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Standard Bearers of Islam

The Movement




What it is and why we need it



Mirza Yawar Baig

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"Islam began as something strange, and
it shall return to being something
strange, so give glad tidings to the
strangers."
Saheeh Hadeeth [Ibn Maajah, Kitaab al fitan 3986
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Genesis
Like most thinking Muslims of our time, over the last few years,
I have also been thinking about the sad state that the Muslim
Ummah finds itself in. Like lost sheep we are large in number
but distracted, disconnected and dispersed, prey to every
passing wolf. All the power, authority, wealth and influence
seems to be in the hands of those who are arrayed against us,
leaving us with little choice if any, even with respect to the
wealth which is apparently in our hands. It is they who dispose
of it at will even though on the face of it, we are its owners.
Like most people I too complained, defined our problem and
re-defined it; discussed it, debated it and agonized over it until
I came to the conclusion that none of this was getting me any
closer to a solution. And frankly that was all that mattered.
I read the Quran and the Seerah of Rasoolullah and our
history, both ancient and modern because history has the
potential to teach us lessons. I spoke to people wiser and more
learned than I am and listened carefully to what they had to
say; Ulama and others in several countries. I prayed and asked
for the help of Allah to understand our situation and devise a
way out of it. As I thought about these times I couldnt help
but see many similarities between the situation today and the
situation as it existed in the time of Rasoolullah and his
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Sahaba during the major part of his life in Makkah. They too
had almost no influence, power or wealth. They were the
victims of all kinds of persecution and deprivation. They were
evicted from their homes, boycotted and embargoed, tortured
and some were killed. Yet in one generation, in less than 20
years, the situation completely transformed and Muhammad
and his followers became the leaders of Arabia and the known
world.
The big question of course is, HOW DID IT HAPPEN? HOW DID
THEY DO IT?
The answer is very simple this happened simply by
Muhammad and his followers living Islam. All that they did
was to be Muslims. They were living models of Islam; Standard
Bearers of Islam. They did not spend time in giving speeches
about Islam or holding seminars and symposia about points of
Fiqh. They did not write momentous treatises on the hidden
aspects of this Ayt or that. They lived the Quran. They did not
lecture others about the importance of the Sunnah. They
followed the Sunnah in every single aspect of it. They did not
debate and create nomenclature to distinguish between what is
Haraam and what is Makrooh and within Makrooh what is
Tanzeehi and what is Tahreemi. They did not get stuck in minor
matters of religious observance thereby creating divisions.
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They simply did not do anything that was displeasing to Allah
and His Messenger . They did not ask which sin was big and
which was small. They avoided sin because in their mind it was
not the quantum or nature of the disobedience but who was
being disobeyed, that was important. And that is why when
Allah said the word Believers He meant the Sahaba.
So there it was the answer to my question, What should we do
to help ourselves? The solution was clear as daylight:
Be Muslims as the Sahaba were Muslim.
Become Standard Bearers of Islam.
I realized that it was necessary for us to go back to the basics
and see how Rasoolullah and his Sahaba practiced Islam and
do the same with the hope that Allah would then change our
condition when He saw that we were ready to do His work and
to give it precedence over our own desires and pursuits. It is
really quite simple. We are the ones who complicate it for
ourselves and then suffer.

The Quran is quite clear on the fact that the decisions of
Allah that are made with respect to our lives in this world are
related to our actions. Good begets good and evil begets evil.
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` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
` ` ` `
Ar-Rum 30:41. Evil (sins and disobedience of Allh) has
appeared on land and sea because of what the hands of men
have earned (by oppression and evil deeds), that Allh may
make them taste a part of that which they have done, in order
that they may return (by repenting to Allh).
Also that the solution lies within us:
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
Ar Raad 13: 11.. Verily! Allh will not change the good
condition of a people as long as they do not change their state
of goodness themselves (by committing sins and by being
ungrateful and disobedient to Allh).
And that is how the idea of becoming Standard Bearers of
Islam was born. I believe therefore that the solution to our
problems today globally is to return to the Sunnah of
Rasoolullah and be as the Sahaba were true to Islam to
the best of our ability. I agree we are weak and we ask for the
help of Allah . But we need to do our part.
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I want to begin with a quote from the great scholar and student
of Shaikh ul Islam Ibn Taimiya, Imam Ibn al Qayyim Al
Jawziyya who says in his booklet Al Ghurbathu wa Al Ghuraba:
The Meaning of Strangeness
Many times in many situations the people who follow the
religion of Allah feel a sense of not belonging, of being out of
place, of not fitting in, and, in other words, of being strange.
This feeling could occur in a gathering of non-Muslims, but,
unfortunately, this feeling sometimes also occurs when one is
with his fellow Muslims. A person sees his brothers and sisters
doing acts that are contrary to Islam, or taking part in
innovations that sometimes even border on kufr (apostasy), yet
he feels that he does not have enough power or courage to stop
them in these acts. Some brothers and sisters, especially if they
do not have enough taqwa or Islamic knowledge, sometimes
buckle under the pressure of their peers and join in these acts,
knowing that this is not what Allah wants them to do.
However, feeling helpless, since it seems that they are alone in
their ideas and without any support to help them do what is
right, they succumb to such pressures.
These brothers and sisters, may Allah have mercy on them,
should take consolation in the verses of the Quran and the
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many statements of the Prophet describing this very
situation of strangeness that they feel.
Why Have They Been Called Strangers?
Allah says in the Quran,
` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
` ` `

