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Hamd-e-Bari Ta'ala and Naat-e-Rasool (sallaLlahoalaihiwassallum)
May 15, 2003 Thursday Rabi-ul-Awwal 12, 1424
Prophet's (pbuh) vision of society
By Dr Fazlur Rahman
IT was his first and the last pilgrimage. He stood engulfed by a sea of the faithful. More than a
hundred thousand ears were cocked to what he was going to utter. The message came sharp and loud
and clear: The sanctity of human life, honour and property is as inviolable as is the sanctity
of the holy city of God, the city of Makkah, and the holy month of Haj. None is to be held
responsible for the crime committed by the other. Don't, after me, revert to infidelity by
slitting the throats of one another.
The first-ever declaration, couched in most piercing words, equating the sanctity of human life,
honour and property with that of the holiest of the holy in Islam, laid down for the first time
in the history of mankind, the foundation stone of a just, humane, judicious, and virtuous
society, an Islamic society. The Prophet of Islam had in unequivocal words enunciated that the
killer of an innocent soul, was throwing himself out of the fold of Islam by committing an act of
infidelity. A society could claim to be Islamic only when it preserves the sanctity of human
life, honour and property, otherwise not.
Any venture which may expose the life, honour and property of the members of society to the
ravages of armed conflicts and thereby disturb its internal peace and security or let the
difference of opinion or conflict of interest develop into blood feuds whether among individuals,
groups or sections is very strongly condemned by the holy Prophet. He declared: Whosoever
commits armed aggression against us does not belong to us. The words are unambiguous. The
message is unmistakably clear and unambiguous. The Founder of Islam refuses to accept the claim
of an aggressor standing in arms against Muslim society to be a member of the Muslim community.
Islamic society is raised strictly upon moral principles which if contravened threaten the very
justification of its existence. The mutual relationships of the individuals and the groups within
an Islamic society have to be guided and channelled by moral considerations. They have to be
conducted with perfect confidence that one would get his due and would not be deceived, beguiled
or cheated. The Prophet (pbuh) attached so much importance to this peculiarity of the Islamic
society that he asserted Whoever defrauds us does not belong to us meaning thereby that a
swindler, a cheat, by playing fraud on a member of the society severs his relationship with the
Muslim community though he may still claim to be a part of it.
Generation gap poses some serious problems to the basic texture of a society. The older ones, the
more advanced in age who had been breathing in a different atmosphere and whose mores and habits,
modes of thinking and patterns of behaviour had been conditioned and framed by certain
circumstances obtaining at a particular time, may not find themselves very comfortable to and in
perfect agreement with the new, the upcoming generation.
On the other hand, the new generation, despite being in total conformity with their elders with
regard to ultimate objectives of life and immutable religious and moral values may find itself,
due to irresistible natural social and political forces of change and adjustment, at logger heads
with the older generation. This may cause, a swelling cleavage of interests, a widening gap of
behavioural patterns and an ever-increasing schism between the two integral parts of society.
This development if not checked at the opportune time may virtually let loose the forces of
social disintegration. The situation if allowed to worsen is bound to develop in colossal mutual
disrespect, veiled hatred, intolerance and an altogether effacement, from society, of the
sentiments of love, compassion and mercy.
The Prophet, seems to have been very alive to the devastative prospects and ravages of the
extreme forms of generation gap. He declared in most forceful words: Those who are not filled
with compassion for our younger ones, and also those who do not pay respect to our elders, do not
belong to us. Be he an elder or a younger one, he is debarred by the Prophet, from being
qualified as a Muslim, as a believer, by his indulgence in the counter productive and nefarious
activity of destabilizing the Islamic society.
The corner-stone of an Islamic society is mutual love and consideration for each other. The
significance of these two, as the force cementing the components of an Islamic society, is
highlighted by the Prophet in these words: None of you could claim to be a believer unless he
desires the same for his Muslim brother that which he would have desired for himself, had he been
in the same situation as his Muslim brother is. The conditionality attached to a person's claim
of being acceptable as a believer in the eyes of the Founder of Islam, is his unconditional love
and consideration for other members of the Islamic society.
