Speaking Truth to Power

Value and Importance of Truth

The people who are either in power or with wealth and influence like to be followed or obeyed and usually don’t like detractors challenging their wrong views or opinions. Speaking truth to power is not easy and requires moral courage and deep conviction. Thus, it is not difficult to see the rarity of such a trait in today’s human beings who seem to be motivated more by material gains than what’s morally right and just.

The religion of Islam puts great emphasis on upholding truth and justice under all circumstances, even against one’s loved ones. Let me share below some relevant verses of the Qur’an:

“O ye who believe! Be ye staunch in justice, witnesses for Allah, even though it be against yourselves or (your) parents or (your) kindred, whether (the case be of) a rich man or a poor man, for Allah is nearer unto both (them ye are). So follow not passion lest ye lapse (from truth) and if ye lapse or fall away, then lo! Allah is ever Informed of what ye do.” Qur’an (4:135)

“O ye who believe! Be steadfast witnesses for Allah in equity and let not hatred of any people seduce you that ye deal not justly. Deal justly, that is nearer to your duty. Observe your duty to Allah. Lo! Allah is informed of what ye do.” Qur’an (5:8)

“Confound not truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the truth.” Qur’an (2:42)

“O ye who believe! Be careful of your duty to Allah and be with the truthful.” Qur’an (9:119)

“O ye who believe! Guard your duty to Allah and speak words straight to the point (without any equivocation).”Qur’an (33:70)

Prophet Muhammad (S) said, “Speak the truth even when it is bitter.” [Ibn Hibban; Hilyat’ul Awliya Wa Tabaqat’ul Asfiya: (narrated by) Abu Dhar Ghifari (RA)]

He (S) also said, “No man can attain a firm faith, unless he developed strength of character and that cannot be achieved unless one acquires the habit of speaking the truth.” [Nahjul Balagha: Ali (RA)]

He (S) said, “By Allah, you must enjoin good and forbid evil, and hold the hand of aggressors to persuade them to act justly and make them steadfast on truth, failing which Allah will punish you along with others (i.e., wrong doers) and you will be cursed like the Bani Israel.” [Abu Dawud and Tirmizi: Abdullah ibn Mas’oud (RA)]

Caliph Umar (RA) famously said to a congregation of Muslims gathered in a mosque near Jerusalem, “… And speak the truth. Do not hesitate to say what you consider to be the truth. Say what you feel. Let your conscience be your guide. Let your intentions be good, for verily God is aware of your intentions. In your deeds your intentions count. Fear God, and fear no one else.” [Source: John Alden Williams, ed., Themes of Islamic Civilization (Berkeley; University of California) 1971]

Amir-ul Mu’mineen Ali (RA), the fourth Caliph, said, “Adhere to the cause of truth and justice wherever you find it.” [Nahjul Balagha]

In Bahr al-Fava’id, a medieval Islamic work of religious and ethical exhortation, it is said thatWhoever is ashamed to speak the truth is a disgrace to mankind; and whoever fears to speak the truth is a devil.’

It is not difficult to understand how and why the Qur’anic commandments and Islamic teachings had emboldened many Muslims throughout the Islamic history, dating from the time of the first call of pure monotheism to more contemporary times, to dare to speak the truth.

Conviction for Truth During Early Days of Islam

When Prophet (S) preached pure monotheism amongst the pagan Arabs of his time, he (S) and his followers (RA) faced much resistance from the leaders of the community. Islam was a new faith amongst the Arabs of the 7th century C.E. that challenged the old order - customs, traditions, rules and regulations, requiring uncompromising belief in an unseen God – Allah. It challenged the Makkan aristocracy. It required the believer to change his/her lifestyle so that he/she won't lie, deceive, gamble, intoxicate, kill, murder, steal, fornicate, commit female infanticide, etc. It required fasting (without food and water) from dawn to dusk, during the entire month of Ramadan, a task which was very difficult in unusually hot summer days of Arabia. It required praying five times daily to remind the believer of his/her servitude to Allah and accountability of his/her deeds – good and bad, large and small. It demanded paying the poor-due (zakat) and making regular charity (sadaqah), feeding the indigent and relieving pains and sufferings of fellow creatures – acts that are against innate human attitude towards wealth and possession. It advocated freeing of slaves. It demanded fair treatment of all – especially, the women and orphans. It preached brotherhood and sisterhood of mankind, irrespective of one's upbringing, color, race, nationality and wealth. It demanded standing out for truth and justice, even if it was against one's own soul (nafs). It demanded leading a clean life away from sin and vice that is always mindful of relationship with Allah, fellow creatures and environment, and his/her own self.

