Friday, February 22, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Taking A Stand
Surah Al-Imran (The House of Imran) Chapter 3: Verse 139
"So lose not heart, nor fall into despair: For you must gain mastery if you are true in Faith."
When a Muslim loses his physical power and is conquered, one's consciousness (taqwa) and faith (iman) does not depart from him. If one remains a Believer, he or she looks upon his or her conqueror from a superior position. One remains certain that this is a temporary condition which will pass away and that faith will turn the tide from which there is no escape. Even if death is his portion, he will never bow his head.
It is the wisdom of God that belief remains independent of the glitter and glamour of worldly allurements, such as closeness to the ruler, favour from the government, popularity among the people or the satisfaction of desire. Indeed, the Believer does not borrow his or her values, concepts and standards from people, but takes them from the Sustainer of the people, God, and that is sufficient for the Believer.
The person who takes a stand against the direction of the society - its common mode, its values and standards, its ideas and concepts, its error and deviations - will find himself or herself a stranger, as well as helpless, unless his or her authority comes from a source which is more powerful than the people, more permanent than the earth, and nobler than life. Let falsehood have power, let it have its drums and banners, and let it have its throngs and mobs; all this cannot change anything of the truth. He or she is a Believer, and whatever be the conditions and the situation, he or she cannot exchange error for the truth. Indeed, God does not leave the Believer alone in the face of oppression to whimper under its weight, to suffer dejection and grief, but relieves him of all this with the message: "So lose not heart, nor fall into despair: For you must gain mastery if you are true in Faith."
Compiled From:
"The Noble Quran" - Abdullah Yusuf Ali,
"Milestones" - Sayyid Qutb, pp. 274-279

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
The practice of the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is to be always clean, wearing fresh and neat-looking dress and having a pleasant fragrance. Imam al-Bukhari narrates the Prophet saying, "Allah will forgive the sins of the previous week for a person, who on Friday takes a bath, cleanses himself, puts on his [regular] perfume or any perfume available in the house. Then, he goes out [to Friday Prayer] and avoids separating two friends. Then he prayers wherever he can and listens to [the sermon of] the Imam."

To take a bath on Friday is specifically required as it is the 'weekly Eid' of Muslims and a time for gathering and joy for the community in their homes and masjids. That of course does not mean that one should bathe only on Fridays but as often as is necessary for optimal health and hygiene. The Prophet did not set aside any specific time for bathing and would do so whenever he wished to, sometimes even in the middle of the night as Lady 'Aisha reported!

Do not forget to keep with you a small bottle of perfume and to use it regularly to bring pleasure to yourself and those around you, as the ahadith clearly recommend. It is loved by humans and angels alike, and Allah loves what pleases His creation.
Compiled From:
"Islamic Manners" - Abdul Fattah Abu Ghudda
Paths to Peace
Only in the crucible of self-mastery can freedom be smelted. Far from how others see us, far from our constant complaining, we all have a deep need for silence and introspection: the silence of our conscience. We need to listen to our hearts, to recognize our needs. Islam—like all spiritual traditions—teaches that we can never fully realize ourselves, never attain our freedom by acting against others, or in relation to the judgments—founded or unfounded—of others. To be means to return to our conscience, to our intelligence and our heart, and to pledge, to the full extent of our abilities, to know and to educate ourselves. Knowledge of God, the Qur’an reminds us, lies “between man and his heart”: God invites us to know ourselves, to rely upon our conscience, to seek responsibility. But above all God summons us to understand our faith, our practice as believers and ourselves. The Unique calls upon humans to become beings of conscience, to take themselves fully in hand and to become—overcoming all obstacles—forces for good, for human well-being and peace.
It is time to stop lamenting if life fails to ease our suffering and our tears. Muslims must reconcile themselves with the full force of this message. Must rediscover the Divine One in intimate dialogue, and then, in confidence, find themselves. Must become responsible: such is the first freedom. Never lose hope: such is the ultimate message of Islam. To be, to know one’s self, to be thankful and to serve in the deep belief that peace lies in the intention and the meaning of all we do, and not in the visibility of the result or the sound of applause. The philosopher noticed: “What does not kill you makes you stronger”… life, which by definition does not definitely kill us, must be the way that strengthen us spiritually. Time, confidence and silence will be required; we must learn to care for ourselves. Islam needs Muslims—women and men—who understand its teachings, who attempt to live by them and who bear witness before humanity and Nature of its simple, luminous and yet demanding message: if you believe you seek; when you seek you love; if you love you serve; when you serve, you pray.
Self-reconciliation, the empowerment of autonomy and freedom, can only come about through the mediation of those around us, with their respect, and in their service. Like the signs of the universe that remind us of the signs of our deepest intimacy, like the order of the cosmos that reflects peace of heart, we must learn, understand, step outside ourselves. To love and to serve means to step outside ourselves: to step outside ourselves holds the promise of self-reconciliation. A paradox, and such a beautiful truth.
Compiled From:
"Paths to Peace" - Tariq Ramadan

