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Hear the Qur’an Speak
Don’t take my word for it; hear the Qur’an speak – in God’s own words.
Here is the Qur’an on the subject of cooperation:
Ta’awanoo 'alal birri wat-taqwaa.
Work together – Cooperate! – in matters that pertain to goodness and that are based on the true fear and love of God. So when it comes to these things -- Birr and Taqwaa: meaning “virtue” and “piety” – make sure you extend your fullest cooperation.
Now tell me something: How can someone, totally illiterate, sitting in a cave somewhere in the barren desert of 7th-Century Arabia issue such a lucid call for cooperation? And also, at the same time, lay out such unerring framework for that cooperation – 1400 years ago?
So, it makes sense that something like this had to have divine roots, correct?
So, let us not forget the divine expression Ta’awun – Cooperation.
Divine Law of Non-Aggression
But that is not all. Now look to see if the call to cooperation is a sweeping and unconditional one.
Let us continue with that beautiful and most glorious and miraculous Aayat of the Qur’an.
And this is what we are going to see: This most amazing and divinely ordained Cooperation Principle stops at the door when there are bad things involved – such as sinning against God or hurting and causing injury to human beings or to God’s other creation.
- Divine Law of Non-Aggression. So, there is to be absolutely, positively no cooperation to commit aggression – to causing injury to people and committing all kinds of wrongs and excesses against them. I did not make up that word. It is the expression the Qur’an uses: 'Udwaan, which means “Aggression” – pure and simple. There is no other way to translate it from its original Arabic, the language in which the Qur’an was revealed, and in which it is preserved, and read and recited and committed to memory, to this day – verbatim: just in the form and shape in which it was revealed to and given out by Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam! May God Almighty bless him and all the other prophets of God!
- So also, there is to be no cooperation when it comes to betraying God’s trust in you and committing all kinds of sins against him.
Want to hear the Qur’an again? Here goes:
Wa laa ta’awanoo 'alal ithmi wal 'udwaan.
Do not cooperate when it comes to committing a sin or an act of Aggression – 'Udwaan in the words of the Qur’an.
So, let us remember this: No Ta’awun when it comes to 'Udwaan! Meaning: No Cooperation when it comes to Aggression!
I am sorry, but my head is spinning under the momentous impact of these divine expressions. And their relevance to the human situation in all places and at all times, including our own times today.
Divine vs. Human Legislation
This is divine legislation – for all of humanity, and for all times. You violate it, you pay a penalty – just like all other laws in life. And that is what human beings have been doing all their life: Persistently violating God’s laws of Non-Aggression and mandated Cooperation and paying a dear, dear price throughout their history.
It takes your breath away.
These are God’s eternal and invariant laws on earth. Violating them and trifling with them would unleash the floods of all kinds of chaos and mayhem on earth. Entire human history is testimony to the truth and validity of this divine piece of legislation.
Folks, just tell me this: How much clearer does it get? And when, and from what divine or human source, did you last hear a clarion call like this against all forms of aggression?
And then why are we not paying any heed to it? And, instead, why are we continuing to create mayhem and mischief on earth by violating God’s Law of No-Aggression and Mandated Cooperation over and over again?
Don’t quote me the United Nations. For, the UN is but a babe-in-arms, born yesterday. And also, what many people don’t realize is that what the United Nations says today, the United nations can UNSAY or change or go silent about tomorrow.
That is the nature of human legislation – and human life in general.
I am talking, instead, about something that is as eternal and as immutable as an Aayat – a passage – of the Qur’an: From 1400 years ago. I am talking about divine laws, not about human legislation.
And also tell me this: If you don’t think this is from God, then who do you think this is from? Who do you say made this up – something as modern, as profound and as revolutionary as this?
And then, finally as they say, tell me this: How different do you think our world would have been if this Aayat – this miraculous passage from the Qur’an – had been the guiding light of our national and international policies, legislation, ideologies, doctrines and practices over the past hundred years or two?
Islam Is about Finding Common Ground
Given the overarching Cooperation Principle mandated by God, Islam then becomes another name for the process of ceaselessly searching for Common Ground and shared culture.
Islam teaches people to constantly inquire and ask: What is it in our culture, experience and background that may have something in common with what someone else may have in their own culture, experience and background?
The Qur’an, of course, takes the existence of such commonalities and shared experiences among cultures and peoples and societies for granted. After all, the creator knows, right?
God then requires people to make these shared nodes of culture and history the basis for future cooperation and joint enterprise to create a richer human experience overall.
“Come, let us link hands and build on what we share,” says the Qur’an.
Hear the Qur’an outline this most revolutionary idea in its own words – and do so no less than 1400 years ago:
Ta’alau ilaa kalimatin sawaa-in bainanaa wa bainakum.
“Come, let us work together on the basis of our shared beliefs and behaviors.”
That is my paraphrase. More literally, it would translate something like: “Come to an equal 'word’ between us and you.”
But the word “Kalimah” in Arabic could be deceptively broad. It could mean a word; it could mean an expression; it could mean more. Jesus Christ is referred to in the Qur’an as Kalimah – God’s Word.