Hud 11:116. If only there had been among the generations
before you, persons having wisdom, prohibiting (others)
from Al-Fasad (disbelief, polytheism, and all kinds of crimes
and sins) in the earth, except a few of those whom We saved
from among them. Those who did wrong pursued the
enjoyment of good things of (this worldly) life, and
were Mujrimn (criminals, sinners).
This verse speaks of the few people on earth, the strangers,
who prohibit mankind from evil. These are the same people the
Prophet spoke about when he said, "Islam began as
something strange, and it shall return to being
something strange, so give glad tidings [ar. Tooba. This is
a tree in Paradise. So the Prophet is giving the good news of
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Paradise to these strangers] to the strangers." He was asked,
"Who are those strangers, Ya Rasoolullah ?" He replied,
Those that correct the people when they become
corrupt. [Reported by Abu Amr al-Dani, from the hadith of
ibn Masoud].
Another narration says, Those that correct my Sunnah
which has been corrupted by the people after me. In
another narration he said in response to the same question,
They are a small group of people among a large evil
population. Those who oppose them are more than
those who follow them. [Reported by ibn Asaakir]
These praiseworthy people are called strangers since they are a
small minority among mankind. Thus, Muslims are strangers
among mankind; the true believers are strangers among
Muslims; and the scholars are strangers among the true
believers. And the followers of the Sunnah, those that clear
themselves from all peoples of innovation, are likewise
strangers.
In reality, however, their strangeness is only because they are
the minority and it is not because their actions and beliefs are
strange. This is what Allah says in Sura al-Anaam,
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` ` ` ` ` `
` ` ` ` ` `
Anam 6:116. And if you obey most of those on earth, they
will mislead you far away from Allh's Path. They follow
nothing but conjectures, and they do nothing but lie.
Allah also says,
` ` ` ` ` `
Yusuf 12:103. And most of mankind will not believe even if
you desire it eagerly.
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
` ` ` ` ` ` `
Al Maaidah 5:49. . And so judge (you O Muhammad )
between them by what Allh has revealed and follow not their
vain desires, but beware of them lest they turn you (O
Muhammad) far away from some of that which Allh has sent
down to you. And if they turn away, then know that Allh's
Will is to punish them for some sins of theirs. And truly, most
of men are Fsiqn (rebellious and disobedient)
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` ' ` ` ` ` ` `
` ` ` ` `
` ` `
Yusuf 12: 38. "And I have followed the religion of my fathers,
- Ibrahm, Ishque and Ya'qb, and never could we attribute
any partners whatsoever to Allh. This is from the Grace of
Allh to us and to mankind, but most of mankind are
ungrateful.
Therefore, Allah , the all-Knowing Creator, knows the most of
mankind will not follow the truth. Instead, only a small group of
people will be set apart that truly and correctly believe in Him,
the strangers from among mankind. The strangers in belief,
however, and the strangers in character and actions are in
reality the majority of mankind, for they are strange to Islam
and to the laws that Allah has revealed.
I would like to begin with this quote from Imam Ibn al Qayyim
Al Jawziyya because I believe it describes in the words of the
hadith the essence of the concept of being a Standard Bearer of
Islam. It encapsulates the purpose for which Allah sent
Rasoolullah - to guide and show the way. This is the purpose
that we inherited by being his followers to give to the world.
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To give to mankind a standard by which to live. To give it by
living it ourselves and demonstrating it as did Rasoolullah .
A standard is something to aspire to, to aim to reach, to
benchmark and measure yourself against to see if you are able
to meet it. A standard is a flag, high and alone on its staff;
establishing its presence, a symbol of great thoughts and ideas,
a guide to the lost. A standard is the flag which represents its
nation, a symbol of respect. A standard is called a standard
because it stands out. A flag drying on a clothes line is laundry.
A flag flying high on its staff is saluted.
A Standard Bearer is the one who carries the flag in battle. In
the days of cavalry warfare the Standard Bearer would carry
the battle standard around which the troops would rally. As
long as they saw their flag flying their morale remained high. If
the flag fell it would demoralize the soldiers. The Standard
Bearer would not be armed. His only job was to keep the flag
flying as the battle wore on. His comrades would surround him
and protect him from the enemy. On the other hand the
Standard Bearer would be the focus of attack of the enemy
because if they could cut him down it would have a far bigger
effect than the death of any other soldier and would be a great
victory. The Standard Bearer was the symbol of the force, the
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symbol of the nation. The Standard Bearer was not an ordinary
soldier.
To relate this to our lives today as Muslims, living in a world
that seems to be rushing headlong towards moral and ethical
destruction, the term Standard Bearer has special relevance. A
Standard Bearer of Islam therefore is someone who is the
embodiment of the Islamic Way. This person is a walking,
talking, living model of the beauty of Islam; completely
obedient to Allah and a follower of the Sunnah of
Rasoolullah . A Standard Bearer of Islam is someone who you
would point to if someone asked you, Who is a Muslim? A
Standard Bearer of Islam would be confident of him/herself, not
apologetic; stand out from the crowd, not blend in; be proud of
his/her Islam and practice it joyously as a matter of choice.
Islam to the Standard Bearer would be the primary focus, the
criterion for every decision, the basis of his/her identity and
definition. He/she would differentiate on the basis of Islam and
Islam would be their Brand; their Signature.
A Standard Bearer of Islam would be someone who considers
their Islam to be the greatest gift from Allah and consider it a
privilege to be its Standard Bearer which they would not
exchange for all the gold in the world. A Standard Bearer of
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Islam would understand that being a Standard Bearer is
sometimes a lonely job and would be ready for it and be proud
of it. After all it is the ideology behind the flag that converts a
piece of cloth into a symbol that is saluted.
Becoming a Standard Bearer of Islam
So what does it take to become a Standard Bearer of Islam?
Allah said about the first Standard Bearer of Islam:
` ` ` ` ` `
`
Al Ahzab 33:21 Indeed in the Messenger of Allh
(Muhammad ) you have a good example to follow for him
who hopes in (the Meeting with) Allh and the Last Day and
remembers Allh much.
Allah sent Muhammad to be a living model of His Message,
to demonstrate Islam in practice in every aspect of life and
therefore in this Ayt Allah quoted the whole life of
Rasoolullah as an example for us to follow and related it to
our meeting with Him on the Day of Judgment. An example is
meant to be followed and to be handed down from generation
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to generation and that is what the Sahaba did with the model
they learnt from Rasoolullah . They were Standard Bearers of
Islam who carried this standard with them wherever they went
and practiced it in societies where they stood out as Strangers
because their way was Strange. Strange in the way that the
one who stands up for justice looks strange in a land where
oppression is the way of life. Strange in the way as the one
who is modest and dignified looks strange among a collection of
people intoxicated with self indulgent shamelessness. Strange
in the way that honesty and integrity looks strange amidst
corruption and lies. But it was this very strangeness that
caused people to stop and look; to compare themselves to the
Strangers; to consider their own lives and the bankruptcy of
values, ethics and morals that they were immersed in and to
decide to change. Islam did not spread because the Sahaba
became like everyone else. Islam spread because the Sahaba
stood out. Islam spread because it was Strange. It spread
because of the Strangers.
There are four steps to becoming a Standard Bearer of Islam:
1. The Niyyah making the intention
2. Taalluq MaAllah connection with Allah
3. Tarbiyyat thoughtful upbringing
4. Ihsaan excellence in everything we do
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1. The Niyyah making the intention

