My secular friends-2


 

Muslims behaving badly:

Coming back to Islam, when Osama Ben Laden for example uses the Quran’s permission of self defence, to justify his deeds, and  his hate for Western hypocrisy and injustice, its surely not the fault of the Quran where in it there are indeed verses that talks about self defence, but very clearly and undoubtedly emphasizing that we should never aggress or transgress.

 

"O believers, be you guardians of justice, witness for God. Let not your dislike for a people move you away from being equitable; be equitable – that is nearer to being God-conscious." (5:8)

“To those against whom war is made, permission is given (to fight back), because they are wronged; and verily, God is most powerful for their aid; (They are) those who have been expelled from their homes in defiance of right,-(for no cause) except that they say, our Lord is God”. (22:39-40)

“God commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and antagonism: He advices you, that ye may be reminded.” (16-90)

"No soul shall be made to bear the burden of another." (35:18)

 But show them forgiveness, and say "Peace!" and soon shall they know!” (43; 89)

“The recompense for an injury is an injury equal thereto (in degree): but if a person forgives and makes reconciliation, his reward is due from God; for (God) loveth not those who are wrong-doers”. (42:40)

‘Fight in the cause of God against those who fight you, but do not initiate aggression. God does not love transgressors.’ (2.190)

‘If they seek peace, then seek you peace. And trust in God for He is the One that heareth and knoweth all things.’ (8.61)

“But God does call to the Home of Peace” (10-25)

“Ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to God, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for God can best protect both. Follow not the desires (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily God is well-acquainted with all that ye do. Thus, have We made of you a nation justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves” (2-143)

 

 “Show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” (7:199)

“It may well be that God will bring about love (and friendship) between you and those with whom you are now at odds.” (60:7)

“Nor can goodness and evil be equal. Repel evil with what is best: if you do so, he who is your enemy will become a close friend.” (41.34)

Prophet Muhammad, Peace be upon him, once famously declared "Verily I was sent to this World to define (and live by) the Generous Temperament."

According to him, the codes of Generous Temperament (makarem elakhlaq) are seven: “Pardoning those who have oppressed you, Giving to those who have deprived you, Connecting with those who have shunned you, Benefiting those who have abused you, Counselling those who have deceived you, Forgiving those who have maligned you, Forbearing with those who have angered you.”

The root of the word Islam is Salam, which is one of the Holy Names of God.  Salam is Arabic for Peace. The meaning of the word Islam is beautiful as Islam is Arabic for bring into Peace.

The word Salam is used for greeting others. Saying "as’Salam alaikum" to someone means "Peace be upon you!"

When a Muslim greets another person with "Peace be upon you," the greeter is in fact proclaiming a contract of Peace with the other person. Hence, if the greeter has non-peaceful intentions towards the other person, he would be engaging in hypocrisy, which is one of the Major Sins in Islam!

When a Muslim greets another Muslim person with "as’Salam alaikum," it becomes obligatory for the other person to respond to the greeter and complete the contract with "wa’alaikum as’Salam," which is Arabic for "and upon you may Peace be."

“When a (courteous) greeting is offered you, meet it with a greeting still more courteous, or (at least) of equal courtesy. God takes careful account of all things” (4:86)

Based on the teaching of Muhammed, the practice of Islam, the Religion of Peace, revolves primarily around the codes of the Generous and Benevolent Temperament. Applying the codes of the Generous Temperament is called in Arabic Jihad al-Akbar (Higher Struggle) –which is the Major Struggle in the never ending inner war against one’s arrogance, greed, and selfishness.

It’s not the fault of the teaching when some people’s minds are poisoned with feelings of injustice, humility, and helplessness that lead them to inflect harm upon others. It’s not the ideology that drives people to do wrong; rather it’s their limited, imperfect, interpretation that is tainted with their personal experiences, psychological tendencies, circumstances and human flaws and imperfections.

 

 But in all honesty and from my experience working with secular people as yourselves (I’m referring here to my friends members of Liverpool Friends of Palestine) I found in all of you a God-centre-ness that is lacking in many people of faith.

 

 By that I mean within you my dear wonderful friends- that I grew to admire and love so much- there is a noble driving force towards justice equality and perfection, there shines within you a desire to establish an utopian society, a thirst for the ideal ultimate good; and from my humble perception I can only see the divine within you even though you might not recognise it and even deny it.

 

 By the divine within you I mean: In Islam man is created in the image of God ( not at all in the physical sense, as God is Unique, and there is nothing like unto Him/Her as God has no gender, God is above all our perceptions).

