by Mahmoud Andrade Ibrahim
Think of a large apartment complex with many apartments and therefore many tenants. The tenants themselves come from many backgrounds and have diverse histories. Never the less, they have all elected to come to this apartment building because the amenities or services and accommodations at this complex are desirable.
In this particular complex, the tenants themselves have elected to take control of its physical structure. They therefore have busied themselves with setting up some basic committees that have to do with general oversight of the development as well the maintenance of the property. The properties or the complex itself is governed by a board that was elected by the apartment dwellers. A maintenance committee was put into place in order to insure that the property was not allowed to go into disrepair which would lower the value of each apartment and of therefore lessen the desirability of this multiple dwelling space. Security cameras were placed strategically throughout the complex and special locks were installed on each floor so that the tenants and their family members felt safe and secure.
All of the tenants in this apartment complex signed off on the bylaws and regulations as they pertain to the acceptable behavior that could be expected from each individual living in this development. Some rules even had to do with what could and could not be done in the apartment itself, for example; any construction that had to be done by outside contractors couldn’t begin before 8am and had to be finished by 6pm, any loud music would not be tolerated after 10pm on week nights and midnight on the weekends, before major deliveries of furniture notification in writing had to be submitted to the building maintenance manager in order for he and his crew to have enough time to properly insulate and isolate one of the many elevators that would be designated for this type of usage. All of these regulations were designed to maintain an acceptable and predictable kind of behavior that would allow all the tenants to live harmoniously.
The arrangement of this development does not reflect any higher or transcendental truth. What it does reflect is an agreement of all concerned to live in such a way that does not hinder the happiness of their neighbors or of themselves. This arrangement is a negotiated agreement . And to be negotiated means that it is a compromise. Everyone didn’t get their way. But none- the- less, all have agreed to abide by these regulations for the betterment of the whole complex. This arrangement does not demand a belief system, all are free to pursue and practice any belief as long as it does not jeopardize the harmony of their neighbors.
The American Constitution is also a negotiated agreement.
It is not Universal Truth. It is a compromised arrangement that was and is agreed to by all the states in the union. And even after it was ratified or agreed to, there were amendments attached to it, in order to reflect a new or socially acceptable way of seeing or acting in America. Whether we were born here or come here at sometime after our birth, our presence here is an affirmation of our agreement with the principles of the constitution and an acknowledgement to act accordingly. Our presence is witness to our social contract.
The arrangement is a social contract, an agreement. And this social agreement is the same kind of agreement that our beloved Prophet (pboh) encouraged us to honor. In a tradition found in Sahih Muslim that is narrated by Abdullah bin Amr, when discussing hypocrisy, the Prophet (pboh) said the hypocrite is “one who whenever he makes an agreement, he proves treacherous”.
وَأَوْفُواْ بِعَهْدِ اللّهِ إِذَا عَاهَدتُّمْ وَلاَ تَنقُضُواْ الأَيْمَانَ بَعْدَ تَوْكِيدِهَا وَقَدْ جَعَلْتُمُ اللّهَ عَلَيْكُمْ كَفِيلاً إِنَّ اللّهَ يَعْلَمُ مَا تَفْعَلُونَ
Fulfill the Covenant of Allah when ye have entered into it, and break not your oaths after ye have confirmed them; indeed ye have made Allah your protector; for Allah knows all that ye do.
Sura Nahl 16 : 91
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