, by DR. S. AUSAF SAIED VASFI
In this Section
Right from the First Prophet, Adam (blessings of Allah be with him) down to the Last Prophet, Muhammad (blessings and peace of Allah be with him), the strategy of Islam has been one and the same – inculcation of three basic tenets into human mind: faith in the Unity of God, faith in the institution of Prophethood and faith in the hereafter.
The various Divine Prophets, who had brought Divine Books, revealed on them by God Almighty, were living examples of faith in the said tenets. Through precept and practice, these Messengers of Allah endeavoured hard to prove how peace could be maintained, both in individual and collective life, through the Divine Plan. The Last Prophet (peace be to him) proved the point to the hilt.
The philosophy behind the three tenets transforms an individual into a God-fearing, responsible citizen who believes he is accountable for his actions on the Day of Judgement. The cumulative effect of belief in the said tenets turns the direction of human life towards piety.
In addition to belief in the said fundamental tenets, Islam provides additional injunctions on how to ensure equilibrium in society. For the purpose, it outlaws extramarital and un-natural sex, gambling, games of chance, usury, consumption of alcohol, drugs, aggression without moral or legal justification. Islam, although permits legitimate retaliation, encourages forgiveness.
Islam advises man to keep his gaze lower. Woman is exhorted to wear modest dress and hide her beauty and developments. Islam enjoins upon mankind to show proper respect to the parents and look after the orphans carefully. It encourages fulfilling the needs of the poor, beginning preferably from blood-relations. It encourages philanthropy, alms-giving and stipulates a certain amount, which the haves have to part with annually for the have-nots.
In Islam, sovereignty belongs to Allah and man is His vicegerent upon earth. This belief puts man on the highest possible pedestal. But look what sort of modesty this highest possible pedestal creates in man.
Abū Bakr had taken his oath of office in the following words: “O Men! Here I have been assigned the job of being a ruler over you while I am not the best among you. If I do well in my job, help me. If I do wrong, redress me. Truthfulness is fidelity and lying is treason. The weak shall be strong in my eyes until I restore to them their lost rights, and the strong shall be weak in my eyes until I have restored the rights of the weak from them. No people give up fighting for the cause of God but God inflicts upon them abject subjection; and no people give themselves to lewdness but God envelops them with misery. Obey me as long as I obey God and His Prophet. But if I disobey God’s command or His Prophet’s, then no obedience is incumbent upon you.”
Can the world history cite a single example of another Abū Bakr, or for that matter another Omar, another Othman and another Ali?
What makes or moulds characters like the said personages? For a glimpse, have a look at the following verses of the Quran: “Your Lord commands you to worship none but Him and to be kind to your parents. Should anyone of them be under your care until he reaches old age, do not say to him as much as ‘Fie’ and do not speak harshly to him but rather speak kindly. Humble yourself to your parents in Love, and Pray: ‘May God have mercy on them as they nursed me when I was young.’ Your Lord knows well that which is in your soul, especially whether or not you are truly virtuous. God forgives those who repent. Give the next of kin his due, as well as the poor and the wayfarer, but do not be a spendthrift. The spendthrifts are associates of the devil, and the latter is disobedient to God. Even if you have to avoid your parents on account of your fulfilment of God’s call, give them a kind and compassionate explanation. Do not hold your hand back when it is time to give, nor give all you have so that you throw yourself in need. God spreads His bounty to whomsoever He wishes. He measures it carefully, for He cares for His servants and knows their need. Do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We shall provide for them as well as for you. Moreover, to kill them is a great misdeed. Do not commit adultery. It is an evil and its consequences are always bad. Do not kill any man – That is God’s prohibition! – except after due process of law. To the heir of whoever is killed unjustly, a right of revenge is established. But he may not take that revenge wantonly, for his right shall be recognised. Do not touch the wealth of the orphan, unless it be to increase it. Be true to your covenants, for covenant is a serious and responsible affair. Fill the measure when you measure, and when you weigh, weigh with the true weight; for that is better and more rewarding. Do not claim that of which you have no knowledge, and remember that as cognitive faculties, your hearing, sight and heart were given to you for a responsible function. Do not walk around with impudence and false pride, for you will never measure up to the mountains of the earth. All these actions are evil and deemed undesirable by your Lord.”
CRITERIA OF WEIGHT
How all men are rendered equal in Islam? The criterion of weight or superiority is not colour of skin or the country of birth or the volume of bank account. It is piety and God-fearingness. Now the West feels compelled to admit the obvious as did Arnold Toynbee in Civilization on Trial: “Two conspicuous sources of danger – one psychological and the other material – in the present relation of cosmopolitan proletariat with the dominant element in our modern western society are race consciousness and alcohol and in the struggle with each of these evils the Islamic spirit has a service to render which might prove, if it were accepted to be of high moral and social value. The extinction of race consciousness as between Muslims is one of the moral achievements of Islam and in the contemporary world there is a crying need for the propagation of this Islamic virtue. If the attitude of the exponents of racial intolerance towards the race prevails, it may eventually provoke a general catastrophe.”
A discussion on the subject is bound to remain inconclusive without a reference to the Farewell Message of the Last Prophet (peace be to him).
“O Men, listen well to my words, for I do not know whether I shall meet you again on such an occasion in the future.
“O Men, your lives and your property shall be inviolate until you meet your Lord. The safety of your lives and of your property shall be as inviolate as this holy day and holy month.
