Monday, March 23, 2009
"Your Lord has decreed that you should worship nothing except Him, and (show) kindness to your parents, whether one or both of them attain old age (while they are) still with you, never say to them a word of contempt nor scold them. Address them in a generous fashion. And out of kindness, stay before them with humility and say: 'My Lord, show them mercy, just as they cared for me in my childhood' " (17:23-24).
Again Allah says:
"We have enjoined man to respect his parents; his mother bears him with fainting after fainting, while his weaning takes two years. Thank Me as well as your parents; towards Me lies the goal" (The Qur'an 31:14)
It is reported that a man came to the Prophet and asked:
"Messenger of Allah, who is the most deserving of good care from me?" The Prophet replied: "Your mother (which he repeated three times) then your father, then your nearest relatives in order".
In another hadith the Prophet has said: "Paradise lies at the feet of mothers". In other words Paradise awaits those who cherish and respect their mothers.
The Muslim mother has consequently a great feeling of security about the type of care and consideration she can expect from her children when she reaches old age. As the verse of the Qur'~ n quoted above indicates, thankfulness to parents is linked with thankfulness to Allah, and a failure in either of these respects is indeed a major failure in one's religious duties.
The principles of Islam made explicit in the Qur'an and hadith are belief and good conduct, and good conduct begins at home with one's closest relatives. A Westerner who has had close contact with a Muslim society cannot fail to be struck by the love and respect given to parents and the honour shown to old people in general, both men and women, as a direct application of these principles of Islam.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
That an act of physical purification can help the seeker along the path of spiritual purification is a lesson contained in the conversion story of Umar ib al-Khattab. Initially one of the staunchest enemies of Islam among the Meccans, Umar was enraged when he discovered that his sister Fatima had become a Muslim. After a violent argument with her, Umar asked to see the parchment from which she was reading a passage of the Quran. Fatima replied, "My brother, you are impure in your polytheism and only the purified may touch it." After Umar rose and washed himself, his sister gave him the page on which was written Sura Ta Ha (20). Reading the words, Umar declared, "How fine and noble is this speech!" Then Umar went to the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, and declared his conversion to Islam.
One notable aspect of this story is that Fatima exercised her judgment in what is often reduced by many Muslims to a simple Islamic legal issue, viz., whether it is permissible to touch the mushaf - or a portion of it - without having performed ritual purification. In strict legal terms, it is impossible for a non-Muslim to complete ritual purification, since a condition of this act of worship, like all other acts of worship, is that one forms the explicit intention (niyya) to perform this act in Obedience to God in accordance with the instructions of the Prophet Muhammad. If no other relevant factors are taken into account, the logical conclusion is that no non-Muslim should be permitted to handle the mushaf. However, sound Islamic legal reasoning entails consideration of many factors involved in a case - including assessment of the harms and benefits (al-darr wa'l-nafa), the common good (al-maslaha al-'amma), and the broad goals of the Law (al-maqasid).
Thus, through the centuries, Muslim scholars, like this early Muslim woman Fatima, exercised their judgment in determining when and how it might be permissible to give or sell a mushaf to a non-Muslim. At the same time, it is probably accurate to say that the strictly legal requirement of purity for touching the mushaf is less of an issue to most Muslims than the concern that the mushaf will be treated in a disrespectful fashion. It is this same concern that led many scholars to discourage or forbid young children from handling the mushaf, since their inability to truly understand the sacrality of the text could lead them to handle it inappropriately.
"The Story of the Qur'an: Its History and Place in Muslim Life" - Ingrid Mattson, p. 155, 156
Free time is among the important bounties that Allah gives to mankind. It is during a person's free time that he can truly dedicate himself to studying, memorizing the Quran, helping the poor and all sorts of good deeds. The proper use of one's free time is a very important means of gaining Allah's pleasure in the Hereafter.
Unfortunately, much of modern civilization is dedicated to entertainment, enjoyment, pleasure and sensual gratification, as can be seen by the dominance and place of movies, sports, music, art, alcohol and so forth. A Muslim must be careful not to allow this civilization, with all of its supposed fun and glitter, to affect him negatively and allow him to waste his precious time. It is very easy, for example, for one hour of benefit-less television watching to turn into two hours, then three hours and so forth. It is very easy to be taken by the things of this world and to spend all of one's time enjoying and seeking the goods of this world. One should keep in mind the words of the Prophet (peace be upon him):
"The worst of my Nation are those who are born into bounties and nurtured in them. Their most important concern is the types of food and the types of clothing, while they are boastful in speech."
[Ibn Al-Mubaarak in al-Zuhd]
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, p. 1555, 1556
Al-Anam (The Cattle)
Chapter 6: Verse 2
Every human being has two major appointments to keep, one sooner than the other. Following a limited span of life, man dies. The second appointment comes with the Resurrection.
