The Quran repeatedly refers to the concept of al-mala’, which could be translated as “elites”, “chiefs” and “eminent ones”.
Most of the time, the Quran depicts those people as the biggest impediment to truth, justice, and everything else the holy Prophets were sent with.
The Quran mentions the concept 30 times. It is only in a few contexts that the concept is not brought up with objectionable connotations.
Those contexts are the Prophet Sulayman (Solomon) and his elites deliberating the task of bringing the mighty throne of the Queen of Sheba (Al-Naml, 38); the elites of the Children of Israel after the time of Musa (Moses) requesting their Prophet to send to them a king so that they could fight in the way of Allah (Al-Baqarah, 246); and a double reference to the “supernal company” or the “highest and elitist assembly” of angels (Al-Saffat, 8; Sad, 69).
Whenever a Prophet was sent to his people, most of their social, political, intellectual and business elites were at the forefront of not only rejecting, but also obstructing truth and their Prophet’s mission.
This was so because unprincipled elites in every time and place feel that they need to rule, dominate, be in a blaze of glory, and be served. They need to use and manipulate others to obtain advantages without doing much in exchange. To do all that, they need to become self-perpetuating, and to run the show without interference and with a veneer of legitimacy.
Elites are so self-deluded and blinded that they think what they do and possess is their privilege and birth right. There is no other way of doing things. They were born to lead and rule, and others were born but to follow and serve them. Not only people, but also the whole world, they believe, exist only for them. Most elites are their societies’ parasites.
Accordingly, deceitful elites are repulsed by reforms and changes. They loathe revolutions. They are averse to genuine freedom and democracy. And they occupy top command posts of society.
Despite their superficial disagreements and squabbles, elites share the same most essential values, beliefs and attitudes. That is, they share the same worldview. They despise opponents and challengers that may undermine their privileged status and position. They despise the “others”. And they fashion national – now increasingly global – political, educational and business systems in their own image.
What they do is never about the masses and their socio-economic and educational wellbeing. It is always about them and the future of their personal wellbeing and interests.
It is no wonder that the Prophets were the biggest enemy of elites. The Prophets were their biggest rivals. They signified the source of all dangers to them personally and to the current status quo.
Nor is it wonder that today those who earnestly follow and walk in the footsteps of the prophets are the greatest enemy of elites and their prevalent systems anchored in the crimes of falsehood, corruption, manipulation and exploitation. Elites and truth were hardly ever compatible. They could barely see eye to eye.
Three Modi Operandi
As per the Quranic narrative, the modi operandi of elites were tripartite.
First, elites confronted the Prophets on the conceptual plane. They tried their best to rival them in the realm of concepts and ideas. They knew that above all, people were thinking beings. Everything they did outwardly stemmed from an inner world of beliefs and perceptions.
Hence, to successfully challenge the Prophets in palpable matters, which were dearest and most precious to them, elites knew that they had to challenge them in those immaterial and imperceptible matters that in fact constituted the essence of the former. In other words, they had to launch and orchestrate ideological wars as well.