It is part of Allah’s natural order in the world that life is ceaseless activity. Cessation of motion is death. The difference between life and death is in intent and in the activity resulting from it.
Allah describes Himself as the: “Doer of all that He wills.” [Sûrah al-Burûj: 16]
The human being is different. He might suffer from a deficiency or absence of will and therefore not have an inclination to do anything. Likewise, he might have the will to do something, but be unable to do so because of ignorance or incapacity. Alternatively, a person might be capable doing something, but only with the assistance of others. Even with all the inclination, skill, and needed assistance, he might still face obstacles of an equal or greater magnitude that prevent him from carrying out his will.
Glory be to Allah, the only one with complete power, the only one who can create and bring what He wills into existence.
Life is like water. When it stands still, it stagnates. As long as it is flowing, it stays pure and clear.
There are many subtle meanings to be learned from this truth of Allah’s Creation, lessons that can broaden the mind.
We can discern this fact from the study of history, by examining the lives of individuals, dynasties, societies, and nations. They never remained for long periods of time in lethargy and inaction without undergoing change.
Perhaps this is part of what is alluded to in the Qur’ân when it says: “Such days we give to people by turns.” [Sûrah Al `Imrân: 140] and when it says: “And did not Allah check one set of people by means of another, the Earth would indeed be full of mischief, but Allah is full of bounty to all the worlds.” [Sûrah al-Baqarah: 251]
This checking of one people by another should not necessarily be understood as warfare between two armies. It takes place more subtly, within society, between people, even within a single individual – whereby different powers contend with each other and, from the mix, bring about results quite different that what any single power would have brought about on its own.
Muslim society today suffers from thorny problems that threaten to bring sudden dangers to our doorsteps. We do not need to speculate on the kinds of challenges we are going to face in the future in order to arrive at this conclusion. It is sufficient for us to look at our recent past to get a glimpse of the arduous trials we should expect to face in the future.
We have experienced this in our own lifetimes. Who could have imagined that a small group of people would take hostage the most sacred place on Earth – al-Masjid al-Harâm in Mecca – brandishing weapons and blocking people from the sacred house for a period of time? Who, then, could have foreseen all the difficult consequences and effects that came in the wake of those unfortunate events?
Who could have predicted Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait which startled the world in its suddenness, so much so that people initially rejected the news as false. Who could have predicted, therefore, the evil and debilitating effects it subsequently had on the region?
Who would have thought that a number of civilian airplanes would be hijacked and used in a horrible attack on the World Trade Center in New York? Who, then, could have predicted all the massive changes that those tragic attacks would bring about in world politics and in so many other aspects of life?
Who in Saudi Arabia could have imagined that a group of people from their own society, from their own homes and families, would take up arms and arbitrarily attack the very houses, apartments, rest areas, and streets of their country?
Challenges are an inevitable part of life, and it is not true that preserving the status quo will guarantee us safety. It is not true that change leads inexorably to instability. Change, in fact, is a divinely ordained reality of the world. Even if people do not seek it out or desire it or even comprehend it, change will take place. Change may be caused by the consequences of the people’s own conduct, or by external factors completely outside of their control, leaving the people unable to do anything but point fingers and lay the blame on one another.
We have seen what has unfolded in Afghanistan. Some people thought that it would be an isolated incident that would quickly come to an end, and that its causes were clear and easily understood. Then came Iraq, and some people applauded it as the end of an oppressive dictatorial regime – and that is, no doubt, partially true. Then came all the sorrowful developments in Palestine, and Allah only knows where all that is going to lead. Then we see Lebanon succumbing to the inevitable pressures of internal change and external demands. The same can happen elsewhere.
Change is an ongoing process, and it is not something easy to halt. It is incorrect to analyze all change in our society as being the result of some foreign conspiracy. No doubt, there is outside meddling that is quite transparent and obvious. However, circumstances develop according to the precise order in the world set forth by Allah. There are circumstances at present that are unjust and improper that do not warrant being preserved as they are. Foreign interests jump in to exploit the people’s feelings and sentiments, to steer the people’s reactions in directions that serve their broader agenda.
It is, therefore, judicious for people of knowledge and for those in administrative positions to study the world they live in correctly, with sensitivity and understanding, so they can place their fingers on the problem areas and address them with effective solutions. This is the way for us to ensure that we will have a hand in shaping the future. It is wrong to remain passive and say that problems over time have a way of solving themselves. Indeed, with time, problems easily become exacerbated. They can develop to a point where it becomes difficult to determine how they started or where they are headed, so that people have no idea how to solve them or even relate to them.
Time, though, is the foundation upon which solutions are carried out. Solutions must be pursued affectively and with diligence. It is not good at all to just sit back and assume things will just carry on as they are and pretend that everything is going well.
All of us as Muslims have strong feelings towards the people and nations of the Muslim world, even if those sentiments are weak. No one wants things to get worse than they already are. However, it is quite difficult for us to bear remaining in the sorry state that we are in.
So why do we not take all that nice talk that we hear on the news and being delivered at conferences and direct it towards developing a sensible course of action so that we can understand our circumstances and correct them? It is important to expand the scope of responsibility and of public concern. Those who are working for betterment and reform – who are not supported by outside interests and who are not seeking civil discord – who seek the welfare of their society, they need to be heard.
O Allah, bestow upon us your mercy and bless us from Your grace with right guidance.