Friday, February 21, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Mercy of Passions
An-Naml (The Ant) Chapter 27: Verses 54, 55
"And [remember] Lot, when he said to his people, 'How dare you commit such abomination while you can see? Do you indeed approach men with lustful desires instead of women? Nay, you are a people whose conduct shows every sign of jahl (tajhaluna)."
In this passage we see that the people of Lot, that is, the people of Sodom described as behaving in a characteristically jahil way, 'approaching' as they do 'men lustfully rather than women', which is an 'abominable sin' fahishah. Jahil is a man who goes to any extremes at the mercy of his own passions, and that not ignorantly, 'while you can see,' i.e. being fully aware that by acting in this way he is committing an abominable sin. This shows clearly that jahil has essentially nothing to do with 'ignorance' though it implies the act of ignoring wilfully the moral rule.
Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, p. 32

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Evil Thoughts
"Verily, Allah has overlooked for my nation what their souls think about as long as they do not act on it or speak about it." [Bukhari, Muslim]
Although, one is not held responsible for the above types of thoughts, if evil thoughts do come to one's mind, the person should seek refuge in Allah from the accursed Satan. Those evil thoughts should then be repelled. However, there are times in which the person's faith might be weak and he allows those thoughts to grow. Hence, he should immediately seek refuge in Allah from those evil thoughts in order not to allow them to blossom into anything more harmful.
The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) also said, "Satan comes to one of you and he says, 'Who created this and who created that?' until he says, 'Who created your Lord?' If he reaches that stage with a person, he [that person] should seek refuge in Allah and stop such thoughts." [Bukhari, Muslim]
Compiled From:
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of an-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din Zarabozo, pp. 1356, 1357

We are probably deluged with more images of pain than any previous generation; they are beamed into our homes nightly on the evening news. It is easy to get compassion fatigue and tempting to dismiss these spectacles from our minds, telling ourselves that there is nothing we personally can do and that this misery has nothing to do with us.
Instead of steeling ourselves against the intrusion of other people's pain, we should regard our exposure to global suffering as a spiritual opportunity. Make a conscious effort to allow these television images to enter your consciousness and take up residence there. Extend your hospitality to them, and "make place for the other" in your life. It is a powerful way of developing "concern for everybody." If a particular image speaks to you strongly, focus on it; there may be a special reason for this. Bring this image deliberately to mind at various times in the day. Summon it when you are feeling sorry for yourself - or during a moment of happiness, when you are filled with gratitude for your good fortune. Make a friend of the distressed person, so that she becomes a presence in your life: direct your thoughts of loving kindness and compassion to her during your meditation.
But it cannot stop there. We must act practically to alleviate the pain of others. We cannot allow ourselves to feel paralyzed by the immensity of global misery. We cannot all rush off to foreign parts. Indeed, there is no need to do so: we will find plenty of opportunities on our own doorstep. Suffering is not confined to distant parts of the globe. Because we have a self-protective tendency to keep suffering at bay, we sometimes fail to recognize the signs of poverty, loneliness, grief, fear, and desolation in our own city, our own village, or our own family. So look at your world anew and choose your mission. There is a need that you - and only you - can fulfill. Do not imagine that you are doomed to a life of grim austerity or that your involvement in suffering will drain your life of fun. In fact, you may find that alleviating the distress of others makes you a good deal happier.
Compiled From:
"Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 167-169

Friday, February 14, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Close Link
Al-Anam (Cattle) Chapter 6: Verse 92 (partial)
"Those who believe in the life to come do believe in it, and they are ever-mindful of their prayers."
It is true that those who believe in the life to come, when people will have to account for their deeds and be rewarded or punished for them, also believe that God will no doubt send to mankind a messenger to convey to them His revelations. They have no problem in believing in this messenger. Indeed, they are inclined to believe in him.
Because they believe in the life to come and in the Quran, they are always mindful of their prayer, so that they continue to maintain a close link with God and continue to demonstrate their obedience to Him. This is, then, all a part of human nature. When we believe in the Hereafter, we accept that this Book, the Quran, is revealed by God and we are keen to obey Him in order to enhance our closeness with Him. We need only to look at different types of human beings to be sure that all this is absolutely true.
Compiled From:
"In The Shade of The Quran" - Sayyid Qutb, Vol. 5, p. 237

