Potential, Sowing Discord, Fruitless Anticipation
Issue 1016 » September 14, 2018 - Muharram 4, 1440
Al-e-Imran (The House of Imran) - Chapter 3: Verse 110 (partial)
The social activity that binds Muslim society together, what makes the umma the best community, is that it 'enjoins good and forbids evil'. This is one of the most misused injunctions of the Quran. It is used as a charter by all self-appointed moral supervisors who think they know what is best for everyone else. In its worse forms, we have the state-sponsored moral police harassing citizens for alleged moral shortcomings in Saudi Arabia and Iran. But the injunction has nothing to do with moral policing.
The principle of doing good and preventing bad is that both individual and society work in harmony to promote virtue. This means we have to concentrate not only on individual acts of goodness, but also work to ensure that the institutions and organisations of our society are fit for the purpose of giving everyone the best opportunity to fulfil their potential and flourish. It is about making the right choices about the provision of services—everything from energy and sewage to schools and hospitals—so that the needs of all people are catered for. It is about building peace, ensuring mutual tolerance, working for and insisting on good government: all actions necessary to build taqwa in a society. It is about making reasoned and informed choices about science and technology and all the ethical questions they raise. It is about inclusion and participation for all people in the life of society; no individual or group can attribute absolute power to themselves to determine the affairs of the community or to arbitrate on the issues of morality and ethics. Rather, the affairs of the community should be determined by mutual consultation (42:38). This was the way of Prophet Muhammad himself (3:159); and this must be the way of the Muslim community and society.
"Reading the Qur'an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam" - Ziauddin Sardar, pp. 247, 248
The Prophet (peace be upon him) asked [his companions]: "Do you know what calumny is?" They said: "God and His Messenger know best". He said: "Telling people what others have said in order to sow discord between them". [Bukhari]
Needless to say, this practice is universally viewed as despicable. It tells of the wickedness of the person who does it; he is seeking to spoil relations between people.
Islam means submission to God. A true Muslim submits himself totally to God. Submission to God is demonstrated by carrying out His orders. Whatever God commands people to do is a duty which they must fulfil. Some of them may decide not to fulfil a particular duty or indeed all duties assigned to them by God. They turn their backs on God's messenger and message. By so doing, they not only demonstrate their disbelief in God, but also that they are conceited and proud. Such pride is misled, because it reverberates in their relations with God Himself.
A true believer, on the other hand, shows his humility by implementing God's orders to the best of his ability. When God forbids something, he refrains from it. He knows that God bids us nothing but what is useful and beneficial to us, and He forbids us only what is evil and harmful. Yet this is not a believer's prime motive in obeying God's orders and refraining from what is forbidden. Rather, his prime motive is his submission to God, which he declares when he makes up his mind to be a Muslim and states that he believes in God's oneness and the message of Muhammad, the last of all prophets and messengers.
"Al-Adab al-Mufrad with Full Commentary: A Perfect Code of Manners and Morality" - Adil Salahi
We see that the "leadership" has become a means of recourse to omit one's duty. Ashura, the day of the martyrdom of Imam Husayn, has become the symbol of a school of bereavement! Anticipation, awaiting the Mahdi, has become a philosophy of submission, justifying oppression, and the tyranny of corruption, and condemning any steps for reform or any arisings for justice, before they even occur.
All of these was made possible with a single policy: a policy which took the Book of Supplications from the cemetery to the city and the Quran from life and the city to the cemetery where it was offered to the spirits of the dead. It is obvious that when the Quran not only deserts the life of Muslim people but Islam, as well, everything becomes possible in its absence and we see that everything has been done!
An intellectual feels responsible to his people; a Muslim to his faith. Thus, a Muslim intellectual, having a double responsibility, suffers both from the metamorphosis of the sublime values of his faith as well as from the degeneration of his people. His greatest anguish is to observe that his society—with the Christ-like spirit that it has which can give life to the dead and sight to the blind—is now so dying and becoming blind!
Can he negate, deny and disavow his responsibility and sit in fruitless anticipation for further centuries by using the excuse that it is religious scholars who are responsible for the destiny of Islam and only express his existence with intellectual grumblings?
If Islam is a mission and not a special subject in philosophy or science, then it is only people who are directly addressed and it is a conscious clear-thinker who is directly responsible for it. And you—my sympathetic intellectual, fellow Muslim: whether you consider yourself responsible to the people or to God, in practice, our work is the same, our responsibility, the same.
"Hajj: Reflections on its Rituals" - Ali Shariati