Hudoodullah: Proportionality

Mar 12, 2008



Dr. Pasha

(Bringing Islam to the World One Concept at a Time!
Taking the Qur’an to Every Home and Heart that Needs It —
And which One Does Not?)


Internal Boundaries

Let me talk a bit more about Allah’s boundaries — hudoodullah — before I move on. Not that I can do justice to a vast and important topic like this or in any sense really leave it behind. For this topic envelops every aspect of human life.

The first thing I want to point out is that in life there are boundaries and then there are boundaries. And among the most important boundaries to observe in life are the ones that lie within our own selves. Our own internal boundaries as it were. All the checks and limitations that must exist within ourselves.

These are boundaries that do not generally have clear-cut external markers but are mostly determined by factors and considerations that arise from inside a person. At the top of this list is the all too common human tendency to commit excess, aggression and then finally violence against others — especially those over whom they may have power and control. Crossing the bounds and limits in whatever they do as it were.

Avoiding Excess Even in War

Islam places a high premium on forgiveness, generosity, kindness and compassion. At the same time, Islam permits people to defend themselves when attacked by others. But the interesting thing is the way in which Islam wants people to fight back.

Fight back without committing any excesses, says the Qur’an. And here is where and how the Qur’an says it: Qaatiloo fee sabeelillahilladheena yuqaatiloonakum wa laa ta’tadoo.

And here is a paraphrase of that magnificent aayat — in several parts:

  1. First of all, you are forced into fighting because someone else started it. So, what viable option do you have now but to fight those who fight you?
  2. Even then make sure you are fighting purely for God’s sake and in his path — and not for the sake of your own name, fame, power, gain, wealth and passions.
  3. That means fight those who fight you, but do so for the sake of justice, fairness, equality and opportunity for all and not just for your favored few. For, that is what it means to fight in the name of and for the sake of and in the path of God.
  4. That means don’t fight to conquer, control, dominate, subordinate, exploit, humiliate, plunder or exterminate others but to liberate, elevate, empower everyone.
  5. That means, while some others may fight in the name of king, country, tribe, color, race, religion, political party, pet cause, personal ego, vengeance, hate, mercenary gain or some other selfish reason, make sure your fight — even when you are only defending yourself against those who fight you — is always for a higher, nobler and more just, equal, humane and inclusive cause.
  6. And finally — how can anyone say “finally” when they are talking about an Aayat of the Qur’an? — even when you are only fighting those who fight you, and you are doing it for the sake of and in the name and path of God and for the highest goals and purposes, you should not commit excesses and transgressions of any kind.

If all this is not proof that the Qur’an is from God Almighty — and Islam is directly from the creator of the universe himself — what is?

Proportionality Is Us

Nothing proves this fact more than the notion of proportionality that the Qur’an advocates so vigorously. How can I explain this to non-Urdu speakers? There is a beautiful expression in Urdu — and Urdu is an incredibly beautiful language — which says “Had say badhjaanaa,” which means going beyond the limit; crossing the boundary; committing an excess; or doing too much of something.

Such is often the common human tendency: getting carried away, going overboard and trying to do too much.

And equally vigilant is Islam in warning human beings against their own propensity to excess, whether it is with regard to business or worship or personal life and whether it pertains to this world or the next world. In all things human, humans would inevitably tend to exceed the limit in one direction or another if given a chance.

That is why God Almighty — in Islam — wields a firm scale and makes proportionality a requirement in all human affairs. And he does so in the most clear, specific and unambiguous terms. So much so that when it comes to the question of proportionality in human conduct, we can very easily say: Proportionality Is Us!

For example, how are those people supposed to respond who may be subjected to some wrong — those against whom aggression, excess or violence may have been perpetrated by some others?

Are such aggrieved people allowed to respond in kind? Can they exchange blow for blow? And if they can, how exactly are they supposed to do it? When do they stop?

Or are they supposed to completely wipe out and obliterate the wrongdoers — those who started the fight as it were? Those who initiated the aggression and committed the first acts of excess?

Two Miraculous Aayats in the Qur’an:
Out of All the Others

You know what I say at every opportunity I get, right? Every Aayat of the Qur’an is a miracle? But listen to the Qur’an on the subject of proportionality and tell me how much clearer it can possibly get. And who, if not Allah, can conceivably promulgate a formula like this for the human species that he created and let loose on earth?

These are the same humans about whom the angels had argued that they would cause mischief and corruption on earth and shed bloods? Yes, that is right. The Qur’an does use the plural “bloods“? Dimaa’ instead of Dam, which is singular for blood.

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