Be Like Adam's Son: Authority, Physical Strength, and Knowledge

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When you see people of knowledge cringing before physical strength, you should know how unreliable, how poor in quality their knowledge is. They hardly know the laws that govern the battle of understanding versus physical strength. As long as an intellectual can be tempted to enter into physical conflict in defense of his convictions, then he does not appreciate the value of knowledge – He does not perceive that intellectual power is indeed far greater than any physical power. Abraham, as his experience is recounted in the Qur'an, could not be misled there: "His people disputed with him. He said: 'Do you come to dispute with me, about Allah, when He Himself has guided me? I do not fear the beings you associate with Allah: unless my Lord wills, nothing can happen. My Lord comprehends in His knowledge all things. Will you not yourselves be admonished? How should I fear the beings you associate with Allah, when you do not fear to give partners to Allah without any warrant having been given to you? Which of us two parties has more right to security? Tell me if you know. It is those who believe and do not confuse their belief with wrong – that are truly in security, for they are on right guidance.'" (6:80-82)

By understanding the Abrahamic method and applying it, we can reverse the current of the power struggle; it will be as big a revolution in the social sphere as that of the revolutions in astronomy at the hands of Copernicus and Galileo, and the revolutions in biology. Let it be remembered how, for centuries and centuries, men thought that the sun revolved round the earth, and then it turned out that it is the other way round, that the earth goes round the sun. And in the same way, we still believe that knowledge is a satellite of physical power, while it is not so. When the truth will emerge here, as it emerged in astronomy, the scholar will cease to stand abashed in all abjection at the door of the ruler.

Another fact that transpires from recalling the sun and the earth and which revolves around which is that the human brain is extremely likely to err, even when people are unanimously agreed on something; it is lifting our vision to the world around us that puts us right. The world never goes in accordance with our desires. At one stage, at the time of the Enlightenment they took a human to be the ultimate reference; they failed to see the unreliability of a human's intellect. But God points out the way, in Abraham's saying, "My Lord! Show me how You give life to the dead," (2:260) and in the other verse: "There is nothing whatever like unto him." (42:11) The Qur'an tells us to look not within, but at the real world created by God. What the prophets taught was a new principle for dealing with a human, nothing like dealing with the rest of the universe. A human requires laws specific to him/her, for you change people by changing the contents of their mind – no need for spilling blood. It was something unprecedented and unheard of: you do not need to eliminate the human being; you only need to change what goes on inside his/her mind.

Hence is the sacredness of the human soul in the Qur'an and the sunnah (the Prophet's traditions.) You do not kill the ill person, but you treat his disease. How deplorable it is that those who are supposed to help others change are often intent on eliminating those people in need of change. How often has this happened in the Muslims' history! Therefore I often say that what the prophets taught has not taken root as solid knowledge. But what many generations fail to comprehend will be comprehended at a certain stage of human maturity – and this is also another lesson we learn from the Qur'an: "And you shall certainly know the truth of it all after a while." (38:88)

So we need to reflect again and again on that big news promulgated by the prophets, as the Qur'an reports: "'Concerning what are they disputing? Concerning the Great News." (78:1-2); and: "Say: 'This is a Message Supreme above all, from which you turn away!'" (38:67-68)