(Dar es Salaam, Tanzania)
More often than not, when miseries afflict us, or when problems of any nature are encountered, the steel of our faith does not crumble for within. This, after countless hours in prayers and an enormous investment in worship and seeking the pleasure of Allah (swt) Even the Almighty retorts to this fact time and again in the Holy Qur’an when he categorically states variously that in the time of darkness and absolute need, man’s faith shakes.
That, exactly being the point and in all relevance, there is evidence that as individuals as family heads as business leaders, we sometimes feel as though there is just no way beyond an impasse. For those who do exhibit faith, which inevitably involves the passage through times of suffering and trial. There is light at the end of the tunnel.
Imam Ali (AS) emphatically stating this scenario expounds, “Put faith in Allah. Seek his protection. Direct your prayers, requests and solicitations and supplications to Him and Him alone. To give as well as to withhold lies in His power.” The logic of these statements is also implicit of the fact that even though we see men of wealth and of power in this world, all of them are mere trustees of Allah (SWT), who also puts a test on them of whether they are there for people in times of need. A local councilor for instance, is called to much agony when he finds that there are other political interests to consider on one hand, and the call to assist a Muslim brother on the other. Or even if that means going out of one’s way there is definitely a trial for the persons of power.
As economics have sliced into most of our brothers living on East Africa, we see a dramatic rise of people whose credibility is now questionable. Seeking money through false pretenses or through haraam activities while now rampant should not be the means to achieve world prosperity. Many tales of our brothers who first migrated to the West during time when religious hostility was commonplace, openness in society was unreservedly imposed upon people and many other vices, most stood their ground of building and adhering to family unites that passed on the culture of religious values and family traditions. Some did succumb to evil and bad conduct that has all but eroded their existence as true Muslims.
Therefore, trials and troubles should be encountered with dignity and above all faith In Allah (SWT) for He alone has the capacity to create ways. This, of course, does not mean that in searching for solutions, one should bottle up his problems and refuse to divulge to his friends or well-wishers. These same people are the ones in whose hearts Allah (SWT) puts mercy or divine guidance so that they may extend a helping hand. But in the first place, did we rest our total and unconditional faith in him?
Imam Ali then prologues, “Know that Allah owns the treasures of the heavens and the Earth. Not only has he given permission to ask for his mercy and favors, but also has he promised to listen to your prayers. He has not appointed guards to prevent your prayers from reaching him…”
When one diverts from this philosophy, then treacherous behavior and vulnerability to Satanic interference increases, and religion goes out of the window. A classic example, which one can quote from very interesting sequel documentary being shown on Kenya’s family TV (a Christian broadcasting service that lashes out at Muslims and Islam in many circumstances) on how the systematic decline of religion In the United States has caused nothing but decline. In the programme titled “Broken Vows” , the narrators remind Americans that the reason why America was founded was because there was religious persecution in 18th Century, England, and because there was oppressive taxation. When the colonialists first landed in Virginia and in York town (New York/New Jersey), there annihilation of the Indians and the victory against the English navy in the Battle of York town, were all credited to divine assistance, and a “hand of the supreme provider”. America’s constitution itself is living testimony of how Christianity was embedded in it, and how God and Divinity were integral parts of the legal formulation. Great leaders such as George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, William Penn, and even Ronal Reagan, always stated in their public appearances that without God’s help, America would never have achieved its successes. A French outsider visiting America for the first time is then quoted to have said that when he saw religion in every aspect of society, he was overwhelmed. He said that “America is great because it is good, but when America ceases to be good, it will cease to be great”
Harvard University, the first higher school of learning, in its original entry requirements did submit to this fact that the school purported to the advancement of bible learning and promoting religiousness in society. Leaders of the time, their schools included, all promoted the consolidation of family units to inculcate discipline in society because it was well appreciated that if freedom (another reason for the migration to the Promised Land) was to be benefited from, it had to be rooted in the religiousness of society, or else this very freedom would kill its own members.
Later on, the programme reveals how religion and state were separated through a high court ruling in the 1970s and how biblical sins such as abortion, sexual promiscuity and homosexuality were legalized as a result. It is said that the founders of America deliberately declared the US as a republic as opposed to a Democracy. Because in the former, all god-made laws would remain unchanged, but in democracy (people rule), if citizens of a nation decided that murder was not a punishable offence, murder would cease to a crime.
The above example shows us how departure from god’s commands and the replacement of faith in Him by worldly needs, has killed the great nation that America was dreamed to have been. Similarity to Islamic teaching is but striking. Islam, too, through its laws, seeks to establish faith in Allah (SWT) and the strengthening of family units.
In the end, Imam establishes, “Think over it that by simply granting you the privilege of praying for his favours and mercy, He has handed over the keys of his treasures to you” But are Muslims thinking and learning!