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Who is the Hawk of Quraysh? Deliberating Leadership from a Muslim Perspective

Authors:
  • The University of Haifa
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היראבגא נמיא ר"ד
Who is the Hawk of Quraysh?
Deliberating Leadership from a Muslim Perspective
ere are two classes in my ummah if they are right the ummah
is set right, if they go wrong the ummah goes wrong. ey are rulers
and scholars”
(Hadith (sayings) of Prophet Muhammad PBUH)
Introduction
M
uch of the classical research on leadership emphasizes power
and legitimacy. However, if a visitor from Mars would use this
literature to prepare for coming to Earth, it would not have a clue
as to what kind of person it would meet upon requesting “Take me to your
leader.” While some scholars emphasize leaders charisma, to bring one
example, others focus on their position of power or their transformational
capacities. Admittedly, all leaders secure their inuence over others as a
consequence of oce, personal inuence, persuasive capacity, charisma,
or coercion. In what sense Muslim leaders are expected to exercise their
leadership dierently merits further exploration. Put dierently, the
question is what should distinguish a Muslim leader as he or she seeks
legitimacy, structures authority, exercises inuence, and demands deference
while relying on Islam as religious framework and engaging with its divine
principles.
In stark contrast to the aforementioned classical leadership research, it
would be dicult to nd even one Muslim scholar of caliber who has not
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discussed the virtues and qualities of the Imam or the leader. A large corpus
in the Muslim political thought tradition provides blueprints of these, while
prescribing practical advice to Muslim rulers on how to preserve their
ascendancy, evoke cooperation, and elicit obedience from their subjects.
Heavily inuenced by the pre-Islamic Persian political practice, which
provided the newborn Islamic empire with administrative instruments as
well as pieces of advice and protocols of eective governance, this corpus,
widely entitled e Ordinances of Governance (Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniya),
was developed in the ninth century, following the transformation of the
Islamic political regime into a monarchy.
For the most part, Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniya suggests a selective
interpretation of the Quran and the Hadiths of the Prophet that insists on
placing the status of the Muslim ruler at the heart of Muslim faith. Specically,
in this tradition, the Muslim leader is indeed a living embodiment of the
unity of the Muslim Ummah, which signies the Muslim social order.
Accordingly, Al-Ahkam Al-Sultaniya consists of a large array of religious
regulations and commands that stricture and even sanction resistance and
contestation that would presumably threaten the stability of the leader’s
regime and thus weaken the strength, security and safety of the whole
Muslim nation and its sociopolitical order.
Furthermore, this tradition provides several portrayals of the
“Enlightened Despot” or the benevolent ruler, and details the qualities and
dispositions needed for a Muslim leader to maintain the unity, solidarity,
and stability of Muslim society. Al-Mawardi, for instance, lays down seven
qualities beginning with justice (‘ad al a h ) followed by knowledge (‘ilm),
physical and mental tness (salamah), sound judgment (ray), courage and
determination (shajaah wa najdah) and descent from the Quraish (nasab).
Worth noting, the personal qualities and dispositions of the ideal leader
were also a major concern in the writings of Muslim philosophers who
were inuenced by Greek philosophy, especially when they attempted to
envision the ideal Muslim State.
e subject of the virtues and good deeds expected from a Muslim
leader has been one of the focal points in courses and reading groups that
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I have recently facilitated at the Mandel School for Educational Leadership
in Jerusalem and at the Centre for Research and Evaluation in Muslim
Education (CREME) in the University of London. e methodology used in
these educational settings is rather simple. e participants in these settings
were asked to engage directly with classical texts of Islamic educational
thought, i.e., with no mediation of other texts and using previous knowledge
as little as possible. e goal was not to study the history of these texts
or their authors, but rather to reect on the contemporary relevance of
these texts (long extracts), which were authored by some seminal Muslim
philosophers, jurists, theologians, literary men, and historians. Without
delving into details, the direct discussion of these texts draws on the
reader-response criticism in literary theory, which is a school of literary
theory that is concerned more with the experience of the text’s reader and
less with its author, content or form. Rather than trying to block out the
participants’ assumptions and preconceptions, the discussion encourages
them as an integral part of the process of understanding the texts. In this
regard, the texts provided the participants with opportunities to reect
on many signicant issues in educational thought and practice, such as
identity, character, dialogue, reexivity, praxis, and leadership, which is the
topic of this paper.
To be more specic about the virtues and good deeds expected from
a Muslim leader, let me now introduce three exemplary texts. rough
these texts, I will reect on three questions: (a) Are leaders natural-born
or self-made? (b) Are they unconditional idealists or reserved pragmatists?
and (c) Are they reformers or missionaries? Finally, I will present some
concluding thoughts on Islamic and Muslim leadership.
e course consisted of frontal lectures as well as working in small
groups on original texts extracted from works authored by seminal Muslim
scholars. To facilitate deliberations in the small groups, the participants were
provided with guiding questions to help them generate insights regarding
what it means to be a leader in Islam and what the dening qualities of a
Muslim leader are. I will introduce three exemplary texts from this course
with a brief commentary on each.
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Leaders: Natural-Born or Self-Made?
Ibn Abd Rabbih (860–940), the famous Andalusian Muslim writer and
literary historian, in his monumental book e Unique Necklace (Al-Iqd
al-Farīd), narrates a telling anecdote about the eminent Caliph Abu Jafar
Al Mansur (714-775).
In this tale, Al Mansur starts a deliberation, asking who is the hawk of
“Quraysh”? e hawk is a bird of prey that is widely noted in Arab literature
for its sharp vision and remarkable speed and “Qurayshis the leading tribe
of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and many Caliphs. e rst answer he
received was his own name, seemingly out of awe and respect, but also
maybe out of admiration, as he was the co-founder, with his brother, of the
Abbasid state. e second name suggested by his accompanying condents
was that of Mu’awiyah ibn Abī Sufyān (602-680) who established the
Umayyad Dynasty of the caliphate, while the third name was that of the
capable 5th Umayyad Caliph ‘Abd al-Malik ibn Marwān (646-705) who
consolidated the reign of the Umayyad Dynasty and expanded the rule
of the Muslim empire over new regions. ese three proposals were all of
seminal leaders who are ospring of the tribe of “Quraysh”. Abu Jafar Al
Mansur ended the speculations and provided his answer: ‘Abd Al Rahman
bin Mu’awiyah (731-788), known also by his appellation al-Dakhil (“the
Immigrant”), who ed the Abbasid revolting forces that overthrew the
Umayyad Dynasty from Damascus in 750 AD and settled in Andalusia,
Spain, where he reestablished the ‘Umayyad rule.
According to Al Mansur, ‘Abd Al Rahman bin Mu’awiyah was the
“Hawk of Quraysh” because he acquired his position of power thanks to
his personal qualities and leadership abilities. All other names, including
Al Mansur himself, ascended to their positions by relying on institutional
support and due to contextual factors. ese included the support of
authoritative leaders, inheriting the ruling position from a predecessor, and
the backing of a large movement of supporters. According to Al Mansur,
Abd Al Rahman rose to his acclaimed oce through good management
and strong resolve alone.
e participants of the course read this short anecdote on Abu Ja’far
Al Mansur’s conception of what constitutes a leader in small groups,
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and discussed whether leaders are born or made. More specically, the
participants pondered over a few questions: is leadership indeed independent
from any position or ocial authority? What dierentiates a leader from
the “leader of leaders” and what are the qualities and dispositions needed
to bring natural leaders to positions of power and authority? Needless to
say, there were no “correct” answers to provide, as my goal was serious
engagement with these questions, and triggering the participants to reect
critically on what constituted them as prospective leaders.
Leaders: Unconditioned Idealists or
Reserved Pragmatists?
e second text was extracted from Al-Farabi’s book, Ara’ ahl al-Madinah
al-Fadilaor the “Opinions of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City”. is
text addresses specically the qualities of the supreme ruler or the perfect
leader of a perfect society. In this book, the renowned Muslim philosopher
