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March 11, 2004
On the Blinding Glitter

by Talal Sarwani

This is for those of you in positions of leadership, and those among you under said leaders.

There are two kinds of audiences seen by those in a position of a leadership:
1. Those who agree on most matters with the leadership and seek to embellish the organization. When disagreements arise, they are willing to listen and understand, not just ready to be yet another Talking Head. They are the ones who will not abandon the organization at the first thought of dissent. They are there because they Believed. For that purpose, for that greater good, in their leaders they trusted. We shall call them the Blind.

2. Then there are those we shall call the Glitter. They are the ones not yet in agreement with the leadership, but unlike the Blind, they seek not to understand or reflect on words of wisdom; it's their way or the highway. However, the purpose of the leadership (that greater good), makes the Glitter of concern to them. The Glitter possess a certain je ne sais quoi, a certain characteristic that would make the cause of the leadership to shine for that audience which the leadership feels they are hopeless to influence. The characteristic varies according to the social framework of the community; it could be wealth, nationality, popularity, beauty, their strength in numbers, etc...

A time often comes, that the leadership finds itself facing a fitnah, some sort of trial or tribulation. This is the time when leaders either rise, or stumble under the pressure of dealing with the apparent fitnah in the community. As a case study, let's say that the trouble begin caused, arises out of the efforts of the Glitter. All seemed to be good and fine to the leaders, but then words started to get to them. Remember that the Glitter have a mindset not concurrent with that of the leadership, and to their way is an ultimate aim of the things they do. They will look for a weakness, whether in the people or the leaders, and once they find it, they wil push, push, and push on that weakness until the breaking point, and with a little nudge, that weakness shall crumble down, leaving open a space for the Glitter's ideology to seep in. The leaders then are affected by the words of the Glitter, and their ideologies suddenly appear like a shining light in the darkness of apparent fitnah. When the darkness of fitnah does indeed cloak the people, the Glitter has nothing to reflect off of, so it is not them the leaders must go to for help, guidance, and consultation. In the darkness, it is the Blind that shall prove most worthy in showing the Way out of fitnah, because they lead their lives upholding the way of the Greater Good, and no excess of light, nor it's absence, can ever deter them.

There is, however, another difficult test of leadership besides that of a fitnah. This test is a lack of fitnah, and how one deals with the glad tidings from Allah. A leader can either notice the slowly increasing number of the Blind OR they can flll under a spell in which even the slightest little trouble causes them to use the word fitnah. Such a heavy word is relegated to being a replacement for the English word "problem", just so certain people can sound higher-minded than others, and possibly even scare others off from their correct mindsets. If the word is used so easily, then we will have nothing left in the dictionary for when the true trial begins, and the minds of the leaders will be fazed. Study the history of Islam to understand when that word was used by those who knew this Deen much better than us. Thenlook around, and you will know that some trouble does not warrant the use of fitnah.

We love our leaders for the sake of Allah, and make du'a for them to guide the community to the Straightest Path. It is incumbent on us to inform them when they err, as well as to listen to them when they speak. They are nothing without us and we are lost without them. Among us all, Allah shall guide who he will, and for he whom Allah rejects guidance, there is no saviour. We shall all be judged for the choices we make, and we shall all have a heavy burden upon us should we instigate that which lessens the Greater Good.

May Allah protect us all from ignorance and weakness, and may we all be granted the strength, knowledge, and Iman which makes us worthy of Jannah. Ameen.

He frowned and turned away
Because there came to him the blind man (interrupting).
But what could tell thee but that perchance he might grow (in spiritual understanding)?
Or that he might receive admonition, and the teaching might profit him?
As to one who regards Himself as self-sufficient,
To him dost thou attend;
Though it is no blame to thee if he grow not (in spiritual understanding).
But as to him who came to thee striving earnestly,
And with fear (in his heart),
Of him wast thou unmindful.
By no means (should it be so)! For it is indeed a Message of instruction:
Therefore let whoso will, keep it in remembrance.

Surah 'Abasa, verses 1-12

of and relating to...
Wajahat Gilani said

What about the third and most important group? The ones that disagree with the leadership, yet still believe in the organization and seek to embellish it?

Wajahat Gilani

on March 11, 2004 10:38 AM
Nadia said

The leaders "are nothing without us and we are lost without them". So true. May Allah (swt) grant us the strength and knowledge to lead and to be led. Ameen!

on March 11, 2004 11:41 AM
Talal said

Wajahat, because they believe in the organization, what it is they disagree about is only so that they can further that Greater Good. Hence, I count them among the Blind.

on March 11, 2004 11:21 PM
Sami said

Very well written piece Mashaa Allah.

Are there not also those who agree with the leadership, believe in the organization, and seek to embellish it? They too are working for the "Greater Good." Where would such people fall into these examples? Why need there be a case of disagreement in each of these scenarios? It does seem awkward to only have one mindset about this Greater Good. Greater Good is usually determined on a situational basis. What type of situation the leadership is facing at the time will often determine the Greater Good of two or more potential options Wallahu 'Alam.

