The upper deck passengers

In the collection of Imam Bukhari, Nu'man bin Bashir reported that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said, "The example of the person abiding by God's order and restrictions in comparison to those who violate them is like the example of those persons who drew lots for their seats in a boat. Some of them got seats in the upper part, and the others in the lower. When the latter needed water, they had to go up to bring water (and that troubled the upper deck passengers), so they said, 'Let us make a hole in our share of the ship (and get water) so that we do not trouble the upper deck passengers.' If the people in the upper part left the lower deck passengers to do what they had suggested; then all the people of the ship would be destroyed, but if they had prevented them, then both parties would be safe."

The lesson that the Prophet is giving us in the above example is important to understand. The upper deck passengers must ensure that the lower deck passengers are well cared for so that they do not make a hole in the hull to get their water. Furthermore, they should not feel troubled by the lower deck passengers' repeated forays up to the upper deck for water. Indeed, the fact that the thinking of the passengers on the lower deck that they should make a hole in the hull of the ship so that they do not trouble the upper deck passengers is a sign of serious dysfunctionality among the ship community.

The Prophet likened the upper deck passengers to those who follow God's commands and abide by His rules. Abiding by God's law allows them to live fully in the Divine Sunlight, absorbing its rays and enjoying the sweet, fragrant trade-winds of life's ocean. During many Friday sermons I have heard this Hadith, and the imam usually claims that it is the Muslims who are the upper deck passengers. This is well and good, but there is a serious danger of instilling complacency in whoever hears or reads this Hadith. The purpose of the Hadith is not to make Muslims feel good about themselves as being a privileged class enjoying the upper deck. In fact the purpose is to convey the message that the upper deck passengers are equivalent to people who abide by God's law with a sense of responsibility. If Muslims claim to be the upper deck passengers, then they need to understand the enormous responsibility that has been thrust upon them.

As they bask in the Divine Sunlight on the upper deck, the upper deck passengers must never forget about their lower deck co-passengers. More than simply supplying them with water, they must try to bring them to the upper deck. It is expected that some of the lower deck passengers will refuse to come to the Light, but as long as the lower deck passengers get their water and the upper deck passengers are not "troubled" by their continued request for water, the ship will stay afloat. If Muslims are those upper deck passengers, they have failed to fully discharge their responsibilities.

If we carry this analogy further, we will find that not only have Muslims not cared about their lower deck companions, they have simply forgotten about them altogether, preferring to rub suntan lotion on their bodies and pull out their lawn chairs to "bask in the sun." Most have fallen asleep in their lawn chairs, leaving the lower deck passengers thirsty and discontent. When some of the upper deck passengers wake up from their slumber, and -- after feeling guilty for falling asleep -- they try to gently wake the others from their blissful sleep and remind them of their responsibility but only a few awaken from their slumber. A small minority of those who awaken -- for some unknown reason -- begin to wreak havoc on the upper deck, creating unnecessary destruction. The lower deck passengers, after beholding the chaos on the upper deck, become afraid of the upper deck passengers and are content to stay where they are and make holes in the hull for their water. Meanwhile, the ship is veering off course and is headed for a shallow reef which will sink the ship if it collides with the reef. The captain is oblivious of the reef, and the upper deck passengers are too busy sleeping or throwing other passengers overboard to notice the ship's impending disaster.

This status quo can not continue. If Muslims are those upper deck passengers, they are truly fortunate. In fact, the Hadith states that the upper deck passengers got there because they won the lots that were cast. The most proper way they can thank God for the blessing of being on the upper deck is to wake up from their slumber and take hold of the chaos. They must stop the wild ones who are throwing other passengers overboard while frightening and preventing the lower deck passengers from coming up to the top, at the very least, get their water. Furthermore, if they do not guide the captain of the ship, the ship will collide with the reef and sink, destroying everyone. If Muslims are the upper deck passengers, then they need to starting "walking the walk." For far too long, they have only "talked the talk,".

Hesham A. Hassaballa is a Chicago physician and columnist for the Independent Writers Syndicate. He is author of "Why I Love the Ten Commandments," published in the Book Taking Back Islam: American Muslims Reclaim Their Faith (Rodale).

