Jumuah lecture on Friday 23 November 2018 (15 Rabi-ul-Awwal 1440) by Mowlana Syed Aftab Haider at the Ahlul Bait (a.s) Masjid, Ottery, Cape Town
Lecture 3 in the series:
POLITICAL ETHICS OF OUR BELOVED PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA)
In our series of discussions about the political morality in the life and Seerah of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) during these days when we are celebrating his blessed Milad (birth), we spoke about the very important qualities and foundation of his relationship with the people, which was truthfulness and trustworthiness.
The entire program and mission of Rasulullah (SAWA) from the time that he established the society and acted as a leader (and not only as a messenger) was based upon these qualities.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) AND HIS COMMITMENT TO HIS PROMISES
I would now like to move to the second important quality of Prophetic politics ie. the socio-political Akhlaq of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). This is again a principle which the Holy Quran establishes and emphasizes and does not accept any exception to this. It is the issue of being faithful to your promises and commitments to the people. This is besides being trustworthy and truthful.
The Holy Quran commands us in the opening verse of Surah Maaida (chapter 5 of the Holy Quran) about making a commitment or promise:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا أَوْفُوا بِالْعُقُودِ
“O you who believe! Fulfill the obligations.”
This verse commands us to be faithful to our agreements/contracts in whatever form they are, be it a normal promise you make to a child, or a promise you make to your family, or the promise between husband and wife, or a contract of sale between buyer and seller, and so on and so forth. These are all contractual commitments.
If I can take a step back for a moment – we divided the political Seerah of Rasulullah (SAWA) into 2 major branches, namely internal and external. We are talking at the moment about his internal politics, which was exhibited by his morals and ethics towards the people inside his state. We will discuss his external approach next week Insha Allah.
The principle of being faithful to what you have promised is extremely important for Rasulullah (SAWA). We read in the Holy Quran where the challenge is posed about who can be more faithful and loyal to his promise than Almighty Allah (SWT). Each of us will be asked about whether we fulfilled the promises we make.
SPECIAL ANECDOTES ABOUT PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) HONORING PROMISES
This was one of the extremely sensitive issues in the life of Rasulullah (SAWA) on which he established his relationship with the people.
The following narration predates the creation of the Islamic state of Medina where Islam was propagated and promoted.
Abu Dharr, the great revolutionary Sahabi (companion) of Rasulullah (SAWA) narrated that the 2 of them would go outside sometimes and take cattle and sheep to the surrounding valleys of Mecca. Abu Dharr narrates that he and Rasulullah (SAWA) agreed to meet at a certain point every day.
One day, Abu Dharr says that he forgot to meet Rasulullah (SAWA) at their agreed meeting point. Rasulullah (SAWA) was standing there waiting all this time until it became very late.
Abu Dharr obviously apologised quite profusely for this oversight, and wondered why Rasulullah (SAWA) had not left already, to which Rasulullah (SAWA) said that he had to honour his commitment of meeting Abu Dharr, albeit that Abu Dharr was very late.
There is another similar narration in Hadith records where Rasulullah (SAWA) made a promise to meet someone at a certain point, but this person did not show up. The companions of Rasulullah (SAWA) ie. the Sahaba, noticed that he was standing in the burning sun at the particular point where he committed to meet this other person. The Sahaba then suggested to Rasulullah (SAWA) that he should stand in the shade rather, to which he responded that his commitment to the other person was to meet at that particular point, and he will therefore wait for him!
HEALTHY SOCIETIES ARE BUILT UPON THE PUBLIC TRUST
This is really important! Often we fall into the situation where being faithful and honouring of promises is seen purely from an individualistic Akhlaq perspective. However, being truthful and faithful to what you have promised in politics and in our social relationships is a different level of commitment!
Societies and the relationship between the leadership and the masses is based upon the fundamental principle called PUBLIC TRUST! This public trust is purely based upon how much the leadership is faithful and committed to its promises.
It is a very common occurrence when it comes to election time, that we hear political leaders rushing towards us with all kinds of promises in order to solicit our votes. They are ready to promise you everything and tell you exactly what you want to hear! However, we all know that nothing happens when they come into power, and when we challenge them on the fact that they are not fulfilling what they committed to us, then we see an abundance of sugar-coating…
This is one of the biggest problems of Western-style democracy where you fool people based upon false promises which are sometimes not even practical to achieve. Rasulullah (SAWA) was very sensitive about this, warning us to not make promises we cannot fulfil, and fooling the public in order to attain power through their support. This was not accepted in the Prophetic model of political ethics.
THE DISPROPORTIONATE RELATIONSHIP TODAY BETWEEN PROMISES AND DELIVERY
This is one of the golden principles of the leadership model of Rasulullah (SAWA). There are various examples wherein he makes commitments with people and is there to fulfil his end of the bargain. He would deliver unequivocally on any benefits he has expressed to the people when he has shown them the path of Islam.
