A PRACTICAL WAY TO PEACE AND ORDER IN A MULTI-ETHNIC SOCIETY

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Written by: Muallim Saheed Mikail-Falade

O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another.  Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you.  Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.”
Q49 vs. 14

INTRODUCTION

On the occasion of the last pilgrimage at Makkah, a short time before his death, the Holy Prophet(saw) addressing a vast concourse of Muslims said:

O ye men! Your God is one and your ancestor is one.  An Arab possesses no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab over an Arab.  A white is in no way superior to a red, nor, for that matter, a red to a white, but only to the extent to which he discharges his duty to God and man.  The most honoured among you in the sight of God is the most righteous among you….1

The above Quranic quotation and the excerpt from the farewell message of the Prophet lay down the basis of an all-comprehensive and all-pervading brotherhood and unity among human race.  Brotherhood constitutes the Magna Carta (i.e. the right) of human fraternity and equality.  Both references break the jinx of racism and gender superiority or inequality.  The worth of man, irrespective of his caste or tribe, is not to be judged by the pigment of his skin, wealth accumulation, economic rank, family pedigree or social status, but by his inherent universal moral values and by the way in which he discharges his obligation towards his Creator, man and other creatures of Allah.  The whole human race is but one family.  Division into tribes, nations and races is meant to give human beings better knowledge of one another’s unique characteristics, in terms of language, culture, national resources and other peculiar good qualities and through which, benefit from one another 2.

However, it is so disheartening to discover that humans’ actions and reactions in the contemporary times are more of divisive rather than combinative or fostering unity, peace and order in their localities. Man imbibes and engrosses him or herself into a number of antisocial acts such as: derision, slandering or defamation, ridiculing, taunting, spying, calling by nicknames, suspicion, backbiting, gossiping, among others. And, consequently, all these can’t but lead the society into the state of quagmire and peril.

The pertinent questions to guide this discussion are: how could there be peace and order in a society in which its inhabitants fail to understand the concept of human brotherhood or equality as explained by Allah and His Apostle?  Could there be any distinct approach through which peace and harmony can be firmly established or translated into daily life other than matrimony or family institution?  And lastly, could there be any implementable suggestions or solutions towards the betterment of societal institutions devoid or bereft of peace and order?

INDIVIDUAL HOME: A BED ROCK OF SOCIETAL PEACE AND ORDER

Some of the social scientists were of the opinion that, in all human societies, (either mono or multi-ethnic) five basic social institutions have been established to meet the basic needs of the society.  These social institutions are: institution of family, religion, government, economics and education 3

Arguably, out of the five basic societal institutions, family institution is a pivotal pole upon which other institutions revolve and rotate.  Truly, practical way of ensuring peaceful co-existence among the multi-ethnic groups starts from good matrimony and proper upbringing of the children.  In sociology, it is believed that “each home is a micro-cosmic image of the society”.  Meaning each home is a true and real picture of the larger society.

The most important of the societal basic needs is peace and harmony which is expected to be vehemently established in all strata of societies.  However, it is pertinent to note that ‘Justice’ is an indispensable prerequisite to peace and order in the society without which the latter would always be a lost gem and a dashed hope.

It must be noted that no man, tribe or castle can live in isolation of others.  Love, honesty, justice and equity and other basic moral values are all needed, to ensure peace and orderliness among the tribes living together in a society.  Nevertheless, all these must be translated and reflected in one’s daily activities.  These values must be taught at home and the teachers (parents) themselves must be epitomes or symbols of these virtues.  Good parents produce good children and good children bring about harmonious societies. Allah likens a good parenthood particularly a good woman to a good land and vice versa. God says:

“And as for the good land, its vegetation comes forth plentifully by the command of its Lord; and that which is bad, its vegetation does not come forth but scantily.  In like manner do We vary the Signs for a people who are grateful”.4

HUMAN RACE: ONE BIG FAMILY

The Glorious Qur’an demystifies the concept of racism or tribalism and makes it known that human race, irrespective of colour, gender, caste or creed are from the same genealogy (Adam and Eve); and that what makes difference among them is piety.In the Glorious Qur’an, Al-mighty Allah says:

O mankind, We have created you from a male and a female; and We have made you into tribes and sub-tribes that you may recognize one another.  Verily, the most honourable among you, in the sight of Allah, is he who is the most righteous among you.  Surely, Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware.” 5

To corroborate this, the Prophet(saw) was reported to have said:

An-Nasu kulluhum banu Adam wa Adam min Turabin

Meaning: “All the people are the children of Adam and Adam was created from dust”. 6

He (saw) also said in another narration:

Al-Khalqu ‘iyalullah fa ahabbul – khalqi ilallahi man ahsana ila ‘iyalihi

“All creatures are the family of Allah and therefore Allah likes that person most, who treats His family nicely”. 7

The above are just very few quotations, out of numerous familiar ones from the Holy Qur’an and sayings of the Prophet(saw) on overall goodness to human beings and not particularly to your religious votaries.  The knowledge of good neighbourliness, fair-dealings, justice and equity among others are the peerless traits expected from everybody to show to his fellow being without fear or favour; and they are supposed to be inherent qualities of every household in the society.

