Pakistan’s Supreme Court versus the democratic government

– by Abdul Nishapuri

In a (not so) surprise move, top judicial bureaucrats sitting in Pakistan’s Supreme Court and Lahore High Court have declared war against a fragile democracy in Pakistan. The (right-wing) establishment has taken its dagger out for a final attack on the democratic government of the (left-wing) Pakistan People’s Party.

In a decision announced in the after hours on Saturday, the Supreme Court of Pakistan suspended the appointment of two judges by President Asif Ali Zardari.

According to Iftikhar A. Khan of Dawn newspaper,

The build-up to the suspension of the presidential order packed more suspense than a thriller. A three-member bench of the Supreme Court first suspended the operation of notifications for elevation of Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court, Justice Khwaja Sharif, to the apex court and appointment of Justice Saqib Nisar as acting chief justice of the LHC.`The Supreme Court staff was called in the evening before the bench hurriedly constituted by Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammad Chaudhry took up the matter, leaving most observers baffled.

It may be recalled that in violation of the Supreme Court’s own principle of seniority set out in the Al-Jihad trust case, the Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry had recommended to elevate a junior judge, Justice Saqib Nisar, to the Supreme Court of Pakistan while retaining a senior judge, Khwaja Muhammad Sharif, as the Chief Justice of Lahore High Court, a recommendation which was duly rejected by the President of Pakistan.

Political circles in Pakistan point towards the role of (right wing) anti-democracy establishment behind the decision by the Supreme Court to suspend the presidential order, with an aim to create a political crisis in the country,which may lead to derailing of the democratic set up.

It may be recalled that the majority of judges currently sitting in Pakistan’s Supreme Court and Lahore High Court are of Punjabi origin, most of them are known for their loyalties to right-wing PML-N andJamaat-e-Islami; some of them are also known to have a populist anti-West and pro-Taliban inclination.

BBC Urdu’s Analysis

Here is a worth reading analysis by BBC Urdu’s Rafaqat Ali questioning the impartiality of the CJP Iftikhar Chaudhry:

عدلیہ انتظامیہ جھگڑے میں نیا موڑ

رفاقت علی
بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، لندن

چیف جسٹس افتخار محمد چودھری جسٹس خواجہ شریف کو لاہور ہائی کورٹ کا چیف جسٹس رکھنے پر کیوں بضد ہیں اس کا کسی کو علم نہیں ہے۔

صدرآصف علی زرداری نے چیف جسٹس افتخار محمد چودھری کی سمری کے برعکس جسٹس خواجہ شریف کو سپریم کورٹ میں تعینات کرکے سپریم کورٹ کے لیے ایسا مسئلہ کھڑا کر دیا ہے جس میں عدلیہ کی مشکلات میں نہ صرف اضافہ ہو سکتا ہے بلکہ پیپلز پارٹی کو ایک بار پھر مظلوم بن کر عوام کی حمایت حاصل کرنے کا موقع ہاتھ آ سکتا ہے۔

پیپلز پارٹی پہلے ہی ذوالفقار علی بھٹو کے دور اقتدار کے بعد سب سے لمبے عرصے تک حکومت کر چکی ہے۔

سنیچر کوصدر آصف زرداری نے چیف جسٹس کی خواہش کے برعکس لاہور ہائی کورٹ کے چیف جسٹس خواجہ محمد شریف کو سپریم کورٹ میں تعینات کر دیا اور ہائی کورٹ کے سینئر جج جسٹس میاں ثاقب نثار کو لاہور ہائی کورٹ کا قائم مقام چیف جسٹس مقرر کردیا۔

سپریم کورٹ نے کمال سرعت کا مظاہرہ کرتے ہوئے اسی روز، چیف جسٹس کے از خود نوٹس کے بعد، بینچ تشکیل دے کر صدراتی حکم کو معطل کر دیا ہے اور فیصلہ کیا کہ اس معاملے پر مزید غور کرے گی۔

صدر کا حکم بظاہر سپریم کورٹ کے اس مشہور زمانہ الجہاد کیس کی فیصلے کی روشنی میں ہے جس کے تحت ججوں کی تعیناتی میں سینارٹی کو ملحفوظ خاطر رکھنا لازم ہے۔ اسی اصول کے تحت ہائی کورٹ کے چیف جسٹس کو سپریم کورٹ میں تعینات کیا جانا چاہیے اور اسی ہائی کورٹ کے سینئر جج کو نیا چیف جسٹس مقرر کیا جانا چاہیے اور حکومت نے ایسا ہی کیا ہے۔

سپریم کورٹ نے خود کئی بار ججز کیس کی دھجیاں بکھیریں اور ایک بار تو لاہور ہائی کے ایک ایسے جج کو سپریم کورٹ میں تعینات کر دیا جن کا ہائی کورٹ میں ججوں کی سینارٹی لسٹ پر سولہواں نمبر تھا۔ جب سپریم کورٹ میں ججز کیسز کی واضح خلاف ورزی کو چیلنج کیا گیا تو سپریم کورٹ نے حکم صادر کیا کہ وہ کسی جج کو سپریم کورٹ کا جج بنا سکتی ہے۔ ججوں کی تعیناتی کے سلسلے میں سپریم کورٹ نے اپنی ضرورت کےمطابق کئی متضاد فیصلے صارد کر رکھے ہیں اور شاید موجودہ سپریم کورٹ کو بھی ’پی سی او سپریم کورٹ‘ کےایک فیصلے کا بھی سہارا لینا پڑے گا جس کے تحت صدر کے اس اختیار کو مانا گیا تھا کہ وہ ہائی کورٹ کے سینئر جج کو سپریم کورٹ میں تعینات کر سکتا ہے۔

