The Individual In The Success Of Society: Part 2
Imam W. Deen Muhammad
(Editor's note: The following article is adapted from a January 18,1987 lecture delivered in Newark, N.J.).
Allah says "Rush! Hurry! Be quick! in the race for forgiveness from your Lord." Now it could have read for forgiveness from Allah. Someone may say it's the same. No, it's not the same. Allah is a name all-inclusive. Your Lord is more specific. Your Lord brings home the message of whom you are indebted and responsible to.
The Christian may say, "well, that's Allah for you, but it's Jesus for me. The Jews may say "that's Allah for you but... Yahweh (the Lord God of Moses) for us." But it says, "your Lord," so the Christians can say, "yes, it's my Lord," the Jews can say, "yes, it's my Lord." Lord brings home the idea that some force or power is responsible for you; responsible for your life, it's plan, development, and potential destiny.
When Pharaoh hears the call of his Lord, (if we understand the meaning of Lord in the Islamic context), he starts to review the history of his growth and progress. 'Lord' in Arabic is very close to the term 'parent' — your parent is 'rab-ba' and 'Lord' is 'rab-bil.' They are very closely related; 'rab-ba' — your parent is a kind of lord in that family situation. Allah is Lord in all situations.
Be Quick In The Race
If we say your parent, you understand that your parent means the one who parents you, whether from your bloodline or not. The one who cared for you when you were too little to care for yourself, the one who aided you along when you got on your feet or was able to go on your own.
That message is the same to the big chief, who thinks he can manage the world by himself; your Lord says, 'Rush! Be quick, in the race for forgiveness, from Him.' You have abilities and have talents that have obviously reached your mind, now you think you can manage and control the world all by yourself. You obviously looked at yourself, as someone who has grown and developed and have great resources. Remember when you didn't have them? Something had been responsible for you having that ability to achieve what you have been able to achieve.
Many influences and many persons, in your history have made that all possible, but if you continue to search you will come to the understanding that the Lord that created you was the one that made it all possible, and had He not created you that way, none of it would have been possible.
So it brings us to ask forgiveness — "be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord."
The First Condition
Now, since we have digested that much of the ayat, let us continue. "And for a garden whose width is that of the whole of the heavens and the earth, prepared for the righteous."
"Be quick in the race for forgiveness from your Lord," that's the first condition. As a consequence of you rushing for forgiveness — you get a garden, whose width is the heavens and the earth.
What is a garden? It's a possession, given to you for its development. Its development. If a man gives me a garden, it's for me to develop; if it's already developed, it's for me to keep it developed. If he gives it to me in an already good developed shape, then it's for me to keep that good developed shape. But if he gives it to me in its virgin state, then it's for me to develop.
What Is A Garden
What is a garden? Allah makes it clear! It's the environment, all of it; the skies and the earth. When Allah offered the responsibility for managing the heavens and the earth to the mountains and to the angels they all refused, but man, being foolhardy, quick to rush into things that he's not prepared for, accepted the responsibility. The management of the heavens and the earth is a heavy responsibility.
Too Much For Man
Allah let us know that it is too much for man. Allah is talking to the conquerors and nations that think they can bring about a world order for man. He's telling nations and people with that kind of daring and ambition that they are foolhardy. Man does not have the capacity or ability to run the heavens and the earth. But God hasn't blocked man; He leaves a way open for him to pursue that dream because in pursuing the dream he's going to one day run into something that's going to jolt him to his senses and make him realize that it's not for him to manage, but that the One who designed it and created it should manage it and that he's only to be His servant.
Only Allah Brings Peace
It's not for man to dream up a way to bring man or the world into peace but it's for him to serve the design that God has already established for that particular objective.
It's prepared for the righteous, so Allah is saying that He intended such glorious office or responsibility for the righteous, the mutakeem, the regardful, those who first are regardful of their responsibilities to Allah, their Lord and then to every other sacred concern. They are the regardful.
Most conquerors cannot meet these qualifications, because they are not repentant and regardful of Allah and that which is sacred. As a result they have all kinds of trouble trying to meet these qualifications.
Challenge For The Righteous
They are not inclined to spend; they are inclined to hoard and use wealth to improve their control and dominance; not to spend for the good of all. This is the challenge prepared for the righteous. Those who spend freely, whether in prosperity (now that's a great test), because there are some great powers that in prosperity, oh, they see that everybody's got a chicken in the pot. But the righteous spend freely, whether in prosperity or in adversity. Most of the powers, when times get hard for them, they begin to turn their hands back from giving, protecting their security as a predominant power.
It says: "Who restrains anger." This blessing is a great blessing that Allah offers to man, and it is not for those who can't restrain their anger. And it is the pattern of the powerful, the mighty, that when adversity comes, they can't control their own passions. Their own passions defeat them. And the dignified image that they establish for themselves in the day of good times is destroyed by the new trying circumstances.
Look at this country who sent war planes to shoot at the private homes of Qadhafi. "He supported these terrorists, he's involved with them, so let him see how it feels to have his own children's life threatened. Let us bomb his homes, shoot them inside their beds, make the roof cave in on his wife and the children and see how he likes that." That's the situation that the powerful was put into that they were not prepared for. Their passion for revenge, passions of disgust, resentment, anger, overcame them and it made them act like savages. They put themselves in the same savage situation of the man they were condemning as savage, without even having clear evidence that he was guilty.
The Duty Of A Muslim
"Oh, be careful now, we are very considerate people." That's right. That's the duty of an American citizen, to uphold what is right, against what is wrong. That's the duty of a Muslim, and we thank Allah that it is also the duty of an American citizen, who hasn't done something to be ashamed of, who restrain their anger, and who pardons all men.
He is not one who can only forgive a member of his own race, but can't forgive a member of another race; he is one who can pardon all men. These are qualifications for men who strive for such great office of responsibility. Those who want to aspire to that glorious position, you should be capable of having these attributes. Yes, you should be able to forgive and give to those you hate; give those you've been trying to punish for what they did to you; if the situation requires it you should forgive them. And no belief in yourself will grant you that power, only a belief in Allah. Man has not the capacity to forgive like that unless he's obeying what he thinks is God's intentions.
"Those who, having done something to be ashamed of, having wronged their own souls, honestly bring Allah to mind, and ask forgiveness for their sins, and who can forgive them other than Allah, and are never obstinate, (stubborn and persistent and just holding on to what they think is the point), and in persisting knowingly, in the wrong they have done."
I Accept My Faults
You know, here again is a great trial for man. When you're just an ordinary Joe Blow, it is not too hard for you to say "well, I was wrong." But when you have built a reputation that says you don't make mistakes, and you've got a great following and a great host of admirers who look up to you saying — 'that's the perfect one,' — it's very difficult for you to say, 'I have done wrong. I was wrong and I accept my faults.' It takes a great man to do that, when he's already big in the eyes of the people. These people who aspire for dominance over man and society, see themselves as Pharaoh saw himself as God in the flesh. Pharaoh said, 'I know no Allah but me.' That's what he says in the Qur'an.
For such, God has established with the Ayat 133, 134 and 135, the essential qualifications for managing such great responsibility.
First of all, you must not do it on your own accord, or by your own initiative. You must do it as one who is a servant of God. As all men, and all nations have gone wrong and made the mistake, God has called all nations, to be quick in the race for forgiveness from their Lord. Didn't past scripture say, "I beheld them all to be sinners.? They all have did wrong; there is not one good, no, not one." We think it's talking about individuals, but it is addressed firstly to nations that have gone out to marshal man into some kind of ideal life or world, and was deluded because they were not aware that their own people were influencing this.