Awliya, Rest and Relaxation, Hardening of Hearts
Issue 854 » August 7, 2015 - Shawwal 22, 1436
Al-Furqan (The Criterion) - Chapter 25: Verses 27-29
"And [remember] the Day when the wrongdoer will bite his hands and say, 'woe to me! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger. Ah, woe tome! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend. He indeed led me astray from the Remembrance after it had come to me and Satan is ever a deserter to man in his hour of need.'"
Many people fall into error thinking that if a particular individual is a Waliy (friend)of Allah, then everything he says and does has to be accepted and believed, even if it contradicts the Book and Sunnah. Therefore, they end up agreeing with this individual and contradicting that which Allah sent His Messenger with! This Messenger with regards to whom Allah made Obligatory upon the whole of creation to believe what he said and obey what he ordered. Allah appointed him as the criterion between His Awliya and His enemies, between the inhabitants of Paradise and the denizens of Hell and between the joyous and the wretched. So whosoever follows him is from the Awliya of Allah, His party who have succeeded and His righteous servants. Whosoever does not follow him are His sinful enemies who have attained loss and anguish. Such people are first led to innovation and misguidance through their agreeing with this individual and opposing the Messenger and finally they end up in disbelief or hypocrisy.
"The Friends of Allah and The Friends of Shaytaan" - Ibn Taymiyyah, pp. 154, 155
Rest and Relaxation
Turning to the Islamic sources, one finds clear instructions in the teachings of the Prophet, who went on record to ask the workers to avoid a work regime that would drive them into exhaustion: “You are required to work to the extent of your abilities, for God is not impatient unless you yourselves become impatient.” [Jami Al-Saghir] This is an advice, evidently, of caution to workers to be aware of their own limitations and avoid overindulgence and fatigue. For this is not what their faith expects of them. The same message is endorsed in another hadith wherein the Prophet instructed the believers to “Refresh your hearts hour by hour (every now and then).” [Tirmidhi] There is also an addition to this hadith that says, according to a report by Abdullah ibn Masud, the hearts tend to go blind when they are denied of a (needed) reprieve.
Rest and relaxation is just as necessary for the well-being of people as is the work itself. Leisure time and vacation should therefore be given due attention in the determination of rules that regulate labour relations. This is also the purport of the hadith in which the Prophet has reportedly said: “Your body has a right over you,” and one of those rights is to avail it of rest and relaxation at regular intervals. [Riyad Al-Saleheen] One should be able in the meantime to see to one's other responsibilities as a spouse, father, mother, and offspring, as the case may be. For these are likely to suffer in the event where a worker is exhausted and overtaken by fatigue. The Prophet has in yet another hadith warned against overexertion, infliction of severity upon oneself, and indeed of developing such into a recurrent practice and expectation: “Do not be harsh with yourselves lest you be dealt with harshly, for some people were harsh with themselves, and Allah dealt with them harshly.” [Abu Dawud]
"The Middle Path of Moderation in Islam: The Qur'anic Principle of Wasatiyyah" - Hashim Kamali
Hardening of Hearts
We routinely and rightly condemn the terrorism that kills civilians in the name of God, but we cannot claim the high moral ground if we dismiss the suffering and death of the many thousands of civilians who die in our wars as "collateral damage." Ancient religious mythologies helped people to face up to the dilemma of state violence, but our current nationalist ideologies seem by contrast to promote a retreat into denial or hardening of our hearts. Nothing shows more clearly than a remark of Madeleine Albright's when she was still Bill Clinton's ambassador to the United Nations. She later retracted it, but among people all around the world, it has never been forgotten. In 1996, on CBS's 60 Minutes, Lesley Stahl asked her whether the cost of international sanctions against Iraq was justified: "We have heard that half a million children have died. I mean, that is more than died in Hiroshima ... Is the price worth it?" "I think this is a very hard choice," Albright replied, "but the price, we think the price is worth it."
On October 24, 2012, Mamana Bibi, a sixty-five-year-old woman picking vegetables in her family's large open land in northern Waziristan, Pakistan, was killed by a U.S. drone aircraft. She was not a terrorist but a midwife married to a retired schoolteacher, yet she was blown to pieces in front of her nine young grandchildren. Some of the children have had multiple surgeries that the family could ill afford because they lost all their livestock; the smaller children still scream in terror all night long. We do not know who the real targets were. Yet even though the U.S. government claims to carry out thorough post-strike assessments, it has never apologized, never offered compensation to the family, nor even admitted what happened to the American people. CIA director John O. Brennan had previously claimed that drone strike caused absolutely no civilian casualties; more recently he has admitted otherwise while maintaining that such deaths are extremely rare. Since then, Amnesty International reviewed some forty-five strikes in the region, finding evidence of unlawful civilian deaths, and has reported several strikes that appear to have killed civilians outside the bounds of law. "Bombs create only hatred in the hearts of people. And that hatred and anger breed more terrorism," said Bibi's son. "No one ever asked us who was killed or injured that day. Not the United States or my own government. Nobody has come to investigate nor has anyone been held accountable. Quite simply, nobody seems to care."
We are now living in such an interconnected world that we are all implicated in one another's history and one another's tragedies. As we - quite rightly - condemn those terrorists who kill innocent people, we also have to find a way to acknowledge our relationship with and responsibility for Mamana Bibi, her family, and the hundreds of thousands of civilians who have died or been mutilated in our modern wars simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Fields of Blood" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 391, 392