On the authority of Ameer ul -Mumineen Umar ibn al-Khattab
(may Allah be pleased with him), who said: I heard the
Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)
say, Actions are but by intentions and every man shall have
only that which he intended. Thus he whose migration (Hijra
from Makkah to Madina) was for Allah and His Messenger, his
migration was for Allah and His Messenger, and he whose
migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some
woman in marriage, his migration was for that for which he
migrated. (Bukhari and Muslim)

Choosing to become a Standard Bearer of Islam starts in a
quiet, small, dark room with making a conscious intention
because it is a very serious business. It is a lifestyle choice that
depending on the kind of society we live in, can be difficult to
practice. Making a conscious intention to be a Standard Bearer
of Islam means transforming our life. It means deciding to
change our own way of thinking, seeing, living, speaking, acting
and being satisfied. It changes the way we look at life; what we
are happy about, what we aspire for, what we stay away from
and what we stand up for irrespective of how inconvenient or
painful this may prove to be.
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It means changing our standards, role models, icons; who we
like and who we dont and the reasons for both. Choosing to be
a Standard Bearer of Islam means not only changing behavior
but going deeper than that to the ethics, morals, values,
beliefs, attitudes and desires that the behavior emanates from.
Yet the person who is conscious of the value of being a
Standard Bearer of Islam chooses this path not despite its
difficulty but because of it. He does it for the same reason that
a person chooses to climb Mount Everest not because of the
ease or difficulty of the climb but for the satisfaction of reaching
the top a place where only the best can hope to reach. So we
begin with the intention and ask Allah for His help.
Allah does not accept anything that is impure, so the purity of
the intention must also be examined what is the intention for?
Is it to please Allah alone or is it for worldly gain, name, fame
or popularity? In the course of this reflection and consciously
making the niyyah we must not forget to examine our niyyah
for Ikhlaas sincerity and the desire to please Allah alone. If
this is missing then the whole exercise is futile. So one must
constantly monitor the niyyah. It is important to remember that
making the niyyah is not a one-time thing. The niyyah must be
made and constantly renewed, examined for sincerity and re-
examined again and again. It is like going into a crowded fair
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with a lot of money in our pocket. We are ever conscious of the
money and continuously check to keep it safe from pickpockets.
The biggest pickpocket of niyyah is Shaytaan and so one must
always be aware of this and guard against him and not allow
the slightest Riya (ostentation, showing off, seeking others
approval) from creeping into the niyyah.
2. Taalluq MaAllah connection with Allah
It is not within the scope of this paper to go into the details of
all that needs to be done to gain closeness to Allah . I will
suffice to say that in order of priority the steps are:
a. Tazkiyatun Nafs Purifying the Self
b. Glorifying and thanking Allah - Shukr
c. Kasratus Sujood wa Tilawatil Quran wa Dhikrullah

a. Tazkiyatun Nafs Purifying the Self
What do you do when you have the best seed in the world and
want to plant it? You first prepare the soil. Without preparing
the soil the best seed in the world will not germinate or grow
satisfactorily.
So also with becoming a Standard Bearer of Islam; we have to
prepare the soil the Self first. The Self must be prepared to
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receive the message of Islam. This preparation is the essence
of Tazkiyatun Nafs purification of the self.
Tazkiyya begins with Tawba repentance from all sin and
disobedience and returning to Allah from whom Shaytaan had
separated us. Of being genuinely contrite and repentant,
making amends where this may be required and hating the
actions of disobedience that we used to do such that we would
never consider repeating any of them at any cost.
Tazkiyya also consists of Tahara purifying ones body,
clothes, home, friends and ones life from all forms of impurity
and disobedience. We must make a detailed Muhasiba
accounting of our entire life to identify the impurities that it
contains. Some may be physical and others mental and
spiritual. Arrogance, race or caste pride, absence of humility,
argumentativeness, rebelliousness, rigidity on own opinion, self-
importance, self righteousness, seeking pleasure, avoiding the
pain of learning, unwillingness to accept own mistakes,
tendency to point out others mistakes, looking down on others,
high opinion about our own knowledge or ability and a lack of
respect for others are all illnesses of the self which must be
cured. Each must be addressed individually and worked on to
eliminate. Still others may be with respect to people
unsuitable friends whose ideas, beliefs and attitudes dont
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match with our intention to become Standard Bearers of Islam.
Such people are an impediment to our own growth and will
inhibit our connection with Allah . All impurities must be
cleansed and removed from our lives in order to prepare the
ground to connect with Allah . This cleansing must be done
with what we eat, earn, spend, wear, see, read, listen, speak
and live with. Everything must be examined to ensure that it is
pure. Allah is pure and likes only what is pure.
b. Glorifying and thanking Allah - Shukr
Then comes reaffirming the Tawheed of Allah
( ) that He is pure and free from all associates
and purifying our lives from all forms of Shirk. Along with this
we must be thankful to Him ( ) for all that He
has given us and praising His Majesty and Magnificence
( )
It is essential to develop the habit to constantly thank Allah
and glorify Him as it is His right. Allah promised to increase
His bounty if we thank Him for what He has given us and so
thanking Allah is a very important part of developing
closeness to Him. Learning to see the glory of Allah in His
creation increases our Imaan and Yaqeen and enables us to
love Allah . In todays world, given our scientific development
and tools it becomes ever easier to see the glory of Allah s
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creation and to praise His greatness provided of course that
we learn to recognize Allah . This love makes it easy to obey
Him because we want to please the One we love who is the
only one worth pleasing. We only have to look around us and
within ourselves and all that Allah has created and blessed us
with to simply spend the rest of our days in Sujood.
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` '
`

