Sincere debate among Muslims
In my last posting, I may have presented a very grim picture of the Muslim situation in the world. As a Muslim I say these facts with a lot of pain and displeasure. But I firmly believe that such an approach is very necessary to begin the healing process; starting with myself. I truly believe that the first step to reform ourselves intellectually is by pointing the finger of blame at ourselves and stop blaming others for our present miserable situation. Such a step, in my opinion is the only way towards reformations at all levels of life.
Unfortunately, Muslims are always blaming the west and their political leaders for their misery. Rather they should acknowledge that the responsibility falls on both sides. Leaders or those who are in control of public office and who have the means to influence society direction, are limited in their ability to manipulate and shape the outcome for their society unless there are fertile grounds for such agendas. Society’s members have a crucial role in allowing their leaders to implement their agendas and consequently will enable them to achieve their ambitions. As it is said; leaders are the products of their societies.
So there are two participants to this equation of responsibility; that is the caller and the receptor. This analogy is beautifully laid out in the Holy Quran which has been revealed 1400 Years ago, but Muslims do not seem to adhere to it. Allah (SW) has created the human being and knows his nature, potentials and weaknesses, so He provided a great remedy for this potentially dangerous social problem: that is, blaming others for our mischief. This kind of typical response and excuse which is uttered by Muslims in this world will be uttered again on the Day of Judgment before the Supreme Judge of all creations as mentioned in the Quran. In this verse the Quran discloses to us from the unseen knowledge of Allah (SW). This verse is one the most fascinating verses of the Holy Quran, because it foretell an event which must happen in the exact details as given in the verse in Sura 14 (Ibrahim) verse 22:
14:22 And Satan will say when the matter is decided: “It was Allah Who gave you a promise of Truth: I too promised, but I failed in my promise to you. I had no authority over you except I called upon you and you responded unto me: then do not blame me, but blame yourselves. …
وَقَالَ الشَّيْطَانُ لَمَّا قُضِيَ الأَمْرُ إِنَّ اللّهَ وَعَدَكُمْ وَعْدَ الْحَقِّ وَوَعَدتُّكُمْ فَأَخْلَفْتُكُمْ وَمَا كَانَ لِيَ عَلَيْكُم مِّن سُلْطَانٍ إِلاَّ أَن دَعَوْتُكُمْ فَاسْتَجَبْتُمْ لِي فَلاَ تَلُومُونِي وَلُومُواْ أَنفُسَكُم 14:22)
This above verse presents to us riveting details of how the events of Allah’s Supreme Court will play out. It seems that on the Day of Judgment we are given the chance to testify and we seem to say the same excuse for our sins and crimes that is the Shaitan’s fault. Then Allah (SW) summons the Shaitan, the accused, and give him a chance to defend himself. In his defense Shaitan makes it very clear that he has nothing to do with us and he puts the blame on us by saying:
“blame not me, but blame yourselves “
He explained his role in relationship to our evil deeds by saying:
“I but called you-and you responded unto me.”
In summary this verse points out to very important issues which are extremely crucial and relevant to the problems and failures of Muslims today. These points are:
1- Shaitan has no absolute authority over us, rather the final decision in taking actions rests with us.
2- Shaitan invites us to mischief through various enticements by which our true faith in Allah is put to the test.
3- It is only us to blame for the consequences of our actions.
4- Shaitan deceives us through corrupt man-made philosophies, corrupt leaders and personal gains.
5- Responsibility is shared by both sides- the caller and the receptor.
It is worth noting here that the Shatan’s assessment, in defining his role and throwing the blame on us, is to be considered true and accurate, for the Supreme Judge Allah (SW) did not interject nor rebuke the Shaitan’s statements, as He (SW) did in other instances regarding Shaitan’s claims mentioned in the Quran. We should blame our selves for our misery and bad deeds.
According to the above verse, the caller is Shaitan where Saitan operates through his followers using their evil intentions and goals in the absence of Allah’s guidance. And the receptors here are the ordinary followers who answer the call of their leaders in the absence of Allah’s boundaries and limits set out through His holy books and messengers. These limits are very clear and no scholar has the jurisdiction to either alter nor manipulate.
No religious leader, political leader or community leader should have an absolute authority over us. From an Islamic perspective, we must honor any authority and obey it if it emanates from the Quran and the true Sunnah. Such authority ought to be guarded by the limits and boundaries set by Allah (SW) and His messenger.
Once we give a blind authority to leaders, then deception or deviation (intentional or unintentional) cannot be detected.
We will become like herds and slaves. Such an approach by followers toward their leaders may corrupt good leaders and will turn them into dictators and undisputed and will turn already corrupted ones into monsters and ruthless rulers. We see such phenomena very prominent in the Muslim world today with no exceptions; Iraq; Iran; Lebanon; Libya; Egypt and others.
I believe this Quranic principle of shared responsibility is the key to moving forward towards progress and advancement. It is the only course of action that would help providing meaningful solutions to many of our social, political and economical problems.
I also believe that adopting such a Quranic approach is the only way to achieve the ultimate goal of Islam, that is, “social justice” among all the creatures of Allah, Muslims and non Muslims.
We must learn how to take responsibility for our setbacks and failures and not allow ourselves to be the platforms of ruthless systems, political or economical, which are designed to spread injustice and misery in our world.