Al-Farabi (872-951)21, known in the West as Alpharabius, theorized an
ideal state as in Platos “e Republic”.
I will risk extreme over simplication and say that for Al-Farabi, the
main mission of the perfect leader or Imam is to bring genuine happiness to
the Muslim community. For him, human happiness is an utterly theoretical
end, transcendental indeed because it results from perfection in which the
soul no longer needs matter to subsist. Yet, as sublime and elevated as it
might be, this status of perfection cannot be attained outside the framework
of a community, a political association, and a society in which people live in
cooperation, albeit hierarchal, with the supreme ruler as rst in command.
In other words, Al-Farabi argues in Ara’ ahl al-Madinah al-Fadila22 that
21 See more on the political philosophy of al-Farabi in:
Bonelli, Gina Marie, Eric L. Ormsby, and Robert Wisnovsky. Farabis virtuous city
and the Plotinian world soul: A new reading of Farabis ‘Mabadi’ Ara’ Ahl Al-Madina
Al-Fadila’. Diss. McGill University, 2010.
Galston, Miriam. Politics and excellence: e political philosophy of Alfarabi. Princeton
University Press, 2014.
Mahdi, Muhsin. Alfarabi and the foundation of Islamic political philosophy. University of
Chicago Press, 2001.
22 Al-Farabi, Abu Nasr. “al-Madina al-Fadila.(e Virtuous City), trans. Walzer, Richard.
Al-Farabi on the perfect state. Oxford University Press, USA, 1985, p. 249 and 253.
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ultimate perfection or happiness is possible primarily within the connes
of a political community. To achieve an ideal communal life, the city
should model itself aer a perfect and healthy body whose organs dier in
their hierarchal functions, yet operate altogether in perfect harmony. It is
interesting to note that Al-Farabis strong emphasis on unity and harmony
is indeed a response to the political reality at his times, in which the Muslim
world was divided into clashing states.
In the text that was given to the course participants, Al-Farabi
required that the leader of a virtuous city should exercise inborn and
acquired intellectual and leadership faculties. Specically, he enumerated
twelve natural qualities required for a supreme ruler, the philosopher-
king, in order to establish the ideal city: a healthy body free of deciency,
good understanding and comprehension, good memory, good intuitive
intelligence, ne diction and pronunciation, love of knowledge and learning,
truthfulness, restraint, pride and being a man of honor, abstinence, justness,
and decisiveness. ese qualities, as detailed in the text, were discussed by
the course participants in an attempt to determine what relevance they
might have to them as educational leaders. More specically, the participants
were asked to discuss the possibility and impossibility of these qualities in
functioning as a blueprint for a modern version of character education or
leadership development programs; and to consider the contextual factors
that might hinder or enhance these qualities.
In the discussion, the participants also reected on the tension that is
embedded in the leaders’ quest to make the world a better place: a tension
between investing in “bettering” others on the one hand, and investing in
developing their own human potential to the fullest, on the other. What
balance should leaders establish between their commitment to improving
the qualities and morals of their community members and their own
repertoire of values, skills and dispositions?
Undoubtedly, the participants oen became more aware, attentive if you
will, of the importance of leaders’ character and intellectual development
in their quest for happiness, perfectness, and excellence. However, such
an understanding of the importance of developing leaders’ identity has
its risks, as it might strengthen the decontextualized intellectual, private
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and selsh character of this development in educational endeavors. It also
may be misleading in the sense that it might encourage the participants
to consider Al-Farabi as an unconditional idealist, and not as a reserved
pragmatist.
erefore, in my lecture, following the discussion in the small groups,
I argued that Al-Farabi was far from being naïve. I did so by pointing to
several places in his work in which he appears indeed as a pragmatist and
as fully aware of contextual factors. For example, Al-Farabi recognized that
it is dicult to nd all of these qualities united in one man. erefore, he
proposed an alternative: if there are two men who share half of each quality,
they should both be chosen as sovereigns of the city. If all of these qualities
are found, even in dierent men, all of whom are in consensus, they should
jointly share the rule. Moreover, he lowered the bar for the Virtuous
City’s founder’s successor, suggesting fewer characteristics such as being
a philosopher, and knowing and remembering the laws and customs with
which the rst sovereigns had governed the city. Al-Farabi insisted that this
ideal philosopher must own all necessary arts of rhetoric and poetics in
order to communicate abstract truths to ordinary people, in an attempt to
guide them towards true happiness and establish a “virtuous” society.
It is worth noting that for Al-Farabi, such a society is rare and requires
a very specic set of historical conditions. According to Al-Farabi, societies
that have fallen short of the ideal “virtuous” society can be classied into
various types of “vicious societies. ese include the ignorant city, the
wicked city, the city which has deliberately changed its character, and the
city which has missed the right path through faulty judgment. To explain,
one example: the ignorant city is a city whose inhabitants do not know true
happiness and its notion had never even occurred to them. Even if they
were rightly guided to happiness, they would either not understand it or
not believe it. Happiness for them is total bodily health, wealth, enjoyment
of pleasures, freedom to follow ones desires and being held in honor and
high esteem. Put briey, the people of the ignorant city are those who fail
to see the goal of human existence and replace the sublime goal of pursuit
of happiness with inferior purposes, such as power, wealth, or even sensual
gratication. Most importantly, for the purposes of this chapter, Al-Farabi
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maintains that the main dierence between these cities and the virtuous
city is the presence of a ruler and his qualities. In an excellent city, the ruler
will lead the city into happiness because the ruler himself attains happiness,
is himself an embodiment of happiness, and thus the whole city becomes
an embodiment of happiness. In an ignorant city, for example, the ruler
would lead the city into pleasures which they believed to be real happiness.
All in all, in my lecture on Al-Farabi’s work, I tried to convince the
participants that Al-Farabi was aware of the tension between the attainment
of knowledge, be it theoretical or practical, and the qualities required in
order to lead a perfect and excellent city. Most importantly, he was attentive
to the fact that eventually leaders succeed and fail in sociopolitical settings
and contexts. To examine the importance of context for the demonstration
of eective leadership, I invited the course participants to read the
philosophical tale of Hayy Ibn Yaqzān (e Living Son of the Vigilant),
which is presented in the following section.
Leaders: Reformers or Missionaries?
e philosophical treatise Hayy Ibn Yaqzān (e Living Son of the
Vigilant) was written by Ibn Tufayl (1110-1182), better known in the
West as Abubacer. Ibn Tufayl started his career as a practicing physician
in Granada and rose to the position of Qadi of the Court and vizier to
the Caliph. e story of Hayy Ibn Yaqzān follows the chronicles of the life
of Hayy, starting with his spontaneous birth in an uninhabited equatorial
island, where he was discovered and nurtured by a doe. Hayy continued
to live and grow in complete solitude, while exploring and analyzing his
environment by methods of observations, reections, and reasoning.
ese not only lead him to acquire scientic knowledge of nature and
of the animals surrounding him, but also to transcendental experiences.
As he became gradually consciousness of his own immaterial essence, he
also became increasingly contemplative of the existence and eternity of an
Ultimate Being.23
23 See more interdisciplinary perspectives on this text in Conrad, Lawrence I., ed.
e world of Ibn ufayl: Interdisciplinary perspectives on ayy ibn Yaqān. Vol. 24.
Brill, 1996.
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For the purposes of the course, I selected the end of the Hayy’s story,
when he is 50 years old and by then completely absorbed in mystic
meditation. e extracted text narrates how Hayy meets Absāl, a pious man
who immigrated to Hayy’s place from a neighboring island, searching for
solitude. Absāl teaches Hayy to speak and Hayy shares both his survival
skills and his mystic enlightenments. When they confront their knowledge,
it turns out that Hayy has arrived at the same truths that Absāl has learned
from his established religion.
Convinced that the neighboring island’s peoples adherence to their
revealed religion is supercial, ritualistic, and literal, both Absāl and Hayy
sail to Absāls island in a conversion mission to teach the people how to reach
religions inner truths and mystical experiences using spiritual methods.
