The Divine assignment and Muslims’ betrayal
Dr. Firoz Mahboob Kamal
Without knowing the true identity and the right objective of life, mere struggle for survival leads only to ultimate failure. Then, the whole life with its enormous potential gets spent on pursuing the wrong aim. This is why nothing is more important for a man and a woman than knowing his or her ownself and the purpose of life. Why we are here on the earth and what is the agenda of our life are the most crucial questions to be rightly answered first. But awfully, despite all the scientific advancement, most people live in a deep black hole of ignorance vis-à-vis the core purpose of life. Life is not for living a few decades on this planet. Life is infinite; divided only into two segments. The shortest one ends with the death, but resurrects with an infinite one in the hereafter. The worldly part is designed only for the decisive exam. Those who pass the exam qualify for a place in paradise in the infinite part. Otherwise it ends up in an infinite hellfire. Success comes only through fulfilling the Divine assignment and betrayal brings failure. It is indeed the core Islamic concept of life.
Because of ignorance, survival for the sake of survival as a successful professional becomes the prime purpose in most people’s lives. Because of being lost in the worldly life, the endless life in the hereafter doesn’t stay in the focus. Mostly it is ignored or forgotten. Therefore, most people steer their lives day after day and year after year without a thought on the final destination. What could be more shocking than this? It is an awful reality that most people leave this world without knowing why they were created in the first place?
Releasing humans from such dreadful ignorance is indeed the most important priority of Islam. More than hundred thousands prophets and many Divine Books were sent to humans in different ages to tell the truth about the purpose of life and show the right path of success. Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) is the final prophet and the Holy Qur’an is the last Book in that Divine chain. It is the most definitive Qur’anic proclamation that humans are created for no other purpose than ibada. It is revealed: “Wa ma khalak’tul jinna wal in’sana ill li’yabudun.” It means: humans and jinns are created for no other reason than ibda. How many people know about that? How many people know about the meaning and implication of ibada? And what could be a worse catastrophic outcome than staying ignorant on that? These are the mind boggling questions. But how many people think about that?
Ibada is the total salvery to every order of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala. It is the divinely prescribed roadmap to grow and qualify as a true Muslim. Ibada has an all inclusive dimension that covers all aspects of human life. Nothing remains out of its domain. Seeking Qur’anic knowledge, five-time prayers, month-long fasting in Ramadan, hajj, charity, and glorification of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala are only a few obligatory forms.
Ibada has an objective. It is not an end in itself. Ibada is prescribed to serve a great purpose. For understanding the importance of ibada, one must know the purpose of humans’ creation. The Holy Qur’an is very explicit on that. The Holy Qur’an reveals: even before the creation of the first human, Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala made it clear vis-à-vis His vision on humans’ creation. In the assembly of the angels, the All-Powerful Alllah declared that men and women would work as His khalifa on the earth. The objective of all forms of ibada is indeed to enhance the competence of His khalifa to do the job properly. If humans can do the job as His viceroy (khalifa), only then they will qualify for a place in paradise. Otherwise, they will qualify for hellfire.
Ibaba and khalifa are the two most important Qur’anic jargons. These have special meanings and profound practical implications on Muslims’ lives. These indeed tell about the mission and the job description of a Muslim. Therefore, to be a true Muslim, one must know the real meaning of these two Qur’anic vocabularies. Ignorance of that forbids to be a true Muslim. The tasks of ibaba and khalifa are intertwined in a believer’s life. Ibada is not mere five time prayers, month-long fasting, hajj, and zakat. It is indeed the execution of all-inclusive responsibilities as His khalifa (viceroy). Other prescribed schedules of ibada are indeed to enhance the sincerity and executive qualities of the believers.
The pathology of failure
Muslims’ failure never started from failure in industries, businesses or agriculture, but from failure in schools. Failure in education always leads to failure in life. And it starts from the conceptual failure in understanding ibabah and khalifa. As a result, they stand ignorant of the aim and role of life. Because of ignorance, they even become mercenary for the enemies. The success of the early Muslims doesn’t owe to any economic boom, scientific discovery or population explosion, but to proper education. In those golden days, education used to start with the best Textbook on the earth –the Holy Qur’an. Hence they could discover not only the right way of success (siratul mustaqeem) but also could know the worth, the role and the potentials of humans. They could also get the proper understanding of ibaba and khalifa. As a result, they could excel in both fields. Because of proper education, the early Muslims could be competent enough to align with the vision, mission and agenda of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala. This is indeed the core factor of their success. The became ansarullah (helper unto Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala) to help Islam overwhelm over all other religions and faiths over a large part of the world. Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala also helped them. As a result, the most powerful state as well as the finest civilisation on the planet could be raised by them.
