The Neglect of the Fiqh of Priorities Among many Muslims
Dr. Yusuf al-Qaradawi

The problem with many groups of the Islamic Awakening advocates is that the fiqh of priorities is nonexistent to them, as they often seek the secondary before paying attention to the principal, try to examine the particulars before grasping the generalities, and hold to the controversial before familiarizing themselves with the established. It is a pity that we ask for instance about the blood of a gnat, and do not care about the shedding of Al-Hussein's blood, or fight for nafila, while the people have wasted the faridas, or quarrel over a form, regardless of the content.

This is the situation today for Muslims in general. I see millions making the umra [minor pilgrimage] every year in Ramadan and other months and others making hajj for the tenth or even the twentieth time: if they saved the money they spent on these nafilas, they would accumulate thousands of millions of dollars. We have been running around for years trying to collect one thousand million dollars for the Islamic Philanhropic Institution, but have not collected a tenth, or even one-twentieth or one-thirtieth, of that amount. If you ask those performers of supererogatory umra and hajj to give you what they would spend on their voluntary journeys so that you may direct it to resisting Christianization or communism in Asia and Africa, or to combating famine here or there, they will not give you anything. This is a long-time ailment that no heart doctor has ever been able to cure.

The fiqh of priorities requires that we know which issue is more worthy of attention, so that we may give it more effort and time than we give others. The fiqh of priorities also requires us to know which enemy is more deserving of directing our forces and concentrating our attack against him, and which battle is more worthy of waging, for people are divided into several kinds in Islam's eye, as follows:

There are the Muslims, the unbelievers and the hypocrites. Unbelievers have in their ranks the pacifists and the militant. They also include those who only did not believe, and those who did not believe and also blocked the path to Allah [before those who believed]. Hypocrites include those of the lesser hypocrisy and those of the greater hypocrisy. With whom do we start, then? Which area is more worthy of work? Which issue is more deserving of attention? The fiqh of priorities requires that we know the time-limited duty so that we may treat it properly and not delay it and thus waste a chance that may not present itself again until after a long time, if it ever does. A poet admonishes us about the value of time by saying: "Avail the chance, for a chance, If unavailed, becomes a grief. Our Arabic adage also says: "Do not put off today's work till tomorrow".

When Omar Ibn Abdel-Aziz was once advised to postpone some chore to the next day, he replied, "I am already tasked by a day's work, how will I feel if I have two days work to do tomorrow? " A wise saying by Ibn-Ata is "There are certain duties with plenty of time given for their fulfilment, so they could be cauwithin the time-limit, but there are, besides, time-limited duties that, if out of time, are irredeemable, for with every new time there is a new duty and a new task demanded by Allah"!

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