Hayy makes a sincere eort to enlighten the masses, but eventually fails
to make the island’s inhabitants go beyond the literal meaning of their
Scripture. Hayy’s failure enlightens him that the island’s people are not
interested in transcendence and that they practice their religion because
they need social stability and protection. Ibn Tufayls narrative ends with
Hayy and Absāl withdrawing from society and returning to the uninhabited
island to resume their solitude as hermits.
e course participants discussed whether Hayy’s attempt to reform
the islanders’ religion reects leadership aspirations, and whether his
intellectual failure is a leadership failure as well. e participants were
encouraged to ponder Hayy’s return to his island of origin, bearing in mind
that on the one hand he had not accepted the islanders’ fundamentalist and
literal approach, while on the other hand he was not judgmental or cynical
towards their conformity to scripture and tradition. Rather, he concluded
that for the overwhelming majority of people, this outward conformity to
religious ritual and doctrine was as far as they could venture in addressing
basic philosophical questions. Yet, he chooses to leave.
For the participants, the story of Hayy posed serious questions about
what a good education is, and what constitutes good pedagogy. What is
personal growth, and what is character development? How can people’s
minds develop outside of tradition and society, and how can they attain true
fulllment? Certainly, these are not easy questions to answer. Nonetheless,
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they provide a fertile ground to reect on Hayy’s dismissal of mass religion,
and his inability to understand the role of tradition and doctrinal rituals in
conveying the knowledge of truth and right, and in ensuring continuity and
preserving stability.
Although Hayy acquired his sublime knowledge of the divine by
observations and experiences within his context of animals, planets, and
physical surroundings, he had seemingly become less aware of the power of
the particular context in which people’s mind and soul develop. e forces
of particularism be it in the form of a tradition, culture, language, or
a religious doctrine can have the same power, if not more, that minds
have in molding people’s knowledge and morality. In this sense, Hayy’s
story exemplies how peoples knowledge can develop to the highest ranks
outside society, language and religion; but also how this knowledge might
turn out to be futile when it comes to mobilizing reformative changes
that cannot be advanced outside of the language of power and societal
dynamics. To develop transcendental knowledge one might not need the
aid of institutions and instruction; but to put it in service of a reform, a
change in how people approach and understand their realities and practices,
one needs to consider how he or she can make his ultimate and universal
knowledge and truth more available, accessible, and acceptable. Easier said
than done.
Conclusion
e deliberations on the three texts mentioned above provided the
participants with an opportunity to learn how the issue of leadership
can be approached from a Muslim perspective that is less denitive, less
categorical, and more open to reection and critique. Specically, these texts
provide opportunities to engage with leadership as a relational, asymmetric,
domain specic, and instrumental phenomenon. It is relational because a
leader does not exist without followers. Yet, this required leader-followers
relationship is not a symmetric one. On the contrary, it’s an asymmetric,
hierarchal, relationship in which the leader oen enjoys more attention and
prominence. It is also domain specic, as an individual who leads in certain
matters may be a follower in others. Finally, leadership is instrumental in
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this sense that it is oriented toward processes and goals that the followers
are mobilized to achieve.
Moreover, these classical texts suggest that leadership is above all an
ethical endeavor. In this regard, to exercise an “Islamic” leadership means
to demonstrate an ethical leadership that is inspired by the principles of
Islam. While the term “Islamic” might potentially be essentializing and de-
contextualizing, the term “Muslim” shis the focus from Islam to Muslims,
emphasizing agency and context. In this regard, the term Islamic is used
here to refer to the various perceptions, conicting at times, of what the
divine is in Islam and how to approach it. Put dierently, the “Islamic” is
indeed a discursive arena in which many factions and doctrinal approaches
struggle to gain dominance and inuence; yet what they share is their
engagement, as such, with the sacred texts of Islam and its founding and
formative history.
To illustrate what might be “Islamic” in an “Islamic leadershipthat
is both particularistic and universalistic, one can, for example, draw on
a plethora of material in Islamic theological thought that grapples with
the main objectives of Shariah (Maqasid) to re-articulate the common
interests (Masaleh) they seek to preserve. Al-Shatibi, an Andalusian
jurists, articulated a detailed framework of these goals and interests in his
book “Al-Muwafaqat Fi Usul Al-Shariah, in which he advocated that a
sacred text, whether it is of a command or a prohibition, should be read
in conjunction with its rationale and objective, for this is most likely to
bear the greatest harmony with the intention of the Lawgiver. For him,
and for many others, Islam seeks, primarily, to protect and promote ve
essential values, and validates all measures necessary for their preservation
and advancement. ese basic human interests are the protection of life,
faith, property, intellect and lineage. In this since, an Islamic leadership is
one that is geared to the respect and preservation of these values.
With this understang of Islamic leadership as an ethical eort to
preserve certain safeguards, such as those mentioned above, though these
could of course be expanded, it is imperative to discuss the leader as a human
being vis-à-vis the normative framework of Islam. In this regard, the three
texts center on human beings, and focus on their experiences in acquiring
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leadership and leverage, happiness and excellence, as well as knowledge and
impact. ese human-centered texts grapple with the complex dynamics
between a person and his context, be it a vast empire to be led, a virtuous
city to be established and ruled, or a community to be reformed in its ways
to God. In these dynamics, change, whether it is in a story of success or
of failure, is slow, successive and dialectic; and human beings are always
endowed with natural capacities ready to be translated into action. In this
regard, a person is always rendering an unnished work, while advocating
his free will, autonomy and self-rule in the quest for leadership, fulllment,
and impact. Always in a process of molding, always on a path that leads to
God, a path that is full of wonder and surprise.
Generally speaking, the three texts encouraged the course participants
to conceive leadership in Islam as part and parcel of a wider active moral
framework. It is not an end but a means to serve God and thus a source of
mercy and justice for humanity. To be a Muslim leader in Islam, I argued
in my lectures, entails exercising ethical eort that involves demonstrating
values of honesty, modesty, restraint, trust, responsibility, and cooperation,
among others. Leaders are primarily distinguished from followers by their
knowledge, their commitment to the Islamic principles and possession of
superior moral values. us conceived, Islamic leadership establishes depth
of a paramount purpose that links leaders and followers on the basis of
mutual consent in activities that satisfy their need for an enduring sense of
community Ummah. It is this reciprocal relationship with their followers
that is supposed to provide Muslim leaders with their transformational
capacities.
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e Tale of Abu Ja’far Al Mansur
Ibn Abd Rabbih24
Abu Jafar Al Mansur, the founder of the ‘Abbasid state, posed, for one, the
leadership question to some of his condants: Who is the hawk of Quraysh?
ey replied: e Commander of the Faithful (Amir al Mu’minin) who
established the reign, quieted upheavals, and extinguished ordeals.
He said: You have not answered my question.
ey said: Is it Muawiyah?
He said: No.
ey said: Is it ‘Abd Al Malik Bin Marwan?
He said: No.
ey said: Who else, O Commander of the Faithful?
He said: ‘Abd Al Rahman Bin Mu’awiyah, who escaped by his cunning
the spearheads of the lances and the blades of the swords, traveling the
desert, and sailing the seas, until he entered an alien territory. [ere] he
organized cities, mobilized armies, and reestablished his reign aer it was
completely lost, by good management and strong resolve. Mu’awiyah rose
to his stature through the support of ‘Umar and ‘Uthman, whose backing
allowed him to overcome diculties; Abd Al Malik, because of previous
appointment; and the Commander of the Faithful through the struggle of
his kin and the solidarity of his partisans. But ‘Abd Al Rahman did it alone,
with the support of none other than his own judgment, depending on no
one but his own resolve. (Ibn Al Athir, 5:182)
24 See translation in Sa, Louay. “Leadership and subordination: An Islamic perspective.
e American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 12:2 (1995), p. 204.
122
25     
     