چیف جسٹس آف پاکستان جسٹس افتخار محمد چودھری جسٹس خواجہ شریف کو لاہور ہائی کورٹ کا چیف جسٹس رکھنے پر کیوں بضد ہیں اس کا کسی کو علم نہیں ہے۔ جسٹس خواجہ شریف کو میاں نواز شریف کے دور حکومت میں لاہور ہائی کورٹ کا جج مقرر کیا گیا تھا۔

لاہور ہائی کے سینئر جج جسٹس میاں ثاقب نثار کو بھی نواز شریف دور میں ہائی کورٹ کا جج مقرر کیا گیا۔ جسٹس ثاقب نثار میاں نواز شریف دور کے وزیرِ قانون خالد انور کے جونیئر تھے اور اسی دور حکومت میں انہوں نے سیکرٹری قانون کا قلمدان بھی سنبھالے رکھا

Source: BBC

Jamaat-i-Islami declares its support for judges

Amir Jamaat-i-Islam, Syed Munawar Hassan while praising the judges of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, said that it was time that the whole nation should stand behind the Supreme Court of Pakistan.

Terming the decision of the President as unconstitutional, Syed Munnawar Hassan said that the Government should immediately comply with the directions of the Chief Justice of Pakistan not only in the current matter but also all his directions and orders.

He said that JI was ready to march on the Federal Capital in support of the Supreme Court of Pakistan to give strength to the court. He asked the masses to be ready for another movement for the supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law.

Source: The Nation

Leading constitutional experts support Presidential order

However, some of the leading constitutional experts in Pakistan, namely Justice (retired) Fakhruddin Ibrahim, Justice (retired) Tariq Mehmood and Ali Ahmad Kurd have supported the Presidential decision to elevate Justice Khwaja Sharif of the Lahore Hight Court to the SCP, and the elevation of Justice Saqib Nisar to the post of Chief Justice of Lahore High Court. They termed the Presidential decision as consistent with Pakistan’s constitution and also in accordance with the principle of seniority set out in a previous decision (Al-Jihad Trust case) of the Supreme Court of Pakistan. (ARY News)

Senior lawyer Ashtar Ausaf said the most senior judge of a high court could be elevated as apex court judge but for this the recommendations of CJP was paramount. Advocate Fawad Chaudhry said the notification of judges’ elevation was in accordance with constitutional provisions. He said even according to article 206 of the constitution, a judge stands retired after refusing to accept the decision of elevation. He further said that the judiciary should not become a party to the executive’s decision-making. (Dawn)

Ordinary Pakistani Citizens’ Response

Thanks: PkPolitics

Workers of Peoples Youth Organisation in Lahore protesting against the dictatorship of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry: Photo Express News

According to Al-Jihad Trust case, the Supreme Court’s judges are appointed on seniority basis. So who is right and who is wrong in this case?

Zardari wants to appoint senior most HC judge in SC. While Iftikhar Ch wants to appoint a junior judge, who is his personal friend, and to retain Justice Sharif in Lahore, who is a PML-N loyalist. Why?

Who is pushing the country to anarchy? Zardari/Gillani or Iftikhar Ch?
Zardari wants to follow the rule of law (Al Jihad Trust case) while Iftikhar wants to give favor to his friend.

Instead of blaming anyone else, think who is polluting this country. Why Iftikhar Ch is so hostile towards government? Why he is trying to pave the way for Bangladesh model government in which he becomes the President of the country?

The nation supported him although he used his authority illegally to promote his son. But it sounds that he is used to use his power illegally.
(By Aftab Ahmed)

I think PPP just wanted to let CJ act. I might be very wrong, but it seems PPP will accept the decision by judges. I think PPP just wanted to shift the responsibility to CJ. This whole routine will show CJ as having a lot of powers…painting him as the next dictator…but whatever happens…please don’t impose emergency again…
(By telengr)

دو چیزیں ممکن ہیں :
۰ پیلپز پارٹی اس خوف سے باہر نکل آءی ہے جس کے تحت اس سے دباءو سے فیصلے کروا لیے جاتے ہیں اور بعد میں پیپلز پارٹی کو ہی مورد الزام ٹھہرا دیا جاتا ہے
۰ایستبلشمنٹ نے پیپلز پارٹی پر دباءو ڈال کر اس سے افغان پالیسی؛ انڈیا کے ساتھ تعلقات؛ اور طالبان سے متعلق فیصلوں کے جزوی اختیارات بھی واپس لے لیے ہیں اس کے بعد ایسٹبلشمنٹ نے افتخار چوہدری سے ہاتھ اٹھا لیا ہے۔ اس فیصلے کی ٹاءمنگ بھی اہم ہے کیونکہ یہ فیصلہ نواز گیلانی ملاقات کے بعد ہوا ہے۔

