The Prophet’s Academy intends to recreate in the student the spirituality of the Prophets of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah (swt) be upon them all) as culminated in the Last, Final and Greatest of them- Muhamamad (sallallahu alayhi wa sallam- sws). Without partaking of the nature, character and conduct of the Beloved of Allah religion becomes only a garment for and not the substance of the muslim. Wearing a lion’s hide is not the same as actually becoming a lion. Because most muslims routinely fail to become lions but make do with wearing lion’s hides, sometimes even the hides fakes, they are failing in their duty of hunting and bringing down evil and establishing good inside as well as outside themselves. The Messenger of Allah (sws) was a thoroughly practical man who represented and reflected the best possible for man- complete faith in and devotion to Allah and all out struggle to make Allah’s saving and perfecting Will to prevail both inside and outside men.
The Qur’an no doubt is the single greatest message of Allah to all men for all time to come and in there we find the stories of a number of the greatest men of God, namely His prophets. Each story of a prophet except one, namely Yusuf (Joseph) AS comes up repeatedly and in bits and pieces and from various angles and in various contexts in the course of various surahs (chapters) with varying degrees and forms of detail as well as viewpoints all of which make the prophets almost leap out of the pages and bless us with their vision and example. Each verse about a prophet is a mine of wonderful insights provided we know how to interpret it in the light of the whole blessing of the Qur’an.
Our method, to our humble knowledge never used before, is presenting each prophet’s story entirely as worded in the Qur’an and only then commenting on it. In fact the Qur’an almost always comments on what it relates briefly about a prophet. For example, when the wife of the Egyptian minister (Aziz) attempts seducing Joseph, his response was
“She desired him and would desire her had he not seen the evidence of his Lord. Thus we meant to turn from him evil and immodesty. For he was one of Our good servant” (12: 24).
‘Evidence of his Lord’ was the gnosis of Joseph of Allah as a believing and obedient servant. Which means faith in and obedience of Allah creates enough Divine gnosis to beat off Satan’s temptations. So we have no dry stories in the Qur’an but lessons at every step and stage to assist our salvation.
We found this method provide us with insights never achieved before, all ringing true on account of being fished out from the Divine Ocean which is the Holy Qur’an of Allah (subhanallahi wa bihamdihi taala). You please see for yourself and tell us what you think.
We are naturally beginning with Adam (alayhis salam- AS) which follows.
STORY OF ADAM (AS)
SECTION ONE - “Remember when your Lord said to His angels ‘I am about to place a khalifa (vicegerent) on earth’. They said ‘Are You going to put there someone who will work corruption therein and spill blood while we are already praising You with Your praises and confessing Your Sanctity?’. He said ‘I verily know what you do not know’. He taught Adam all the names and showed them to the angels saying ‘inform Me of the names of these if you are truthful’. They said ‘High Exalted are You, there is no knowledge with us except what You taught us; You and only You are the All-Knowing and Wise One’. He said ‘O Adam, inform them of their names’. When he informed them of their names He (Almighty) said ‘Did not I tell you (angels) that I know the secrets of the heavens and the earth and know what you disclose and what you had been concealing’.”
COMMENTARY - We may construe from the above statements of Allah Subhanahu taala wa bihamdihi- SBH) that
Allah SBH created Adam (and therefore man) intended as His highest representative towards the rest of His creation, eventually basing him on the planet earth.
Because man was intended as the being potentially closest to Allah man was given at least two of the greatest gifts, namely a free will and an imagination capable of analysing perceptions, producing concepts from them and then naming them and putting them into words. Man’s learning, unlike any other creature’s known to us, is not only based on repeated instinctive reactions to stimuli but additionally on conceptual thinking about and naming all the concepts he forms and beings he comes into contact. Of the first, the free will, the angels appear to be aware because they protested that man was going to work corruption on earth to murderous extents. Of the second, conceptualising and naming parts of creation, they were totally unaware and Adam AS had to inform them.
With their objection to Allah, however respectful and well-meaning, the angels are shown to possess a minimal degree of selfhood which perhaps explains why, despite all their total obedience to Allah , they are distressed and also afraid of Him (13:13- The thunder glorifies Him as the angels do so out of His awe). All separation from (disagreement with) Allah causes distress; only submission to Him establishes peace.
Because all above happened in the Heavens it is a timeless and spaceless story (i.e., spiritual which is no less but more REAL than the material) and forming a materialistic image of it has only a limited use for understanding its message. In our humble opinion the entire story of Adam is our story and informs us about our status vis-à-vis both our Creator SBH and all categories of His creatures other than us. More of this further down.
SECTION TWO - “We certainly made Man from aged and formed watery clay. Before then we had made Jaan (ancestor of demons) from penetrating, poisonous fire. Remember when your Lord had said to the angels ‘I am about to create a man from aged and formed watery clay. When I shape him and blow into him of My Spirit prostrate yourselves to him’. Remember when We said to the angels ‘prostrate yourselves to Adam whereupon they all prostrated themselves except Iblis; he refused having waxed proud and therefore become one of the blasphemers. He was of the jinn kind and therefore could take exception to his Lord’s obedience. Will you o mankind then take him and his offspring as your friends instead of Me while they are in fact the enemy for you?.