  .             
          
   .          .
         .   

    : ?  .    :
: . : .   : .    
: ?    : .  : .   : . 
      
     
          .
       
.  
683 :       25
:  http://www.alwaraq.net      
http://www.alwaraq.net/Core/AlwaraqSrv/bookpage?book=25&session=
ABBBVFAGFGFHAAWER&ey=2&page=1&option=1
123
e Opinions of the Inhabitants of the Virtuous City:
Twelve Natural Qualities of the Ruler of the Ideal City
Abu Nasr Al-Farabi26
(1) One of them is that he should have limbs and organs which are free
from deciency and strong, and that they will make him t for the actions
that depend on them; when he intends to perform an action with one of
them, he accomplishes it with ease;
(2) He should by nature be good at understanding and perceiving everything
said to him, and grasp it in his mind according to what the speaker intends
and what the thing itself demands;
(3) He should be good at retaining what he comes to know and see and
hear and apprehend in general, and forget almost nothing;
(4) He should be well provided with ready intelligence and very bright;
when he sees the slightest indication of a thing, he should grasp it in the
way indicated;
(5) He should have a ne diction, his tongue enabling him to explain to
perfection all that is in the recesses of his mind;
(6) He should be fond of learning and acquiring knowledge, be devoted
to it and grasp things easily, without nding the eort painful, nor feeling
discomfort about the toil which it entails;
26 Al-Farabi, Abu Nasr. “al-Madina al-Fadila.” (e Virtuous City), trans. Walzer,
Richard. Al-Farabi on the perfect state. Oxford University Press, USA, 1985, pp. 247, 249
and 250.
124
?רוביג יטנא וא רוביג :גיהנמה :ב רעש | 124
(7) He should by nature be fond of truth and truthful men, and hate
falsehood and liars;
(8) He should by nature not crave for food and drink and sexual intercourse,
and have a natural aversion to gambling and hatred of the pleasures which
these pursuits provided;
(9) He should be proud of spirit and fond of honor, his soul being by his
nature above everything ugly and base, and rising naturally to the most
loy things;
(10) Money, dirham and dinar and the other worldly pursuits should be of
little amount in his view;
(11) He should by nature be fond of justice and of just people, and hate
oppression and injustice and those who practice them, giving himself
and others their due, and urging people to act justly and showing pity to
those who are oppressed by injustice; he should lend his support to what
he considers to be beautiful and noble and just; he should not be reluctant
to give in nor should he be stubborn and obstinate if he is asked to do
justice; but he should be reluctant to give in if he is asked to do injustice and
evil altogether;
(12) He should be strong in setting his mind rmly upon the thing which,
in his view, ought to be done, and daringly and bravely carry it out without
fear and weak-mindedness.
125

27     
  
      .       
   .        
  :             
            
.          
              -
.    
             -
. 
             -
.  
.            -
          -
.     
          -
.    
26-27 :      27
:   http://www.alwaraq.net      
http://www.alwaraq.net/Core/AlwaraqSrv/bookpage?book=1083&session=
ABBBVFAGFGFHAAWER&ey=2&page=1&option=1
126
?רוביג יטנא וא רוביג :גיהנמה :ב רעש | 126
.       -
        :      -
.     
.         -
          -
               
              
.      
            -
.    
  
               
          .   
             
           .  
             
.    
.   -
           -
.     
            -
.      
              -
             
.        
           -
.    
127 | היראבגא מיא ר"ד
127
             -
.   
            -
     .        
             
   .        
             