Ibrahim 14: 7. And (remember) when your Lord proclaimed:
"If you give thanks, I will give you more (of My Blessings), but
if you are thankless (disbelievers), verily! My Punishment is
indeed severe."
But unfortunately it seems to be human nature to be thankless
and this is something that we must guard against very
carefully.
` ` ` ` ` `
` `
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Al Aaraf 7: 10. And surely, We gave you authority on the
earth and appointed for you therein provisions (for your
life). Little thanks do you give.
` ` ` ` ` ` ` `

Al Muminoon 23:78. It is He, Who has created for you
(the sense of) hearing (ears), sight (eyes), and hearts
(understanding). Little thanks you give.

` ` ` ` ' ` ` `
` ` `
As Sajda 32: 9. Then He fashioned him in due proportion,
and breathed into him the soul (created by Allh for that
person), and He gave you hearing (ears), sight (eyes) and
hearts. Little is the thanks you give!

The problem is that we have become conditioned to taking His
blessings for granted and ignoring them until they are taken
away and only then we become aware of what we lost. How
many of us thank Allah for painless joints which enable us to
perform Salah in the right manner without pain? How many of
us thank Allah for good eyesight which enables us to read
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without glasses? I could go on endlessly but I believe the point
is made. We need to live thoughtfully and consciously and
count the blessings of Allah and thank Him for them and
glorify His Majesty and Magnificence.

c. Kasratus Sujood wa Tilawatil Quran wa Dhikrullah
(Increased worship of Allah , reading the Quran and
remembering Allah )

One of the students of Abdullah ibn Abbas (RA) asked his
servant about the private life of Abdullah ibn Abbas (RA); what
he did when he was at home. The servant said, He would
recite Quran and wait for the time of Salah. Constant
remembrance of Allah was the way of Rasoolullah and his
Sahaba.

Rasoolullah taught us to say Ghufraanak when we leave the
toilet because that is the only place which is not suitable for us
to remember Allah and so His Dhikr is interrupted.
Rasoolullah told us that the slave is closest to Allah in
sajda so increasing our prayers is essential. Tahajjud is the time
where Allah descends to the lowest heaven in a manner that
is in keeping with His Majesty and about which He knows best
and listens to our dua. We must make tahajjud fardh on
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ourselves. Imaam Sufyan Thawri (RA) said, I was prevented
from Tahajjud for 5 months because of a sin I committed.
Hasan Al Basri (RA) said, Obey Allah during the day and He
will make it easy for you to get up in the night. The Salaf
understood that good deeds are a result of the tawfeeq of
Allah and that one needs to ask Allah for them and work so
that Allah would make them possible and easy to do.
Rasoolullah said that if Allah accepts a deed He makes it
easy for one to do that deed again. So therefore the ability to
do good deeds is a sign of the pleasure of Allah and if a good
deed that one used to do, starts to be missed then it is a sign
that perhaps Allah is displeased. One must immediately take
heed and make Tawba and seek to re-establish his connection
with Allah .

There is a mistaken notion among the people that Nawaafil are
unimportant and may be neglected. This is one of the signs of
ignorance that happens when knowledge is learnt by those who
have had no tarbiyyat. They extract wrong meanings from
knowledge. The only difference between Faraaidh and Nawaafil
is that with respect to the latter there is no punishment
associated with leaving them. This is the grace and mercy of
Allah and not a reason to neglect them. We need to
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remember that it is with Nawaafil that a slave shows Allah
how much he loves Him and due to which Allah permits him
among His Awlia as we know from the Hadith Qudsi where
Rasoolullah informed us:
On the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA), who said that
Rasoolullah said: Allah said: Whosoever shows enmity to
my Awlia (someone devoted to Me), I shall be at war with him.
My slave draws not near to Me with anything more loved by Me
than the religious duties I have enjoined upon him, and My
servant continues to draw near to Me with supererogatory
works (Nawaafil) so that I shall love him. When I love him I am
his hearing with which he hears, his seeing with which he sees,
his hand with which he strikes and his foot with which he walks.
Were he to ask [something] of Me, I would surely give it to
him, and were he to ask Me for refuge, I would surely grant
him it. I do not hesitate about anything as much as I hesitate
about [seizing] the soul of My faithful slave: he hates death and
I hate hurting him." [Bukhari]
This extends to all acts of Nawaafil including fasting, charity,
service, keeping good relations with family and neighbors,
being hospitable to guests and so on and so one must seek to
increase all of these deeds. The Sahaba understood this best
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and their lives mirrored this understanding. They extended
themselves in doing all kinds of extra actions to please Allah .
Imagine a situation where Muslims today start to imitate the
Sahaba and do what they used to do. What do you think will
happen to the Muslim image if we imitated Abu Bakr Siddeeq
(RA) in the way we deal with others?