Friday, February 15, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
More Than An Act
Surah Baqarah (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 37
"Then learnt Adam from his Lord words of inspiration, and his Lord Turned towards him; for He is Oft-Returning, Most Merciful."
Quranic concept of Taubah is essentially an intimate, personal act. Indeed, it is more than an act. It reflects a moment of decision when one makes up one's mind to break with a course of action and simultaneously adopt another course.
Taubah is not merely the negation of the past; it is essentially a contract with the future. Taubah is personal in that no one else needs to know about it. You do not have to go into a confessional to make a clean breast of all your sins, nor do you have to appear in sack cloth and ashes to convince any authority that you have truly turned penitent. While punishment relates to the act of wrong and satisfies the social conscience, taubah deals with the wrongness of the act and satisfies the conscience of the individual concerned. Taubah is the result of man's understanding of the wrongness of an act and his determination not to repeat the act. Once he has come to this decision he turns to God for mercy and forgiveness.
This process of repentance and forgiveness started with Adam. When Adam violated the covenant he found himself exposed. He desperately tried to cover himself but was transfixed as it were, by a cosmic eye. In mute helplessness he turned to God for mercy.
Compiled From:
"Translations from The Quran" - Altaf Gauhar, pp, 153, 154
Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Bringing Ease
When two of the Prophet's (peace be upon him) Companions, Muadh b. Jabal and Abu Musa al-Ashari (may Allah be pleased with them both) were leaving as judges to the Yemen, the Prophet instructed them to:
"Be gentle to the people and avoid harshness to them; bring them good news and scare them not." [Muslim]
With regard to the implementation of penalties, the Prophet instructed the judges and rulers to 'Suspend the prescribed punishments (hudud) as far as you can. For it is better to err in forgiveness than making an error in punishment.' [Abu Yusuf]
In a hadith narrated by the Prophet's widow, Aisha, and recorded by both al-Bukhari and Muslim, the Prophet said: "God is gentle and he loves gentleness in all matters." Then he confirmed in another hadith to say that:
"Gentleness fails not to bring beauty in everything, and it is not taken away from anything without causing ugliness." [Muslim]
A juristic conclusion drawn from these guidelines is that bringing ease to the people and removal of hardship from them is one of the cardinal objectives of Shariah. Hence it is not permissible for a mufti, judge or jurist to opt for a harsh verdict in cases where an easier alternative can be found.
Compiled From:
"Shariah Law - An Introduction" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, pp, 292-294
Desirable News
If we allow ourselves to imagine a different kind of news, there are a number of features that might be desirable from a democratic standpoint:
  • Independent issue agendas developed by each news organization would provide a more diverse information environment.

  • Offering diverse voices and viewpoints would reduce the gap that ordinary people often feel separates them from the politicians and political insiders who dominate news content.

  • More analysis of how politics operates behind the scenes of news events would help people understand how political decisions are reached and how they might become involved.

