By Tariq Mehanna

The Penalty by Tariq Mehanna


as-Salamu ‘alaykum wa Rahmatullah wa Barakatuh.

Although the words below were penned over six decades ago halfway around the world from where I sit, they are worth translating and sharing with you. Through them, the author imparts a lesson which is timeless and pertinent to each one of us, particularly in today’s reality:

“…There are weak-willed individuals who imagine that honor has a price, a penalty, which is too heavy to bear. Hoping to escape this burden, they instead choose the path of submissiveness. This leads them to live cheap, meaningless lives filled with instability and anxiety, in which they fear their own shadows and are startled by their own voices…

Such people pay a penalty which is oppressive and far heavier than the price of dignity – such people pay the penalty of submissiveness in full. They pay this penalty from their own souls; they pay it from their self-worth; they pay it from their reputation; they pay it from their sense of calm, and they often unwittingly pay it from their own blood and wealth. They fool themselves into thinking that in return for giving up their dignity, they will somehow gain approval from those in power and authority because it is to them that they have paid it. But how many times have we seen the story end with such people being tossed aside by the very master they had submitted to in place of Allah? How many a man has sold his manhood, bowed down, rubbed his face in the dirt under the master’s feet, and thus forfeited the qualities of a true human being? How many have done this only to end up worthless and despised, even to the very master who had used him like a dog – the master for whose sake he lolled his tongue, for whom he wagged his tail, and for whose approval he rolled around in the mud?!

How many a man could have been honorable, could have been noble, could have protected the trust of Allah placed in front of him…but instead betrayed that trust and slackened in carrying its weight? How many became so worthless even to those trying to get him to sell-out that they lost interest in buying him altogether…instead, disposing of him like a stinking corpse, to be kicked around by the feet of the very people who led him on with false promises..?

Many are those who fall to the foot of a mountain from its peak, with nobody showing them mercy, nobody wishing it upon them, nobody attending their funerals – not even the masters for whose sake they fall so low… Through the many reminders and experiences, we continue to observe each day presenting a new victim who decides to pay the penalty of submissiveness in full; a victim who betrays Allah and the people, sacrificing the trust and sacrificing his honor; a victim lolling his tongue for the sake of his masters and for the sake of staying in the comfort zone; a victim chasing a mirage, only to fall to the bottom as the people watch with glee and his former masters glare at him with disdain.

In my short life, I have seen and continue to see dozens of great men bowing their heads and bending their necks to other than Allah, humbly putting a foot forward while carrying the burdens of their submission heavy on their backs, only to be shoved aside like dogs after they had set down their load before the master…only to join the long line of slaves with no one paying them any mind… I saw them! They could have been free, but they chose to be enslaved; they could have been strong, but they chose to be feeble; they could have been revered, but they chose to be cowardly and meek. I saw them running away from honor out of fear that it would cost them a few cents, while they willingly paid the penalty of submissiveness in whole dollars. I saw them engaging in the greatest sins and crimes in order to please the authorities, seeking shade under their power and authority, while it was entirely within their ability to put the authorities in awe of them! In fact, I have seen entire nations shying away from paying the price of freedom once, only to end up paying the penalty of subjugation many times over – one to which the price of freedom pales in comparison… In the past, the Jews had said to their Prophet: {O Moses! There are a people in this land (the Amalekites who had occupied Jerusalem) with overwhelming strength. We will not enter it until they leave it. Only when they leave it will we enter.”} [The Qur’an; 5:22] So, they wandered the desert for forty years, consumed by its sands, humiliated in their banishment, and chased about by their fears – all as a price for their aversion to paying the price of honor and victory in the world of men, which equaled not a fraction of what they did end up paying.

There must be a price paid by individuals, by groups, and by nations – a price that can be paid either to attain glory, dignity, and freedom, or to become oppressed and enslaved. Each of these experiences confirm this reality from which there is no escape.

So, to those who run away from the price of freedom, to those who fear the consequences of honor, to those who rub their faces under the feet of others, to those who betray their trusts and betray their sense of dignity and humanity and betray the great sacrifices of their Ummah to attain freedom and rid itself of oppression – to all of you, I direct this call: look at the lessons in history, and the lessons in our current reality. Ponder over the numerous examples testifying to the fact that the penalty of submissiveness is heavier than that of dignity, that freedom costs less than enslavement, that those who are prepared for death will find themselves granted true life, that those who don’t fear poverty will find themselves granted all that they need, and that those who don’t fear power and authority will find themselves feared by those in power and authority! There are many familiar examples of submissive people who sold their conscience, betrayed their trusts, abandoned the truth, rolled around in the dirt, and then faded away to be missed by no one…cursed by Allah, and cursed by the people.

On the other hand, we have examples – although they are few – of those who refused to be subjugated, refused to betray, and refused to sell their manhood. Those of them who are alive live nobly, and those of them who are dead died nobly…”


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