Time, and Tide
Jules H Masserman was a professor of history and psychoanalysis at a Chicago based University in the middle of 20th century. His research studies, scientific writings and various public services earned him the Phi Lambda Kappa National Award in pathology, the Taylor Manor Award in psychiatry, the Lasker Award for outstanding contributions to the advancement of mental health through experimental investigations, several Gubernatorial and Presidential citations, the Sigmund Freud Award in 1974, and many honorary lectureships in the United States and 12 foreign countries. A famous quote of this gentleman reads, “Leaders must fulfil three functions; provide for the well-being of the led, provide a social organization in which people feel relatively secure, provide them with one set of beliefs. People like Pasteur and Salk are leaders in the first sense. People like Gandhi and Confucius, on one hand, and Alexander, Caesar and Hitler on the other, are leaders in the second and perhaps the third sense. Jesus and Buddha belong in the third category alone. Perhaps the greatest leader of all times was Mohammed (SAW), who combined all three functions. To a lesser degree, Moses did the same.” Mohammed (SAW) achieved this feat through the instrument of Caliphate which is an often trending word in the media due to its right or wrong usage. This word has been described as ‘loaded like no other’ and is generally used to represent the Muslim world. It refers to a form of governance with human-rights consciousness and a decentralized union with a unified economy and defence.
Caliph literally means a successor who takes the next position. It is used in the meaning of vicegerency to establish and execute justice. However, according to J W Goethe, nothing is more dangerous for a new truth than an old misconception. It requires sincerity, study and research to destroy doubts and cover misconceptions. Firstly, it is important to realise that Islamic state in far more than just being a Muslim nation. The prophet and his successors (caliphs) ruled a cosmopolite society, which consisted of Jews, pagan Arabs and Muslims. Today we have scores of Muslim nations on the face of globe, by virtue of the count of Muslim population but there is not a single Islamic state in existence nor even in imagination. Instead, the usual capitalist democracies, republics, monarchies and kingships etc. are as prevalent across Muslim societies as elsewhere. On the other hand, an ideal Islamic state combines the democratic principles of electoral politics with the socialist principles of concern for the masses and provides an institutional framework for its implementation, so that the idea is not reduced to a mere lip service. In this context, one can find a lot of literary support and appreciation across all intellectual spectra, both Islamic and non-Islamic. One such is Nahj al-Balagha, meaning "the peak of eloquence." It is one of the finest pieces of Islamic literature compiled in tenth century AD which deliberates on this concept. It is a collection of 241 sermons, 79 letters and 480 utterances of one of the caliphs of Islam and is well known for its eloquence. The content of the book is about laying the foundations of a government to balance between the rights and duties.
From the genesis of creation of the Universes, Earth and Adam to the desired order of the society, the book touches on many things that concern the conscious minds. Any living conscience would resonate with the contents of the book. In this book, people are warned against the vicious pleasures of the world and guided to truth. The sermons are so captivating that they did not leave untouched the rulers of the day. Rajiv Gandhi used to give letter 53 of Nehjul Balaga to his new cabinet members. This letter was written by the caliph to his newly appointed governor in Egypt and it contains a set of useful instructions, aimed at ensuring an efficient and people-centric governance in the province of the Caliphate. The United Nations has also kept a plaque of this letter in its office. On 9th of December 1997, Kofi Annan had made an explicit statement that, “only as rights equally applied can they be rights universally accepted.” In his memorable speech on the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Annan recalled the lessons of governance and statecraft as documented in Nehj ul balagha. He called the caliph as the fairest governor and advised Arab countries to take him as an example in establishing a regime based on Justice, democracy and encouraging knowledge. An unavoidable question that one can expect at the end of this passage would be, if these intentions can be extrapolated to Taliban. The answer is to wait and watch. The tide may get turbulent but it may also streamline. They may stagger but they may also stand. I am a physicist, so a probabalist. The merit of the regime will be best tested by the spacetime. Prime time debates have a limited scope of opinion. The success or failure of Taliban in setting Afghanistan as an emerging nation will only prove the merit of their claim of being or not, the Muslims. The “Leadership of Muhammad” is a book by British management scholar John Adair that mines the life of the Prophet Muhammad (SAW) to highlight his extraordinary qualities as a leader. According to Adair, success is a function of leadership, and this book is a must read for anyone interested in learning how to lead and motivate with a wealth of insight. George Bernard Shaw had also expressed his confidence as, “I believe that if a man like him (Mohammad-SAW) were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving its problems in a way that would bring it the much needed peace and happiness: I have prophesied about the faith of Muhammad that it would be acceptable to the Europe of tomorrow as it is beginning to be acceptable to the Europe of today.” More than forty mighty nations have left the surviving Taliban after fighting them for 20 years.
Dr. Qudsia Gani, Assistant Professor, Department of Physics, Cluster University Srinagar
Disclaimer: The views in the article are author's own.