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Building Victory

by | Mar 7, 2021

We ended last week’s blog on aspirations with some that don’t get to see their aspirations to fruition, yet this does not mean that their contribution was in vain. Often, what is even more important than victory itself is building victory; instilling the moral change and belief that higher truths are attainable through rightful action, even if it comes from a small group. Breaking the chain is hard, so it is truly remarkable when you see the people who actually did this.

For instance, there is Ertugrul, he was the father of Osman. If you don’t know who is Osman, he is the founder of the Ottoman Empire, one of the greatest empires in history. Ertugrul himself became leader of the Kayi tribe (a Turkmen people from the Oghuz clan) at a low point in time. You had the crumbling Seljuk Dynasty (which he served under), coupled with encroachment on two fronts from the Mongols in the East and the Byzantines from the West while trying to establish a safe haven for his nomadic people in the middle of Anatolia (Asia Minor, modern-day Turkey). His lifetime dedication to his religion firstly and his duty towards his people pushed him to aspire for justice for his own people and for whoever lived in his domain. By controlling Sogut and its surroundings, he laid the groundwork for his descendance who were rulers of their destiny for 6 centuries. His youngest son Osman took over as leader and pursued his father’s quest and aspired to found a state and got a glimpse of victory. As for his 9th generation descendant, Mehmed II (Muhammad Al-Fatih, the conqueror), he literally aspired to great heights and tasted victory in conquering the capital of the Roman-Byzantine Empire: Constantinople. A city that was the capital of the Roman empire for over millennia and had unbreachable walls (that is, until Muhammad Al-Fatih).

Once again, his aspirations were cultivated at a very young age, his Sheikh (Akshamsaddin, who was also his mentor) cultivated within Mehmed the goal of conquering that city by repeating to him this following Hadith:

“Verily, you shall conquer Constantinople. What a wonderful leader will he be, and what a wonderful army will that army be!”

Musnad Ahmad

Moreover, the Ottoman Empire reached its apogee under the rule of Suleiman the magnificent, which is a nickname given in Europe at his time, in Arabic, he is known as Al-Kanuni (the lawgiver). His domain was only rivaled by Alexander the great and Suleiman’s tenure, 46 years, was the longest of any Ottoman Sultan or Caliph. Unfortunately, all things come to pass. Once squandering and decadence are prevalent in a society, the auto-destruct sequence has been launched and is practically impossible to stop even if you have a head of state that is well-intentioned or rightful. That is what happened during the life of Abdulhamid II, the last true Ottoman Sultan and Caliph for Muslims. After him, the position became a figurehead and was abolished when Mustafa Kemal took over as president after WWI.

Now, do not think that building victory is only reserved for history or is not attainable nowadays. A contemporary example of building victory is found today in… you’ve guessed it… Modern-day Turkey. During the reign of Mustafa Kemal, wrongfully nicknamed Ataturk (meaning Father of Turks, in an affectionate way), he destroyed anything that had to do with Islam and turned towards secularism and nationalism. After his death, a series of military coups followed to overturn any government that might lean towards Islam (the most famous one, the coup, and execution of prime minister Adnan Menderes). However, a decade later, Necmettin Erbakan showed up on the political playing field. He founded multiple political parties based on Islamic principles. Obviously, these parties were often banned or dissolved and Erbakan would commute between political life and prison on a regular basis. He passed most of his adult life on the political scene striving to implement change, obtaining at best a flickering success… baby steps. It is only when Recep Tayyip Erdogan, a pupil of Erbakan, became the mayor of Istanbul, that the tide started to turn. His pragmatic stance on social and economic issues granted him popular support. In the late 90’s, the political party Erdogan was part of was deemed unconstitutional on grounds that it threatened the secularism of the state. It is then that the Turkish people truly saw his intentions and his convictions. After his imprisonment, his popularity grew, and he ultimately became the president of Turkey. We are now witnessing a glimpse of victory, and only Allah knows where things will go from here.

All these aforementioned people (except for Ataturk) had a willingness to support the religion of Allah. It is not to say that they are perfect and without fault. Just the fact of being in politics tarnishes a person. Politics at an international scale is like dealing with the mafia, militias, and pimps, but under international conventions; it is therefore practically impossible to come out white like snow (I don’t mean this as a drug pun). At best, a leader is often compelled to choose between the lesser evil rather than do what is best. However, these people (except for Ataturk, once again) did their best for their religion and people; and that is a big difference from most current leaders of predominantly Muslim countries.

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

Is there Anything Bad in the Quran? – Existential Questions

When I mean bad, I mean something that everyone will agree to as fundamentally wrong. I don’t mean what is acceptable to modern standards, but fundamentally evil. Not only there is no evil within what is ordained, but it can only be depicted as righteous and good when looked at as a whole. Here are some Islamic principles that are listed in the Quran:

Say, “Come, I will recite what your Lord has prohibited to you. [He commands] that you not associate anything with Him, and to parents, good treatment, and do not kill your children out of poverty; We will provide for you and them. And do not approach immoralities – what is apparent of them and what is concealed. And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden [to be killed] except by [legal] right. This has He instructed you that you may use reason.”