Every morning before Fajr Abu Bakr Siddeeq (RA) used to go to
the outskirts of Madina to a camp. He would enter the camp
and spend some time there and then would return. When Abu
Bakr Siddeeq (RA) passed away Sayyidina Omar (RA) decided
to find out who lived in this camp. He went there and found an
old woman who was almost blind with age. He asked her about
herself and she replied, I am an old woman who has nobody in
the world and I live alone here with my sheep. Every morning
there is a man from Madina who comes here, sweeps my tent,
cooks my food, milks my sheep and takes care of them and
leaves. Without him and his care I would have been unable to
survive. Omar asked, Do you know who that is? She said that
she had no idea who the man was. He had never mentioned
this to her. Omar (RA) told her, That was the Ameer ul
Mumineen Abu Bakr Siddeeq (RA).

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I will suffice with this example as it is not in the scope of this
paper to go into more detail. What is important to remember is
that Tazkiyya is like a special health checkup and regimen; it
needs to be done under the supervision of a Shaikh trained in
its science and knowledgeable in diagnosing the illness and
prescribing a cure. Like physical illnesses, spiritual illnesses also
have specific symptoms and cures which must be applied. While
we dont need a Shaikh to tell us to perform Tahajjud or make
Dhikr; to diagnose problems that may be hindering us in our
spiritual journey of getting close to Allah we need to consult
an expert. Considering ourselves self-sufficient with respect to a
teacher; that we dont need a teacher; is a sign of arrogance
and a major illness of the heart which will inhibit all learning
and closeness to Allah .

Meanwhile it is important to have taqwa and ask Allah s help
with understanding His knowledge.

` ` ` ` `
Al Baqarah 2:282 So have taqwa of Allah and Allah
teaches (will teach) you
In a Hadith Qudsi Rasoolullah informed us:
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On the authority of Abu Hurairah (RA), who said that
Rasoolullah said:
"Allah the Almighty said: 'I am as My slave thinks I am (1). I
am with him when he makes mention of Me. If he makes
mention of Me to himself, I make mention of him to Myself; and
if he makes mention of Me in an assembly, I make mention of
him in an assembly better than it. And if he draws near to Me
an arm's length, I draw near to him a fathom's length. And if he
comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed."
(1) Another possible rendering of the Arabic is: 'I am as My slave expects Me
to be.' The meaning is that forgiveness and acceptance of repentance by the
Almighty is subject to His slave truly believing that He is forgiving and
merciful. However, not to accompany such belief with right action would be
to mock the Almighty. [Bukhari, Muslim, Tirmidhi, Ibn-Majah]
3. Tarbiyyat Thoughtful upbringing
Islam is all about practice. Islamically there is no such thing as
a non-practicing Muslim. A Muslim by definition is one who
practices Islam, not someone who merely knows about Islam
but does not practice it. So if someone does not practice Islam
he cant be called a Muslim. That is the reason Tarbiyyat is so
critical in Islam. Rules of behavior, of dealing with people in all
aspects of life are essential to create morally upright citizens
29

who can influence society. Todays social problems, be those at
a micro or a global level can all be essentially traced to a lack of
Tarbiyyat. Quite illogically today we take our frenetic lifestyles
chasing after material wealth as the given and seek magic
foolproof automated methods to bring up our children which
dont include our own time and energy. We imagine that if we
throw enough money at it, this problem of badly brought up
children who will grow up into uncaring, selfish adults will
vanish on its own. This is a fallacy. Upbringing is not a factor of
money but of time and thoughtfulness. And there are no
shortcuts to it.

The areas of operation of Islamic influence are five:
1. Aqeeda (Belief & Creed),
2. Ibaadah (Worship),
3. Muamilaat (Dealings),
4. Muaashirat (Society),
5. Akhlaaq (Manners)

It is important to pay equal attention to all. That is the reason
why Rasoolullah said, I have been sent to teach Akhlaaq.
That does not mean that the Aqeeda is not important but that
Akhlaaq are as important as Aqeeda in the upbringing of
people. Today while some attention is paid to the first two of
30

these five aspects of the Islamic Way, the last three are either
totally neglected altogether or we adopt the ways of others
leaving our own ways, mostly because of ignorance.

The source material for Muamilaat, Muaashirat and Akhlaaq is
also to be found in the Quran and Sunnah and the Seerah of
Rasoolullah and the life history of his Sahaba. It is important
to study this in detail with a view to extracting relevant
information from it and then convert it into a teachable form
that can be imparted to children and adults alike and
implemented in society.

For example if we look at modern so-called democratic systems
of government and how they are manipulated by people in
leadership positions and ask, What is the Islamic Way; which is
not open to manipulation and which will ensure that we elect
good leaders with integrity?; the answer lies in looking at what
made Abu Bakr Siddique (RA) and Omar ibn Al Khattab (RA)
good leaders. What was the foundation, the basic strength
which ensured that they did the right thing? That was the
taqwa of Allah and the certainty that they would be held
accountable. That is what protected them from Shaytaan and
all his devices. It is not that they did not have desires or that
they did not know what they could get by manipulation.
31

It is their taqwa that prevented them from doing anything that
would anger Allah . That is the key and Tarbiyyat is the tool to
achieve this level of taqwa.

Any system has two aspects to it the structure and the person
in the structure. Like two sides of an equation both are equally
important if one is to get the result that their combination is
supposed to give. If we have the right people in the wrong
structure their energy will get dissipated in coping with the
stress of the structure. If we have the wrong kind of people in
the right structure the people will sabotage the structure and
manipulate it to suit their own selfish ends. That is why both
are important the right structure and the right people. One
cant substitute for the other.

