Might Makes No Right

(Summary: This article discusses the meaning of might, refuting the myth that “might makes right”. The article focuses on the relationships between might and right, and between power and responsibility.

The discussion unfolds against the backdrop of the connotations of Allah’s beautiful name Al-‘Aziz (All-Mighty) and how it has been used in the discourses of the Quran.)

One of Allah’s beautiful names is Al-‘Aziz, which means “All-Mighty” or the “Exalted in Might”.

The Quran mentions this name 89 times.

It is interesting to note that the name is never used alone. It is always accompanied by another name – or names – of Allah.

This name goes together with the “All-Wise” (Hakim) 47 times, the “Most Merciful” (Rahim) 13 times, the “Most Strong” (Qawiyy) 7 times, the “All-Knowing” (‘Alim) 6 times, the “Owner of Retribution” (Dhu Intiqam) 4 times, the “All- and Oft-Forgiving” (Ghaffar) 3 times, the “All-Praiseworthy” (Hamid) 3 times, the “Forgiver” (Ghafur) twice, and with each of the “Generous” (Karim), the “Supreme Bestower” (Wahhab) and the “Omnipotent” (Muqtadir) once.

In one instance, the Al-‘Aziz name is placed between the names of the “Overseer” (Muhaymin) and the “Compeller” (Jabbar).

The Meaning of Might

Since people are invited to understand Allah’s beautiful names and to act upon what they imply, the message to mankind hereby is as follows (and Almighty Allah knows best).

Might (power, control and authority) is a double-edged sword. It is an inevitable thing and integral to the ways life functions.

The prophets were sent with revealed messages and were supported with miracles. They were to establish both the heavenly truth and earthly justice.

The Quran summarizes their missions in three concepts, which at the same time serve as clear signs to people: the Book, the Balance and Iron (Al-Hadid, 25).

Those concepts are symbols of three thrusts that hold society together and make it move forward. The Book is guidance and knowledge, the Balance is justice and righteousness, and Iron is might, authority and the strong as well as long arm of the law.

They translate themselves into appropriate spiritual, moral and socio-politico-economic systems. They are of paramount importance in the perennial confrontations between good (truth) and evil (falsehood) on earth.

Thus, as the Seal of the prophets who had been sent to all people, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) prayed to Allah to grant him a power and authority (sultan) to help him in his assignments (Al-Isra’, 80).

He knew that his goals could not be achieved without an earthly power. The sole authority of the Book of Allah was not enough. It needed a mighty worldly support.

This “enrichment” of the Book was characterized by the migration (hijrah) to Madinah and the establishment of a strong constitutional state.

Without a doubt, Allah curbs with an earthly authority (sultan) what cannot be curbed with the Quran alone.

Islam is all-inclusive. It is the religion of this world and the Hereafter, and of matter and spirit.

Regulated Might

Might and authority are at once gifts and mercies from Allah to people. However, they are multifaceted and variable, and can be used as well as abused.

That is why spirituality and right wisdom are needed to guide and regulate them. With the former on-board, the sky is the limit.

Read the full article here.

About Dr. Spahic Omer
Dr. Spahic Omer, an award-winning author, is an Associate Professor at the Kulliyyah of Islamic Revealed Knowledge and Human Sciences, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM). He studied in Bosnia, Egypt and Malaysia. In the year 2000, he obtained his PhD from the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur in the field of Islamic history and civilization. His research interests cover Islamic history, culture and civilization, as well as the history and theory of Islamic built environment. He can be reached at: [email protected].