Tuesday 21st of January 2020

Ashura, the 10th of Muharram

Ashura, the 10th of Muharram

The Religion of Islam was presented to the world and human society Forthrightly; no problem, or issue, which was necessary for of society in order to prosper, was left unsolved by the time the Prophet passed away. All issues were made clear to people whether outspokenly, or contained within the folds of decrees that were enunciated. One of the issues of significance which the Prophet made most clear during his lifetime of prophethood and which the mentioned repeatedly was that of leadership and the question of the person who would assume the role of leader after his death.

Islam was not a religion that merely confined itself to matters concerning morality, or set forth advice on matters related to living. The Prophet was not a man who abstained from the world and relegated himself to delivering a few sermons. If it had been so, his cry and call would have been lost amidst the clamours of history, as have the voices of several other pious sages. If so, then this profound revolution would never have reached fruition, nor could we have learned from this perfect religion of a range of issues such as the regulation of society, the relationship of this world of ours with the next, the duties of individuals in society, the moral and material affairs, legal and cultural matters, penal codes, political issues, all issues of the moment and matters relating to philosophy and logic.

What the Prophet mainly directed his preaching to during chiefly 13-year stay in Mecca focussed on one aspect the oneness of God, the advent of his messengers, the essence and finality of prophethood and lastly the final return to God and the resurrection the prevailing milieu, the very atmosphere and circumstances then prevailing did not make it possible or convenient given the difficulties he had to cope with at the time to elaborate on and explicate on divine decrees to any full extent the prophet actually was unable to give practical cohesive form to a society based on the concept of the Qur’anic unity in God but this he was able to do only after 10 years after his migration to Medina. Here he was able to lay the groundwork for an edifice, which he buttressed with his proclamations. It was there in Medina that he enlarged the number of his followers and warriors many issues relating to politics, military and social affairs were expounded and put into practice.

It was during this Medina period that the prophet was able to organize Islamic society, a thing which was not practicable to do in Mecca and for which there was no groundwork even the very first fundamentals of belief and the initial commands of Islam they, the Meccans, were not inclined to accept, but they were ready to carp against and quarrel with the prophet. Hence to institute a new organization, to create an entirely different and changed atmosphere, to promulgate a new set of laws and establish a new society based on them was simply out of the question.

Therefore, the Prophet, restricted himself when at Mecca to preaching and propagating on the concept of the Oneness of God in order to that this may form a background and take a hold on the hearts of the people until the time was ripe for further advances to be made. If, however the Prophet deemed it sufficient to preach alone Islam would never have taken the revolutionary turn it did take, nor would a nation within Islam have taken shape. Today we see a religion spread from one end of the world to the other by the name of Islam.

This would hardly have been attained through preaching alone. To establish and consummate and complete a religion it is necessary to have a political and legal structure and beyond that a nation. Likewise, the Prophet who had both a divine office -that of prophethood- as well as a worldly one had necessarily to look to political and governmental organization.

The positions and offices he held were bestowed upon him by God as he was the seal of the prophets. He was a paragon of virtue from whom all could learn and a beacon of prosperity.

The Prophet created institution basing them on the high pedestal of Qur’anic standards. Then again he placed a great deal of stress on leadership that he viewed as essential to the existence of Islam and a system based on it. He named Ah as the leader of the nation and a guide to the interpretation of the Qur’an.

The Prophet, in addition to being a spiritual teacher was also a political leader, the standard bearer of a revolution. He had a Divine mission to invite people to God and demolish wrong beliefs, wrong deeds and deviated systems then prevalent in human society he replaced all these obsolete systems with those rooted in the Oneness of God and in divine policy, which in effect was the law of logic and reason. His mission was far reaching and aimed at embracing human beings all over the world and welding them into a single nation with belief in the unity of God, riveted to and directing their vision god ward endeavouring to perfection and eternity and ultimately basing their day-to-day material lives on a grid of moral injunctions founded on a principles derived from the Qur’an.

Indeed it is no simple matter to change an entire society. To speak, or write, is perhaps easier than it is to practice. A prophet has to be careful not to trespass on that which is considered to be universal sanctities, or those having their origins in nature or the very matrix of society. Long established traditions cannot be torn away at once.

Hence the prophet was at first obliged to tread the path of preaching in order to gather the people around him and draw their hearts towards him.

When attracted to him, he could then set out his proposals before them and acquaint them with his mission.

The next stage would then be easier when he would be able to mould their lives according to law, organize them into a society and regulate society in terms of a system that system being Islam. This is indeed what the Prophet did in Mecca and later in Medina.

What is most remarkable in all this is the fact that right from the very inception the Prophet concentrated on one thing and that was the Oneness of God (Tawhid) and this idea of Tawhid (Oneness of God) surpassed everything else one that embraced all things.

Here was the foundation of a revolution paving the way for a new religion and one that was so perfect that it had no need to borrow from any other religion and stood in all things.

As such Islam covered every aspect of society and proved to be an ideal system through which social organization and political life were ordered and so Islam turned out to be more than just a religion.

Islam in its vastness took within the folds of its soaring outspread wings every social and political form as to be considered a thing of such vast wonder and greatness by scholars.

A Frances scholar Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) has this to say of Islam: “The holy religion (Christianity) has always been separated from the ruling class. There was no compulsory link between it and the government. But Muhammad in this regard had a very prudential and salutary approach since he used his political wing to good effect in ordering his affairs.”[1]

George Saiten, historian, has this to say: “For the first time a religion was to become a real motor for a system of great imperial power. The worldly rulers may be changed but the religion will have to remain a thing everlasting. The Muhammadan religion or Islam is the third and last of the monotheistic religions”.[2]

The prophet did not neglect paying attention and of the people.

He never failed to appoint a leader capable of guiding society in accordance with Qur’anic standards. Yet, the issue of leadership was distorted and embroiled in controversy after his demise. Those making decisions strayed away from the direction given by the Prophet. Whatever recommendation the Prophet made in this regard were conveniently forgotten, or ignored. The commandments set forth in the Qur’an and the entire body of philosophical and social thought, which were the keys to solution of such problems were never availed of.

And besides all this the person at the helm of affairs was not one appointed by the Prophet although he had himself nurtured the Prophet in his childhood and was well aware of the Qur’anic instructions and Islam is regulations. The absence of a responsible person at the top had a negative impact and adversely affected later developments. Events kept on moving and moving and the currents kept flowing until the third one (Caliph) Othmam, came to power.

In his time the mistakes became so apparent and so glaring that they could not possibly be overlooked, nor did they escape any ones notice.

Muslims in the end gathered. Together and decided to dismiss the Caliph (Othman) and to kill him.

Now it came to the turn of Ali bin Abi Talib to assume the seat of the Caliphate.

The Bani Ummayud group whose leader was then Muawiya was not happy with this development.

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