- 1 Establishment of universal justice by proper use of power
- 2 Our present “Islam” is creation of kingship
- 3 Allah gave freedom of choice to humans
- 4 Historical examples from Khalifa Umar (R) period
- 5 Khalifa Umar’s (R) trip to Jerusalem
- 6 Meaning of بِالْغَيْبِ (Bil-Ghaib)
- 7 Prerequisite for getting Allah’s help
- 8 Did Islam spread by sword?
- 9 Sufism
The Quran says that natural disasters and calamities do occur from time to time. Also, unexpected events occur to individuals who become incapacitated and unable to work. As it has always happened throughout human history, when some disaster struck a community or individuals, some clever and malicious humans and hegemonic nations took advantage of the situation and exploited it for amassing wealth for themselves.
But Allah’s divine system when established in the society takes care of people no matter what type of disaster strikes. It does not let malevolent and selfish gangsters exploit the situation. But the enemies of the divine system always oppose its establishment. Even when it gets established by the hard work and struggle of believers driven by the divine mission, then these enemies put all kinds of roadblocks in its way to destabilize it. Allah says that We have made Our system strong enough and powerful that it can handle these enemies of humanity and stop them from harming it.
The Quran says: لَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا رُسُلَنَا بِالْبَيِّنَاتِ وَأَنزَلْنَا مَعَهُمُ الْكِتَابَ وَالْمِيزَانَ لِيَقُومَ النَّاسُ بِالْقِسْطِ ۖ وَأَنزَلْنَا الْحَدِيدَ فِيهِ بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّـهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ وَرُسُلَهُ بِالْغَيْبِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّـهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِي
(57:25) – Indeed, [even aforetime] did We send forth Our apostles with all evidence of [this] truth; and through them We bestowed revelation from on high, and [thus gave you] a balance [wherewith to weigh right and wrong], so that men might behave with equity; and We bestowed [upon you] from on high [the ability to make use of] iron, in which there is awesome power as well as [a source of] benefits for man: and [all this was given to you] so that God might mark out those who would stand up for him and His Apostle, even though He [Himself] is beyond the reach of human perception. Verily, God is powerful, almighty! [Asad]
Establishment of universal justice by proper use of power
In order to achieve this objective Allah has sent His Messengers to different nations for clear and explicit reasons. Every Messenger brought with him a code of laws. With the help of that code they established a society in which every action of a person would produce a proper result and people would adhere to justice and equity. For the stability of society, along with the Code of Law He also sent down a very hard, sharp and piercing sword (made of iron). Since this hardness helps in establishing the system of justice and peace and provides protection for the oppressed, instead of being harmful it is greatly beneficial to humankind. It also marks out those who help the Divine Order established by the messengers of Allah; and although its pleasant and beneficial results cannot be felt visibly they continue to sacrifice on account of their firm conviction in the divine mission. The Divine Order that has all the power and force in it is thus established with the help of these people.
All the duties that the messengers used to do is now entrusted to the Muslim Ummah, after the last Messenger, the Prophet (PBUH). And his Ummah was made the inheritor of the Book, the Quran. What is the mission of this Ummah? What it is that it is supposed to do? What is the program that this Ummah is supposed to carry out? It is all mentioned clearly in the Quran as it was mentioned in all the previous books. The first stage in the process of establishing the divine system is education and teaching of the divine message to the people using logic, reasoning, knowledge, and wisdom. They are told that what you are practicing is a wrong system that will lead to destruction; that this divine system will provide protection and security to all and will be beneficial to entire humanity. When enough people accept the divine message, then the next phase begins of implementing the divine laws. Laws are abstract and theoretical and are specified in words. When the laws get practically implemented then it is called the system of justice. Divine laws are universal. So, once they get practically implemented then the justice system based on these laws becomes universal, whose symbol is balance and equality. All humanity is treated equal before this universal divine law. But self-interested humans never want to be equal to others. They always oppose it. They want to crush others to amass power and wealth for themselves. So, Allah says that We have also sent down power to handle these enemies of universal justice; to handle these tyrants of humanity; and to stop their tyranny. We have sent down iron which is very powerful. The word “حَدِيدَ” (Hadeed) literally means iron but its root meaning is power.