And yet, despite such new set of do's and don'ts, there were people who embraced Islam – from Bilal the Abyssinian to Shu'aib the Byzantine to Salman the Persian to Abu Bakr the Quraish, from a 10-year old young boy – Ali ibn Talib to a 55-year old lady – Khadijah, from a freed slave by the name of Zaid bin Haritha to a rich merchant by the name of Uthman ibn Affan to a shepherd by the name of Abdullah ibn Mas'oud (RA). They all dared to speak truth to power. They were all ready to make the ultimate sacrifice – personal, family, social, cultural and economic – for their belief in the new faith – Islam. They were even willing to die to defend their faith in the battlefield when called for.

Let me share the following historical facts from the lives of some of the early Companions of Muhammad (S).

Bilal (RA) was the slave of a rich man in Makkah, Umayya bin Khalaf, who was one of the worst enemies of Islam. Because of Bilal's acceptance of Islam, he was whipped at night and with the cuts thus received, made to lie on the burning sand with a heavy stone put on his chest during the day to force him to renounce Islam or to die a lingering death from the wounds. But Bilal (RA) would not yield.

Similar is the story of Khabbab ibn Al-Aratt (RA) who was one of the very early converts to Islam. He was the slave of a woman who was hostile to Islam. She used to brand Khabbab’s head with a hot iron rod. He was made to put on steel armor and lie in the sun to sweat and swelter. Very often he was made to lie flat on burning sand, which caused the flesh on his back to waste away. Yet this was not enough for his pagan slave-owner. She would have his body dragged by others over heaps of smoldering charcoal. This would cause his blood and fat to come out of his back.

Sumayya (RA) and her husband Yasir (RA) were slaves of a Makkan idolater who was utterly hostile to Islam. He wanted them to renounce the faith. When they did not, he tortured them mercilessly. They were tormented on scorching sands of Makkah. One day, Sumayya (RA) was standing when Abu Jahl, the worst enemy of Islam, passed that way. He flung all sorts of dirty words at her and then put his spear through the most private part of her body, causing her death. She had refused to renounce Islam in the face of terrible torture in her old age. The blessed lady was the first to meet martyrdom in the cause of Islam. Yasir (R) died after prolonged sufferings at the hands of his persecutors.

Abu Fakeeh, Aflah, a freed slave of Bani Abd Ad-Dar, was another victim of persecution. The oppressors used to fasten his feet with a rope and drag him in the streets of Makkah. [See this author’s book - Book of Devotional Stories – for many such stories.]

When the pagan Arabs could not sway Muhammad (S) and his followers into renouncing Islam, they tried to entice him with worldly gains. Consider, e.g., what 'Utba Ibn Rabi'a had said to Muhammad (S):

"O son of my brother, if by this affair you intend to acquire riches, honors, and dignity, we are willing to collect for you a fortune larger than is possessed by any one of us; we shall make you our chief and will do nothing without you. If you desire dominion, we shall make you our king..."

When Muhammad (S) could not be swayed, the pagan Arab leaders persuaded Abu Talib, the Prophet’s (S) uncle to approach him. To this suggestion the Prophet (S) firmly replied: "O my uncle, if they placed the sun in my right hand and the moon in my left hand to cause me to renounce my task, verily I would not desist therefrom until Allah made manifest His cause or I perished in the attempt." [Ibn Kathir]

The Prophet (S) and the nascent community of the Muslims faced much suffering in the hands of those pagan Arabs in Makkah who left no scheme and mechanism unused to persecute the Muslims. The polytheists compelled them to leave their hearth and home. They seized their properties. They even sent a two-member delegation team to Abyssinia pleading to the King Negus that he deport the first group of Muslim refugees that had sought asylum there, back to Makkah. Negus was not pleased with this suggestion and said that he won’t surrender them to anyone until he himself had called them and questioned them about what they had been accused of.

In the court, Negus turned to the Muslims and asked, “What is this religion which you have taken for yourselves and which has served to cut you off from the religion of your people? You also did not enter my religion or the religion of any other community.”

