Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam? She asked him and he said:

I fought for the sake of Allah and his Messenger Sallalahu Alaihi Wasallam.” He died and entered into Paradise without praying even one prayer.” [Abu Dawud and al Hakim.]

So from the above examples it is clear that there is no chronological order of implementation for Sharia obligations and it is not allowed to implement Islam gradually. Every Muslim has to implement all obligations without exceptions as long as he is capable of doing so. Praying, fasting, looking after the family all these are obligatory at the same time working to establish the Khilafah to implement the Deen is also obligatory. So we need to do all of those side by side according to the best of our ability.

[for more details on this please read Priorities of Obligation]

3. Muslims need to achieve perfection in their individual acts first before engaging in communal activities.

Some carry the idea that we need to first perfect our Imaan, salah and so on bofore engaging in work to change the society/establish Islamic state. They think of an imaginary character having perfection in all aspects of life affairs and make such character as an achievable goal. They imagine a character having all the best qualities of all the sahaba, forgetting that all the sahabas didn’t have all the best qualities and they too were not perfect. As they find themselves far away from such an imaginary character, they become highly pessimist and confine themselves in their own personal domain in pursuing perfection in individual aspects of Islam neglecting all the other aspects of Islam. So they keep themselves bussy in perfecting their ownselves thinking one day when they achieve perfection then they will engage in work to change the society. But the fact is they will never achieve perfection no matter how hard they try as Rasululluh (saw) said :

“All humans continually commits sins. The best of those continually commit sins are those who repent often.” (Ahmad, Tirmizi, ibn Maazah and Al Haakim)

So for us waiting to be perfect is nothing but a deception of shaitan. We must struggle to achieve Taqwa and to establish khilafah simaltaniously.

4. Islam will be implemented when Allah will allow everyone to be guided in Islam.

Everyone wont be guided in Islam as Allah (swt) says in the quran:

“And if We had willed, surely! We would have given every person his guidance, but the Word from Me took effect (about evil doers), that I will fill Hell with jinn and mankind together “ [As-sajdah V13]

So there will be always two groups of people, one following Islam and the other following Kufr. And both group will strive to be in power so that they can protect and implement their way of life. And that was the struggle every prophet faced. There will be always followers of Kufr and they will try to dominate over of followers of Islam, so that they can implement their way of life. So Islam won’t be implemented just like that without any struggle with the followers of kufr.

5. Having upright character is an obligatory condition for commanding right and forbidding evil.

This idea keeps many people away from working to establish the Deen as it involves commanding right and forbidding evil. They find lacking in themselves (as everyone does) and stop getting involve to command right and forbid wrong. They quote the following ayah to support their view:

“Do you enjoin piety to others and forget yourselves?” (2:44)

But this ayah in the quran doesn’t indicate having upright character to be an obligatory criteria to enjoin good and forbid evil. Islam doesn’t impose the condition of having upright character to command right and forbid wrong. If a person faces any wrong happening in front of him he is entitled to censure that activities despite him being not an upright person.

6. Commanding right and forbidding evil is limited to personal advice.

Commanding right and forbidding wrong is an obligation in Islam.

“Let there be a group of you who call to good, commanding the right and forbidding the wrong, for those are the successful” (Koran 3:104).

Hudhaifah (RA) reported: The Prophet (SAW) said, “ By Him in Whose Hand my life is, you either enjoin good and forbid evil, or Allah will certainly soon send His punishment to you. Then you will make supplication and it will not be accepted.” (At-Tirmidhi)

But many often think this commanding good and forbidding evil is limited to personal advice only. Speaking against the corrupt practice/system in the society or corrupt ruler or building public opinion to oust the corrupt ruler are all part of commanding good and forbidding evil.

“The best Jihad is the word of truth spoken to a tyrant ruler.” [Ibn Majaah and Nasa’i]

“Nay, by Allah, you have to enjoin the maruf and forbid the munkar, and hold at the hand of the tyrant, and force him on the truth and restrict him to the truth,” [Abu Dawud and Tirmizi]

Due to the misconception that this is only about giving personal advise, many Muslims keep away from engaging in speaking against the ruler or the implementation of kufr system on them as it happening throughout the muslim world today.

7. Rasulullah (saw) established the Islamic state in Medinah because majority were Muslims.

Rasulullah (saw) didn’t establish the Islamic state in Medinah through the majority number. Muslims were the minority in number compared to Jews and other tribes and there were munafik among the Muslims as well. So it is incorrect to think that Muslims were able to establish Islamic state just because majority people were Muslims in Medina.

8. A state become Islamic as a result of all the citizens following Islam in their personal lives.

People generally think Islamic State as the final output of implementing Islam in our lives rather than a tool to implement Islam. Islamic state is a tool to implement Islam and for spreading the Deen to the whole world. Cause under the Islamic state general people can see and feel the practical justice and peace of Islamic way of life. In the absence of Islamic state fewer people understand it’s implications cause it is only theoretical without the presence of Islamic state. That explains why tribes after tribes accepted Islam after the establishment of Islamic state not before that. Allah (swt) says:

“When there comes the Help of Allâh (to you, O Muhammad (SAW) against your enemies) and the conquest (of Makkah), And you see that the people enter Allâh’s religion (Islâm) in crowds, “ [An-Nasr Verse 1-2]

Sahabas conquered lands after lands and that’s how all the current Muslim countries came under Islam except few. Whenever they conquered a new land they implemented sharia on them straight away completely but didn’t force them to accept Islam and allowed them to practice their religion in private life. Except the Muslim Army, all the people were non-Muslims in those new lands. People started to accept Islam willingly when they saw the practical aspect of Islam. Implementing Shaira in those lands were a practical dawah for the inhabitants.

Muslims lost the confidence in Islam due to the absence of it in practical life. Only Islamic state can bring it back to practical life.

People site examples of Afghanistan where they implemented Islam but failed. But this is an incorrect example. It is true that Taliban government implemented many aspects of sharia but they didn’t establish a khilafah state. So it is incorrect to say that they implemented an Islamic state and then failed. Their mistakes were numerous and needs separate discussion for that topic alone.


All the above misconceptions lead one to believe that we can establish the Deen only through individual reformation. This is a deception which is driving thousands of Muslims away from engaging politically to change the status quo in the Muslim countries. The best and theonly correct method is the method of Rasulullah(saw).

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