Group Feeling and Royal AuthorityJanuary 25, 2020
16. The goal of group feeling is royal authority.
This is because group feeling:
- gives protection and mutual defense
- allows the pressing of claims and other kinds of social activity
Human beings need someone to act as a restraining influence and mediator in every social organization, in order to keep the members from fighting each other.
That person must, by necessity, have superiority over the others in the matter of group feeling. - If not, his power to exercise a restraining influence could not materialize.
Such superiority is royal authority (mulk). It is more than leadership.
Leadership means being a chieftain. The leader is obeyed, but he has no power to force others to accept his rulings.
Royal authority means superiority and the power to rule by force.
When a person sharing in the group feeling has reached the rank of chieftain, he then finds the way towards superiority.
He can only achieve his goal through the help of the group feeling, which causes the others to obey him.
Thus, group feeling leads to royal superiority, its goal.
A tribe has different “houses” and many diverse group feelings. Still, there exists a group feeling that is stronger than all the other group feelings combined.
- is superior to them all and makes them subservient
- is that in which all the diverse group feelings coalesce to become one greater group feeling.
Otherwise, splits would occur and lead to dissension and strife.
Once group feeling has established superiority over the people who share (in that particular group feeling), it will, by its very nature, seek superiority over people of other group feelings unrelated to the first.
If the one group feeling is the equal of the other or is able to stave off its challenge, the competing people are even with and equal to each other. In this case, each group feeling maintains its sway over its own domain and people, as is the case with tribes and nations all over the earth.
However, if the one group feeling overpowers the other and makes it subservient, the 2 group feelings enter into close contact.
- The defeated group feeling gives added power to the victorious group feeling
- The victorious group feeling sets its goal of superiority and domination higher than before until it equals the power of the ruling dynasty.
Then, when the ruling dynasty grows senile and no defender arises from among its friends who share in its group feeling, the new group feeling takes over. It deprives the ruling dynasty of its power and obtains complete royal authority.
The power of a given group feeling may also reach its peak when the ruling dynasty has not yet reached senility.
This stage may coincide with the stage at which (the ruling dynasty) needs to have recourse to the people who represent the various group feelings (in order to master the situation). In such a case, the ruling dynasty incorporates (the people who enjoy the powerful group feeling) among its clients whom it uses for the execution of its various projects. This, then, means (theformation of) another royal authority, inferior to that of the controlling royal authority.
This was the case with the Turks under the ‘Abbasids ’ 103 with the Sinhajah and the Zanatah in their relation to the Kutamah, and with the Hamdanids in their relation to the (Fatimid) ‘Alids and the ‘Abbisids.
Thus, royal authority is the goal of group feeling.
When group-feeling attains that goal, the tribe (representing that particular group feeling) obtains royal authority, either by seizing actual control or by giving assistance (to the ruling dynasty). It depends on the circumstances prevailing at a given time (which of the two alternatives applies). If the group feeling encounters obstacles on its way to the goal, as we shall explain, it stops where it is, until God decides what is going to happen to it.
17. Obstacles on the way toward royal authority are luxury
This is because when a tribe has achieved a certain measure of superiority with the help of its group feeling, it:
- gains control over a corresponding amount of wealth
- shares abundance with those who have had these things for a long time.
The tribe shares in them to the degree of its power and usefulness to the ruling dynasty.
If the ruling dynasty is so strong that no one would think of depriving it of its power or sharing power with it, the tribe submits to its rule. It is satisfied with whatever share in the dynasty’s wealth and tax revenue that it can enjoy.
The tribe members are merely concerned with prosperity, gain, and a life of abundance. They are satisfied:
- to lead an easy, restful life in the shadow of the ruling dynasty
- to adopt royal habits in building, dress, all the other things that go with luxury
- They take more and more pride in such things, the more luxuries and plenty they obtain
As a result:
- the toughness of desert life is lost
- group feeling and courage weaken
- members of the tribe revel in well-being .
- Their children grow up too proud to look after themselves or to attend to their own needs.
- They have disdain also for all the other things that are necessary for group feeling. This finally becomes their natural character.
Their group feeling and courage decrease in the next generations. Eventually, group feeling is altogether destroyed. They thus invite their own destruction.
The greater their luxury and the easier the life they enjoy, the closer they are to extinction, not to mention (their lost chance of obtaining) royal authority. The things that go with luxury and submergence in a life of ease break the vigor of the group feeling, which alone produces superiority. When group feeling is destroyed, the tribe is no longer able to defend or protect itself, let alone press any claims. It will be swallowed up by other nations.