What a bad choice on the part of wrongdoers!’. He said ‘O Iblis, what held you back from joining those who prostrated?’. Iblis said ‘It did not befit me to prostrate to a mere human-being whom you made from aged and formed watery clay. Allah said ‘O Iblis how dare you refuse to prostrate yourself to the one whom I made with My Two Hands? Have you waxed proud and become puffed up?’. Iblis said “I am better and nobler than him. You made him from dust while you made me from fire’. He said ‘Get out from there, you are expelled. My curse is on you until the Day they are raised”. Iblis said ‘Lord let me be until the Day they are to be raised (from dead)’. He said ‘You are given the lease until a Day known’. Iblis said: ‘Do You see this whom you honoured over me? As you give me a period of lease until the Day of Judgment I shall surely charm all of his off-spring except a few. I shall claim a definite portion of Your slaves for myself and because You misled me I shall embellish for them the world and deceive them thus: I shall sit in ambush on their path and then I shall come to them from their front and from their back and from their right side and their left and You shall find most of them ungrateful to You (for the favour you showed them). I shall mislead them, I shall cast into them silly ideas, I shall persistently command them and they shall slit the ears of the cattle and I shall persistently command them and they shall modify the creation of Allah. I swear on Your glory that I will deceive all of them’.
Allah said ‘With Truth and by Truth I am saying I shall surely fill the Hell with you and all them who follow you. Go! Whoever follows you then the Hell is your reward as a fit enough reward. Confuse and confound whom you can from among them with your voice, call on them with your cavalry and infantry and take share in their wealth and children and make promises to them; Satan cannot promise anything but it is a deception. As for my sincere servants however, on them you shall have no authority. Your Lord is enough to guard all their interests. Iblis said ‘(Yes) except Your sincere servants among them’. We said ‘O Adam, this is surely your and your wife’s enemy. Let him not drive you out of the Garden whereafter only hardship awaits you’. So long as you remain in here neither hunger nor nakedness, no thirst and no oppression from heat you shall suffer’.
Remember when We said ‘O Adam, dwell you and your wife in the Garden and eat thereof anything you want but do not approach this tree lest you become wrongdoers. But the Satan made them slip out from where they had been placed. Satan inspired in him doubts saying ‘O Adam, shall I guide you to the Tree of Eternity and a kingdom which shall never fail?’. Satan then inspired in them both a disturbed curiosity in order to expose to them what was covered as regards their bodies. He said ‘Your Lord did not prevent you from this tree lest you become two angels and become permanent residents here. He swore to them ‘I only wish you well’. Thus he misled them. When they tasted of the tree their bodies opened to them and they rushed to cover themselves with the leaves from the Garden. Then their Lord shouted out to them ‘Have I not banned you from this tree and told you that the Satan was surely your enemy?’.
Then Adam received words from his Lord (to the effect that his repentance was expected) Who then turned towards him in leniency. The two said ‘Our Lord, we have wronged ourselves. If you do not pardon us and have pity on us we shall surely become losers’. Allah said ‘Go down ye (men and devil) as enemies of each other. For you on earth is a home and a temporary provision. He said ‘There you shall live, there you shall die and from there you shall be raised. Go down ye all and if and when a Guidance comes to you from Me then those who follow My Guidance they shall have no fear nor they shall grieve. Those however who deny our signs and verses are the inmates of the Fire. They shall abide therein.
‘O sons of Adam! We have sent down to you garments to cover your bodies and also to embellish it. But the garment of piety is even better. This is from Allah’s signs and verses for you to contemplate. O sons of Adam! Let not the Satan confound you like when he drove out your two parents from the Garden by divesting them of their garments to show them their naked bodies. Indeed he and his clan see you from where you cannot see them. We have indeed made the Satan the master of those who are devoid of faith. When they commit an indecency they say ‘We have found our ancestors doing the same, Allah must have enjoined it on us’. ‘Are you saying about Allah what you know not?’. Say to them: ‘My Lord enjoined only what is right. Allah does not enjoin indecency’.
‘O Mankind, eat what is lawful and clean on earth and do not follow in the footsteps of the Satan. For he is an open enemy to you. He only enjoins on you evil, indecency and to say about Allah what you know not’ (2: 168-169). ‘Turn your faces to Allah in all temples and pray to Him with sincerity in His (unitarian) religion. How He started you so shall you return. A party of you He guided and in another party error prevails. These latter took devils as their friends instead of Allah and think that they are rightly-guided.
O sons of Adam! Assume your ornaments of propriety and piety in mosques and eat and drink (do not be too ascetic) but do not be wasteful. For He does not like the wasteful. Say: ‘Who (in the name of invented ascetism) prohibited the ornaments and lovely provisions Allah issued to His servants?’. Say: ‘They are for the believers in this world and exclusively for them in the next’. Thus we detail our verses so that you know.
Say: ‘My Lord banned only indecencies whether open or hidden, sins and unjustified aggression and that you associate with Allah what no authority was sent down about and that you say things about Allah about which you have no knowledge”. (Sourced from the following surahs: Baqara (2), Nisa (4), A’raf (7), Hijr (15), Isra (17), Ta Ha (20) and. Zumar (39):
COMMENTARY - We begin with a warning. The above verses dealing with myth- or legend-like stories state cosmic spiritual truths which can only be conveyed by metaphors. Which means it is foolish to dismiss them as primitive non-sensical stories about creation. Like some profound dreams are attemps by our vast and wise subconscious mind to convey us messages about our condition and prospects of which we are otherwise unaware but on account of which we are inexplicably troubled or motivated, Divinely revealed scriptures, provided they are originals and not subsequently corrupted, convey to us our condition and prospects in the same dream-like metaphor language. All these verses therefore tell us about ourselves with a view to warn and guide us not so much by intellectual persuasion but by emotional cultivation and motivation. For example, as Allah grimly warns us against the Devil He is warning us against our own potential for evil at all levels and in all forms which evil is only too real as proven by the unspeakable abominations we men are capable of, from pogroms and massacres carried out out of silly prejudices or paedophilic murders which hit the headlines every now and then and in between only too many other evils. In other words what the Qur’an is trying to say in its own way are only too serious matters with ultimate and maximum bearing on our decent happiness and indecent failure. They may be metaphoric but no less serious and momentous for that. Indeed they are make or break truths which we blindly dismiss or foolishly ridicule at our own peril.
