By Hujjatul Islam Syed Zaki Baqri
This magazine is coming out at a time when the events of the world have invited people of perception towards deep thinking and understanding. We have been squeezed between terrorism, peace, and the outward appearance of ‘freedom’. In this atmosphere the demand is to choose a side, which many are not comfortable with. In such a situation to be frank and truthful is a tough choice. We try to examine in this article what should be the course of action according to the Islamic perspective.
Islam is a religion of truth and it demands from its followers to be blunt and clear while not being mean or hurtful. Do we have any guidelines in this regard? The answer is in the affirmative; we believe the holy Qur’an has the solution to all the problems of humankind. What a follower of this great religion has to do is to go back to the root cause of the issues and ponder. We the Muslim Ummah, view our religion as a buffet table laden with a variety of dishes from which we can pick and choose according to the dictates of our palates. We take from this great system of life whatever we like, and leave that which we do not like and does not suit us. This kind of behaviour from a Muslim is unacceptable to Allah and His Prophet [pbut].
Let us examine in the light of the holy Qur’an the methods applied by the Prophets from Adam [as] until the last messenger, Prophet Mohammad [pbuh]. All Muslims believe that the Holy Qur’an is the only Book which is authentic and that it has within it a guideline for the entire humanity; for all ages and places. It is not the Book of Allah which lacks guidance; it is the followers who lack practice.
إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا
Surely we have shown him the way; he may be thankful or unthankful [76:3]
فَأَلْهَمَهَا فُجُورَهَا وَتَقْوَاهَا
Then He inspired it (soul) to understand what is right and wrong for it [91:8]
In these two verses of the Holy Qur’an it is clear that Allah has guided humankind, some of whom accepted the guidance and some rejected it. This kind of guidance is called instinctive, or guidance in creation which is evident in all beings that are inanimate, vegetation or animals. On top of all this, Allah has bestowed us with the power of reasoning. Thus the Holy Qur’an always invites people to ponder and to utilize the power of reasoning. Those who do not use the inner faculties which have been given by their creator are considered lower than animals. As the verse of the Holy Qur’an states:
وَلَقَدْ ذَرَأْنَا لِجَهَنَّمَ كَثِيراً مِّنَ الْجِنِّ وَالإِنسِ لَهُمْ قُلُوبٌ لاَّ يَفْقَهُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ أَعْيُنٌ لاَّ يُبْصِرُونَ بِهَا وَلَهُمْ آذَانٌ لاَّ يَسْمَعُونَ بِهَا أُوْلَـئِكَ كَالأَنْعَامِ بَلْ هُمْ أَضَلُّ أُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْغَافِلُونَ
And certainly We have created for Hell many of the jinn and the men; they have hearts with which they do not understand, and they have eyes with which they do not see, and they have ears with which they do not hear, they are as cattle, nay, they are in worse errors; these are the heedless ones [7:179]
This is the God-given faculty which most of us do not utilize which causes us to face problems in this world and the Hereafter. This kind of inner guidance is called ‘guidance in creation’ or for better understanding we can term it as: instinctive guidance. On top of this inner guidance, Allah the Almighty has blessed us with another kind of guidance, which can be termed as outer guidance, through His messengers.
The invitation of the messengers is a complete guideline for our day-to-day life; the messengers in the course of history acted upon the need of the time and succeeded in their mission. In the forthcoming lines we would like to give examples from the Holy Qur’an.
The first and foremost purpose of the messengers to descend upon the earth was the recitation of the word of Allah:
هُوَ الَّذِي بَعَثَ فِي الْأُمِّيِّينَ رَسُولًا مِّنْهُمْ يَتْلُو عَلَيْهِمْ آيَاتِهِ وَيُزَكِّيهِمْ وَيُعَلِّمُهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْحِكْمَةَ وَإِن كَانُوا مِن قَبْلُ لَفِي ضَلَالٍ مُّبِينٍ
He it is Who raised among the illiterates an Apostle from among themselves, who recites to them His communications and purifies them, and teaches them the Book and the Wisdom, although they were certainly in clear error [62:2]
In this verse the three purposes of the messengers are mentioned. The first is to recite the verses, the second is to purify the souls of people and the third is to teach them the Book and Wisdom. All these three purposes can be summed up into one main purpose: knowledge. The first verse revealed to the last Prophet of Allah, says:
اقْرَأْ بِاسْمِ رَبِّكَ الَّذِي خَلَقَ *خَلَقَ الْإِنسَانَ مِنْ عَلَقٍ
Read in the Name of your Lord Who created. Read and your Lord is most Honourable [96:1-2]
Knowledge is the most powerful tool with which one can conquer the world and it is the need of all times. At this moment, if the Muslim Ummah wants to overcome the problems that it faces today, it is essential for us to educate ourselves.