دیکھنا یہ ہے کہ کیا تمام سٹیک ہولڈر ایک مطلق العنان سپریم کورٹ کی حمایت کریں گے؟
(By Qais Anwar)

whats wrong with this pco cj, he gave eight years to mushrraf and gave him right to amend the constitution. when ever mushrraf will call him in president house,this pco cj will go there running, now he acts like a king.
(By Hasan Khan)

After Defense Minister’s statement, I am begining to think my initial feeling was correct, PPP trapped the CJ. PPP will loose, (exactly according to its plan). But its dividing the bar leaders, and portraying CJ as egoestic. The question of why CJ prefers one judge over the other so much might be troublesome for him. The presidency is saying No Emergency will be imposed.
(By Telengr)

Personal War
Ch Iftikhar has started a personal war now. Listen to Ali Ahamd Kurd, he is openly criticizing SC, Najim Sethi said that why SC took this action at night? Now Ch Iftikar is openly involved in politics.
Lets suppose govt refused to obey SC political motivated steps, then SC will look to military. But military is already busy in operations. Who will come to help SC as Nawaz’s fishy attitude shows that he is with govt.
Lawyers are not ultimate force. Its a handful of group who likes to dance outside SC. Real force is political parties.
Only GEO and Jang group wants to kick out political system and govt has stop giving them advertisements.
(By Aftab Ahmad)

For the interest of readers, some relevant excerpts of the Al-Jehad case verdict are being reproduced here:

“The words ‘after consultation’ employed inter alia in articles 177 and 193 of the Constitution connote that the consultation should be effective, meaningful, purposive, consensus‑oriented, leaving no room for complaint of arbitrariness or unfair play. The opinion of the chief justice of Pakistan and the chief justice of a high court as to the fitness‑ and suitability of a candidate for judgeship is entitled to be accepted in the absence of very sound reasons to be recorded by the president/executive”.
(By Abbasids)

علی احمد کرد نے ابھی ابھی دنیا نیوز پر زرداری کے نوٹیفیکیشن کی حمایت کی ہے اور کہا ہے کہ خواجہ شریف کو سپریم کورٹ جانا چاہئیے اور ثاقب نثار کو لاہور ہائی کورٹ کا چیف جسٹس ہونا چاہئیے

(By Bawa)

با وا جی؛
اس صورتحا ل میں کچھ اور اہم چیزیں بھی ہیں:
۰سپریم کورٹ کے حکم سے پہلے ہی خواجہ شریف اور ثاقب نثار اپواءنٹگ اتھارٹی کا حکم ماننے سے انکار کر چکے تھے اور اس کا میڈیا پر اظہار کر چکے تھے۔ پہلے اسی طرح کی حرکت پرویز مشرف نے کی تھی کہ ملازمت سے برخواست کرنے والی اتھارٹی نواز شریف کا حکم ماننے سے انکار کر دیا تھا
۰اس معاملے میں چیف جسٹس ایک پارٹی تھے لیکن انہوں نے ہی سو موٹو نوٹس لیا اور بنچ بنایا
۰چیف جسٹس صاحب دوسری بار کنفلکٹ کا حصہ بنے ہیں
۰وکلاء کی قیادت کا ایک حصہ اس معاملے پر چیف جسٹس کے ساتھ نہیں ہے۔

اس بار معاملہ کچھ اور ہے

(By Qais Anwar)

Finally, something sensible by Zardari, ab iss azaad adliya la dhakosla aik he baar mein khatam hojaye. Chief Justice has the right to interpret Constitution not make it, and Iftikhar Chaudry is willing to accept one-half of the Al-Jihad Trust case but not the other half. The reaction by Supreme Court only shows that it only has lust for power, Justice Iftikhar is as much responsible for preserving this system

(By Skunk)

Independent judicary is a myth. This judicary is baised. They came back through Sharifs and heavily favours them. I don’t know any other reason why ‘d they not prmote Kh. Sharif to Supreme court. Only reason Judicary is bent upon keeping Justise Khawaja Sharif in as CJ in Punjab hugh court is his relationship with Shahbaz Sharif. In beaucracy Supreme court wants appointments on seniority but they don’t do same in Judicary. They don’t act on what they preach.

(By Time)

Pakistan court strikes down president’s order

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s Supreme Court suspended the presidential appointment of two top judges in an emergency ruling late Saturday that could cause a destabilizing clash between the judiciary and the democratic government of Pakistan.

As local media reported the country was headed into a political and judicial crisis following the decision, President Asif Ali Zardari’s spokesman issued a statement dismissing rumors the government was planning to declare a state of emergency.

The development will concern Pakistan’s western allies who want the country to concentrate on battling al-Qaida and Taliban militants in the northwest. The stability of the nuclear-armed nation is also key to Washington’s hopes of defeating the insurgency just across the border in Afghanistan.

Information Minister Qamar Zaman Kaira said the president issued the order only after consulting the chief justice. “We have always acted constitutionally,” he said. “We will take any step in future as required by the law and constitution.”

While undertaking operations against militants in the northwest, the Zardari government had been widely criticized for failing to make a dent in the country’s major economic and social problems. Elements within the military are also believed to be angry at him for being too close to the United States and longtime foe India.