Now to the commentary. Here we see how the natures of different ‘creatures’ clash and Allah intervenes and judges between and among them. After dealing with His angels satisfactorily the Supreme Being is challenged by a tougher, coarser creature, namely Iblis.
Iblis belongs to a species of sentient (self-knowing and perceptive) beings called the jinni and descended from Jaan made from penetrating poisonous Iblis ends up called the Satan (the adversary of God or GOOD). But even the name Iblis implies evil by its association with the Arabic root BLS signifies despair, deprivation and disappointment. Iblis is bereft of all good, is pure evil and doomed to disappointment and failure in an ultimate sense. Aren’t all evil people like that? Don’t we throw away our chance for happiness by obeying our evil side and hurting too many too long too badly meet total disaster in disgrace?*
Because of the freewill jinni are given like men, they are capable of both obedience to and rebellion against Allah (which stands for everybody’s very best interests). What is more, the freewill itself derives from the virtual separate selfhood (called ‘ego’ or ‘nafs’) from Allah’s and this ego is endowed with great and desperate survival instincts and skills. Until and unless enlightened, human or jinn ‘nafs’ does not want to submit (Islam) to anybody however great and good but wants to enjoy indulging itself. Because it, the nafs, is so full of itself and so self-satisfied and self-righteous it is too proud to submit even to Allah. Instead it expects Allah to submit to it. This perverted expectation is like a badly spoilt child’s desire for its parent submit to it. The doting parent’s strength is more than counter-balanced by his or her love for the child and the child wins unless it behaves too badly. However, Allah does not submit to anybody yet may allow the foolish to apparently get their way temporarily so that they eventually knock their head hard and get a lesson they cannot forget and also become a warning example to others.
Then as the third category of sentient and wilful beings was made man from watery, aged clay. Again it is tempting to interpret this as the chemical elements found in water and earth’s dustry cover which is mainly made of the lighter elements mainly trapped in alumino-silicates which the clay is. It has been suggested among scientists that the model source of DNA , the source of biological organization of matter, is in the clays constituting the majority of the earth’s crust. The idea is that clay molecules look like strains of DNA both in length and configuration and more importantly, clay molecules do reproduce themselves as if they are viruses or bacteria. Allah SBT says in Surah Nuh (chapter of Noah) ‘Allah made you to grow from the earth like a plant’ (71:10). Plants grow by absorbing and assimilating the lighter elements they find in the wet ground (watery aged clay). This should be aged because it takes a very long time for clay to release the various chemical elements bound into its to alumino-silicates skeleton under the effect of water and carbondioxide and other stronger acids the roots of plants release. Of course these are only legitimate speculations and Allah knows best.
This third category of sentient beings, namely the earthy man has more poise and balance than fire which is so quick, unstable and destructive at times if not well-controlled. In fact man can be seen all these combined: An angelic ingredient (coolest and brightest inner light) adding to his nature a near-selfless love of and tendency to obey the Creator, a second ingredient of most penetrating yet poisonous kind, namely fiery heat (speedy and dangerous action underwritten by anger and hatred), adding to man’s nature egotism which can only be checked and channelled into charitable activity by its angelic counterpoise and the heavy earth element embraces and moderates all like the ballast of a ship or the flywheel of a rotatory engine.
All these are of course speculations and philosophication but given the structure of our minds we cannot help doing these. So please do not dismiss our claims about man’s central position in his world and Allah’s being in charge of every thing and event in both a primal and ultimate sense. Continuing with our unavoidable philosophication we may say that the crowning ingredient giving life to all these elements forming man is the Spirit of Allah blown into man which places man above all creation and gives him the authority to act in Allah’s name as Allah’s khalifa (vicegerent). Of course, given a freewill and an ego (as also jinni are) man also can both use and abuse his powers. We can see this danger today more shockingly than any other age that went before. Within the last five decades or so man achieved so much unprecedented learning about and powers of control over the rest of the creation that it now threatens them and its species with dangers which were not simply conceivable before. On the one hand, through nuclear weapons he can destroy the planet together with himself while on the other and recently so, he is at the verge of scrambling the genes and if not careful and decent, can cause a mischief with an open-ended potential for incalculable evil. Please remember what Iblis said to Allah “I shall surely command them and THEY SHALL MODIFY THE CREATION OF ALLAH”.
We do not mean that science and technology must be abandoned. What we mean is that as everything else we must take care they are and remain blessings and not allowed to become curses.
But here we are. With our free will we can choose any of the following options: Follow the angelic instinct and employ the Godly spirit in us to cultivate pious, charitable attitudes and display loving and kind acts of a constructive and helpful sort. Or follow the Satanic instinct which puts our ego against Allah and all that Allah stands for.
As already said ‘Allah’ stands for the very best interests of everybody and we are men of God (awliya Allah) as much as we keep everybody’s best interests at heart and avoid acting too selfishly.