وَلَقَدْ بَعَثْنَا فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ رَّسُولاً أَنِ اعْبُدُواْ اللّهَ وَاجْتَنِبُواْ الطَّاغُوتَ فَمِنْهُم مَّنْ هَدَى اللّهُ وَمِنْهُم مَّنْ حَقَّتْ عَلَيْهِ الضَّلالَةُ فَسِيرُواْ فِي الأَرْضِ فَانظُرُواْ كَيْفَ كَانَ عَاقِبَةُ الْمُكَذِّبِينَ
And certainly We raised in every nation an apostle saying: Serve Allah and shun the Shaitan. So there were some of them whom Allah guided and there were others against whom error was due; therefore travel in the land, then see what was the end of the rejecters [16:36]
If we read this verse closely, it gives us guidance that there are two methods used to correct the behaviour of humankind. The first one is to bring humanity in the service of the creator, meaning, that their life should and must revolve around one center point, which is Allah. The second is to eradicate corruption from the masses. Then the Holy Qur’an adds that one should travel the earth with the reason of seeing the results of tyranny, oppression, corruption etc. Again this verse of the Holy Qur’an is inviting humankind to not only be involved in mediations, but also to struggle to remove corruption from human society.
The goal of the messengers has been defined further in these words:
كَانَ النَّاسُ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً فَبَعَثَ اللّهُ النَّبِيِّينَ مُبَشِّرِينَ وَمُنذِرِينَ وَأَنزَلَ مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ بِالْحَقِّ لِيَحْكُمَ بَيْنَ النَّاسِ فِيمَا اخْتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ وَمَا اخْتَلَفَ فِيهِ إِلاَّ الَّذِينَ أُوتُوهُ مِن بَعْدِ مَا جَاءتْهُمُ الْبَيِّنَاتُ بَغْيًا بَيْنَهُمْ فَهَدَى اللّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لِمَا اخْتَلَفُواْ فِيهِ مِنَ الْحَقِّ بِإِذْنِهِ وَاللّهُ يَهْدِي مَن يَشَاء إِلَى صِرَاطٍ مُّسْتَقِيمٍ
(All) people are a single nation; so Allah raised prophets as bearers of good news and warners, and He revealed with them the Book with truth, that it might judge between people in that which they differed; and none but the very people who were given it differed about it after clear arguments had come to them, revolting among themselves; so Allah has guided by His will those who believe to the Truth about which they differed; and Allah guides whom He pleases to the right path [2:213]
Again one has to thoroughly go through this verse, which is inviting us towards the most important aspect of our lives namely, resolving problems which arise from time to time.
لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ وَأَنزَلْنَا الْحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ وَرُسُلَهُ بِالْغَيْبِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ
Certainly We sent Our apostles with clear arguments, and sent down with them the Book and the balance that men may conduct themselves with equity; and we have made the iron, wherein is great violence and advantages to men, and that Allah may know who helps Him and His apostles in the secret; surely Allah is Strong Might [57:25]
In this verse a crucial point has been delivered; it is about justice and equity among humankind. The Islamic point of view and the world view is that all human races are equal – that there is no difference between white or black, red or yellow. This is a very important and a very difficult part of our lives. For example: The population of a certain country compared to the world is 3.5% and the wealth which it holds is 65% of the wealth of the entire world. If such an imbalance and inequity exist in human society, unrest, uneasiness and discomfort are unavoidable. A commodity is made in a third world country at a nominal price, and when it comes to the first world country the price is unthinkable and unimaginable. In my humble opinion, all Muslims should have joined together in opposing the globalization of the world which in fact is deceiving in its name – and it cruel in the sense that a few wealthy nations suck the blood of the poor ones. The invitation to justice and equity is not only an invitation of the past but also of the present and the future too. The powerful nations as usual never realize it until the time of their downfall arrives. With this injustice and inequity how can we hope for peace in this world?
