Articles and Selections

Capitals, Borders and States’ Building

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The relationship of countries’ capitals with national borders is that of integration, and not conflict, and it should not be of conflict. Simply, any country cannot do without a capital as heart and center, or borders which represent the wings by means of which the country proceed. However, the center of any country in many of the world countries captures full attention. Precedents and realities confirm that the centers of countries capture the highest levels of attention throughout history. However, the level of this attention differs from developed countries to underdeveloped ones. In fact, the developed countries can in no way neglect a part of its borders; be it land or people, disregard it, leave it liable to loss and attack, or even think of creating chaos or separatism. A poet once entered upon ‘Umar Ibn ‘Abd al- ‘Aziz (may Allah be pleased with him) and said: In case you safeguard the capital of the state where you live, be noted that your governors in the different towns are like wolves. They will not react to what you call for, unless you hit their necks with swords. Yet, the development of border areas of a country is not the responsibility of the government or political leadership alone. The development of these areas is the joint responsibility of all national institutions including the governmental institutions, nongovernmental organizations, businessmen, Ministries of Investment, Education, Health, Housing, Culture, Awqaf, Monuments, and all other ministries and authorities as well as the social service associations and patriotic businessmen. They all should devote special attention to all peripheral areas in general, and the border areas in particular as their first priority and a national security issue and developmental issue. In this regard, we should turn all national borders’ areas into population-attracting areas, and population-losing areas. This is because in case a country did not pay attention to its border areas, the citizens of these areas would be obliged to move to the center and settle therein, the matter which puts tremendous pressure on the center and its suburbs and creates in many cases slums around it. It also contributes to creating a class system that produces by the passage of time social diseases and problems that need unconventional solutions. On the contrary, the country’s keen interest in making investments in its border areas, providing their citizens with the necessary services, including housing, health, education, culture, and all services required for having a stable life in their homeland, as well as providing opportunities for work and production, all of these things would give the people of these areas a sense of belonging to their land and, therefore, they would do their best to protect it motivated by their absolute national loyalty and belonging. If the elements of attraction, work incentives and significant investment are afforded in these areas, as the case of the state’s current interest in the areas of Sinai, Matrouh, New Ismailia, Halayeb and Shalatin, New Valley and desert areas in general, these areas will turn into attractive areas creating an appropriate balance in the geographical and demographical distribution, providing a decent life for the citizens of these areas and alleviating the pressure placed on the center and the services provided to its citizens. In addition, the nature of capitals and political and economic centers in the whole world requires a level of progress which makes them tourist attractions and symbols of the peoples’ civilization, greatness and progress.

