A Wishful Message of Reconciliation
Delivered at “Faith and Reconciliation- What is the Future of Interfaith Dialogue?” 24-26 May, 2013, in Peja- Republic of Kosovo”
Prof. Dr M. M. Abu Laylah
DEAR RESPECTED AND DISTINGUISHED MEMBERS AND GUESTS
We are gathered here today in this free, independent State of Kosovo with the noble intentions of exchanging views, ideas and opinions to help reconciliation between members of the human species. It is a great pleasure for me and a privilege, as well, to be invited for the second time to this prestigious and distinguished conference. This conference is held in this beautiful country where besides the great winds of freedom, there are lakes, rivers, towering mountains, green landscape representing the true beauty and charm that reflect the immaculate design and wisdom of the creator: ALLAH (swt).
The noble attendants of this conference are representatives of the different religions, cultures and ethnicities of the world. They came here from near and far, and from the different corners of the world to take part in our discussions, hoping to build bridges of mutual trust and understanding that might help reduce human suffering, and bring peace and tranquillity to a war torn country. This is a very great and noble cause. We are here to listen to one another in the hope that we can reduce and alleviate human suffering and misery and find ways to reconcile, build after destruction, repair and cure deeply seated maladies, heal wounds, help enforce love in place of hatred, maintain hope and morals of brotherhood, and achieve peace and tranquillity.
Last year, in a similar conference we gathered at the American University in Preshtina. Today, we should ask ourselves what has happened since then? Have we been able to achieve any success in alleviating tensions or removing hatred and enmity between nations who were at war in the Balkan area?
Within this context I welcome the title of this distinguished conference and feel hopeful that we are moving forward. We have been able to not only diagnose the problem but also provide, devise and put in place the effective means and measures to assist in fixing it.
Let us stand together, united, hand-in-hand, asking for love and cooperation in place of hatred, degradation, negativity and denial of human rights.
ALL human beings without exceptions are descendants of Adam and Eve (peace be upon them). Regardless of their different genders, sexes and colours, they are all equal before ALLAH (saw). They are all created by ALLAH, the One and Only, who created this universe and made the heavens and earth.
After the first generation of Adam and Eve (peace be upon them) and while we all have different mothers, we all came out to this world through the same passage. WE were incubated in our mothers’ wombs for nine months (or so). Our complex anatomy signifies that all of us are made up of the same systems, and of the same materials: flesh, blood, organs, skin, bone and heart and that we all originate from dust. Such facts demonstrate that all human beings are brothers to one another and belong to the same family of humanity.
We live on this planet, feed on its products, breathe the same air, drink the same water and share all other universal utilities. From this earth we were created. Of its sustenance, we nourish, and to this earth we would be returning back.
To live happily on earth we should be righteous brothers and sisters, cooperative friends and good neighbours to one another.
Human beings by their nature are social characters, dependant on other members of the same species to progress and prosper on earth. Allah (swt) created mankind as dependant social creatures to live in groups, dependant on the skills and crafts of their fellow humans, so they can live a happy and relaxed life. We cannot live or stand alone on this earth. We may attain a perfect life only through the assistance of other members of the same species.
A surgeon, for example, can be the most successful one in his profession, but it is impossible for him to succeed if he has to work in the field to grow his food, work on the farm to breed his own cattle, to make bricks to build his own house, make and fix his own car, knit and tailor his own clothes … etc. He has no time to learn all these jobs and perform all these functions while also succeeding in his own profession as a surgeon. His capacities are very limited and life is too short for him to carry on all these jobs and achieve his duties.
Allow me to quote the Holy Quran here:
"يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُمْ مِنْ ذَكَرٍ وَأُنْثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ" (سورة الحجرات 13)
“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Indeed the most honoured of you in the sight of ALLAH is the most righteous one”. (Al-Hujurat 13). This is to say that you may cooperate and not to despise each other.
"وَإِلَى ثَمُودَ أَخَاهُمْ صَالِحًا قَالَ يَا قَوْمِ اعْبُدُوا اللَّهَ مَا لَكُمْ مِنْ إِلَهٍ غَيْرُهُ هُوَ أَنْشَأَكُمْ مِنَ الْأَرْضِ وَاسْتَعْمَرَكُمْ فِيهَا فَاسْتَغْفِرُوهُ ثُمَّ تُوبُوا إِلَيْهِ إِنَّ رَبِّي قَرِيبٌ مُجِيبٌ (هود 61)"
Allah says in the context of Prophet Salih “My people serve God and have no other God but Him. He is the one who raised you from the earth and enabled you to settle upon it.” (Hood 61).
