Saturday, 15 December 2012 21:28(Opinion) – It is lamentable that oppression is common in many parts of the world nowadays, particularly in Africa where it is widely condoned.
This outrageous, provocative act takes various forms, such as harassment; humiliation; torture; arbitrary arrest, detention and incarceration; unlawful dismissal; suppression of dissent; hoarding of information of public interest; infringement on freedom of expression; destruction or seizure of properties; and the like. In a nutshell, any act of victimization, brutalization, encroachment or violation of rights can be regarded as oppression.
The questions arise now: Why do human beings who are endowed with mental faculty to reason and can hence distinguish between right and wrong or moral and immoral oppress each other or condone oppression despite the fact that none of them wants to be oppressed? Is it that oppressors and those who condone oppression are oblivious to the laws or rules of their countries or societies?
Ignorance of laws or rules can be dismissed as an excuse for oppression in many cases because many oppressors and condoners of oppression feel bad, cry foul and seek redress when oppressed. If ignorance was responsible for their acts, they would not be aware when oppressed. So, ignorance maybe a contributing-factor but is not the only factor.
Oppression may result from a mistake, for no man is perfect or infallible, and to err is human. Thus, one may oppress others inadvertently or accidentally. However, oppression cannot be termed as a mistake if it recurs, for mistakes cannot always be allowed or accepted.
Egomania or egocentricity and opportunism are among the factors responsible for oppression and its condonation. Greed and the desire to defend or safeguard an interest or fulfil an ambition prompt some people to oppress others or turn blind eyes and deaf ears when others are oppressed. Such egoists and opportunists are ready to bulldoze anybody they perceive as a hindrance or treat blatant acts of oppression with indifference.
However, some of them always try to portray themselves as democrats, peace-lovers and patriots, or even saints, which is quite ironical. I advise them to rethink, for the world would not last even a day if everybody behaved like them. I also put it to them that not everybody is a fool as they believe, and that he that knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool.
Fear is one of the factors responsible for oppression or condoning oppression. This is particularly the case with people living under a dictatorial rule. Some people oppress others to ingratiate themselves with their bosses whom they fear more that they fear God the Almighty.
These people behave like zombies or marionettes. They are always willing to do the dirty job of oppression, even without receiving instructions from their bosses. They are ready to do any nasty thing they believe can help defend the interest of their bosses or please them.
I advise these oppressors to think of tomorrow and bear in mind that their bosses will not be able to protect themselves in the next world, let alone protecting them or interceding with God on their behalf. It is very unwise for them to dance to the tune of their mortal bosses whose powers are limited and short-lived, or seek their pleasure to the extent of incurring the wrath of God the Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent and Immortal.
If they happen to be non-believers, as the case may be, let them ponder on what will happen to them here on earth when their bosses are no longer around or when they quit their dirty jobs. Do they think that their bosses will stay in their positions forever? Have they ever thought about dismissal, retirement or falling out of favour of their bosses after doing the dirty job and becoming notorious? Can these be ruled out totally? In any case, it is safer and more prudent to treat members of the general public nicely to earn their respect and love than to do a dirty job to please one’s boss and gain notoriety.
Owing to their fear of brutal dictators, some people remain silent when they see others oppressed. This is one of the aims all dictators want to achieve. Dictators try to instill fear in the hearts and minds of people so that no one would dare to challenge or rise up against them. Hence, we help them to realize their objective by condoning oppression or keeping quiet as though things are normal when others are being oppressed.
For people to disentangle themselves or free themselves from the clutches of a dictator, it is imperative that they try to surmount or overcome their fear and take the bull by the horns.
The following saying of our venerable prophet (peace be upon him) can be used as a guiding-principle in this regard: “Anyone who sees an evil should try to change it using his hand. If he is not able to, let him use his tongue. And if he is unable to, he can use his heart but that is the weakest (lowest) degree of faith.” Oppression is incontrovertibly evil and should not be condoned from the Islamic point of view.