The Story of Statues and the Destruction of Civilizations

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To begin with, there is no single Muslim on earth who worships a statue, believes in it, preaches it or thinks about it. Rather, no single person from among the followers of heavenly religions believes in these statues at all. It is true that Islam prohibited the making of statues in the early days of Islam. However, this prohibition was based on two grounds. First, people were recent converts to Islam who were recently worshipping idols thinking that they bring them nearer to Allah, the Almighty. The Holy Quran expressed this belief of theirs in the statement of Allah, the Exalted, “We only worship them that they may bring us nearer to Allah in position.” (The Quran, 39: 3). Second, these statues were made to be worshipped or they were made in order to match the creation of Allah, the Almighty. This is confirmed by the fact that apart from the purification of the Ka’bah from idols that were worshipped, the Companions (may Allah be pleased with them) have not demolished a temple, a statue or a monument in anyone of the provinces they opened. This is because they were the best generation who correctly understood the objectives and purposes and were not satisfied with the apparent meanings of texts. On the contrary, they deeply and consciously reflected on their purposes and objectives. This profound understanding of texts is confirmed by the decision of the Second Caliph, Umar Ibn al-Khattab (may Allah be pleased with him), when he denied the new converts whose hearts were to be inclined to Islam their stated share of Zakah even though it was established by an explicit text as Allah, the Exalted, says, “Zakah expenditures are only for the poor and for the needy and for those employed for it and for bringing hearts together [for Islam] and for freeing captives [or slaves] and for those in debt and for the cause of Allah and for the [stranded] traveler.” (The Quran, 9: 60). When he was asked, “How do you stop a share that Allah’s Messenger (peace be upon him) used to give?” He replied, “We used to give them when Islam was weak to incline their hearts to faith. Now that Allah has strengthened Islam with His bounty, there is no need to give out this share.” Furthermore, Umar suspended the penalty of theft during the year of famine. He wrote to one of his governors and asked him about what he would do if people brought him a thief. The governor replied that he would cut his hand. Umar said to him, “But, if a hungry person came to me, I would cut your hand.” Unfortunately, our nation has been plagued by some narrow-minded people who began to issue edicts that this is lawful and that is unlawful without knowledge, understanding or study. They have taken themselves, students, followers and elements into the affairs of fatwa for which they are unqualified and thus they went astray and misled other people. Moreover, they opened a wide door before international colonial and imperial powers that work hard to suppress our cultural monuments including the Arab, Islamic, Christian, Pharaohic, Assyrian, Babylonian, Greek, Roman or otherwise in order to blot out the Arab memory and the monuments of the Arab, Islamic and Christian civilizations. This is because they are foolish people who have no morals, religion, values or principles. For them, the end justifies the means regardless of the enormity and seriousness of this means even it led to the destruction of human beings, statues, offspring and the monuments of human civilizations. The worst thing in this regard is that this destruction is perpetrated in the name of Islam and from people who falsely attribute themselves to it. In fact, Islam and its tenets have nothing to do at all with their acts even if they lied to themselves and deceived their victims from among the youth who joined them that they are on the truth. They have been rightfully described by Allah, the Exalted, in His statement, “And a group deserved [to be in] error. Indeed, they had taken the devils as allies instead of Allah while they thought that they were guided.” (The Quran, 7: 30). Allah, the Almighty, says, “Say, [O Muhammad], Shall we inform you of the greatest losers as to [their] deeds? [They are] those whose effort is lost in worldly life, while they think that they are doing well in work.” (The Quran, 18: 103-104) and He also says, “And of the people is he whose speech pleases you in worldly life, and he calls Allah to witness as to what is in his heart, yet he is the fiercest of opponents. And when he goes away, he strives throughout the land to cause corruption therein and destroy crops and animals. And Allah does not like corruption.” (The Quran, 2: 204-205). The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Prof. Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayyib, the Ministry of Awqaf and the Egyptian Dar al-Iftaa stressed that it is unconscionable to assail these cultural monuments in any way, either by demolishing, distorting, selling, looting or destroying and that assailing them is tantamount to an act of aggression against civilization and human heritage. The reaction of the western world and international institutions to these crimes and their complete silence concerning them are remarkable and surprising and raise many questions. Had these crimes been committed anywhere else other than our Arab region, the whole world would strongly and differently react. This is a natural reaction from our enemies who are waging unjust wars against us. However, the thing that adds more fuel to the fire is these fatwas that support and nourish this crooked thinking, the matter which stresses what we have repeatedly called for that there is an urgent need to issue a law to regulate the affairs of fatwa and restrict it to qualified scholars alone.

Beauty, Delight and Common Sense

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Islam is the religion of civilization and progress, perfection and beauty, and delight and happiness. All Islamic texts, directives and ways lead to this end. The Qur’ān and the Sunnah affirm these meanings. For example, Allah, the Almighty, says in His Book:

  • “And the grazing livestock He has created for you; in them is warmth and [numerous] benefits, and from them you eat. And for you in them is [the enjoyment of] beauty when you bring them in [for the evening] and when you send them out [to pasture]” (the Quran, 16: 5-6).
  • He also says, “[It is He] who has made for you the earth as a bed [spread out] and inserted therein for you roadways and sent down from the sky, rain and produced thereby categories of various plants” (the Quran, 20: 53).
  • He also says, “And made grow therein [something] of every beautiful kind” (the Quran, 50: 7)
  • He also says, “And He sent down for you rain from the sky, causing to grow thereby gardens of joyful beauty which you could not [otherwise] have grown the trees thereof? Is there a deity with Allah? [No], but they are a people who ascribe equals [to Him]“ (the Quran, 27: 60)
  • He also says, “Then do they not look at the camels – how they are created? And at the sky – how it is raised? And at the mountains – how they are erected? And at the earth – how it is spread out?” (the Quran, 88: 17-20)
  • He also says, “You do not see in the creation of the Most Merciful any inconsistency” (The Quran, 67: 3).
  • Allah also says about the highest heavens, “And We have beautified it for the observers” (The Quran, 15: 16)
  • He also says, “And We adorned the nearest heaven with lamps [i.e., stars, for beauty].” (The Quran, 41: 12).
  • The Noble Qur’ān commands us to assume the best beautiful appearance and take adornment at every Mosque as He said, “O children of Adam, take your adornment [i.e., wear your clothing] at every mosque and eat and drink, but be not excessive. Indeed, He likes not those who commit excess. Say, Who has forbidden the adornment of [i.e., from] Allah which He has produced for His servants and the good [lawful] things of provision? Say, They are for those who believe during worldly life [but] exclusively for them on the Day of Resurrection. Thus do We detail the verses for a people who know” (the Quran, 7: 31-32).

Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “He who has in his heart the weight of a mustard seed of pride shall not enter Paradise. A man said: Verily a person loves that his dress should be fine, and his shoes should be fine. Prophet Muhammad remarked: Verily, Allah is Beautiful and loves beauty. Pride is disdaining the truth (out of self-conceit) and contempt for the people” (Reported by Muslim). When al-Mughirah Ibn Shu’bah (may Allah be pleased with him) told the Prophet that he proposed to a woman, the Prophet said to him: “Look at her, for indeed that is more likely to create love between you” (Reported by al-Tirmidhi).

Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) used to love perfume and called people to receive other people with cheerful faces and smiles. He said, “Do not consider anything insignificant out of good things even if it is that you meet your brother with a cheerful countenance” (Reported by Muslim). For him, making people happy is one of the best deeds in the sight of Allah, the Almighty. Prophet Muhammad (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “No one brings joy to the heart of a Muslim, except that Allah will please him on the day of Resurrection.”

The Prophet (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) also said, “The most beloved deed to Allah is to make a Muslim happy.” He (May Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) urged his Companions to wear the best clothes on Fridays, feasts and public occasions. However, the true beauty is not restricted to physical appearance, but it goes beyond it to the beauty of one’s nature, manners and character. Mustafa Sadiq al-Rafi‘i (may Allah rest his soul in peace) said, “The best of women is the one whose manners and mind are as beautiful as her face. If this woman was married to a suitable man, she would make his life much easier and comfortable.” The poet said:

When a man’s honor is not defiled by baseness,

Then every cloak he wears is comely.

She upbraided us that we are few in number,

but I said to her, ‘noble men are few’.

It is of no consequence that we are few, seeing that our kinsman is protected,

whereas the kinsman of the many is abased.

All of us have to beautify ourselves with the beauty of Islam in our nature, appearance, environment, schools, institutes, gardens, parks and public places. We should never distort the beautiful and delightful places with what is repulsive to common sense.

One of the most important signs of common sense, beauty and progress is the choice of good and sweet words. Umar Ibn al-Khattab passed by some people who were kindling a fire. He disliked to say to them, Peace be upon you, O people of the fire, and instead said, Peace be upon you, O people of the light.

