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Religion and Weakness and Strength 3 March 2008

Posted by MOZAFFAR in MOZAFFAR.
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Very often, we define the claims of religion and the practices of its celebrated figures through the lens of our own worldly outlook. Meaning, in our society, we associate good religion with passivism or pacifism. In some cases, we do allow religion to be active, but within a very narrow window of possibilities. In a nutshell, our worldly outlook often dictates that religion must be weak, must help the weak, and when it provides help, it must provide it in weakness. Likewise, when people are in a condition of weakness, suffering, or incarceration, we expect them to find religion.

When religion becomes strong, however, then it is reviled. Through time, however, it might be celebrated. Meaning, Muhammad Ali was reviled when he refused to enlist in the Army during the Vietnam War, though today he is celebrated for that same action.

Strength, however, is allowed for so many other things. Strength is often allowed for governments, so long as it manifests in the lives of others, and not our own lives. The government can send an army which kills hundreds of thousands of them, but we don’t care. If a few of ours are killed, then we begrudgingly accept it. If hundred of ours are killed, then we are ourselves “up in arms.” The same for the police. Strength is allowed for the police, so long as they exercise that strength on others, and not on us.

That is the nature of our outlook.

Now, we look at the life of the Prophet Muhammad -p. His was a condition of weakness, and he was tolerated in society. When he gained followers, he was tolerated in society. Yet, when his growth threatened the well-being of the power brokers in society, they responded, aggressively.

So long as your actions provide no threat to the comfort level of other people, other people will tolerate you and might even appreciate you. But, the second your ideas penetrate their comfort zone, they will respond in a behavior that carnivorous animals would regard as uncivilized. It does not matter if you are seeking your own protection, or if you are offering them protection. If your words cause a tremor in their sense of comfort, they will send their slaves and children to assault you.

And, what do you do? You speak the truth, even if it is bitter. It might even be bitter to your own tongue at that moment.

That is strong religion. And, strong religion gets even stronger than that, but that is the subject of another discussion for another day.

A few years ago, if Tiger Woods — the most celebrated athlete in the country — refused to go to war, he would have been vilified. Then, a few years later he would be celebrated.

And Allah knows best.

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