The fact is that only few among us have been anywhere near as perfect as totally submissive to God (perfect Islam). Let us repeat again and again that submission to God means, for all practical intents and purposes, seeking and abiding by truths and aiming at fellow men’s safest possible happiness in all respects. It is this attitude towards God and this effort that make us more and more perfect every passing day. About such runners towards perfection Allah says “They are among those whom Allah favoured- the prophets, the truthful, the martyrs and the good in general. What great a company are they !”(4: 69). Because such good fellows are always in a minority Allah said “Among My servants few are thankful” (34: 13) and Iblis said no less truly when he said “I will claim for myself a portion of Your servants…and you will find most of them ungrateful to You” which was quoted above.
Beings endowed with and under the command of their egos for lack of higher control can only be enemies. True friendship is only possible between two people to the extent that they have moved out of their individual selves (egos) into the Unifying Self of their common Creator Who is Rahman (lovingly kind) and Rahim (ready with forgiveness). It is because as egos we are anything but loving or kind or forgiving. As egos we are greedy, lustful, jealous, deceitful, treacherous and vindictive. Our declaration of love are false, our pleasant discourse mutual flattery in expectation of advantage to take out the masks and take off the gloves. Please watch all scheming, warring and quarrelling couples and groups and see these unmasked egos in candalous action. That is hell in this world and the source of the
Of course it is both easy and cosy to forget the metaphoric nature of such Revealed cosmology and stick to the traditional/classical interpretations of all the above verses of Allah and regard the whole ‘story’ as material if religious history- thus missing all the spiritual insights it can potentially provide us with, depth beyond depth and vista after vista. And perhaps that it why such incomparably wonderful and saving stories in the Qur’an are wasted on most muslims who regard Islam only goodnews for their proud personal empowerment and a warning only against others. Most never think for a moment that all said above are for them, describe their own spiritual anatomy put before them a road map for their own salvation. That they are the theatre stage on which the revealed drama is enacted each and every moment of their lives. They are not aware that Allah creates them every moment from clay (the source of their food) and blows in them of His Spirit and commands the angels around His throne to prostrate to man’s service and all comply except one particular creature hanging around the throne, namely the fiery, proud, jealous, arrogant and treacherous desperado, the Satan. Every moment this Satan prompts man to disbelieve Allah’s wisdom and goodwill and offend Allah’s Law and each time man does as told by the Satan darkness comes over him and he is lost and sore with remorse and suffers a lot even when forgiven because what is done is done and cannot be undone. If this is not our own condition in dream or metaphor language what is?
This blindness to the full and exclusive applicability of the story of Adam to every single human being in his or her own right is the cause behind the abject failure of most muslims. That is why perhaps most of us, after observing the externals of religion with self-congratulation fail to attain the heavens of love and compassion and fairness and instead waxing proud with our superficial and misguided knowledge storm out with Book in one hand and sword in the other to play Inquisition and holy warrior roles in one. We rush to investigate and persecute others for ‘blasphemy’ if they refuse to conform to our understanding of Islam. We forget, or rather never come to see that all of us are weak, fallible servants only by worrying about ourselves in a spiritual welfare sense first and foremost we may hope to obtain merciful pardon from Allah. Only once we attain this indispensable humility Allah dresses us in His majesty and grace and make us effective in the salvation of others. Then we can only be merciful and helpful and not before.
CRIME, POWER AND GOVERNMENT
Allah the Most High says in His Qur’an: “Thus We appointed in every township its greats its criminals so that they plot therein. They do not plot but against themselves but they are not aware” (Surat al An’am, v. 123). The Messenger of Allah sws said “This world is like carrion; its claimers are like dogs”. By “this world” he meant the world of senses as savagely lusted after people with darker and coarser souls.
And all history to the present depict a very sad and sordid picture of the business of government. East or West brother killed brother, son the father and father the son… for the sake of appropriating power or retaining it. What is more, at times even the apparently very religious resorted to cardinal crime to get or hold on to power. So, that the verse Allah swt sent down cannot be faulted. For its part, the hadith quoted in addition to the verse gives the psychology of the lust. Like dogs, the desirers of this world are motivated by canine hunger for it although to any refined person the desired object, namely the world of the senses in itself and for itself feels like nauseating meal, like a rotten and maggoty carcass. This essay shall then study why and how this canine meal or more fully the banquet of the wolves appeal and is fought over by its desirers and why truly pious people should keep his distance with them for his own good.
WHO ARE THE POWER SEEKERS
Some people are especially interested in power over others for its own sake. They want to control others so that things they are afraid or do not happen to them while things they lust after are given them plentifully. One needs not be a psychologist to see that such an attitude is indicative of selfishness which itself is the surest sign of arrested psychological growth or more briefly immaturity of character. Babies are both nicely and forgivably selfish and that is for a very good reason. Because they do not yet know the ways of the world let alone the importance of good social relations their survival instinct programs them to leave nothing to chance. Any attractive or appetising thing they must attack and grab and keep for themselves, full stop. But over time they are expected and helped to learn that human life cannot be lived alone but is a joint enterprise in which all members of the family and larger society must responsibly cooperate.
And most children both learn and come to love that. Yet, some selfishness or to put it otherwise, immaturity remain in all of us. There is a limit how much altruistic we may become and altruistically we may behave. As a result, suspicions, resentments and fights always remain possible even amongst the best educated and mannered people. But perfection is too hard to attain should not mean that we should not keep trying to become more refined and mature people. The more we become so the easier and pleasanter our lives become despite the any material sacrifices we have to make. What is more Islam does not ask us to give up all our rights and likes just to become supposedly perfect. Islam teaches that our basic needs remain righteous as well as virtuous objectives at all times and nobody need starve himself to death or give away all his means of decent or bearable survival to please more selfish companions. Real perfection is not total self denial but a balance between one’s legitimate and decent survival needs on the one hand and altruistic obligations as defined by Islam and reputable social practice (‘urf) on the other. Otherwise the better people must die out and let the coarser alone to survive- a hardly admirable prospect.