Source: AP

Judicial bureaucrats behaving like a tribal mafia

Justice Sharif, Justice Nisar reject govt decision

Justice Sharif, Justice Nisar reject govt decision

ISLAMABAD: Chief Justice Lahore High Court Justice Khwaja Sharif and Justice Saqib Nisar, the senior most LHC judge, Saturday refused to accept the decision of the government. They made it clear that they will not go against the recommendation or instruction of Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Talking to Geo News’ senior correspondent Abdul Qayum Siddiqui, Justice Saqib Nisar said he was invited to take oath as Acting CJ of LHC on Sunday by Governor Salman Taseer, but he refused the invitation by saying: “The orders of Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry are binding for me and I will not take any step against the recommendation or instruction of the CJP.”

Earlier, President Asif Ali Zardari elevated Justice Khwaja Sharif as SC judge and Justice Saqib Nisar as Acting CJ of LHC through a notification.

Source: Geo TV

It may be recalled that both Justice Khwaja Sharif and Justice Saqib Nisar have close family relations with Mr Nawaz Sharif and Mr Shahbaz Sharif of PML-N. Both of these judges have served in various official capacities in previous governments of PML-N in Punjab.

According to a BBC report, Justice Saqib Nisar had officially refused to take oath. ”I will not take oath as acting Chief Justice of LHC,” Justice Saqib Nisar told BBC Urdu in an interview. “I will do what CJ Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry asks me to.”

Meanwhile, Federal Minister for Information Qamar Zaman Kaira has stated that orders for the appointment of the judges were issued under constitutional provisions.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar added that the CJP had been consulted before the decision. He further ruled out any clash between the judiciary and the executive, confirming that ”emergency will not be imposed.” Babar also said that no “emergency meeting” had been taking place at the presidency to discuss the judicial situation.

Source: Dawn

Further Legal Opinion

The rapidly unfolding events throughout Saturday evening also created despondency, with former SCBA president Ali Ahmed Kurd, the engine behind the two years long lawyers movement. Kurd expressed disappointment over the events and deplored that it appeared as Justice Khawaja had become the most important individual in the country. “We the people of the Pakistan want to see constitution, democracy, parliament as well as the judiciary flourished in the country,” he said adding the seniority principle settled in the 1996 Al-Jihad Trust should be honoured at all cost.

Eminent constitutional expert Fakhruddin G Ibrahim was also of the view that it would always be good that senior judge must come to the Supreme Court asking what was wrong if the senior judge was elevated. “Do not leave such matters on discretion but always respect the seniority principle,” he said.

Advocate Athar Minallah, who acted as the spokesperson of the chief justice during the two years long lawyers struggle also expressed his frustration and said that the development was infact a gift to the non democratic forces and to those who were sitting on the fence and would like to see confrontation between state institutions that could only cause irreparable loss to the country. Time has come when the members of the parliament, he said, must immediately act to ensure that no confrontation should take place and that the constitution should prevail.

Keeping in view the lego-constitutional position, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gillani has advised President of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari to request Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry to reconsider his recommendation of December 19, 2009 and had advised the president that in view of the legal position and the guidelines laid down in the Al Jehad Trust case PLD 1996 SC 324, primacy should always be given to the senior most judges in matters relating to elevation of high court judge in the Supreme Court unless found to be unsuitable by the Chief Justice of Pakistan for such elevation.

Source: Dawn

Former SCBA president Ali Ahmed Kurd said the principle had been set by the SC verdict in the Al-Jihad Trust case that the senior most judge of a high court would be elevated to the Supreme Court. Barrister Zafar Ali Khan and former SC judge Fakhruddin Ebrahim also termed the president’s decision as being in accordance with the constitution. Prominent jurist Fawad Chaudhry said the president’s decision was in accordance with the constitution. He said according to Article 206 of the constitution, the judge stood as “retired” after refusing to accept the decision of elevation. People Lawyers Forum leaders Tanvir Hashmi and Rana Sufiyan Ali said the president’s decision was in accordance with the constitution and the SC verdict in the Al-Jehad Trust case. Senior lawyer Dr Khalid Ranjha said a “vacuum is being deliberately created” to pave the way for third party interference.

Source: Daily Times



Filed under Democracy, lawyers movement, Pakistan, Politics

13 responses to “Pakistan’s Supreme Court versus the democratic government

  1. mazhur

    1. The principle of seniority ought to be observed. The question is why the CJP wants to go ‘over ride’ it??

    2. Any person be it the President has NO right to stay in office as long as the ‘accusations’ lie against him. Why doesn’t the President clearly state the ‘mystery’ behind the Swiss accounts and the wealth he is or isn’t holding abroad???

    3. If the legal interpretations of the Supreme court are not followed then do we have to follow those of the executive?? Why is the Parliament failing to act??

    4. The ‘feud’ between the Judiciary and the President is nothing more than a ‘high-level conspiracy theory’ or ‘fight’ for the interest of the high and strong”?? Whether CJP stays or President goes tends to bring little difference in the lives and sufferings of citizens.

  2. hoss

    Instead of copy pasting articles from other papers Mr. Abdul Nishapuri should have just posted links to make this article readable.

    “The (right-wing) establishment has taken its dagger out for a final attack on the democratic government of the (left-wing) Pakistan People’s Party.”