Jafar ibn Abi Talib RA), the cousin of the Prophet (S), then advanced and made a speech that was moving and eloquent and which is still one of the most compelling descriptions of Islam, the appeal of the noble Prophet, and the depravity of Meccan society at the time. He said, “O King, we were a people in a state of ignorance and immorality, worshiping idols and eating the flesh of dead animals, committing all sorts of abomination and shameful deeds, breaking the ties of kinship, treating guests badly, and the strong among us exploited the weak. We remained in this state until God sent us a Prophet, one of our own people whose lineage, truthfulness, trustworthiness, and integrity were well-known to us. He called us to worship God alone and to renounce the stones and the idols which we and our ancestors used to worship besides God.”

Jafar (RA) continued, “He (S) commanded us to speak the truth, to honor our promises, to be kind to our relations, to be helpful to our neighbors; to cease all forbidden acts, to abstain from bloodshed, to avoid obscenities and false witness; to not appropriate an orphan’s property nor slander chaste women. He (S) ordered us to worship God alone and not to associate anything with Him, to uphold prayer, to give charity and to fast in the month of Ramadan. We believed in him and what he brought to us from God and we follow him in what he has asked us to do and we keep away from what he forbade us from doing. Thereupon, O King, our people attacked us, visited the severest punishment on us to make us renounce our religion and take us back to the old immorality and the worship of idols. They oppressed us, made life intolerable for us and obstructed us from observing our religion. So, we left for your country, choosing you before anyone else, desiring your protection and hoping to live in Justice and peace in your midst.

The Negus was so impressed that he told the leader of the pagan Arab delegate ‘Amr ibn al-‘As, “Go. For, by God, I will never surrender them to you.”

When the Christian king refused to deport the asylum seekers, ‘Amr ibn al-‘As went to the Negus the following day and said, “O King, these people to whom you have given refuge and whom you protect say something terrible about Jesus, the son of Mary. Send for them and ask them what they say about him.” The Negus summoned the Muslims and Jafar ibn Abi Talib (RA), who was the Prophet’s cousin, acted as their spokesman once more. The Negus asked, “What do you say about Jesus, the son of Mary?” Jafar (RA) replied, “Regarding him, we only say what has been revealed to our Prophet.” “And what is that?” enquired the Negus. “Our Prophet says that Jesus is the servant of God and His Prophet, His spirit and His word which He cast into Mary the Virgin.” The Negus exclaimed, “By God, Jesus the son of Mary was exactly as your Prophet has described him.”  [“Companions of the Prophet” by Abdul Wahid Hamid.]

What is so important to ponder here is that to avoid trouble and deportation Jafar (RA) could have lied about the status of Jesus in the presence of the king, his ministers and bishops who believed in Trinity. But he did not lie but spoke truth to power under such a trying circumstance. [After the Prophet (S) had migrated to Madinah, Jafar and those Muslim refugees joined him there.]

After weathering incessant persecution for 13 years, the Prophet (S) had to migrate to Madinah that provided him asylum. The pagan Arabs were relentless and did not give up their efforts to wipe out Islam there either. They attacked the Muslim community in Madinah that was comprised of the Muhajirs (the migrants to Madinah) and the Ansars (the helpers of Madinah that sheltered the refugees) over the next eight years. They killed many Muslims, including the beloved uncle of the Prophet – Hamza (RA) in ‘Uhud. Muhammad (S) said, “All the Prophets are opposed and tortured and I was tortured the most.

[For details on Prophet Muhammad’s (S) life, see this author’s book – Muhammad (S) and the Prescribed Highway to Peace, co-authored with M. Siddiqur Rahman.]

Challenges For Speaking to the Power in Today's World

Truth and justice have always been an anathema to the despots around the world who resort to torture and oppression to silence their adversaries. They are not oblivious of the truth but are averse to it being afraid of its impact that may weaken their control over the people. They like to conceal the truth.

In our time, thus, tens of thousands of those who dared to speak to power and demand justice have ended up either being killed or rotting in the prison cells inside the authoritarian regimes like China, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Sadly, the record of the so-called liberal democracies of the West is not better. With a huge nuclear arsenal at their disposal to destroy our planet several times, some of these governments aspire for world domination by any means possible. They behave like the Mafia. They are hostile to anyone challenging or questioning their ‘new world order’.

