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.
“Why do you care about them?” said an acquaintance of mine when I was discussing the cruelty some employers demonstrate towards their employees. This comment instigated a feeling of fury in me because, to me, our entire Islamic and Arabic culture has continuously called for basic principles such as good conduct and justice.
I have noticed over the past few years that there seems to be a lack of conscience in our part of the world when it comes to dealing with family members, employees, low-income workers, and the poor in general. This can be noted not only in my conversation above, but also in many walks of life. People have stopped saying hello or smiling to the worker on the streets, stopped saying thank you or please to the cashier in the supermarket, and stopped flirting with their spouses and pampering their children. To make matters worse, they have reached a new level of cruelty where condescending words and physical abuse are practiced by people of authority (customer, manager, father, brother, etc) towards the people they have control over.
It is as though the prerequisite for getting respect around us has shifted towards power and money. This lack of respect for individuals, who are not associated with power or wealth, has created a false pride in society. So extreme is the effect of this false pride that it wipes out the humane element of our existence, our conscience.
In my opinion, this lack of conscience has led to factors that if left unresolved can destruct our social functioning. This in turn can potentially create a divide in society that, in the long run, can affect the development of our nation and lead to things like wide scale injustice and corruption. Such results are beginning to surface in societies in some of our neighboring countries.
“Nations are of good conduct so long as they are around
If they were to lose their good conduct they would lose themselves”
– Ahmed Shawqi, also known as the Prince of Poets
So what can we do to stop this from happening? The prerequisite to resolving any behavioral issue is a drive that can identify that what is occurring is incorrect and that there is a need for respecting all members of the community. I believe 3 important things can be emphasized and used as reminders for people in positions of authority to zoom out from their comfort zones and look at the big picture.
First, it is crucial to remember and know that all power and wealth are from the bounties of Allah that He has bestowed upon some of mankind. They are worldly factors that have the ability to deplete. As Allah has the power to bestow wealth and power upon mankind, He has the equal power to deprive them from it. All honor and pride belong to Him alone.
“Say: O Allah. Lord of Power (And Rule), Thou givest power to whom Thou pleasest, and Thou strippest off power from whom Thou pleasest: Thou enduest with honour whom Thou pleasest, and Thou bringest low whom Thou pleasest: In Thy hand is all good. Verily, over all things Thou hast power” – The Holy Quran [3:26]
Second, it is extremely important to know that every person in a position of authority is responsible and accountable for his or her actions. Whether it is injustice, oppression, or harsh treatment, they will be questioned and audited by the Almighty. Karma (as it is commonly referred to) plays a big role too as has been shown by Islamic teachings. If you show acts of kindness and respect for all, you will be reciprocated with the same and vice versa.
“O Allah, who (happens to) acquire some kind of control over the affairs of my people and is hard upon them-be Thou hard upon him, and who (happens to) acquire some kind of control over the affairs of my people and is kind to them-be Thou kind to him” – The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), Sahih Muslim, Book of Government, 4494
Third, it is crucial to know that Allah has created all mankind equal and in the best of forms. Any pride or arrogance that leads to cruelty due to form, race, gender, color, or nationality is a direct insult to the Almighty.
“We have indeed created man in the best of moulds (forms)” – The Holy Quran [95:4]
The person who chooses to think that he/she is better in essence due to the status of wealth and power, should know that this trait is one demonstrated by Satan and associated with evil in the divine guidance of the Holy Quran and other faiths alike.
“Behold! We said to the angels: “Bow down unto Adam”: They bowed down except Iblis (Lucifer): He said, “Shall I bow down to one whom Thou didst create from clay?”- The Holy Quran [17:61]
In summary, there seems to be a lack of conscience with people in positions of authority. This lack of conscience has led to disrespect, cruel behavior, and evident segregation of classes in society. If left unresolved, I believe such factors can lead to widespread injustice and corruption. To revive this conscience, it is crucial to know that all sources of wealth and power are from the Almighty and can be taken away, that “what goes around comes around”, and that all mankind is equal and any pride is an insult to the Almighty and an unjustifiable trait.
Let’s revive our conscience.