.    .        
.              
128
Hayy Ibn Yaqzān
Ibn Tufayl28
In the name of God, the Merciful and Compassionate
God bless our master Muhammad,
his house and companions and grant them peace.
[…] In this fashion Hayy lived until he had passed his seventh septenary and
reached the age of y. It was then he chanced to make the acquaintance of
Absāl. God willing, I shall tell you the tale of their friendship.
Near the island where, according to one of the two conicting accounts
of his origin, Hayy was born, there was, so they say, a second island, in
which had settled the followers of a certain true religion, based on the
teachings of a certain ancient prophetGod’s blessing on all such prophets.
Now the practice in this religion was to represent all reality in symbols,
providing concrete images of things and impressing their outlines on the
people’s souls, just as orators do when addressing a multitude. e sect
spread widely throughout the island, ultimately growing so powerful
and prominent that the king himself converted to it and made the people
embrace it as well.
ere had grown up on this island two ne young men of ability
and high principle, one named Absāl and the other Salāmān. Both had
taken instruction in this religion and accepted it enthusiastically. Both
held themselves duty-bound to abide by all its laws and precepts for
living. ey practiced their religion together; and together, from time
28 Ibn Tufayl (2009). Hayy Ibn Yaqzān: A Philosophical Tale. Chicago: University of
Chicago Press. Translation: Lenn Evan, Goodman. Segments from pp. 95-166.
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to time, they would study some of that religions traditional expressions
describing God exalted be Hethe angels He sends, and the character
of resurrection, reward and punishment. Absāl, for his part, was the more
deeply concerned with getting down to the heart of things, the more eager
to discover spiritual values, and the more ready to attempt a more or less
allegorical interpretation. Salāmān, on the other hand, was more anxious to
preserve the literal and less prone to seek subtle intensions. On the whole
he avoided giving too free rein to his thoughts. Still each of them executed
the express commands of the text fastidiously, kept watch over his soul, and
fought his passions.
In the Law were certain statements proposing a life of solitude and
isolation and suggesting that by these means salvation and spiritual
triumph could be won. Other statements, however, favored life in a
community and involvement in society. Absāl devoted himself to the quest
for solitude, preferring the words of the Law in its favor because he was
naturally a thoughtful man, fond of contemplation and of probing for the
deeper meanings of things; and he did nd the most propitious time for
seeking what he hoped for to be when he was alone. But Salāmān preferred
being among people and gave greater weight to the sayings of the Law in
favor of society, since he was by nature chary of too much independent
thinking or doing. In staying with the group he saw some means of fending
o demonic promptings, dispelling distracting thoughts, and in general
guarding against the goadings of the devil. eir dierences on this point
became the cause of their parting.
For Absāl had heard of the island where it is said Hayy came to be. He
knew how temperate, fruitful and hospitable it was and how easy it would
be, for anyone who so desired, to live there in solitude. So he decided to go
there and remain in isolation for the rest of his life. He took what money
he had, and with some hired a boat to take him to the island. e rest he
divided among the poor; and, saying goodbye to his friend, he set sail. e
sailors brought him to the island, set him down on the beach and le. Absāl
remained there on the island, worshipping, magnifying, and sanctifying
God glory to Him contemplating His most beautiful names and
sublime attributes.
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His reveries were undisrupted; his thoughts, unsullied. When he
needed food, he would take some of the island fruits or game, just enough
to hold his appetite in check. He lived in this way for some time in most
perfect happiness and intimacy with his Lord. Each day he could see for
himself God’s splendid gis and acts of grace the ease with which He
allowed him to nd not just his food but all his wants, conrming his trust
and putting a sparkle in his eye.
All this while Hayy Ibn Yaqzān was deeply immersed in his supernal
ecstasies, emerging from his cave no more than once a week for whatever
food came to hand. For this reason, Absāl did not come across him at rst,
but surveyed the whole island without seeing a soul or even a footprint
which made him all the happier, since his intention had been to be alone.
But once, when Hayy had come out to look for food, Absāl happened to be
nearby and they saw each other. Absāl had no doubt that this was another
anchorite who had come to the island, as he had, in search of solitude.
He was anxious not to disturb the other by introducing himself, for fear
of disrupting his frame of mind and preventing his attaining the goal he
would be hoping to reach.
Hayy, for his part, had not the least idea what Absāl was, since he had
the form of no animal he had ever laid eyes on. Besides, he was wearing a
long, black cloak of wool and goat hair, which Hayy took to be his natural
coat. Hayy simply stood gazing at him in amazement; but Absāl, still hoping
not to distract him, took to his heels and ran. Always naturally eager to
nd out about things, Hayy set out aer him. But, seeing Absāl run still
faster, he fell back and dropped out of sight, letting Absāl suppose he had
lost the trail and gone elsewhere. Absāl then took up his devotions and
was soon completely absorbed in invocations, recitations, weeping, and
lamentations. Little by little Hayy crept up without Absāl’s noticing, until
he was in earshot of his praises and recitations and could make out how he
was humbling himself and weeping. e voice he heard was pleasant and
the sounds somehow clearly patterned, quite unlike the call of any animal
he had ever heard before. On closer inspection of the other’s features and
the lines of his body, Hayy recognized the form as his own and realized that
the long coat was not a natural skin, but simply a garment intended for use
like his own.
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Seeing how abject Absāl made himself, Hayy had no doubt that he was
one of those beings who know the Truth. He felt drawn to him, and wanted
to know what was wrong, what was it that made him cry. He approached
closer and closer, but Absāl caught sight of him and ed. Hayy ran aer
him, and with the power and vigor God had given him, not just mentally,
but physically as well, he caught up with him and seized him in a grip from
which he could not escape.
When he got a good look at his captor, clothed in hides still bristling
with fur, his hair so overgrown that it hung down over a good part of his
body, when he saw how fast he could run and how ercely he could grapple,
Absāl was terried and began to beg for mercy. Hayy could not understand
a word he said. But he could make out the signs of fright and did his best
to put the other at ease with a variety of animal cries he knew. Hayy also
patted his head, rubbed his sides, and spoke soothingly to him, trying to
show how delighted he was with him. Eventually Absāl’s trepidation died
down and he realized that Hayy did not mean him any harm.
Years before, in his passion for the study of the more sophisticated level
of interpretation, Absāl had studied and gained uency in many languages,
so he tried to speak to Hayy, asking him about himself in every language he
