Part 18

Meekness and docility to outsiders are obstacles to royal authority


This is because meekness and docility break the vigor and strength of group-feeling.

The meekness and docility of the people 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, telling 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. 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.

Moses urged them on. But they persisted and became rebellious and said:

Go yourself with your Lord and fight

They had become used to being too weak to offer opposition and to press claims. This 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. This led eventually to the complete loss of their group feeling.

In addition, they did not really believe Moses that:

  • Syria would be theirs
  • 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 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, [112] the Prophet Mohammad used to decry the payment of taxes. He said:

A man who has to pay imposts talks and lies. He promises, and breaks his promise.

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[113]. Abd-ar-Rahman b. Rabi’ah came to him. Shahrbaraz asked him for his protection with the (promise) that he would belong to him:

Shahrbaraz Today, I am one of you. I am your sincere friend.
Abd-ar-Rahman b. Rabi'ah

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." [114]


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