“Those who are merciful will be shown mercy by the Merciful. Be merciful to those on the earth and the One above the heavens will have mercy upon you. The womb is derived from the Merciful, so whoever keeps relations with his family then God will keep relations with him, and whoever abandons his family then God will abandon him.”
— Tradition of the Prophet, peace be upon him.
The past few weeks have revealed the astounding wisdom of the traditional teachings of faith — that salutary advice found in pearls like the Letter of James of the Christian corpus and in the traditions of the Prophet of Islam alike.
Advice like ‘do not act on your anger’: that the strong man is not the one who fights hard, but he who restrains himself in anger. Advice like ‘control your tongue’: consider what a vast amount of timber can be set alight by the tiniest spark.
Alas, politicians are heedless of the timeless wisdom of sages down the ages, and so the world burns. Here is an instructive insight into what happens when rhetoric and rage take hold of a nation:
J J Goldberg: How politics and lies triggered an unintended war
The Beatitudes of the Sermon on the Mount were not esoteric counsel, but a practical prescription for the ailments of life in the world. Likewise, the teachings of our Prophet, peace be upon him, were not idealistic notions divorced from reality. We were not taught to purify our hearts only for times of peace and plenty, but for all times. Yes, in times of war, a soldier must be brave, fearless and strong, but he must also be just, merciful and true.
May God give us the wisdom to restrain ourselves in anger, to humbly serve the poor and oppressed, to do what is just, to speak the truth, be compassionate and to live a life that enables us to draw closer to Him.
With false piety, the rich and powerful trample on the poor and weak, and proclaim it a victory for civilisation.
The wise man builds his house upon rock. Jesus cured lepers; he didn’t assist them to die.
An oft-repeated phrase during our short-lived English khutbahs was, “May Allah give us the tawfiq to know Islam,” and every time I heard it I wished he had said, “May Allah give us the tawfiq to know Him.” The emphasis is always on the transport, never on the destination.
We Brits are so impartial, moderate, unbiased and true. And that’s the difference between us and the yanks. We keep up this pretence, believing it to be true.
The poor young visionary — once champion of social justice, investing heavily in health, social welfare and the minimum wage — drank from the poison chalice. From a brave new dawn, when things could only get better, to babbling fool, driven to madness by his own deceit. Never thirst for power, for it will consume you.
The Guardian: Israel pounds Gaza Strip with air and naval strikes
The Times: Israel hovers on brink of Gaza invasion
BBC: Israel under renewed Hamas attack
The Independent: The agony of a nation: Germany thump Brazil 7 – 1 to shatter hosts’ World Cup dreams
The Telegraph: Germany destroy Brazil to leave World Cup hosts in shock
Daily Mail: Bloodshot hollow eyes, emaciated arms and rambling on the phone: Haunting video of Angelina Jolie the heroin addict
I don’t understand the contemporary concern that charities have become businesses.
I expect an international relief organisation to have governance in place to comply with legal and statutory requirements. I expect it to have a board of trustees and directors, and specialist staff. I expect it to have HR, finance and IT responsibilities, to have to manage its facilities. I would be worried if it didn’t.
I also expect it to pay its workers on the ground, to put diesel in their vehicles, to arrange flights, visas and security. I expect it to recruit doctors, nurses, engineers and educationalists who have the necessary skills to make a difference on the ground. I expect it to make strategic decisions as to which type of tent to buy and which type of wheat; I expect it to invest in research to ensure the solutions they put in place are the right ones. And yes, I expect it to have an army of volunteers too.
Not every charity has to be run like a global corporation, but to be effective, all charities have to run like a business to some degree. The alternative is running yourself into the ground.
I once worked with a national helpline charity, which worked on a completely voluntary basis. All staff and trustees were volunteers. Income came solely from a small band of concerned donors, and was spent solely on rent for the office and telephone bills. Nothing was spent on stationery or on marketing the charity, except for a small website.
Unsurprisingly, although the need of the community remained for a helpline of this kind, the charity eventually wound up, because it could no longer sustain itself. Had it been run more like a business, making key investments to carry it forward, I am almost certain it would have survived and thrived.
Charity in itself is an investment:
“those who spend their wealth in Allah’s cause are like grains of corn which produce seven ears, each bearing a hundred grains” — Quran 2:261
It will be the believer’s shade on the Day of Resurrection, and so I have not issue donating to charities which are transparent and accountable in the way my money is spent. If only 90% of my donation is spent on relief and development and what is left is used to support delivery and future fundraising, so be it. I trust that God will reward me and them for our combined efforts.