Becoming the middle nation is the collective purpose of Muslims.
It’s the honor of being a role model for other nations.
“And so we have made you ˹believers˺ a middle nation so that you may be witnesses over humanity and that the Messenger may be a witness over you.” [Quran 2:143]
Today, we are the example To Not Following.
The middle nation sounds like a fairy tale. Something so out of reach that we can’t even dare to dream about it.
But let’s don’t fall into powerlessness. The history of believers is all about the impossible becoming possible.
How does the middle nation look like?
The middle nation is supposed to create a wow effect on other nations.
It proves that, when we obey Allah, life is awesome.
At first, this honor was given to the Jewish nation.
They failed in this role just like we’re failing today.
The Jewish became entirely intellectual. The Christians became entirely spiritual. And the Muslims honored this role for a while.
As the name suggests, the middle nation is about balance.
- A sharp mind and a soft heart.
- Understanding the faith and practicing it.
- Spiritual and secular.
- Action and knowledge…
Lately, I came across a video of the author Elizabeth Gilbert and Oprah Winfrey.
She explains what is her ‘face of Islam’.
Amid her divorce, she decided to retreat to a little island off Lombok Indonesia.
She planned to spend 10 days in silence.
She used to walk around the small island and exchange a hello sign with a Muslim woman.
But Elizabeth felt sick and didn’t show up for her daily tour.
The Muslim woman started looking for her and found her sick and dehydrated. She brought her food and water and took care of her like her child.
Elizabeth said that this Muslim woman (she doesn’t even know her name) became her face of Islam.
Each time there’s a debate about Islam, it’s the first person that comes to her mind.
This is like the effect of the middle nation on others .
Memorable are the blessings they enjoy and the attitude they show.
The first Muslims could see the Prophet (PBUH) in action.
He was the reference point.
Today, it’s necessary, not only for other nations but also for Muslims, to see this middle nation.
Without it, humanity is missing a reference point.
The middle nation at the service of mankind
“You are the best nation produced [as an example] for mankind. You enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and believe in Allah. “ [Quran 3:110]
Some Muslims understand this verse as we are the best.
In doing so, we become no different from the Jews or the Christians who said something similar. And here’s what Allah answered them:
“The Jews and the Christians each say, “We are the children of Allah and His most beloved!” Say, ˹O Prophet,˺ “Why then does He punish you for your sins? No! You are only humans like others of His Own making.” [Quran 5:18]
We can pretend whatever we want. The reality is shouting we are not the best.
The verse doesn’t imply superiority, but the reason for our existence.
We’ve been brought out for the people, to serve people, to help people.
But the honor of being a role model comes with conditions:
- Enjoin what is right
- Forbid what is wrong
- Believe in Allah
Have you noticed the order of these conditions?
We would expect to have the belief in Allah first, and then the two actions.
It shows our faith gets reinforced with our actions. Again, it’s about balancing knowledge with its application.
Another point is the Arabic word employed for ‘right’. Ma’rouf means something knows by everyone.
In other words, humans have common values embedded in them which they acknowledge as good.
If we don’t command the right and forbid the wrong, what happens next?
We command the wrong and forbid the right. Or even worse, the wrong becomes right and the right becomes wrong.
The inversion of values is something you might have noticed during your lifetime. I certainly noticed it in mine.
Who is our role model today?
The middle nation requires collectivism.
But the trend today is for individualism.
For the French aristocrat Alexis De Tocqueville, democracy was a new political option.
He wanted to know more about it.
In 1831, he arrived in New York to embark on a nine months trip around America.
He compiled his thoughts in the two volumes book Democracy in America.
He was able to spot the darker sides of democracy:
“Individualism is a calm and considered feeling which persuades each citizen to cut himself off from his fellows and to withdraw into the circle of his family and friends in such a way that he thus creates a small group of his own and willingly abandons society at large to its own devices. Egoism springs from a blind instinct; individualism from wrongheaded thinking rather than from depraved feelings. It originates as much from defects of intelligence as from the mistakes of the heart.”
Individualism affects Muslims as well.
And for various reasons. Among them:
- It’s easier to focus on few people than being concern by the whole society.
- Why take the risk of doing good to others and being abused? It’s better to be good to the entrusted ones.
- Too many calamities are hitting the Muslim community. We are so powerless that we prefer to not see them.
Even if we have a good reason to be individualist, in the end, we lose more than we win.
By emotionally isolating us from one another, individualism makes us easy prey. Isn’t what’s happening with Muslims today?
When we are not concern about others, we pay the price collectively.
That leaves us with two options: either we carry on being prey or we rise to our destiny and revive the middle nation.
The story of Muslims started with a man meditating in a cave.
The revealed words had power in them.
They created a driving force.
What got people out of Al-Jahiliya (the pre-Islamic era) are the revealed ideas.
They transformed individuals.
The transformed individuals created strong ties between them.
The strong ties allowed the improvement of their material conditions.
That’s the sequence to move from bad to great: ideas-people-materials.
The change doesn’t come from empty heads or the ones full of dead ideas.
Only the ideas that nurture the mind and the heart can drive the change we’re hoping for.
And at the end of this change process, is the rebirth of the middle nation.
Article posted the 13 March 2021
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