ANTI-SOCIAL ACTS:    ENEMIES OF PEACE AND ORDER

Unfortunately, it has been discovered over times that there are a number of anti-social behaviours, which must be discarded by all, if truly peace and orderliness are yearned for in any multi-ethnic set-up.  In Qur’an 49 vs. 12 – 13 Allah warns against some social evils which, if not hastily eschew can cause discord, dissensions and complexities in a society.  He says:

O ye who believe!  Let not one people deride another people, haply they may be better than they, not let one group of women deride other women, haply they may be better than they.  And do not defame your people nor call one another by nick-names.  It is an evil thing to be called by bad name after having believed; and those who repent not, such are the wrongdoers.”

O ye who believe! Avoid much suspicion; for suspicion in some cases is a sin.  And spy not on one another, neither backbite one another.  Would any of you like to eat the flesh of his dead brother?  Certainly, you would loathe it.  And fear Allah, surely, Allah is Oft-Returning with compassion and is Merciful.”

The crux of the argument in the above verses, as unambiguously elucidated by Hadrat Mirza Bashirudeen Mahmoud Ahmad,(ra) the second caliph after the demise of the Promised Messiah,(as) is all about the practical way of establishing concord, amity, peace and orderliness among the inhabitants of any society or members of any group.  The verses emphatically discourage any act or trait which can corrode, corrupt and contaminate a society and eat into its vitals.  ‘Ridiculing and taunting others, spying, and calling by nicknames, and suspicion and backbiting, are some of these social evils. Women have been particularly mentioned in this connection in that they are more prone to fall a victim to these them’.  However, it is pertinent to note that the main cause which lies at the root of these social disorderliness and chaos are conceit, injustice and superiority complex. 8

DO GOOD TO ALL WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION

While admonishing on goodness to neighbour, irrespective of their creed or colour the Prophet(saw) said:              

Maa zaala Jibreel yuuseenii bil Jari hatta zonantu annahu sayurithuhuu

Meaning: “The Angel Gabriel has been advising me about the neighbour (to do good to him) to such an extent that at a certain stage I felt he would declare him (the neighbour) as one of my heirs”. 9

Hadrat Imam Mahdi(as), in corroborating this prophetic advice says in one of his books: “Whoever deprives his neighbour of the very least good in his power, he is not of my community” 10  Also, it was reported that Imam Mahdi(as) said : “What I have told my followers is that they should do good to everybody… you should also do good to your relatives, for, they also have rights over you. Of course, he who does not fear God (who is not a Muttaqi) and indulges in innovations and is an opponent of mine, you should not pray behind him.  Despite all these you SHOULD DO GOOD TO THEM …  A physician treats all the people, be they Hindus or Christians.  This pattern should be followed by others too”.11

Indeed, all these counsels and pieces of advice are but practical ways of ensuring peace and order in any multi-religious, cultural and ethnic groups.

ENSURING AND SUSTAINING GLOBAL PEACE AND SECURITY

It may interest you to know that, just like the Prophet of Islam(saw) did in the year 628A.D., when he wrote letters to the then World Leaders, inviting them to allow peace and orderliness within the Muslim and non-Muslim communities, today’s successor of the Promised Messiah and Mahdi(as), and the current Worldwide leader of Ahmadiyya Muslim Association, Khalifat Masih V, Hadrat Mirza Masroor Ahmadatba) has done the same

Worldwide head of Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Hadrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad, Khalifat Masih V(atba), taken the world as a global society, has been going round the world for the past 15 years telling the world that peace and justice are inseparable.  That, if we want to maintain global peace and sustain it, then humility and justice among the nations, especially between the world-powers and the developing nations has to be reinforced for there cannot be peace in any society where justice is eschewed and discarded.  In his practical approach to ensuring global peace, he has written letters to several world leaders e.g. His Holiness pope Benedict the XVI; the Prime Minister of Israel, Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu; the president of Islamic Republic of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; President of the United States of America, Barack Obama; the Prime Minister of Canada, Mr. Stephen Harper; the custodian of the two Holy Places (Haramain), the King of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Abdullah bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud; the premier of the state council of the people’s Republic of China, Mr. Nen Jiabao; the prime minister of the United Kingdom, Rt. Hon. David Cameron; the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel; the president of French Republic, His Excellency Francis Hollande; the Queen of the United Kingdom and Common Wealth Realms, Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II and the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Ayatollah Syeed Ali Hosseini Khamenei.  In the same vein, he has given a number of speeches on global peace and unity at different occasions addressing the large audience of eminent personalities and the likes.  For example, he has delivered lecture on:

  • ‘Islamic Perspective on the Global Crisis’ at the British Parliament, the House of Commons London, UK, 2008;
  • ‘Islamic Teachings of Loyalty and Love for one’s nation’ at Military Headquarters Koblenz, Germany, 2012;
  • The Devastating Consequences of a Nuclear war and the Critical Need for Absolute Justice’ at 9th annual peace symposium London, United Kingdom, 2012;
  • ‘The Path to Peace-Just Relations Between Nations’ at Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C. USA, 2012;
  • ‘The Key to Peace – Global Unit’ at European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium, 2012;
  • ‘Can Muslims Integrate into Western Societies’ at Baitur-Rasheed Mosque, Hamburg, Germany, 2012. 12

The summary of his letters to the world leaders and speeches delivered across the board is that, the ONLY Practical way to ensure peace and order in the world as a Global village is:

  • to adopt the ways of humility, justice and to humbly, turn to God;
  • for man to become humane;
  • for the strong to treat the weak with dignity, respect and justice;
  • for the weak and poor to also show gratitude and adopt the ways of truth and righteous;
  • for all to turn to their Creator in utter humility and total sincerity. 

Again and again he has reminded one and all that the way back from the brink of disaster is for nations (or societies) to make justice an absolute requirement of their dealings with each other.  Even if there is enmity between them they need to still observe justice because history has taught us that this is the only way to eliminate all traces of future hatreds and thus build a lasting peace and order in all human fora 13

CONCLUSION

Towards the tail end of verse 49 of Surat al-Maidah, Almighty Allah says: “…. And if Allah had enforced His Will, he would have made you all one people, (one nation/society) but He wishes to try you by that which He has given you.  Vie, then, with one another in doing good works.  To Allah shall you all return; then will He inform you of that wherein you differed”

This verse, among its possible meanings could denote that, if Allah had so wished, He would have made all humans same tribe, race, or let them belong to same creed, or even have the same pigment of skins or colours, but He said He wishes to try every Ethnic group with which He had given to her.  Meaning, would we be of benefit to each other out of our individual and peculiar resources?  Would we see ourselves as one big family despite our diversed endowments?  Thus, let’s eschew racism or tribalism; let our differences be our strongest weapon towards stability of peace and harmony in its true practical way. The true practical way of establishing peace and order in a multi-ethnic society as explained earlier is to vehemently discard all anti-social acts, which could only bring about hatred, miasma and discord in the society and in return fear Allah and follow His injunctions whole-heartedly; the strong nations or group of people should assist the weak without fear or favour. Justice and good human relations should be taken as a core precursor to peaceful co-existence in a multi-ethnic society.  However, all these practical ways would go down the drain, if they are not taught or co-opted into individual’s home in the society.  Hence, fear of Allah and acting upon His commandments and teachings, as rightly absorbed and imbibed by every member of each home would not only collectively foster lasting peace and order in the society, but also bring about socio-economic, political, moral and spiritual development in a society, and thereby makes it harmonious for all to leave. 

Endnotes:

1.         Hadith Baihaqi
2.         Tafseer Sagheer edited by Late Malik Ghulam Farid (2012)
3.         Unpublished Masters dissertation by Mikail, S. O. (UI, 2018)
4.         The Holy Qur’an (English Translation Edited by Late Maulawi Sher Ali (1955) Q7vs59
5.         The Holy Qur’an (English Translation Edited by Late Maulawi Sher Ali (1955) Q49 vs 14
6.         Hadith Jami’u Tirmdhi
7.         Hadith Sha’bul – Iman
8.         Tafseer Sagheer. Edited by Late Malik Ghulam Farid (2012)
9.         Hadith Sahih Bukhari & Muslim
10.       “Our Teaching” written by Hadrat Imam Mahdi(as) (1996) edition
11.       “Al-Hakam”, August 17, 1902but culled from Pronouncement of Promised Messiah by Naseem Saifi (1983)
12.       The Pathway to Peace by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (2012)
13.       The Pathway to Peace by Hadhrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (2012)

This article first appeared in LIMAN Annual Ijtema Publication September, 2018

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