Be as it may, the coarser a person is the more power-seeking he or she becomes. It is common knowledge that in a marriage (the smallest social grouping) it is not the man or the woman who dominates the other party- it is the coarser or more immature party that seeks and gets the power over the other spouse as well as the joint children. So we hear the Messenger of Allah sws saying “Only men with noble character (kareem) treat their women graciously. I am the one among you who treats his women most graciously”. Similarly maulana Jalauddin Rumi said “Only men with noble and kind disposition are defeated by their women. Coarse men dominate their women”. The principle inherent in these statements have this general application: Coarser people can talk and look down more refined people who have had or lost all the grit selfishness is made of. They simply cannot bring themselves to resonate with and respond to the bestial aggressiveness the coarse are endowed with. For example, if an immature driver gets into a frenzy of selfish anger and begins to abuse you who are a refined person can you really respond him in kind. Won’t you prefer to give ground and go your way less harmed? Coarse people, if responded in kind may even kill for a peanut!
After these psychological preliminaries we can now perhaps see what makes a criminal tick. He ticks by demanding and getting his way in all situations. A criminal’s mind may contain an intelligence of great genius but no wisdom. In other words he may have a phenomenally high IQ but not an ounce of nobility and maturity of character- which noble and mature character means matured wisdom based on accomplished moral values and an iron will at the service of high moral virtue. Such a man cannot normally commit a crime however tempted or if he lapses for once he will immediately see his shameful lapse and go in overdrive to compensate for it. Allah swt says “The God-mindful who spend in the way of Allah both in prosperity and hardship, swallow their anger and forgive people. Allah loves the gracious
Those who when they commit an indecency or wrong themselves (in any other way) immediately remember Allah and offer repentance for their sins- who forgives sins but Allah- and they do not knowingly insist on what they did” (Surat Ali Imran vv. 134-135)
These are the refined people maturing more and more all the time. As for the coarse people who have not much moral scruples and whose regrets consist of missed opportunities for their selfish desires are like animals, Allah swt describes them thus
“Shall I tell you who are the greatest losers as regards their actions. These are the ones whose acts have lost their way in this world’s life while they calculate that there are doing well. Those are the ones who disbelieved the verses of their Lord and meeting Him and therefore wasted their works. On the Day of judgment We will not (bother to) erect scales (to weigh) their deeds. Thus is their punishment Hell for blaspheming and taking My verses and My messengers for entertainment” (18: 103- 105)
He Almighty also says “They are like cattle, no, even more lost; they are the utterly unmindful (7: 179)
WHAT IS BEING MINDFUL OF AND SERVING ALLAH
Being always mindful of Allah and acting accordingly is real Islam. But what is Allah? Who is Allah everybody can tell- the Perfect Supreme Being Who creates and runs all existence. But such technical definition is not enough to make anybody appreciate why we must serve Allah. An additional definition is necessary. This is a psychological one, a definition taking into account man’s depth psychology where unconscious motives dictate both compelling feelings and equally compelling behaviour. The definition is this: As a psychological construct Allah stands for what is morally and spiritually and potentially the very best and noblest and wisest in and the most profitable for man- and his society! With this definition being mindful of and serving Allah becomes our noblest and greatest and most profitable mode of existence and functioning. Shouldn’t we all men and women realise what is the very best for us both individually and collectively and act and live on that basis?
What is the profit for selfishness and its unavoidable way the predatory and opportunistic behaviour at a reptilian level. That is basically the level all sadists, rapists, pickpockets and mafia godfathers operate from. All want to rob others even at the cost of committing violent acts and please their most primitive urges no matter at what cost to their victims. They are the very opposite of the Godly people who actually can sacrifice from themselves to make others happier in wise and constructive ways. Because they are mindful of Allah and serve Him in the psychological sense just defined. That that is the worthiest life is incontestable. What is more that is also the most pleasurable life! Because that is the realization of man’s highest potential!
FORMS OF OPPRESSING OTHERS
We are using the term ‘oppression’ to translate the Arabic word ‘zulm’. Zulm means doing a wrong including injustice. As always in the Divinely chosen language Arabic it has rich cross-references and connotations. The least is its identity with ‘zulmah’ which means darkness. Thus said Rasulullah sws “Az-zulmu zulumatun”, i.e., ‘zulm is (and leads to) many darknesses’ which expands into: Oppression is caused by the darkness (lack of light of sympathetic understanding in the heart of the oppressor and creates darkness in the moods of the oppressed- who either suffer or even perish in depression- or hit back with similarly to begin a vicious circle of violence- and eventually no good comes from oppression but darkness in this world and the next, inside men and outside in the society etc.
The oppressor is called (az-) zalim. Allah’s teaching is that ‘the first and worst victim of zulm is the zalim himself. His zulm, to start with, increases his inner darkness which causes him to commit more and worse zulms. Secondly he makes more and more, worse and worse enemies which most probably will one day take a terrible revenge on him. Thirdly he is both setting a bad example and triggering many other zulms on the part of others who, to ease their suffering go out to hurt others to avenge their suffering on others by proxy. So, if the first zalim beats up a man this man, unable to hit back the stronger offender then goes away to beat up a weaker person just to vent his frustration. Thus a single zulm creates an interminable train of zulms like a pebble dropped in a pool creates an interminable train of expending wave circles until the whole pool is in turmoil. That is why Allah says about zalims “Yufsiduna fil ard”, i.e., they spread corruption in the land.
