Friday, August 3, 2012

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Desire to Give
Al-Insan (Humans) - Chapter 76: Verses 8-10
"Who give food - though they need it themselves - to the needy, the orphan and the captive, [saying within themselves,] 'We feed you for the sake of God alone. We desire neither recompense from you, nor thanks. We fear the day of our Lord: a bleak, distressful day.'"
These verses describe the compassionate feelings of true believers, symbolized in their offering of food, which they need for themselves, to people who are less fortunate than themselves. In other words, they put such needy people, orphans and captives ahead of themselves, feeding them despite their own need of the food.
We see compassion overflowing from such hearts that seek God's pleasure, looking for no reward or praise from any creature. They do not hold up their favours in an attitude of conceit. They simply want to avoid the woes of a bleak and grim day, which they genuinely fear.
Giving food to the needy in such a direct manner was at the time of the Prophet, peace be upon him, the proper expression of the believer's own compassion and the most needed type of help. Ways and forms of charity may be completely different in other circumstances and social environments. What is important is the need to maintain such compassion towards others and the desire to do good only for God's sake, looking for no earthly recognition or reward.
Taxes may be regulated in society, and a portion of such taxes may be allocated for social security, ensuring that the poor are helped. However, this meets only one part of the Islamic objective that these verses refer to. Islam imposes zakat duty to fulfil this part of meeting the needs of the poor and the deprived. Islam, however, considers an equally important part of this objective, the feelings of those who give; in other words their desire to give elevates them to a high, noble standard. We must not belittle the importance of this objective. Islam is a faith that sets a system to cultivate people's better feelings and sentiments. Kindly feelings and generosity refine those who are charitable and benefit the ones in need.
Compiled From:
"In the Shade of the Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol 17, pp. 410-412
Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Almighty's Wrath
The Prophet, peace be upon him, sought refuge in Allah from trials, envy, treachery, ignorance, all those things that detract from the dignity of a human being. Nonetheless, he was able to and did accept abuse or insults from others - for the sake of his attachment to the Lord. What concerned him above all was that he should never become the object of the Almighty's wrath. In his prayers he would often say:
'If Your wrath be not upon me, I worry not. But Your favour would be far more liberal.'
Compiled From:
"Remembrance And Prayer" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali, p. 102
Passion of the Masses
On the question of hudud, one sometimes sees popular support hoping or exacting a literal and immediate application because the latter would guarantee henceforth the “Islamic” character of a society. In fact, it is not rare to hear Muslim women and men (educated or not, and more often of modest means) calling for a formal and strict application of the penal code (in their mind, the sharia) of which they themselves will often be the first victims. When one studies this phenomenon, two types of reasoning generally motivate these claims:
1. The literal and immediate application of the hudud legally and socially provides a visible reference to Islam. The legislation, by its harshness, gives the feeling of conformity to the Quranic injunctions that demands rigorous respect of the text. At the popular level, one can infer in the African, Arabic, Asian as well as Western countries, that the very nature of this harshness and inflexibility of the application, gives an Islamic dimension to the popular psyche.
2. The opposition and condemnations by the West supplies, paradoxically, the popular feeling of faithfulness to the Islamic teachings; a reasoning that is antithetical, simple and simplistic. The intense opposition of the West is sufficient proof of the authentic Islamic character of the literal application of hudud. Some will persuade themselves by asserting that the West has long since lost its moral references and became so permissive that the harshness of the Islamic penal code which punishes behaviours judged immoral, is by antithesis, the true and only alternative “to Western decadence”.
These formalistic and binary reasoning are fundamentally dangerous for they claim and grant an Islamic quality to a legislation, not in what it promotes, protects and applies justice to, but more so because it sanctions harsh and visible punishment to certain behaviors and in stark contrast and opposition to the Western laws, which are perceived as morally permissive and without a reference to religion. One sees today that communities or Muslim people satisfy themselves with this type of legitimacy to back a government or a party that calls for an application of the sharia narrowly understood as a literal and immediate application of corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty. When this type of popular passion takes hold, it is the first sign of a will to respond to various forms of frustration and humiliation by asserting an identity that perceives itself as Islamic (and anti-Western). Such an identity is not based on the comprehension of the objectives of the Islamic teachings (al maqasid) or the different interpretations and conditions relating to the application of the hudud.
Faced with this passion, many ulama remain cautious for the fear of losing their credibility with the masses. One can observe a psychological pressure exercised by this popular sentiment towards the judicial process of the ulama, which normally should be independent so as to educate the population and propose alternatives. Today, an inverse phenomenon is revealing itself. The majority of the ulama are afraid to confront these popular and simplistic claims which lack knowledge, are passionate and binary, for fear of losing their status and being defined as having compromised too much, not been strict enough, too westernized or not Islamic enough. The ulama, who should be the guarantors of a deep reading of the texts, the guardians of faithfulness to the objectives of justice and equality and of the critical analysis of conditions and social contexts, find themselves having to accept either a formalistic application (an immediate non-contextualized application), or a binary reasoning (less West is more Islam), or hide behind “almost never applicable” pronouncements which protects them but which does not provide real solutions to the daily injustices experienced by women and the poor.
Compiled From:
"An International call for Moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in the Islamic World" - Tariq Ramadan

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