Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | Speaking Tree Weekly Blog | Mar 8, 2021
In the days of the Companions of the Prophet of Islam and the generations immediately succeeding them, there was a remarkable atmosphere of tolerance. Only God was great, and people lived in awe of His greatness alone. If people criticized one another, such criticism was acceptable, for it did nothing to diminish the greatness of God. It was therefore possible for a person in one of Caliph Umar ibn Khattab’s congregation to stand up during a speech he was making in Madinah and say, “By God, Umar, if we detect any crookedness in you then we will put you straight with our swords,” without eliciting any reproof either from the Caliph or from other members of the congregation. (At-Tarikh al-Kabir by al-Bukhari, Hadith No. 1825)
In modern times, however, this is no longer the case. Nowadays, anyone who attempts to criticize any leading personality will find that no matter how well-founded his critiques, his action will have the same effect as disturbing a hornet’s nest. He will find himself to be the object of innumerable attacks by the followers of whatever dignitary he has chosen to criticize and will be hard put to it to make whatever point he had felt was worth making. The reason for this is that society mistakenly attributes greatness to human origins and people have forgotten that the words routinely uttered in prayer: “God is great” are meant to be taken quite literally and seriously. Too many individuals allow themselves, erroneously, to be dominated by the ‘greatness’ of other human beings, whereas their sole preoccupation should be the greatness of God. The ‘greatness’ of human beings should be viewed as a mere facade which is erected as a test of man in this world. It has to be seen through, penetrated and cast aside as irrelevant to the truth that no one besides God is invested with true greatness. Only those who appreciate this fact can have any hope of success in the next world.