Between Khrushchev and Ahmed bin Hanbal … and the hypocrisy of the ruler

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AFFLICTION of weak states happens due to the wrong opinions that leaders get from unqualified advisors, and not from those who are devoid of personal intuition in striving for the supreme interest of the state.

As for the hypocrites who mostly incline on their personal interests, they will undoubtedly be the ones who pave the way to the collapse of the state. This is because they work according to the interests they aspire to, even if they remain silent when there is a crisis. They only see themselves, and hold lightly the trust that the leadership has given to them.

In this regard, there is a story about the former Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev. During the first meeting of the Central Committee after the death of Joseph Stalin, the new leader accused his predecessor of committing several atrocities and being a dictator known for his cruelty and tyranny, his non-acceptance of the opinions of others and his speed of getting rid of those who disagree with him or oppose him, irrespective of whether they are government officials or ordinary people.

After he finished delivering his accusatory speech, a slip of paper reached him on which was written – “Where were you when the crimes you alleged were taking place during the days of Stalin?”

The man read the question to the members of the Central Committee, and asked the questioner to stand up. After time passed, silence prevailed, and no one stood up, Khrushchev said with his usual sarcasm, “Whoever asks where I was when those terrible things were happening, I tell him that I was sitting in the chair you are sitting on at the moment. We are all equal, my dear.” By this he meant that no one should ask him for something that they are unable to do.

There are many officials who are unable to speak the truth because they believe that this is what the ruler wants. From this point of view, Aristotle is attributed to saying, “I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies; for the hardest victory is the victory over self.” In principle, it is for the welfare of the society, because it leads to the wellbeing of the individual.

In this regard, it is narrated by a ninth century Muslim jurist, Imam Ahmed bin Hanbal that when he was in prison, the warden came to him and said, “O Abu Abdullah, is the hadith about injustice and its enforcers true?” Imam Ahmed said, “Yes.”

The warden asked, “Am I one of the enforcers of injustice?”

Imam Ahmad said, “The enforcers of injustice are those who take your hair (the barber), wash your clothes, fix your food, and buy and sell from you. But you are among the oppressors themselves.”

This is because aiding the oppressor is injustice itself, and the aide is more concerned about the leadership than the leaders themselves. That is why the people, prior to the great technological revolution, the spread of the media and social media, and the open spaces, were almost surrendering to their destinies and seeking help from their rulers despite the cruelty of the latter, either by silence or by accepting everything.

However, there are some exceptions, such as the French Revolution when injustice abounded and people starved to such an extent that they decided to end the rule, and the 1917 revolution in Russia. However, today with the current technology, the basements of the intelligence and security services are no longer useful in hiding people, or covering up a money scandal and corruption.

As for other countries, it is the will of the ruler and his endeavor to achieve the truth among the people, and the strength of his determination to stop the advisors at their limits, and not leave the affairs of the state or the institution to those suffering from shortsightedness, and lack of wisdom and discernment.

A ruler’s awareness of what his people need is the way to the renaissance of his country and its economy. He makes the press and media platforms a supporting factor to expose the corrupt. Thus security is established, because sincere advice free from personal whims is given openly, and countries thus overcome their crises.

By Ahmed Al-Jarallah

Editor-in-Chief, the Arab Times

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