It is evident from the forgoing discussion that in order to make the reward and punishment that is going to take place in the Hereafter an observable reality in this world, the Almighty selects certain personalities called messengers. Their person becomes a means to communicate the truth to their addressees in a conclusive manner. Besides this powerful and observable means, these messengers also elucidate and explain the truth to their respective peoples. As indicated earlier, this truth is that a person shall one day be held accountable before the Almighty on basis of his deeds and then be rewarded and punished accordingly. With the special help and assistance of the Almighty, these messengers remove misconceptions that surround this truth, and vehemently remind people that if they do not accept it they shall be doomed in this world and in the Hereafter. Messengers give glad tidings of success both in this world and in the next to those who profess faith in them. People who deliberately deny the truth are punished in various degrees so that this whole process can substantiate the reward and punishment that is to take place on similar grounds in the Hereafter.
As a consequence of this fundamental premise, what needs to be understood is that some directives of Islam are specific to this divine practice which relates to the age of the Prophet Muhammad (sws) and his Companions (rta) and cannot be extended to later periods. The reason for this, as pointed out many times before, is that as per the divine practice discussed in the previous sections, these directives relate to non-Muslims who intentionally deny the truth. After the termination of the institution of revelation, no one can know whether a non-Muslim is deliberately denying the truth or not. Only the Almighty knows this. In the age of messengers, He chose to reveal this judgement through His appointees, while after them He has not chosen to do so. Consequently, it is imperative that Muslims study the Qur’an and the life of the Prophet (sws), which are replete with the details of this divine practice in the proper perspective.
If all these premises are true, then the attitude of Muslims towards non-Muslims should drastically change. Instead of showing an antagonistic behaviour towards them by threatening to subdue them, they should try to present the teachings of Islam in a lucid and articulate manner. They should think of ways and means to communicate the true message of Islam and refrain from policing and threatening non-Muslims. Like true preachers, they should invest their time in thinking of ways and means to earnestly call people to the truth. Their preaching should have a humble tone in it and they should deal very affectionately and amicably with non-Muslims. Muslims should consider them as their potential addressees to whom they can present the teachings of Islam through character and good deeds. Being antagonistic and hostile towards them is a totally uncalled for attitude.
Moreover, all Muslim revivalist movements should keep in mind the fact that nowhere has their religion directed Muslims to struggle for the supremacy of Islam as an obligation. It is obvious that wherever they are in majority, Islam should be implemented and where they are not they should convince and educate people to win majority. The Prophet (sws) and his Companions (rta) never launched a struggle to establish an Islamic state. It was as per the divine practice discussed in this treatise that they were granted the rulership of a state. Hence, struggling to establish an Islamic state is not a directive of the shari‘ah.
Here it would be worthwhile to mention that if Muslims want to bring about any change like implementing shari‘ah laws in their own country or in the country they live as a minority, Islam has bound them to adopt democratic means. They must educate and convince people in its favour until they enjoy the confidence of the majority. A minority group has not been given the right to impose its views on the majority. In this regard, it needs to be appreciated that the Qur’an is absolutely clear:
أَمْرُهُمْ شُورَى بَيْنَهُمْ (42 :38)
The affairs of state of the believers are run by their mutual consultation. (42:38)
Keeping in view linguistic considerations, it is evident that a consensus or majority opinion of the Muslims can in no way be overruled. The Qur’an has not said: “the believers are consulted in their affairs”; it has, on the contrary, declared: “their affairs of state are run by their mutual consultation.” The style and pattern of the verse demands that an Islamic government should be established through the consultation of the believers, continue to exist on this basis and should cease to exist without it. It should conduct its affairs, in all cases, on the basis of a consensus or majority opinion of the citizens.
Muslims must therefore adopt democratic means to bring a change in the country – whether Muslim or non-Muslim – they are living in. They must also remember that as citizens of non-Muslim countries they are bound by a contract with that country. They must follow the laws of the country – whose citizens they have become by their own free choice – in letter and in spirit. Abiding by laws is their religious duty. They must remember that people who break their promises are disliked by the Almighty. Moreover, if they feel that it is not possible for them to practice their religion because of some hindrance created by a law or ruling of that country, even then they should not disobey the law and cause any disruption. No doubt this is persecution and as such a condemnable act; however, the correct attitude in such circumstances would be to migrate from that country if every peaceful effort to achieve religious freedom fails.
Today, the non-Muslim world has severe apprehensions about the Muslim bloc. To them Muslims pose a great threat to their freedom and liberty. Muslims should come forward and put an end to the threat non-Muslims feel from them. The highly talked of “Clash of Civilizations” should be converted into a “Dialogue between Civilizations”.
Moreover, if the issues discussed in this article are found convincing, then the real threat to non-Muslims lies elsewhere: They must calmly contemplate on the fate of deliberately denying the last Messenger of God. They must keep in mind the fate of their ancestors in the Prophetic times – a fate which they met by intentionally denying him. However, the sword of Democles does not hang over them in this world at least. Whether they knowingly deny may or may not be known in this world, but surely in the Hereafter this reality shall be unveiled. Such an attitude would lead them to the gravest of penalties. Similarly, they should also consider how a careless attitude in this regard may prove disastrous for them in the Hereafter for according to the Qur’anthe Almighty has sent His messengers and prophets so that man is left with no excuse to deny the truth:
رُسُلًا مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ لِأَلَّا يَكُونَ لِلنَّاسِ عَلَى اللَّهِ حُجَّةٌ بَعْدَ الرُّسُلِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ عَزِيزًا حَكِيمًا (4 :165)
[We sent] messengers who gave glad tidings as well as warnings so that mankind after the coming of these messengers is left with no plea against the Almighty [regarding the basic truths]. For God is exalted in Power, Wise. (4:165)
Thus Muhammad (sws) and his preaching mission must always continue to be thought-provoking to non-Muslims since it poses a threat to them in the Hereafter if they deny him in spite of being convinced of his prophethood. They must keep in mind that as per the Qur’an, the Almighty has played His role in elucidating this fact. Only a legitimate excuse on their part can now save them on the Day of Judgement from His wrath.