This brings us to the biggest problem in our political system today, which is about DELIVERY! Everybody makes promises, but the problem always comes down to delivery. Now, in Prophetic politics we see that delivery is not a problem because promises are made which can be fulfilled. The commitment to the promise is crucial, and it is a grave sin to go against a commitment.
Sometimes you make a promise to an individual or to a contract and then you break away. This is indeed Haraam and a major sin. However, it is a much greater sin when you make promises to a society and you end up not fulfilling your commitments. This is a much greater disobedience of Almighty Allah (SWT), when you break a promise you made to the masses.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA): THE UNIVERSAL MERCY & COMPASSION TO THE MASSES
Moving on to the next very important quality in the Prophetic Akhlaq of politics and the relationship with the people, which is compassion and mercy. I don’t think I need to emphasize or explain this quality about the Prophet of Mercy and Compassion (SAWA)!
Anas ibn Malik’s mother gave him to Rasulullah (SAWA) as a servant, and he was serving Rasulullah (SAWA) for circa 10 years. Someone asked Anas after this 10 year period, what he thought of his relationship with his master, Rasulullah (SAWA).
Anas responded by saying that in all these years that he was with Rasulullah (SAWA), it was very difficult to determine who was the master and who the servant was! Anas explained that Rasulullah (SAWA) did not let him feel that he is the servant and Rasulullah (SAWA) is the master.
There are too many examples which explain the care of Rasulullah (SAWA) towards the masses. History has recorded that Rasulullah (SAWA) never allowed anyone from his congregation to be absent from gatherings for 3 days. He would then immediately inquire about the whereabouts of the notable absentee out of concern for his/her absence.
I am not only mentioning about the compassion of Rasulullah (SAWA) as an individual. I am focussing more on Rasulullah (SAWA) as an extremely caring and compassionate leader for his people.
SELF-DISCIPLINE DURING THE CONQUEST OF MECCA
What can be a better example of his most caring and compassionate nature when we look at the situation after the conquest of Mecca? Rasulullah (SAWA) now has power in his hands and his worst enemies who tortured him are at his disposal, and the Sahaba are trying to encourage him by saying that “today is the day of revenge” to empty our chests of the pain from being tortured all this time by the people of Mecca.
These people of Mecca caused never-ending pain to Rasulullah (SAWA) and his Sahaba, especially since they were forced out of their homes and tortured in a very ugly manner. This was now supposedly the ideal time to take revenge. The response of Rasulullah (SAWA) as the leader was that this is the day of mercy, and not revenge!
The compassion and mercy of Rasulullah (SAWA) reached to the level where he said that even the people who are hiding inside the house of the worst, most venomous enemy of Islam, namely Abu Sufyan, are also protected. This is the amazing relationship of love, compassion, mercy and care we see in the Prophetic leadership and the masses who were under his governance.
PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) GAINED POPULARITY THROUGH BEING KIND-NATURED
In fact, the logic of the Holy Quran is that this Rahmah of Rasulullah (SAWA) was the foundation, similar to his trustworthiness and truthfulness we discussed in the previous lecture. This gentle approach of Rasulullah (SAWA) to the people and his compassion was the main reason for his success. This is what is relayed to us in the Holy Quran, in verse 159 of Surah aal-Imraan (chapter 3):
فَبِمَا رَحْمَةٍ مِنَ اللَّهِ لِنْتَ لَهُمْ ۖ وَلَوْ كُنْتَ فَظًّا غَلِيظَ الْقَلْبِ لَانْفَضُّوا مِنْ حَوْلِكَ ۖ فَاعْفُ عَنْهُمْ وَاسْتَغْفِرْ لَهُمْ وَشَاوِرْهُمْ فِي الْأَمْرِ ۖ فَإِذَا عَزَمْتَ فَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ يُحِبُّ الْمُتَوَكِّلِينَ
“Thus it is due to mercy from Allah that you deal with them gently, and had you been rough, hard hearted, they would certainly have dispersed from around you; pardon them therefore and ask pardon for them, and take counsel with them in the affair; so when you have decided, then place your trust in Allah; surely Allah loves those who trust.”
This verse tells us that the secret to the success of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) in such a short period of time was his attributes of mercy, care and compassion for the people. The second half of this verse requests from Rasulullah (SAWA) to forgive the people and consult with them.
However, this verse goes further to request that Rasulullah (SAWA) ask Allah (SWT) to also forgive them! However, this is still not sufficient, as the verse goes further to request that Rasululah (SAWA) gives them personality and importance too!
We all believe that Rasulullah (SAWA) is appointed by Almighty Allah (SWT) and therefore he is connected to Divine knowledge and Divine guidance and therefore, he surely does not require consultation with anyone. We require consultation to take into account the varying opinions on a matter in order to achieve the best conclusion to do something. However, the universal mercy of Rasulullah (SAWA) suggests that he makes people feel included, because consultation is a form of mercy and compassion.
