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Lesson - 59
Aal Imran (Family of Imran)
"Let not the believers take the disbelievers for
friends rather than believers. And whoever does this has no connection
with Allah except that you guard yourselves against them,
guarding carefully. And Allah cautions you against His retribution.
And to Allah is the eventual coming. Say: Whether you hide what
is in your hearts or manifest it, Allah knows it. And He knows whatever
is in the heavens and whatever is in the earth. And Allah is Possessor
of power over all things. On the day when every soul will find present
that which it has done of good; and that which it has done of evil
it will wish that between it and that (evil) there were a
long distance. And Allah cautions you against His retribution. And
Allah is Compassionate to the servants." (Ch. 3:27-29)
Relations amongst sovereign Muslims and Non-Muslim
It has been discussed earlier that in the Quranic verses preceding
this lesson there is a prophecy indicating Allah, the Most High,
will give sovereignty to the Muslims. In this lesson, they are warned
of a matter of prime importance when they receive such domain. It
is enjoined thus:
"Let not the believers take the disbelievers for friends
rather than believers."
This discussion is about sovereign nations and their dominion, does
it therefore imply that friendly relations with the disbelievers are
not feasible at all? This most certainly cannot be true, for the Holy
Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) did himself periodically
establish alliances with the Jews, the Christians and the Polytheists
of Arabia. These included agreements to live together in peace, not
to commit aggression against each other and in fact to assist each
other in case of outside aggression. The words of the Holy Quran clearly
point out that what's forbidden is to make friends with the disbelievers
"rather than believers."
Polytheists' fear of Islam
In this verse the Muslims are first exhorted that unlike their
fellow believers, they will not find fear of God as the motivating
force in the hearts of most disbelievers. Thus they will find lack
of congruity between what they say and what's on their mind and
will find them not firm in their commitments. Historical evidence
supports the argument that disbelievers frequently made efforts
and covert schemes to destroy the Muslims. The underlying reason
for this hostility was the pure monotheism of Islam and the fear
of those possessing false beliefs of being annihilated by the truth.
All other religions were involved in associating with God. The polytheists,
which includes all disbelievers, were thus united together in their
objectives against the Muslims because of this common bond. They
believed that if the Muslims were destroyed, Islam would also be
eliminated along with them.
Muslims suffer as a consequence of not heeding
It is thus essential that the believers, whenever possible, should
form agreements of mutual friend-ship and assistance amongst themselves.
There are, however, non-Muslim nations in the world today and they
were also in plurality during the time of the Holy Prophet (peace
and blessings of Allah be upon him). All kinds of agreements including
trade, finance and military pacts have to be concluded with them.
Only one word of caution is urged for the Muslims in such matters,
and that is not to enter into any covenant with these nations which
is against another Muslim state. By not heeding this warning, Muslims
have always suffered loss. In fact, in some cases they even lost
their independence, as witnessed in recent times by the creation
of Israel. During the First World War the British, through the offices
of the world renowned Lawrence of Arabia, made all kinds of promises
to the Arabs. They urged them to rebel and bear arms against the
Muslim State of Turkey, under whose administration the Arabs were
at the time. Very few of those promises were kept and the British
ended up settling the Jews right in the heart of the Arab lands.
The Palestinians numbering in the hundreds of thousands had to abandon
their homes, lands, possessions and businesses and were displaced
to other lands, where they live in great difficulty in a state of
homelessness and destitution. God only knows what consequences ultimately
this tribulation of Israel is to bring. The Muslims, however, have
still not learned their lesson and I can quote quite a few recent
examples of this which are well known to those familiar with the
state of world affairs.
Rules of conduct for Muslims
The Holy Quran is a wonderful book of Divine wisdom, a few simple
words of which engulf a vast depth of insight and perception. For
example over here are the words:
"... except that you guard yourselves against them (minhum),
The Arabic word for 'them' (minhum) in this context can apply
both to the believers and the disbelievers, and thus lead one to appropriately
deduce the following different meanings, all of which are correct:
- Instead of establishing friendship with the disbelievers, you
should fully guard yourselves against them the reasons
for which I have discussed in detail earlier.
- After safeguarding your own rights, and those of other concerned
Muslim states, it is appropriate to establish friendly relations
with the disbelievers.