Power by itself is neither good nor bad. Its use makes it good or bad. If it used to stop tyrants from causing tyranny, and help the oppressed masses then it is good. If it is used for selfish reasons and to subdue others, then it is bad. Similarly, the Quran says that wealth by itself is neither good nor bad. Its use makes it good or bad. If power and wealth are used for usurpation and to establish one’s own hegemony, then these are bad. But if these are used to establish the Universal System of Sustenance for the benefit of humanity, then these are good: وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ (57:25).
Our present “Islam” is creation of kingship
There is a common notion that Islam was spread by sword. And whoever accepted Islam was not allowed to go out of Islam by the fatwa of Murtad that was developed under the Abbasid kings – misnamed Khalifas to fool the people. If anyone dared to go out of Islam, then he must be killed according to this fatwa.
Our present “Islam” was created and developed during Abbasid kings which is still continuing until today. This is completely against the Quran. The Quran proclaims that there is no compulsion in Deen (2:256). It says: وَهَدَيْنَاهُ النَّجْدَيْنِ (90:10) – We have shown the two ways, the right way and the wrong way. We have put clearly marked signposts. Now it is up to you to choose which way you want to tread: إِنَّا هَدَيْنَاهُ السَّبِيلَ إِمَّا شَاكِرًا وَإِمَّا كَفُورًا (76:3).
Allah gave freedom of choice to humans
This proves that the Quran gave free choice to humans. The Quran’s constitution has given absolute freedom of choice that no other religion of the world has. As for the propaganda that Islam spread by sword, look at what the Quran says:
وَلَوْلَا دَفْعُ اللَّـهِ النَّاسَ بَعْضَهُم بِبَعْضٍ لَّهُدِّمَتْ صَوَامِعُ وَبِيَعٌ وَصَلَوَاتٌ وَمَسَاجِدُ يُذْكَرُ فِيهَا اسْمُ اللَّـهِ كَثِيرًا
(22:40) – For, if God had not enabled people to defend themselves against one another, all] monasteries and churches and synagogues and mosques - in [all of] which Gods name is abundantly extolled - would surely have been destroyed [ere now]. [Asad]
Even though the Quran says other religions are false but it respects and constitutionally protects the right of worship of other peoples by ordering Muslims to use power and defend non-Muslims’ places of worship if attacked; and if need be, even to sacrifice their lives for the defense of temples, synagogues, and churches, etc.
The principles of pious and virtuous action according to the Quran is: وَأَمَّا مَا يَنفَعُ النَّاسَ فَيَمْكُثُ فِي الْأَرْضِ (13:17) – that which is beneficial for the humanity endures: beneficial not to just one’s own group; not to one’s own religionists; not to one’s own tribe; not to one’s own nation. Therefore, Muslims are not just supposed to work for their own benefit but for the benefit of entire humankind. They are commanded not to coerce anyone directly or indirectly to accept Islam.
Historical examples from Khalifa Umar (R) period
There was a Christian employee (accountant) of Khalifa Umar (R) who never asked to him to accept Islam. He knew that if he told him to convert to Islam he might become Muslim because it was coming from the Khalifa, but he may not accept it from his heart and from his own freewill. He would have accepted Islam if he wanted to. So, he remained Christian all his life.
Khalifa Umar’s (R) trip to Jerusalem
Christians had built their Cathedral in Jerusalem. We know how important Jerusalem is to Christians. Their religious center has been Jerusalem after Byzantines took it over. Historical evidence suggests that Jerusalem was conquered by Muslims during Khalifa Umar’s (R) time. The Patriarch of Jerusalem insisted that the Khalifa himself must come to Jerusalem – only then he will sign his surrender treaty to Muslims. So, Khalifa Umar (R) went there. The details of his trip is quite well documented in recorded history, and it is very interesting.
During the treaty negotiations when the prayer time came and Khalifa Umar (R) wanted to pray, the Patriarch offered to arrange his prayer in the Cathedral itself. At this Umar (R) said that he does not want to pray there because later generations might demolish the Cathedral and build a mosque there arguing that since Umar (R) prayed there, let us build a mosque there. So, he said to the Patriarch that he does not want to set such precedence. So, he came out of the Cathedral and cleared the rubbles and prayed there.
