Freedom, The Womb, Belonging
Issue 628 » April 8, 2011 - Jumada Al-Awwal 4, 1432
Al-Zumar (The Crowds) - Chapter 39: Verse 41
"We have revealed to you the Book in truth. Whoever decides to be guided by it does so to his own credit. Whoever goes astray, does so to his own discredit. O Muhammad, you cannot do more than to convey and warn."
The social order of Islam is free. If it is built by force, or if it executes its programs through coercion of the people, the social order would lose its Islamicity. Regimentation may well be necessary, but it can be legitimate only if it is restricted to the area of implementation. Prior to that, Islam requires shura (mutual consultation) on the very instituting of regimentation which can, at any rate, only be temporary and pertinent to specific projects. Where regimentation is the rule and coercion is recoursed to on principle, the outcome may well be a successful actualization of the divine pattern, but it is an actualization whose value is utilitarian, not moral. For it to be moral, it would have to be entered into by its subject voluntarily, as a free decision taken out of personal commitment to the value, or divine pattern in question.
Were humans like angels, incapable of evil, their deeds would fulfill every divine desire or imperative, but they would not be moral. Throughout the heaven and earth, the will of God is actualized with the necessity of natural law; the creatures of heaven and earth are not free to do or not to do. Hence, their actualization is not moral. Only man's is moral, because only he is free before the divine imperative.
To cause humans to actualize value, if it cannot mean to coerce them into such actualization, must mean to persuade them to do so of their own accord. This means that for value-actualization to be moral, it has to mean no more than teaching and convincing humans that values are values, that divine commandments are the desirable patterns. This makes of the social order of Islam a seminar or school on a large scale where the business of government and leadership is to teach, to educate, to convince, to persuade, to enlighten and to guide.
"Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji Al-Faruqi, pp. 110, 111
The origin of man and ties of kinship are very important and every human has responsibilities toward those peole to whom he is related. The word for womb, rahim, itself is related to the word rahmah, meaning mercy. This is because people have mercy towards one another due to their relationships through the womb or blood relations. It is also related to Allah's name al-Rahman (the All-Merciful). In fact, a hadith of the Prophet (peace be upon him) states
"Verily, the womb (al-rahim) has taken its name from al-Rahman (the All-Merciful). Allah has said, 'Whoever keeps your ties, I shall keep his ties. Whoever cuts you off, I shall cut him off." [Bukhari]
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, p. 397
We have to come from somewhere. We may try to forget, regret or try to erase the fact or we may, on the contrary, make an effort to reclaim our origins, homeland or traditions, but our personal or family past will always be an important part of our being and our identity. Whether we like it or not, we belong to our memories. Life is short, and none of the important events we remember will ever disappear; images return or fade away, echo and mirror one another, speak with one voice or clash in the midst of our joys, pain, doubts or hopes. We are always looking for 'something' in the light of our past-belonging, because we want to rediscover certain joys, a few habits and a friendly or loving presence, or because we want to avoid suffering, abandonment, disappointment, pain or violence.
What are we looking for? Probably for well-being, peace, reassurance, harmony and love. Our past sometimes helps us and sometimes hinders us. We always have to revisit the past, understand it, disentangle it, tame it and forget it, but we can never really flee from it. We have to live with it and come to terms with it. We know that we have to seek and, basically, to find. Sometimes we do not even know what we are looking for, and other times we know exactly what we have to find, but cannot find it. And sometimes we have already found what we are still looking for. This is disturbing and difficult. And as we wander, we really want to belong to ourselves, to be ourselves and to feel that we possess ourselves.
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 161-165