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Older Comments:
Assalamu Alaikum Charles Jacks. Regarding your submission concerning the removal of arsenic from well water (according to Allah's will) I ran a google search for [arsenic "sea water" gold]. Consider having a look at the article at

Have a close look at the paragraph were the article mentions the reduction of arsenic from drinking water. Also have a look at the last paragraph, were a seemingly cryptic mention is made of "carriers" used with "immobilised liquid membranes." Anything there?

Mind you, I'm not so much interested in "six billion tonnes of gold" as I am in funding the removal of arsenic from regional supplies of drinking water. In any case, all glory belongs to the Lord of the worlds.

Peace and blessings.

--Yahya Bergum

Two things that God gives us that are precious beyond measure are time and knowledge. To waste either is to waste ourselves. As a saying goes where I come from "idle hands are the devils workshop". A recent article in National Geographic indicates that many Muslims have a higher education and yet there is insufficient employment to keep them busy. The article was specific to Saudi Arabia but I think it largely goes for the 1.3 or so Muslims everywhere.
There is a hadith that we should pass by those in idle conversation and ask for forgiveness as we leave those engaged in such. And there is a hadith that that states that God stops counting a humans sins at their death while three things accumulate to their benefit after their death. 1: spreading good knowledge 2: creation of a charitable organization and 3: pious children. I cannot help with the latter but I think the first two can be accommodated.
I would like to see what I would call an "Islamic Technology Transfer Library" on the web. This would be a collection of knowledge that Muslims can draw upon to solve problems within their or another community.
For example, development organizations helped to sink wells across Pakistan so that people could have plentiful water. Unfortunately, many of the wells are contaminated with arsenic. If the library had a collection of articles explaining various filtration methods such as adsorption, chelation, ion exchange, chemical precipitation with mechanical filtration, and reverse osmosis someone might be able to come up with a way to make the water safe to drink. (I know the water can be pumped by windmills, could a windmill run a fresh water to fresh water reverse osmosis system.)
By making the submission process open to the public, those with knowledge but few resources to develop them can at least make them available to others and future generations.

I think people frequently get their perspective of revelation backward. If you study the lose of science within the Christian Church it is the result of this phenomena. The church put primary emphasis on its own interpretation of the "human centric" theory and refused to admit to itself the primary evidence of creation itself. This self-delusion lasted until the 1970's (when the church finally admitted Galileo was correct) and has resulted in a great loss in cohesion between science and morality. This is a very important lesson for the Muslims to learn.
Humans are a construct of creation, creation is the stage upon which we learn our language. The connotation of the words are the result of the context of our lives. Therefore, creation represents both a "prior command" (if not quite a few) and the context to develop understanding. Our understanding and interpretation of human form (human language) revelation should be suspect if it is in conflict with this prior command. Trying to interpret human form revelation about creation from a human centric viewpoint is to lose fidelity to the context it was given by the prior command.
We would expect, therefore, to be less able to understand the Quran the less we understand creation. As someone once said scholars are harder on the devil than a thousand saints. Let me give you an example.

Thank you, Brother Jacks. I had been guessing that the Mediterranean Sea was a saltier sea, as you confirmed, because its "shore lander" folk seem to share a preference for saltier cuisine. Actually there is an essay on the two seas, as mentioned within the Quran, at (at a web site based on the works of Harun Yahya).

The reason I had asked about your having received any inspiration from the Quran was that I think the Quran actually offers scientific insight - to whomever would believe in the Quran. My thinking is that, beyond being consistent with scientific discoveries, the Quran even suggests that which is yet to be discovered (and potentially applied) by those who believe in its message.

If we seek to be obedient to Allah then, in theory, we would be sensitive to the will of Allah. If the angels, according to the will of Allah, would receive our assistance then why shouldn't we offer assistance to Allah (subhanahu wa ta'ala) in some of the ways you've suggested? (The angels are surely helping all of the creatures of this world even now - are they not?)

Also, I liked what you said in one of your comments - about encouraging local interests to develop and apply industrial capacity. Going by most of the Middle Eastern and Asian Muslims I have either read about or had the pleasure of working with, I would say that their technological expertise already seems quite advanced. Admittedly, they might perhaps have become just a bit too accustomed to preferring employment opportunities at large businesses and institutions - due to experience with visa restrictions, etc.

Peace be with you.