As for some of the major forms of systematic zulm the following may be mentioned
One man gang where a single bully terrorizes all around him. School bullies are always in the memories of all those who have been to school and sometimes even teachers are afraid of them. These may or may not grow into criminals in later life. Surpisingly some grow up to become extremely benign and benevolent adults in later life. The rest can remain bullies all their lives and often criminals as well. A few can remain the same- the singular bully with no criminal record, a bully which keeps a whole neighbourhood in suspended anxiety. He often has a foul mouth and bad temper but beyond that does not pose a great threat and only needs a similar but stronger bully to check him. About such people the Prophet sws said “There is no good in a person who cannot get along with others nor others can get along with him”. That must be enough criticism.
A lone criminal who cannot stop hurting and robbing others of their rights, prowling the streets like a predatory animal and claiming his ill-gains whenever a suitable victim or opportunity turns up under the right circumstances. From habitual shop lifters to electric or gas meter readers who pocket any precious items they stumble upon in the premises they visit petty crime on the part of individuals is a plague right here in the Western world, as media reports often mention. In a recent study by a British university a large survey in the form of questionnaires with no identification space exposed that more than two thirds of the respondents from all classes of people admitted that they would not hesitate to cheat or rob if the circumstances allowed. Their crimes ranged from keeping too much change or too good a product wrongly charged below its indicated price by a shop to cheating on their taxes routinely and regularly. What is more, governments and government agencies will often do the same. Each may opt to stick to the gains made unjustly against third parties and go to litigation if necessary which they often afford to more than their victim. For example too much tax may be assessed and collected from a taxpayer who then may have a very hard time to recover his losses if he can recover at all.
In one case reported to me personally, an innocent tax payer had to wait the replacement of one particular nasty tax inspector by another reasonable one to get the wrong done to him righted. The nasty one was a snarling young lady who looked at everyone with pathological suspicion and craved for catching her victims with anything slightly ambiguous to put on it the worst possible interpretation and then go for the kill. When she achieved that she appeared to go into an orgasm! Which means there a definite class of single sadistic criminals among the agents of political power, like the Revenue and the police and even the hospitals who abuse their power to satisfy their sadistic cravings.
There is also the individual or organized employees who are engaged in systematic corruption in the organisation they work for, which can be a government department or a private company. The corruption ranges from stuffed-up expenses bills to fixing tenders or kickbacks from contracts granted to third parties. Against our instincts, the police, the religious establishments, customs and revenue… all of which cast a very upright image may be up to their necks in it. Please remember the financial (and sexual) scandals across the Catholic Church and even at the centre the papal curia! Even more tellingy, the media which is so good at and desirous for exposing all outside it, from government to business, for misdemeanours and corruption, are themselves up to their necks in it simple because media men are drawn from the same hypocritical society as the others and are themselves businesses which must compete for profits. So, their broadcasting a Christ-like image is largely a sham and we come to know about the skeletons in their cupboards when fighting breaks out within each or between two media organizations.
There are also those extremely secretive and well-connected criminal organisations which come under two headings- mainly violent and mainly non violent.
As for the mainly violent the perennial prototype and the dominant form is those gangs known as mafia in the west and the yakuza in Japan. These are criminal fraternities bringing together all levels of minds and souls who choose crime or are recruited in to crime as their main career. These are the most heartless of criminals not simply because they often commit worst crimes but also and especially because their leaders and higher executives otherwise are so intelligent and often so refined and amicable. They often are gracious and generous friends and hosts and can actually contribute to charitable causes or help a destitute person for apparently nothing in return. That way they openly ingratiate many while in a secret parallel world they buy many others with benefits as well as bend many others with threats and blackmail. Many investigative and bibliographical literary works shedding light on the first and middle parts of the 20th century America tell us the extend to which the American Mafiosi penetrated the system including both the government and big business (even Hollywood) and both ingratiated and blackmailed all concerned to get their way in the country. Even the presidents could not escape their charms and nets of corruption simply because the Mafiosi could manipuate the elective and legislative processes. In other words great criminal gangs have been govenmnents within governments and there could be no escaping from it and still there is no escaping. This is the great dirty semi-secret in all countries across the globe which poisons all of them, muslim or not.
The second, i.e., mainly non-violent criminal organisations are the cults which come in both religious and secular (atheistic) forms. Religious cults apply to all religions including Islam where they are known as tariqats. Not that all tariqats or non-muslim religious orders are criminal organizations- far from it. But some definitely are. Among Islamic criminal cults we find the historical examples of the Assassins, the Carmathians and the Fatimids who temporarily attained statehood and even empire status. Present Islamic criminal cults are mainly political and terrorist in nature although a subtle, mainly non-violent form exists in the examples of tariqats and mazhabs outside mainstream Islam. Their names we may not mention for obvious reasons- they are very dangerous in the first case and contrary to the ethos of tolerance in the civilisation we live in to tamper with.