When Muslims begin to recognize their faults and their distorted approach toward Islam and stop blaming others for their setbacks, then and only then the process of change will take its proper course.
It will also open for any other Muslim efforts which share a similar vision toward positive change within the Muslim people. In recent years some genuine attempts were made by some Muslim scholars from both the Shi’a and Sunni, but these attempts were sabotaged through fierce rejection by the majority of Muslims and through extremist scholars. It is no surprise when Muslims reject any voice which is for change or an invitation for a genuine debate to discuss important issues.
Muslims are very scared of discussing any fundamental issue of their religion.
They do not have the courage to do so for fear of condemnation and retribution by these extremist or by the people who follow them and reject any positive change and refuse to move forward.
Often the majority refuse any positive change and prefer to blindly imitate their ancestral practices, something which the Quran strongly opposes. This problem is an ancient one which had faced and challenged all the prophets of Allah (SW), as mentioned in Sura 43:23:
“And thus it is: whenever We sent, before thy time, a warner to any community, those of its people who had lost themselves entirely in the pursuit of pleasures would always say, “Behold, we found our forefathers agreed on what to believe – and, verily, it is but in their footsteps that we follow!”
وَكَذَلِكَ مَا أَرْسَلْنَا مِن قَبْلِكَ فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّذِيرٍ إِلَّا قَالَ مُتْرَفُوهَا إِنَّا وَجَدْنَا آبَاءنَا عَلَى أُمَّةٍ وَإِنَّا عَلَى آثَارِهِم مُّقْتَدُونَ (43:23
This social behavior is repeatedly mentioned throughout the Quran with every messenger’s mission. So long as there are a human beings and societies on earth this behavior will repeat itself, for this problem emanates from the human nature in the absence of adherence to guidance. Therefore it became part of people’s behavior and character. Since it is connected to human nature and social development, it becomes very hard to deal with. Any human conduct which becomes habitual requires a lot of genuine efforts by the individual to deal with it.
Due to the complexity of this social problem it is essential to rethink our definition of things; our relationship with the various elements of this world, whether it be our job, family, religious or political leaders or any other corporeal things in this world. We must recognize that there is nothing in this world deserves an absolute loyalty except Allah (SW). On the Day of Judgment all people will be brought before Allah and will be held accountable for their actions. And before it is too late, my dear friends, we should not be among that group of people who are referred to in 14:22.
“Behold, we found our forefathers agreed on what to believe
We should stop attributing all the blame at the western world, colonial powers, Zionism, or “whateverism!!” except our selves and begin to re focus our loyalty to the Lord of this universe.
We must connect to the ultimate truth of this universe who is the almighty Allah.
Remember not to use the lens of your school-of-thought to define and connect to the ultimate truth”Al-Haq”, for it is out of focus.
Just use the lens of your good “Fitra- disposition” as it is referred to in the Quran 30:30:
“AND SO, set thy face steadfastly towards the [Haneef-one ever-true] faith, turning away from all that is false, in accordance with “ Fitra- the natural disposition” which God has instilled into humankind..
فَأَقِمْ وَجْهَكَ لِلدِّينِ حَنِيفًا فِطْرَةَ اللَّهِ الَّتِي فَطَرَ النَّاسَ عَلَيْهَا… (30:30)
In the above verse Allah is reminding us to be “Haneef-one ever-true” first and not Shi’a or Sunni, through “Fitrata Allah” or the divine Fitra-the natural disposition which is vested in all of us. This divine Fitra is designed to recognize the simple truth “Al-Haq” around us and within us.
You do not have to look for the truth “Al-Haq” too far away from you, for it is within you and around you; if you can’t find it then you will never connect to it.
Al-Haq, Truth is very simple because it represents the glory of the creator and His manifestations around us. It could be as simple as attending the ill, planting a tree, preserving life, helping your fellow human regardless of their race, color or school of thought.
Connecting to the Ultimate truth “Al-Haq” is a lot easier than proving who is on the right path; the Sunnis or Shi’as; Christian or Muslims.
Surely, from an Islamic perspective, on the right path are those who utter the words “No God but Allah and Mohammad is His messenger” and act by it. And on the right path, for the sake of Allah; for the sake of God; for the sake of Humanity, for the sake of pure goodness, those who make a difference in this world; Who alleviate the pain and suffering of the unfortunate people of the world; who bring smiles to the orphans, in particular to those who have been orphaned by sectarian killings of Muslims; such good acts will surely please Allah and His messengers.
There is a lot more to be done in this world than proving who is right or who is wrong.
In the light of what has been said so far, we must acknowledge that there are many obstacles which face Islam today and these are very serious and challenging. In my opinion, the biggest challenge faces Islam today is posed by its followers, the Muslims. There are obviously major factors that contribute to the current horrific Muslim situation. In future postings, in-Sha a Allah, in addition to this factor above, I will try to point out the various negative factors of social and political backwardness of Muslims today resulting from the negative aspects of the inherited knowledge of our schools of thoughts (with full respect to the great positive aspects of wisdom and knowledge both schools have to offer- where I personally learned and still am learning from).
Please be ready to have an open mind when discussing such issues.
I leave you at this note until next time
May Allah help us all?