Among the factors responsible for oppression is megalomania. Some people, by virtue of their professions, status or positions, feel too haughty or proud and hence despise others whom they term as nonentities and the riffraff of their society, especially when they find themselves in positions which they never dreamt of occupying in life.
This is why it is not uncommon to hear the foolish rhetorical question “Do you know who I am?” and the scornful, malicious utterance “He will know me. I will teach him a lesson that he will never forget”. These people always want to show off to the extent of oppressing others. They believe that they can behave anyhow and go scot-free. Thus, they metamorphous into sadists who take pleasure in victimizing or brutalizing people as a way of showing their power and importance.
These scoundrels are so intoxicated with power and arrogance that they would not listen to anybody and no amount of preaching can move them. They belong to the group of people who the Holy Quran says are deaf, dumb and blind. Members of this group repent only after losing their privileges or after they have started paying the price of their misdeeds. Ironically, some of them turn into preachers, making citations from the Holy Scriptures, condemning the very evil acts they used to commit without any sense of remorse, and championing virtues and values which were totally absent from their vocabulary list while they were enjoying privileges.
To earn public sympathy, some resort to befriending former enemies or those they held in contempt and used to victimize or brutalize. I would like to put it to those rascals that repentance is good but repentance in despair is no repentance. This kind of repentance is tantamount to insulting God’s intelligence, to say the least.
In Islam, repentance is only acceptable when it is done voluntarily in good faith, not when one is helpless or desperate and has no option or choice. It is more reasonable and acceptable to repent oppressing people when one is in a privileged position or status than when he loses that position or status and becomes despondent, for repentance in the former case is voluntary, whereas it is dictated by circumstances in the latter.
Above all, it is advisable to behave like a human being and help people while enjoying certain privileges, or at least treat them with justice and fairness. In so doing, one may save oneself from danger, or earn the sympathy of the general public when in trouble or when misfortune befalls him. If, on the other hand, he misbehaves by oppressing members of the public, people may shout “good riddance!” or jubilate when he is in trouble or when he loses his privileges. No matter how hard his friends, relatives or close associates try to defend or exculpate him, they find it extremely difficult or impossible to convince the public or make people believe that he is a good person, and not to talk of convincing God the All-knowing.
My dear reader, oppression does not pay, for it can easily backfire. Besides, no one is immune in a society where oppression prevails. Anybody can have his turn at any time. Additionally, the masses may fall back on or resort to violent means of extricating themselves when oppression becomes unendurable, which could have deleterious, undesirable effects on a country as a whole. For these reasons, Allah the Almighty has stated explicitly in the Glorious Quran that He does not like oppressors.
Moreover, oppression is synonymous with cruelty or lack of mercy, and Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) cautioned us against wickedness saying that Allah the Almighty would not shower His mercy on those who fail to treat their fellow human beings with mercy. Hence, oppression should not be treated with indifference. Earnest, unflinching efforts should be made to combat it.
In fact, combatting oppression is a socio-religious obligation. A situation where oppression is prevalent can be likened to jungle life where there are no laws or rules to guide actions. As human beings, we should be sober and wise enough to avoid such a situation. We can achieve this by using the golden rule “Do onto others as you would like others to do onto you” and the saying of our venerable prophet (peace be upon him) “Wish for others what you wish for yourself” as guiding-principles.
On a final note, I would like to state as a reminder that we are all mere mortals made of blood, bones and flesh and share the seven characteristics of living organisms, regardless of our professions, positions and status; that man’s power is very much limited and ephemeral; that no condition is permanent; that it is Allah the Almighty who elevates people through their fellow human beings; that it is uncivilized to oppress each other like animals; and that all oppressors are bound to perish sooner or later if they fail to repent their acts and kick out their filthy habit, as Allah the Almighty hates them.
Written by Ebou Gaye
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