Be Like Adam's Son: No Obedience in Defiance of God's Command!

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The prophets introduced something quite astonishing: the idea of "No obedience in defiance of God's command!" (an expression said by Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, as reported by al-Bukhari and Muslim.) To say this is such a simple thing. I may now add that men have found it hard to accept this principle on account of its simplicity. The rule here is that there is no blind obedience; no obedience when one is commanded to act in disobedience with God's command. This applies not only to God's commands expressed in words, but to His laws as witnessed in the universe. See the statistics; see the outcome of men's conduct. See what good a certain conduct causes, and what mischief. And that is part of the prophets' followers' duty: to put men's hands on real-life situations which show the blessing of heeding God's laws. Unless we can make people see and comprehend the sense of what actually takes place, by showing them the outcome of men's deeds, they may deny what is true. It is true that the law is enacted in heaven, but it works here on earth. Who will make the common people realize that they can commune with God here on earth: for when they are helping a sick person, a hungry person, or an ignorant person, they will be in the company of God (in reference to a tradition of the Prophet's to that effect.)

To see the words of God work, we need always to contemplate them with reference to real-life social situations. The world is at the disposal of humankind, and society is not excluded from that: it, too, can be at the disposal of those who care to study its laws. The meaning of this is that society can be controlled with the laws of good behavior and bad behavior; and when we direct a human, we merely tap that potential which is already in his/her nature. To develop a yearning for good guidance we need to distinguish faith from injustice, for at present they are still confused.

It seems more effective to start with injustice, for once we bring it out most graphically and make it crystal clear, then faith will also be understood. We do see how, driven by faith, some people are ready to lay down their life to promote that which they believe in. But such faith can be a belief in what is injurious, and as such can be counterproductive. And that is why we had better start with the concept of injustice.

Now injustice is the opposite of justice. And justice means that you are fair, that you allow the other what you allow yourself – you realize and admit that you have no right to rise above him or to allow yourself what you deny him. One can be close or far from this ideal. The subtle point here is that justice will not be realized unless we follow the example of Adam's son. A society that does not accept the principle of Adam's son is not only lacking in maturity – its faith is murky and impure; it is mixed up with injustice. Unless society adopts the principle of even-handed dealings then it will be controlled by the principle of 'might is right.' And the oppressed is implicitly told that to be right, he will have to be physically stronger than the oppressor – a most destructive principle. It is this that shows you what places the Muslim world at the rear of the world's nations. Any nation that gives privilege to the stronger party will be groping in the wilderness.

Have I made my point clear. Perhaps not sufficiently clear. But I think I have made some progress. For a law to be a law, it must not be enforced on the weak alone or the favored alone, but it must be applied to all. The law I am trying to propound was well expressed by Christ:

"Put your sword back in its place … for all who draw the sword will die by the sword." (Mat. 26:52)