By Mohamed Ali
One of the most beautiful aspects of Islam is that it progresses both the individual and the community on the same course to success. Within the Holy Quran and from the life of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), there are clear commandments and directions that purify an individual’s spirit to form a community that protects the rights of its people. The ideal Muslim respects and seeks out his neighbors regardless of their faith, implements justice for all including animals and embodies the teaching of the Holy Quran. Allah (SW) sent us the best example and mercy to mankind: Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) himself. From him, we know that a person with faith and purpose can save an entire community from chaos and change them into a society that acts on equality and justice for all.
No community can abolish all of its ills, vices and their causes. In some cases, you can’t even get rid of most of them. We assume that however our good society can become, there is always a tiny portion of the community that invites negativity and deserts justice. Not surprisingly, the Holy Quran addresses these types of people that are unwilling to change their behavior to protect the rights of the community.
One of the core conditions that Allah (SW) made for those who steal from others, accuse females of infidelity, or commit adultery is to have four witnesses against them. If you can’t provide four witness that can testify through examination and procedures, then you don’t have a case either. Can you image someone stealing in front of four other people that have no common interest in his operation?? Most of the penalties in Holy Quran (which are many) are not intended to punish the person exclusively, rather they are used to protect the rights of the public and the entire community. Stealing from other people or committing adultery before four witnesses is motivation to corrupt the entire society. In the heat of an escalating protest, it only takes one person to start robbing the neighborhood market and the majority of the crowd will follow the criminals path.
That’s why the Prophet Muhammad said “who ever begins a bad act, then he/she is responsible for the sin of such an act and sins of the people who act on that same bad act until the judgment day”(2). The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is protecting the community and the individual from carrying the responsibilities of an evil that you couldn’t possibly handle. You may evade the consequences of the people, but what’s your defense against Allah?
In conclusion, there are three important concepts that we take from these wonderful teachings of the Holy Quran. First, thank Allah that the Holy Quran has regulations and penalties that protect your rights as a community member. Second, remember that if you’re doing something wrong that influences and corrupts other people, you also get to take responsibility for it as well.
Remember that when you lose control of yourself in anger and raise your voice inside/outside the Mosque where kids might be watching. And remember this concept when you start parking your car illegally during Jummah Prayer and other people follow your lead, which has already drawn complaints from our neighbors. We are encouraged to influence others with good manners and implementing the teachings of Islam, and we should keep that in mind constantly.
The third and the final concept is that the best individual among us is the one that cares the most for the entire community. The Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) said “the best man among you is the best for his people”(2). The beauty of Islam is that the purification of the individual and their community are interconnected and parallel.