- If you have been defeated by a disbelieving nation and are under
their domination, for sake of your protection, you may appropriately
form an agreement with them where you have no other choice.
- If a situation arises where you perceive a threat from a Muslim
state, then to safeguard yourself from such danger you may enter
into an alliance with a non-Muslim state against your enemy even
though he is a Muslim. These sort of situations are conceivable
and have actually occurred.
Aside from these special circumstances, if you form an agreement
with a non-Muslim which is against another Muslim state, then Allah
sends you a strong warning of His chastisement in the words:
"And Allah cautions you against His retribution."
In such matters do not have fear of other non-Muslim nations or
of danger itself, but have fear of Allah in your hearts Whose chastisement
can overtake you in this world. In another chapter grave warning
against such a grievous sin which leads to the loss or death of
fellow Muslims is given in these words:
"O you who believe, take not the disbelievers for friends
rather than the believers. Do you desire to give Allah a manifest
proof against yourselves?" (4:144).
In the lesson today we are also told:
"And to Allah is the eventual coming,"
you have inevitably to return before His Divine Majesty, if He does
not chastise you in this world, you will definitely be subjected
to it in the Hereafter.
The subsequent verse states thus:
"Say: Whether you hide what is in your hearts or manifest
it, Allah knows it."
In the field of international relations, secret agreements are made
all the time, which the concerned parties at times even try to conceal
from their own people. Most of the time treaties are made as tactical
decisions based upon deceit and as transitory measures by one of
the parties, to be discarded at the opportune moment. Adolph Hitler
was notorious for concluding treaties with his neighbors, to lull
them into a sense of false security and to attack and swallow them
into his domain at the earliest opportune moment. In matters of
state and politics, with the exception of a believer who keeps his
duty to Allah, deceit and deception is a common practice, whether
it be false promises made with the people or by politicians amongst
themselves. That is why the famous Chancellor Bismarck of Germany
said: "Don't believe a thing until it is officially denied."
Because lies, deception, fraud and breaking of promises in international
dealings are quite common, the Holy Quran has warned the Muslims
not to manifest such behavior, for Allah is aware of what is in
their hearts. Not only is this the case, but it is stated that He
is also aware of what is in the heavens and the earth. By the heavens
is meant the existential states of life after death, the nature
of which is all unknown. What is beneficial for mankind in the Hereafter
is known only to Allah. If you as Muslims listen to what He enjoins,
even if it means bearing some loss in this earthly life, it is to
your advantage in the eternal life hereafter. What is going to happen
in the future is known only to Him, it therefore behooves you to
benefit from His knowledge and act upon His injunctions.
In my career of public service, I have observed that political
leaders practice all kinds of strategic maneuvering and intrigue
to further their own advantage. Despite being in power and in apparent
possession of all the strengths and advantages, their plans failed
in the face of concurrent events. That is why this Quranic verse
ends with the words: "And Allah is Possessor of power over all things."
He can dismantle the greatest of human powers and machinations in
a split of a second. In any case they are sooner or later terminated
by the event of death.
The Quranic words that follow thus move the heart:
"On the day when every soul will find present that which
it has done of good ; and that which it has done of evil it will
wish that between it and that (evil) there were a long distance.
And Allah cautions you against His retribution. And Allah is Compassionate
to the servants."
This verse has wonderful wisdom in it. In my public service career,
I frequently observed that very often in case of a president, a prime
minister or a political leader who served his people, his services
were not appreciated, and he was deprived of his authority, cursed
and downgraded by the very same people whom he served. Such leaders
would then become heartbroken and despondent. The Holy Quran tells
them not to grieve, for although their nation did not appreciate their
services, their acts of goodness were not a waste and they will receive
credit for them in the everlasting life hereafter, the applause and
appreciation of this worldly life being temporary and short lived.
Although those in position of power may be able to do a lot of good
for the welfare and benefit of the people, they may also be responsible
for committing a great deal of inequity and oppression against the
people. When they will witness the chastisement for these sins in
the Hereafter, they will regretfully wish for there to be a wide distance
between themselves and their evil deeds. I have witnessed remorse
even in this worldly life when such chastisement overtakes these people.
That is why it is stated that if Allah warns you of His chastisement,
it is out of His mercy for He does not want you to suffer the consequences.
All Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Worlds.