Azizi Khalid

February 16, 2022

Islam and Pragmatism


Allah sent Prophets with miracles that suited the people they were sent to. Prophet Musa was sent to a group of people that were known to practice magic and sorcery. He came with miracles that looked magical such as changing his staff into a serpent and parting the sea. Prophet Isa was sent to a group of people that valued healing knowledge. His miracles were to cure diseases that were incurable at that time. The pinnacle of his miracles was even to cure death - he could bring back the dead to life with the permission of God.

Prophet Muhammad was sent to a group of people who valued language's eloquence. His greatest miracle is the Quran — the most eloquent book ever that astounds the experts of the Arabic language until today.

The Prophets of Allah brought the same message from God, but their technique to deliver the message differs based on the audience. If we were to read the seerah of Prophet Muhammad, we would see that he would tailor his da'wah methods to the audience. When speaking to Banu Kinanah, a tribe known for its generosity in sacrificing animals to feed the poor, he highlighted generosity in Islam. He would even adopt the practice of other cultures as long as it doesn't go against the Shariah. This is evident when he sent letters to the emperors around Arabia — he has informed that the leaders would not accept letters unless they were sealed. He ordered a seal be fashioned for him, and he sealed those letters.

People who call to the path of Allah are continuing the works of Prophets. We need to understand our audience and speak their language. Tailor the delivery method to suit the people as long as it is within the ambit of the Shariah.

The early Muslims clearly understood the need to adopt the latest technology to benefit the ummah. When the Umayyads encountered the Chinese who had the technology to make paper, they quickly learned and adopted it to spread the knowledge of Islam. The mountains of books in Islamic scholarship that we have in our libraries today are due to the pragmatic approach of the early Muslims.

The message remains the same. But we should be pragmatic with the delivery method.

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Azizi Khalid
Making Islamic education fun at Qaswa House
Towards the Middle Path