--Yahya Bergum

I tend to agree with Charles Jacks. His opinion that we should invest in education is something that I can relate to.

With education we can set ourselves free. Money can be stolen but knowledge can replace it yet it can not be taken away from the learned.

Thus the Quran's first word to the Prophet pbuh was "READ!". Therein lies the solution to all our ills. The Arabs for centuries excelled in all faculties of sciences and likewise when they ignored this Quranic advice, they became loosers.

Imagine, when all ISlamic capitals have many universities funded to its max. with money from the wealth that Allah has bestowed on us. Imagine when no youth goes without the opportunity for a free university education. Imagine research centres funded to the max to attract scientists from all wlaks of life to carry our research on every faculty and especially in eradicating diseases.

Sure there should be guidelines to ensure that all knowledge is funded and used to further human life at large. Thus we shall be "a people most balanced", who sanctify life and help mankind.

I pray for this direction for us all.

Ahmed Asgher

Sorry Brother Bergum. My comments come more out of my educational and employment background. I have worked in technology transfer for over a decade at universities that allowed me to take classes for free. I have a background in: industrial engineering, operations research, simulation, statistics, computer science and zoology. These are the fields I have the equivalent of a degree in (though registrar offices have restrictions preventing me from having the paper in more than two of these.) I worked in agriculture, food and transportation technology transfer and developed an appreciation of the problems facing and soon to face the worlds population. I tend to stay awake at light trying to think of solutions.
My concept comes from applying what I know of the standard reverse osmosis process. I have spent some time on marine research vessels and scuba dive so I know the pressure differential needed for reverse osmosis can be supplied by the differential densities of columns of fresh and salt water. Unfortunately, the differential is small so it would require a deep pipe. The Mediterranean is saltier and therefore would not require as deep a pipe, the adjacent lands need water badly and oil rich countries should have the technology for the deep sea rigs it would require. A consortium of countries in that area could probably develop and share the technology. But there are significant difficulties to be overcome.
The closest I can come to a ayat from the Quran to inspire the concept is the one about the two bodies of water (one salty and one fresh and good to drink) that are separated by a barrier. I am not with my resources at the moment and will be away from home the next week so I won't be able to look it up for you. Sorry but I try to travel light. Books tend to be heavy.

This story should be told to the US and it' s puppet governments who have their foots on the necks of Muslims all over the world. These governments are on the upper deck sleep without a care for anyone or any thing but their own material gain. It is the role of the Muslims to call all to the truth but let us not forget to call this global oppressor (U.S. Gov) to task as well.

As-Salaamu'Alaiykum Wa-Rahmatullahi Wa-Barakatu,

Ahmed, I respect you dearly and I love you my brother...I have read your posts in other articles, I assme you are the same Ahmed from other recent articles. I am happy you stated that certain individuals provide apologetic statements "on behalf" of those who intentionally come here to project their anti-Muslim views VIA "selective-intelligence"...

Chander's and Norman's often visit Islamicity, and say things like "so then the Muslims are the chosen people?." Hello people, this doesn't mean he is complimenting Muslims...his objective is to riducule, and at the same time confuse people while some ignore, and some read and post comments like Haroon's (apologetic)....
SO naturally I feel obligated to continually visit this website in order to respond, so that people may open their minds to somtething they think is how the wife of the great American President Abraham Lincoln was a Malanjun (those Muslims in America who on the exterior pretended to be Christians for fear of persecution, but secretely inside themselves believed La Ilaha Il-Allah, Muhammadur-Rasool-Ilah). I wonder if Americans know that the foundation of their common names such as Booker comes from Bubaka, which comes from Abu Bakr...or how the name Bailey comes from Bilal. Magazine comes from Makhazin, etc., etc....there are too many words to mention here that have their origins in Islamic civilization and the Arabic language. A serious re-evaluation of America's history must be undertaken, so that the contributions of Muslims in America can be brought to the make it common knowledge among American minds...if Muslims did this more often, comments like John Norman's wouldn't exist as they Jihad centres around informing others of the truth. Lies ARE defeated by revealing historical truths.

Brother Ahmed,Jazak-Allah Khairan, may Allah give you & your family peace, Ameen.

Akbar, your comments are a breath of fresh air. it up. I am fed up with 3rd rate apologists and hate mongers getting a free ride here.

