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By Ustaz Muhammad Haniff Hassan
(This article was originally written in Malay based on the book Afat `Ala Al-Tariq by Dr Sayyid Muhammad Nuh. I would like to thank bro. Mohammad Hafiz bin Kusairi for helping the translation of this article to English. May Allah reward him with the best rewards.)
The meaning of futur
Futur is derived from the Arabic language and it refers to the condition of being lethargic, static, lazy or slow in contrast to a prior state of consistency and diligence. In the context of da`wah (calling to the way of Allah), it is a disease which has befallen asatizah and the activists of da`wah; manifesting itself in the form of laziness, procrastination, slowness and worst off all, the halting of one’s very activism in da`wah when previously he or she is one who is active and highly-driven.
This phenomenon is common and is faced by many who are tasked with the responsibility of moulding dakwah activists like asatizah. This is due to the fact that futur itself is natural trait of Man. The Prophet (pbuh) mentioned in a hadis which means:
“Indeed, there are times of dedication for every deed and for every time of dedication, there is futur. However, whosoever’s futur is leaning towards my sunnah (way), he has indeed received guidance. Whosoever’s futur is leaning towards other than my sunnah, he has indeed deviated.” (Narrated by Al-Bazzar)
The dangers of futur
Even though futur is a norm which occurs within Man, it must be managed by directing it towards an act which is consistent with the sunnah of our Prophet, as mentioned in the above hadis. The failure to do so will have detrimental outcomes. Some of these detrimental outcomes are as follows:
- Neglecting the da`wah itself
Futur causes a da`wah activist to be lackadaisical in performing his task. This will eventually consequent in the delay in the completion of the said task or even the failure to complete it. As a result of one’s inability to meet the deadline of the said task, the implementation of a project which hinges on it will also be affected. Any form of neglect towards a responsibility is an infringement of trust which will be held accountable by Allah ta’ala.
- Falling out of the path of dakwah
If futur is left unattended, it will become a habit which will subsequently result in the activist being more distant from da`wah work. He or she will eventually cease to be involved in da`wah. Once someone falls out of the path of da`wah, he or she has lost the opportunity to derive numerous goodness which are available through the act of da`wah itself. Worse still, he or she has neglected dakwah which God has made it obligatory upon all Muslims.
- Ending one’s life in a state of futur.
If one prolongs his or her condition in a state of futur to the point that it becomes a norm, he or she faces the risk of dying in that very state (of futur). This is dangerous because Man’s fate in the Afterlife before Allah is determined by his or her condition in the last stage of his or her life. In a hadis, the Prophet (pbuh) said:
“Verily there are servants (of Allah) who perform the deeds of the dwellers of hell when he is in fact, an inhabitant of paradise and there are also those perform the deeds of the inhabitants of paradise when he is in fact, a dweller of hell. Verily a deed is dependent on its end.” (Narretd by Al-Bukhari)
That is why, the Prophet (pbuh) taught his ummah to always supplicate with the following supplication:
“O Allah, verily I seek Your protection from difficulties and sadness and I seek Your protection from the disease of weakness and laziness…” (Narrated Abu Daud)
Why does futur happen?
One of the ways to handle futur is to undertstand its causes in the first place. Through this understanding, we can then make the conscious effort to prevent, anticipate or diagnose it and subsequently treating it with the right remedy. Futur occurs because of the following factors:
- Excessiveness or over-exertions when performing religious practices.
Many da`wah activists started off in da`wah with so much enthusiasm. They seek to perform numerous tasks and fulfil multiple targets to the point which they overlooked factors such as the global realities, the dynamics of life and one’s own capability. As such when futur manifests itself, the activist becomes weakened, disillusioned and bored as mentioned in the above hadis.
This explains the following hadis of the Prophet (pbuh):
“Do not over-burden yourself. For it (this act of burdening one’s self) will be burdened upon you.” (Narrated by Abu Daud)
“One who burdens himself in practising religion will be defeated by it (the act of burdening one’s self). (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)
As such, those entasked with the moulding of da`wah activists must ensure that the latter examplify the prophetic injunction mentioned in the following hadis:
“Perform a deed which is consistent with your ability for Allah will not be bored unless you yourself are bored. Verily the deeds most beloved by Allah are those which are performed consistently even though a little.”(Narrated by Al-Bukhari & Muslim)
- Over indulgence in matters which are mubah (neither commanded nor prohibited by religion).
One example will be eating excessively. Even though eating is a necessity, it will have an impact on one’s physical and spiritual state should he or she becomes excessive in it. He or she will turn obese and will find it difficult to be active and consequently this condition will lead to laziness.
Another example is the habit of surfing the internet or chatting. When one is over-indulgent in the Internet, he or she will feel an addiction which will consequent in prolonged periods of time spent surfing or chatting. As a result, the time to perform da`wah will be significantly lessened and one will always face a conflict of interest between dedicating time towards da`wah and the time to surf the internet and to chat.
