‘Free a neck’ for a better life

This article is from the ‘The Better Life’ magazine Nov 2014 issue

Decapitation is separating the head from the body. Beheading is intentional decapitation with an axe, sword, knife, wire, or by a guillotine. From 1351 until it was abolished in 1870 it was a legal punishment in England for persons convicted of high treason. The condemned were occasionally forced to watch as others had their necks chopped off before them. Even Kings and Queens were beheaded.

In 1536 Queen Anne Boleyn and in 1542 Queen Catherine Howard were beheaded. Queen Jane Grey was beheaded in 1554, aged 16. In 1587 Mary Queen of Scots’ neck was chopped three times before her head was held up while saying “God save the Queen.” Walter Raleigh discoverer of the Pitch Lake was beheaded in 1618 and King Charles 1 in 1649.

Beheading is not a form of capital punishment in Islam. It was condemned by the Prophet Muhammad (s). On the contrary, freeing of the neck (tahreer raqaba) is the Qur’anic punishment for unintentional man-slaughter. [4:92]

Freeing of the neck (fakku raqaba) also means removing a person from physical slavery or from the enslavement of debt, ill health or other restricting situations. In Arabic, the verb from raqaba (neck) also means respect, building self esteem or making someone raise their head high once again after challenging circumstances. [9:10]

The Qur’an in Chapter 90 – al-Balad (The State) lists freeing of the neck as the first requirement for building the Islamic State which is an uphill task. [90]

While each person should be more concerned with spiritual than material matters, it is by looking after another person’s material welfare that one’s own spiritual development is achieved. The material world is expanded that each soul be perfected. [90:6-7] Piety requires believing, praying and spending of health, wealth or knowledge. [2:3]

Allah says: We develop humans to be the most excellent. [95:4] It is therefore not important what religion we are in. But it is important what religion is within us. It’s not what we do in religion that matters – what rituals we perform. What matters is what religion does to us. How much it determines our personal self development.

Wrong religion from whatever source, gives us ceremonies to save us from the effects of our sin. But the Qur’an assures us that good deeds drive away evil deeds. [11:114] And if we repent and do good deeds Allah will change our evil deeds into good ones. [25:70]

Murders so dominate the news media that it leaves little room to show how to develop excellence in human beings. But at every Jumu’a sermon there is the opportunity – to recite to them His messages and purify them, and teach them the Book and Wisdom. [62:2] Every Friday it is obligatory to explain the Beauty of Islam as a religion of peace and to show how Prophet Muhammad (s) changed his society and established the Islamic State as a free, God-fearing and non-violent society.

The Prophet Muhammad’s (s) burning desire was to change the ways of his people. He could not – until the Qur’an was revealed to him. With this Book he changed the world’s worst people from barbarism to civilization. Claiming Prophethood, he lost his social status. He was mocked, driven into exile, and pursued to be put to death. Friends became foes. Increased opposition only brought about in him perfect patience and endurance [14:12]

What worldly purpose did he seek? After victory the Prophet Muhammad (s) hoarded no gold for himself, built no palace, no audience hall. He had nothing of kingly pleasure and comfort. He built no huge temples, churches or statutes for himself or his religion. He created no dynasty to succeed him. He left nothing but the Divine teachings he received: Allah invites to the abode of peace [10:25] and his example in following them. This was his Islamic State.

This article was published on behalf of the Ahmadiyya Anjuman Isha’at-i-Islam Trinidad & Tobago

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