Abu Umamah reports that Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said:
Whoever rules ten (persons) or more, will meet Allah, Most High, on the Day of Judgment while his hands are chained to his neck. His righteousness will release him or his wrongdoing will cause him to perish.
At the beginning of it (authority) is blame, in its mid is remorse, and at its end is shame on the Day of Judgment. (Ahmad)
Prophet Muhammad’s companions and followers observed these words strongly and would try to avoid any leadership due to the responsibility it would entrust upon them.
However, if we take a look at the Muslims of our present time, we will notice how the vast majority would do anything to come to power and would hold on to their leadership droolingly and seem to think it is their God-given right.
Even if they prove ineligible for the post, any backing off is deemed unquestionable. What more, fraud in elections keeps them round after round in their posts, till death does them apart.
Gluttony for power is not solely for leadership affecting the society as a whole; it is also one that could be practiced on an individual basis, like gluttony for power at work or in the home.
Gluttony for Power Through Leadership
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said:
On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will grasp the whole (planet of) earth (by His Hand) and shall roll up the heaven with His right Hand and say, ‘I am the King. Where are the kings of the earth?’ (Al-Bukhari)
This powerful statement by God Almighty should give any king (ruler) on this earth the shivers.
Gluttony for power through leadership is also clearly manifest in how these rulers sought it for their personal interests. It was not a ruling for the general interests of the people; calling for progress and development. It was merely one of personal benefit. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) disapproved of this highly as Abu Musa reported:
“Two of my cousins and I entered the house of the Prophet (peace be upon him)”.
One of them said:
“O Messenger of Allah, appoint us rulers of some lands that the Almighty and Glorious God entrusted to your care.”
The other also said something similar. The Prophet said:
Verily, by Allah, we do not appoint anyone to this position who asks for it or desires it. (Muslim)
Gluttony for Power at Work
It is healthy to wish to improve one’s status at work and get a promotion and rise. However, when one falls prey to ones’ lusts for power crushing anyone that may stand in the way through lying, bribery or even to the extent of killing co-workers then this is a deadly gluttony for power.
Prophet Muhammad said:
A Muslim is a brother of another Muslim, so he should not oppress him, nor should he hand him over to an oppressor. Whoever fulfilled the needs of his brother, Allah will fulfill his needs; whoever brought his Muslim brother out of a discomfort, Allah will bring him out of the discomforts of the Day of Resurrection, and whoever screened a Muslim, Allah will screen him on the Day of Resurrection. (Al-Bukhari)
Gluttony for Power at Home
God, most exalted, says in the Quran:
And among His signs is this, that He created for you mates from among yourselves that you may dwell in tranquility with them and He has put love and mercy between your hearts: verily in that are signs for those who reflect. (Ar-Rum 30: 21)
The home should be a peaceful place where spouses feel happy and safe being together. However, unfortunately power is also misused in the home through verbal or physical abuse.
The husband may glutton for power over his wife whether verbally through humiliation and/or physically through violence. Domestic violence has unfortunately made some homes more hazardous places to dwell in than the streets, with wives being severely beaten or mutated and at times even slayed! There are cases where husbands too are abused by their wives but they are not as common.
Narrated Abdullah: Prophet Muhammad said:
Each one of you is a guardian and is responsible for his charges. The ruler who has authority over people, is a guardian and is responsible for them, a man is a guardian of his family and is responsible for them; a woman is a guardian of her husband’s house and children and is responsible for them; a slave is a guardian of his master’s property and is responsible for it; so all of you are guardians and are responsible for your charges. (Al-Bukhari)
Parents too may misuse their “guardianship” over their children and express pangs of power on their offspring, through verbal or physical abuse. Moreover, some parents control the lives of their children in ways that sometimes lead to major defects in their self-esteem.
Prophet Muhammad has ordained us to treat our children with mercy and kindness and never ridicule them or hit them; while leaving room for their development.
The Vicious Cycle of Gluttony for Power
Power has such an abominable outcome as it is often the result of a vicious cycle of oppression. A husband/father is a victim of power by his ruler at the workplace and then comes home to exercise his power in turn over his wife and offspring. A wife/mother is also the product of an unjust power control of her society and husband and then she might misuse it over her offspring too and they in turn over each other with the older siblings bullying the younger, etc.
To anyone out there misusing their power and oppressing others; keep in mind the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Narrated Abu Ma’bad, that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said:
… and be afraid of the curse of an oppressed person because there is no screen between his invocation and Allah. (Al-Bukhari)
(This article is from Reading Islam’s archive and was originally published at an earlier date.)