This is the first time that I have posted something on Hidaya. Interesting work that everyone is doing here. :) Nasihah (no pun intended) to everyone (if I may give a tad of very humble Nasihah)- use this to promote the "Greater Good", which often stems from wisdom and reason. I know the site has been up for a while and I have been checking now and then, but this can be invaluable to our RU Muslim community if we just always remember to promote good things and reflect on our words before they are spoken (or written) Inshaa Allah. I say this for myself first and foremost. Jazakum Allahu Khayrun.

And sorry about all the rhetorical questions :). I'm like Talal sometimes, I can go on forever once I get a pen in my hand and a paper on my desk (or in this case a keyboard and a monitor :).

Wassalam Alaykum Wa Rahmat Allahee Wa Barakatu.

-Your Brother Sami E.

on March 12, 2004 4:25 AM
Rami said


"And sorry about all the rhetorical questions :). I'm like Talal sometimes, I can go on forever once I get a pen in my hand and a paper on my desk (or in this case a keyboard and a monitor :). "

Would you be interested:

Assalaamu alaikum,
Hidaya is lookin' for some more columnists, so here's your chance to apply.
Send in:
Column title
Column sample
Some idea of what you want to write about.
If you want to write weekly or bi-weekly
Email address
Whether or not you're an RU student/alumni
to info@hidayaonline.com


Whoa. I'll get back to you in a month on this one. Insha Allah by then I would have untied all the meaning from the imagery. Alhamdulillah.

In the meantime, can you feed by brain for a second and elaborate on this a bit. Just a brief explanation please insha Allah:

"The Glitter possess a certain jeu non c'est qoi a certain characteristic that would make the cause of the leadership to shine for that audience which the leadership feels they are hopeless to influence. The characteristic varies according to the social framework of the community; it could be wealth, nationality, popularity, beauty, their strength in numbers, etc"


on March 12, 2004 2:33 PM
Gillette said

assalamu 'alaikum,


"The Glitter possess a certain jeu non c'est qoi a certain characteristic..."

that's "je ne sais quoi."

on March 12, 2004 2:43 PM
Wajahat Gilani said


but why do you choose the word "blind" to define those that work to better the organization?

Wajahat Gilani

on March 12, 2004 5:13 PM
Talal said

Merci beacoup mon frere. My french could use more than a little clean-up.

Wajahat, Rami, and Sami,
Here's the deal with this column. Twice in the last month, in incidents completely unrelated to each other, I witnessed a lack of usool in the actions of the leadership of two different groups. I would even go as far as saying that there was a downright lack of etiquette involved. In both situations, the leadership literally caused a DRAMA just because they didn't follow the most just procedure.

Why the Blind for those who seek to embellish an organization?
Because as soon as these two things happened, my brain somehow got caught under the spell of Surah 'Abasa :)
The Blind old man, who was sincerely seeking knowledge, compared to the wealth and influence of the Quraish, to put it very simply.

And I admittedly wrote this in a state of weariness, so if it doesn't make sense, there's good reason for that: The writing sucks.


on March 12, 2004 7:04 PM
Azeem said


hey br. Talal.... I think theres a problem with the word Blind because it commonly has a negative conotation i.e. Dumb, Deaf, and Blind. But I like how you linked it to the Blind man from surah Abasa.

There are hadith about Listening and Obeying to those who have authority over you (as long as they are within the bounds of the shariah)..
check out:


This book was originally entitled: Hidiyat :) check out the chapter on Sama'a and Ta'at (Listening and Obeying).

I think this is a basic principle that anyone working in a collective effort needs to have another important book is:

The Ethics of Disagreement in Islam by Taha Jabir al 'Alwani which is available at:

Keep up the good work. Mashallah you gus are doing great.


Azeem Khan

on March 12, 2004 8:57 PM
Amr bin Muhammed Gharib said


yo why you guys trying to mess up his idea. Only two types can work with the ayas in Surah Abasa.
Blind doesnt necessarily mean one who blindly follows, it means the one who does good, and is striving for good for himself and the good of the organization (too many for's). Anybody else would be caragorized in the other group.
I like the metaphor Br. Talal. Keep up the good work, and always remember that "I got yo back, kid" ;)


on March 17, 2004 11:05 AM
Amr bin Muhammed Gharib said


oh yeah and by the way Br. Azeem, you are not supposed toi blind follow the leadership; thats what the christians and Jews did: "took their priests and rabis gods beside Allah"; (interesting sidenote on how people go FATWA HUNTING-Im goin to find me a ftwa that fits me, even if some people say it is wrong, im going with a SCHOLAR. iF HE SAID IT AND i FOLLOW HIM, THE wrong is upon him, and not me!)
Followers should know the reasons leadership is going with a decisionand thats how they would agree or disagree; "say give me your proof if you are indeed truthful".
Just a little insight, Im sorry if I have offended anybody by my speech; iF I have, I seek forgiveness from him and Allah (SWT).

on March 17, 2004 11:19 AM
Wajahat Gilani said


To add to Amr's comments, when putting your trust in scholars be confident in their education, question what they've learned, where they've learned and from whom they've learned. Traditionally, the "whom" makes all the difference in the world.

Wajahat Gilani

on March 17, 2004 3:33 PM
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