More Than An Act, Bringing Ease, Desirable News
Issue 725 » February 15, 2013 - Rabi Al-Thani 5, 1434
More Than An Act
Surah Baqarah (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 37
Quranic concept of Taubah is essentially an intimate, personal act. Indeed, it is more than an act. It reflects a moment of decision when one makes up one's mind to break with a course of action and simultaneously adopt another course.
Taubah is not merely the negation of the past; it is essentially a contract with the future. Taubah is personal in that no one else needs to know about it. You do not have to go into a confessional to make a clean breast of all your sins, nor do you have to appear in sack cloth and ashes to convince any authority that you have truly turned penitent. While punishment relates to the act of wrong and satisfies the social conscience, taubah deals with the wrongness of the act and satisfies the conscience of the individual concerned. Taubah is the result of man's understanding of the wrongness of an act and his determination not to repeat the act. Once he has come to this decision he turns to God for mercy and forgiveness.
This process of repentance and forgiveness started with Adam. When Adam violated the covenant he found himself exposed. He desperately tried to cover himself but was transfixed as it were, by a cosmic eye. In mute helplessness he turned to God for mercy.
"Translations from The Quran" - Altaf Gauhar, pp, 153, 154
When two of the Prophet's (peace be upon him) Companions, Muadh b. Jabal and Abu Musa al-Ashari (may Allah be pleased with them both) were leaving as judges to the Yemen, the Prophet instructed them to:
"Be gentle to the people and avoid harshness to them; bring them good news and scare them not." [Muslim]
With regard to the implementation of penalties, the Prophet instructed the judges and rulers to 'Suspend the prescribed punishments (hudud) as far as you can. For it is better to err in forgiveness than making an error in punishment.' [Abu Yusuf]
In a hadith narrated by the Prophet's widow, Aisha, and recorded by both al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet said: "God is gentle and he loves gentleness in all matters." Then he confirmed in another hadith to say that:
"Gentleness fails not to bring beauty in everything, and it is not taken away from anything without causing ugliness." [Muslim]
A juristic conclusion drawn from these guidelines is that bringing ease to the people and removal of hardship from them is one of the cardinal objectives of Shariah. Hence it is not permissible for a mufti, judge or jurist to opt for a harsh verdict in cases where an easier alternative can be found.
"Shariah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp, 292-294
If we allow ourselves to imagine a different kind of news, there are a number of features that might be desirable from a democratic standpoint:
- Independent issue agendas developed by each news organization would provide a more diverse information environment.
- Offering diverse voices and viewpoints would reduce the gap that ordinary people often feel separates them from the politicians and political insiders who dominate news content.
- More analysis of how politics operates behind the scenes of news events would help people understand how political decisions are reached and how they might become involved.
- More historical context would help establish the origins of problems in the news and limit the ability of politicians to reinvent history to suit their purposes.
- More coverage of citizen political activists would help ordinary people see paths to personal involvement and hear challenging perspectives that might help them evaluate official spin more critically.
- Better use of interactive technologies could link news audiences to each other and to civic organizations to learn more about issues and take effective action.
"News: The Politics of Illusion" - W. Lance Bennett, pp. 30, 31