It is for this reason, da`wah activists must be nurtured, trained and educated to be moderate in matters which are mubah.
- Preference to be alone and away from other da`wah activists.
When an activist prefers to be alone, he has lost an important pillar of defence from the devil (Shaytan) as the Prophet (pbuh) mentioned that the devil is closer to one who is alone as compared to those who are in twos and closer to those in threes as compared to those who are in twos. The devil is likened to the wolf which is always seeking to pounce on the sheep which is isolated from its flock. Surely and gradually, the devil will whisper into the activist’s mind to leave da`wah altogether.
As such, da`wah activists must be encouraged to maintain contact and relationship with fellow activists as a preventive measure to avoid futur. Mentors to these activists must spare no effort to strengthen the bonds between the activists and his or her organisation as well as to ensure that there is a continuous rapport amongst the activists themselves.
- Lack of remembrance of death and the Afterlife.
One of the main motivations of da`wah is the desire to reap rewards, the yearning for paradise, the fear of committing sins and the punishments in hell. All these are strongly related to the remembrance of the Afterlife. As such, when the remembrance of the Afterlife lessens, it will be replaced by the remembrance of other less worthy things. As a consequence, the motivation to do da`wah will be weakened and futur will overwhelm the activist.
Thus, it is important for da`wah activists to have a routine `ibadah, in addition to the obligatory ones, which will provide them with continuous reminder of the Afterlife, instead of merely focusing on the technical aspects of da`wah only.
- Entertaining wrongful desires and acts of sin.
Man will surely err and sin but one must not be tolerant towards sin or the performance of it because sins will form black spots within one’s heart (metaphoric reference to the corrosion of one’s spiritual purity) which will weaken the spirit and consequent in future, when allowed to multiply.
- Limiting one’s activity to a particular scope only.
One of the reasons for weariness in the performance of da`wah is due to the lack of variety in one’s routine. As such, the activists must be trained to vary all their duties and tasks so that if weariness starts to overcome them in the performance of a particular form of da`wah, they can shift to other forms. This will minimise the risk of futur.
- Overlooking realities.
Futur occurs when one overlooks his or her realities when performing da`wah such as the desire to attain immediate change and having unrealistic hopes until he or she reaches a point in which frequent setbacks will discourage and break the activist’s resolve.
Inclusive of one’s appreciation of his or her natural realities will be the upholding of the rights entitled to one’s self, family and also other rights. The Prophet (pbuh) mentioned:
“Verily your God has rights over you, your self have rights over you, your family has rights over you. Therefore, provide for those who have rights with their rights.” (Narrated by Al-Bukhari)
Apart from ensuring that activists adhere to the rights entitled to their respective selves, educators and guides to these activists must also ensure that in assigning tasks to the latter that the tasks are not excessive to the point whereby the activists overlook the need to fulfil other rights.
- Lack of preparation to face the challenges in the path of da`wah.
The path of da`wah will always be filled with challenges. One who is not prepared will always be overwhelmed by these challenges. As such, it is important for the da`wah activists to undergo a systematic tarbiyah (education and training) program as one of the means of preparation prior to walking the path of da`wah.
- Incompatible social circle.
The Prophet (pbuh) said, “One follows the religion of his friend so therefore be mindful of who you befriend.” (Nattarated by Abu Daud)
As such, it is important for educators and guides to activists to ensure strong friendship bonds between activists so that this bond will ensure the care and compassion for one another which will make one activist the best companion to another. This will lessen the tendency for them to involve in social circles that would distract them from their da`wah works. This is a more preferred method as compared to denying activists the right their own choice of friends.
- Lack of proper planning, system and organisation.
A task which is performed without adhering to a proper system and planning will end up being a tiresome one and the final quality of the product will be compromised. This will then surely affect the activist’s spirit and subsequent commitment towards da`wah.
It is the responsibility of educators and guides to ensure that there is a comprehensive programme to nurture and produce da`wah activists in order to avoid the above mentioned factor. In addition, educators and guides must set a good example to budding activists.
Having understood the causes of futur, its treatment can then be performed through the following suggestions:
- Avoid committing minor sins, what more enormities.
- Have a routine for `ibadah in the day and night.
- Avoid excessiveness, be it in the indulgence of things which are mubah or in `ibadah itself.
- Ensure strong bonding between activist and da`wah organisation and between fellow activists.
- Educate activists on the importance of understanding realities in da`wah works.
- Cultivate a culture of good planning and organisation. .
- Grant a break for activists before weakness manifests itself.
- Allow the activists some time to indulge in mubah activities such as holiday and recreational activities.
- Share stories of the Prophet’s beloved companions and the righteous people as positive reinforcements and for spiritual reinvigoration.
- Give constant reminders which arouse the remembrance of death and the Afterlife.
- Encourage activists to frequent gatherings of knowledge beyond those conducted by their educators and guides because this will contribute to the right understanding of religious matters.