Tarbiyyat must cover all aspects of Muamilaat, Muaashirat and
Akhlaaq. The right way to do anything must be reinforced
through demonstration by elders/teachers in daily life as well as
by simulations, questions, assignments and tasks that are
specially designed to extract the desired learning. Once again
this paper is not the place to go into the details of all these
things but I would like to emphasize the importance of ensuring
that Tarbiyyat is given the importance that it eminently
deserves. Lastly Tarbiyyat is not a onetime thing. It is ongoing
32

training by practical demonstration where standards are clearly
practiced by those who set them and then are insisted upon
without fear or favor from everyone who claims to be Muslim.

Punctuality is a good case in point. Muslims are today known
for their lack of punctuality. We hear a lot of jokes about
Muslim time or Arab time. This is shameful because making
an appointment or promising to deliver something at a
particular time and not adhering to it is to break trust which is
one of the signs of Nifaaq (hypocrisy). Time is a number. It is
not a concept open to interpretation. 8.00 am means precisely
8.00 am. Nothing more. Nothing less. When you are late for an
appointment it indicates a lack of respect for the other person,
a lack of seriousness about the matter, no value for others
time, a lack of reliability on your part with respect to all that is
to follow and a breach of trust which may happen again and
therefore which renders you untrustworthy. We need to
seriously ask if this is what we want people to believe about us;
that we are a people who cant be trusted and relied upon, who
dont respect others and who are not serious about any matter.
Sadly this is the general opinion about Muslims arising out of an
apparently small matter of failing to be punctual. Tarbiyyat is
about sensitizing people to the serious consequences of so-
called small matters which they tend to ignore.
33

4. Ihsaan excellence in everything we do

The fourth issue is of excellence Al Ihsaan. It is amazing how
many of these concepts have their origin in Islam yet we
Muslims seem to be innocent of them both in knowledge and
practice. It is high time that we changed our ways and went
back to the Sunnah of Rasoolullah and the teachings he
brought for us so that once again we are looked up to as role
models by the world.
In the famous hadith of Jibreel (AS) narrated by Omar Ibn Al
Khattab (RA), Rasoolullah answered the question of Jibreel
(AS) about Al Ihsaan as:
` ` ` . ` ` ` ` `
` ` ` `
He (the enquirer Jibreel -AS) said: Inform me about al-Ihsan
(excellence). He (Rasoolullah ) said: That you worship Allah
as if you are seeing Him, for though you don't see Him, He,
verily, sees you.
If we look at this hadith it gives us the best example possible to
define the Muslim attitude to everything in life to seek
excellence. As the hadith says, we are supposed to pray as if
34

we see Allah . And to be aware that He sees us even though
we cant see him. Ihsan or the Islamic concept of excellence is
to do everything knowing that Allah is seeing us and is aware
not only of what we are doing but of why we are doing it.
Allah not only sees everything but is also aware of what we
have in our hearts, our reasons for doing things and so knows
whether those reasons are honorable or not. This is important
because the reason determines the worth of the action as we
mentioned in the beginning of this article. So what we do and
why we do it are both important and Allah is aware of both.
A Muslim therefore does every action knowing that Allah is all
aware and all seeing and so he does only that which is pleasing
to Allah .

Another major reason for excellence is because the person
recognizes that he/she is defined and recognized by his output.
He does not work to show others; he works because his work is
his signature and differentiator in the market. I recall an
incident when I used to live in South India on the Kerala-
Karnataka border. I was having some wooden furniture made.
The carpenters were from Kerala and were famous for their
quality. As is the practice in these matters, the client is
supposed to provide material and pay for the labor. As we were
making a list of the material, the carpenter asked for 7 grades
35

of sandpaper. I was astonished and my immediate reaction was
irritation at what I saw as something that would only delay the
whole process.
Why do you need 7 grades? Why cant you do with less and
work faster? I demanded.
As I mentioned, the carpenter was from Kerala and not long on
patience. He simply told me, This is what I need. If you want
to bring it, I will take this job. Otherwise you can give it to
someone else. Then he softened a little and said to me, When
someone comes to visit you and sees this furniture, I want
them to ask, Who made this furniture? Not, Who on earth
made this furniture? Actually he said this in Malayalam and
used the exact same words but with a slight change in
intonation and a slight pause which completely changes the
meaning from praise to blame.

I got the message and brought him his sandpaper and he made
me wooden furniture which when finished was as smooth as
glass. Indeed when our friends visited they marveled at the
quality of the finish. The lesson for me was in the pride that a
master craftsman takes in his work because he knows it defines
him and his art. That is what I understand by Al Ihsaan. To do
something in the best way that I know how because that is who
I am, that is what gives me joy, that is my signature.
36

Finally another reason for Muslims to focus on excellence even
more today is because of the tendency of the world to define
everything a Muslim does as a factor of his Islam. Sometimes
we feel this is unjustified and complain that the actions of
Muslims should not be taken to be reflective of Islam but I
remind myself and you that is that this complaining is a modern
phenomenon. The Sahaba, when asked about Islam used to
say, Kunu mithlana. Be like us. For the Sahaba, Islam was
them and their life and they were Islam to all those who
wanted to know what Islam was. So why should we run away
from this definition today? Let the world see every action of
ours as a reflection of Islam and let us therefore ensure that
this reflection is always positive. Let us show the people of the
world that the people have changed but the religion is the same
and can still be the beacon of guidance today that it was 1400
years ago.