 It means that our innate nature is modelled to long and desire to live by God’s attributes and characteristics, to long for perfection for God is Perfection. To long for justice; for God is Justice. To long for love; as God is Love. To long for peace; for God is Peace…etc. So your innate nature is so pure, unspoiled, and well-preserved that you are yearning and working to live by those Godly attributes.

 

 

Democracy and Freedom of choice:

Back to the Palestinian issue , if the world’s support for human rights in Palestine is conditional and dependent on the Palestinians denouncing their religion and ideological beliefs, cultural heritage, and social traditions and adopting a new set of beliefs, alien values and social behaviours that matches what its culture deems acceptable (i.e. extramarital relationships, homosexuality, prostitutes, etc…); that means the world is denying them a most basic human right, the right to think, and live within a chosen ethical code.

“Say: O you that reject Faith (atheists)!  I worship not that which you worship, and you do not worship that which I worship... To you be your Way, and to me mine”. (109:1-6)

“We showed him the Way: whether he be grateful or ungrateful (rests on his will)”. (76:3)

 

We have to come to common grounds of accepting that each culture and civilization has its own unique structure that depends very much on a huge heritage and millennia of accumulated experiences, understanding this and respecting it is vital for the future peaceful existence of human race. Trying to standardise and sum up humanity in the form of Western civilisation is a grave mistake. We can’t simply assume that what is good and right for the western culture is the norm, nor we can accept that it is superior to that of other cultures, and for me this is a BASIC HUMAN RIGHT. The Muslim world has suffered enormously from colonial imperialism, military and economic occupation, we are longing for FREEDOM, but the freedom that we long most for is the FREEDOM of THOUGHT.

 To simply assume that secularism is the best for the entire world including Muslims is some how dismissive of our rights to think and make choices.

The Left in the West sees in secularism the best ideology for the world  but to assume that it should be viewed as such by every one else is “kind of arrogance” and appears to me to be a new form of imperialism I dare to call “thought imperialism”.

So please don’t panic if the whole of the Muslim world chose at any point in the future to live by its Islamic values. Without a doubt every society are entitled to self determination including the way in which they want to run their society and how to define their own ethics.

“Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity”. (3:104)

"And their affairs are (conducted) through consultation among themselves." (42:38)

“By the Night as it conceals; By the Day as it appears in glory; By the creation of male and female; Verily, (the ends) you strive for are diverse. So he who gives (in charity) and is God-conscious, and (in all sincerity) confirms the good, We will pave his way to bliss. But he who is a greedy, stingy and thinks himself self-sufficient, and denies the good, We will indeed pave his way to Misery. His wealth will not be of any help to him when he falls headlong (into the Pit)” (92:1-11)

 You can start panicking if they start treating people with injustice and began oppressing and abusing their power; in that eventuality I’ll be panicking with you and campaigning with you to stop the injustice and oppression; as it’s a well known Islamic principal that it is better to live under a JUST NON-ISLAMIC GOV. or leadership than living under a corrupt Islamic one.

Please remember that what might seem to the outsider as restrictive in our Islamic culture is viewed from within as constructive and that’s simply because we have the family’s best interest at the heart of society, and we put it before the individual, without ignoring the rights of the individual.

Our society is not the sum of the individuals, rather it’s a very strong network of families and extended families, the result is very well bonded social fabric. We also see that we are all born free but our freedom ends where and when the freedom of the other starts. If we choose freely to have some restriction upon ourselves (like modest dress code, abstinence from consuming alcohol or self-discipline in sexual behaviour) in order to have better human relationships what harm is there in that? Islamic society is not a selfish one.

“If any one does a righteous deed, it ensures to the benefit of his own soul; if he does evil, it works against (his own soul). In the end will you (all) be brought back to your Lord”. (45; 15)

Freedom of speech: Another aspect that might worry you is “freedom of speech and expression” again I can reassure you that it is granted through Islamic teachings, but it should not be abused as it is in some places, if freedom of speech will bring lies, slander or insults to create a society where rudeness is celebrated, lies are acceptable, and harassment is tolerable, then I can tell you now that it’s a freedom not welcomed by Muslims.

We appreciate all forms of freedom of speech and expression as long as it does not transgress over the freedom of the other and within the frame work of intellectual debates and honest research of truth and mutual respect of all.

