What can I possibly say that would do justice to this magnificent book?
Knowing that Dr Omar Suleiman has done a lot of community work that involves, among others, immigrants, the disabled, and war victims, I thought this book would lean towards law and politics. Having listened to his lectures on Al Maghrib Online, I thought this book will be based on those lectures.
I was not entirely correct.
This book is a book about our interactions with others, what rights others have upon us, and what rights do we have upon others. Yes, Dr Omar started off talking about the gravity of injustice in Islam, and then moved on to leadership, and then about a word of truth in the face of an oppressor. When we talk about oppression, we think about unjust governments, about dictators, about corruption and broken justice system.
However, as we move along the book, the oppressor might just be ourselves, or among ourselves. The oppressive people could be the greedy, deceiving business person, the dishonest government servant, a cheating employee, the bullying employer, a rich and/or powerful person misusing his/her priviledge, the abusive neighbour, the corrupt banking system involved in usury, or the ambiguous insurance company.
Not only that, the book brings us to be more introspective as we look at the rights of our parents upon us, our spouses, our siblings and extended family, and the elderly in the society. These relationships are even more relatable to us as we all have rights and responsibilities with at least one or two of these individuals.
Dr Omar went on to touch about a few other issues such as slavery, treatment of immigrants and asylum seekers, gender equity, conduct towards those with special needs, and racism. As justice is Islam is all-encompassing, he spoke also spoke at length about the correct ways of dealing with animals, and environmentalism.
For the language, the book is easy to read. It uses simple English and the topics well articulated. However, for the thoughts, it is a different story. Personally, as someone who’s worked with thousands of people, one at a time, I tend to look back and reflect on the things I’ve said and done to everyone around me; my bosses, fellow colleagues, juniors, and most importantly, my beloved ‘clients’. More importantly, I looked back at my relationship with my parents, siblings, extended family and friends; what could I do to be excellent in all that I do.
It was pretty heavy for me. But it was good. I thank Allah that I was made aware of this book. As it is Ramadhan, month of the Quran, social justice is probably not the kind of read that someone does in this month. However, I am glad I did, because at least now I am aware of my shortcomings and I could make a lot of du’as to overcome those issues.
This is an excellent book that should be read by anyone, teenagers and above. We are all shepherds to our flocks, big or small. We were sent as Allah’s vicegerent in this world. There is at least someone or something that we’re responsible for in this world. This book would give an overview of how we should treat each other, and would help us develop our own leadership qualities.
May Allah shower barakah to Dr Omar Suleiman’s efforts on writing this book, protect him and his family, and grant them jannatul firdaus. Aameen.