As I have noted elsewhere, something that has also been stated by numerous Jewish academics and conscientious human beings, the government of Israel and its powerful lobbies (esp. the AIPAC and CUFI) have had a strong grip over American foreign policy for decades. The latter equate any criticism of the Zionist state as being anti-Jewish. And this equation is absurd!

The newly elected Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (D-MN) has been a fresh air in the Capitol Hill, raising legitimate questions about Israel, about America’s foreign policy toward Israel and about the Israeli lobby in the States. Naturally, she is an eyesore to the powerful coteries, the neo-imperialists and hatemongers in the USA, esp. the pro-Israeli ‘Amen Corner’ who have been screaming in rage ever since this hijab-clad Muslim-American woman of Somali background got elected in the U. S. Congress.

Ms. Omar’s comment, “It’s all about the Benjamins baby,” was viewed as a reference to an anti-Semitic stereotype and condemned by members of both parties. “A black day for Israel,” tweeted POTUS Donald Trump. One congressman said “Questioning support for the US-Israel relationship is unacceptable.” Another said, “there are many reasons to support Israel, but there is no reason to oppose Israel.” While still another said that Democrats and Republicans, alike, are committed to insuring that the “United States and Israel stand as one.”

Eleven Jewish groups, among them the National Council for Young Israel and the Endowment for Middle East Truth, sent a petition on March 4 to Speaker Nancy Pelosi, the senior House Democrat, asking that she “immediately remove” Ms. Omar from the House Foreign Affairs Committee. A copy of the petition, which was also sent to Democrat Rep. Eliot Engel, who chairs the committee, was published by the Washington Free Beacon. Engel, an unabashed supporter of Israel, asked Omar to apologize.

The congresswoman was also accused of anti-Semitism for a phrase taken out of context from a town hall discussion in Washington, D.C. What she actually said was, “I want to talk about the political influence in this country that says it is okay for people to push for allegiance to a foreign country. And I want to ask, why is it okay for me to talk about the influence of the NRA, of fossil fuel industries, or Big Pharma, and not talk about a powerful lobby … that is influencing policy?”

She also faced accusations for tweets published on March 3 saying, “I am told every day that I am anti-American if I am not pro-Israel. I find that to be problematic and I am not alone. I just happen to be willing to speak up on it and open myself to attacks … I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest.”

What Ms. Omar said are all correct and true. If such true statements are wrongly labelled as anti-Semitic then she must be an Islamophobe, too. After all, she has been critical of Saudi Kingdom, its war crimes in Yemen and its gruesome record of violations of human rights. In October 2018, she tweeted: “The Saudi government might have been strategic at covering up the daily atrocities carried out against minorities, women, activists and even #YemenGenocide, but the murder of #Jamal Kashoggi should be the last evil act they are allowed to commit. #BDSSaudi#murderedjournalist (Posted 9:01 PM – 15 Oct 2018).The Saudi government might have been strategic at covering up the daily atrocities carried out against minorities, women, activists and even the #YemenGenocide, but the murder of #JamaKhashoggi should be the last evil act they are allowed to commit. #BDSSaudi #murderedjournalist. The Saudi government might have been strategic at covering up the daily atrocities carried out against minorities, women, activists and even the #YemenGenocide, but the murder of #JamaKhashoggi should be the last evil act they are allowed to commit. #BDSSaudi #murderedjournalist

Crown prince MBS and the pro-Saudi/Emirati media fumed, but we never heard of any complaint here in the USA that Ms. Omar was an Islamophobe for speaking her mind. Ilhan Omar is not shy of speaking truth to power. Lately she condemned former president Obama for his less-than-satisfactory performance. She cited the “caging of kids” at the Mexican border and the “droning of countries around the world” on Obama’s watch — and argued that he wasn’t much different from President Trump.

“We can’t be only upset with Trump,” the freshman firebrand told Politico Magazine. “His policies are bad, but many of the people who came before him also had really bad policies. They just were more polished than he was,” Omar said. “And that’s not what we should be looking for anymore. We don’t want anybody to get away with murder because they are polished. We want to recognize the actual policies that are behind the pretty face and the smile.”

What Ms. Omar said are unfiltered truth and nothing else, whether the governments in Saudi Arabia, Israel and the USA, and their supporters, lobbies and propaganda media like such statements or not.