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Political Freedom
It is the duty of the Islamic Movement to stand firm against totalitarian and dictatorial rule, political despotism and usurpation of people's right. The Movement should always stand by political freedom, as represented by a true, not false, democracy. It should clearly declare its refusal of tyrants and steer clear of all dictators, even if some tyrants appear to have good intentions towards the Movement in order to obtain some gains and only for a time that is usually short, as has been shown by experience.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) said in a hadith: "When you see my Ummah fall victim to fear and does not say to a wrongdoer: 'You are wrongdoer', then you may lose hope in them." So how about a regime that forces people to say to a conceited wrongdoer: "How just, how great you are; O Our hero, our saviour and liberator!"
A close look at the history of the Muslim Ummah and the Islamic Movement in modern times should show clearly that the Islamic Ideology, the Islamic Movement and the Islamic Awakening have never flourished or borne fruit unless in an atmosphere of democracy and freedom, and have withered and become barren only at the times of oppression and tyranny that trod over the will of the people which clung to Islam. Such oppressive regimes imposed their Secularism, Socialism or Communism on their people by force and coercion, using covert torture and public executions, and employing those devilish tools that tore flesh, shed blood, crushed bones and destroyed souls.
On the other hand, we saw the Islamic Movement and the Islamic Awakening bear fruit and flourish at the times of freedom and democracy, and in the wake of the collapse of imperial regimes that ruled people with fear and oppression. Therefore, the Islamic Movement cannot support anything other than political freedom and democracy. The tyrants allowed every voice to be raised, except the voice of Islam; and let every trend express itself in the form of a political party or a body of some sort, except the Islamic current which is the only trend that actually speaks for this Ummah and expresses its creed, values, essence and its very existence.
Compiled From:
"Priorities of The Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase" - Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, pp. 186, 187

Conscience and Consistency
Defending one's principles, exercising a duty of conscience or consistency, and asserting one's independence in the face of all blind loyalties (be they ideological, religious or nationalist) certainly demands an ethics, but it also takes willpower and courage. We have to face the criticisms from within, from men and women who regard this attitude as an act of desertion or betrayal that plays into the hands of the 'other' or the 'enemy'.
In the new fictitious relationships between 'civilizations' that are 'clashing', emotions run high and blindness runs deep: Jews who denounce Israeli policies or the silence of their co-religionists, Muslims who denounce the attitudes of countries with a Muslim majority or the behaviour of certain extremists and the Americans and Europeans who denounce the inconsistencies and lies of Western politicians are seen as men and women who, respectively, nurture self-hatred, act against the interests of the umma or have a guilt complex and outdated 'leftist' ideals that lead them to declare their guilt endlessly, and dangerously. The virulence of rejection from within, by one's own community of affiliation, is proportional to its lack of self-confidence and sense of insecurity: a critical attitude is seen as a betrayal from within, and as marking the emergence of a 'fifth column' that is working and plotting on behalf of the 'enemy'. When we are faced with this fear and hyper-emotionalism, it is difficult to argue rationally that this independence is based on a rational ethics, and that it is not a matter of 'playing into the other's hands', but of 'being reconciled with oneself' and one's ideals. It is a matter of conscience and dignity.
Compiled From:
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 107

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Man Wrongs Himself
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 231 (partial)
"Whoso does that [i.e transgresses the limits set by God] has wronged his soul [or himself] (zalama nafsahu)"
The world Zalim is generally translated in English as 'wrong-doer' or 'evil-doer', and the corresponding nominal form zulm variously as 'wrong', 'evil', 'injustice', and 'tyranny'. The root plays an exceedingly important role in the Quran. It is not too much to say that it is one of the most important negative value words in the Quran. Indeed, we encounter the root on almost every page of the Scripture, under a variety of forms.
The primary meaning of ZLM is, in the opinion of many of the authoritative lexicographers, that of 'putting in a wrong place'. In the sphere of ethics it seems to mean primarily 'to act in such a way as to transgress the proper limit and encroach upon the right of some other person.' Briefly and generally speaking, zulm is to do injustice in the sense of going beyond one's own bounds and doing what one has no right to. The Quran repeats everywhere that God does not wrong anyone 'even by the weight of an ant' or 'by a single date-thread'. A good deed He will double, a bad deed He will punish; in any case man will never be wronged.
Thus Men are made to bear the consequences of their own deeds. Even the torment of the Fire which all evil-doers are to suffer will after all be their own making. Hence the concept of zulm al-nafs (lit. 'wrongdoing of the soul', i.e. 'doing wrong to one's own soul, or one's self) which we find expressed very frequently in the Quran in connection with that of the divine chastisement of evil-doers. 'God wrongs nobody; man wrongs himself.'
Compiled From:
"Ethico Religious Concepts in the Quran" - Toshihiko Izutsu, p. 164-166