I believe passionately that this is possible with the right training
and education. What we need is to create a system where
children are given the knowledge and tarbiyyat that will make
them true representatives of Islam in terms of their beliefs,
values, ethics, morals attitudes, speech and action. If we can
achieve this, we would have succeeded in bringing alive the
memory of the generation of the Sahaba in all its goodness.
37

It is true that all of the above can be done individually but
global influence is also a numbers game. So if we want the
goodness of the Islamic Way to become visible and palpable
worldwide we believe that a systems approach is necessary.
With that in mind we have conceptualized a learning institution
that is designed to produce men and women with the values,
ethics and character of the blessed generation that I mentioned
above. We believe that in order to achieve greatness it is
necessary to first dream of great things and this we are not
afraid to do. We dream and we ask the One who sent the
dream for the strength and guidance to make it come true.

Others have understood the importance of institutionalizing
leadership development to get powerful results for a long time.
The British Empire established two schools; Eton (Estd. 1440 by
Royal Charter King Henry VI) and Harrow (Estd. 1572 by Royal
Charter, Queen Elizabeth I) who between them have produced 27
British Prime Ministers alone.
Global leadership is not an accident. It is the result of investing
thought, time and resources consistently in pursuit of a vision
that spans generations. People who are serious about ruling the
world have long understood this and have invested unstintingly
in something that they have always considered worthwhile.
38

As Muslims we are fond of talking about global leadership and
about how this is a sacred duty and a task that Allah sent us
to accomplish. The question is, Are we willing to put our money
where our mouth is? Or are we going to remain among those
who talk about global leadership but spend our money to build
palaces, malls, hotels and towers and to buy toys albeit
expensive ones? We need to remember that no matter what we
decide to do, Allah will hold us accountable for what He sent
us to accomplish. We can either be honored for a job well done
or be punished for neglecting our duty. And just to put this in
perspective; the cost of one A-380 standard jet without
customizing will build 42 academies like the one I am
describing below. The choice is ours to make.
We are currently a repository of knowledge. We are like those
who own a library of automobile engineering books but walk
home every day. We need to convert knowledge into practical
reality that makes winners in this world. Then not only we, but
the whole world will ride.
As we know from the history of Montessori education, the most
powerful way to convince the world to try a new method is to
show them a successful working model and that is why we
conceptualized the Standard Bearers Academy. To show the
Muslims what is possible to do. After that it is up to them.
39

The Standard Bearers Academy
Lighting up the world by igniting minds


A unique comprehensive integrated global initiative with:
1. International school to create Muslim Role Models
2. Research Center to give solutions to the world based on
the Islamic Way
3. Academy for Applied Islam: PG Course in Applied Islam
for youth to become Standard Bearers of Islam
4. Teachers Training College: Give teachers to the World:
Teaching an integrated curriculum of Islam & Science
40

To give Role Models to the world who will make Islam visible in
all its beauty in all aspects of life for the benefit of all mankind.
The Standard Bearers Academy (SBA) will be an international
center of learning and excellence comprised of four units:
1. SBA International School: Children who will get the best
education that is possible to get in terms of todays
technology in an institution built to global standards:
IGCSE & IBO syllabus
Tahfeezul Quran + Uloom ul Shari'ah
Arabic, English + 1 other language
Integrated teaching methodology
Leadership development, Islamic values, etiquette,
sports, international exposure, inter-religious contact
2. Research Center: Through in-depth research create
concept papers and working models for:
Sustainable economic development
Local government & international relations
Value based education for social justice
Solutions for emerging societal issues
3. Academy of Applied Islam: Young achievers from all
over the world (21+) educated in various disciplines:
One year PG Course in Applied Islam
Muslim Identity, Muslim Character, Leadership Skills
41

Will return to their countries & create Centers of
Excellence to demonstrate Islam in practice
4. Teachers Training College: Giving teachers to the world
Tarbiyyat: Mould the complete person
Integrated teaching
How to bring the Creator into the class
Teaching values by demonstration
Teaching love for service
Teaching communication, teamwork, conflict resolution,
decision making & leadership
The SBA International School
This will be a residential school built to global standards: World
Class Education in a World Class Center. We have created a
comprehensive integrated curriculum taught creatively giving
individual attention to each child in our patented way to give
the best of modern education along with Islamic education.
Our focus is on building global leaders. So this is not yet
another international school. The curriculum will include:
Personal attention to value based upbringing including
Quran, Tazkiyya, Sunnah, Seerah, social skills,
communication & presentation, public speaking, teamwork,
influencing, problem solving.
42

Special focus on Tarbiyyat because values cant be
legislated. They must be inculcated.
Social service and interaction to experientially understand
the problems of people and develop a desire to solve them.
Interreligious dialogue, international and cross cultural
exposure to build mutual understanding in a pluralistic
society.
Elocution, debates, creative writing, news reporting,
internet based communication, poetry, art, hobbies.
Leadership education including all its aspects
High quality sports and games

Facilities at the SBA Campus will include:
Masjid & Quranic School
Globally networked eco-friendly, world class facilities,
Retreat center open to scholars from around the world
Gym, Swimming Pool, Horse Riding, Games fields
Hospital, Conferencing, Library & multimedia center

On completion of schooling, students will go to international
universities to specialize in the subjects of their choice. Some
will become Islamic scholars. Others will become scientists,
doctors, engineers, administrators, diplomats, entrepreneurs.
43