And do not approach the orphan’s property except in a way that is best until he reaches maturity. And give full measure and weight in justice. We do not charge any soul except [with that within] its capacity. And when you testify, be just, even if [it concerns] a near relative. And the covenant of Allah fulfill. This has He instructed you that you may remember.

And, [moreover], this is My path, which is straight, so follow it; and do not follow [other] ways, for you will be separated from His way. This has He instructed you that you may become righteous.

Surah Al-Anam (6 – 151-153)

Indeed, Allah orders justice and good conduct and giving to relatives and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 90)

And your Lord has decreed that you not worship except Him, and to parents, good treatment. Whether one or both of them reach old age [while] with you, say not to them [so much as], “uff,” and do not repel them but speak to them a noble word.

And lower to them the wing of humility out of mercy and say, “My Lord, have mercy upon them as they brought me up [when I was] small.”

Your Lord is most knowing of what is within yourselves. If you should be righteous [in intention] – then indeed He is ever, to the often returning [to Him], Forgiving.

And give the relative his right, and [also] the poor and the traveler, and do not spend wastefully.

Indeed, the wasteful are brothers of the devils, and ever has Satan been to his Lord ungrateful.

And if you [must] turn away from the needy awaiting mercy from your Lord which you expect, then speak to them a gentle word.

And do not make your hand [as] chained to your neck or extend it completely and [thereby] become blamed and insolvent.

Indeed, your Lord extends provision for whom He wills and restricts [it]. Indeed He is ever, concerning His servants, Acquainted and Seeing.

And do not kill your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Indeed, their killing is ever a great sin.

And do not approach unlawful sexual intercourse. Indeed, it is ever an immorality and is evil as a way.

And do not kill the soul which Allah has forbidden, except by right. And whoever is killed unjustly – We have given his heir authority, but let him not exceed limits in [the matter of] taking life. Indeed, he has been supported [by the law].

And do not approach the property of an orphan, except in the way that is best, until he reaches maturity. And fulfill [every] commitment. Indeed, the commitment is ever [that about which one will be] questioned.

And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with an even balance. That is the best [way] and best in result.

And do not pursue that of which you have no knowledge. Indeed, the hearing, the sight and the heart – about all those [one] will be questioned.

And do not walk upon the earth exultantly. Indeed, you will never tear the earth [apart], and you will never reach the mountains in height.

All that – its evil is ever, in the sight of your Lord, detested.

That is from what your Lord has revealed to you, [O Muhammad], of wisdom. And, [O mankind], do not make [as equal] with Allah another deity, lest you be thrown into Hell, blamed and banished.

Surah Al-Isra (17 – 23-39)

Most of the accusations come from people who do not agree with the standard of morality or virtue that is ordained in Islam. For instance, the Hijab for women; not being allowed to have a sip of wine or not even having a girlfriend… These practices have become customary in “modern” civilizations, yet they are considered illicit in Islam. Society is always faced with dumbing down standards and laws to curtail the desires of the majority. But the fundamental question remains; what makes it right now but made it wrong before (and vice versa)? This type of thinking induces decadence. Virtues and morals become trivial, unattainable utopias, unrealistic… mockeries.

This was the same discourse used by the people of Lot thousands of years ago when they wanted him and his family out of their city.

But the answer of his people was only that they said, “Evict them from your city! Indeed, they are men who keep themselves pure.”

Surah Al-Aaraf (7 – 82)

Wow! Accused of being too pure… It’s like someone who says: “Ah! He gets on my nerves because he is too polite.” or: “look at her; she thinks she is so superior! She doesn’t even want to dress like us.” and the classic: “Look at that geek; he thinks that his A+ is going to stop him from that face pounding.” What is it that makes that person’s conduct wrong in the first place; what did he do to deserve this reprimand? Is it high self-esteem (or lack of it)? Is it because a person is different (where his difference is not accepted)? Is it because of jealousy (or more likely envy)?

It is sad to see that we have reached a point where righteous conduct is ridiculed and marginalized. Someone who gives his seat on the bus is looked at awkwardly; a student who says Mam and Sir is called a suck-up; a 16-year-old virgin is made fun of. But, as we have seen, this attitude has been present for millennia, all depending on the context and stage in which a society is to be found.

But in the end…

And it will be said to those who feared Allah, “What did your Lord send down?” They will say, “[That which is] good.” For those who do good in this world is good; and the home of the Hereafter is better. And how excellent is the home of the righteous –

Surah An-Nahl (16 – 30)

Faith

the process of belief