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Lesson 59

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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 Nations

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 the Quran

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), guarding carefully."
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:

  1. Instead of establishing friendship with the disbelievers, you should fully guard yourselves against them — the reasons for which I have discussed in detail earlier.
  2. After safeguarding your own rights, and those of other concerned Muslim states, it is appropriate to establish friendly relations with the disbelievers.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
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