Saturday, September 28, 2013

Reflection and Action on the Zamboanga Siege (Parts 3 and 4)

By Ustadz Alzad Sattar, Undersecretary for Madrasah Education, DepEd-ARMM
For Parts 1 and 2, please click here ....

Part 3 - What we must do now as Muslims?
Knowing the comprehensiveness of Islam, e.g., physical, intellectual, above all spiritual, we must at all times be guided by its wonderful teachings. In dealing with our day-to-day activities, be it personal or public, political or apolitical, individual or group, our guiding principle should always be in accordance with what Allah, the Almighty said in Surah al-Baqarah 2: 143 “And thus We have made you a ‘Just - Balanced Community’ that you will be witnesses over the people, and the Messenger will be a witness over you.”

When it comes to relationships with fellow Muslims and non-Muslims alike Islam provides us a detailed guidelines to follow. In Islam, the concept of ‘ukhuwa’ (brotherhood) is very solid and manifested through various means. In Sahih Muslim, the beloved Prophet of Allah, Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “Believers are like a single person; if his eye is in pain his whole body pains, and if his head is in pain his whole body pains.”

Furthermore, Islamic brotherhood goes beyond nationality, ethnicity, and geographic location, because Islam knows no boundaries in as far as brotherhood is concerned. Whether you are Asian, Caucasian, Arab, American, Tausug, Sama, Yakan, Maranaw, Maguindanao, Iranun, et cetera, for so long as you submit yourself to the will of Allah, you are obliged to help and assist him/her according to your means: physically, financially, emotionally, and spiritually. Al-Bayhaqi narrated that Prophet Muhammad once said: “Whoever helps his brother in secret, Allah will help him in this world and the next.” Imam at-Tirmidhi reported that the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “Give the Sadaqah (Charity) without delay, for it stands in the way of calamity.” This is the reason why Darul Ifta’ of Zamboanga and Darul Ifta’ ARMM and the NCMF are doing everything what they can to facilitate and assist the evacuees in different ways.

In doing so, however, we should not go beyond the limits set forth by the Shari’ah. In Surah al-Ma’idah 5: 2, Allah, the Almighty, says: “Help you one another in virtue and righteousness (al-birr) and piety (at-Taqwa); but do not help one another in sin (al-Ithm) and transgression that creates hatred among you (al-‘udwan). And fear Allah, verily, Allah is severe in punishment.” Thus, Almighty Allah categorically states the prerequisites of rendering assistance so that we will not commit sins against Him. That is why the verse ended with a warning ‘Allah is severe in punishment’ to remind us of the consequence of our actions once we cooperate with evil deeds, if not in this world, surely, in the day Hereafter.

As Muslims, one most important thing we must do is supplication in times of trial. Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, used to say at a time of difficulty, “None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, the Majestic, the Most Forbearing. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, the Lord of the Tremendous Throne. None has the right to be worshipped but Allah, the Lord of the Heavens and the Lord of the Honorable Throne.” (Sahih al-Bukhari)

Imam Ahmad and others reported upon the authority of Ibn Mas'ud that the Messenger of Allah, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: "No slave is afflicted with anxiety and grief, and then says: “O Allah, I am Your slave, son of Your male slave, son of Your female slave. My forehead is in Your hand. Your judgment upon me is assured and whatever you have decreed for me is just. I ask You by every name belonging to You which You have named Yourself with, revealed in Your Book, taught one of Your creation or which You have preserved in the knowledge of the Unseen with You that You make the Qur'an the spring of my heart and the light of my chest, a banisher for my grief and a reliever for my anxiety. Except that Almighty Allah will replace his distress and grief with joy."

In one narration, when calamities befall to anyone, he/she should say the following: “Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un. Allahumma ajirniy fiy musibatiy wakhluf liy khayran minh.” (Truly! To Allah we belong and truly, to Him we shall return. O Allah grant me refuge in my affliction and replace it with the one better than that.)

With regards to our relationship with non-Muslims it is very clear that Allah allows us to do so, albeit with certain limitations and restrictions. In Surah al-Mumtahanah 60: 8-9, Almighty Allah says: “Allah does not forbid you to deal JUSTLY and KINDLY with those who fought not against you on account of religion and did not drive you out of your homes. Verily, Allah LOVES those who deal with EQUITY. It is only as regards those who fought against you on account of religion, and have driven you out of your homes, and helped to drive you out, that Allah FORBIDS you to BEFRIEND them. And whosoever will befriend them, then such are the zalimun (wrong-doers-those who disobey Allah).” It means, if they harm you just because you are Muslim, you have all the right to DEFEND yourself. This right is granted by both man-made and Divine laws.

Hence, for as long as it is within the boundaries of the Islamic rules and there is no religious violation there is no harm for the Muslim to deal with non-Muslims. What we need is a mutual respect so that Muslims and non-Muslims alike live harmoniously and coexist with one another. Coexisting does not necessarily mean living together in one building or in a certain place, but as one community and one country living side by side and working together for the common good of all humanity. The key is mutual respect from both sides of the divide. It should be a two-way relationship so that fairness and justice would prevail. Any relationship that is devoid of justice and equality will not be long lasting.

Therefore, Muslims must respect non-Muslims and non-Muslims must respect Muslims, too, with all our heart. “Respect begets respect”, as the saying goes. In Sahih Bukhari, Sahih Muslim, and An-Nassa’i, it was narrated that one day, Prophet Muhammad was seated at some place in Madinah along with his Companions. During this time a funeral procession passed by. On seeing this, the Prophet stood up. One of his companions remarked that the funeral was that of a Jew. The Prophet replied, “Was he not a human being?” That’s how the Prophet taught us in as far as respect is concerned. The truth of the matter is that, Almighty Allah even prohibited reviling non-Muslims pertaining to their worship. In Surah al-An’am 6:108, Allah, the Almighty says: “And do not insult those they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah in enmity without knowledge.”

