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Permanent Values

by G.A. Parwez

In the Quran, in Al-Baqarah verse 41, Allah says: “Do not trade my revelations of great value for something which is cheap.”

If you see someone in the Bazaar who is selling a gold ring worth 100 pounds for 10 pounds, your first thought will be that the ring does not belong to him and is stolen. This is why he is selling it for a cheap price. Stolen goods are never priced at normal rates. They are sold at whatever price they buyer is willing to pay.

Even if you are convinced that the ring is not stolen but belongs to the seller, then you cannot come to any other conclusion but the seller is not in his right mind. No sensible person and no person with his senses under control would sell something worth 100 pounds for 10 pounds. Whomsoever you ask will say without hesitation that such a person is mad.

But those who say that such a person are mad, have they not seen their own state and thought about it? From dawn to dusk, many times a day, they take part in similarly eccentric behavior. Everyday they sell their precious possessions at ridiculously cheap prices. Perhaps you are surprised and wonder whom these people are who act with such insanity. Where are the people who would do this?        

If it is said that these people are among us and that they are in our midst, then perhaps you may not believe this. But this is the truth. There is no room for doubt.

Observe the truth of this.

There is a proverb we have all heard and used at one time or another. It is this: “Property to be sacrificed for Life and Life to be sacrificed for Honor.”

Do you understand what this means? This meaning is quite clear. Money and property are good things. In this world they have many uses, they satisfy our needs. With money, people buy food and drink. It can be used for treatment when we are ill. A doctor can be paid his fees. Medicines can be purchased. Clothes can be bought. Children’s school tuition can be paid for. All this can be done on the strength of money. It has been said that without money a person is swept around by the winds of time.

This is why wealth is greatly valued. The person who keeps his money safe is considered by all as wise. A fool and his money are soon parted.

But in life there are times when a person does not spend his money and keeps it safe: he is considered a miser, for example, a child is sick and its condition is worsening. The child’s father is wealthy but does not spend anything on the child’s treatment. Sometimes he takes the child to the village herbalist hoping that he can do something without much expense. Sometimes he takes the child to the local priest for a healing prayer. Daily, the child’s health is deteriorating. Everyone says that the child should be seen by a doctor but the father is not prepared to spend any money. In the end the child dies. Who would not curse such a wealthy but miserable father?

Everyone will say to him: Money is a good thing and should be valued and should be kept safe, but where a child’s life is concerned, money is nothing. It is for times sake like these that money is saved. His money should have been used to save his child’s life. A person who does not spend his money to save his own child’s life is indeed a person with an unfortunate outlook on life. He is not a human being but an animal. What value has money when compared to life?

Have you noted what has happened? It is quite clear. Money and property have their own value but life is worth far more than money. The person who keeps safely a thing of lesser value such as money, and wastes a thing of much greater value such as life, can never be considered an intelligent person.

And a person who sacrifices something of lesser value to save something of greater value is commended by all. This is the person who is wise.

We now move further.

Where a persons own life is concerned, there will be very few people who would not do anything to save it. Humans aside, even animals would be prepared to make every effort to preserve their own lives.

Look at an ant. What a lively little creature it is. Put your finger in its path and look at what it will do to avoid the danger it thinks has come before it. To save ones life is a passion within every living being.

No living thing wants to lose its life. Suicide is only committed by those  who have lost the power of reasoning, or by those whose minds are blinded by lunacy. Animals never commit suicide. Life is such that a person will sacrifice everything in order to survive.

It is obvious that life is very valuable. Without life, there would not be a world. Despite life being so precious, there are times when a person who saves his own life is despised, and the one who gives his life is celebrated.

For example: if a lecherous man were to assault an innocent young girl and she died fighting in the struggle to save her honor, she would be praised for her bravery in fighting off her assailant. Everyone would hold her name in high esteem, with respect for her courage. Her story would be told with pride. This is honor and virtue.

If man were traveling with his daughter and some perverse fiend made obscene advances towards her, then an honorable father would pounce like a cheetah to save his child and not fear in the least that such an action may lead to his own death. If, to save his daughters honor, the father gives his life then people will remember him with admiration and respect.

Why is this? It is because he acted upon this belief: Life is to be sacrificed for Honor. To preserve honor by sacrificing life is an act of high principle.            

Where we find fathers ready to defend their daughters honor with their lives, we will also find heinous people who, for the sake of a few pounds, will willingly take their daughters to men of evil intent. These people can be counted among the unbelievably wicked. They are immoral and debauched. In a corrupt environment they can even be found at the highest levels of society. However, no person with any degree of self=respect would associate with the,, despite the wealth they may procure from their promiscuous life-styles.

 

But the world will never look upon them with any lasting respect. Why is this? Because they have traded something of high value like honor for wealth, which even the most dishonest, can accumulate.

The person who sacrifices something of high value for an item of lower value falls from esteem. This is the reason why a soldier who flees from the battlefield would be too embarrassed to show his face in society. Instead of sacrificing his life for truth and justice, he chose to live. He e chose the lower value instead of the higher one. He deserted, instead of choosing death before dishonor. In the eyes of the people he commands no respect. His name is dirt. He did not act upon the rule: Life to be sacrificed for Honor.

But where saving a life is concerned, no person anywhere is any different. Whether one is living in Pakistan or in England, whether one is a dark-skinned African or a fair-haired American, a jungle-living pygmy or civilized city dweller, everyone will agree that survival and preserving life I vital to all.

But where honor is concerned, not only is there a difference in people but also in cultures. If an unmarried woman falls pregnant in the Muslim community, she may become so dejected with shame that she takes her life. In England, however, such a situation is not considered to be so serious, to the extent that if the child’s father were to marry her, the child would become legitimate in law.

Deep consideration needs to be given to Honor. In England it is said that, because in English society this is not considered immoral, that is why it is not immoral. The English say that in Pakistani society it is considered immoral, that is why Pakistanis consider it immoral.

The question is this: Is this the way to evaluate good or bad? To say that the thing, which a society decrees as good, becomes good and that which it proclaims as bad becomes bad?

This criterion is actually no criterion at all.

A true criterion is that something, which is good, should always be considered good and something, which is bad, should always be considered bad, even if the whole world comes to consider it to be good.

For those who submit to God, the criterion is His revealed Book, the Holy Quran. It tells us of things, which are of greater value, and the things of lesser value, and the lower-value things, which can be sacrificed for those of higher value. And also those things, which cannot be sacrificed under any circumstances.

Those things, which cannot be sacrificed for anything under any condition are called Permanent Values. The Quran tells us which are the Permanent Values. These are called Unchangeable Principles or God’s Immutable Laws.

The person who accepts the Quranic Decrees is called a Muslim. A governing body which preserves these laws and rules and judges according to them is called and Islamic Government.