One Community, Diffusion of Sunna, Happy-go-Lucky
Issue 985 » February 9, 2018 - Jumada al-Awwal 23, 1439
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Sura 2: Verse 213
"Mankind was one single community. Then God sent forth prophets as heralds of glad tidings and as warners; and with them sent down the Book with the Truth, to judge among humankind in matters in which they disputed. But none other than the selfsame people who had been granted this [revelation] began, out of mutual jealousy, to disagree about its meaning after clear signs were sent to them. Then God guided the believers to the Truth, regarding which they differed. For God guides whomsoever He will to a path that is straight.'
The Quran is not saying that this original condition of being one community is somehow before the fact of revelation, nor that revelation is the reason we are no longer a single community. Rather, once again we are brought back to an obvious conclusion. It was humanity's predilection for defining differences, for disputing over identity and belief, which sundered the single community. A succession of prophets, 'heralds of glad tidings' and warners brought the means to judge, to reason and resolve the disputes that divide and separate peoples and societies from each other. Yet, once again, people who received revelation out of 'mutual jealousy' fell into disagreements about its meaning. Of course, we should remember that while in this and earlier passages the Children of Israel are cited, Christians are also included, and both stand as examples of the timeless temptation and errors that face all followers of organised religion. The verse ends with the clear statement that, despite the disputes and contention, God guided the believers to the Truth. Within all religions, indeed all societies, among all people there are those who hold to the straight path. The clear implication is that on the straight path we can and perhaps should strive to be one community: the community of common humanity in all our diversity and differences working together to make a better world.
All human beings began with the same potential and possibilities, the same sense of values. It was human diversity which 'sundered what God had joined'. Revelation exists to enhance and clarify the scales of human judgement—to refine the ability to choose and discern between different courses of action. And still, people disagree about the meaning, implications and application of these messages from God. This verse speaks to the simultaneous contexts of past, present and future. It has considerable relevance in today's world where we can, on the one hand, imagine a global community but, on the other, cannot eradicate racial prejudice and hatred or rabid nationalism and all the other ills that divide people. The moral challenge remains the same, and it is a challenge to everyone, no matter what their faith or no faith.
"Reading the Qur'an: The Contemporary Relevance of the Sacred Text of Islam" - Ziauddin Sardar, pp. 155, 156
Diffusion of Sunna
1. Establishment of Schools
'Schools' were established by the Prophet (peace be upon him) in Madina very soon after his arrival. His general policy was to send teachers and preachers to different areas outside of Madina. For examples, delegates were sent to Adhal and Qara in 3 A.H., to Bir Mauna in 4 A.H., to Najran and to Yemen and Hadramaut in 9 A.H.
2. The Prophet's Directions about Diffusion of Knowledge
The Prophet says: "Pass on knowledge from me even if it is only one verse" [Bukhari]. The same emphasis is noticeable in his oration at the farewell Hajj where the Prophet said: "Those who are present (here) should convey the message to those who are absent." [Bukhari]. It was, therefore, a common practice among Companions to tell absentees about the Prophet's deeds and sayings.
3. Creation of incentive for teachers and students
The Prophet not only gave directions to educate the people but also mentioned great rewards for teachers and students. He stated that learning and the pursuit of knowledge is obligatory on every Muslim [Ibn Majah] and one who conceals knowledge is liable to go to Hell [Musnad].
"Studies in Hadith Methodology and Literature" - Mustafa Azami, pp. 10, 11
For the medical ingredients to bring about healing a person must not be too old to benefit from it. Also, he must not be subjected to a contagious epidemic. Moreover, the medicine may not help him if he is careless and follows a happy-go-lucky approach to his eating and drinking habits. If he does not care about what he eats, at what times and in what quantity, he would definitely subject his body to the buildup of harmful waste that can culminate in serious diseases. Similarly, carelessness in seeking medical help when a malady first appears may lead to the worsening of the symptoms until they reach a level that cannot be helped by therapy. And finally, the afflicted person may harm himself by his lack of self-control in taking or doing what the physician has prevented him from. In eating what harms him, he would be like the one who cooperates with the disorder against his natural disposition to improve and against the efforts of his physician.
On the other hand, the sick person can be much helped by the medicine if he during his healthy life was careful enough not to allow his body to accumulate heavy and sticky harmful waste. But if he develops a little of this refuse and becomes ill, he (should) immediately seek the help of a physician before the malady worsens. This would quickly result in attaining recovery. This recovery would, of course, be enhanced if the instructions of the physician are meticulously followed. Such a careful person can enjoy good health unless he reaches old age or is harmed by an external causal injury.
"Abu Zayd al-Balkhi's Sustenance of the Soul: the Cognitive Behavior Therapy of a Ninth Century Physician" - Malik Badri, pp. 70, 71