Islam encourages us to choose the best names with lofty meanings and to keep away from repulsive names and from everything that is repulsive to nature and common sense. The Holy Qur’ān commands us to do what is best and to say what is good, rather what is best. Allah, the Almighty, says, “And speak to people good [words]” (The Quran, 2: 83). Allah also says, “And tell My servants to say that which is best.” (The Quran, 17: 53). Let our slogan be, “Common sense, progress and beauty” because we need common sense to enjoy this beauty and disseminate it in the society.

When a man’s honor is not defiled by baseness,

Then every cloak he wears is comely.

She upbraided us that we are few in number,

But I said to her, ‘noble men are few’.

It is of no consequence that we are few, seeing that our kinsman is protected,

whereas the kinsman of the many is abased.

In Pursuit of Better Investment of Zakah Revenues

Zakah revenues meets a wide gap in the needs of the poor, the indigent and the public interests of the state if they are invested in a proper way. If the rich people generously donate charities and do their best to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, give medicine to the patient, support the needy and significantly contribute to fulfill the needs of their country of reform, weapons and equipment, life will be much better in this country with no needy or beggar in the community.

Imam ‘Ali Ibn Abi Talib (may Allah be pleased with him) said, “Allah has apportioned the provisions of the poor in the wealth of the rich. So no poor man becomes hungry except as a result of the miserliness of a rich man and if you found a hungry poor man, know that there is an unjust rich man who did not pay the right of Allah in his wealth and did not fulfill his duty towards his society.”

In addition, if the endowments are invested in a proper way beside the Zakah and charities for the interests of the country, they would lead to a real renaissance in our country. We may have surplus for impoverished countries that we need to help, such as the Nile Basin countries with which we need to communicate and collaborate scientifically, culturally, charitably and humanely at the governmental and peoples’ levels with their strong civil institutions. These institutions are well placed to carry out large and huge projects in these countries and other African poor countries as a strategic dimension and as a part of our national security. There are numerous successful examples in this field for civil society institutions.

Zakah is a fundamental right in the wealth of the rich: I would first state some certain facts: First, Zakah is a fundamental right in the wealth of the rich and one of the main pillars of Islam such as prayer and fasting alike. Ibn ‘Abbas (may Alalh be pleased with him) said, “Three things have been revealed in the Qur‘ān associated with three others. They are not accepted separately: the first verse is, “Obey Allah and obey the Messenger.” If a Muslims obeys Allah’s commands and ignores the Messenger’s commands, his effort will not be accepted. The second verse is, “perform the prayer and give Zakah.” Those who perform the prayer and do not give Zakah will have prayer unaccepted. The third verse is, “give thanks to Me and to your parents. Unto Me is the final destination.” Whoever gives thanks to Allah but does not give thanks to his parents, his work will not be accepted.”

Allah, the Almighty, says about those who hoard their wealth and do not give Zakah: “And those who hoard gold and silver and spend it not in the way of Allah – give them tidings of a painful punishment. The Day when it will be heated in the fire of Hell and seared therewith will be their foreheads, their flanks, and their backs, [it will be said], This is what you hoarded for yourselves, so taste what you used to hoard” (the Qur‘ān, 9: 34-35).

Second, Islam invites Muslims to generously donate charities. Allah, the Almighty, says, “The example of those who spend their wealth in the way of Allah is like a seed [of grain] which grows seven spikes; in each spike is a hundred grains. And Allah multiplies [His reward] for whom He wills. And Allah is all-Encompassing and Knowing” (the Qur‘ān, 2: 261).

Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) said, “The wealth of a man is never diminished by charity.” He also said, “The best charity is the one that you give while you are healthy, niggardly and afraid of poverty and wish to become wealthy. Do not delay it to the time of approaching death and then say, ‘Give so much to such and such, and so much to such and such.”

The Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) also said, “Every day two angels come down from Heaven and one of them says, ‘O Allah! Compensate every person who spends in Your Cause,’ and the other (angel) says, ‘O Allah! Destroy every miser.”

