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Counsel is the solution for the problems

By: Ayatullah Jafar Subhani
Electricity is generated by the contact of positive and negative wires. Similarly progress too is achieved with the confluence of two streams of thoughts. Sometimes consultation lights up the future path for man and sometimes it brightens up a vast horizon.
Of course, consultation never means that man should submit himself totally to others because it would also result in a loss like blind following which is a kind of suicide as it would only mean the assassination of one’s intelligence and noble feelings.
Consultation means that man may ask for the solution of his problems from others and may follow their advice or counsel after giving it full thought.
At the time of the battle of Khandaq (Trench) the huge army of the Arab polytheists advanced toward Medina to attack the Muslims. The Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) constituted a consultative committee of some experts in warfare. An experienced Persian companion, Salman Farsi suggested digging of a three meter wide and two meter deep ditch on the outskirts of the town and a trough at a distance of every hundred feet and posting strong warriors entrusted with the responsibility of defending the ditch front to prevent the enemy from approaching it and to drive them away, if necessary, by raining arrows and even stones on them.
The advice of Salman was liked by the Holy Prophet as well as by his companions and the work of ditch digging was completed in 25 days. The enemy soldiers were astonished to see this innovative military strategy. They had to camp for about a month and return empty handed after suffering the loss of some soldiers.
In the modern world states are governed by consultative councils and senates. Most unfortunate and extremely mean is the nation, which remains under the influence of a big oppressive power and entrusts the reins of its destiny to an individual.
Seeking counsel is one of the basic teachings of Islam. Allah Almighty ordains His Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.):
(O Muhammad

Consult your friends in social and political affairs.
The Holy Prophet was in the heat of the battle of Badr. The enemies far exceeded in numbers and also had modern and devastating arms and were bent upon wiping out Islam altogether. The Holy Prophet arranged a high level meeting of war experts, then he turned towards the people and said, “Let me have your opinion in the matter of fighting with the Quraish in this desert land. Is it advisable to go ahead to confront the enemy or should we return to Medina from here only?”
A companion named ‘Miqdad’ stood up and said, “Our hearts are with you. We will never tell you what Bani Israel had told to Musa (a.s.). When he had invited them to wage jihad the Bani Israel had replied: O Musa! You and your God may go ahead and fight. We will sit here. But we say: O Muhammad (s.a.w.a.)! You and your Allah may proceed further for war. We are also with you.”
Another companion from the Ansars, Saad bin Maaz, got up and pointing toward the Red Sea said: “O great leader! If you fling into this sea, we also will jump into it following you faithfully. None of us will ever turn his face from your honor. We are not at all afraid of the enemy. Perhaps we may, in this path, render services which might please you.”
Other companions also liked the opinions of these two companions. The Islamic army got motivated. Thus the Holy Prophet (s.a.w.a.) made up his mind to move and march forward. Through such consultation he created a fresh feeling in his army and ordered to march forward.
The Holy Prophet took such advice not only in this holy war but he did similarly on other occasions also like the battle of Uhad and the war at Khaibar and obtained good results.
Young people should gain from the experience of the seniors as they have seen the ups and downs of life. It is likely that, due to inexperience, we may look only at the apparent aspects and remain unaware of the consequences.
The reason of great victories achieved during the days of the second caliph was ‘Consultation’.
The caliph of the time used to put his problems before Amirul Mo-mineen Ali (a.s.) who, in the light of his intelligence, used to tell the secrets of success in battles.
When the caliph of the time asked the opinion of Ali (a.s.) in the matter of fighting against the Sasanids and said, “If you so advise, I may participate in this battle myself.”
Amirul Mo-mineen replied, “In case the Muslims are defeated they will not have any shelter if you also go to war with the army. But if you remain in the Islamic capital, you will be able to send help if needed. Thus the people will have a refuge.”