Allah calls upon the people to preserve the earth, maintain its beauty and fertility, not to corrupt it or destroy it. HE says:
“وَلَا تُفْسِدُوا فِي الْأَرْضِ بَعْدَ إِصْلَاحِهَا” (الأعراف 56)
“Cause no disorder in the land after it has been made right.” (Al Araf 56).
In Islam, corrupt behaviour is abhorred. Corruption in the environment, in the land, in nature and in natural resources and raw materials is totally unaccepted behaviour. Corrupt relationships between mankind and individuals, is forbidden, as well. Islam also calls for people to judge their own actions, deeds and thoughts and to correct them if needed. This also applies to families, groups, societies and nations at large. The golden rule in all cultures and religions of the world, and among them Islam is:”DO UNTO OTHERS WHATEVER YOU LIKE TO BE DONE UNTO YOURSELF”.
The call for perfection applies to all social classes in humanity from Kings to subjects and subordinates.
Leaders of society should work to eliminate all causes and roots of tension, enmity, racism or fanaticism and work towards promoting the commonalities between nations.
Ladies and Gentlemen, I may quote the following verses from the Holy Quran which I believe talk directly to us in this situation among others:
"فَلَوْلَا كَانَ مِنَ الْقُرُونِ مِنْ قَبْلِكُمْ أُولُو بَقِيَّةٍ يَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْفَسَادِ فِي الْأَرْضِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا مِمَّنْ أَنْجَيْنَا مِنْهُمْ وَاتَّبَعَ الَّذِينَ ظَلَمُوا مَا أُتْرِفُوا فِيهِ وَكَانُوا مُجْرِمِينَ * وَمَا كَانَ رَبُّكَ لِيُهْلِكَ الْقُرَى بِظُلْمٍ وَأَهْلُهَا مُصْلِحُونَ * وَلَوْ شَاءَ رَبُّكَ لَجَعَلَ النَّاسَ أُمَّةً وَاحِدَةً وَلَا يَزَالُونَ مُخْتَلِفِينَ * إِلَّا مَنْ رَحِمَ رَبُّكَ وَلِذَلِكَ خَلَقَهُمْ ...."(هود 116-119)
“In all the Generations that went before you – people with sense enough to prevent others from spreading chaos and disorder in the earth, except for the very few whom We saved from harm? The wrongdoers followed after nothing more than what pleased them and they were truly wicked. However, your lord never destroys a nation unjustly as long as its people behave well.
If your Lord wanted HE could make all People into one single nation. However, they never cease to argue except for those who have been graced with your Lords’ Mercy and this is the purpose for which We created them.”
Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) said what I may re-iterate in English: “People are like gold and silver the best among them in the pre-Islamic period is the best among them in Islam provided they learn and understand Islam and apply it in their life”.
Islam cares and encourages sustainability to the Human race acknowledging that every human was born free and honoured by ALLAH.
Central to this honour, human being was given responsibility towards his own life and that of his fellow humans and towards the whole world in which he lives.
In Islam, duties and rights are strongly rooted in human responsibility before God, the Creator and the Organiser of man and this world.
Human Rights are not based on race, class, cast or colour but on the concept of justice for all.
In what is known as the constitution of Al-Medina, Prophet Muhammed said concerning the rights of Non Muslim “What is right for us is right for them and what is forbidden to them is forbidden to us, also”.
Applying these set of rules much of our problems nowadays would be minimized if not eliminated.
To conclude with, Muslims are open to any initiative and attempt to bring peace and tranquillity between nations and ever ready to establish good relationships and strong ties with others in order to please ALLAH Almighty and to be blessed by HIM.
The aya 125 of Surat Al Nisa reads:-
وَمَنْ أَحْسَنُ دِينًا مِمَّنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ .... (125)
“The best of people in faith is the most helpful to others”.
Here is the most astonishing and astounding statement that I ever read from the pen of a great psychiatrist who lived from 1870 till 1936. After spending a lifetime studying people and their hidden reserves of power, Dr. Alfred Adler declared that one of the wonder-filled characteristics of human beings is "their power to turn a minus into a plus." Try to think every day how you can please someone." He urges us to do a good deed every day. And what is a good deed? "A good deed," (he added) said the Prophet Mohammed, "is one that brings a smile of joy to the face of another." Adding:” Why will doing a good deed every day produce such astounding efforts on the doer? Because trying to please others will cause us to stop thinking of ourselves: the very thing that produces worry and fear and other things”*.
*quoted by Dale Carnegie in his book: “How To Stop Worrying And Start Living”, from Dr. Adler’s book: “What Life Should Mean to You”. (Allen & Unwin Ltd.