Because of its seminal importance, imparting the understanding of ibabah and khalifa must form the foundation of the Muslims’ education system. Only then, a child will be able to understand his role as well as his purpose in life. But such basic Islamic element is missing in the education systems of the Muslim countries. Moreover, the Divine Textbook gets little or no importance in the schools. What could be the worst betrayal of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’la than this? And every betrayal brings Divine punishment. And Muslims are now awash with that. And here lies the pathology of Muslims’ failures. Because of the educational failure, today’s Muslims qualitatively differ from the Muslims of the golden days. So the early Muslims could make history of glory, and today’s Muslims are making history of decadence and disgrace.
The Qur’anic knowledge works as the most empowering stimulent in Muslims’ life. Because of that, in those golden days of Islam, they were no silent or inactive Muslims. Staying inactive in front of the enemy aggression was unknown to them. But today, history is being made in other ways. If a Muslim state gets occupied even by the foreign or native enmies of Islam, staying silent and inactive has become the norm. Even there are many to embrace them! Whereas, in the face of enemy occupation, staying inactive is incompatible with the Islamic faith. All companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) were all-time active, and more than 60 percent sacrificed their life to defeat the enemies. They invested their all abilities and potentials only to please All-Powerful Allah Sub’hana wa ta’ala and to qualify for paradise. Such massive mobilization of people for the Divine cause never happened in the whole span of human history. This is why the Qur’anic Truth could prevail over the enemies. So they could be called the best people of all ages. And Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala could be very pleased with them –as revealed in Surah Bayyinah in the Holy Qur’an.
Ibada and khalifa: the misunderstood jargons
While the Holy Qur’an was being revealed, ibada or slavery was not a new word in the Arabian Peninsula. The Arabs of those days knew the full implication of ibada and the meaning of abed (slave). Ibada used to mean a full-time live-long engagement to obey every order of the master. The slaves had no liberty to satisfy their own agenda or wish. They had only one agenda in their whole life and that was their master’s one. Any amount of disobedience against the master was a serious punishable offense. The master had the full right even to kill the rebellious slave. In those days, such punishment couldn’t be challenged in any court. The Arab people used to recognize it as the master’s right to punish his slave as he likes. Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala also wants such lifelong full-time slavery from every Muslim man and woman. And He can demand a sacrifice of his wealth and life for His cause. In return, He promises the endless bounties of heaven. It is indeed a solemn purchase deal with the believer that is mentioned in Surah Tawba in verse 111. And the earlier Muslims accepted such slavery of Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala’ and didn’t hesitate to sacrifice their wealth, energy, and life to fulfil His Agenda and bring victory of His religion. Only because of such a conceptual clarity on ibada, more than 60 percent of the companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) could sacrifice their lives. It is unique in history.
The term khalifa is used to mean working as Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala’s viceroy on the earth. It applies to all men and women of all colors and ethnicities. It is indeed the highest designation and honor that a man or woman can expect from his or her All-Powerful King of the universe. The Almighty Creator delegates such a job of the highest responsibility only to those who are highly competent and trustworthy. Therefore, to be khalifa, a Muslim needs to build up his or her competence. In fact, Islam’s obligatory ibada like seeking Qur’anic knowledge, five-time prayers, month-long fasting, hajj, and zakat are the effective means to generate such competence. However, khalifa has another connotation. It means the Prophet (peace be upon him)’s representative on the earth after his death. Hence khalifas are desired to work on his behalf as the ruler of the Muslim ummah. The four khulafa-e-rashida (the rightly guided caliphs) are the perfect examples of that.
The title of khalifa also delegates some obligatory individual responsibilities to every Muslim man and woman to work as Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala’s viceroy in the midst of billions of other fellow humans. Disseminating the message of Islam to non-Muslims is such a responsibility. Such a designation on behalf of the Almighty Creator tells a lot about the role that a Muslim must play in this world. Investing every moment of life with a deep sense of such responsibility is indeed the showcasing of his or her true faith (iman). Men and women can attain the greatest honor both here and in the hereafter only through fulfilling such a role, and any betrayal of such role can only bring the promised disgrace in this world and take to the hellfire in the hereafter.
“Khalifa” has another binding political connotation. A khalifa can never be sovereign; he can work only as the representative of a sovereign ruler. Sovereignty belongs only to Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala. The problems start when these khalifas turn sovereign and work treacherously against the Almighty –their Supreme Employer. This is why autocracy is incompatible with Islam. It is indeed the ugliest treachery against Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala. Such treacherous viceroys always deserve the severest punishment. Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala keeps His hellfire ready for such rebels –as revealed in the Holy Qur’an. It is indeed the major crime of the Muslims today that they are not working as His viceroy. They have replaced Allah Sub’hana wa Ta’ala’s sovereignty with their own sovereignty. Even in countries where autocratic rulers have been replaced by elected parliament or President, the same crime of claiming sovereignty is being committed by the elected institutions. It is an overt shirk –the unpardonable crime in Islam.