Wednesday, September 4, 2013

'Merdeka' (free oneself) from practicing favoritism (II)

*************** In the name of Allah, Most Merciful, Most Compassionate; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. ***************** Reflection ***************** "Anyone who obeys the Messenger has obeyed God..." (Nisaa 4:80) ****************** ************************* 'Aisha narrated this hadith: "Usama approached the Prophet on behalf of a woman (who had committed theft). The Prophet said, 'The people before you were destroyed because they used to inflict the legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich. By Him in Whose Hand my soul is! If Fatima (the daughter of the Prophet ) did that (i.e. stole), I would cut off her hand'." (Sahih Bukhari) ************************ Yes, dear readers, favoritism is not only on 'small matters' (as some of us think) regarding our attitude when treating a beautiful or a 'pariah' cat (or any other animal) as I mentioned in my previou article but most important we must do justice to all; treat all of them including human beings equally whether they are whites or blacks, Malays or Chinese, rich or poor, kings or subjects. *************************** I brought up this subject after witnessing it myself and being told by some 'ustaz' (religious teacher) in their 'tazkirah' (lessons) about some forms of favoritisme or discrimination in life. ******************************* Once when attenting a 'kenduri' (wedding feast); I saw two sets of reception areas (tents) - one for the VIPs and the other for 'ordinary guests'. **************************** The tables for the VIPs were set on a platform whereas for the 'ordinary guests' they were placed on the ground. Of course the settings and types of food served were different - the VIP's tables were with rotating units while the 'ordinany guests' had to satisfy eating at the 'hard tables'. **************************** An 'ustaz' said there were some people who organized Hari Raya 'open houses'; inviting only selected people of their own class or status and forgot about their next door neighbours. Some totally ignored the poor even if they were residing in the same areas. ******************************** The 'ustaz' also complained that some people held 'kenduri kahwin' (feast during weddings) without inviting the poor. He said such 'kenduris' unfortunately would be without blessing from Allah SWT for Abu Huraira (Allah be pleased with him) states: “The worst food is that of a wedding banquet (walima) to which only the rich are invited whilst the poor are not invited. And he who refuses an invitation (to a banquet) disobeys Allah and His Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace).” (Sahih al-Bukhari, no. 4882) ******************************** It is stated in al-Fatawa al-Hindiyya: “It is recommended to invite neighbours, relatives and friends.” Thus, one should invite family-members, relatives, friends, associates, scholars and pious people and others. It is wrong to invite only rich people or those who are regarded to be from the upper-class. ***************************** So why do we discrimate people or practise favoritism? Perhaps this experience by one of my sisters in law who is a housewife and does part time tailoring at home, could open our eyes in that there is no point in us giving priority to someone just because of his/her appearence, status and ranks. ******************************* A few months before Ramadan she was approached by a 'Datin' who asked her to design and sew curtains for her bangalow which would be used for Hari Raya. The cost of the project amounting to thousands of ringgits made my sister in law work hard to finish it fast and by doing so she ignored a few 'small projets' given to her earlier including by my wife. In short she gave priority to the 'Datin'. *************************** When she was readying the curtains, the 'Datin' came several times to her place and she was not happy with the work done. She grumbled a lot and when the curtains was ready, she refused to make full payment; saying that she was looking for a sponsorship and claimed that the practice was rampant among her ranks of 'Datuk' and 'Datin'. ***************************** My sister in law was speechless, she had learnt her lesson; do not give special treatment to a person just because of his/her status and rank. Do not practice favoritism - treat all people equally whether they were Datin, Dato', Tan Sri or Puan Sri. ************************** Moving on to a more serious note; what does Islam teach about justice? Neither love nor hatred can be allowed to compromise justice. *************************** An Islamic scholar, Khalid Baig says there is one word that captures the essence of all Islamic laws and all Islamic teachings; one word that describes the overriding value that permeates all Islamic values. Justice. ************************* The Qur'an says: "We sent aforetime our messengers with clear Signs and sent down with them the Book and the Balance, that men may stand forth in Justice." (Al-Hadeed 57:25) **************************** The sole purpose of sending the prophets was to establish justice in the world and end injustice. Broadly speaking, doing justice means giving everyone his due. But this simple statement camouflages all the complexities of life in their myriad and ever-changing relations; all the temptations; all the apprehensions and concerns; all the conflicts and dilemmas. To guide the people, Allah sent down the prophets with clear signs, the Book, and the Balance. ************************* The Book contains the revelations that spell out what's fair and unfair or right and wrong. The Balance refers to our ability to measure and calculate so we can follow the path shown by the Book and explained by the Prophets. ************************* Together these sources taught us what are the rights of Allah, of other people, and of our own persons on us and how to balance them. A life lived in obedience to Allah, then, is a continuous balancing act, both individually and collectively. **************************** Under normal circumstances many people can be just. But Islam commands its followers to be just even in the face of strong conflicting emotions. In dealing with other human beings, two major impediments to justice are love and hatred. ******************************* See how the Qur'an teaches us to overcome the first impediment when we are dealing with our closest relatives or even ourselves. "O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do. (An-Nisa 4:35) ************************* Here is the resolution from the Qur'an of the perennial conflict between self-interest and justice. Be just, even if it is against your narrowly defined self-interest or of those very close to you. Ignorant people think they are protecting their self-interest by being unjust to others. ************************* Their decision to be just or unjust may be based on a cold calculation of self-interest. But real faith in Allah elevates one beyond that narrow-mindedness. These verses remind us that the real protector of interests of all people is also Allah and He will protect us when we follow His command to be just. The justice demanded by Islam permits no favoritism. **************************** Justice is much needed in todays world. "Allah doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; and when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice: verily how excellent is the teaching which He gives you! For Allah is He Who hears and sees all things." (An-Nisa 4:58) **************************** Some people show favouritism in the way they give gifts to some of their children but not others. According to the soundest opinion, doing this is haraam unless there is some legitimate reason, such as one child being in greater need than the others due to sickness. *************************** Does Islam show favoritism to any specific racial group or is it open to any ethnicity? Islam shows no favoritism towards any specific racial group. All are equals in the Eyes of Allah SWT. ***************************** We cannot show favoritism in Islam. We are all the creations of Allah, the children of Adam. The tribe of Ibrahim (Abraham), the followers of Muhammad. Allah sends food to all and protects us all. And tomorrow He will question us all, no matter who we are or what position we hold. ************************** On the Day of Questioning and the Day of judgment, each of us will be judged for whatever good and evil he has gathered. Before that time we cannot tell if someone is good or bad, or high or low in status. We are all Adam's children, all fruits from the same tree.

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