Foundation, NJ U. S. A
the Message Continues ... 9/107
Newsletter for July 2010
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Asgher Ali Engineer (Mumbai, India) Excerpt from the author's article on the subject.
The early Qur’anic verses in Mecca greatly emphasised social and economic justice and powerfully attacked the accumulation of wealth and all exploitative practices. Right from the Meccan to Medinese period, justice (‘adl and qist) remained central to Islamic teachings. Qur’an also exhorted the people of Mecca to be sensitive to sufferings of weaker sections of society. Allah is repeatedly described as Rahim and Rahman (i.e. Merciful and Compassionate) – attributes not much appreciated by the powerful and rich of Mecca.
The rich of Mecca had hardly any objection to the concept of one God; they would have gladly accepted it had the Qur’an not attacked the accumulation of wealth and the neglect of the poor and the needy. The Qur’anic verses of the Meccan period attacked, in a way the whole social system in Mecca and wanted it replaced by a just and sensitive system catering to all the needy and poor, besides widows and orphans. This was not simply acceptable to the Meccan tribal leaders who, besides their tribal supremacy, preferred ostentatious living and exploiting the weaker sections to increase their wealth.
Islam advocated equality and dignity of all the human beings attacking any sense of superiority of one tribe over the other and of Arabs over non-Arabs. This was nothing sort of revolution and the ruling tribe of Quraysh to which the Prophet (PBUH) himself belonged, was not prepared to accept at any rate. The Quraysh of Mecca and its ruling strata were determined to maintain their supremacy. It could contemplate no compromise with such revolutionary teachings of Islam and tried to smash this movement in its infancy.
They persecuted followers of the Prophet (PBUH) and even attempted to assassinate him through a well-planned conspiracy but failed. The Prophet (PBUH) succeeded in escaping to Madina. He was welcomed with open arms to this city as the Prophet of Islam had successfully acted as peace -maker between the feuding tribes of Aus and Khazraj. Islam firmly stands for justice and peace. One of Allah’s names is Salam (peace) and even paradise (jannah) is described in the Qur’an as a place of peace and security. We see wars in the history of Islam, not in the teachings of Islam (Qur’an). I am making this point after a careful study of the Qur’an. There are certain pronouncements inducing Muslims to fight kuffar of Mecca but it is purely in defence, not at all as aggressors. They are exhorted to fight only when attacked and not to be aggressors. In fact, the Qur’an wants Muslims to be harbingers of justice and peace.
The Qur’an emphasises justice to the extent of practicing it even when it goes against one self, one's parents and one’s own tribe or community. Peace is possible only when justice is practiced with such rigour. A mu’min, a true believer in Islam, has to rigorously believe in these values. In fact a ‘mu’min was nothing but a new person, a perfect human being (Sufis term it as insaane-e-kaamil). And a mu’min as described by the Qur’an, has to dedicate himself to truth and patience, justice and peace, a dedicated actor to transform this society into a society free of all evils specially from injustices and oppression and exploitation.
Only such a society can be described as a truly Islamic society. Also, justice is a very comprehensive term in Qur’an. It is by no means limited to Muslims; all who live in the Islamic society, Muslims or not, should avail of it and oppression and exploitation will not be permitted even for a kafir. Qur’anic verses are very clear on this. Often some verses are taken out of the context to prove otherwise.
There will be no compulsion of any kind for anyone to follow this or that religion. There would be complete freedom of conscience and even a non-Muslim poor and needy will be entitled to all the benefits, even from zakat and bait al-mal (state treasury) if it happens to be an Islamic country.
A mu’min can never be unjust and an oppressor and he is always active and vibrantly working for promoting justice and peace. He/she will courageously speak truth in the face of a tyrant ruler and this has been described by the Prophet (PBUH) as real and the most meritorious jihad. If one becomes truthful and constantly struggles for justice, there will hardly be any need for war with swords. War with swords is needed only to fulfil one's greed and the Qur’an attacks greedy behaviour.
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