The hardest job of the Prophets was to free humanity from enslavement of two kinds – of the body and the mind. One can be free from the enslavement of the body, but it is very difficult to free oneself from the enslavement of the mind, ideology or perspective. The Heavenly guides managed to free themselves from the slavery of not only the body but also the mind. In this regards the Book of guidance says:
الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِندَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالإِنْجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُم بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَآئِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالأَغْلاَلَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُواْ النُّورَ الَّذِيَ أُنزِلَ مَعَهُ أُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
Those who follow the Apostle-Prophet, the Ummi, whom the find written down with them in the Taurat and the Injeel, (who) enjoins them good and forbids them evil, and makes lawful to them the good things and makes unlawful to them impure things, and removes from them their burden and shackles which were upon them; so (as for) those who believe in him and honour him and help him, and follow the light which has been sent down with him, these it is that are the successful [7:157]
In this verse of the Holy Qur’an there are two main purposes which have been mentioned, one is to remove the burden; and the other is to remove the shackles and chains which humanity has put on. It becomes clear from these Heavenly messages that the only rescuing tool for humankind is the great religion of Islam. Although these days Islam is on the negative forefront and a victim of the propaganda of non-believers, the day shall come soon when all shall have to agree with this great religion of their Creator, Almighty God. If we list the burdens of humankind today, we shall see that there are too many to count, the most flagrant of which are injustice and cruelty, followed closely by war, hunger, disease, injustice, corruption, prejudice, superiority complex, hate, lust, and abuse of human resources, to name just a few.
قَالَ اجْعَلْنِي عَلَى خَزَآئِنِ الأَرْضِ إِنِّي حَفِيظٌ عَلِيمٌ * وَكَذَلِكَ مَكَّنِّا لِيُوسُفَ فِي الأَرْضِ يَتَبَوَّأُ مِنْهَا حَيْثُ يَشَاء نُصِيبُ بِرَحْمَتِنَا مَن نَّشَاء وَلاَ نُضِيعُ أَجْرَ الْمُحْسِنِينَ
He said: Place me (in authority) over the treasures of the land, surely I am knowing guardian, knowing well. And thus did We give to Yusuf power in the land, he had mastery in it wherever he liked; We send down Our mercy on whom We please, and We do not waste the reward of those who do good [12:55-56]
The responsibility of the Prophets is not only purification of the souls but also involvement in the day-to-day life of the humankind – being a part of the deciding factor for their fate. The above verse is hinting that Hazrat Yusuf [as] being a Prophet had to offer his services as finance minister (in today’s terminology). He knew where the problem was and what the best to rectify it was. He offered his services by requesting that he be made a treasurer. I do have the ability to manage it, he says, place me (in authority) over the treasures of the land, surely I am a knowing guardian. The messengers of God were fully aware of what the problems in the governing system were and the best ways of resolving them. If we look at the progressive countries and the system of budget today, we can easily find the flaws. The majority of the portion goes in the administration and defence of the country; whereas the problem is created by themselves, not from outsiders. The amount of wealth which has been used for the destruction of humanity to date, had it, instead, been used for the benefit of humankind, the poorer countries would never have become slaves to the powerful countries. This logic never enters in the minds of unjust rulers.
Lastly, the post of the Heavenly messengers demanded them to be careful of their actions. Their responsibility was to ensure the peace and security of their people; and also the security of the all beings. Whatever exists on land is for the benefit of all. Let us read the following verse of the Holy Qur’an:
حَتَّى إِذَا أَتَوْا عَلَى وَادِي النَّمْلِ قَالَتْ نَمْلَةٌ يَا أَيُّهَا النَّمْلُ ادْخُلُوا مَسَاكِنَكُمْ لَا يَحْطِمَنَّكُمْ سُلَيْمَانُ وَجُنُودُهُ وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ
Until when they came to the valley of the ants, an ant said: O ants! Enter your dwellings lest Soloman and his armies crush you without even noticing it. [27:18]
Prophet Sulayman [as] heard the ants speak and the clear message here is that divinely ordained leaders not only care about humankind, but are also mindful of the rights of animals. Peace on earth can only be established through divinely ordained leaders, or in their absence, rightly inclined spiritual leaders.
The best solution to the problem of the humanity is reappearance of our twelfth Imam (may Allah hasten his reappearance) who shall inherit the earth and fill it with justice and equity at a time when it is full of injustice and inequity. Our first obligation is to recognize the Godly forces and Godly leaders and follow their instructions. Once we start doing this, when our beloved Imam [a.t.f] comes, we will be used to the Godly system and be at ease with its demands in our day-to-day- life.
Let us pray that Allah gives us the Heavenly inspiration (Tawfeeq) to be ready for our Awaited Saviour. The method of waiting is not only by prayers and duas, but also by acquiring knowledge of our great religion so that we can follow it properly.
Hujjatul Islam Syed Zaki Baqri is the resident aalim at the Al Mahdi Islamic Center (www.cig.ca).