knew. But Absāl was completely unable to make himself understood. Hayy
was astounded by this performance, but had no idea what it might mean
unless it was a sign of friendliness and high spirits. Neither of them knew
what to make of the other.
Absāl had a little food le over from the provisions he had brought
from the civilized island. He oered it to Hayy, but Hayy did not know
what it was. He had never seen anything like it. Absāl ate a bit and made
signs to Hayy that he should eat some too. But Hayy was thinking of his
dietary rules. Not knowing what the proered food might be or what it
was made from, he had no idea whether he was allowed to eat it or not,
so he would not take any. Absāl, however, kept trying to interest him in it,
in an eort to win him over. And Hayy, liking him and afraid to hurt his
feelings by persistently refusing, took the food and ate some. e moment
he tasted how good it was, Hayy knew he had done wrong to violate his
pledged dietary restrictions. He regretted what he had done and wanted
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to get away from Absāl and devote himself to his true purpose, a return
to sublimity.
But this time ecstasy would not come so readily. It seemed best to
remain in the sense-world with Absāl until he had found out so much about
him that he no longer felt any interest in him. en he would be able to go
back to his station without further distraction. So he sought out Absāl’s
company. When Absāl, for his part, saw that Hayy did not know how to
talk, the fears he had felt of harm to his faith were eased, and he became
eager to teach him to speak, hoping to impart knowledge and religion to
him, and by so doing earn God’s favor and a greater reward.
So Absāl began teaching him to talk, at rst by pointing at some basic
objects and pronouncing their names over and over, making him pronounce
them too and pronounce them while pointing, until he had taught him
nouns. en he progressed with him, little by little and step by step, until in
no time Hayy could speak.
Absāl then plied him with questions about himself and how he had
come to the island. Hayy informed him that he had no idea of his origins.
He knew of no father or any mother besides the doe that had raised him.
He told all about his life and the growth of his awareness, culminating in
contact with the divine. Hearing Hayys description of the beings which
are divorced from the sense-world and conscious of the Truthglory be
to Himhis description of the Truth Himself, by all His lovely attributes,
and his description, as best he could, of the joys of those who reach Him
and the agonies of those veiled from Him, Absāl had no doubt that all
the traditions of his religion about God, His angels, bibles and prophets,
Judgment Day, Heaven and Hell were symbolic representations of these
things that Hayy Ibn Yaqzān had seen for himself. e eyes of his heart
were unclosed. His mind caught re. Reason and tradition were at one
within him. All the paths of exegesis lay open before him. All his old
religious puzzlings were solved; all the obscurities clear. Now he had “a
heart to understand”.
Absāl looked on Hayy Ibn Yaqzān with newfound reverence. Here,
surely, was a man of God, one of those who “know neither fear nor sorrow.
He wanted to serve as his disciple, follow his example and accept his
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direction in those things which in Absāl’s own view corresponded to the
religious practices he had learned in his society?
Hayy then asked him about himself and his life; and Absāl, accordingly,
set out to tell him about his island and the people who lived there. He
described how they had lived before the advent of their present religion
and how they acted now. He related all the religious traditions describing
the divine world, Heaven and Hell, rebirth and resurrection, the gathering
and reckoning, the scales of justice and the strait way. Hayy understood
all this and found none of it in contradiction with what he had seen for
himself from his supernal vantage point. He recognized that whoever had
oered this description had given a faithful picture and spoken truly. is
man must have been a “messenger sent by his Lord.” Hayy believed in this
messenger and the truth of what he said. He bore witness to his mission as
apostle of God.
What obligations and acts of worship had he prescribed, Hayy asked.
Absāl described prayer, poor tax, fasting, and pilgrimage and other such
outward practices. Hayy accepted these and undertook to observe them.
He held himself responsible to practice these things in obedience to the
command of one whose truthfulness he could not doubt. Still there were
two things that surprised him and the wisdom of which he could not see.
First, why did this prophet rely for the most part on symbols to portray the
divine world, allowing mankind to fall into the grave error of conceiving
the Truth corporeally and ascribing to Him things which He transcends
and is totally free of (and similarly with reward and punishment) instead
of simply revealing the truth? Second, why did he conne himself to
these particular rituals and duties and allow the amassing of wealth and
overindulgence in eating, leaving men idle to busy themselves with inane
pastimes and neglect the Truth. Hayy’s own idea was that no one should
eat the least bit more than would keep him on the brink of survival.
Property meant nothing to him, and when he saw all the provisions of the
Law to do with money, such as the regulations regarding the collection
and distribution of welfare or those regulating sales and interest, with all
their statutory and discretionary penalties, he was dumbfounded. All this
seemed superuous. If people understood things as they really are, Hayy
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said, they would forget these inanities and seek the Truth. ey would
not need all these laws. No one would have any property of his own to be
demanded as charity or for which human beings might struggle and risk
amputation. What made him think so was his naïve belief that all men had
outstanding character, brilliant minds and resolute spirits. He had no idea
how stupid, inadequate, thoughtless, and weak willed they are, “like sheep
gone astray, only worse.
Hayy deeply pitied mankind and hoped that it might be through him
that they would be saved. He was eager to go to these men to reveal and
explain the Truth. He spoke about it with his friend Absāl, asking if he
knew any way of reaching them. Absāl warned him how defective they are
in character and how heedless of God’s Word, but this was not easy for Hayy
to understand. His heart was set on what he hoped to accomplish. Absāl
himself had hopes that through Hayy God might give guidance to a body of
aspiring acquaintances of his, who were somewhat closer to salvation than
the rest. He agreed to help with the idea.
e two men decided to stay by the shore day and night, in hopes that
God might give them some ready means of crossing over. And so they
stayed, humbly praying God to fortify them with sound judgment. By God’s
command it happened that a ship lost its course and was driven by the
winds and the beating of the waves to their shore. When it came close to
land the men on board saw two men on the beach, so they rode in closer
and Absāl hailed them and asked if they would take them along. e men
answered yes and brought them on board. No sooner had they done so than
God sent a favorable wind that brought the ship with all possible speed
to the island where the two had hoped to go. ey debarked and went up
to the city. Absāl’s friends gathered, and he told them all about Hayy Ibn
Yaqzān. ey all marveled at the story. ey crowded around him, making
