Khilafah, Key Message, Principles

Issue 542 » August 14, 2009 - Shaban 23, 1430

Living The Quran

Al-Fatir (The Creator)
Chapter 35: Verse 39 (Partial)

Ultimate end of human existence
"He it is that has made you inheritors in the Earth (khalaif);"

Khilafah, man's essential assignment, means implementing Allah's intent on Earth and practicing His rules. This confers authority upon men and women to carry out their entrusted task: observe what Allah enjoins and refrain from what he prohibits.

The assignment of khilafah, considered the ultimate end of human existence, can be best understood in a lexical context. One derivative, khalafiyah, suggests that the main concern of the khalifah is to struggle for closeness to his or her master. Mustakhlif, another derivative, indicates the constant human struggle to attain the level of perfection.

It is through ibadah that human integrity and perfection can be achieved. Ibadah means subjugating oneself to Allah by implementing what He enjoins and refraining from what He forbids.

As man is composed of a spiritual element as well as a material one, his quest to be close to Allah involves both elements. The arena for this quest, the Earth, was prepared to fit this dual nature. To carry out khilafah, to promote oneself, and to perfect it through ibadah, man has to approach this Earth in a way that glorifies Allah, be subjugated to Him, and obtain His pleasure. This may be achieved through contemplating and reflecting upon Allah's perfect qualities, His all-encompassing power and mercy; through investing in the Earth, using its abundant riches, discovering its secrets and rules; and developing it in a way that leads to human control over it.

Men and women, by their very nature, are prepared to carry out the above function of khilafah, and to accomplish it.

Compiled From:
"The Vicegerency of Man" - Abd al Majid al Najjar, pp. 21-23

Understanding The Prophet's Life

Revelation's Key Message

Muhammad, peace be upon him, distinguished between situations and the people involved in them, and he showed the utmost respect toward individuals and their beliefs. For many years, a young Jew was his companion and followed him everywhere, for he loved the Prophet's company. The Prophet never asked him to abandon his faith. Eventually the boy fell seriously ill, and on his deathbed he asked his father to allow him to embrace Islam, but during all his time by the Prophet's side he had remained what he was and enjoyed the Prophet's love and regard.

Later on, as the Prophet was with a group of Muslims, a funeral procession passed by, and the Prophet stood up to show his respect for the deceased. Surprised, the Muslims informed him that this was a Jew's funeral. The Prophet answered with clarity and dignity: "Was this not a human soul?" The teaching was to remain the same in spite of difficulties, treason, and wars: no one was compelled to convert, differences were respected, and all were to be treated equally. This is Revelation's key message and the heart of it's Prophet's action; all the later verses of the Quran that refer to conflicts, killing, and fighting must be read in the context of their Revelation (Muslims being in a situation of war and needing to defend themselves) and by no means alter the essential contents of the message as a whole.

Compiled From:
"In The Footsteps of The Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 90, 91

Cool Concepts

What's a Principle?

Principles are natural laws. Gravity is a principle. If you toss an apple into the air, it will come down, regardless of whether you live in New York or New Delhi, or whether you're alive today or in 2,000 B.C.

Just as there are principles that govern the physical world, there are principles that govern human interaction. Honesty, for example, is a principle. If you are honest with other people, you will earn their trust. If you are dishonest, you may fool people for some time but you'll eventually be found out - always. Other examples of principles are hard work, respect, service, focus, patience, responsibility, love, renewal, choice, and justice. There are dozens more.

The following is a transcript of an apocryphal radio conversation between a U.S. naval ship and Canadian authorities off the coast of Newfoundland. It illustrates what we mean by principles.

Americans: "Please divert your course 15 degrees to the north to avoid a collision."

Canadians: "Recommend you divert your course 15 degrees to the south to avoid a collision."

Americans: "This is the captain of a U.S. Navy ship. I say again, diver YOUR course."

Canadians: "No, I say again, you divert YOUR course."

Americans: "This is the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln, the second largest ship in the United States Atlantic fleet. We are accompanied by three destroyers, three cruisers, and numerous support vessels. I Demand that you change your course 15 degrees north. That's one-five degrees north, or countermeasures will be taken to ensure the safety of this ship."

Canadians: "This is a lighthouse. Your call."

Principles are like lighthouses. They're timeless, universal, and self-evident. You can't break principles; you can only break yourself against them, no matter who you are.

Since principles can never fail us, they are the best possible things to center our lives on. By centering on principles, all the other important aspects of our lives - friends, boyfriends and girlfriends, school and family - find their proper place. Ironically putting principles first is the key to doing better in all these other areas.

Compiled From:
"The 6 Most Important Decisions You'll Ever Make" - Sean Covey, pp. 17, 18