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Political Power: A Responsibility

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Power is not a kind of a worldly blessing; it is a test set by God.

Solomon, an Israelite prophet as well as a king, was the ruler of Palestine and Syria. While engaged in trying to win over the Queen of Sheba in both the political and religious sense, he asked for the throne of the Queen of Sheba to be brought to him. The queen and her throne were hundreds of miles away at that time, but he had been endowed with special powers, he expected his order to have immediate effect. The Quran refers to how Solomon responded to his order being instantly complied with within the chapter Al-Naml (The Ants). The relevant verse is as follows: “But one of them who had some knowledge of the Book said, “I will bring it to you in the twinkling of an eye.”When Solomon saw it placed before him, he exclaimed, “This is by the grace of my Lord, to test whether I am grateful or ungrateful. Whosoever is grateful, it is for the good of his own self, and whosoever is ungrateful, then surely my Lord is self-sufficient and generous,” (27:40).

This verse illustrates the Quranic concept of political power, it is not a kind of a worldly blessing; it is a test set by God.

Just as everything that one possesses in this world is a test so also is political power a test paper. God Almighty is constantly watching the behavior of the ruler to ascertain whether he is just or unjust in performing his duties. A king is accountable before God just as the common man is. According to this Quranic concept, political power is a responsibility rather than any kind of blessing. The possession of political power does not mean that a ruler is a superior person.

Without a boss you cannot run a company, without a prime minister you cannot run a government, without the head of the family you cannot run home, without a coordinator, or a supervisor, you cannot run a joint effort. Adherence to the principle of leadership is an integral part of any successful joint effort. This being so, the law of nature set forth in the above Quranic verse is a great blessing for us. God Almighty created people with differences or disparities. It is this difference or disparity that gives us the opportunity to bow to the principle of leadership in our social activities.

Every train requires an engine for its smooth running. Without an engine, the train would not be able to budge an inch. The same is true of society. Society is like a train which we need to mobilize, but this mobilization cannot be achieved without an engine to lead the way. The same formula that requires physical movement is applicable to social movement; the social train cannot travel towards its goal without an engine. Adherence to the principle of leadership is an integral part of any successful joint effort: A secondary role is not an inferior role; it is a role that has a value higher than that of the person primarily in command. The commander will be given only one credit but those who accept the secondary role will be rewarded with double credit because, apart from their normal role, they have proved to have a great ability — ego management. Without learning the art of ego management, no one can successfully play the secondary role.

According to the Quran, all human beings, both men and women, are born with two opposite moral constituents. What are al-nafs al-ammara and al-nafs al-lawwama? In psychological terms, they are the ego and the conscience — with which everyone is born. Almost all human behavior is affected by these two features. Negative behavior is the result of al-nafs al-ammara and positive behavior is the result of al-nafs al-lawwama. The ego, if left uncontrolled becomes the source of all evil, for it is a highly inflammable part of man. In a normal situation, it remains in a dormant state, but when one’s ego is negatively touched, it becomes a superego and the result is the breakdown. The best way to avoid an ego problem is not to provoke it. In the absence of provocation, the ego creates no problem. But provoke the ego and it is like setting a lighted match to a powder keg. By contrast, the conscience is the source of all kinds of good. The conscience checks you from indulging in any evil practices, and if you do indulge in any kind of misdemeanor, the conscience becomes alive and compels you to repent and amend your behavior. The conscience in this way serves as a corrective to every human personality. This means that whenever there is any controversy, the outcome is in your own hands.

A man with a mission always perseveres and avoids hindrances: This principle is very important; it saves you from unnecessary conflict. It gives you the opportunity to continue your mission in society without a break. It saves you from wasting your energy and time in futile quarrels.

It shows great practical wisdom. And without practical wisdom, you cannot achieve any worthy goal in this world. A man with a mission cannot afford to engage in unnecessary conflict. As a man of dedication, he is determined about achieving his target. He always starts his activities in properly selected fields and never behaves like a grasshopper, jumping from one thing to another.

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