History is the Best Teacher
We are fortunate because we are not the first ones to arrive in this world. The sky above us has seen the lives of millions of human beings on this planet through the ever-observing eyes of the star. Those people saw happiness and sorrow, brightness and darkness, love and hatred. They indulged in war and peace. In short, they saw thousands of aspects of human life.
Though, prior to us, many people went to their graves taking the secrets of their success with them without revealing them to others and they have been forgotten, yet different parts of the earth and apparently the silent deserted lands and the ruined structures have preserved noteworthy aspects of their lives for us and writers have noted them down for our benefit. Thus this world has become a great training school for us.
We obtain several lessons by studying the pages of history, by researching the lives of men in various parts of the world and by pondering over ancient remnants and can thus become wiser like our elders.
Is it not so that the product of a whole life is only a little ‘experience’?
Does history not make us conversant with the best of experiences? Is not human history a mirror showing the past people in their entirety? The misfortunes and mistake as well as the victories and reasons thereof are clearly seen in this mirror.
In the Holy Quran, the last edition of Divine Guidance for mankind, we find this ordinance of studying the life of past communities. We have been asked to take lessons from the special aspects of their lives.
The commander of the believers, Ali (a.s.) says, “O My son! Though I did not myself live with the people of the past yet I have studied their history thoroughly and attentively. Thus I have been aware of the ups and downs of their time and I know the relevant laws. I have comprehended their history so perfectly that, it seems I were living among them.”
History is the best guide for the present generation. Teaching history is much more difficult then teaching physics and chemistry. There are some formulas by which the teacher can teach these subjects nicely. But in case of history it is necessary to think deeply, make research and strive hard to reach the conclusion. Until history teachers do not get themselves satisfied regarding these requirements they cannot fulfill their obligation and cannot get the desired results. On this basis everyone who knows history cannot be called a historian.
A point, which is more minute than a hair, is that everyone who does not shave off his hair cannot be considered a sage.
We must make efforts to understand the secrets and truths of history. Otherwise it is no use just reading it or only memorizing it. Secrets and truths of history are those bitter medicines which man can obtain with much difficulty. Man can cure both individual and collective ailments by using those medicines.
It is incumbent upon everyone, especially upon the administrators and other managers, to make deep study and research in the history of England, history of the great revolution of France, and, especially the history of Islam and of the last part of the rule of Banu Umayyah and the revolution of the Abbasids and ascertain the causes of the failures of those who had ruled over the masses for centuries.
As a principle we should cultivate within us a zeal for reading books because it raises the level of thinking, strengthens the mind and offers the treasures of great people free to those who can obtain it. Today the standard of a nation’s progress is measured and its culture weighed by the use of paper by that community. It is said that in Switzerland, which is understood to be the cradle of civilization, taking into consideration its population, the quantity of paper used is much more than any other country. Experts have confirmed that paper used in Tehran is more than the paper utilized by all other provinces of Iran collectively.
Today it can be ascertained how many books are published in a year in a country and how many copies are printed in each edition. It is also calculated how many people benefit from the public libraries in a particular country.
In this way it is determined how much the level of public thinking has risen during the past year and how did it fare compared to other nations.
Secrets of authors are always hidden somewhere in their books. Once when Aristotle intended to publish his book Alexander put a hindrance so as to prevent others from reaching the level of his teacher’s accomplishments.
During the medieval centuries the Popes and Clergy had established an ‘educational society’ and had prevented the general public from reading books so that they (the clergy) might make maximum earnings from the ignorance of the masses and may continue to have total control on them.
A good book adorns morality, builds up the personality and teaches the secrets of life. However useless books should be discarded as harmful books impair ones intelligence.
A wise man has said, “Let me know what you are reading, so that I may tell you what you are.”
Shouphenhauer has said, “Life is more precious than the time spent in reading useless books.”
We must spare some time every day for reading useful books that increase our knowledge and we must consider the book as our best friend. There is no friend in the world better than a book. No one is more sympathetic than a good book in this house of sorrow. In moments of solitude there are thousands of bounties in the company of a book and not a single hardship.

Making Use of Opportunities
People do get enough opportunities and time but they do not take the advantage of this golden key to success and miss the chance due to procrastination. One should not only complete today’s work today but if possible also do the next day’s work today.
Once Abu Muslim Khurasani was asked, “What is the secret of your success?”
His response was, “I have never postponed today’s work for tomorrow.”
Sometimes it also so happens that energy spent in postponing a job proves enough for finishing the same work.
Some students who are not allowed to appear in the March-April examinations and who have to appear in October-November take the maximum advantage of this time and opportunity whereas some waste their time in repenting and in meaningless thoughts until the time of examination arrives. Such pupils not only face failure they also retreat a few steps backward. Some people only shed tears on the past and say: “Had we purchased that garden we would have a earned much benefit. Had we enrolled in this university we would have become among the VIPs of the country today...”
Such people waste all their time in repenting and shedding tears on ‘yesterday’s grave’, though, if even now, they become wise and restart their jobs they can fulfill all, or at least, some of their aspirations. But they continue to cry on spilt milk.
You cannot repurchase time that is spent. Hence it is better not to sell it in the first place as time is a precious pearl.
Some people have the opposite nature. They think of the future but their worry is so much that in that anxiety, they are unable to do anything during the time that is at their disposal. We have seen students who are always afraid of being debarred from appearing in the examination and who keep on saying, “We are afraid our year will be wasted, we may not be allowed to sit in the examination.”
Such restlessness does not allow them to work and study and they lose the opportunity. How meaningful is this Arabic couplet: Whatever time is gone is gone and what will come has not yet come so get up and take the maximum benefit of what is in between the two nonexistent moments.
O Saadi! Yesterday has passed away and the forthcoming tomorrow does not now exist. Hence appreciate the time between the two.

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