much of him, and in fact deeply in awe of him. Absāl informed Hayy that of
all men this group approached nearest to intelligence and understanding.
If Hayy were unable to teach them, it would be all the more impossible
for him to teach the masses. e ruler of the island and its most eminent
man at this time was Salāmān, Absāl’s friend who believed in living within
society and held it unlawful to withdraw.
135 | היראבגא מיא ר"ד
135
Hayy Ibn Yaqzān began to teach this group and explain some of his
profound wisdom to them. But the moment he rose the slightest bit above
the literal or began to portray things against which they were prejudiced,
they recoiled in horror from his ideas and closed their minds. Out of
courtesy to the stranger and in deference to their friend Absāl, they made
a show of being pleased with Hayy, but in their hearts they resented him.
Hayy found them delightful and continued his exposition of the truth,
exoteric and esoteric, night and day. But the more he taught the more
repugnance they felt, despite the fact that these were men who loved the
good and sincerely yearned for the Truth. eir inborn inrmity simply
would not allow them to seek Him as Hayy did, to grasp the true essence
of His being and see Him in His own terms. ey wanted to know Him
in some human way. In the end Hayy despaired of helping them and gave
up his hopes that they would accept his teaching. en, class by class, he
studied mankind. He saw “every faction delighted with its own.ey had
made their passions their god, and desire the object of their worship. ey
destroyed each other to collect the trash of this world, “distracted by greed
’til they went down to their graves.Preaching is no help, ne words have
no eect on them. Arguing only makes them more pig-headed. Wisdom,
they have no means of reaching; they were allotted no share of it. ey are
engulfed in ignorance. eir hearts are corroded by their possessions. God
has sealed their hearts and shrouded their eyes and ears. eirs will be an
awesome punishment.
When he saw that the torture pavilion already encircled them and the
shadows of the veil already enshrouded them, when he saw that all but a
very few of them adhered to their religion only for the sake of this world
and “ung away works, no matter how light and easy, sold them for a bad
price”, distracted from the thought of God by business, heedless of the
Day when hearts and eyes will be turned inwards, Hayy saw clearly and
denitely that to appeal to them publicly and openly was impossible. Any
attempt to impose a higher task on them was bound to fail. e sole benet
most people could derive from religion was for this world, in that it helped
them lead decent lives without others encroaching on what belonged to
them. Hayy now knew that only a very few win the true happiness of the
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?רוביג יטנא וא רוביג :גיהנמה :ב רעש | 136
man who “desires the world to come, strives for it and is faithful .“ But “for
the insolent who prefer this lifeHell will be their refuge!”
What weariness is heavier, what misery more overburdening than
recounting all you do from the time you get up to the time you go to bed
without nding a single action that did not amount to seeking one of these
vile, sensory aims: money making, pleasure seeking, satisfying some lust,
venting rage, saving face, performing religious rites for the sake of honor,
or just to save your neck! All these are only “cloud upon cloud over a deep
sea.” “Not one among you will not descend there this from your Lord,
decreed and sealed.
Hayy now understood the human condition. He saw that most men
are no better than unreasoning animals, and realized that all wisdom and
guidance, all that could possibly help them was contained already in the
words of the prophets and the religious traditions. None of this could be
dierent. ere was nothing to be added. ere is a man for every task and
everyone belongs to the life for which he was created. “is was God’s way
with those who came before, and never will you nd a change in the ways
of God.
So Hayy went to Salāmān and his friends and apologized, dissociating
himself from what he had said. He told them that he had seen the light and
realized that they were right. He urged them to hold fast to their observance
of all the statutes regulating outward behavior and not delve into things that
did not concern them, submissively to accept all the most problematical
elements of the tradition and shun originality and innovation, follow in the
footsteps of their righteous forbears and leave behind everything modern.
He cautioned them most emphatically not to neglect religion or pursue the
world as the vast majority of people do.
Hayy Ibn Yaqzān and his friend Absāl now knew that even this aspiring
group fell short and could be saved only in their own way. If ever they were
to venture beyond their present level to the vantage point of insight, what
they had would be shattered, and even so they would be unable to reach
the level of the blessed. ey would waver and slip and their end would
be all the worse. But if they went along as they were until overtaken by
death, they would win salvation and come to sit on the right. But “those
137 | היראבגא מיא ר"ד
137
who run in the forefront, those who run in the forefront, they will be
brought near.
So, saying goodbye to them, the two le their company and discreetly
sought passage back to their own island. Soon God exalted be He
gave them an easy crossing. Hayy searched for his ecstasy as he had before,
until once again it came. Absāl imitated him until he approached the same
heights, or nearly so. us they served God on the island until man’s certain
fate overtook them.
And thismay God give you spirit to strengthen youis the story
of Hayy Ibn Yaqzān, Absāl and Salāmān. It takes up a line of discourse
not found in books or heard in the usual sort of speeches. It belongs to a
hidden branch of study received only by those who are aware of God and
unknown to those who know Him not. In treating of this openly I have
broken the precedent of our righteous ancestors, who were sparing to the
point of tightstedness in speaking of it. What made it easy for me to strip
o the veil of secrecy and divulge this mystery was the great number of
corrupt ideas that have sprouted up and are being openly spread by the
self-styled philosophers of today, so widely that they have covered the land
and caused universal damage. Fearing that the weak-minded, who throw
over the authority of prophets to ape the ways of fools, might mistake these
notions for the esoteric doctrines which must be kept secret from those
unt to know them, and thus be all the more enticed to embrace them, I
decided to aord them a eeting glimpse of the mystery of mysteries to
draw them to true understanding and turn them away from this other,
false way.
Nonetheless I have not le the secrets set down in these few pages
entirely without a veil a sheer one, easily pierced by those t to do so, but
capable of growing so thick to those unworthy of passing beyond that they
will never breach it.
Of my brothers who read these words I ask indulgence for my loose
exposition and lack of rigor in demonstration. My only excuse is that I had
risen to pinnacles higher than the eye can see, and I wanted to try, at least,
to approach them in words so as to excite desire and inspire a passion to
start out along this road.
138
?רוביג יטנא וא רוביג :גיהנמה :ב רעש | 138
Of God I ask forgiveness, and pray Him to purify our knowledge of
Him, for He is bountiful and it is He Who bestows all blessings. Farewell
my brother, whom it was my duty to help. e blessings and the mercy of
God upon you!
139
29   
 .            
.               
              
