By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
15 March 2017
Those of us old enough and lucky to have lived in Africa and to have observed the workings of some tribal societies, know how well their leadership system works. The Tribal Chief is fully respected and unquestionably obeyed when he gives a verdict on any dispute. Otherwise on the day to day basis the Chief goes about his business as an ordinary person.
A meeting to resolve any dispute or solve problems is held where all members of the tribe take part. All stake holders in the dispute debate passionately and high emotional drama is enacted. Sometimes it appears that the contestants will come to blows, but that hardly ever happens.
The Chief listens to the debate intently, hardly ever intervenes and may take his time – a day or two even - to come to a conclusion and to give a judgment. A subsequent meeting is called where required to hear the judgment. Remarkably the whole tribe accepts the judgement and life returns to normal. Such is the authority of the Chief, accepted voluntarily by all and without any requirement of force.
Equitable sharing of resources under the guidance and wise council of the Chief works amazingly well. Hence there is no police or army in sight. The isolation and instinct of survival in the harshness and the remoteness perhaps has something to do with this mindset and culture that evolved over the ages. But times are changing.
The inter-tribal and across the border disputes however are a different matter altogether!
When mankind started to come out of jungles and caves and their families expanded, communities and societies developed into bigger and bigger groups to finally form nations. The means to sustain their various needs in terms of food, space and sharing natural resources expanded. To satisfy these needs, conflicts occurred between groups, which over time took the form of wars between tribes and nations.
Taste for power acquired by the victors and supremacy over other nations and the acquisition of resources and wealth brought out the base instinct of greed now accepted as a principle that: what is mine is mine and what is yours is mine too. Overtones of various excuses and needs to wage national and international wars, even beyond borders are readily manufactured to implement the principle.
But occasionally the better side of humanity had played a part in producing thinkers and visionaries who on contemplating the reasons of this phenomenon, observed that the family unity is maintained and its members live harmoniously when under the guardianship of a father-figure. The wiser and loving the father-head figure the happier the family that makes progress and prospers.
These people contemplated, sometimes sitting in caves or under shady trees and delved deeper into social malaise came to the conclusion that the existence of a Father-figure, a Supreme Being, should be expanded on the global basis for mankind as a whole. This would create a global family unit, living in harmony and therefore would progress to the level of intelligent ‘human being’ as distinct from the class of the animal kingdom that science has classified it as.
A long string of Apostles appeared to insist upon the acceptance of that wisdom. But mankind failed to grasp the essence of the message and its benefits that accrue from it. Religious factions, fraction and divisions, supposedly in the name of some Supreme figure got entrenched and were named religions.
As if that was not enough, further classifications were invented called first, second and third-world – politely named developing --nations and countries!
Equitable sharing of natural resources, which was the main ingredient of the wisdom of the sages, apostles and messengers, was ignored. ‘Thou shall not covet other’s possession’ became an obsolete cliché. Might is right took its place instead.
It is said that the amount of money spent by the USA in destroying Afghanistan and Iraq was 1.6 trillion dollars. The present American President quotes the Middle Eastern war as costing America six trillion dollars! The combined cost therefore from all sides must be … … unaccountable? Of course lives lost are only a collateral damage, therefore not to be counted. Millions of people sent to the refugee camps and millions of starving children dead are only statistics.
Why cannot it be asked: What fraction of that sum would be needed to help eradicate poverty and ignorance in the whole world? But the war mongers would say that, that strategy would produce the opposite outcome to what is being pursued for presently.
May it be then asked of all the warring powers, as to what is this present strategy?
One of the groups of war mongers in ME is the Arab world, no less wealthy than the other powers involved. The irony is that it was an Arab Messenger who suggested the solution to eradicate poverty in the world!
In many places of the Book that he compiled from his “inspirations”, and in Arabic language is: …Wa Mimma Razaqnaahum Yunfiqoon – and out of what is bestowed, the Believers, expend freely (on others too).
Obviously, whatever is bestowed, they spend freely on themselves without any encouragement to do so. For example the monarch from that region on State visits to South Asia recently, needed no such encouragement. His total luggage for this ten days sojourn is reported to be around four hundred fifty tons, and an entourage of over fifteen hundred people. Apparently there was a plane load of Halal food too, though the reports did not say if it was Tayyeb. He cannot be accused of being a miser not being able to spend national wealth “extravagantly”. Something his professed faith condemns.
This trait is so common among so called leaders of the Muslim world from where even ordinary parliamentarians take their families for religious pilgrimage on State expenses!
The obvious conclusion to be drawn from the oft repeated verse therefore is that the ‘Believers’ take a step beyond that of spending their personal wealth upon themselves and share the excess wealth with others. Spend to lift the poor out of their poverty and ignorance and thus help make this world a better place is an ordained responsibility given to the faithful.
It is therefore amazing to note that, apart from funding few houses of worship and religious schools here and there in some deity’s name, huge amounts of wealth is spent on destruction of countries and to take innocent lives as well, just for the sake of political strategies or false ideological wars, where no expense is considered too great.
Such are even the ‘Believers’ in the creed laa ilaa haa illaa Allaah- There is no earthly gods, that is, monarchs, kings, Khalifahs, Imams, Muftis, custodians of holy places, or graven images but only the Supreme Being, the Creator of universe as the father-figure. To Him mankind is but one nation… one large family; but alas of their own freewill they differed and divided themselves into tribal communities to fight wars across the borders and regions.
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.) Engineer
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