    It does not make sense to me, would the author explain how the PPP is left wing? Can the writer show what left wing policies PPP adopted in the last two years? PPP cannot by any stretch imagination be called a left wing party.

    PPP is as right wing as any party in Pak. So there really is no need to bring this comparison. At best this is a clash between two minor and deferential factions of the establishment.

    The question is why the Prez is so passionate in establishing his right over two petty administrative appointments? What principle is involved here? It is clear that the SC in Islamabad or the High Court in Lahore would not be able to oust him from the Prez house.
    Prez fails to take any stand on any issue that matters to people. He gives in to the gangsters in Karachi and he bows before the stupid army generals but he is so petty that he wants to assert his authority over two petty administrative appointments.

    What kind of stupid prez we have and who is advising him?

  3. ylh

    I think the battle lines are drawn yet again… Those forces that failed to hijack the lawyers’ movement last year are now back and at the head of the anti-democracy, anti-people movement sadly is the figurehead of the “chief” we fought so hard to restore.

  4. hoss

    I know I am on a sticky wicket here but I do support the CJ’s position in this matter and other matters such as the NRO. CJ took a similar stand during the Mush baba days. If he was correct then he is correct now too. The plain truth before everyone is that the CJ is fighting to establish the SC’s independence and sticking up to the administration. Why don’t we see the same stand from the so called democratic government? The civilian government-just to be more precise- should have been working with the courts to develop a legal basis to stop any further incursions in to political sphere by the army. But the civilian government instead is attempting to weaken an institution that has shown some spine in the last three years.

    The fight the Prez is so painstakingly picking up with the SC should have been directed at strengthening the civilian institutions but the civilian government has weakened the Parliament, it has made alliances with criminals and undermined its own government in Sindh. It has failed to provide any leadership on any issue be it the water issue or the power issue. The Prez is only concentrating on keeping the prez house for himself. His government is without any ideas or vision.

    Yes, we prefer civilians over the army but the support must be to ensure that civilian government too is holding up its end of the bargain and making positive efforts to build up the democratic processes. We don’t see that from the PPP or Zardari.

    John Kerry is already in Pakistan…let us see where the axe falls.

  5. PM

    NRO is the driving force behind AZ actions.

  6. Midfield Dynamo

    I lost the case…..
    Did you hire a lawyer?
    And did you hire the Judge?
    Well, obviously you lost the case.
    It is an oft repeated joke, but certainly not a laughing matter that the judiciary is as or perhaps even more corrupt then the politicians/parlimentarians and the army put together.
    It is high time to give up these wicked ways and have some honor and pride in the status bestowed even if it is over the paltry and the innocent.

  7. Midfield Dynamo

    If we are awaiting John Kerry’s verdict or direction on the quandry facing the governance of Pakistan. Why not award a contract to some capital investment company to administer the governance of the country. Surely such a management would provide a better life for the poor citizens of Pakistan without the political strife.

  8. banjara286

    it is news to me that justice tariq mehmood has supported the govt. decision. as for justice ibrahim, he seems to have undergone a change of heart on his initial support of the govt. position. ali ahmed kurd does remain opposed to the sc decision, and asma jilani and aitezaz ahsan have not publicly commented yet. i am wondering if they will.

    what is needed is a formalized constitutional provision which clearly sets out the procedure for the appointment and promotion of judges in the higher judiciary. personally, i am opposed to the politicians packing the courts with judges of their choice. but i also oppose the idea of the judiciary appointing/accounting/reforming itself without any public say in the matter. even more, i am dead set against the idea of being on this or that side of the issue depending upon whether my favorite party is supporting or opposing the appointment of a certain set of judges. let there be a clear constitutional procedure which is binding upon all.

  9. Ammar

    A clash of institutions can lead to further chaos which will be an opportunity in disguise for the extremist elements who aim to topple the government. If that happens neither of these two institutions will cease to exist. A working relationship is crucial to keep the system rolling.

    Once there was a big famine in Palestine. It was during the time of the Prophet, Prophet Sulaiman (King Solomon). He came out with his people and proceeded to an open place in the desert to pray for the rains to come. Suddenly, he saw an ant standing on its two legs, raising its hands up towards the sky and saying, “Oh Allah! We are but very small among all Thy creatures. We cannot survive without Thy grace. Please bestow upon us Thy sustenance and do not punish us because of the sins of human beings. Please send down the rains so that trees can grow, farms become green and grains become available and we have our food to eat.”

    Prophet Sulaiman knew the language of all animals. He told his people, “Let us go home. The prayer of this ant is enough.” It then rained heavily and all the land became green and productive.

    The ant is an intelligent creature. During warm days it collects and stores grain inside the holes. It knows that during wet and cold months, it would not be able to go out to search for food. For fear that grain may start growing because of wetness, it splits it into two or more pieces. At times, during moonlit nights, it brings the split grains out of the stores for drying and preservation against decay. The holes under the ground are made very carefully and covered with shelter to prevent the rain water from getting inside the holes. The ant, unlike the other animals, can lift a burden twice its own weight. It is not a selfish creature. When an ant finds some store of food grains, it runs up to its group and takes its fellow ants to that place. It shows everyone of them its own find of the store. They always behave in this manner. They work and live in co-operation with each other.