H.A. personally likes to shoulder all the problems faced by Muslims and Non-Muslims in his or her respective communities. He will be coming up with blueprints or algorithms or mechanisms to first identify every little problem and then neutralize the problem with his realistic and fruitful methods so that the there is a continous flow of water b/w the upper and lower deck bipedallic Homo Sapiens and other multi, uni, or non -pedallic creatures, who also have the right to be on the ship.

By the way, why people are so mad at my dear brother John Norman???? He is just expressing his views...

Brother Norman!!! welcome aboard, sir. You Dad's name is Adam and My Dad's name is Adam. Mother Eve would be in great distress if we fight each other. So, welcome aboard and other Islamic sites. Feel free to drop by anytime.

Definition of upper deck people: those who are "..pious and do good deeds..." It does not matter if you are Jews, Christians, Eskimos, Hindus, Buddhists, or Klingons...

H.A. gotta get back to work... No, he does not have time to post alternative views anymore.

Mr Haroon Nawaz, nice to have you hear with us today. Unfortunately, I agree wiht you that I need to grow up...but the real matter at hand here is this. What do you know about Mr. John Norman and his visits to this website? In fact you know nothing, because if you say that John Norman has a point, then you obviously don't have a clue what your talking about, since I have heard his stupid comments before and his slurs against Muslims. Take a few moments from your busy schedule, and read a few of his comments in previous articles on this website Haroon. meaning EVERY article before this one, where he constantly visits this website in order to post his hatred for Muslim people.

There's no such thing as Christian West Mr. Nawaz, it is in fact a Godless society of demoralization and demoliition of equality and human rights. You talk about Osamah Bin Laden and Mullah Omar punching a hole in the ship, for the Muslims bent on self-destruction. Please...I bet the next thing you are going to say is that you support President Bush for his invasion of Iraq since day one. To quote President Musharraf on his recent trip to the USA, he said:

"Pakistan will only send troops into Iraq, if the Iraqi people want them."

In order to bring Islam out into the light of day, you should stop regurgitating Pax Americana views out of your mouth, and instead learn about Islamic history in America since the 10th century...just as a starting point...refer to the findings of Shaykh Abdullah Hakin-Quick and "Muslims in the Americas Before Columbus"..

So in conclusion Mr. Nawaz, I might need to grow up, but you need to WAKE UP, from your slumber and dreams for material wealth, to what is going around you in the world today. In other words..get with reality, stop talking the talk, and learn to walk the walk.

Assalamu alaikum Charles. I'm stuck on your comments. They astonish me. Insha'Allah I will reply - either to this article or a later one. Other than surrendering to Allah (who is the One True God) were there any specific scriptural passages that inspired your comments about a potential source of fresh water, et cetera? Masha'Allah. Wassalam.

Also, I'm not sure if these "Wahhabists" are completely aware of what they brought to us in an Arabic Quran but Allah subhanahu wa ta'ala willing they will enjoy the benefit in this life and the next. Alhamdulillah.

--Yahya Bergum

I am inclined to think that the Christian West (and maybe even Jews) are actually the ones out in the sun right now (with their luxuries and advancement) and that Muslims are the ones sinking the ship through illiteracy, in-fighting, self-pity and self-denial. The Christian west has finally woken up largely thanks to Osama bin Laden and Mullah Omar (Who have punched the hole in the ship, along with the rest of the muslim nation) and are now trying to fix the ship, currently without the help of the lower deck (muslim) passengers who are bent on self-destruction. Just thought I would throw a contrast to the thoughts of the author and make y'all think...The Quran (i am not absolutely sure of this) states that the Jews made the blunder of thinking that because they were God's chosen people they were as a nation infallible and above the justice of God. I believe that the Muslim ummath/nation is now making that very same mistake and that we are responsible for what is now happening around the world today. It is our job to change the course of the ship and bring Islam out into the light of day, and with it the rest of humanity. I think that Mr. Norman has a point and that Mr. Khan needs to grow up, be more loving and open like our prophets, and wake up.

