Article in brief: The author discusses the impact of settling down as a community on our development and progress.
“Come on, just move on” or “ Ya ammi, mash halek”, are phrases that you may be very familiar with if you live in the Arab world. These phrases are most often used when a situation isn’t the way it should be or is unsatisfactory based on your standards. Some examples of situations may include dissatisfaction with a product purchased, inefficiency of certain legal/government processes, appearance of public spaces, quality of roads, protection of rights (personal or commercial), and even to the extreme of social situations such as selecting a spouse.
In the past last few months, I have started hearing this phrase of moving on or just settling for what you get quite frequently. The surprising part is that I have started hearing itin situations we should never settle for what I call mediocre. These situations include life changing decisions and those that impact other people’s wellbeing. The most surprising incident I had with this phrase was when it was backed up by the Islamic principle of “being a balanced nation” (please refer to my article in Sail e-Magazine’s August 2011 issue titled “A Balanced Nation”)
That discussion got me wondering if the early Islamic empires, that reined a major part of the world, had also used this phrase and what would have happened if they did? Would there be modern day Algebra, medicine as we got it from the early Andalusians, structured justice systems, and even certain basics such as order and lack of chaos?
In fact, it got me to realize that “mash halek” was actually the reason for the downfall of every great nation. Let’s take the UAE as an example. I believe the UAE stands out from the rest of the region in terms of development and this is first due to Allah’s bounty upon us and then mainly to the UAE’s leadership who did not accept settling for Mediocre. It did not stop there, I believe we were also blessed with people in the initial nation-building process who also followed the mindset of the leadership in not settling for mediocre. In order to maintain this status, I strongly believe that it is incumbent we continue to excel gradually and never settle for mediocre (also refer to my article in Sail e-Magazine’s August 2013 issue “Perfection through Imperfection”).
That said, I believe that by understanding the divine commands early Muslims considered seriously, it would be clear that settling for mediocre is completely un-Islamic and hence not part of our religious creed or part of our original culture.
First, in Islam, Muslims are commanded directly to perfect an action if they choose to do it. One example is the cleanliness of public streets and restrooms. Not only is it the duty of those mandated with it to keep them tidy and clean but also the responsibility of every individual to go the extra mile and make sure they contribute to this process.
“Allah (SWT) loves if any of you has done a deed to perfect it”. – The Prophet Muhammad (Narrated by ِAyesha , Sahih Al Jamea 1880, classified as Hasan)
Second, in Islam, Muslims are constantly commanded to go beyond their comfort zones in seeking perfection. To fight and resist one’s self for settling for mediocre and for doing what is perfect.
“Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well- acquainted with all that ye do. ” – The Holy Quran (4:135)
Third, Islam calls for perfection in all deeds and does not settle for mediocre in anything. Such is the case in prayers, fasting, war, marriage, divorce, justice, and even slaughtering animals for food. Everything has to be done in order and in a perfect manner.
“Allah has written (ordered) perfection on everything, so if you kill you should attain perfection when killing, and if you slaughter then you should attain perfection when slaughtering…” – The Prophet Muhammad (Authentic, Narrated by Muslim, 1955).
In summary, I believe the phenomena of “ mash halek” is one we must all be weary of and that settling for what is mediocre could lead to our downfall. Through understanding divine command, which I believe was what made the early Muslims prosperous, we can continue to excel and maintain perfection. These divine commands are: seek perfection in what we do, go beyond our comfort zones, and apply perfection to everything. I hope this has opened your eyes as it definitely has opened mine.
Mohammed’s bi-monthly column aims to openly and honestly target issues around the native culture, society, religion, economy, and policy that have resulted as a consequence of the constantly changing demographics of the region. The column is characterized by a point-like articulate approach that gives the reader a comprehensive understanding of the discussed issues.