A special case of non-vioent if very powerful cult are the freemasonry and its many offshoots. Freemasonry is an extremely secretive yet legitimate civil organisation which is home to many distinguished and ambitious individuals drawn from all specialities among the professionals in any country which have Masonic lodges. Friom all reports made thus far it is an association of class-conscious selfish men who gang up to impose their selfish will on the rest of the society. Recruiting as members as many promising individuals as they can find and swearing them to secrecy fed largely by cultishly cultivated neuroses as well as well-prepared blackmail possibilities and displaying some public charity the cult is extremely well represented in government high offices and in big business and the media as well as among the academicians and the artists. It is almost certain that Freemasonry has been exploiting that residual spiritual potential so pervasive among the more intelligent men who somehow cannot bring themselves to adopt a cult from among recognized religious cults which anyhow are no longer popular with the better educated and the more worldly-wise. The exploitation is resulting in securing higher and more influential positions for all members who then use this influnce to look after their own kind.
A lot of religious cults are not far behind Freemasonry in this respect. A large number of
modern Christian cults as well as some Islamic ones are conceived and operate like Freemasonry except that the leadership is sometimes dynastic (if not then a lot of infighting precedes the establishment of the new leader). Criminal cults are usually fabulously rich and strongly centralist and politically behind the screens operators. They either bargain for supporting an existing main party or less often form their own party in which case it cannot win an election because of its poor popular base. An example of the latter was a certain Independence Party representing the Transcendental Meditation cult. The candidates distributed leaflets depicting themselves as endowed with supernatural powers like flying in air. Among Christian cults the claim is representing the elect to survive the Armageddon and live happily thereafter under the government of the returned Messiah. The date of the Armageddon is constantly shifted forward as dates prophesied come and pass uneventfully. Yet the believers seem to have developed an addiction for being deceived perhaps enjoying each new stage of hopeful expectation in its own right. It may be that feeling oneself as belonging to a Divinley elected elite is enough hesrt-winning compliment to sacrifice even when deceit becomes proven! As the price for the privilege these cults heavily tax the members who in some cases have to surrender all their wealth to the organization or even personally to the cult leader (and sometimes their wives as well).
Among Muslims even criminal cults come nowhere near their Christian equivalents in exploitation, certainly thanks to Islam’s power as a religion of certain non-negotiable principles like the Unity of God and the sacrosanct nature of the Shariah which no leader can tamper with. So, Islamic crooks have to tread more warily than their Christian colleagues and hiding behind a pious sufi garb make do with gifts and taxes and some political posturings and bargainings with the establishment. Still, the main benefit to the leader is his unadmitted and unvoiced quasi-divine status which may be improved on by making his family members, sometimes however impious, also included in the compliment. This is the case with some Asian cults ultimately descending from the Fatimids who once ruled as a mighty empire from Cairo in Egypt.
BIG BUSINESS AS A CRIMINAL ORGANIZATION
Like every organized and therefore immensely empowered enterprise a giant company is in a position to break the law and collect the benefits accruing from the breakage with relative immunity. Immunity because the law-breaking is not done narrowly but spreads out officials who are in a position, directly or indirectly to keep a watch on the company. Government ministers as well as central and local government officials are cultivated with hospitality at the least and bribes at the greatest as assisted by blackmail and the company’s ambitions are helped by such recruited allies. The blackmail is possible by two routes. The first is the fact that the bribes have been accepted. Once so pregnant the impregnated party, like a Medieval maiden ravished by an exploitative lover, must forever bow to the will of its impregnator. The second is some dirty secrets shared by the criminally collaborating parties to which the political wing is understandably more vulnerable.
As a result of the oft- aired but never admitted political influence of big companies their research projects are sometimes able to get help from public funds while their products may sometimes get ill-advised endorsement and pre-mature licence to sell. One possible recent example may be the genetically modified crops (GM food). Despite the general hostility among both the farmers and the public at large GM companies seem able to impose their will on the public. The Euro is another example, although not exactly from the business world. Despite the palpable aversion of most North European nations including the British a sly persistent drive on the part of EU top bureaucrats has been with us since many years to impose it on us. It appears that no national rejection will be taken as final and the same centres will keep trying again and again to persuade us until the fatigue factor breaks our nerve and reslove and just for the sake of sparing ourselves more harassment we unwillingly succumb. There is little doubt that this drive towards a centralisation of European institutions is about increasing the power of conspiratorial elites who always created and governed states throughout history. Which is our next and culminating subject
GOVERNMENT AS A CRIMINAL GANG
A careful and detailed reading of history shows the following fact about political organization. Big or small, societies are dominated by powerful individuals who will not hesitate to impose their will on others whatever it takes. When their power or way to power is not threatened such a man may be as civil and kind as any other. But if he thinks that he is threatened politically then his will is his law and what is more he will not hesitate to act in all three capacities, the lawmaker, the judge and the executioner. In fact we do not have to go to formal politics to discern the existence of this type of person who nowadays come more in female form then in the past. The media reports are that there are many women politicians, managers and business executives who, not to be outdone by their male rivals take the male hormone testesterone. Soon they lose their feminine caution and emotional vulnerability and cock up like other males and can snarl and browbeat almost as well. Even their voices thicken a bit, which is to be expected by all biological standards. Equally there are men who take the female hormone oestrogen and lose hair and grow breasts for their private reasons. The fact is that, in certain combinatioins with other biochemical factors testesterone means hardiness and aggression and that is what most founders of kingdoms are made of.
