From Knowledge to Activism

“And say: Act! Allah will behold your actions, and (so will) His messenger and the believers.” Holy Quran 9:105
Knowledge and self-building are important themes in the introspection of the individual. Our ability to succeed in a world of materialism is subject to continuing in the struggle for the pursuit of knowledge and spiritual nourishment. Islam, the final revelation for the salvation of man, delivers a message of servitude and commitment to God through serving the fellow man.
From the offset of theological and philosophical studies, dating back to Plato’s utopian vision and beyond, we as a human race have envisaged knowledge as a tool to communal change in society. In other words, the betterment of society is dependant on knowledge actively being applied on the conditions surrounding us. If this does not happen, we become a passive society, which is the sad state that we Muslims find ourselves in.
It is not helpful for us to be robotic in our approach towards societal needs, because of the dynamics and fluidity of society in general. We cannot measure knowledge in an absolute manner, such that we reach a certain benchmark and then decide, we can now ‘act’.
We as an Ummah, must courageously make our stand for change. Change in our doctrine is not an empty statement of rebellion but one in which our Prophet and Imams struggled for with their blood. The adversaries – who plot to keep us in a slumbering state of decline, who encourage our passivity, distract our attention and occupy our time; are many in number and strong in force. We must be aware of this danger and not submit to the plans of the Satan who seeks to strip us of our human instinct to seek positive change.
We believe as a matter of certainty that our saviour will return to bring change to the world, to relieve the oppressed and oppose the oppressor, and to bring justice and equity to all. We, as the adherents of the awaited saviour are obliged to pave the road towards his return through activism with wisdom.
The Prophet [saw] said: “The best of actions is awaiting the return”.
The emphasis in this saying is on the word ‘actions’, because it is in reference to participating in an action in order to bring about that awaited time. It is therefore necessary for everyone to work tirelessly for this objective and to remember that this mission is the only legitimate solution to the problems faced by mankind at large. It is the responsibility of everyone to remind those around them of this sacred mission and it is likewise their responsibility to sacrifice their time, effort and wealth for the cause of the awaited saviour.
Dear brothers and sisters, it is essential for everyone of us to work on ourselves, our intellect, our religiosity, our mannerism, our etiquette; on our family and those around us; in order to build the universal believer, who is true to his cause, who will remain in action, who does not hand over Muslim ibn Aqeel to Ibn Ziyad, nor does he leave Imam Hussain for Ibn Sa’ad. It is not enough for us to be people of love and emotion; we must be people of conviction, seriousness and action; with ourselves and in the society around us.*
It is a frequent saying amongst many Muslims, when they remember the martyrs of Karbala to repeat: “If only we were with you, for surely we would have been victorious.” Today we are presented with a similar challenge; we have an Imam in occultation waiting for us to reach out towards him. He is patiently waiting for that time to come where a small group of people would truly be of his followers such that he may appear and lead this Ummah towards salvation, and yet we as a people sit and exchange humble gestures regarding our inability to attain the ‘required level’ of knowledge to act.

* Adapted from the speech of Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah.

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