Sometimes the pro-Israeli columnists have voiced their disappointment with the overwhelming influence of the Israel-lobby and the Likud leaders in American politics.  E.g., on December 13, 2011 Thomas Friedman of the New York Times wrote in reference to Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to US Congress that the “ovation was bought and paid for by the Israel Lobby.” As expected, no liberal called it an “anti-Semitic trope” either literally or in proportion to the reaction of Ms. Omar’s word choice.

So, why the double-standards with Ms. Omar when she calls spade a spade? Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) are falsely accused of being anti-Semitic simply because they dare to speak truth to power, let alone being women, non-White and Muslims. When Omar apologized for saying that her “intention is never to offend my constituents or Jewish Americans as a whole” the Republicans, including President Donald Trump, weren’t satisfied. Such reactions from politicians who bank on racism and bigotry to get elected is simply mind-boggling!

[Note: “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization—how did that language become offensive?” the Iowa GOP Representative Steve King said to The New York Times. “Why did I sit in classes teaching me about the merits of our history and our civilization?”

In an exclusive interview with Breitbart News in Tel Aviv in January (2019) when Roseann Barr, known for her acerbic and prejudicial remarks, was asked what she thought of the newly-installed outspoken BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction against Israel) proponents - Tlaib  and Omar, she said, “We have Hamas in Congress.” She also said BDS has “infected” the Democratic Party.

The House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy tweeted last year saying “we cannot allow” three Jewish men—George Soros, Tom Steyer, and Michael Bloomberg—to “BUY this election! Get out and vote Republican November 6th. #MAGA.” Yet, he was not censured for his anti-Semitic remarks then and has not apologized yet.]

Ms. Omar fired back at the president on Twitter saying, "You have trafficked in hate your whole life—against Jews, Muslims, indigenous [peoples], immigrants, black people and more. I learned from people impacted by my words. When will you?"

Mr. Trump’s reaction to the terrorism in New Zealand on March 15 that witnessed the murder of 50 Muslims and injury of another 50 worshipers in two mosques once again shows that he has no intention to learn. He refuses to distance himself from the most loyal group of his supporters – the white supremacists – who adore and support him. He has been cited by the Australian terrorist as an ‘inspiration’ to the white race against the ‘invader’ Muslims and non-whites. Rather than uniting the country against hatred and intolerance against the minorities, like some fellow racists within his party, Mr. Trump remains more mindful of growing his support base amongst the white supremacists. Thus, we shouldn’t be surprised if we see a repeat of the Christchurch terrorism somewhere in the near future.

After all, since Trump announced his candidacy for the top job three years ago, Islamophobia along with anti-Semitism, virulent racism, extreme misogyny and xenophobia is on the rise. Trump praised the “fine people” among the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) and Nazi sympathizers who marched in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017, chanting, “Jews will not replace us,” “White lives matter,” and “One people, one nation, end immigration.” One of those “fine people” used his car as a weapon to kill Heather Heyer and injure dozens more anti-racist protesters. Just over a year later, another white, racist killer, angered by the Jewish support for the refugees and immigrants whom President Trump has falsely branded as rapists and murderers, attacked the Tree of Life Synagogue in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, murdering 11 Jewish worshipers and injuring at least six more.

Thanks to alternate media, most Americans are more informed these days than ever before about the gross crimes of the US government – past and present. Many of Ms. Omar’s supporters are American and Israeli Jews who are tired of Netanyahu’s murderous policy against the indigenous Palestinians. Veteran Israeli journalist Gideon Levy wrote, “Ilhan Omar is not only one of the first two female Muslim members of the House of Representatives, she may herald a dramatic change in that body. … Neither Hamas nor a black day, but a glimmer of hope on Capitol Hill. Maybe, for the first time in history, someone will dare tell the truth to the American people, absorbing scathing accusations of anti-Semitism, without bowing her head.” He asked, “When will the world dare to distinguish between legitimate criticism of an illegitimate reality and anti-Semitism?”

Levy continued, “What, after all, has Omar said? That pro-Israel activists demand “allegiance to a foreign country”; that U.S. politicians support Israel because of money they receive from the pro-Israel lobby group AIPAC, and that “Israel hypnotized the world.” What is incorrect in these statements? Why is describing reality considered anti-Semitic?” “Jews have immense power in the U.S., far beyond the relative size of their community, and the blind support given by their establishment to Israel raises legitimate questions regarding dual loyalty. Their power derives from their economic success, their organizational skills and the political pressure they exert. Omar dared to speak about this. Just imagine what Israelis and Jews would feel if Muslim Americans had the same political, economic and cultural power Jews have. Such power, above all the intoxication with power that has seized hold of the Jewish establishment, comes with a price. Omar and her colleagues are trying to collect on it.”

