Understanding the Priorities in Decision-Making
Dear Friday Jemaah,
Since the past few weeks, we have been discussing the various forms of understanding or fiqh that we need to inculcate in ourselves in order to lead our religious lives. A deep sense of understanding of the various branches of fiqh can facilitate us as we strive to strengthen our taqwa towards Allah. And by doing as such, we hope that it would make it easier for us to better heed His commandments and avoid what Allah has prohibited upon us
My dear brothers,
If we reflect upon the content of the message brought by Nabi s.a.w to his people before and after hijrah, we will detect some differences. In line with the content of the Al-Quran before the migration, or hijrah, Rasulullah's teachings focused more on helping the community to strengthen its faith and appreciate the value of faith. In fact, many of the verses revealed to the Prophet before the hijrah had called upon humankind to believe in the existence of the One God, and to understand that there is life after death where our every actions, words and deeds will be made accountable to us.
Why was this message the priority back then? This is because, when our hearts and intellects believe in the existence of the Oneness of God and the existence of the Day of Judgement, it will then be easier for us to heed whatever commandments that are prescribed upon us. As an example to illustrate this, let us reflect upon verses 3-4 in Surah Al-Mulk:
Which means: “[And] who created seven heavens in layers. You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency. So return [your] vision [to the sky]; do you see any breaks? Then return [your] vision twice again. [Your] vision will return to you humbled while it is fatigued.”
As a testimony of the existence of God Almighty who is the Most Knowledgeable, these verses challenge humankind to look up to the sky and try to pick on any flaws. Fact of the matter is, they would never be able to. Is this not true my brothers? We can study the shapes of the clouds and the colour of the sky, but no man can ever confidently say that the sky is imperfect and flawed?
And so, such is the sunnah of Nabi s.a.w. in setting priorities in educating and developing the hearts of the companions. Thus, that is how we should be in teaching our children, and ourselves. Often, we start teaching about Islam by going straight into how to perform solat, without first understanding and truly appreciating the needs and benefits, in both this world and the hereafter, of performing solat.
My brothers, sometimes we ask ourselves why our children refuse or are hesitant to perform solat, when in fact they know how to do so. The answer is because they do not appreciate and understand the reasons, benefits and goodness of solat. It is also tied to how strong one's belief is in the existence of the One God and the fact that all of humankind will be made accountable for their actions. Thus, Rasulullah s.a.w. emphasised on the need to strengthen the faith, or iman, of the community.
This is what is meant by ‘Fiqh Al-Awlawiyyat’ or the ‘Fiqh of Priorities’. This is a concept whereby we place emphasis or prioritise a matter as it should be prioritised. What is of utmost priority cannot be put off, and vice versa.
My brothers blessed by Allah,
Fiqh Al-Awlawiyyat reminds us of the importance of channelling our resources, energy, time and wealth to matters that will have the deepest and greatest impact. Here I will discuss two possible scenarios with you.
The first example is prioritising time for our families. Time is extremely valuable and Allah s.w.t has vowed by time in Surah Al-‘Asr. Thus, we need to divide our time wisely, according to our priorities in life. For example, many of us spend much time going out, having fun and indulging in other activities with our friends when in fact our spouses, children and parents are hoping to spend more time with us.
We also sometimes tend to spend a lot of time surfing Internet sites like Facebook rather than talking and spending quality time with our families, or even reading together with them. This is where we need to prioritise time for our families over other activities.
The second scenario: Setting priorities in fulfilling our responsibilities in giving advices, and to be kind to our parents and family members.
Lately, we have seen that the awareness of Islam has increased, and this is good, Alhamdulillah. At the same time, there are those who are overzealous in reprimanding or commenting on a matter, with the aim of preventing mungkar or transgression. Indeed, we are encouraged to invite others to goodness and prevent transgression, especially among our family members.
However, it can become a problem when the reprimand or comment is made in a very harsh manner, with cynical and at times, rude comments. This will cause the receiving party to distance themselves from us and not want to heed our advice that was given with good intentions.
In this matter, we need to weigh out the possibilities and apply our priorities accordingly. Even though preventing transgression is wajib and becomes our responsibility, in this scenario, the proper awlawiyyat is to convey the advice in a wise, courteous and gentle manner so that the message will be accepted well.
Our priority is in bringing our family closer to Allah. And not to make them be in fear and thus pull themselves further away from Allah. Remember what Allah s.w.t says in the Quran, in Surah Ali-Imran verse 159:
“So by mercy from Allah , [O Muhammad], you were lenient with them. And if you had been rude [in speech] and harsh in heart, they would have disbanded from about you. So pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult them in the matter. And when you have decided, then rely upon Allah . Indeed, Allah loves those who rely [upon Him].”
Dear Friday Jemaah,
Throughout this month, we have learned several concepts of Fiqh which can be applied in our daily lives. These are very important concepts and useful knowledge, which will help us to make considerations and judgement in making the right decisions.
With such knowledge, we realise that even though there are matters where the ruling is clear, whether it is permissible or forbidden, there are also many other matters whereby it is not very clear. Many issues require careful consideration, prioritising, taking a balanced approach and taking into account the needs. Thus, they go beyond the emphasis on legal aspect.
Hopefully, by deepening our understanding of these concepts and knowledge, we will be rightly guided in this world, and able to uphold Islam without any misconceptions and in the manner that Allah s.w.t has required of us.
Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura
26 April 2013 / 15 Jamadilakhir 1434