A New Approach Needed?
Is it a striking co-incidence that the people across the Middle East and Asia have suffered an almost similar fate as the Israelites over the past 40 years or so? Could it be said that the people across the region in general became weak-hearted, lost faith and courage and were left to wander in distraction for this period? Libya has been ruled by a dictator for forty two years, and Syria an equivalent time - so too in Yemen, Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and many other countries where authoritative regimes have been ruling autocratically.
But now the people are re-inventing themselves and saying a resilient "no!" to dictatorship, authoritative rule and brutal regimes. Using technology, combined with the spirit and dynamism of youth, strengthened with values of fairness, equality, truth and transparency, people are rising to make unprecedented changes sweeping the whole region. No-one had any idea that this would happen the way it has in such a short span of time. This is why it is important to refer back to Scripture/s to see the events through the spiritual lens and put such aspects into proper historical context and reading.
We like to believe that now there seems to be a 'new approach' towards self-expression that is helping to re-balance the power struggle in the Middle East and across the World. The vibrancy of the recent 'Arab Spring' is having effect in places further outside of the Middle East, such as sub-Saharan Africa, Europe (Spain, Greece, Turkey), South Russia and Latin America. Some may claim that the current uprisings have their seeds in the recent events of the Intifada in Palestine and the Islamic Revolution in Iran, both inspired by spiritual leaders like Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and Imam Khomeini, respectively. Every part of the world has deep history and pages can be written about them - about Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Malaysia, Lebanon and on it goes. World events will never stop happening, as long as the World keeps spinning around its axis till The Great Day.
So let us take a closer look at why these struggles occur; what drives them not only on the state level, but at an individual level, for we have come to
realize that the individual constitutes the nation. We have also seen how a people can be deserving of a type of leader (such as dictator) due their own characteristics, and as in the case of Moses and his people, how a good leader can be the head of a stubborn, stiff-necked and uncooperative mass. History reveals many answers; Nature reveals many answers; and Revelation provides us many answers and insights.
Pride and Jealousy: Powerful Drivers and Tools of Evil (Quran
27. Recite to them the truth of the story of the two sons of Adam. Behold! They each presented a sacrifice (to God): It was accepted from one, but not from the other. Said the latter, "Be sure I will slay thee." "Surely," said the former, "(Allah) doth accept of the sacrifice of those who are righteous.
28. "If you do stretch your hand against me, to slay me, it is not for me to stretch my hand against you to slay thee: for I do fear Allah, the cherisher of the worlds.
29. "For me, I intend to let thee draw on thyself my sin as well as your own, for you will be among the companions of the fire, and that is the reward of those who do wrong."
30. The (selfish) soul of the other led him to the murder of his brother: he murdered him, and became (himself) one of the lost ones.
31. Then Allah sent a raven, who scratched the ground, to show him how to hide the shame of his brother. "Woe is me!" said he; "Was I not even able to be as this raven, and to hide the shame of my brother?" then he became full of regrets-
32. On that account: We ordained for the Children of Israel that if any one slew a person - unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land - it would be as if he slew the whole people: and if any one saved a life, it would be as if he saved the life of the whole people. Then although there came to them Our apostles with clear signs, yet, even after that, many of them continued to commit excesses in the land.
33. The punishment of those who wage war against Allah and His Messenger, and strive with might and main for mischief through the land is: execution, or crucifixion, or the cutting off of hands and feet from opposite sides, or exile from the land: that is their disgrace in this world, and a heavy punishment is theirs in the Hereafter;
34. Except for those who repent before they fall into your power: in that case, know that Allah is Oft-forgiving, Most Merciful.
35. O you who believe! Do your duty to Allah, seek the means of approach unto Him, and strive with might and main in his cause: that you may prosper.
36. As to those who reject Faith- if they had everything on earth, and twice repeated, to give as ransom for the penalty of the Day of Judgment, it would never be accepted of them, theirs would be a grievous penalty.
The two sons of Adam were Habil and Qabil (in English Bible Abel and Cain, respectively). Cain was the elder and Abel the younger - the righteous and innocent one. Presuming on the right of the elder, Cain was puffed up with arrogance and jealousy, which led him to commit the crime of murder. The cool, calm reply of Abel "Surely," is full of meaning. He is innocent and God-fearing and the threat of death does not alter his state of belief and trust in God. He loves his Maker as he is effectively saying: "I am not going to retaliate though I have as much power as you have against me. I fear my Maker for I know He cherishes all His Creation. Let me warn you that you are doing wrong. I do not intend even to resist, but do you know what the consequences will be to you? You will be in spiritual torment."