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Since unity of faith is the very foundation of the Islamic fraternity, the Prophet (peace be upon him) has warned the believers to avoid accusing one another of disbelief. Thus according to a hadith reported by Abd Allah Ibn Umar, 'When a man calls his brother "kafir" one of them is afflicted with the charge. Either it is as he says or it befalls the person who uttered.' [Muslim]
According to yet another Hadith, reported by Abu Dharr al-Ghaffari: 'Whoever charges another person with disbelief, or calls him an "enemy of God", while this is not so, will have the charge rebound upon himself.' [Mishkat]
The message in the preceding hadiths is not confined to the prohibition of takfir but extends to transgression or sin (fisq) and the unfounded attribution of crime and sin to others. A Muslim is thus forbidden from charging others with fisq. This is the purport of another hadith which declares in the broadest of terms: 'No man accuses another of transgression (fisq) or disbelief (kufr) without partaking of it himself if the accused is not what the accusation claims he is.' [Mishkat]
Compiled From:
"Freedom of Expression in Islam" - Mohammad Hashim Kamali, p. 188

We now understand basic religious terms differently and in a way that has made faith problematic. "Belief" no longer means "trust, commitment, and engagement" but has become an intellectual assent to a somewhat dubious proposition. Religious leaders often spend more time enforcing doctrinal conformity than devising spiritual exercises that will make these official "beliefs" a living reality in the daily lives of the faithful. Instead of using scriptures to help people to move forward and embrace new attitudes, people quote ancient scriptural texts to prevent any such progress. This neatly demonstrates our modern understanding of religion as something that we think rather than something that we do.
Compiled From:
"The Case for God" - Karen Armstrong, pp. 325, 326

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Friday Nasihah

Living The Quran
Defending Truth
Al-Baqara (The Cow) Chapter 2: Verse 143 (partial)
"Thus we have made you a middle nation, so that you may be witnesses for humankind"
A middle nation enjoins justice and reminds humanity of God's rights. When people give up enjoining what is right or even admitting that there are absolute and objective values that are not subject to the whims of mankind, then evil spreads. The best of witnesses was the Prophet (peace be upon him), then his Companions, and then their Successors. Each generation subsequently takes on this office of witnessing, although hardly to the degree exhibited in the early generations. At the end of earthly time, the world will virtually be without witnesses to truth, and truth itself will be scarce. No one will defend it. Humanity has the right to have witnesses living among them, those who are willing to defend the truth no matter how unpopular it may be.
Compiled From:
"Purification of the Heart" - Hamza Yusuf, p. 132

Understanding the Prophet's Life (peace be upon him)
Loans and Debt
Abu Yasif reported that the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: "Whoever is owed by one of his brothers and allows respite for the payment of the debt will be given the reward of charity for each day he gives respite to the debtor." [Ahmad]
Abu Musa al-Ashari related that the Prophet said: "After the major sins which must be avoided, the greatest sin is death in a state of debt, having left behind no asset to pay it off." [Ad-Darimi]
Abdullah bin Amr reported that the Prophet said: "If a person is killed in the cause of Allah, all of his sins are forgiven except his debt." [Muslim]
Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said: "The soul of the believer is held back because of his debt until the debt is discharged." [Tirmidhi]
Compiled From:
"A Treasury of Ahadith" - Mazhar U. Kazi, pp. 159, 170

Four Stations
[... continued from previous issue]
4. Khulafaullah
‘Khalifa’ is a representative, delegate, vicegerent, and ambassador. A ‘khalifa’ must only exercise delegated power on behalf of a sovereign and not follow his or her own whims. A ‘khalifa’ establishes the commands, wishes and guidance of the one who sent him or her. Given how Allah does not establish His divine way of life among humans directly, those who fulfil that responsibility and establish the divine way of life are considered as the ‘Khulafa’ of Allah.
We know that those who try their utmost to establish the divine way of life are the Ansarullah (helpers of Allah). Ansarullah may or may not be successful in establishing the divine way of life. However, if the Ansarullah become successful in establishing the divine way of life then they reach the station of Khulafaullah. Only through the establishment of divine way of life can the station of Khulafaullah be achieved.
When Allah decided to send humans to the earth He mentioned to the angels that He wanted to send His ‘khalifa’ to the earth [Baqara 2:30]. Being a ‘khalifa’ is the ultimate success of a believer in this world. Allah loves those who strive to reach this station of being His ‘khalifa’. Therefore, those who do not strive for this station have failed themselves. The Ansarullah who are striving to establish the divine way of life have the opportunity to reach the station of Khulafaullah.
One cannot reach any of the four stations offered by Allah at the expense of ignoring the rest. In reality, the true station of a believer is to be close to Allah and gain His pleasure. Only those who try to please Allah by reaching the station of Ibadullah, Waliullah, and Ansarullah are granted the station of Khulafullah as a reward of their struggle in this world. May Allah give us the ability to reach all of the four stations.
Compiled From:
“Four Stations of Believers” - Ghulam Azam