Charity, Behave, Strongman
Issue 852 » July 24, 2015 - Shawwal 8, 1436
Al-Nisa (The Women) - Chapter 4: Verse 114
"No good comes out of most of their secret talks, unless it be to encourage a good deed, charity, justice, or conciliation among people. To him who does this, seeking God's good pleasure, We shall soon grant him the highest of rewards."
Charity (sadaqah) is of five kinds, the first of which is charity with one's wealth, and the second with one's power and influence, which according to the authority of hadith from the Prophet (peace be upon him) consists of intercession for a good cause when it helps to save someone's life or relieve one from hardship. Third, charity may consist of the giving of counsel and good advice to someone in need of it. Fourth is the charity of the tongue. This is when words are used to bring peace between two feuding parties and reconcile them. The last of the five types of charity is charity with one's knowledge by one who is learned that leads to proliferation of good understanding and enlightenment.
"The Middle Path of Moderation in Islam: The Qur'anic Principle of Wasatiyyah" - Hashim Kamali
The Prophet (peace be upon him) showed the way, by his day-to-day behaviour to love, bounty, generosity and justice. He tirelessly repeated to his Companions that they be good to one another, that they respect life, other human beings, animals, nature and, above all, that they be fair with all Muslims or non-Muslims, men or women, young or old. "Righteousness is a good way of life" (khuluq, morality) [Muslim] said he, and "The most perfect in Faith among the Believers are those who possess the best way of life (morals), and the best among you are those who are kindest to their wives." [Tirmidhi] In another hadith, one reads: "The best of you is he who is best to his family, and I am the best among you towards my family," [Bukhari, Muslim] and "No one among you attains true Faith, until he likes for his brother what he likes for himself," [Bukhari, Muslim] and "He is not a true Believer who eats fill while his neighbour is hungry." [Bayhaqi]
Many other traditions of this kind of moral teaching could have been quoted here and all direct the Believer to the same course: one has to behave in a good way in order to perfect one's faith.
"To Be A European Muslim" - Tariq Ramadan
When NATO started bombing Serbia in the spring of 1999, some of the people who were most bitterly opposed to Milosevic’s rule caught themselves supporting our genocidal president as he defiantly stood up to the West. It was like some primordial wellspring of tribalism bubbling up. During a speech by Milosevic just after the bombs started falling, one of my fellow Otpor! leaders even caught himself cheering on the dictator, gushing (to his embarrassment only moments later), “Go get them, Slobo!” But it was a normal reaction, because when your cave is in danger, you root for the chief to succeed. Even if the guy is a jerk.
This helps explain why all forms of violence—whether we are speaking about the killing-fields variety we see in Syria or the protest burning of McMansions by militant environmentalists in the United States—are so much less effective in bringing about lasting social change than peaceful measures are. Violence scares people, and when people are scared, they look for a strong leader to protect them.
In nonviolent action, you're trying to win by converting people to your cause—be they ordinary people like traffic policemen or big shots like newspaper columnists—and getting them to fight your battles for you. You're building group identities and creating new communities that will hopefully have enough mass to cause people to gravitate toward your cause. And because you're not frightening anybody off with violence, your friends and neighbours won't feel the instinctive need to be protected by a strongman. This, in the end, is the only way you'll get people to abandon that big ugly brute who guards your cave.
"Blueprint For Revolution" - Srdja Popovic, pp. 202, 203