The Kingdom of God

Dar al-Islam mosque in Mexico

The strength of Christianity lies in its conception of the “Kingdom of God.” The Kingdom is seen as made up of all believers, headed by Jesus Christ. Although many Christians claim that their nations are Christian nations, they don’t believe that it’s necessary to live under a Christian-based political system to be in God’s Kingdom.

In contrast, Muslims have the concepts of Dar al-Islam and Dar al-Harb. Dar al-Islam, which literally means “Abode of Islam,” refers to any lands ruled by Muslims and governed by Islamic laws. Everything else is known as Dar al-Harb, or “Abode of War.”

The problem is that Muslim extremists take these concepts literally and believe it is a Muslim’s duty to fight until any geographic area or political entity that is Dar al-Harb is transformed into Dar al-Islam. This is the main reason that non-Muslims have trouble seeing Islam as a religion of peace.

This isn’t to say that Christians have not also fought to extend Christianity into non-Christian lands. They have. But the difference is, Christians are encouraged to live as if they are living in a kingdom that is under God’s control, no matter where they may be. Muslims tend to think that true justice and peace is only possible under Muslim rule.

We Muslims need to make a distinction between the political, physical world and the spiritual world. It’s self-defeating for us to think that God only has power to change people’s lives if they live in Muslim lands. That contradicts what the Qur’an says. God is All-Powerful and He is not limited by time or space—or politics.

I would like to propose that we (Muslims) concentrate more on the inner jihad (“holy war”) and on making ourselves “abodes of Islam.” I realize that this isn’t the traditional (or extremist) view of Dar al-Islam, but I think it is absolutely necessary for us to see ourselves as agents of change in the world around us.

I don’t believe that Muslims have to live under Muslim rule to have a positive impact. We have the potential within ourselves to transform society by allowing ourselves to be spiritually transformed by God. However, unlike Christians, who believe that spiritual transformation comes about as the result of faith in the divinity and lordship of Jesus Christ, Muslims achieve spiritual transformation by the continual process of inner jihad: submission, effort, repentance, forgiveness, renewal.

It’s a cop-out to say that “if only we lived under Islamic law, the world would become a better place.” It’s not the law that makes mankind kinder or more just; the law only has the power to force outward conformity. The world will become a better place when individuals become better, and that can only happen when we achieve Islam in our hearts.

Published by

Ellen

Editor and chief writer at I, Muslimah and Femagination. Ellen also contributes regularly to Elevate Difference. She is a freelance writer, essayist and copy editor, living with two cats and a husband in Columbus, OH.

6 thoughts on “The Kingdom of God”

  1. The proof of what you say is seeing how things can so go wrong in countries under Islamic Law (just look at Saudi Arabia or Iran). Unless we have someone like Muhammad (s) to be our leader, we will continue making mistakes under the flag of Islam in these countries.

    And there must be a reason why the inner jihad is termed “Jihad al Akbar” (The Greater Jihad).

    1. I agree. But we don’t have a contemporary in-the-flesh leader like Muhammad and maybe we don’t need one. Maybe the point is that Muhammad came along already and gave us everything we need to make the world a better place and ourselves better persons.

      Of course the problem comes when you have disagreements among Muslims about how closely we have to emulate Muhammad. But those disagreements could be smoothed over if we would just accept others as they are and realize that we each have our own journey.

  2. I’ve lived in an Islamic country for more than 26 years and heard many scholars, read many books, but I never heard of these terms ((Dar al-Harb. Dar al-Islam)) before !!!! And I don’t recall even reading such terms neither in the Quran nor from the (Sunna)..!!!
    However , what I always hear is the term (Khilafa) with is the typical or ideal Islamic system that unites all Islamic countries under the leadership of one (Khalifa) who is to be elected by the elite of the Islamic nation to role with the Islamic law.
    Unfortunately, this system collapsed in the last century when the “Ottomans” collapsed. However, the prophet “Muhammad” PBBUH has predicted that such a thing will happen and he also predicted that it’ll coma back again.

    1. You’re right that these terms are not in the Qur’an but I have read about them in several books about Islam. Maybe they are referred to in other terms in Arabic and I just don’t know the correct terms. But are the concepts Islamic? That is, do Muslims see the world this way?

      Thanks for your information about the Khilafa/Khalifa. I have so much to learn that I appreciate any information that you and others can give me.

  3. @Mohamed,

    The system of “Khilafa” is not Islamic. An true Islamic leader who all owe obedience to is one who God has chosen. Someone who God trusts does not make serious errors. Who guarantees that the “elite” will elect the right person, and who are the “elite” anyway? History has shown us that this is a corrupt system, where a few people conspire amongst them to choose an inadequate ruler, simply for political authority. This is nowhere near to what Islam teaches. It is the reason the grandson of the Prophet (s)- Imam Hussain, rebelled and was killed brutally along with his friends and family. The outcome when this system prevails is that the Khalifa will always be facing conflicts between choosing the islamically-fair thing to do and that which will give them a political advantage. And often the right choices aren’t made. The Ummayyad and Abbasid Caliphs tried to introduce much innovation and committed many injustices against the Ummah. It was a difficult time for the Muslims because they were torn between speaking out against what was imposed on them, and between believing the made-up hadiths thrown at them that “leaders must be obeyed no matter what”. One such hadith is the one in Sahih Muslim (v.3 pg 1476 tradition 54, 1980 ed.) which goes roughly translated “Narrated Hudayfh Ibn al-Yaman:

    The Prophet said: “There will come rulers after me who do not guide to
    my guidance and do not practice my Sunnah, and the hearts of some
    them are the hearts of Satans but they are in the body of human.”
    I said: “What should we do at that time?” Prophet (PBUH) said:
    “You should just listen to them and obey those rulers. No matter if
    the hurt you and take your wealth, you should follow them and obey
    them.”

    These are the kinds of false sayings attributed to the Prophet (s) in order for the “Islamic” rulers to do what they do without being questioned! It goes directly against the Qur’an which says “4:59 O ye who believe! Obey Allah, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. But when ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if ye do believe in Allah and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination.”
    How can we obey rulers that have the hearts of Satan?

  4. “Dar al-Harb” is a medieval term, and at the time it made sense, because most lands outside the Islamic empire (especially Christian lands) forbade the practice of Islam. The term is no longer applicable today, however much extremist Islamists may disagree, because no major country bans Islam today.

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