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Today's Reminder

August 16, 2022 | Muharram 18, 1444

Living The Quran

Flee unto God
Al-Dhariyat (The Scattering Winds) Sura 51: Verse 50

"So flee unto God. Truly I am a clear warner unto you from Him."

So flee unto God may mean, "Flee from the Punishment of God to His Mercy through faith in Him, follow His Command, and work in obedience to Him"; or "Flee from obeying Satan to obeying God"; or "Flee from ignorance to knowledge". According to Ibn Abbas, this verse means, "Flee from sins and take shelter with God through repentance." Others understand it to mean, "Be cautious of everything other than God, because whoever flees to what is other than Him does not benefit from it".

Regarding the reasons one must flee unto God, al-Qushayri writes, "The human being is in one of two states: either the state of coveting something or the state of dreading something, either the state of hope or the state of fear, either the state of attracting benefit or the state of repelling harm. So his fleeing must be to God, for the one who benefits and the one who harms is God." Al-Qushayri goes on to say, "It is incumbent upon the servant to flee from ignorance to knowledge, from caprice to reverence, from doubt to certainty, and from Satan to God. It is incumbent upon the servant to flee from his actions that are a trial to his actions that are sufficient; and from characterizing Him in terms of God's Wrath to characterizing Him in terms of His Mercy". From this perspective, the command to flee unto God is placed after the creation of all things in pairs to emphasize that one cannot flee to anything other than God, since all things perish, save His Face.

Compiled From:
"The Study Quran: A New Translation and Commentary" - Seyyed Hossein Nasr

From Issue: 1031 [Read original issue]

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Stopping Dictators

The voice of conscience may not be loud enough to ensure that people can resist the strong temptation of an easy gain, especially when this has the backing of a legal ruling. Therefore, the Prophet (peace be upon him) emphasized the Islamic principle of "enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong." This principle works at both the individual and community levels, and states that wherever there is something wrong, people should speak out against it in order to ensure fairness, justice and virtue. The Prophet sought to mobilize everyone's sense of faith in putting this principle in practice. He said: "Whoever sees some wrong being committed should change it by action. If he cannot, then by word of mouth. If he still cannot, then by denouncing it in his heart. This last one is the weakest type of belief." [Muslim] This principle works in all strata of society and in all areas of behaviour. Whatever is wrong should be denounced and changed. When this cannot be done, and there are many situations where this is the case, then the least a believer can do is to feel a strong dislike towards the situation and to desire for it to be changed.

Injustice may be supported by the power of the state. There are numerous cases in history where dictatorship wreaked injustice on large and small communities. Our present age is full of these, in all continents. Indeed, some historians have called the twentieth century "the age of dictators." The brutality of some of these dictators is beyond imagination. Yet dictatorship can only flourish when the people allow it a chance to establish its roots. When rulers try to circumvent the law in the early days of their leadership, and discover that they can get away with it, they move towards tyranny. If people stand up to such a person in those early days, this can keep the would-be dictator in check. The Prophet made standing up to tyrannical rule one of the best actions a Muslim can do. He said: "The best of martyrs are Hamzah and a person who stands up to a dictator, telling him what to do and what to refrain from, but the dictator kills him." [Hakim] It is well known that Islam makes clear that a martyr is certain to be rewarded by admittance to heaven. Standing up to a dictator gives a Muslim a chance of joining the top elite of martyrs in heaven.

While this is the reward for the individual who is killed by a dictator, the entire community is responsible for stopping a dictatorship. The Prophet warns: "You shall enjoin what is right, forbid what is wrong and prevent tyranny or else God shall punish your whole community." [Abu Dawud, Tirmidhi]

Compiled From:
"Muhammad: His Character and Conduct" - Adil Salahi

From Issue: 921 [Read original issue]

Blindspot!

Enlightened Leadership

The enlightened Muslim leadership of the early empires enabled the rise of the various golden ages. This vision of leadership, however compromised by the unavoidable human ego, institutional failings, bad luck, and corruption, managed for more than eight centuries to inspire a climate of invention and intellectual ferment that was unique and helped shape a future vision of modern leadership in Europe and other non-Muslim countries.

The leadership legacy of Abu Bakr would seem to be in creating a model of humility, compromise, incorruptibility, and a dedication to charity and public welfare. These values provided an enduring ideal of leadership in the Muslim world and beyond, an ideal often contrary to the baser instincts of men.

Ali is one of the first Muslim leaders to set down in writing a detailed template for enlightened leadership, elements of which later surfaced in the Umayyad and Abbasid caliphates, in Fatimid and Sunni Egypt, in Seljuk Persia and Anatolia, in the Delhi sultanate and Mughal India, and in the Ottoman Empire.

Evidence is included in a lengthy letter on leadership, which Caliph Ali sent to his loyal follower, Maalik al-Ashtar, appointing him as the new Muslim governor of Egypt:

... Remember, Maalik, that amongst your subjects there are two kinds of people: those who have the same religion as you have, they are brothers to you; and those who have religions other than that of yours, they are human beings like you.... Let your mercy and compassion come to their rescue and help in the same way and to the same extent that you expect Allah to show mercy and forgiveness to you....

You must always appreciate and adopt a policy, which is neither too severe nor too lenient; a policy which is based upon equity will be largely appreciated. Remember that the displeasure of common men, the havenots and the depressed persons overbalances the approval of important persons, while the displeasure of a few big people will be excused by the Lord if the general public and masses of your subjects are happy with you....

Remember, Maalik.... The thing which should most gladden the heart of a ruler is the fact that his State is being ruled on the principles of equity and justice and that his subjects love him. And your subjects will only love you when they have no grievances against you. So let them have as many justifiable hopes in you as they can and fulfill as many as you reasonably can. Speak well of those who deserve your praise. Appreciate the good deeds done by them and let these good actions be known publicly.

Compiled From:
"Lost History" - Michael Hamilton Morgan, pp. 254-257

From Issue: 653 [Read original issue]