When I ask you for your opinion, it means that I value your input and I recognize your personality as important. These are all expressions of care, compassion and respect.
The last part of this verse talks about the next quality which is also very important, and that is about not being double-minded. Place your trust in Allah (SWT) and go ahead, as Allah (SWT) loves those who trust in Him (SWT).
COMPASSION OF PROPHET MUHAMMAD (SAWA) DOES NOT IMPAIR HIS UNCOMPROMISING JUSTICE
The situation is a bit different here. The compassion and mercy of Rasulullah (SAWA) does not come in the way of establishing justice. Compassion and mercy has a limit. You cannot be merciful towards criminals if their crimes have a negative impact on society and the Hudud of Allah (SWT) must be established.
Again, I would like to reference a narration from Anas ibn Malik who one day came forward to intercede on behalf of a criminal. Rasulullah (SAWA) remonstrates with Anas for this action of wanting to defend a criminal.
Rasulullah (SAWA) challenges Anas on his request for Rasulullah (SAWA) to forgive the criminal because she comes from an affluent family and for political reasons. This is no different to what we see today, when an influential person stands trial and is found guilty in the court of law. This is generally when the political leadership try to intervene to see if any concessions can be made to save this criminal, as saving the criminal could avoid negative consequences on our political stronghold.
This is the norm in politics and the exact same logic was brought by Anas ibn Malik for the criminal he was defending in front of Rasulullah (SAWA), due to her social status. Anas tried to argue that the prosecution of her for the crime will be diplomatically wrong and politically incorrect.
The politics of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) is different though! He responds by explaining that his response to the crime would be no different if it was committed by his own daughter or his infallible Ahlul Bait (a.s) who are the most beloved to him.
RASULULLAH (SAWA) EXPELS PROBLEMATIC ELEMENTS IN SOCIETY
This combination is amazing in the politics of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (SAWA). On the one hand you have the extreme mercy and compassion, while at the same time he displays no compromise on justice and the establishment and practice of the rule of law.
In the same conquest of Mecca where Rasulullah (SAWA) declared it to be the Day of Mercy, there were certain very problematic elements which Rasulullah (SAWA) could see vividly, and these elements posed a serious threat to the stability of society. Rasulullah (SAWA) ordered for them to be wiped out.
There are people in Medina who have a history of troublemaking whom Rasulullah (SAWA) ordered for them to be expelled from the Islamic community with no right of return to Medina. The unfortunate reality of Islamic history is that such characters were brought back very quickly after the demise of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA)! Rasulullah (SAWA) had no mercy for such types of people.
This is the important message in the politics of Prophet Muhammad (SAWA), where we see his inclusive mercy on the one side, filled with compassion, and on the other side we see his steadfast resolve in the establishment of justice and law.
SECOND KHUTBAH – BAD NEWS FROM AFGHANISTAN TO PAKISTAN ENDING IN SOUTH AFRICA
On a very sad note during this week of unity, this week of the Prophet of mercy, compassion and care (SAWA), and the Prophet of Allah’s (SWT) infinite blessings, we hear the sad news which hurts so deeply. As we have heard in the news, on the same day of Milad-un-Nabi (12 Rabi-ul-Awwal), a horrible attack is carried out on the gatherings of Milad in Kabul, Afghanistan, while the Holy Quran was recited!
This heinous attack has resulted in more than 50 people killed, with hundreds left injured. How is it possible that the nation (Ummah) of this very same Prophet can act this way? Which Prophet are these people following?
Again, in Pakistan we have seen in this same week of Milad that another attack was carried out in a busy market, where the majority of the people who frequent this marketplace are followers of Ahlul Bait (a.s). This attack has accounted for the killing of more than 60 people. For what??? What is their crime? The killers carry out these heinous attacks in the name of Islam, exclaiming Allahu Akbar and the Shahadah!
In our own city of Cape Town, we also witnessed a very sad incident when a mosque in Khayelitsha was attacked and a Musalli was killed and the sanctity of the mosque was assaulted. This is a very alarming incident and we know full well the magnitude of this tragedy, stemming from what we experienced first-hand in Durban 6 months ago.
This incident in Khayelitsha occurred in the early hours of the morning, where this person was killed in the house of Allah (SWT), for which the motive is unknown. We strongly, and unconditionally condemn this crime of hate and terrorism against the sanctity of the house of Allah (SWT) and the sacred place of worship.
We certainly demand from the police and other law enforcement structures to determine what exactly the reason was and who masterminded this terrible incident in Khayelitsha. We hope and prayer that they will be able to get to the bottom of this and for justice to prevail, so that such ugly incident are not repeated.
It is really a terrible trend that is emerging, especially with the Durban tragedy, which was followed by the attack on the mosque in Malmesbury, and now we see this occur in Khayelitsha. It certainly raises the question of what is the agenda underpinning these attacks. It really is difficult to comment since we do not have accurate information.
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