Knowledge Unlimited, Humility, Enlightened Leadership

Issue 653 » September 30, 2011 - Dhul-Qida 2, 1432

Living The Quran

Knowledge Unlimited
Al Anam (Cattle) - Chapter 6: Verse 59

"With Him are the keys to what lies beyond the reach of human perception: none knows them but He. He knows all that the land and sea contain; not a leaf falls but He knows it; and neither is there a grain in the earth's deep darkness, nor anything fresh or dry but is recorded in a clear book."

It is important to define what we describe in English as lying "beyond the reach of human perception" and the keys to it as being known only to God. This expression is given in the Arabic text in one word, ghayb, which is an essential element of the Islamic concept of faith, existence and life. The term is derived in Arabic from a root which denotes "absence, disappearance, hiding, shielding from people's senses and understanding."

To believe in God is to believe in what lies beyond the reach of human perception. It is not possible for human beings to comprehend the nature of God. Similarly, the life to come also lies beyond the reach of human perception. Believing in the angels is also part of believing in the imperceptible, because we only know about angels what God has chosen to tell us. It addition, we have to believe in God's will and its operation. That is also part of ghayb.

Not everything unknown to man is ghayb, and not all forces of the universe are unknown. There are certain laws that operate in the universe without fail. God has given man the power to know this much of the laws of the universe and to manipulate these forces in accordance with these laws. He will then be able to accomplish his mission and make use of the potentials of the earth and promote life.

This short verse causes our human imagination to come to life trying to explore the horizons of what we know and what lies beyond our knowledge. We try to imagine the limitless nature of God's knowledge as it encompasses the whole universe and goes far beyond what we know of that universe. Our minds may try to discover what has so far been unknown to us in the land or at sea, realizing that everything in them is perfectly known to God.

Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 5, pp. 174-188

Understanding The Prophet's Life


Getting close to Allah by voluntary deeds is only done by those people who are completely humble and submissive to Allah. Similarly, having love for the beloved servants of Allah (His Auliya) only comes about through humility and humbleness. Furthermore, some of Allah's beloved servants are the poorest and most humble people of this world. One must love them and be kind to them and accept them as one's brothers. This can only be accomplished by those who are humble and free of arrogant pride. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) stated,

"Allah has revealed to me that you must be humble, so that no one boasts over another." [Muslim]

Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 1439-1441


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