ONE of the central messages of the Holy Quran is the establishment of justice and resistance to oppression. These two themes also recur frequently in hadith literature. The Holy Book has chastised oppressors in clear terms on numerous occasions, one of which is Ayat 44 of Surah Aa’raf, where it is stated that “the curse of Allah is on the wrongdoers”. The Arabic word used for wrongdoers is ‘zalimeen’, which some exegetes have also translated as ‘the unjust’.
Meanwhile, in the sayings of the Holy Prophet (PBUH), whose birth we celebrate today, similar censure has been reserved for the oppressors, while sympathy has been expressed for the oppressed. At one instance, the Noble Messenger is believed to have said: “Keep away from injustice, for injustice near God is darkness on the Day of Judgement”. In another incident, the Final Messenger stated: “Allah the Almighty says: My wrath is great against one who does injustice to someone who has no helper other than Me.” Yet another hadith states: “O son of Adam! Do what is good and give up what is evil!”
Similar admonitions have been given by other revered personalities of Islam. For example, Hazrat Ali, in his last will, instructed: “Do not oppress and tyrannise anybody because you surely do not like to be oppressed and tyrannised.”
When there are such clear injunctions in the Holy Quran and the seerah of the Noble Prophet against tyranny and oppression, is it not ironic that oppression abounds in most Muslim societies, specifically ours? While we profess to follow the Quran and express our love for the Holy Prophet, as many will be doing today, there is a clear disconnect in our claims and our actions.
The light of the Quran and Prophet (PBUH) is needed to dispel the darkness.
Our society is one of great contradictions, where the weak are crushed and the strong worshipped, despite our apparent religiosity. Here, pompousness and ostentation are passed off as great piety, while those who promote what is good and warn against evil are portrayed as weaklings. Can we really claim to be followers of the Holy Prophet when our actions are diametrically opposed to what has been revealed in the Holy Book, and what has been demonstrated in his authentic Sunnah? Can we really lay claim to righteousness when the weakest of our society — women, children, minorities — are treated in the worst possible way?
Our callous treatment of children is amongst our biggest crimes. As reported in a hadith, a man once boasted to the Noble Messenger that despite having numerous children, he had never kissed any of them. The Holy Prophet reprimanded him, commenting that one who does not show mercy to his children would have no mercy shown to him. Let alone showing mercy, we expose our children to manifest brutality.
Similarly, our society is one where harassment and abuse of women is commonplace, and crimes against women are occurring with alarming regularity. As for our treatment of minorities, men and women of repute have written reams upon reams of how we mistreat people of other faiths, especially in the aftermath of the Jaranwala events.
Our whole moral compass as a society has gone awry, despite the regular practice of religious rituals. This points to the fact that many of these rituals are being performed robotically, without their inner meaning being realised. After all, daily prayers, the month-long fast of Ramazan, zakat, Haj, etc, are supposed to purify man internally and make him submit to the divine will — the very meaning of Islam. The very reason for Prophethood, as detailed in Ayat 2 of Surah Juma is “… purifying them, and teaching them the Book and wisdom, for indeed they had previously been clearly astray”. We appear very far from all these lofty goals.
In these dark times, when society seems to be pulling itself apart, and the nation seems to be without any direction, the light of the Holy Quran and the Noble Messenger is sorely required to dispel the all-pervading darkness. Perhaps the key is to resist oppression — ‘zulm’— however possible. This can begin with self-accountability and battling oppressive tendencies within, moving on to reforming the home, family, society, etc. Most men of the cloth seem to have abandoned these venerable goals long ago, so it is up to ordinary people to seek guidance from the Quran and Sunnah.
People have lost hope, as they feel nothing is in their hands. But through small acts of kindness, and by relieving someone’s difficulties even through minor gestures, once can try and dispel the ominous clouds of doom. After all, Islam is a religion of hope, and, as the Truthful Prophet has said, a day will come “when the earth will be filled with justice … the same as it has been filled with injustice and oppression”. All believers must await that day, for as the Holy Quran says, “Allah does not break His promise.”
The writer is a member of staff.
Published in Dawn, September 29th, 2023