Privacy is protected:

 "Do not enter any houses unless you are sure of their occupant’s consent.” (24:27)

 “O ye who believe! Let not some men among you make fun of others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women make fun of others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong”. (49:11)

 

“O ye who believe! Avoid suspicion as much (as possible): for suspicion in some cases is a sin: And spy not on each, nor speak ill of each other behind their backs. Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother? Nay, ye would abhor it…But be God-conscious. For God is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful”. (49:12)

 “O ye, who believe! If a wicked person comes to you with any news, ascertain the truth, lest ye harm people unwittingly and afterwards become full of repentance for what ye have done”. (49:6)

In summary: “O ye, who believe, do not let one (set of) people make fun of another set. Do not defame one another. Do not insult by using nicknames. Do not spy on one another. Do not backbite or speak ill of one another."(49:11-12)

 

Minorities: In our Islamic heritage we have so much to ensure the rights of all minority groups; it’s a matter of uncovering, reclaiming and reactivating that legacy that has been frozen for many centuries.

 In a Muslim society the minority groups are referred to as ahl eldhimmeh, a foreigner living in a Muslim land is called: dhimmi which means in  Arabic the protected:  under my dhimmeh, means under my protection that might give us a gesture of the importance of protecting and looking after minorities in a Muslim society.

 

 A well known saying of the prophet “Who ever harms a dhimmi harms me personally”.

 I have to point out that one of the major concepts in Islam is that there is “no compulsion in religion or ideology” (2:256). And remember that throughout history minorities of all ethnic, religious, and ideological back ground have lived peacefully in Muslim lands enjoying full rights and responsibilities. A glaring example is the Christian community living in Palestine for centuries with full rights. The keys of the Church of Resurrection are still entrusted with a Muslim family who look after the church. That was Christian’s choice to reduce the tension between different Christian sects.

‘O mankind! We created you from a single soul, male and female, and made you into nations and tribes, so that you may come to know one another. Truly, the most honoured of you in God’s sight is the greatest of you in piety. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware’. (49.13)

“(All) people are a single nation.” (II:213)

“And among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the variations in your languages and your colours: verily in that are Signs for those who know”.(30-22)

Much of the unnatural hostility that we see in the news today stems from yet again the frustration of many ignorant young Muslims who are aggravated by the injustice inflected upon their brothers and sisters by the west in many parts of the world.

 

  Economy, between socialism and capitalism: According to Muslim economists, Islam offers a highly developed system of wealth distribution that if applied can potentially eliminate poverty and prevent the accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few, yet it doesn’t deprive the individual from attaining some rewards for his /her creativity and hard work.

 It strikes the balance between the selfish capitalism and the unrealistic altruistic communism. Having the financial world wrapped in ethical and moral practices bridges the gap between the rich and the poor, and leads to a more just and stable society. Also it’s a system that has at its core the concept of zero interest.

 “God will deprive usury of all blessing, but will give increase for deeds of charity: For He loveth not creatures ungrateful and wicked. Those who believe, and do deeds of righteousness, and establish regular prayers and regular charity, will have their reward with their Lord: on them shall be no fear, nor shall they grieve. O ye who believe! Be God-conscious, and give up what remains of your demand for usury, if ye are indeed believers.”(2: 276-278)

"And from within their wealth there is acknowledged right for the needy and the destitute." (51:19)

“O ye who believe! Devour not usury, doubled and multiplied; but be God-conscious. That ye may (really) prosper” (3:130)

 “If the debtor is in a difficulty, grant him time till it is easy for him to repay. But if ye remit it by way of charity, that is best for you if ye only knew”. (2:280)

 “Woe to those that deal in fraud, Those who, when they have to receive by measure from men, exact full measure, But when they have to give by measure or weight to men, give less than due. Do they not think that they will be called to account?”(83:1-4)

 “By no means shall ye attain righteousness unless ye give (freely) of that which ye dearly love; and whatever ye give truly God knoweth it well”. (3;92)

 

The Prophet has said:

"He is not a believer who eats his fill when his neighbour beside him is hungry";

 and: "He does not believe whose neighbours are not safe from his injurious conduct."

Why don’t we see this happening now in Islamic societies? It is not happening because we don’t really have a proper Islamic society. What we have are puppet governments that have no interest in applying Islam, because their interests will be severely jeopardised if Islamic principals are to be applied.

And as a whole Muslim societies generally speaking  make most of the” developed” world, that was and still is the battle field of the capitalist imperialist world. Also illiteracy is still very high, in those countries, and understanding and living by Islam is not possible with lack of knowledge.

 That also might explain the lack of practice of Islamic principles in many Muslim societies and the absence of various original values in the daily life of many Muslims today. Despite that fact there is still so much intuitive genuine love and admiration for Islamic principals and for its prophet and teacher Muhammed even in those societies.  

© Copyright 2006 Nahida Izzat -PoetryforPalestine – All Rights Reserved

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