    This shows how the ant works for the group and how each of them fulfils the needs and livelihood of its fellow-beings. How shameful it is for a man, who has no regard for another man; who has no concern for his fellow human beings who could be starving because of want of food.

    Once, while Prophet Sulaiman was travelling together with hosts of men, jinn and birds, they reached a valley of ants.

    When the chief of these ants witnessed the pomp and the glory with which Prophet Sulaiman and his companions were approaching toward it. He warned all the ants to get into their holes lest they got trampled and crushed unknowingly by the approaching men and Jinn. Prophet Sulaiman smiled at this warning sounded by the ants’ chief, and ordered his companions to wait till the ants went inside their holes. “None of us should hurt any ant while passing over their land”, he said.

    It is said that Prophet Sulaiman addressed the chief of the ants and said: “How could my people hurt you or your fellow ants when they are floating through air! Don’t you know that I am a messenger of God and would never act unfairly?” The chief of the ants replied: “O Messenger of God! My cautioning the ants was not for any hurt that they would suffer but to prevent them getting astray and forgetting the glory of God after seeing your pomp and show.”

    There is a deep meaning in this event. It shows that even the most humble and smallest of creatures has been endowed with the necessary wisdom to live safely and avoid being hurt as far as possible. It also shows, how even a small ant does have the natural understanding of the true position of Allah. It imparts a lesson that one should not forget the true might and glory of Allah when one experiences a great power and dignity of any creature in this world.

    Thus an Ant is one of the most wonderful small creatures in this world. Sura “Naml” (the Ant) in the Holy Qur’an is a chapter named after this creature. Over 1300 years ago, Imam Ali (a) was giving a sermon in Kufa, in which he was describing the beauties of creation in various forms of life. He was referring to small creatures and asking man to study how God made them so small yet so sturdy and strong. He described the ant in these words:

    ‘Look at an ant. How tiny is its body and how delicate are its features! It is such a small creature that it often escapes the eye, and few people care to attach any importance to it among the living beings found on this earth. Look at it and study its ways of life; how it crawls, how it attacks its food; how it lifts a grain so many times heavier than its body, carries it to its hole; how it stores grains; and how in summer it gathers and stocks food for winter and rainy days.’

    For the guidance of mankind, Allah honoured four famous Prophets by revealing to them four Holy Books as under:

    1) Taurat to Prophet Musa (Moses):

    2) Zaboor (Psalms) To Prophet Dawood (David);

    3) Injeel (Evangel) To Prophet Isa (Jesus);

    4) Qur’an To Prophet Muhammad Mustafa (s).

    The commandments of Allah are contained in these books. The first three books were for the earlier times. The Holy Qur’an is the last book of God and is for the guidance of entire mankind till the Day of Judgement.

    Prophet Dawood eventually became King of his people. He had 19 sons. Each of them hoped to inherit the father’s throne. Allah revealed to Prophet Dawood a few questions and their answers and commanded him to put the questions to each one of his sons. Whosoever answered those questions correctly, would inherit the throne of the father, Prophet Dawood.

    One day Prophet Dawood called all his sons in the presence of the scholars and the chiefs of the tribes of his kingdom. He then put forward the following questions:

    1) Which thing is closest (nearest) to man?

    2) Which is the farthest thing?

    3) Which two things are attached to each other?

    4) Which is the most awe-creating thing?

    5, Which two things remain unchanged?

    6) Which two things are always different?

    7) Which two things are opposed to each other?

    8) What is the action the result of which is good?

    9) What is that action the result of which is bad?

    The sons of Prophet Dawood felt helpless and could not answer any of these questions. Then the youngest of the sons, Prophet Sulaiman (Solomon) stood up and gave the following answers:

    1. The nearest things to a man is the hereafter (Life and Death – as one may die any moment);
    2. The farthest things is the time which has passed away (which is not to come again);
    3. The two things that are attached to each other is man’s body with the soul;
    4. The most awe-creating is the man’s body (dead) without soul;
    5. The two things which remain the same are the sky and the earth;
    6. The two things which are different are the day and night;
    7. The two things which are opposed to each other are life and death;
    8. The action – the end of which is good – is patience and forbearance at the time of anger;
    9. The action – the end of which is bad is haste at the time of anger.

    Prophet Dawood obviously, was very much impressed with these correct answers and appointed Prophet Sulaiman as his successor.

    Thus it will be seen that it was the supreme knowledge and understanding that made Prophet Sulaiman succeed his father and become the Great King Prophet.

    During the olden times, people everywhere used to carve stones and make idols for worship. These statues were considered as gods, and people bowed and prayed before them. Namrud, the King of Babylonia, was once informed by his astrologers that someone was going to be born who would destroy his kingdom. He would teach people another religious concept: that of worshipping none but only one God.

    On hearing that, Namrud gave orders that no woman would conceive, hence no child would be born in his kingdom. If any child was born, it would be killed immediately. The mother of Prophet Ibrahim became pregnant. But by the will of Allah, no sign of pregnancy was to be seen. When the time of birth of the child came nearer, she went out of the town and hid in a cave. There, Prophet Ibrahim was born. She then covered the child with a cloth, closed the mouth of the cave with stones and returned home without the child. She told nobody of what had happened.