Man's earliest social contact after birth begins with his mother, father and other blood
relations. He has no choice whatsoever in selecting his blood relatives. They are divinely
ordained and man has to respect and honour this choice for the rest of his life. These
relationships form the genesis of family. A morally healthy family is the nucleus of a morally
oriented society. The Prophet has immaculately elaborated the mutual rights, duties and
responsibilities of the parents, children and other family members and relatives.
The parents are promised the reward of Paradise for proper care, moral upbringing and purposeful
education, especially of the female children. Conversely, the children have been told in plain
words to note that the most grievous sin after Shirk (Belief in more than one god) is
recalcitrance of parents. They are required to maintain the attitude of love, respect and
kindliness toward their parents, especially when they become old, frail and infirm in mind and
body. The Prophet, when asked as to which one of the two, the father or the mother, was more
entitled to one's care and consideration, replied the mother, the mother, the mother, and then
Regarding other relatives the Prophet has instructed to preserve genealogical details of the
family to enable one to be in the full know about the nature and extent of relationship. He
stressed to fulfil one's moral, social and financial responsibilities towards the relatives to
the extent that he is under moral compulsion to carry out these obligations even if they are not
reciprocated by his relatives. Describing the resultant blessings and benedictions of maintaining
cordial relations with the relatives he exhorted Whoever loves to enjoy long life coupled with
an increase in prosperity he should maintain and nurture good relations with his relatives.
Neighbours play an important role in the daily life of a man. They have an intimate relationship
with each other's private and public life. They share each other's sorrows and happy moments.
They cannot be sidetracked or ignored. An ideal society has to nurture sincerity, sense of
proportion, propriety and balance among the neighbours to maintain and develop an atmosphere of
love, fellow feeling, friendliness and understanding.
The Prophet recognized the crucial role of the institution of neighbourhood in the establishment,
preservation and continuity of a healthy society. Thrice he swore that a man cannot be said to be
a believer unless his neighbour feels secure from him. He also declared that a person who had
filled his belly while his neighbour had to sleep hungry could not claim to be a believer. A
person who professes to believe in Allah and the Day of Judgment had to be, according to the
Messenger of Allah, generous and respectful towards his neighbours.
He said that one had to be very mindful about the fulfilment of one's duties towards the
neighbours as the archangel Gabriel did so much stress the rights of the neighbours that he
thought perhaps the neighbour was going to be allotted a share in one's inheritance. Moreover the
Prophet made it crystal clear that a person to qualify as a neighbour need not be a Muslim. He
may be a relative, a Muslim, a non-Muslim, even a stranger who keeps regular company only for a
short while. The Prophet so emphasized the importance of maintaining considerate and sympathetic
relations with the neighbours as to instruct that one must direct his children not to throw the
skins and remnants of the fruits in such a way that they are noticed by the poorer neighbours'
children who may feel depressed by a sense of deprivation and inferiority complex.
Living among others, especially when some of them may not hold identical views or follow
different social customs and practices, is always difficult and poses serious problems. It needs
much of patience, profound sense of proportion, love for humanity and a deep regard for others'
views and sensitivities coupled with a strong commitment to truth.
Nevertheless, not infrequently the sentiments may take the better of reason, the tempers may be
frayed, the nerves may become strained resulting in a severance of relations and bad blood among
the individuals, family members or groups.
The greatest humanitarian service under these circumstances would be to remove misunderstandings,
eliminate causes of friction, eradicate roots of tension and strive to heal up the wounds
inflicted. The Prophet (pbuh) enunciated: That which has precedence over, and is more preferable
to fasting, praying and alms-giving is the removal of enmity between the parties and restoration
of mutual good relations.
December 2, 2005 Friday Shawwal 29, 1426
Islam's pioneering role
By Bilal Ahmed Malik
DESPITE efforts to achieve world peace in the wake of two world wars, armed conflicts remain a
prominent feature of our human landscape. Even in the 21st century, the resort to arms by
nations, people and ethnic groups continues, with the accompanying high toll of death and
suffering. It is very ironic that the West is trying to achieve world peace through wars. In such
a situation, there is a dire need to preserve a measure of humanity in the midst of war. Even in
war there are limits.
