The ‘Amal of Madina – Used in Fiqh

Aisha Bewley

You probably have heard the term, “the ‘amal of the people of Madina” and wondered what it means and what all the fuss is about. What is ‘amal or action? What does it mean and where does it come from? What does it have to do with us? This topic is one which is fraught with misunderstanding because most people have no idea what it means, and this difficulty in grasping the concept of ‘amal is a result from what has happened to the Muslims, because of the development and imposition of a statist methodology and mentality onto Muslim learning – a process which really began to solidify from the time of the Abbasid khalifate in Baghdad, about 250 hijra, a process which has been largely covered up or ignored, a process which has left the Muslims paralysed and unable to deal realistically or authentically with the situation in which they find themselves today.

To understand why the concept of the ‘amal of Madina has been swept to one side is to understand why the Muslims are now powerless, and to understand exactly what the ‘amal of Madina really is, is to understand the direction that the Muslims must take in order to re-activate Islam as a political force. This, I hope, will become clear in the course of this talk.

We have to ask ourselves: what is the basis of a Muslim’s behaviour? What sources must we turn to in order to know how to conduct our lives? What is the guideline for our behaviour? The answer is simple: the Qur’an and Sunna. We have little trouble with Qur’an.. But then we come to the real crux of the problem I have mentioned: if we are to follow the Sunna, just what is the Sunna and how do we find it? This is the core question which must be answered because, in fact, what the Sunna does is to explain the Qur’an in terms of behaviour. It is the way in which the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, behaved, and it shows us how the guidance of the Qur’an is transformed into actual behaviour to which we can aspire.

To unravel the answer to what the Sunna is, we need to understand two additional terms: hadith and ‘amal. Continue reading