The gist of the treaty signed by Khalifa Umar (R) was that there will be complete freedom of religion for all; that all religious sites will be sacrosanct and will be respected; and that Muslims will have the duty to protect these religious sites from all enemies foreign and domestic because the entire holy land was now under the control of Muslims. What a beautiful practical example of بَأْسٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَنَافِعُ لِلنَّاسِ (57:25) Khalifa Umar (R) demonstrated? Allama Iqbal sums it up in a lovely couplet:
Power used against Deen is more harmful than deadly poison;
If used to safeguard Deen, then it is antidote to every poison!
Next the verse continues: وَلِيَعْلَمَ اللَّـهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ وَرُسُلَهُ بِالْغَيْبِ (57:25) – It also marks out those who help the Divine Order established by the messengers of Allah; and although its pleasant and beneficial results cannot be felt visibly they continue to sacrifice on account of their firm faith.
Meaning of بِالْغَيْبِ (Bil-Ghaib)
What is بِالْغَيْبِ (Bil-Ghaib)? Generally, it is taken as anything that can happen in future because it is unknown. In contrast to this, there is this laborious process a farmer goes through. He works very hard in preparing the ground for planting; selects appropriate and healthy seeds and plants them in the field; waters them; removes the weeds; comes daily to monitor the security of his farm and goes home empty handed every day. He follows the same routine not one day, not one week, not one month, but relentlessly for several months. And the result of his hard work does not come to him. Why does then he do this hard work every day? What is it that drives him to return everyday empty handed and yet compels him to go in the morning the next day? What is it that encourages him to go through this routine every day? This is nothing but the faith and 100% conviction that from those seeds buried in the ground will result a crop that will yield a bumper harvest. This is what is meant by the faith in the unseen – بِالْغَيْبِ (Bil-Ghaib)? – that even though the result does not appear immediately but, nevertheless, having 100% conviction that it will come out at the appropriate time. On what basis is this unseen faith founded? It is founded in the belief that the seed does not have freedom of choice; that it is not up to it to germinate or not to germinate. It follows certain law. It is not up to its own whims whether to grow or not. It is bound by a law. If the soil is right, the seeds are good, fertilizer is there, watering is done at appropriate times, and the farm is monitored and protected, then the crop will grow – these are all required laws of farming. The seed is subject to these laws. Now it is not up to the seed to violate these laws. This one grain of seed produces hundreds of grains in the words of the Qur’an. This, then, is the belief in the unseen results of one’s action and is called the Iman in the unseen – بِالْغَيْبِ (Bil-Ghaib) by the Quran? Those who have steadfast Iman on the divine program and struggle continuously, the result comes out at the appropriate time. The Quran says: ثُمَّ لَتَرَوُنَّهَا عَيْنَ الْيَقِينِ (102:7) – Then for sure you will see the result with your own eyes.
The life in Makkah of the Prophet (PBUH) and companions (R) was very hard. The difficulties they faced in the initial stage of the establishment of the divine program was very tough and heart-wrenching. Why did they persevere under such harsh conditions without seeing any result? Because they had firm conviction that their unwavering perseverance, steadfast struggle, and fortitude will produce result eventually. This was due to their Iman in the unseen – بِالْغَيْبِ (Bil-Ghaib).
Prerequisite for getting Allah’s help
Allah helps those who help Allah: يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِن تَنصُرُوا اللَّـهَ يَنصُرْكُمْ (47:7). O you who believe! If you help Allah, then He will help you. The initiative must come from humans if they want help from Allah. وَلَيَنصُرَنَّ اللَّـهُ مَن يَنصُرُهُ (22:40) – those who help Allah then Allah helps them provided they stand up to implement Allah’s program for the benefit of humanity with unswerving commitment. Then Our help will come to them through Malaaikah in this struggle. Although Allah is Almighty and all powerful and He could establish His program directly without human help; but He has set the principle that His program in the world will be implemented by human hands by their own freewill.
