By Rashid Samnakay, New Age Islam
19 August 2016
Practical and outcome based activities that have beneficial reward to the person or persons interacting with each other are what constitute true spirituality.
The sight of a young school boy or a girl, carrying their own knapsack on the back and holding an elderly person’s hand and a heavy shopping bag in the other hand to help them cross the road safely, is a picture of delight that many thousand words cannot fully convey.
The spruce elation on the face of the child and the affectionate appreciation of the elderly to accept the unsolicited help uplifts even the casual observer. That feel-good kind practical spirituality is perhaps as much as, if not more than the exhilaration gained from having attended a prayer service.
The interaction of the participants in this simple scene, the innocent child’s spirit of offering spontaneous service and the elderly persons graceful acceptance, acted in public can most assuredly be translated as the practical propagation-Tableegh- of goodwill for human kind, that has unintended positive consequences on the bystander; if only he or she cared to contemplate upon.
This is not a one off and scripted drama in many countries, particularly at the end of school break. Children would often offer their seats with a smile to the elderly standing in the bus or trains. At least it was not all that uncommon as perhaps it is now in Western countries. The increasing racial and cultural divide may be sited as the reason!
What is it that prompts anybody to act selflessly to help others, even to unknown and strangers they have never met before, perceived as needing a helping hand and they to react gracefully to accept that hand? The sight of the sportsmanship shown where D’Agostino assisted Hamblin to her feet after her fall in the race; brought the stadium to its feet in Rio. And the world at large applauded the gestures. There was no material reward for either party involved in that interaction. The only reward was the true spirituality—the “feel good” sensation of being of service to one and receiving the appreciation by the other of the sincere helping hand offered.
This incident by no means is the only one at the Olympics or indeed in many other walks of life. But it is so rare that in many civilized nations awards and medals are given to these people; because such acts of kindness and bravery are so rare as to be considered praiseworthy.
Can the “goodwill” generated between the two athletes and their respective countries, New Zealand and the US, by this spontaneous act ever be measured on any scale? Is there no reward in it for anybody? Ask the Book the Muslims swear to protect it by their lives:-
55-60: Is the reward for goodness other than goodness?
Could it be argued that human kind is inherently disposed towards such goodly interaction? No, it cannot be and given such a total blanket coverage!
Let alone concluding from events of history, just judging from the current events in the world it would be extremely naïve to conclude that mankind is inherently disposed towards showing kindness and extending love to fellow human being! The overwhelming evidence is that by nature it is cruel on mass scale.
The number Seven in ‘The Seven Acts of Virtues’ commonly associated with Catholic church and as depicted in famous paintings exhibited in the West, is by far exceeded by the mortal sins, that mankind can perpetrate in its action and interaction with its own species; but are also commonly referred to as ‘The Seven Deadly Sins’!
It is harder to assign grading to the best of the virtues and the worst of the sins in that bundle of seven. All actions set off a chain reaction to any action taken; as that is the law of nature. However in the current international scenario, where mankind heaps unfathomable miseries on its own kind, it cannot be too far off the mark to say that the following two sins are as close as it can get to the truth.
Considering then in the current turmoil the following can be allocated some sort of grading in the list of mortal sins:
1- He that sows discord among brethren…and
2- Hands that shed innocent blood… Are at the two top of the list of the evil acts for which they: shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death, Revelation 21:8!
Not surprisingly these two fully resonate with the other scripture, the Quran. Although it gives the primary instruction of a’millus-salihaati (over eighty times) – commit acts that are righteous– meaning the acts that produce wholesome and beneficial reaction. It augments that by saying: 13-17: While that which is good for mankind remains on earth. It remains on earth as the rung for humanity to climb higher and higher up on the ladder of its developmental stages.
The two referred above in context of Quran are therefore:
a) 2-27: Those who break the covenant of God that was affirmed, and cut asunder what God has ordained to be joined but spread discord on Earth, they are manifestly at loss……and
b) 5-35…that if anyone killed a person; unless it be for murder or for spreading mischief in the land, it would be as if he has killed all mankind and if any saved just one life it would be as if he saved all mankind…
To a thinking person- the intelligent one; that is, one who has the ability to ponder and analyse the above verses needs no help to understand the significance of harmonious, loving and peaceful society and honour the sanctity of life. That is the essence of ‘goodness for goodness sake’ and; While that which is good for mankind remains on earth.
It is therefore utterly perplexing and indeed horrifying that those who proclaim their faith as Islam and brand their evil actions as “Islamic”, giving the impression that it is from Quran, would sermonise from the Mosque pulpits that: to take life in the most vile manner for the implementation of their agenda is legitimate. For example to slit and separate a person’s neck from the shoulder – is in accordance with their holy Book; which obviously cannot be the Quran. And then commit the most heinous act of handing the severed head over to a child to have him advertise it on the media for the world to witness their brutality. It just degrades humanity to a level way below animals!
Were the angels correct to question the Lord’s plan to create mankind? For as the good Book says that they (the non-thinking mankind) are worse than animals. Animals it contends do not think! But then who are we to be horrified by such savage acts of evil depicted in the media? Mankind’s inhumanity to man has no limits in the course of its activities. It is celebrated in chambers of horrors in many parts of the world to remind us of our past history.
Mai Lai, Pol Pot, Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Serbia, Ruanda, Boko Haram, Al Shabab, Taliban and even Australia’s recent Abu Ghraib in Juvenile Centre and numerous others in today’s conflict world need no Chamber of Horrors to remind us of the sordid present!
Did not Mark Twain say something to the effect that to call such brutes ‘Human’ is a misuse of the word?
A regular contributor to New Age Islam, Rashid Samnakay is a (Retd.)
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