by Hasan Rizvi
“And We have not sent you except as a Mercy to mankind.“
This famous passage from the Quran (21:107) refers to the last Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (s). Islam views Prophet Muhammad (s) as a man of compassion, justice and kindness. History attests that this Messenger of Islam was the first to forgive his enemies when he had the opportunity, despite them torturing and killings his own family members.
When Prophet Muhammad was forced to immigrate to Medina from Mecca, he founded the first and only one of a few, true Islamic Nations till date. Prophet Muhammad (s) drafted the robust Charter of Medina which not only gave rights to the Muslims citizens but just as importantly, to the non-Muslims citizens living in the city who had just as much rights as the others, not only to live in the city but to freely practice their own respective religion as they wished without any fear.
This unique Constitution set the precedence and foundation for the security of this new Islamic Nation along with the basic human rights including religious freedom, the security of the women, a judicial system among many other pertinent issues that were missing in that environment at that time in history. The Constitution also initiated various peaceful methods of dispute resolution among the different tribal and religious groups.
One of the most interesting components of the Constitution especially in that day and age, was the inclusion of the various Jewish tribes as Islam considered them to be brothers.
Hence, it is no surprise to see the teachings of Prophet Muhammad (s) being carried on by his cousin and right-hand man, Imam Ali, who when he became the Caliph, ensured the same traditions and principles. As Imam Ali placed his Governor in Egypt, he gave him very explicit instructions.
Among the many guidelines, his Governor, Malike Al-Ashtar was advised and cautioned to remember that there were two types of people under his rule. Namely one, those who had the same religion as he, and thus were his brothers in faith. And two, those who had different religion than he, but were his brothers in humanity. Both groups required his compassion and mercy, and that ultimately was what was expected of such rulers by Islam.
However, it is very sad and unfortunate, that this tradition of rule by mercy and justice, set forth by Islam and practiced by both Prophet Muhammad and Imam Ali, did not continue with those who claimed to be representatives of Islam but whose only motive was the materialistic aspect of their rule and simply being in power and control even at the expense of human rights and innocent civilians. As these rulers who claimed to be representatives of Islam, stole the control, hijacked Islam, tarnishing it and its pure Message in the process, a great divide was created between those in rule and those under the rule.
As a result, you will find hate, destruction, intolerance and injustice rampant by those in power in the Middle East and in the so-called Islamic communities. An unIslamic and a sham tradition by those who failed to understand Islam, and had no regards for its Message or purity, or humanity overall, and were in it just for the sake of power, money, materialism and greed.
Islam was against many evils as the other great religions including womanizing and alcohol. Yet, with these so-called representatives of Islam, such practices were and are rampant as they ruled over others without having any ethics, morals, principles, faith or a vision whatsoever.
With no regards for humanity or even basic values, let alone Islam, dictators with Islamic names but no ties with Islam by any means, ruled for centuries with an iron fist over the people without granting them any human rights or the basic needs that humans requires to live. And they continued to do so…
And that resulted just some time ago with an explosion that has been titled as the ‘Arab Spring’.
Justified civil uprisings and protests have emerged with frustrated civilians pumping their fist in the air demanding justice and freedom as they swarmed the streets. Dictators that had the support of many including powerful countries, and who just a few years ago, would have been inconceivable to be touched, let alone being kicked out of their respective countries and brought to justice as we have witnessed today. The domino effect of the so-called Islamic leaders falling one by one as the fire rages on in the name of the Arab Spring.
The protestors had initiated demonstrations and marches including the use of social media to simply rally, mobilize, communicate and create awareness directly in the face of oppression and injustice. And what were their demands. What was the call of the people? Justice, freedom and basic human rights…
As typical with dictators, the innocent protestors were met with brutality, aggression and even fatality. However, they continued to march on bravely and proudly, though they knew, that perhaps death was just around the corner. But the time had come, and the time was now even if it meant risking and sacrificing it all.
The demands of the protestors were clear. They were tired of an absolute monarchy, blatant human rights violation and government corruption. They were tired of living their lives in fear and under the umbrella of injustice and oppression. Something had to give way.
It is sad and disgusting that the so-called Islamic world and beyond had to witness this entire deliberate disregard and disrespect for both humanity and Islam. The first bricks of Islam that were personally laid by the Messenger of Mercy were that of Justice, Understanding and Compassion. Basic human rights and freedom were granted to all citizens irrespective of religion and background by Prophet Muhammad(s) himself. These basic laws and instructions were carried on by his family. This was the true Message and spirit of Islam.
Unfortunately, Islam was hijacked early on by those who were not interested in the humanitarian message of Islam but by using it as a means to gain materialistic wealth and power. They used it for their own personal and selfish advantage and not for the benefit of mankind. Islam was trampled and misused by them to feed their false egos, hallow pride and never-ending hunger for illegitimate power and wealth. They tarnished the pure message of Islam and the character of Prophet Muhammad. Mercy and Justice were casually thrown out while despotism and extremism instead crept in.
And now, today, we are witnessing the results of these fanatics garbed in the disguise of Islam, as the Arab Spring explodes directly in their faces. They are now facing the consequences and wrath from the false and inhumane rituals set forth by the early so-called Islamic leaders all in the name of Islam.
Had these dictators been sincere and humane while adhering to the true Message of Prophet Muhammad (s), and grasped the Message of Mercy and Justice, today not only would their own fate have been different, but there would have been Justice, Mercy, Tolerance, Peace and Progress in that part of the world and beyond, setting an example for all.