Timeless Lessons for Humanity

“And Pharaoh send heralds until all cities, [bidding them to call out his troops and to proclaim:] “Behold, these [children of Israel] are but a contemptible band*; but they are indeed filled with hatred of us seeing that we are, verily, a nation united, fully prepared against danger…”

(Quran; Chapter 26 – “The Poets”, verse 53 to 56; translation of meaning by Muhammad Asad)

This passage struck me because of the commentary Asad gives at the the *:

“Thus the Quran illustrates the psychological truth that, as a rule, a dominant nation is unable really to understand the desire for liberty on the part of the group or groups which it oppresses, and therefore attributes their rebelliousness to no more than unreasonable hatred and blind envy of the strong.”

What came to mind – while reading – is the phrase that former U.S. president George W. Bush would use to justify his ‘war on terror’:

They hate us. They hate our freedoms and our way of life.

And in this hate, they carry out acts of terrorism against the target of their hate.

Looking at other cases in history – and even in the present day, I am certain we could find examples where the media and government demonise an oppressed people’s efforts for freedom as ‘hate’ and ‘unreasonable’. Because if an oppressed people don’t go along and humbly, silently accept and submit to the ill-treatment handed out to them by the oppressive rulers / ruling class or race, they are labelled as troublemakers and hate-mongers.

I’m not saying that all minorities or fighters are in the right all of the time – because they do sometimes go beyond the limits of acceptability – for example, killing innocents can never be justified or acceptable (even as ‘collateral damage’).

But what I am saying is that it’s so common for those in power to tell blatant lies, cover up truth, choose information selectively, and twist the story to depict the weaker side as violent and hateful – while depicting themselves as honest, noble, and just.

A lesson from this is to be wary of what you read and hear from the media and leaders of powerful nations and organisations. Remember who is giving you the information, and whose opinion is being pushed on you – whether directly or subtly. Remember the words of Brother Malcolm X:

"If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing." - Malcolm X

Another reason I quoted this passage and commentary from the Quran is that I wish to highlight the timelessness of Allah’s final revelation: how this Book – and the history of our human race – can never be ‘archaic’ and ‘outdated’ – as some critics say. It’ll always be relevant, because though times and technologies change, human nature always remains the same.

And so, just as certain themes occurred in times of old, those themes repeat themselves nowadays – and will continue to repeat themselves in future.


2 thoughts on “Timeless Lessons for Humanity

  1. I love most of Asad’s work. I posted that Malcolm X quote on Facebook a few months ago too. So apt and true especially in today’s times. I find that human nature has indeed not changed one bit – unless we count being slightly more ruthless and less God conscious.

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