The frequent references to the Day of Resurrection in the Quran are not meant, as understood by some ignorant people, as a threat to human civilization or to thwart human progress. Rather, they are aimed at breaking man's false pride and egotistic ambitions.
The need to remind humans of the Day of Judgment never ceases to exist. Such admonition helps control man's desires and moderate his arrogance. The normal human being, with enough common sense, and with a certain belief in the Resurrection, would never forfeit a life of eternal bliss or opt for short-term enjoyment in exchange for the rich rewards of the hereafter!
"Thematic Commentary on the Quran" - Muhammad Al-Ghazali, pp. 623, 624
Saturday, March 14, 2009
Although homemaking, childbearing and childrearing are a universal career, it remains true that it does not exhaust the energies of a woman throughout her life. Her membership in the extended family, whether on her side or on that of her husband, will provide her with assistants and therefore with more leisure. Her childbearing cares may not last beyond two or three decades at the longest. Her life may be three whole decades longer. Is it right that Muslim women waste this valuable time on family gossip when they could be helping the ummah with their talents and energies? There are women equally who may not be fortunate enough to marry at all, or to have children or even to live in an extended family. How does Islam perceive their life to be?
Every woman, like every man, must carry the burden of serving Allah and benefitting the ummah, according to his or her talents and best disposition. This task is doubly imperative today because of the decay and dormancy of the ummah. Nobody can and should be spared. Our present circumstances demand that every woman be a career woman at least during some portion of her life. This could be during her student days, or during her motherhood period if she lives in a large extended family, or after her motherhood period.
Her first task is to undergo training as an Islamic worker, to awaken her mind and to nourish it with Islamic wisdom, to discipline and exercise herself in Islamic work. She ought to have acquired the skills to awaken and teach other Muslims, and to mobilize them in service to the divine cause. Practically every field of activity is open to and needs her. There are whole professions which she can monopolize.
"Al Tawhid: Its Implications for Thought and Life" - Ismail Raji al Faruqi, pp. 138, 139
During the tenth year of Hijrah, young Ibrahim, who was then about a year and a half old, fell seriously ill. At the very time when the religion of the One was being established all over the Peninsula, with adversity constantly diminishing and the number of conversions continuing to grow, the Prophet saw his only son about to leave life and to leave him. He visited him every day and spent hours by his side. When the child eventually breathed his last, the Prophet took him in his arms and held him against his breast, tears down his face, so deep was his sorrow. Abd ar-Rahman ibn Awf, his faithful Companion, was surprised by those sobs, because he thought that the Prophet had previously forbidden such expressions of grief. At first, Muhammad could not speak; then he explained to him that he had forbidden excessive manifestations of distress, through wailing or hysterical behaviour, but not the natural expression of sorrow and suffering. Then he gave verbal expression to his grief that, in effect, became a spiritual teaching, as he declared that his tears were "signs of tenderness and mercy." he added a comment springing from his own experience, but which was also true in every Muslim's daily life: "He who is not merciful will not be shown mercy."[Bukhari, Muslim]
In the difficult moments of life, kindness, clemency, mercy, and the expressions of empathy that human beings offer one another bring them closer to the One, ar-Rahman (the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful). Through them, God reaches closer to the believer's heart, offering the believer what the believer him or herself has offered to a brother or sister in humanity.
"In The Footsteps of the Prophet" - Tariq Ramadan, pp. 191, 192
Al-Munafiqun (The Hypocrites)
Chapter 63: Verse 4
Inside a certain class of people there rages an internal war, one that doesn't take place on the battlefield, but in one's bedroom, one's office, one's own home. It is a war that results in ulcers or an increase in blood pressure. Everything frustrates these people: they become angry at inflation, furious because the rains came late and exasperated when the value of their currency falls. They are forever worried and irritated, no matter what the reason.
We should not carry the weight of the globe on our shoulders. Let the ground carry the burden of those things that happen. Some people have a heart that is like a sponge, absorbing all kinds of fallacies and misconceptions. It is troubled by the most insignificant of matters; it is the kind of heart that is sure to destroy its possessor.
Those who are principled and are upon the true path are not shaken by hardship; instead, hardship helps to strengthen their resolve and faith. But the reverse is true for the weak-hearted: when they face adversity or trouble, it is only their level of fear that increases. At a time of calamity, there is nothing more beneficial than having a brave heart. The one who has such a heart is self-possessed; he has firm faith and cool nerves. On the other hand, during the course of any given day, the coward slaughters himself many times with apprehensions and presentiments of impending doom. Therefore, if you desire for yourself a stable life, face all situations with bravery and perseverance.