Skipping the tribal society and beginning from monarchy we note extraordinarily powerful, strong-willed and politically very ambitious persons attempting to capture a throne for themselves. Perhaps the greatest monarch ever (in a total and successful control sense) namely Genghis Khan (nee Temuchin) the Mongol emperor of the 13th century, is the typical empire builder. Of humble if noblish origin he distinguished himself early as a politically motivated fighter who quickly recruited and subdued an increasing number of subordinates from among the already warlike Mongol tribes. Within a decade of his adolescent debut in war-making he had established himself as th undisputed leader of all Mongols who called their warlords khans and therefore called Temuchin Genghis Khan which means the Great King. Despite his phenomenal ruthlessness and brutality when he thought his power was being threatened he was the justest and kindest of men once fully obeyed and loyally served. And that is what exactly makes and has been making truly successful kings throughout history. And it is easy to see why. A king is not alone in being politically terribly ambitious and selfish. Many others are always in existence and eye him covetously and will not waste any credible opportunity to despatch and replace him. So, any reigning absolute monarch must be always on his guard and act quickly if without enough evidence to fininish off in the bud any attempt to replace him on the throne even when the suspected or proven bidder is his dearest son. Thus the greatest of all Ottoman and European kings sultan Suleiman (16th century) felt he had to and did despatch his three sons in succession to keep his throne. So and even worse did many Persian, Roman and Greek emperors before and after him. Apparently given the selfishness necessary to make one a king and the ruthlessness to keep it no other alternative could be available to any kings who exterminated their rivals whoever they were.
But if we think that only absolute monarchs can commit such arbitrary atrocities we are badly mistaken. All players to top authority as they see it are and must be equally arbitrary and ruthless if they want to attain and then keep their prize. So, it was no wonder when president Nixon had his cronies burgle the offices of his rivals the Democratic Party in Washington in order to espy on their secret policies and tactics for winning the next elections. Such illegal and unscrupulous acts are always on the agenda of all power aspirants as well as holders and they will not hesitate to use them if they calculate they can get away with it. Each has his cronies who stick to him for their share of power under his leadership. In fact Machiavelli, the Renaisance era political observer and adviser, has long since laid the bones bare of the workings of politics and the practice of government which has never been disputed seriously since. Politics is indeed a dirty game and can only be played by players who are prepared to dirty their hands as much as it takes. And concept of politics should not be confined to government as we normally understand it; it also extends to all power bases and positions from inter-family squabbles to the relations of the personnel in a company.
Even academicians are up to their necks in it and members are promoted or destroyed by political (power-sharing) jockeyings in all colleges and universities. Can you imagine, in many charities (repeat, non profit making, no salaries paying charities) the members thrive on factionalism and intrigue which do not stop even after a group win the elections. Soon afterwards great and heady politicking fly about, tempers may flare up until the portfolios are shared. If and when an incompatibility of aims and ambitions comes to the fore then those involved may resort to dirty tricks to inconvenience if not discredit their rivals. At times relations can deteriorate to a low level where espionage and burglary of the premises to find or plant incriminating evidence may be attempted. The reasons can be too much ambition and pathological suspicion but in fact may also be crassly mercenary. Charities sometimes hold sizeable funds granted them for their activities and pocketing some of it on the part of the more thievish members is always a tempting possibility. In a Muslim country for example how the Religious Endowment Funds (Awqaf) was plundered by their ‘honorary’ officers has always been persistent public gossip. In fact the Ottoman annals are full of reports of corruption in all departments and at all levels of government and administration including honorary (unpaid) trusteeships. No too honest member in any of power structures mentioned so far can survive too long in them but must be eliminated by the less scrupulous and more ambitious.
True almost to a literal degree to the famous Darwinist principle of the Survival of the Fittest the coarser members of any human grouping find it irresistible to ignore any rules of behaviour and conduct applying to any situation in which their interests are at stake and act arbitrarily and unscrupulously if they think they stand a good chance to get away with it. The more refined souls cannot easily bring themselves to offend their conscientious values and indulge their lusts including the lust for power and therefore face poor prospects in climbing any power ladders on offer. Because of this coincidence of true piety and lowness in worldly life all prophets and scriptures praised the person who is both pious and humble in life and warned those who chased their lusts and fought over worldly power.
This of course does not mean that no saint can ever attain top power or less. All rules have their exceptions and as the dictum goes ‘exceptions only prove the rule’. There has been some truly pious leaders in all ages and places but that should be seen as a special dispensation by the Creator Who, for His Wise Reasons saw to it that that particular favourite servant of His take the reigns of power to set an example so that others cannot protest their helplessness against their lusts. King and prophet Solomon’s reign is legendary for its wisdom and justice and the perfect example of leadership in every sense is provided by none other than the Messenger of Allah our master Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sellem. Among his khalifas Umar RA stand out as the most proven second example of such pious success since his predecessor Abu Bakr as Siddiq RA ruled for only two years in a less complicated context while both Uthman RA and Ali RA fell on hard times with circumstances beyond their control. But that a Godly rule is possible has been proven. Even far lesser figures has proven that nearly perfect rules are within the grasp of mortals that we are. Against the incredibly beastly records of the Roman emperors like Nero and Caligula we have those of Augustus and then Marcus Aurelius in whose times the empire was at its justest and most civilised. The ottomans had perhaps their best times under their earlier sultans like Orkhan and Murad I but to the end of Suleiman’s reign the Ottoman empire was the justest and most humane of all states in the whole world.
In conclusion we may ruefully observe that power sharing is perhaps the most dangerous and dirtiest of all human social activities and far more often than not only the most intelligent and most unscrupulous (both traits together) can win the battles to higher and higher echelons of power. Often only heartbreak if not total and comprehensive disaster awaits the pious and the conscientious in it. Accordingly spiritually serious Muslims should better shun power sharing competitions and satisfy their souls by pursuing other ways to other forms of success and personal fulfilment. And what better success than winning Allah’s pleasure and nearness. Amen.