  • More historical context would help establish the origins of problems in the news and limit the ability of politicians to reinvent history to suit their purposes.

  • More coverage of citizen political activists would help ordinary people see paths to personal involvement and hear challenging perspectives that might help them evaluate official spin more critically.

  • Better use of interactive technologies could link news audiences to each other and to civic organizations to learn more about issues and take effective action.
Compiled From:
"News: The Politics of Illusion" - W. Lance Bennett, pp. 30, 31

Friday, February 8, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Surah Yunus (Jonah) Chapter 10: Verse 23 (partial)
"O you people, surely your iniquity is but against your selves."
Iniquity is defined as harming anything in creation without just cause. The word is a translation of baghi, which is derived from the Arabic word that denotes desire. In this context, the problem is desiring something to the point of transgressing the rights of others to attain it. The iniquity and injustice that people aim at others ultimately work against the perpetrators.
Imam Mawlud makes an analogy between iniquity and a powerfully intoxicating wine (called qarqaf) that makes one shudder when swallowed. This metaphorical wine is the "love of position," which is a major motivation that impels some to wrong others. Even petty office managers oppress their subordinates for the purpose of marking their territory and securing their positions. Tyrants on corporate boards pull off power plays to acquire more authority or remove those whom they perceive to be potential challenges to their authority or position.
But the world's most powerful leaders, after finally achieving what they so badly coveted, taste death. All their power abruptly vanishes at death's door, the great leveler. Their minions die just the same, those who did whatever they could to move closer to people of authority.
Compiled From:
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, pp, 32, 33
Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Even before birth, when a man is merely an embryo in the womb of his mother, certain responsibilities are prescribed for him. Bukhari relates on the authority of Zaid ibn Masud that the Prophet, peace be upon him, said: "Each one of you is collected in the womb of his mother for forty days, and then turns into a clot for an equal period, and turns into a piece of flesh for a similar period and then Allah sends an angel and orders him to write four things, i.e., his provision, his age at death, and whether he will be of the wretched or the blessed. Then the soul is breathed into him. And by Allah, a person among you may do deeds of the People of Fire until there is only a cubit or an arm-length distance between him and the fire but then the writing precedes, and he does the deeds of the People of Paradise and enters it; and a man does the deeds of the People of Paradise till there is only a cubit or two between him and Paradise, and then that writing precedes and he does the deeds of the People of the Fire and enters it." [Bukhari, Ahmed, Muslim]
It is wrong to think that this tradition is in conflict with the capability of man for responsibility. This hadith intends to underline three things:
First, it warns pious people against such evils as may ruin their good deeds, like pride, vainglory, hypocrisy, and other hidden evils that can render all of a person's good deeds in vain.
Second, it gives hope to those who have wronged themselves, for it is still possible for them to substitute the humiliation that accompanies sin for the honour that always goes with obedience to Allah's will. This assurance is likely to strengthen their resolve at a crucial moment and change their attitude from evil to good.
Third, it draws the attention of both the faithful and the sinful to Allah. If one seeks help from Allah and places trust in Him, one's hidden capabilities and faculties develop and one finds it easy to perform the acts that please Allah, while keeping away from those that invoke His wrath.
This three-fold purpose creates in man a sense of responsibility that leads him onto the straight path.
Compiled From:
"Freedom and Responsibility in Quranic Perspective" - Hasan Al-Anani, pp, 43, 44
Ordinary and Uncool
One destructive obsession related to perfectionism is the fascination with celebrity culture. We desperately flip through magazines to find out all of the intimate details about the stars we love and the ones we hate. We want to know who has lost weight, how they decorate their houses, what they eat, what they feed their dogs ... you name it. If they eat it, wear it, own it or lose it - we want to do the same!
We want to share in their lives because we believe it's the way to bring us closer to the perfection we seek. Celebrities also bring us closer to another highly coveted asset - coolness. Unfortunately, in a culture driven by profit, there are multibillion-dollar industries making sure that perfection and coolness stay as elusive as they are seductive. There is no such thing as perfect enough or cool enough.
In our culture, the fear and shame of being ordinary is very real. We seem to measure the value of people's contributions (and sometimes their entire lives) by their level of public recognition. In other words, worth is measured by fame and fortune.
Our culture is quick to dismiss quiet, hardworking men and women. In many instances, we equate ordinary with boring or, even more dangerous, ordinary has become synonymous with meaningless. One of the greatest cultural consequences of devaluing our own lives has been our tolerance for what people do to achieve their "extraordinary" status.
Baseball players who pump themselves full of steroids and hormones are heroes. Corporate leaders with billion-dollar salary packages are envied, even if their employees are losing their pensions and benefits at the same time. Young children are overstressed and suffering from high rates of anxiety due to the overscheduling of extracurricular activities and the emphasis on standardized testing scores.
These examples beg the question, what are we willing to sacrifice in our pursuit of the extraordinary?
Compiled From:
"I Thought It Was Just Me" - Brene Brown, pp. 203-205