"Don't Be Sad" - Aaidh ibn Abdullah al-Qarni
2. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "The Fire is surrounded by indulgence (pleasures) of appetites and Jannah is surrounded by things people dislike." [Agreed upon]
3. Abu Hurayra reported that the Prophet, (PBUH), said, "A man follows the religion of his close friend, so each of you should be very careful about whom he takes as a close friend." [Abu Dawud and at-Tirmidhi]
4. Sahl ibn Sa'd reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "Anyone who safeguards for My sake what is between his jaws and what is between his legs, I will safeguard Jannah (Paradise) for him." [Agreed upon]
5. Anas reported that the Prophet, (PBUH), said, "None of you can truly be said to believe until he wants for his brother what he wants for himself." [Agreed upon]
6. An-Nu'man ibn Bashir reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "The metaphor of the believers in their mutual love, mercy and affection is that of the body. When one limb of it (the body) complains, the rest of the body collapses with sleeplessness and fever." [Agreed upon]
7. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "The strong man is not the one who throws people in wrestling. The strong man is the one who has control of himself when he is angry." [Agreed upon]
8. Jarir ibn 'Abdullah reported that the Messenger of Allah said, "If someone does not show mercy to people, Allah will not show mercy to him." [Agreed upon]
9. Abu Muhammad al-Hasan ibn 'Ali ibn Abi Talib said, "I memorised from the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH): 'Abandon anything that gives you doubt for what gives you no doubt. Truthfulness is peace of mind and lying is doubt." [At-Tirmidhi]
10. Abu Umama Sudayy ibn 'Ajlan al-Bahili said, "I heard the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), speaking in the Hajj of Farewell. He said, 'Fear Allah, pray your five prayers, fast your month (of Ramadhan), pay the Zakat on your property and obey your leaders and you will enter Jannah of your Lord." [at-Tirmidhi]
11. Jabir also reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "No Muslim plants something without what is eaten from it being sadaqa for him. Even what is stolen from it is sadaqa for him. And no one visits it without that being sadaqa for him." [Muslim]
12. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "All of my community will enter Jannah except those who refuse." He was asked, "Who are those who refuse, Messenger of Allah?" He said, "Those who obey me will enter Jannah and those who disobey (disregard my sunnah) me refuse." [al-Bukhari]
13. Abu Hurayra, reported that the Prophet, (PBUH), said, "Whoever has done an injustice to his brother with regard to his honour or anything else should seek to be absolved by him before the day when there will be neither dinar nor dirham. If he has right actions, they will be taken from him to counterbalance the injustice he did, and if he does not have any good actions, some of the bad actions of his friend will be taken and he will be made to carry them." [al-Bukhari]
14. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "Anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day should not harm his neighbour. Anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day should honour his guest. Anyone who believes in Allah and the Last Day should speak well or be silent." [Agreed upon]
15. Anas reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "Anyone who desires the expansion of his provision or to have the best of his life prolonged, should maintain ties of kinship (blood-relationship s).'" [Agreed upon]
In a related Hadith, 'Abdullah ibn 'Amr reported: "The Prophet, (PBUH), said, 'A person who maintains ties of kinship is not someone who only does so with those who maintain ties with him. A person who maintains ties of kinship is someone who restores them when they have been cut off.'" [al-Bukhari]
16. Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "It is better for one of you to take a rope and carry firewood on his back than for him to go to a man to beg from him who then gives to him or refuses to." [Agreed upon]
17. Ibn Mas'ud reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "Which of you loves the property of his heir more than he loves his own property?" They said, "O Messenger of Allah, there is none of us who does not love his own property more." He said, "His property is what he sends ahead (i.e. gives in the way of Allah), and the property of his heir is what he keeps back (i.e. the property he will leave if he died tomorrow)." [al-Bukhari]
18. Abu Mas'ud 'Uqba ibn 'Amr al-Ansari al-Badri reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "Anyone who shows the way to something good has the same reward as the person who does it." [Muslim]
In another Hadith, Abu Hurayra reported that the Messenger of Allah, (PBUH), said, "Anyone who calls people to guidance has the same reward as that received by those who follow it, without that decreasing their reward in any way. Anyone who calls people to misguidance, is attributed with wrong actions the same as those who follow it, without that decreasing their wrong actions in any way." [Muslim]
19. On the authority of Sahl bin Saad Al-Saedi, who said : A man came to the prophet and said: "O Messenger of Allah, direct me to an act which, if I do it, [will cause] Allah to love me and people to love me." He said: "Renounce the world (i.e. give-up or control your worldly desires) and Allah will love you; and renounce what people possess (i.e. keep off people’s property) and people will love you." [Ibn Majah]
20. Narrated 'Umar bin Al-Khattab (May Allah be pleased with him), reported: Messenger of Allah (PBUH) said, "The deeds are considered by the intentions, and a person will get the reward according to his intention (i.e. whether to please Allah or fellow men). So whoever emigrated for Allah and His Messenger, his emigration will be for Allah and His Messenger; and he whose migration was to achieve some worldly benefit or to take some woman in marriage, his emigration would be for what he emigrated for".
