|The Individual and the Community|
by G.A. Parwez
God says: “You are indeed and excellent community and I have created you for the betterment of humanity,” (Quran 3:110)
In our previous lecture we faced the fact that, according to Gods Law of Requital, every deed, even if it be merely an intention passing through our hearts, will determine its own results. It takes time, as a seed takes time to grow into a plant. It is never the case that a seed is sown in its proper environment and does not result in a plant or that the seed is a birch and it grows into an orange tree.
It is indeed worth observing how from a seed a plant is formed, a seed is buried in soil and it is watered. Upon it the sun shines its heat and light. It takes root and from it a bud appears. The wind helps it to pollinate and it begins to grow. Nevertheless, for the plant to take sharp, the soil, water, sun and atmosphere are vital.
However, take a seed and place it in a corner of your porch and beside it place a heap of fertile soil with a bucket of fresh water and let it receive enough sunlight, with some movement of air also present. This way all the requirements for producing a plant are introduced. Consider now, if these things are left together even for a hundred years: will even a stalk develop; let alone anything resembling a plant? Never! This is because, until all these things are brought together in their proper proportions and in the correct atmosphere, the seed will never sprout.
For a seed to become a plant and then a tree, then to bear fruit, it is necessary for all the elements to intermingle in such a way that all the separate entities make their contribution in distinct ways and proper proportions in order to develop new features and a new product.
A mango, a uniquely aromatic fruit of striking color and fragrance awakens the tats buds like no other. Soil, water, air sun: al contribute to the formation of this exquisite fruit but are not present in their original elements and neither contain the fragrance, color or texture of a mango as their natural components. From this it becomes obvious that unless all these things are combined with precision in an appropriate atmosphere no new fruit can be produced but when they are blended together, the new fruit is brought into being.
Consider what was the position of the seed, soil, and water. When these were mixed they produced a superior fruit like the mango. By becoming a mango the value of al the original constituents increased vastly.
Just as by keeping the see, soil, and water apart we cannot reap any harvest, in the same way if individuals were to live separately we would not be able to gain any real benefit. But when individuals come together, they are able to reach pinnacles of amazing achievements.
When individuals associative and come together they become a society and a community. The Quran refers to such a collection of people as an Ummah.
We have seen that when seed, soil and water are kept separate, they will not become a plant even if they are close together. Before they can become a plant certain conditions must be met and the primary condition is that they must be mixed so that they can fuse together. In the same way, if the individuals of a country remain separate, pursuing their own personal advantages, they can never be called a community. They only become a community when they make a connection, unite together and create a bond amongst themselves.
About the Muslims it is said in the Quran: “ You should remember Gods mercy that there was a time when you were separate and enemies to each other and He put unity in your hearts and you merged and lived together and through His mercy you became brothers. You were on the brink of destruction and hell and God saved you from falling. This is why Gods openly decrees His laws for you benefit, so that the straight path towards life and success becomes apparent to you,” (3:103). It is also said: “He made you an excellent community,” (2:143).
From the Quran it is clear that individuals become a community only when their hearts unite and merge, when the welfare of every person is in the heart of each individual. If this is not so then even if all the individuals are in the same vicinity or in the same place, they can never be a community. About these people the Quran says” “You may think they are one but their hearts are separate and they continuously fight amongst themselves because they do not use their wisdom and intelligence.” (59:14).
Have you noted the conditions the Quran has laid down for individuals to become a community? Their hearts should be united, they should look after each other’s welfare, there should be no aggression and hostility between them and they should not become despondent due to emotional outbursts, but instead face each situation with calmness of mind. in this way, all the individuals can become on united community and can attain all respect and equal status.
You have seen that flowering plants have manure mixed with their soul. Everyone loathes the smell of manure and wants to keep it ate distance. But the same manure, when blended with soul and water, helps the flowers grow which are worn on our clothes, adorn our hair and are gathered in to bouquets. What has given the stinking manure a new and desirable fragrance? Only this: that instead of remaining alone, it fused with the sol to help create a flower. In the same way every individual increases his statues and value by uniting with the community.
These days we know that chocolate I s now sold are 7.50 pounds but what does it contain? Milk, cocoa, butter, sugar and so on. Butter costs about 1.70 pounds per pound, sugar is about 30 p a pound and milk about 45 p per pound but, when the ingredients are mixed together to make chocolate, the value of each constituent increases to the sale value of bean more than the highest priced ingredient. Likewise, when individuals come together as communities all the individuals attain equal status. No distinction if made between the great and the lesser individual as they all are equal in status and worth. The allocation of diverse work and different responsibilities does not mean that some individuals deserve less respect but that the welfare of all is considered.
Look at a clock, which has many different components, each having a different function. Some parts may have diamond tips worth more than a small metal screw. Separately, the screw and the diamond have no similarity in value but inside the watch the value of the screw is such that should it become loose and stop performing its job the whole watch can become useless and the highest values part too becomes useless.
When separate individuals become a united community, the individual who executes the most menial task does not lose his status, and his value as a human being is not diminished.
It is the Hindu religion where the Brahmans status and the \respect accorded to him is different from the Kashatri, Vesh and Shudar (Untouchables). Islam does not have any such distinctions. Islam gives all the individuals the status of a community.
The collective unity, which results from each individual coming together, is the very construction of the community, which forms the society of human beings.
I have said that different individuals have different responsibilities. This may look like higher and lower scales. But what kind of imbalance is this? If you have a bundle of five-pound nuts you would never consider that note lying at the top of the pile is of greater value than those below it. The value of the note lying at the top of the bundle will have the same value as the bate at the bottom. In the same way, the human value of each individual does not vary even when he or she are performing different duties requiring distinct responsibilities.
As I said earlier, by merging their hearts, individuals form a community. As stated in the previous lecture Gods Law of Requital operates through this system and brings out the consequences, it is through this process that the wicked received their retribution.
If the wicked are encouraged in their evil deeds, it is because we are not a community but only individuals pursuing our own personal advantages. Remember that God has intended that we live as a community and thus it is not acceptable that we exist as separate individuals.A Muslim is Muslim to his fullest potential only when he is part of a community based on an Islamic social order as set out in the Quran. When he is separated, then he no longer functions to the best of his ability.