Imagine putting a semipermeable membrane at the end of a long pipe filled with fresh water and plunging it into the ocean. As the fresh water is less dense than the salt water, there will be a pressure differential at the bottom where the membrane is. The longer the pipe, the deeper the bottom and the greater the pressure differential. At about 4000 feet (assuming I have done the math correctly and depending on the salinity and temperature profile) the pressure differential will be sufficient to push water across the osmotic pressure and out the top of the pipe. If there is room for the now more salty water on the outside of the membrane to sink, the osmotic pressure will stay below the pressure differential of the fresh and salt water. The result of this is that fresh water will flow out the top of the pipe until the membrane clogs. With a sufficiently large area of membrane there should be a significant flow of potable water that could also be used in greenhouses.

The conditions for this (deep salt water) exist in many places in the world, many near desert and dry regions in which people struggle to survive. I don't know if this would solve the water shortages in many areas but I offer it as an alternative to drilling a hole in the bottom of humanities boat. If the membrane was put a thousand feet deeper there might be a bit of pressure at the top that could be used to generate energy.

One problem is that deep water tends to be colder, therefore denser and counters the process. However the cold water could be used to improve the efficiency of a solar energy collector (I know the Saudis studied sterling cycle engines for power production) in an arid region to help pump the water.

I would like some help, or be of help in developing this if anyone thinks it has merit.

Is it not easy to understand that for Allah(SWT) the upper deck passengers are all those who seeks Him (and Him alone), abide by His law, do good, call for what is right, forbid evil and be patient during troubles doing all these? The lower deck passengers then would be any one who does not do the above - be it a Muslim, a Jew, a Christian or any body else. The upper deck passengers then, like the brother wrote in this article, should help the lower deck passengers. This help should include calling Muslims to assimilate the awe and greatness of Allah(SWT) into their hearts, and His obedience into their daily lives. It should include conveying the message of tawheed (Oneness of Allah(SWT) with no partners, sons, daughters etc associated with Him - the essence of Islam) to non-Muslims. It is interesting to note that Allah(SWT) refers in the Holy Quran to "believers" and not "Muslims" in most places - hence a born Muslim, Jew or Christian needs to move on to become a "believer" by **believing in the way Allah(SWT) wants us to believe** in the way shown by all the prophets (pbut), especially the last prophet, Prophet Mohammed (pbuh).

I think that if I were a ruler of one of these oil rich states I would funnel the money into subsidizing the manufacturing sector,.particularly the electronics and programming area. Programming is one area in which a country can generate jobs and income without a lot of natural resources except intelligent people. The electronics industry would allow the country to be independent of other countries. If the electronics were specialized toward computing and the development of other infrastructure in developing countries the electronics could be traded for raw resources. This is a positive sum game in that the developing countries could obtain the technical resources they need to further their development while the first country obtained other resources for their own use.

If the Muslims would turn their attention to building up the undeveloped and developing countries they will obtain friends and allies in the struggle for a better and more just world. This could also become a foothold in the development of sustainable lifestyles and economies independent of the coercion of the western powers. Use the resources God gave you in a gracious and merciful manner towards others and you will obtain what can not be bought. Some industries have a cost that is basically the cost of the energy, explore these to give people jobs, create alternative incomes for the country and friends through out the world. Who knows you may also create lots of good deeds for yourself and the people of your country.

I think upper deck is for Jewish (the chosen one) and they decided that why bother dealing with lower desk lets just kill all of them (palestians and as well as anyone else around the ship. This is the way "the chosen one" obey their god (whichever god they have in these days, Fox news or Bush Administration) order.

To add to that...In Islam, unlike other faiths, you cannot "CONVERT"....that is because Allah teaches us that every human being is born as a Muslim, and if that child is raised to be something other than a Muslim, and then later on in life decides to embrace Islam, Mash'Allah, then that person has reverted rather than "converted."

John Norman....I thinkk I figured out what your job is! troll Muslim websites and post your Zionist views, because in the real world, your Zionists buddy's don't give you enough attention...,aww, so you've decided to Join the Muslims here!! LOL well cya Johnny, and KEEP ON FUMING, and KEEP UP THE WORK!!! LOL I bet it's paying off, haha....visit this website it might interest you, unless you really hate the truth.

Actually John the example given says that it is the people who abide by God's Law. This could also refer to Jews, Christians or anyone else who abides by God's Law. Please let your mind open beyond the limited worldview of Fox News that you are trapped in.

Sounds like the upper deck passengers ie the Muslims were "Chosen People"?