Allah, the Almighty, says, “Here you are – those invited to spend in the cause of Allah – but among you are those who withhold [out of greed]. And whoever withholds only withholds [benefit] from himself; and Allah is the Free of need, while you are the needy. And if you turn away, He will replace you with another people; then they will not be the likes of you” (the Qur‘ān, 47: 38).

Reasons Behind Defects and Means to Correction:

In this regard, the reasons behind the defect are either associated with zakah payer, zakah recipients or intermediaries between the two, a person, an organization or an institution. The reasons associated with the payers are either failure to pay or resorting to trickery or paying the Zakah without consideration of the organization to which they give the Zakah. The religious discourse should focus on the obligation of paying the Zakah and the major sin committed by those who withheld the right of Allah in their wealth in assertion that the rich do not escape blame by merely paying the Zakah in any way.

Rather, some jurists maintain that if a rich man mistakenly pays Zakah to a rich person thinking he is a poor, he still has to pay the Zakah. The rich people have to make sure that they pay the Zakah to the rightful recipients honestly and accurately in order to absolve themselves of all blame and contribute with their Zakah to the desired fruit for which Zakah has been ordained.

The reasons behind the shortcoming associated with the recipient revolve around the weak religious deterrent of some people, who make it lawful for themselves to obtain money from any means even if it entails loss of respect. We should remind those people of the Islamic approach and common sense, which discourage those who are able to work from begging or face-losing. Our Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) says, “Begging is allowed only for one who is in grinding poverty, one who is seriously in debt, or one who is responsible for compensation and finds it difficult to pay.” Our Prophet (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) also says, “Acts of begging are lacerations with which a man disfigures his face, so he who wishes may preserve his self-respect, and he who wishes may abandon it.” Imam Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said:

Carrying stones from mountains tops is better to me than accepting favors of men.

Some say some works are shameful, to me real shame lies in humiliation of begging. 

Prophet Muhammad (may Allah’s Peace and Blessings be upon him) says, “One of the sayings of the early Prophets which the people have got is: If you don’t feel ashamed, do whatever you like.”

Islam strictly prohibits begging when no real need is there and prohibits humiliation of begging. Free men never expose themselves to situations that do not befit them. The upper hand, which gives, is better than the lower hand, which takes. The importance and value of work in Islam should also be stressed and that Islam encourages work. It should also be pointed out that one who strives to help the widows and the poor is like the one who fights in the way of Allah and that the best people are the ones who earn their living from their manual work and are not dependent upon others. The Pre-Islamic poet al-Shanfara al-Azdi said:

I eat the earth’s dust dry, lest any benefactor thinks me indebted to his favor.

Mahmud Sami al-Barudi said:

I was created as a dignified person receiving no favor from a child of a free woman that I remember for him when he gets angry.

As for the third defect, it is the mechanism of collecting and distributing the Zakah revenues. With our belief in and appreciation of the role of some civil societies in alleviating the suffering of the poor and the indigent whether by providing expenses or by establishing service and medical projects, these institutions need the following:

  • They must be under the complete control of the state apparatuses, which should follow and control them in the best way. There must be a clear transparency in announcing their budgets, expenses and remunerations while rationalizing their administrative expenses to the greatest possible degree.
  • There must be a clear map for the presence of these institutions, their geographical scope and activities in order not to have them all work in the same field or in limited fields while ignoring other fields that might be more important and vital for the society.
  • A public body, such as the Ministry of Social Solidarity, must be responsible for an electronic network to connect and coordinate the work of these institutions and link beneficiaries with donors and civil society institutions in their geographical or service scope in order to put an end to the phenomenon of the beneficiaries who have their names registered in the records of several charitable institutions while the Zakah revenues and charities do not reach those who really deserve them.
  • It is necessary to set clear goals and purposes to which all people might donate their charities or to allocate each institution for a particular purpose, such as feeding the hungry, providing medicine for the patient and paying the debts of those who are heavily indebted which is the goal of the campaign started by the Egyptian Ministry of Awqaf.