According to a hadis reported by Imam Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet once said to Aishah, “If not because of your people who just left the era of ignorance, I would change the Kabaah so that its door is lower to the ground and i would make two doors for it, one for entrance and another one for exit.”

This hadis shows that, before executing a task, every facet needs to be considered and the priorities must be right. Islam emphasizes on priority-based planning to ensure success. It was reported by Imam Ahmad (with an authentic sanad ) that a man came to meet the Prophet’s companion Abdullah bin Umar, to ask about the ruling concerning the blood of mosquitoes. When Abdullah Bin Umar found out that the man came from Iraq, he immediately said, “Just look at this man, asking about the blood of mosquitoes, while in his place, the blood of Prophet’s grandson (Hussain) flows.” Abdullah bin Umar chastised the man for focusing on minor issues while forgetting the major issues that happen in the society.

Muslims of today need to be conversant in the ‘Concept of Priority in Islam’ or Fiqhul Awlawiyyat. In his book Fiqhul Awlawiyyat, Professor Dr. Yusuf Qardawi stated, “(This knowledge) can help those who are actively involved in dakwah. With it, they can prioritise and distinguish between important and unimportant issues; between serious issues and minor ones and between issues that warrant flexibilities and those that need to be reinforced. With this knowledge, we will not over react or under react when confronting issues.”

When priorities are neglected in life, our focus will go astray. In the context of religion, it may create a sect that neglects the obligatory prayers while going out of their way to perform the recommended (optional) prayers. Some may emphasize more on memorization rather than understanding of the Quran. Others may emphasize more on the physical rather than spiritual aspects of religion. In the material context, it gives rise to people who spend lavishly on golf, but are so stingy when it comes to assisting religious schools. Others are willing to put career above family. In the context of time management, many are unwilling to spend time to acquire religious knowledge, but can spend hours and hours watching Bollywood movies.

Let us contemplate a reminder made by Caliph Abu Bakar. Before he died, he reminder Umar al-Khattab, ” (O Umar), remember that God does not accept the sunat (optional) before the performance of obligatory. Remember, (during the Day of Reckoning), one’s balance will become heavier if we implement the truth and become lighter if we defend wrong doings.”

Based on the Quran and Sunnah, Muslims are taught to prioritise. For example, praying in a congregation is better than praying alone because according to Imam Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet said, “The reward of the congregational prayer is twenty seven times greater (than that of the prayer offered by person alone).”

Strong believers are better than weaker ones because Imam Muslim recorded a Hadis that means, “A strong believer is preferred and more loved by God than a weak believer.”

Purity of the heart is more important than external beauty, based on a Hadis transmitted by Imam Muslim which means, “Allah does not look at your appearance and your body, but He looks at your heart.”

This priority concept was applied when the Muslims were in Mecca. Then, when Islam was as its infancy, the Muslims were tortured and their Movements became restricted. The Prophet took this as a challenge and focused on educational projects. From time to time, the Companions were required to attend Islamic classes based on the Quran at Arqam bin Abi Arqam’s house. This proper prioritisation prevented their faith from fading, despite having to suffer for about thirteen years.

The Prophet’s emigration to Medina was an important episode in Islamic history. Upon arriving in Medina he did not rest. Nor did he take his family for tour around Medina or focus on building a grand palace for himself. Instead, he focused on three vital projects, namely, building a mosque, creating a brotherhood bond between the Mujahirin and Ansar, and enacting the Medina Charter. Building a mosque was important because it was the headquarters where the Muslims could conduct acts of worship, discussions and strategic planning. Creating a brotherhood bond between the Mujahirin and Ansar was also important because they were the movers of Islam and their unity was a blessing for Islam. Finally, the enactment of the Medina Charter, with the Prophet as the head of state, positioned Medina as a sovereign Islamic state. With that, the propagation of Islam could be done in a more structured and orderly manner.

By prioritising on these three projects, the Prophet portrayed the importance of sovereignty, spiritual development in the Ummah, Islamic brotherhood and social harmony in the community. With the implementation of these projects, Medina became an exemplary nation, and it became the foundation for the establishment of the Islamic Empire.

Helen Gurley Brown, the editor of Cosmopolitan was correct when she said, “You can work hard and be proud of your persistence, but if you work without determining the priorities, you will certainly be derailed from your goals and ambitions.”

– Extracted from 7 Formulas of Excellent Individual by Dr. Danial Zainal Abidin

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