The innocent unselfish pleading of the younger brother had no effect, for the soul of the other was full of pride, selfishness and jealousy. He committed the murder, but in doing so, ruined his own self. The story of Cain is referred to in order to tell the story of Israel. Israel rebelled against God, slew and insulted righteous men who did them no harm, but on the contrary came in all humility.
When God withdrew His favor from Israel because of its sins and bestowed it on a brother nation, the jealousy of Israel plunged it deeper into sin. To kill, or seek to kill, an individual because he represents an ideal is to kill all who uphold the ideal. Whereas saving an individual life in the same circumstances is equivalent to saving the whole community. What could be stronger condemnation of individual assassination and revenge?
So the current uprisings and revolutions are a culmination of years of inward reflections, yearning's of the people's soul to be closer to Him, free to call out His name with genuine pride and real
honor and to live under His safe rule and good law. These revolutions are still taking shape - five months is nothing much in the grand scheme of things.
The Future of the any nation belongs to the people and in the world-over the people, want the same basic human rights: freedom of speech, opportunity, livelihood, education, travel, trade, business and security. The 'war on terror' was a convenient phrase to pursue the policy of 'forward presence' in sovereign lands according to the (non)-rules of 'asymmetric warfare'. The so-called 'axis of evil' has been presented to the world as a way of dividing the planet along the 'you are either with us or against us' paradigm.
It is the current uprising and revolutions that is re-shaping the whole pattern and the re-shuffle of traditional power grids continues. Now a new language and a new idiom are required to secure the hearts and minds of the masses. People are not afraid of calling out for the truth. They are no longer afraid of pulling the reins of power in confidence towards the path of self-determination. The old regimes are losing ground, and I believe the East-West divide is narrowing all the time because the human needs, values, ideals and sufferings are the same as expressed the world over.
The 'new approach' is in fact a return to the honest self-expression as Abel demonstrated to his murderous brother Cain: "do what you want, the truth is on my side." This same truth is what is causing pain to people across Europe and America - the great divide between those who 'have' and those who 'have not'. The once great institutions of Education, Health, and Care Support are dwindling in face of huge economic crisis brought about due to the greed of the few in the banking world. This very economic crisis is causing the current political re-shuffle as people are claiming back their basic rights and privileges.
The whole world is undergoing a soul-searching exercise - the negative forces and impurities are being purged. The Earth is tired of carrying evil on its stomach, and the Great God above is allowing enough time for a rational re-assessment to take place country-by-country, people-by-people, and individual-by-individual.
A return to the historical era of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is beckoning. The re-alignment will be complete with the old order crumbling and the new, purer, just order replacing it. The Islamic Awakening is still nascent, as much remains to be done, and the impurities still need to be filtered
post-colonization era and dictatorial rule. Again, it will be deemed by some, and the question presents itself once again, could the
colonization process itself be considered an act of God? That US is currently the world's dominant superpower, despite its huge deficit of $14trillion, so are not its actions a result of following Divine inspiration? This can be argued, but surely a sea-change is in process, with the former attitudes of complete hegemony arguably not plausible anymore as actions and motives are
scrutinized ever-more with today's communications methods including social media.
The role of the next batch of purer leaders will be to write a new narrative - one of peace, security, love and charity. They will demonstrate Higher Order by living by Principles of Justice and Divine Commandments. The Holy scripture/s will not be diluted or relegated to abstract theological polemics, but be the guiding light for the people and nations who wish to prosper, because they understand that the spiritual and physical dimensions are closely intertwined.
The on-going story of life is always the same as re-accounted here through the case of Moses and his people, as well as between Cain and Abel; the tussle between good and evil, light and dark, truth and falsehood, greed and generosity. It is the law of nature and history that the pendulum always swings to
normalize the world affairs, though the history of conflict will continue due to our testing probationary period here on Earth.
Peaceful, democratic dissent and demonstrations are paving the way for change. Nations are healing and reconciling their differences. The contradictions between the elite and the masses are being re-addressed. Injustices and overstepping of boundaries may still occur here and there, but the new dialogue has the pendulum swinging well in the
favor of Justice. Cultural forces are shaping a new vision for the people that have unleashed their creative power. Democracy will now be on suitable terms, not just on grounds of self-interest. People know who they really are, and deep down they sense that there is an alternative, indeed a better way to prosperity and global peace.
Asad Khan is a contemporary commentator who Likes to understand both the
east and west of our world. Follow him on Twitter: www.twitter.com/AsadRKhan