Part IV - What Muslims and non-Muslims must do now?
We may have different approaches as we belong to different field of specializations. But, I guess, everyone agrees if I say, we must do something as opposed to doing nothing. We do not want evil to triumph over goodness because we are all affected. Edmund Burke once said: “The only way for the evil to triumph is for the good people to do nothing.” And if I may to quote the saying of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, he said: “The one who kept silent for the truth is like a dump-mute Satan.”

Nonetheless, we should not go beyond with the “principle of moderation” as mention earlier. We should not resort to violence for violence begets nothing but violence. Let us be proactive rather than reactive. In Sahih al-Bukhari, we will find the wonderful advice of the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, when he once said: “The religion is easy. No one ever made it difficult without it becoming too much for him. So avoid extremes and strike a balance, do the best you can and be cheerful, and seek Allah’s help (through prayer) in the morning, and evening, and part of the night.”

Furthermore, in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih al-Muslim, the beloved Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, said: “Make things easy (for people) and do not make them difficult, and cheer people up and do not drive them away. Ahmad reported, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, also said: “The best of your religion is the easiest.” Hence, let us put things in a proper perspective, after all, Allah wanted us to be such when He says in Surah al-Baqarah 2:185: "Allah intends for you ease, and does not want to make things difficult for you."

Moreover, a well-known story has been mentioned in hadith literature which is also found in Sahih al-Bukhari and Sahih al-Muslim such as the following: A disbelieving Bedouin urinated in the mosque, and the people rushed to beat him. Allah’s Apostle ordered them to leave him alone, let him finish and pour water over the place where he has passed urine. The Prophet then explained to the Bedouin calmly, “This is a place of worship, in it, is the worship of God and the reading of Qur’an.” After the Bedouin had left, the Prophet then said to his companions,” You have been sent to make things easy (for the people) and you have not been sent to make things difficult for them.” It was said, the Bedouin embraced Islam some time later due to the gentle actuation shown by the Holy Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him.

To the Zamboaguenos especially the Chavacanos, if you love Zamboanga City as you claimed, remember also, other Zamboanguenos love Zamboanga City, too. No one tribe has the monopoly of Zamboanga City. Because other tribes who are also legitimate residents of Zamboanga City have rights, too. Zamboanga is not inherently own by anybody, for if so, the Moro especially the Sama and the Bajaw have more rights over you. Let us move away from bigotry, for bigotry begets nothing but bigotry. Inquisition should not be repeated anymore like what happen in Al - Andalus many years before it became a Spain.

To the two opposing parties, you should learn from history. War is NOT and NEVER be a SOLUTION to the conflict in Mindanao. History has proven it true. ‘Annihilation Theory’ does not and never work anywhere and everywhere. Civilian interests must be given weight over political interest. The will of the people must be supreme over the will of the politicians. The Latin Maxim, ‘Vox populi, vox Dei’ where public opinion and the voice of the people is supposed to be irresistible, cannot be categorically ignored and should come first before the political and vested interested.

At any rate, those involved in conflict should face the consequences of their deeds from both sides. Fairness and justice should be true to all regardless of who they are. The principle of “No one is above the law” must be true to all and must be upheld after due process of law. Thus, let us be adamant and vigilant but it should be coupled with courteousness.

If there is one most important thing to be considered in the “reconstruction and rebuilding” of Zamboanga City is the psycho-social aspect. Infrastructure such as houses and the economy are undoubtedly vital. But the greatest challenge in my humble opinion is how to regain the trust and confidence between and among the Muslims and non-Muslims in the city. The work of interfaith and other peace organizations such as Silsilah Dialogue Movement (SDM), Peace Advocates Zamboanga (PAZ), Consortium of Bangsamoro Cicil Society (CBCS), et cetera that have been gaining ground from the grassroots for decades now are back to zero. I hope the rumors lingering around that the notorious “Ilaga Movement” is going to be reactivated, albeit in another name, is not true. If it is so, history repeats itself. May God, the Almighty forbid!

To all ‘PEACE ADVOCATES’, I personally call upon you, in the name of God, the Almighty and for the sake of humanity, let us continue and do, not just try, our best and join together in combating evil so that we will live peacefully and harmoniously regardless of faith, race, and tribe. After all, the final judgment will be on the Day Hereafter. Allah, the Almighty Himself will be the one to give judgment as to who is really right and who is wrong.

The parable and similitude of the people in the community or society is like a group of individuals who are traveling in a boat to a certain destination. Whatever happens to that boat everybody suffers the consequences, regardless of who they are. The religious groups, both from Muslims and non-Muslims alike can play a dynamic role in the reconstruction period of Zamboanga City. So I call upon the City Government of Zamboanga to make the religious groups and the elders in the community together with the civil societies, as its PARTNERS, not just supporting actors, in pursuing sustainable peace, progress, and development of the city.

"Moral Governance"

English - "Good governance for a progressive and peaceful BARMM."

Sinama - "Hap pamarinta tudju BARMM na sambu maka salamat"

Bahasa Sug - "Dan mabuntul tudju pa BARMM masambu iban mahatul"

Meranaw - "Mathitu a kandatu sa BARMM ko katagompiya go kalilintad"


"Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education (MBHTE)"