| State Journal-Register
An important saying of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is religion is not only what one formally or ritualistically practices but how one deals with others. It is therefore not sufficient to be pious without performing deeds which demonstrate one’s beliefs.
The main goal is to help man achieve the highest level of moral and spiritual status so that he may become an exalted figure and gain respect and honor among his fellow beings. Allah Almighty wants to see men tied up in a cemented bond of brotherhood. Though He has placed man in different diversities of race, color, language and culture yet when He addresses them, He does not draw a difference between the people with different cultural, social and economic diversities and backgrounds. But He addresses them in the Quran as: “Ya ayyu hannas” (O people).
All these differences are said to be signs from God. They do exist in the world of reality. Hence, Islam recognizes them as matters of fact. It does not seek to ignore them but affirms that their role in the social schemes is to inspire man to better his understanding and outlook about society and his surroundings. But the prejudices which have risen among mankind out of these differences in the shape of groupings and organizations based on race, color, language, nationality, etc., are disapproved by Islam.
Every single human being is the recipient, custodian and executor of God’s will on earth; his responsibilities are all encompassing. A man’s duty to act in defense of what is right is as much part of his faith as is his duty to oppose wrong. The Prophet once said, “If someone among you sees wrong he must right it by his hand if he can (deed, conduct, action). If he cannot, then by his tongue (speak up, verbally oppose); if he cannot, then by his gaze (silent expression of disapproval); and if he cannot, then in his heart. The last is the minimum expression of his conviction (faith, courage).”
The preservation of a social order depends on each and every member of the society freely adhering to the same moral principles and practices. Islam, founded on individual and collective morality and responsibility, introduced a social revolution in the context in which it was first revealed. Collective morality is expressed in the Qur’an in such terms as equality, justice, fairness, brotherhood, mercy, compassion, solidarity, and freedom of choice.
Individual responsibility is a cornerstone of Islam. Every man is accountable to his Creator for what he himself does or fails to do — as well as for others for whom he may be accountable — and for things that he has control over.
Leaders should be more heedful for the application of these principles. They are accountable to God and man for their administration. It is reported that a man went to Umar, who was the head of state at the time, to talk to him. It was nighttime, and a candle burned on Umar’s desk. Umar asked the man if what he wanted to discuss was personal. The man said that it was, and Umar extinguished the candle so as not burn public funds for a private purpose. Leaders in Islam, whether heads of state or heads of family or private enterprise, have a higher responsibility than others.
The Holy Prophet Muhammad strove to bridge the gap between the rich and poor, the high and the low. He advocated a society in which there would not be any exploitation of one sector over another. He aimed at a balanced life which represents the equilibrium of social justice.
Islam seeks to inculcate within every man the strength to change what can be changed and the need to seek justice and to apply it to him as well as to others. The notions of brotherhood and solidarity not only impose upon the community the duty to care for its members, but also require each person to use his initiative to carry out individual and social responsibilities according to his ability.
Let’s make this a time for healing, restoration, understanding, depth and contemplation. Let’s all be hopeful for progress, let’s spread the light of peace, love and compassion, preserve social order and above all let’s stand in unity to protect the values of our nation.
Nawal Nadeem Alam of Springfield is a student of masters in classical Islamic sciences, an instructor and social worker.