That is why He sent His messengers to show how His program is implemented in human world: وَلَقَدْ أَرْسَلْنَا نُوحًا وَإِبْرَاهِيمَ وَجَعَلْنَا فِي ذُرِّيَّتِهِمَا النُّبُوَّةَ وَالْكِتَابَ ۖ فَمِنْهُم مُّهْتَدٍ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ
(57:26) – And, indeed, [to the same end] We sent forth Noah and Abraham [as Our message-bearers], and established prophethood and revelation among their descendants; and some of them were on the right way, but many were iniquitous. [Aasa]
And Allah continued this process:
ثُمَّ قَفَّيْنَا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِم بِرُسُلِنَا وَقَفَّيْنَا بِعِيسَى ابْنِ مَرْيَمَ وَآتَيْنَاهُ الْإِنجِيلَ وَجَعَلْنَا فِي قُلُوبِ الَّذِينَ اتَّبَعُوهُ رَأْفَةً وَرَحْمَةً وَرَهْبَانِيَّةً ابْتَدَعُوهَا مَا كَتَبْنَاهَا عَلَيْهِمْ إِلَّا ابْتِغَاءَ رِضْوَانِ اللَّـهِ فَمَا رَعَوْهَا حَقَّ رِعَايَتِهَا ۖ فَآتَيْنَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنْهُمْ أَجْرَهُمْ ۖ وَكَثِيرٌ مِّنْهُمْ فَاسِقُونَ
(57:27) – And thereupon We caused [other of] Our apostles to follow in their footsteps; and [in the course of time] We caused them to be followed by Jesus, the son of Mary, upon whom We bestowed the Gospel; and in the hearts of those who [truly] followed him We engendered compassion and mercy. But as for monastic asceticism - We did not enjoin it upon them: they invented it themselves out of a desire for God’s goodly acceptance. But then, they did not [always] observe it as it ought to have been observed: and so We granted their recompense unto such of them as had [truly] attained to faith, whereas many of them became iniquitous. [Asad]
As for the institution of monasticism that you see prevalent amongst them, it has been invented by themselves. Allah certainly did not ordain or prescribe it for them. Deen does not preach monasticism or Sufism. They adopted it on their own under the assumption that it was the way to seek the pleasure of Allah. But they could not adhere to it as they ought to have, because it was just not possible to do so. So, we will reward those amongst them who now believe in the Quran. However, many of them are treading the erroneous path.
Compassion is one thing. But Power is another. Compassion without power is beggary. Power without compassion is Genghis-ism. These are two opposite extremes. Islam teaches balance between Compassion and Power. This is the only thing that can protect humanity. This is the teaching of the Quran.
Did Islam spread by sword?
There is this wrong concept that Islam spread by sword. And Aurangzeb is presented as an example of this concept. There is propaganda against him that unless he killed enough Hindus he did not eat his dinner. How many Hindus he killed every day? Enough that their sacred threads weighed one and quarter Mound. Each thread does not even weigh an ounce. If that was the case, then would there be any Hindu left in India?
Well, this is the effect of propaganda. It brainwashes people. Take the sword in your hand and say to a non-Muslim: Accept Islam or I will kill you! This has become the general notion about Islam that it spread by the sword!
On the other extreme are the Sufis who teach: no matter how much one is torturing you, don’t utter a single word. Just keep bearing it with humility and love; become the dust and let others trample you, and don’t say anything, not even utter “Fie”. This is what Sufis have done to people:
We used to break bundle of woods
Now, we cannot even lift a straw!
The Quran says that this is not the teaching of Islam. This has been invented, and is clearly against Islam. As for the institution of monasticism that we see prevalent amongst them, it has been invented by themselves. Allah certainly did not ordain or prescribe it for them. Deen does not preach monasticism or Sufism.
Wrong idea with good intention leads to self-deception. They invented it themselves on their own under the assumption that it was the way to seek the pleasure of Allah. But they could not adhere to it as they ought to have, because it was just not possible to do so. There is beautiful poem of Allama Iqbal which provides a summary of this perverted way of life and its excellent antidote:
Why are thou worried about the nightingale’s wounded heart you, O Rose!
Repair your own torn “self” first, and then worry about her woes.
If you wish to live with honor and dignity in this floral glade,
Then learn to live among thorns, their sharp pinches ignore.
The cypress tree is both free and firmly planted in earth
Learn the art of living free, despite the limitations imposed
Put the niggardly heart to shame, reject all proffered dole,
Be not obliged to the dew, overturn your bowl.
It does not befit your self-respect that plucking from the grove
Some should decorate their necks and some their turban folds
If you want to escape the autumn’s withering hold
Remove yourself from desires of being lost in the floral grove
Herein lies the perfection of life, your life’s ultimate goal
That some perfect and shining one should embrace you and hold
[Note: Allama Iqbal is referring his people here as rose; and the Prophet (PBUH) as the perfect and shining one]