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Kofi Annan has delivered his final speech as United Nations Secretary General at the Truman Presidential Museum and Library in Independence, Missouri. The text of the speech is available at this BBC site.

An Analysis of Kofi Annan's final speech (in relation to Islam)

Why analyze what Kofi Annan is saying - because in his 10 years as Secretary General he has amassed a lot of experience - you'll see how Islamic these concepts are


[1] First he talks about Security: We all share responsibility for each other's security, and only by working to make each other secure can we hope to achieve lasting security for ourselves


فَلْيُقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ الَّذِينَ يَشْرُونَ الْحَيَاةَ الدُّنْيَا بِالآخِرَةِ وَمَن يُقَاتِلْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ فَيُقْتَلْ أَو يَغْلِبْ فَسَوْفَ نُؤْتِيهِ أَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

[4:74] Let those fight in the cause of Allah Who sell the life of this world for the hereafter. To him who fighteth in the cause of Allah,- whether he is slain or gets victory - Soon shall We give him a reward of great (value).

وَمَا لَكُمْ لاَ تُقَاتِلُونَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللّهِ وَالْمُسْتَضْعَفِينَ مِنَ الرِّجَالِ وَالنِّسَاء وَالْوِلْدَانِ الَّذِينَ يَقُولُونَ رَبَّنَا أَخْرِجْنَا مِنْ هَـذِهِ الْقَرْيَةِ الظَّالِمِ أَهْلُهَا وَاجْعَل لَّنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ وَلِيًّا وَاجْعَل لَّنَا مِن لَّدُنكَ نَصِيرًا

[4:75] And why should ye not fight in the cause of Allah and of those who, being weak, are ill-treated (and oppressed)?- Men, women, and children, whose cry is: "Our Lord! Rescue us from this town, whose people are oppressors; and raise for us from thee one who will protect; and raise for us from thee one who will help!"


Example: Someone mugging you on NY street - no one will risk their lives to protect you! Why? If they don't care or know you as a person, why will they bother. Yet the same person will go watch a movie and cry / hear about the plight of someone on TV and cry


[2] Second he talks about Social Welfare: We are also, in some measure, responsible for each other's welfare

وَلَا يَأْتَلِ أُوْلُوا الْفَضْلِ مِنكُمْ وَالسَّعَةِ أَن يُؤْتُوا أُوْلِي الْقُرْبَى وَالْمَسَاكِينَ وَالْمُهَاجِرِينَ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَلْيَعْفُوا وَلْيَصْفَحُوا أَلَا تُحِبُّونَ أَن يَغْفِرَ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ {22}

[24:22] Let not those among you who are endued with grace and amplitude of means resolve by oath against helping their kinsmen, those in want, and those who have left their homes in Allah's cause: let them forgive and overlook, do you not wish that Allah should forgive you? For Allah is Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful.


Verse 22 refers to Abu Bakr, the father of A-isha, and Mistah, his cousin. Abu Bakr was given ample means by Allah. He used to support Mistah, but after this incident (leaving Aisha behind by mistake during the return from a defensive campaign. Mistah helped spread a scandal) he withdrew his help. According to the highest standards of Islamic ethics, as said in this verse, a truly generous patron should not, in personal anger, withdraw his support even from a delinquent if he is in need. The general application holds good for all time. Those who desire that Allah should forgive their faults must be forgiving and merciful in their dealings with men who have wronged them.


Example: People live next door to slums and poor people in all big cities of the world - even here in Seattle! We eat when our neighbors are hungry (violation of the Sunnah of the Prophet s.a.w.) Why? If people don't care about human rights or justice then they explain this away to themselves. Yet the same person will get angry about getting something less than their neighbors even when that thing is free - e.g. tax deduction (imagine if everyone got $10K and you got $9K)


[3] Third - the base - he talks about human rights, dignity and justice: both security and development ultimately depend on respect for human rights and the rule of law


Indeed, We sent Our messengers with the clear signs, and We sent down with them the Book and the Balance so that men might uphold justice ... (57:25)


Example: Man asks Imam Ali (a.s.), which is superior, justice or generosity? (Hikam 437)

One might think its generosity since justice is observance of one's rights to make sure they aren't violated, whereas with generosity you are giving away your right to benefit someone else. "Justice puts things in their proper place and generosity diverts them from their (natural) direction."

It may be compared to a body one of whose organs is malfunctioning, and its other healthy organs and members temporarily redirect their activity to the recovery of the suffering organ. From the point of view of society, it would be far more preferable if the society did not possess such sick members at all.

"Justice is the general caretaker, whereas generosity is a particular reliever" Also if justice is a rule it benefits everyone - generosity cannot be relied on, and if it were made a rule, it would no longer be generosity.


In conclusion for the first part, establishing Justice, human rights and dignity are the core principles that form the base of building the right Community. This is why there is a strong emphasis on Justice in the Quran.

- Mujtaba Khambatti, April 12, 2007

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