    The child was alone in the cave with no one to care for him. He was sucking the milk which flowed of his fingers – by the grace of Almighty God. The child grew up under Allah’s protection. From time to time, his mother would come secretly to the cave to watch him. This went on for thirteen years. On one occasion when the mother visited the son, he beseeched her to take him out of the cave. The mother warned that he would be killed by the King it he came to know about him. But the child insisted that he be brought out of the cave as 13 years had been a long time.

    Thus Prophet Ibrahim came out of the cave for the first time. It was late in the evening when the sun was setting. When the night grew dark, he saw a star and he said, “Is this my Lord?” But when it set, he said, “I love not the setting ones.” Then, when he saw the moon rising he said: “Is this my Lord?” But when it set, he said, “If my Lord had not guided me I would have certainly been among the mistaken ones. Then he saw the sun rising and said, “Is this my Lord?” Is this the greatest?”. But when it also set, he said, “O, my people! Surely. I am clear of what you set up with Allah. Surely, I have turned myself wholly to the One Who created the heavens and the earth. I am not of the ones who believe and worship anything else other than Allah – the one God.

    The people, at that time were not only idol-worshippers but they were also worshipping the stars, the sun, the moon etc. All the time, he was making them realise their error in their choice of ‘gods’. He was showing his people what they called a god, did not deserve to be called god and worshipped if it disappeared at times. So Prophet Ibrahim started preaching the belief of One God and persuading his people not to worship anything else but Allah, the one and only God.

    Once, it was the time of annual festival in the town and according to their custom, Namrud, the King, went out of town with all his people to celebrate the day. Prophet Ibrahim did not accompany them but stayed behind. He went to the temple where all the idols were kept, and broke all of them one by one. He left the biggest idol untouched, but put the axe on its shoulder.

    When the King and his people returned they were very angry to see their idols destroyed. He said that he would kill the person who had caused that damage. The people told him that it must be a young man, named Ibrahim who always preached against the worship of idols. He must have destroyed them.

    When Prophet Ibrahim was asked if it was he who broke the idols. He replied, “Why do you not ask the chief (of the idols) who is standing safe. Perhaps he has done it, that is if your idol gods can speak, ask them as to who broke them.” Thus Prophet Ibrahim did not utter a lie denying what he had done. He only wanted the people to first ask their own idols as to who had done it?

    Namrud got very angry and asked his people their opinion. Every one suggested that Prophet Ibrahim be punished by burning him alive in a big fire.

    So, Prophet Ibrahim was jailed, while Namrud ordered that all available firewood in the forest be collected and be heaped up in one open place. When this was done, it was set alight. The fire burnt fiercely and widely for days and days. It had generated so much heat that no bird dared to fly nearby. At the appointed day on which Prophet Ibrahim was to be put in the fire and burnt, Namrud with his large army and followers came out to that place to watch. On seeing the huge fire and the intense heat, he began to ponder as to how it would be possible to convey Prophet Ibrahim into the fire. Suddenly Satan, the devil, came and suggested that a type of a crane be prepared which could be used to hurl Prophet Ibrahim into the fire. This would cut out the need of any assistance of human hands to do the risky job of delivering the Prophet into the raging fire.

    The crane was constructed and Prophet Ibrahim was lifted and readied to be dumped into the fire. On seeing this tragic happening. the angels in the heaven and all the creatures in the sky became deeply upset. Taking permission from Almighty Allah, one by one, they all came to Prophet Ibrahim to inquire if they could be of any help to him. The Prophet said that he was seeking help and protection from none of them. The one from whom he expected help (that is Almighty Allah), was fully aware of the dangerous situation in which he was and would help him if need be.

    Just then, the angel, Jibrail came to the Prophet and gave him a ring on which the following was inscribed (written):

    “There is no God but Allah”

    “Muhammad is the Prophet of Allah”

    “I depend and rely upon Allah”

    “I submit my affair to the will of Allah.”

    Prophet Ibrahim put the holy ring on his finger and the grace and blessing of Allah began to be showered upon him. Then came the command from Allah, “O fire! Be nothing but coolness and peace for Ibrahim.”

    Thus the burning fire instantly lost its heat and no harm came to the Prophet.

    It is related that when Prophet Ibrahim was being thrown into the fire, the angels in the heaven and the birds in the air cried in protest. One of them, a small weak bird decided to burn itself along with the Prophet. As it was flying towards the fire, the angel Jibrail was sent by Allah to inquire the reason why it was going to commit suicide! The angel stopped the bird on the ground and asked it to explain its strange action – that of trying to burn itself along with Prophet Ibrahim. The bird said: “Don’t you know that the friend of God is to be burnt in the fire? As it is not within my strength to save him, I am showing my sorrow and sympathy by accompanying him into the fire!”

    The angel conveyed this incident to Allah. Then came a command from Allah to tell the bird that it would be rewarded for its sincere feeling shown for the Prophet. It was asked what it wished to have so that the wish be fulfilled. The bird in reply said: “I do not wish to have anything from this world. All I wish is to constantly remember Allah in prayer. There are a thousand and one names of Allah. I know hardly a hundred names. I wish to be taught the remaining names. Almighty Allah fulfilled its desire. As it flew from tree to tree, it went on singing the names of Allah, thus remembering Him day and night.

    To respect and sympathise with the friends of Allah; to remember Allah constantly in prayer is better than fulfilling worldly desires. This is what the little weak bird has shown to us. These are the acts of virtue which would one day undoubtedly earn great rewards from Allah.