Who can deny the massive power of the Lobby? Mr. Levy writes, “Due to the Israel lobby, the U.S. does not know the truth about what is happening here. Congress members, senators and shapers of public opinion who are flown here ad nauseam see only Israeli victimhood and Palestinian terror, which apparently emerged out of nowhere. Islamists, Qassam rockets and incendiary balloons – not a word about occupation, expropriation, refugees and military tyranny. Questions such as where the money goes and whether it serves American interests are considered heresy. When talking about Israel one must not ask questions or raise doubts. This cycle has to be broken as well. It’s not right and it’s not good for the Jews. Omar is now trying to introduce a new discourse to Congress and to public opinion. Thanks to her and her colleagues there is a chance for a change in America. From Israel we send her our wishes for success.”

Daring to speak truth to the enormous power of the Israeli lobby inside the USA and many parts of the western world is seen as a political hari-kari. As a result, since the days of Paul Findley no one within the U.S. Congress had the audacity to question America’s unwavering support for an apartheid state that has been guilty of a plethora of crimes against the indigenous Palestinian people. The Capitol Hill has been turned into an ‘Amen Corner’. Predictably, our elected reps. like to conceal the ugly truth about Israel’s monumental crimes in the Occupied Territories. They are unmindful of the UN Independent Commission of Inquiry report on the 2018 Gaza protest that faulted Israel over the deadly repression of the demonstrations in the Gaza strip in 2018. They won’t debate such matters that affect our moral standing around the globe!

According to the Commission, there are “reasonable grounds to believe that Israeli security forces committed serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.” “We call on Israel to conduct meaningful investigations into these serious violations and to provide timely justice and reparations for those killed and injured,” said commission Chair Santiago Canto.

The commission’s findings show that 6,106 Palestinians were injured with live ammunition and 3,098 by bullet fragmentation, rubber-coated bullets or hits from tear gas canisters.
“We’re saying that they have intentionally shot children, they’ve intentionally shot people with disabilities, they’ve intentionally shot journalists,” said commission member Sara Hossain.

By the way, Ilhan Omar is not the only one who is falsely accused of being anti-Semitic. Such accusations are far more likely to be lobbed against people of color, especially Black and Arab intellectuals, as we've recently seen with Marc Lamont Hill, who was fired by CNN following complaints about his Palestinian rights speech at the United Nations. Angela Davis was awarded the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute's prestigious Fred L. Shuttlesworth Human Rights Award in her hometown, only to have the award revoked because of her support for Palestinian rights (In response to massive public pressure, the Institute offered to renew the offer, but Davis instead chose to participate in a public event that included solidarity with Palestine). Michelle Alexander, whose extraordinary New York Times column rooted support for Palestinian rights squarely in the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., faced charges of “sneaky anti-Semitism.”The Saudi government might have been strategic at covering up the daily atrocities carried out against minorities, women, activists and even the #YemenGenocide, but the murder of #JamaKhashoggi should be the last evil act they are allowed to commit. #BDSSaudi #murderedjournalistThe Saudi government might have been strategic at covering up the daily atrocities carried out against minorities, women, activists and even

As the foregoing discussion shows, speaking truth to power is and can often be hazardous. The daring few are bound to face isolation, reprimand, loss of earnings, and may even face death.

Thanks to the leaders like Trump, Modi, Netanyahu, Xi Jinping, Suu Kyi, MBS and many others, our world is going through a major crisis where hatred and intolerance against minorities are becoming the new norms. Conscientious people around the globe have a moral imperative to throttle such evils by saying and doing things that are morally right and just, no matter how insurmountable the pressure is to keep mum and do nothing.

Intolerance has no place in our time and space. Let’s be reminded here by the instruction of Ali (RA) to Malik al-Ashtar, his newly appointed governor to Egypt: “Remember that the citizens of the state are of two categories. They are either your brethren in religion or your brethren in kind (i.e., one like you in creation).” [For citation, see this author’s book: Wisdom of Mankind: A collection of voices of Muslims from the earliest moments to the last century.]

May Allah help and guide us all to work towards a peaceful world without intolerance of any kind.

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