Friday, March 6, 2009
A pious Muslim doubts whether his ritual ablutions are correct. He goes back and repeats them. This doubt becomes stronger. It becomes a regular part of his religious life. He takes 20 minutes to make his ablutions, repeating each act of washing over and over again.
The worshipper doubts whether he has made a mistake in his prayers. He repeats the acts of prayer, and even full prayers over and over again.
For such a person, daily worship, which should be his greatest comfort and solace, becomes a source of anxiety, frustration, and despair. The arrival of each prayer is welcomed with dread, though the person has strong faith and deep down inside truly loves prayer.
This person needs to understand that he is not having a problem of faith. Rather, he is suffering from an illness that brings him to suffer from worry and despair.. This illness is known as obsessive-compulsive disorder.
The misgivings and doubts that dominate the persons mind and thoughts are obsessions. Obsessions have four characteristics:
1. They are specific thoughts that dominate a person's thinking.Compulsions are the behaviours that the person cannot resist carrying out. The following can be said about compulsive actions:
2. These thoughts do not have any real connection to the problems that the person is facing.
3. Trying to ignore or dispel the thoughts causes great psychological stress for the person. This person is not schizophrenic. He fully realizes that his misgivings are baseless, but he simply cannot resist succumbing to them.
4. The person who has these thoughts is aware that they are the product of his own thinking. He is not adopting them from someone else.
1. The action is carried out over repeatedly even though the person carrying out the action wishes to cease doing so. However, the pressure to continue repeating the act is greater than the will to stop doing so. Washing hands over and over again is a common manifestation of compulsive behaviour.Muslims who suffer from obsessive-compulsive behaviour often suffer from doubts in relation to their purification (doubting their wudû') and their prayer (doubting whether they performed their prayers properly).
2. The person afflicted with these compulsions constantly tries to overcome them. Every time he resists the urge to carry out the action, he suffers from severe psychological stress on account of it. This is only relived temporarily when he resumes the action again.
The good news is that 80% of those who seek proper medical treatment respond readily and positively to the treatment. Some do suffer from relapses and need further treatment.
"The Psychology of Severe Misgivings" - `Alî Ismâ`îl `Abd al-Rahmân
Without remembrance one may as well be dead because during times of neglect, one is not remembering his purpose and therefore h e is not doing a useful act. Hence, the hadith of the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him), "The similitude of the one who remembers his Lord and the one who does not remember his Lord is like the similitude of death and life." (Bukhari, Muslim)
This real life that the Prophet is referring to is the life of the purified person who remembers Allah and recognizes his purpose in life. He does not wander about aimlessly not recalling why he is even existing.
There are two distinct modes of dhikr or remembrance of Allah. One is a constant and continuous form of dhikr wherein the person is always mindful of Allah as he goes about his daily routine and affairs. This form of dhikr, though, is developed and assisted by the more formal form of dhikr wherein a person remembers Allah at specific times via the means of specific words that have come from the Prophet. In fact, the most important of these formal means is the prayer itself.
"Purification of the Soul" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 318, 319
Al-Nisa (The Women)
Chapter 4: Verse 49
All acts and thoughts of those who are abundantly proud are directed towards earning the appreciation of others, and of making themselves out to be superior. For this reason, they excessively fear making mistakes. For them, making mistakes is a form of humiliation. They have total confidence in themselves, yet, paradoxically, feel the constant worry of doing the wrong thing. The arrogant ardently avoid all kinds of mistakes; making a mistake for them is an embarrassment. Therefore, they deny even the possibility. They are in a constant struggle to escape accusation of any faults. In the above verse, Allah describes a disposition of these people.
The arrogant humiliate others when they discover their mistakes. They exaggerate the errors other people make, taking every opportunity to bring these to light. They show no pity for anyone who commits an error, and become condescending towards them. They erroneously assume that if they reveal others' mistakes they make apparent their own faultlessness. Therefore, no one can feel at ease in their company. Such people always create an atmosphere of negativity.
Due to these reprehensible qualities, the arrogant can never master sincerity in its true sense. They remain deprived of this quality because they are aloof, always scheming. Such traits hinder them from being sincere towards others, being the reason why others distance themselves from them. They always fear that sincere behaviour, or natural shortcomings may become an object of ridicule. Due to their bad character, the arrogant are usually abandoned by others when they lose their power or fortune. Yet, we need to remember that, even at those times when they feel they are powerful, they are still alone in their own inner-world, so distant from the morality of the Quran.
"The Arrogance of Satan" - Harun Yahya