“Remember that you will indeed meet your Lord, and that He will indeed reckon your deeds. Thus do I warn you. Whoever of you is keeping a trust of someone else shall return that trust to its rightful owner.
“All interest obligation shall henceforth be waived. Your capital, however, is yours to keep. You will neither inflict nor suffer inequity. God has judged that there shall be no interest and that all the interest due to Abbas ibn Abd al Muttalib shall henceforth be waived.
“Every right arising out of homicide in pre-Islamic days is henceforth waived. And the first such right that I waive is that arising from the murder of Rabiah ibn al Harith ibn Abd al Muttalib.
“O Men, the devil has lost all hope of ever being worshipped in this land of yours. Nevertheless, he still is anxious to determine the lesser of your deeds. Beware of him, therefore, for the safety of your religion….
“O Men, to you a right belongs with respect to your women and to your women a right with respect to you. It is your right that they not fraternise with anyone of whom you do not approve, as well as never to commit adultery. But if they do, then God has permitted you to isolate them within their homes and to chastise them without cruelty. But if they abide by your right, then to them belongs the right to be fed and clothed in kindness. Do treat your women well and be kind to them, for they are your partners and committed helpers. Remember that you have taken them as your wives and enjoyed their flesh only under God’s trust and His permission. Reason well, therefore.
“O Men, and ponder my words which I now convey to you. I am leaving you with the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Prophet. If you follow them, you will never go astray. O Men, harken well to my words. Learn that every Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice to your own selves…”
Does the UN character not pale into insignia before this one, proclaimed more than 1400 years ago?
The problem with us is we do not realise our responsibility in this regard. The notion of “the best” intoxicates us and keeps us eternally intoxicated. This problem is both moral and religious – moral because what we consider “the best” is not conveyed to the countrymen. For historical reasons, they too are prejudiced about us. It is, however their due on us. But much more important is the religious responsibility, which makes it incumbent upon us to convey “the best” to the countrymen. Tomorrow, on the Day of Judgement, they are bound to hold us by our collar.
God Almighty has placed us on the most paramount position. The Muslims have been appointed on the exalted status to lead the world. To quote the Quran: “We have made you an Ummah on the centre path. So you would be witness to the true religion.” Or “You are the best of Ummah which has been raised for the humanity. You order virtues and forbid the evil.”
Are we discharging this obligation as we should rather must? Are Muslims promoting virtues evil? Or they are silent on the rebellious ambience and have compromised with transgression?
How the decadence sets in? To quote the Last Book of Guidance: “Whosoever in Bani-Israil rebelled and transgressed was cursed through the tongue of Prophet David and Jesus, because they disobeyed and persisted in that. They did not stop people from evil, in which they were involved. It was a bad course of action. Today you see plenty among them who are supporters of disbelievers. Indeed that is a bad end, their selves have prepared for themselves. Allah is furious over them, and they are punished forever. If they were the believers of Allah, His Prophet and whatever is revealed to them, they would not have made friendship with Kuffars, but most among them are disobedient.
The Prophet (peace be to him) advised: “Beware, By Allah either you will keep enjoining or ordering the good and pious behaviour and stopping and forbidding the evil; holding the hand of the transgressor, and turning him towards piety and making it sure that he is steadfast on that; or if you refrain from doing that, Allah will make your hearts like them, and then by Allah you will be cursed like the Jews.”
The Prophet (peace be to him) said, “The first sinful habit which afflicted the Jews was whenever they met a sinner, they would ask him to fear Allah, and try to dissuade him from this sin. However, if they found him involved in the same habit the second day, they would keep from stopping and forbidding him from that evil and sin by staying silent, so that they could still have acquaintance and company with that individual. When Bani Israil/Jews persisted with this attitude, Allah made everybody’s heart the same.
Once the Last Prophet was leaning against something, then he sat upright and said, “No, I vow to Allah in whose control is my life, you will have to order and enjoin the pious behaviour and stop and forbid the evil, and stop the hand of the transgressor, and bend him towards truth; for if you will not do that, all of your hearts will be alike, and then you will be cursed by Allah like the Jews.”
More: “O people, keep enjoining the truthful and pious behaviour and forbid evil; otherwise you will call Allah, and He will not listen to you, you will ask for His forgiveness, and He will not forgive you; indeed enjoining the piety does not invite the appointed time earlier. The reality is that when the Jewish rabbis and Christian monks, neglected their duties of enjoining piety and forbidding evil, then Allah cursed them through the Prophet’s tongue and they were afflicted with general calamity and punishment”.
Nauman bin Bashir quoted the Last Prophet (peace be to him): “The state of affairs of the people abiding by Allah’s order and the ones transgressing it could be visualised through a ship carrying people in its lower and higher decks on the basis of the lot. When people of the lower deck needed water, they would come to the higher deck; this was uncomfortable to people of the top deck. They threatened them that if they did not stop bothering them, they would stop them from coming to their level. So the people of the lower deck said, they should make a hole in their part of the ship to keep from bothering people of higher deck. Now if the top deck people did not stop them from doing so, everybody would be destroyed; and if they held the hand of the people of lower deck, all would be saved.”
The importance of personal piety or individual God fearingness is not in dispute. It is in abundance among the rank and file of the Ummah. What is being sought to be underscored is: if the pious, if the God-fearing do not actively discourage rather launch a struggle or join a struggle aimed at putting an end to transgression from the surface of the earth, the typhoon, the curse of Allah would sweep them also away to the dustbin of history. And what will happen in the Hereafter is not a different chapter.