It has thus become clear that luxury is an obstacle on the way toward royal authority.
18. Meekness and docility to outsiders that may be found in a tribe are obstacles to royal authority.
This is because meekness and docility break the vigor and strength of group-feeling. The (very fact) that people are meek and docile shows that (their group feeling) is lost. They do not become fond of meekness until they are 1,256 too weak to defend themselves. Those who are too weak to defend themselves are all the more weak when it comes to withstanding their enemies and pressing their claims.
The Israelites are a good example. Moses urged them to go and become rulers of Syria.
He informed them that God had made this their destiny. But the Israelites were too weak for that. They said= “There are giants in that country, and we shall not enter it until the giants have departed.” 106 That is, until God has driven them out by manifesting His power, without the application of our group feeling, and that will be one of your miracles, O Moses.
When Moses urged them on, they persisted and became rebellious, and said= “Go you yourself and your Lord, and fight.” 107
The reason for their attitude was that they had become used to being too weak to offer opposition and to press claims. 108 (That is the meaning) required by the verse, and it must be interpreted in that manner. This situation was the result of the quality of docility and the longing to be subservient to the Egyptians, which the Israelites had acquired through many long years and which led eventually to the complete loss of their group feeling.
In addition, they did not really believe what Moses told them, namely, that Syria would be theirs and that the Amalekites who were in Jericho would fall prey to them, by virtue of the divine decree that God had made in favor of the Israelites. They were unable to do (what they were asked to do and felt too weak to do it.
They realized that they were too weak to press any claims, because they had acquired the quality of meekness. They suspected the story their prophet told them and the command he gave them. For that, God punished them by obliging them to remain in the desert. They stayed in the desert between Syria and Egypt for forty years. They had no contact with civilization nor did they settle in any city, 109 as it is told in the Qur’an. 110 This was because of the harshness the Amalekites in Syria and the Copts in Egypt had practiced against them.
Thus, they thought themselves too weak to oppose them. From the context and meaning of the verse, it is evident that (the verse) intends to refer to the implication of such a sojourn in the desert, namely, the disappearance of the generation whose character had been formed and whose group feeling had been destroyed by the humiliation, oppression, and force from which it had (just) escaped, and the eventual appearance in the desert of another powerful generation that knew neither laws nor oppression and did not have the stigma of meekness.
Thus, a new group feeling could grow up (in the new generation), and that (new group feeling) enabled them to press their claims and to achieve superiority.
This makes it evident that forty years is the shortest period in which one generation can disappear and a new generation can arise. Praised be the Wise, the Knowing One. This shows most clearly what group feeling means. Group feeling producesthe ability to defend oneself, to offer opposition, to protect oneself, and to press one’s claims. Whoever loses (his group feeling) is too weak to do any of these things.
The subject of imposts and taxes belongs in this discussion of the things that force meekness upon a tribe.
A tribe paying imposts did not do that until it became resigned to meek submission with respect to (paying them). Imposts and taxes are a sign of oppression and meekness which proud souls do not tolerate, unless they consider the payment of imposts and taxes) easier than being killed and destroyed.
In such a case, the group feeling (of a tribe) is too weak for its own defense and protection. People whose group feeling cannot defend them against oppression certainly cannot offer any opposition or press any claims. They have submitted to humble (meekness), and, as we have mentioned before, meekness is an obstacle.
An illustration of this fact is Muhammad’s statement in the Sahih, 111 on the subject of plowing.
When he saw a plowshare in one of the houses of the Ansar (in Medina), he said= “Such a thing never entered anyone’s house save accompanied by humbleness.”
This is sound proof for the contention that payment of tax makes humbleness necessary.
In addition, the humbleness that is the result of paying imposts is accompanied by character qualities of cunning and deceit, because force rules (under such circumstances).
According to the Sahih,  the Prophet Mohammad used to decry the payment of taxes. He said:
When one sees a tribe humiliated by the payment of imposts, one cannot hope that it will ever achieve royal authority.
It is very wrong to assume that the Zanatah in the Maghrib were sheep-breeding Bedouins who paid imposts to the various rulers of their time.
If ths were true, then the Zanatah would never have achieved royal authority and established a dynasty.
In this connection, one may compare the words of Shahrbaraz, the ruler of Derbend. Abd-ar-Rahman b. Rabi’ah came to him. Shahrbaraz asked him for his protection with the (promise) that he would belong to him:
You are welcome. The poll tax we shall pay to you will consist in our helping you and doing what you will.
But do not humiliate us by imposing the poll tax. Otherwise, you would weaken us to the point of becoming the prey of your enemies."