    The camel has, since olden times, proved to be a very useful animal for desert journeys. It has shown to be dependable and sturdy animal for desert transport. The reason is that it has been created with certain special features which are not to be found in any other animal. It can walk in the hot desert under scorching sun for days and days without feeling tired or thirsty and arrive at the intended destination with his rider – the traveller. Hence the Arabs have named this animal as the ‘Ship of the Desert’.

    It was this same animal which had fulfilled in excellent manner the task of conveying the Prophet of Islam from Mecca to Madina. It had also served well in the cause of Islam.

    The Prophet, tired of the tortures by the disbelieving Quraish, decided to migrate from Mecca to Madina. He had hidden himself in the cave of Thaur to protect himself against the enemies who wanted to kill him.

    Imam Ali (a) sent three camels with a guide to the cave. The Prophet, mounting one of the camels, left the cave in the dark of the night, destined for Madina. On the way, several miracles took place which showed that God’s help was always there to protect the Prophet against the attacks of his enemies.

    The distance between Mecca and Madina is about three hundred fifty kilometres. In those days, it used to take eleven days to travel between the two places. But in this instance, the camel carrying the Prophet took only eight days to reach Madina. The Prophet (s) travelled at night, resting during the day-time. He was doing so to protect himself against the desert heat as well as to keep from being seen by the enemies.

    On the eighth day, the Prophet along with his companions reached a place known as Quba, just two kilometres outside Madina. There he rested for several days, awaiting Imam Ali (a) and family members. After their arrival they proceeded to enter the city. On seeing the date trees on the outskirts of the holy city, they felt happy and relieved to have finally come out safe from the tortures of their enemies.

    The people of Madina keenly awaited his arrival. Suddenly someone from the top of a hill announced that the Prophet had arrived. On hearing this, the people became wild with extreme joy and recited “Allahu Akbar!”, “Allahu Akbar!” – “God is Great!”, “God is Great!”

    The Prophet dismounted the camel just outside Madina and sat down under a date tree. People rushed forward to greet and welcome him to their city. He was loved by all and everyone was keen to salute him. After the traditional welcome ceremony, the Prophet mounted his came to enter the holy city. All around, there were expressions of great joy. The children got together and in loud voices chanted the following welcoming poem:





    “The full moon is shining on us from the area of gardens. We must offer thanks (to Allah) so long as anyone prays before Allah.”





    “O’ the one sent to us, you have come with commands which we shall obey. You came and graced Madina, we salute and welcome you, ‘O’ the best caller (towards Allah). ”

    It was hardly three years since the people of Madina had embraced Islam and had started to worship Allah. The young boys in the city were given a job to eradicate the worship of idols. Wherever they saw an idol, they destroyed it and set fire to it.

    One day, the youths came to know that Omar bin Janah, the chief of Bani Salma tribe, had still preserved his idol and worshipped it. In order to impress upon him the uselessness of worshipping idols made of wood, they removed it from his place and threw it down a pit. The chief, on tracing the idol to where it was lying, brought it back, washed it and kept it in its original place. But the next day again it was removed and thrown into the pit.

    The chief was very much disturbed at this. For the last lime he brought home this idol and cleaned it. He then put his sword around its neck and said to the idol: “If henceforth anybody comes to you, promptly take action and kill him with the sword.”

    On the next day, the idol was again missing. This time he found it tied to a dead body of a dog. There was no effect at all of the sword which he had tied around the neck of the idol. This incident made him lose faith in his man-made wooden idol. He abandoned the idol-worship altogether. On becoming a Muslim, he uttered a poem as under:

    “Alas! O’ my idol! If you were my god, you would not have reached this stage and I would not have seen you in the pit along with a dead dog. I have now put my faith in the Almighty Allah, from Whom come all blessings. It is He Who has freed me from darkness of ignorance.”

    This is one of the examples of how the young Muslim volunteers of Madina helped the Prophet in putting an end to idol worship and spread the true message of Islam.

    When the Prophet entered the city amid great rejoicing, every one wanted him to stay at his house. Particularly, the chiefs of all the tribes were keen to have the Prophet as their guest. Everyone insisted but the Prophet ordered: “Let the reins of the camel loose and I shall get down and stay where it stops by itself.”

    The camel went ahead further and further till it stopped at a big open land. It was a place where people used to dry their dates and other farm produce. It knelt there and sat The Prophet dismounted and asked the people, whose land it was. They replied that it belonged to two small children by the name of SAHL and SUHAIL. Nearby was the house of ABU AYYUB. ABU AYYUB’S mother came forward and took away the luggage of the Prophet to her house. People again persuaded him to put up in their house but the Prophet asked: “Where is my luggage?” The reply was that the mother of ABU AYYUB had taken them to her house. And the Prophet said: “One has to go to stay at a place where one’s luggage and belonging go to.”

    Some time later, the name of Yathrib was changed to ‘Madina-tun-Nabi’ i.e. ‘the City of the Prophet.’ He named the people of that city as ANSAR (helpers) and those who had migrated from Mecca as MUHAJIREEN (immigrants). All these people, i.e. the Ansar and the muhajireen got together and united in the common bond of brotherhood of Islam.