Friday, February 1, 2013

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Law of Requital
Surah Al-Fatiha (The Opening) Chapter 1: Verse 4
"Master of the Day of Judgement"
Evil takes many forms but it always contains some element of transgression, excess, waste, misapplication or disorder and implies deliberate pursuit of these ends.
The struggle between good and evil is decided according to the law of requital, which is subordinate to the divine purpose that good must ultimately outweigh evil and falsehood must yield place to truth. Without this not only would the essential balance be disturbed, the whole object of creation would be frustrated. The law of requital is in operation all the time but the final determination awaits the Day of Judgement when God as judge and master will 'decide the issue'. The concept of the hereafter is inseparable from the process of evolution. It is arbitrary to assume that this process which governs growth and decay, selection and survival, generation and regeneration at different levels of existence, should come to an abrupt and final end in physical death.
Compiled From:
"Translations from The Quran" - Altaf Gauhar, p. 70
Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Aisha (God be well pleased with her and her father) said, "Each night when the Prophet, peace be upon him, retired to his bed he would gather his hands together, puff in them, and then recite in them [Surat al-Ikhlas, Surat al-Falaq, and Surat al-Nas] and then wipe over with his hands whatever he could of his body, beginning with his head and face and the front of his body. He would do this three times." [Bukhari, Muslim]
Aisha also said, "When he became exhausted I would puff for him [with Surat al-Falaq and Surat al-Nas], and wipe with his own hand for its blessings." And in some narrations: "When he became sick he would read over himself [Surat al-Ikhlas, Surat al-Falaq and Surat al-Nas] and then puffed." [Bukhari, Muslim, Ahmad] The linguists said that "puffing" [al-nafath] is a light breath without saliva.
Compiled From:
"Etiquette With The Quran" - Imam Al-Nawawi, p. 104
Busy Days
Some imagine that their days would be less busy in the future, that there would be fewer problems and obstacles, and that they will have more free time than during the past youth. However, experience shows quite the opposite, dear reader, so let me quote to you from the one who experienced that and concluded:
The older you get, the greater your responsibilities will be, the more relations you will have, the more restricted your time will be and the lesser your energy. Time is more restricted after youth, and one's body is weaker, health is less abundant, vitality is lower and duties and preoccupations are more numerous and more severe! Hence, make use of your time while it is available to you, and do not attach your heart to the unknown, for each stage has its own occupations, duties and surprises.
Some even stress the lack of days of happiness and the abundance of days of hardship:
They say life is all two days
One is pleasures and one is hardships
They were not truthful, for life is one day of happiness
And many days full of hardships and surprises
Compiled From:
"The Value of Time" - Abd al-Fattah Abu Ghuddah, pp. 74, 75

February Book Club Pick

This month's pick is Hearts We Lost by Umm Zakiyyah. Has anyone read last month's choice? I started but didn't finish it. I'm really looking forward to this choice though as I loved her previous books.