Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Just World under Islam

Working Toward World Peace

Wa laa tufsiduu fil-‘ardi ba’-da ‘is-laahihaa wad-‘uhuu khawfaww-wa tama-‘aa: ‘inna Rahmatallaahi qariibum-minal Muhsiniin. Do no mischief on the earth after it has been set in order and call upon Him in fear and hope. Surely, the mercy of Allah is near to those who do good. (7: 57)

Wa ‘izaa qiila lahum laa tufsiduu fil-‘ardi' qaaluuu ‘in-namaa nahnu mus-lihuun. And when it is said to them, ‘Create not disorder in the earth’ and they say, ‘We are only promoters of peace.’ (2: 12).

It is no longer a secret that in this age of science and technology, man has the capacity to destroy this earth many times over. If mankind wants to avoid this catastrophe then it can do so only by adopting the Islamic teachings which are based on the concept of a lasting universal peace. In fact the religion of Islam is the only faith which has severely condemned any activity which is likely to disturb peace. From the verses of the Holy Quran which I have recited in the beginning, it is clear that Islam places great importance on the maintenance of peace and deprecates all acts which are likely to disturb it whether in the domestic, national or international spheres. The marvellous thing about Islamic precepts is that they are always of universal applications. This confirms the fact that the Holy Prophet of Islam was raised as a mercy for all mankind. Almighty God says in the Holy Quran:

And We have not sent you but as a mercy for all mankind. (21: 108).

And We have not sent you but as a bearer of glad tidings to all mankind and as a Warner, but most men do not know. (34: 29).

Challenges to World Peace Today

Let us now identify some of the causes of the disturbance of peace in the world today and the remedies provided by Islam. Perhaps it would be better to start with nationalism and racism before I explain other relevant subjects like exploitation, greed, hypocrisy, class struggle, international relations and treaties.

Nationalism and Racialism: The political unit in the modern world is the nation state. The problem is to know how such a state is to be defined and what is the character of its relationship with other states? Whatever it is, nationalism has become a complex and compelling faith for which men have died and conquered. It has become more of a curse than a blessing. 

Qur'an on the Unity of mankind

Islam recognises neither nationalism nor racism and views justice and righteousness as the foundation of world order. Islam regards the whole human race to be one family. Division into tribes, nations and races is meant only to give people better knowledge of one another in order that they might benefit from one another’s national characteristics and good qualities.

Nations of superiority born of racial arrogance or national conceit are both false and foolish. In this regard the Holy Quran states:

O you men! Surely We have created you of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other; Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing, Aware. (49: 14).
O you who believe, let not a people ridicule (another) people; perhaps they may be better than them; nor let women ridicule (other) women; perhaps they may be better than them. And do not insult one another and do not call each other by (offensive) nicknames. Wretched is the name of disobedience after (one has gained) faith. And whoever does not repent - then it is those who are the wrongdoers. (49: 12).

Any people or nation which acts contrary to these sublime teachings by proclaiming and imposing the superiority of its culture on others does so at the risk of war.

From Exploitation to Equity, Justice and Welfare

The evil which accompanies the economic exploitation of a weaker nation by a stronger one is greed. Islam, therefore, is against such exploitations of natural sharing which are not based on equitable and mutual sharing of the resources. Such conduct is certain to end eventually in disturbing the peace. God the Almighty and All-Wise says in the Holy Quran:

 And do not stretch your eyes after that with which We have provided 
different classes of them, (of) the splendour of this world's life, 
that We may thereby try them; and the sustenance (given) 
by your Lord is better and more enduring. (20: 132).
And covet not that whereby Allah has made some of you excel others. (4: 33).

Undoubtedly a basic cause of wars is avarice. There cannot be any durable peace in the world as long as the stronger nations want to exploit the weaker ones or grab the possessions of others. For example, the League of Nations which was established after the First World War failed miserably because instead of focusing on ending all wars, its members wanted to grab the possessions of others. Thus the purpose of the First World War, which was to end all wars, did not work out.

One of the greatest social problems of this age which has been disturbing peace is class struggle, the primary cause of which is poverty or indulgence. Islam foresaw and tackled this problem by laying great emphasis on the welfare of the community as a whole. Islam was the first religion to manifest the idea of a Welfare State. Islam very wisely devised a system by which wealth could not accumulate in the hands of a few. It tried to maintain a balance between the poor and rich by asking the rich to part with some of their wealth for the upliftment of the poor through the institution of obligatory alms, or tax called “Zakaat”.

I have already mentioned how Islam seeks to abolish the spirit of aggressive nationalism and racism by stressing the fact of the fundamental unity of mankind by denouncing race and colour discrimination and by associating excellence and superiority with the rendering of the greatest service to mankind. When nations or tribes fought one another the result was usually the massacre of the able-bodied, the slavery of the innocent and the plunder of the vanquished. 

The sacredness of treaties or the liberties of other nations were no concern of the conqueror. Islam, however, recognised right from the beginning the importance of promoting peace, freedom of conscience and the promotion of human welfare. Islam prescribed an association of strong states for the achievement of these objectives. It emphasised that these states should not, under cover of treaties, try to exploit weaker nations, or make wars of conquests. The Holy Quran says:

And fulfil the covenant of Allah when you have taken it, (O believers), and do not break oaths after their confirmation while you have made Allah a witness over you. Indeed, Allah knows what you do. And be not like her who unravels her yarn, disintegrating it into pieces after she has spun it strongly. You make your oaths to be means of deceit between you because (one) nation is more numerous than (another) nation. Allah only tries you by this; and He will most certainly make clear to you on the resurrection day that about which you differed. (16: 92-93).
And do not approach the property of an orphan, except in the way that is best, until he reaches maturity. And fulfil (every) engagement, for (every) engagement will be enquired into (on the Day of Reckoning). (17: 35).

So, I pray that may Allah (swt) guide us in the right path and enable us all to put into practice all His teachings in the proper manner. Insha-Allah, Ameen.

---Friday Sermon of 22 April 2016~ (14 Rajab 1437 Hijri) delivered by Hazrat Muhyi-ud-Din Al-Khalifatullah Munir Ahmad Azim (atba) of Mauritius.  

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