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April 8, 2004

Sigh… so much hatred in the world. People hate their jobs, their lives, their schools, themselves, etc.  All this negative energy just building up and not having any outlet sometimes leads people to vent their hatred for themselves onto others. Case in point, this is an email I received today: has sent you this message!

I don’t know if anyone can be more in love with himself than you.  Sadly, you are a lot less brilliant than you think you are.


So much hatred, so much spite… It’s like when someone was making fun of Hasan al-Basri to the people, Hasan went to the person’s house and gave him a gift. The person was shocked and remarked, “Why are you giving me this gift, I’ve been making fun of you to other people?” Hasan replied, “You’ve given me so many good deeds, the least I could do was give you a gift.” So Mr/Ms. Sukarim, for your kindness, I wish I had a gift to give you as well…

I suppose that last paragraph will only infuriate Mr./Ms. Sukarim even more… c’est la vie.

Anyway, moving on to relevant matters. I just heard the latest Eminem song titled, “My Band” on the radio today. It had to be the funniest song I’ve heard in the longest time; I actually thought it was a Weird Al Yankovic parody of Eminem or something. But after getting over my laughter, I began to re-think the whole Eminem phenomenon.

Now most people pass him off as another punk rapper and druggie and things like that. I’m not gonna argue about that. However, I do think that the man is a lyrical genius and admire his talent. What’s even more amazing is the amount of influence this one person has over the rest of society. People of all ages and backgrounds want to be like Eminem, be able to rap like him, talk like him, dress like him, and adopt the same attitudes that he displays.  And really, this holds true for many other celebrities, athletes, and other figures of influence in society that people look up to and seek to emulate in many ways.

So I was thinking while driving about what the Qur’an had to say about all this, and I found it to be some interest to note that the story of Musa (Moses) is related in the Qur’an numerous times, more so than any other Prophet, and that Musa’s name is mentioned more than any other Prophet’s as well.  We know that the stories in the Qur’an are meant to be instructive and motivate the reader to ponder upon them in order to derive meaningful lessons.  So looking at the story of Musa and even some of the other Prophets (Hud, Salih, Shu’ayb, etc), one of the key groups of people that are mentioned (and a group that I find fascinating) are the so called ” mala’ “, translated as “the chieftains” or “notables”.  These fellows are an interesting bunch, since when the Prophets come to the people/leader, they’re often the ones who seek to undermine the reformatory efforts with their own interjections, motivated by their desire to keep their positions of influence in society. 

One of the most interesting dialogues (that occurs in the next world) is seen in Surah Saba, “…and could you see when the unjust shall be made to stand before their Lord, bandying words one with another! Those who were reckoned weak shall say to those who were proud: Had it not been for you we would certainly have been believers. Those who were proud shall say to those who were deemed weak: Did we turn you away from the guidance after it had come to you? Nay, you (yourselves) were guilty. And those who were deemed weak shall say to those who were proud. Nay, (it was) planning by night and day when you told us to disbelieve in Allah and to set up likes with Him. And they shall conceal regret when they shall see the punishment; and We will put shackles on the necks of those who disbelieved; they shall not be requited but what they did. (34:31-33)”

In other words, those who didn’t believe will blame these notables for their disbelief, whereas the notables will blame back the masses. Going back to the stories of the Prophets, its always the notables who are the most averse to the Messengers. In the story of Musa, its the notables who tell Pharoah to stage a contest between his magicians and Musa. It’s the notables who tell Hud that he is a liar. It is the notables who asked Salih to produce a miracle (the she-camel), and when he does, it is these same fellows who kill her. It is the notables who tell Shu’ayb that he must return to their ways, or else he and his people will be driven out of the city. Thus, it is always this group that is the most reluctant to the message of truth, and they make sure they use their spheres of influence to impact the rest of society and follow them in their rejection.

Today, the notables are celebrities and athletes who seem to live these perfect and interesting lives that everyone else wants to achieve. It boggles my mind that shows like “Nick and Jessica”, “The Osbournes”, etc. are watched by millions who are so lost in their own lives that they have to watch other people’s lives as a way of encouragement and entertainment. It’s like their realities aren’t real enough and they have to watch “reality TV” to have a sense of reality in their lives. The masses need the notables for emotional and social legitimacy; ironically as they do this, God becomes dropped from the equation. The notables of the past did this, and the notables of today are no different.

The characters may change, but the story remains the same.


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One Comment
  1. “Whenever God has sent an apostle to a city or nation, the wealthy people of that place, living in comfort, have rejected the apostle’s message. They have said to themselves: ‘We have more wealth and more children than those who believe the apostle’s message. That shows that we shall not punished.’ But I say that God gives abundantly to some, and sparingly to others, as he pleases; but most people do not understand this.”-Qur’an, Saba’, Surah 34:34-36

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