            
      .   
         
             
.       
            
           
.    
             
           
           
      
      .      
25-30 :    29
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140
?רוביג יטנא וא רוביג :גיהנמה :ב רעש | 140
            
. 
             
.         .    
           
        .  
.    
       .      
              
 .            
            
         
.   
            
       .       
         .      
           .   
         .      
             
             
              
                
.            
            
.    
.              
                
.             
.   
141 | היראבגא מיא ר"ד
141
              
           .    
              
     .        
            
.           .
             
.      
             
              
  -               
.       -       
             
 .          
              
            . 
              
             . 
              
.               
.     
              
       .          
              
     .   !         
              
.    
                
            
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?רוביג יטנא וא רוביג :גיהנמה :ב רעש | 142
            .    
.               
            .  
     .          
            
         
.   
              
             
.      
            
           .  
             
             
             
          
               
              .
.      
           
.    
            
               
              .
         .    
         .       
.         
             
          
143 | היראבגא מיא ר"ד
143
        .      
.     
             : 
              
.          
          : 
  ?          
.               
             
            
             
              
. 
              
            
.    
              
            
          ?    
    .            
            
    .         
. 
.          
           
            . 
         
.         
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?רוביג יטנא וא רוביג :גיהנמה :ב רעש | 144
           
         
                
.   
            
            
 .              
            
.       
          
    .         
             
            
.
           
          
           
              .
       (    
.) 
 -            
            - 
           
           
            
               
             
.   
            
               
145 | היראבגא מיא ר"ד
145
           
                 
 (              
.)     
            
             
       (          
.)  
           
              
         
          
           
           .  
              
      .      
           
          .  
         .    
             
. 
          -     - 
              
.            
              
              
            
           
.             
?רוביג יטנא וא רוביג :גיהנמה :ב רעש | 146
             
            .  
          
           . 
             
 .           .
   .        
.    
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