In the days when Islam came into existence the world was completely unaware of the concept of
humane and decent rules of war. The West became conscious of this concept for the first time in
the 17th century. But the actual codification of the laws of war began in the middle of the 20th
century when the West drafted the four Geneva Conventions and afterwards their two additional
protocols. Prior to this, no concept of civilized behaviour in war was found in the West. All
forms of barbarity and savagery were perpetrated in war, and the rights of those at war were not
Islam made these rules centuries ago. The rules which have been framed by Islam to make war
civilized and humane are the injunctions of God and His Prophet (PBUH) which are to be followed
by Muslims in all circumstances, irrespective of the behaviour of the enemy. Let us now examine
what rights and obligations Islam recognizes for an enemy in the war field.
Islam first distinguished between combatants and the non-combatants. Islam considered women,
children, the old and the infirm, etc, to be non-combatants. The Prophet (PBUH) said: Do not
kill any old person, any child or any woman (Abu Dawud). Do not kill the monks in monasteries
and Do not kill the people who are sitting in places of worship (Ibn Hanbal). Wounded soldiers
who are not fit to fight nor actually fighting should not be attacked. Islam grants them complete
protection and full medical assistance. The Prophet (PBUH) said: Do not attack a wounded
person. (Abu Dawud).
Islam guaranteed full protection of the prisoners of war. Muslims are ordered to behave with such
prisoners in a humane way. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) said: No prisoner should be put to the
sword. (Ibn Maja). He prohibited the killing of anyone who was tied or in captivity. In the
Hadith there is a saying of the Prophet that: Punishment by fire does not behove anyone except
the Master of the Fire (Abu Dawud). So it is prohibited to torture the enemy with fire.
Regarding loot and plunder,The Prophet (PBUH) has prohibited the believers from loot and
plunder (Bukhari; Abu Dawud). The first caliph Hazrat Abu Bakr al-Siddiq used to instruct the
soldiers while sending them to war, Do not destroy villages and towns, do not spoil cultivated
fields and gardens, and do not slaughter cattle.
Muslims are not allowed to take anything from the general public of a conquered land without
paying for it. They have no right to use things belonging to the people without their consent. If
they need anything, they should purchase it from the local population or obtain permission from
the owners. Abu Bakr al-Siddiq, while instructing the Muslim armies being dispatched to the
battlefront would go to the extent of saying that Muslim soldiers should not even use the milk of
the cattle without the permission of their owners.
Islam clearly prohibited the destruction and dishonouring of religious places. The Prophet (PBUH)
said: Do not kill the monks in monasteries or Do not kill the people who are sitting in places
of worship (Ibn Hanbal). Islam prohibits the disgracing or mutilating of the corpses of enemies.
It has been said in the Hadith: The Prophet (PBUH) has prohibited mutilating the corpses of the
enemies (Bukhari; Abu Dawud).
The abdomen of Hazrat Hamzah, the uncle of the Prophet (PBUH), was ripped open by the Quraish;
his liver was taken out and chewed by Hind, the wife of Abu Sufyan, the leader of the Makkan
army. The Muslims were naturally enraged by this horrible sight. But the Prophet (PBUH) asked his
followers not to mete out similar treatment to the dead bodies of the enemies.
In another event, at the Battle of Ahzab a very renowned and redoubtable warrior of the enemy was
killed and his body fell down in the trench which the Muslims had dug for the defence of Madina.
The unbelievers presented ten thousand dinars to the Prophet (PBUH) and requested that the dead
body of their fallen warrior may be handed over to them. The Prophet (PBUH) replied: I do not
sell dead bodies. You can take away the corpse of your fallen comrade.
Islam has strictly prohibited treachery. One of the instructions that the Prophet (PBUH) used to
give to the Muslim warriors while sending them to the battlefront was: Do not be guilty of
breach of faith.
There is a famous incident in the peace treaty of Hudaybiyyah, when after the settlement of the
terms of the treaty, Abu Jandal, the son of the emissary of the unbelievers who had negotiated
this treaty with the Muslims, came, fettered and blood-stained, rushing to the Muslim camp and
crying for help. The Prophet (PBUH) told him Since the terms of the treaty have been settled, we
are not in a position to help you out. You should go back with your father. God will provide you
with some other opportunity to escape this persecution.
These are the laws and rights which fourteen hundred years ago Islam gave to man as war laws. It
strengthens our faith in Islam and makes us proud when we realize that Muslims are in possession
of such a splendid and comprehensive system of laws. Even in this modern age which is of progress
and enlightenment, the world has not been able to produce more equitable laws than those given by
Islam to mankind some 1400 years ago.
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