All will be Standard Bearers of Islam in their chosen field of
endeavor.
Academy of Applied Islam
Handpicked young achievers who have completed their basic
education and are poised to enter working life will be invited to
join the Academy for a one-year Post Graduate Course in
Applied Islam. The curriculum will focus on three core areas:
1. Muslim Identity
a. Exploring own attitudes about the Muslim identity
b. Understanding the Muslim identity: Brand
c. What does the Muslim identity comprise of?
d. Tafseer of Quran & Tajweed & Recitation
e. Usool of Hadith and study of selected Ahadith
f. Usool of Fiqh of all four schools
g. Maqaasid us Shariah
h. Total Immersion Course in Arabic
2. Muslim Character
a. What differentiates me as a Muslim and how does it
make me a winner?
b. With reference to the Quran and Sunnah, what are
the essential elements of the Muslim character?
44

c. Personal Assessment with respect to the Muslim
Character: Where do I stand and what do I need to
do to meet the standard?
d. Tazkiyatun Nafs Baatini Islah (Purification of the
soul & Internal correction)
e. Seerah of Rasoolullah : Lessons to apply
f. History of Khulafa ar Raashida & Sahaba
g. Brief history of Islam: Lessons to be learnt today
h. History of Revivers of Islam: Lessons to apply
i. Critical study of various Islamic movements: Lessons
3. Leadership Skills
a. Public Speaking & Presentation
b. Negotiation & Arbitration Skills
c. Conflict Resolution
d. Leading Teams & Working on Teams
e. Disagreeing without being disagreeable
f. Problem Solving & Decision Making: Tools &
Techniques
g. Creative Writing, Investigative Journalism, News
Reporting, Film Making, Photography, Web Design,
Blogging, Internet Broadcasting, New technology
h. Daawa of Islam: Presenting Islam & Inviting
towards Allah
45

The emphasis will be to empower graduates to set up centers
of excellence on the SBA model in their countries where they
become sources of goodness for all in their society.
Research Center for Application Models
Research forms a very critical element of this entire vision and
SBAs research will be focused on creating initiatives to handle
the challenges of the current and future environment. Our
research scholars will focus on societal issues and create
working models to solve problems, using Islamic ideology.
Working models and research papers will be published
internationally. Our purpose is to show the world a better way
that will benefit all people irrespective of their religion, race,
nationality or culture.
I coined the term Applied Islam in order to focus on
specifically taking the teachings of Islam the final leg, to
demonstrate their beauty through practice. This is an area that
the Muslim Ummah worldwide has been very lacking in. There
has and continues to be a great deal of focus on preserving and
learning the theoretical teachings of Islam but almost nothing
on actually converting them into practical working models in
todays world that can be easily taught and practiced.
46

It is our intention to bridge this gap in the SBA so that people
can actually see Islam in practice.
Teachers will be research scholars and professors who may be
engaged on a remote, visiting or full time basis. There will be a
vibrant exchange program with major international universities
where faculty from the Academy will spend time in learning,
teaching and influencing. Faculty and research scholars of the
Academy will be on an intensive scholastic-academic
assessment program which will enable them to benchmark
themselves against the Best-in-the-World and become role
models. Major importance will be given to publishing, consulting
with international bodies and a 360 degree Appraisal system
will be implemented for faculty to help them assess their own
teaching effectiveness.
Research may also be done remotely through affiliation with
international universities where doctoral thesis and post-
doctoral projects on specific areas of interest may be funded by
the Academy. This will help us to leverage resources globally.
State of the art communication, networking and data
processing facilities will be available for the research scholars to
work in a highly conducive and intellectually stimulating and
challenging environment.
47

We recognize that learning does not come from books alone
but from the company of the learned. It was the company of
Rasoolullah that made the Sahaba the special generation
that they were. Consequently eminent scholars will be invited to
spend sabbaticals in the Academy and use our facilities and
mentor and guide our students in Tazkiyya and Tarbiyyat. Their
company will give the young minds benchmarks to measure
themselves against and standards to aspire to reach. Facilities
for research with a state-of-the-art library and all relevant
material will be available to those scholars who wish to conduct
research. The Academy will offer to publish such research at
their expense and to conduct international seminars at which
these scholars will have the opportunity to present their ideas
to an audience of peers and students to enhance learning.
Teachers Training College
We recognize that it is likely to be difficult to get teachers of
the kind we want i.e. with dedication, a sense of mission and
commitment to the long term goal and with the ability to teach
Islam and modern knowledge subjects in a seamless integrated
manner. Therefore we will train our own teachers; but with an
additional advantage. It is the fact that if we do it through a
training college and award a degree in education, then not only
can we skim the cream from the top for ourselves but we will in
48

effect be seeding the global teaching landscape with teachers,
committed to being Standard Bearers of Islam themselves and
supportive of setting up institutions like the SBA all over the
world.
The effect of this hardly needs to be explained. Furthermore
teaching is a field that faces a shortage of committed and
competent people. High quality teachers are in demand all over
the world and are able to command their own salaries. Our
college will therefore also perform the service of creating
employable people and starting them off on a highly
remunerative and rewarding career.
The final Result InshaAllah
The Mufassir who is a cardiac surgeon
The Muhaddith who is an industry head
The Mufti who is an administrator
The Haafidh who is a scientist
Our dream is that one day; a graduate of this Academy will
become a cardiac surgeon. And that when he is about to do the
operation, he will ask Allah for His help as he knows that the
cure is from Allah alone. That when he holds the scalpel to
start the operation, his hand will be the hand about which
Allah said in the Hadith Qudsi, My slave comes so close to
49

me with his obedience and nawaafil that I become the hand by
which he holds. And it is our dream that it is a Friday and
when the operation is over, this cardiac surgeon will go to the
masjid, ascend the Minbar and deliver the Khutba. I ask Allah
to give us the dedication, resources and energy to make this
dream come true.
Conclusion
While writing this I am acutely aware of our insignificance and
weakness and inability to make any of this happen on our own.
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
` ` ` `

Sura At-Talaaq: 2-3: And whosoever has taqwa and fears
Allah, Allah will make a way out (of every difficulty) for him.
And He will provide him from (sources/means) he could never
imagine. And whosoever puts his trust in Allah, He will be
sufficient for him.
For the one who has His help, nobody can overcome. I ask
Allah to guide us to do what is pleasing to Him. In the end
that is all that matters.
yawarbaig@gmail.com mohammed1312@gmail.com