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Search for Islam and ‘roti’

Zafar Alam Sarwar

One was among the people who watched a private TV channel at a restaurant near the Rawal Dam the other day, and, soon after the programme was off the screen, began discussing Islam and ‘roti’. The debate was inconclusive.

What prompted the TV watchers from different localities of the twin cities in the sweltering heat to talk about a most progressive religion and fine wheat bread on the eve of the new budget amid fresh hike in food prices was an answer to the interviewer’s questions. “You’ve a country where people are Musalmaan but Islam is not there — and you’ve another country where people are not Muslims but Islam is there.” Such a pinching statement jolted the sentimental road-walkers. But it also awakened from slumber old persons who looked impatient to vent their feelings.

The elders, who saw Pakistan in the making and share their observation and experience with the youths of today, deserve our respect. In fact, there’s substance of religious enlightenment, historical background, social and economic justice, political rights and human values in the answer of the interviewee, and it opens eyes to the realities on the ground in Rawalpindi-Islamabad and the surrounding areas.

Hence, a need to look into the worth-following examples set by the last Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companion-Caliphs (RA) with a view to improving our lot in this world of crises. That’s the only option for the poverty-ridden nation and the perplexed heads of state and government in the face of socio-economic and politico-religious challenges.

Even today, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is role model for Pakistanis. Wasn’t he (PBUH) a beloved orphan, a sincere friend, an honest and successful businessman, a far-sighted reformer, a brave warrior, a skilful general, an efficient administrator, an impartial judge and a great statesman? Yes, he (PBUH) was! And the fact has been acknowledged by unbiased historians of the world. When the masses were groaning under the pangs of oppression and injustice in the world, he rose to prominence on this earth as a saviour of the suppressed humanity.

He (PBUH) liberated the poor from exploitation and slavery, and proved that justice and equality were his motto. Ruler of a mighty sovereign state, he (PBUH) met the lowest of his subjects on terms of perfect equality, tended his cattle and tied up the goats and even cobbled his sandals. He (PBUH) carried bricks on his head like when a mosque was built at Madina. That’s how he (PBUH) enhanced the dignity of labour. He (PBUH), in fact, was a great socialist who established the first social welfare state wherein woman was placed on an equal footing with man, security of life, property and other faiths was granted, slavery was abolished, capitalism was discouraged by fair distribution of wealth in the society and feudalism died down. The people were encouraged to focus on trade and agriculture, which helped build a national economy.

How just, democratic and poor-friendly were the successors of the last Prophet of God (PBUH) can be judged from the speech of Hazrat Abu Bakr (RA) soon after his election as head of state: “…I need all your advice and co-operation. Support me if I do well, counsel me if I mistake; to tell truth to a person commissioned to rule is faithful allegiance, to conceal it is treason. In my sight the powerful and the weak are alike and to both I wish to render justice…” He placed all his wealth at the disposal of the nation with a very soft heart for the poor and the needy.

Hazrat Umar (RA) founded political administration of Islam. Establishment of the finance department, improvement of agriculture and the lot of farmers, patronage of female education etc. testify to his ability and efficiency as progressive administrator. He used to roam in the street at night to see for himself the condition of the people and, on many occasions, he helped the poor with money and food.

Hazrat Usman (RA), devoted to serving the cause of the state and its people, donated all his wealth to the nation. Earlier, he had spent 20,000 dirhams on digging a well for Muslims as desired by the Prophet (PBUH). He didn’t take any allowance from the state for his personal needs.

Hazrat Ali (RA), a close companion of the Prophet (PBUH) who exhibited courage and bravery as soldier, was also a man of sound knowledge. As head of state, he lived like other caliphs in a cottage, not a palatial house. He wore rough coarse clothes and took pride in doing household works. He would listen to the complaints of both the Muslims and non-Muslims after prayers. He earned his living by doing every work and labour. Once he dug a well and said to his wife: “Fatimah, the water of this well is not for our own family, but also for all community members.”

How vital is water to making a ‘roti’ today also, everybody knows it! An easy solution to our social and economic problems lies in following the examples of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions. That will create unity of thought, word and action in the nation — and only then no outsider will say there are ‘Musalmaan’ in Pakistan and not Islam.

Courtesy: The News, 15-Jun-09

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