Posts Tagged ‘knowledge’

Quran Reflections – Juz Thirteen‏

Friday, July 11th, 2014

Juz Thirteen

Sūrah Yūsuf

Sūrah Yūsuf is unique among Qur’ānic narratives as the entire sūrah is devoted to the story of Prophet Yūsuf. Further, his story, unlike other stories, is not mentioned anywhere else. The sūrah is filled with moral lessons, for which a good tafsīr should be consulted. Here are only some of those lessons.

In-between Muslims

اقْتُلُوا يُوسُفَ أَوِ اطْرَحُوهُ أَرْضًا يَخْلُ لَكُمْ وَجْهُ أَبِيكُمْ وَتَكُونُوا مِن بَعْدِهِ قَوْمًا صَالِحِينَ
“Let us kill Yūsuf, or throw him at some place on earth, and thus your father’s full attention will be devoted for you alone, and after doing that, you may become a righteous people.” (Yūsuf, 12:9)

The brothers of Prophet Yūsuf  were Muslims. They were driven by jealousy and not by an ideological conflict. But this jealousy led them to commit serious wrongs. Torn between their negative emotions and their sense of right and wrong, they were the in-between Muslims. They must have felt the pricks of conscience in formulating their evil plan. This is how they assuaged their guilt feeling. “Do this one wrong now, and afterward lead a virtuous life.” Anyone resorting to the same justification for any wrong should realize the hollowness of this logic.

Human Nature

This sūrah gives extremely valuable insights into  human nature. It also tears apart the idea that good people are above lusts and desires or that there can be such a thing as platonic love. This idea only helps remove the safeguards  thereby making succumbing to those desires easier. This is the story of a Prophet, whose innocence is attested to by the Qur’ān. Yet it also says clearly that he could have succumbed to the lust, except for the help from Allāh. The following āyahs make it very clear.

وَلَقَدْ هَمَّتْ بِهِ ۖ وَهَمَّ بِهَا لَوْلَا أَن رَّأَىٰ بُرْهَانَ رَبِّهِ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ لِنَصْرِفَ عَنْهُ السُّوءَ وَالْفَحْشَاءَ ۚ إِنَّهُ مِنْ عِبَادِنَا الْمُخْلَصِينَ
She certainly desired him, and he might have desired her, had he not seen the proof from his Lord. Thus We did, to turn evil and lewdness away from him. Surely, he was one of Our chosen servants. (Yūsuf, 12:24) 

قَالَ رَبِّ السِّجْنُ أَحَبُّ إِلَيَّ مِمَّا يَدْعُونَنِي إِلَيْهِ ۖ وَإِلَّا تَصْرِفْ عَنِّي كَيْدَهُنَّ أَصْبُ إِلَيْهِنَّ وَأَكُن مِّنَ الْجَاهِلِينَ
He (Yūsuf ) said, “My Lord, the prison is dearer to me than what these women invite me to do. If You do not turn their guile away from me, I might yet yield to their allure and become one of those who are unaware (of right and wrong). (Yūsuf, 12:33)

وَمَا أُبَرِّئُ نَفْسِي ۚ إِنَّ النَّفْسَ لَأَمَّارَةٌ بِالسُّوءِ إِلَّا مَا رَحِمَ رَبِّي ۚ إِنَّ رَبِّي غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
And yet, I am not trying to absolve myself: for, verily, man’s inner self does incite (him) to evil, and saved are only they upon whom my Sustainer bestows His grace. Certainly, my Sustainer is the Most- Forgiving, Very-Merciful. (Yūsuf 12:53)

In the first āyah Allāh is saying that Prophet Yūsuf might have desired her. In the second āyah Prophet Yūsuf  is seeking Allāh’s help against their seduction since without that help he might yield to their allure. The third āyah is a general observation about human nature which  has  inclinations to evil.

The idea that human beings can be reformed against their nature is a fantastic one. This story should liberate us from such illusions. The proper moral reform consists in recognizing human nature and eliminating the opportunities for it taking the wrong course. The attraction between the sexes is an important force of nature, which makes family life possible, which is the basic unit of society. When it spills outside marriage, it becomes a destructive force, which must be curbed. And the way to do that is to restrict the exposure and opportunities for interaction between the sexes in those situations. Hence the laws of hijab and the restrictions against free-mixing, which are based on a perfect knowledge of the human nature. All those who try to water them down are working against the forces of nature.

It should also be noted that Zulaykha was older than Prophet Yūsuf. He had entered their house as a child to be possibly adopted as a son. This removes any grounds for relaxation of the requirements of hijab for an older (as opposed to an old) woman. As long as the two are of marriageable age, the restrictions are to be observed.

Sermon in the Prison

قَالَ لَا يَأْتِيكُمَا طَعَامٌ تُرْزَقَانِهِ إِلَّا نَبَّأْتُكُمَا بِتَأْوِيلِهِ قَبْلَ أَن يَأْتِيَكُمَا ۚ ذَٰلِكُمَا مِمَّا عَلَّمَنِي رَبِّي ۚ إِنِّي تَرَكْتُ مِلَّةَ قَوْمٍ لَّا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَهُم بِالْآخِرَةِ هُمْ كَافِرُونَ. وَاتَّبَعْتُ مِلَّةَ آبَائِي إِبْرَاهِيمَ وَإِسْحَاقَ وَيَعْقُوبَ ۚ مَا كَانَ لَنَا أَن نُّشْرِكَ بِاللَّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ مِن فَضْلِ اللَّهِ عَلَيْنَا وَعَلَى النَّاسِ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَشْكُرُونَ. يَا صَاحِبَيِ السِّجْنِ أَأَرْبَابٌ مُّتَفَرِّقُونَ خَيْرٌ أَمِ اللَّهُ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ. مَا تَعْبُدُونَ مِن دُونِهِ إِلَّا أَسْمَاءً سَمَّيْتُمُوهَا أَنتُمْ وَآبَاؤُكُم مَّا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ بِهَا مِن سُلْطَانٍ ۚ إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ ۚ أَمَرَ أَلَّا تَعْبُدُوا إِلَّا إِيَّاهُ ۚ ذَٰلِكَ الدِّينُ الْقَيِّمُ وَلَٰكِنَّ أَكْثَرَ النَّاسِ لَا يَعْلَمُونَ
I have abandoned the way of those who do not believe in Allāh, and who are deniers of the Hereafter. And I follow the creed of my forefathers Ibrāhīm (Abraham), Isḥāq (Isaac), and Yaʿqūb ( Jacob). It is not conceivable that we should (be allowed to) ascribe divinity to anyone beside Allāh: this is (an outcome) of Allāh’s bounty unto us and unto all mankind – but most people are ungrateful. O my companions in imprisonment! Which is more reasonable: (belief in the existence of numerous divine) lords, each of them different from the other—or (in) Allāh, the One God, who holds absolute sway over all that exists? All that you worship instead of Allāh is nothing but (empty) names which you have invented—you and your forefathers—(and) for which Allāh has bestowed no warrant from on high. Sovereignty belongs to none but Allāh. He has ordained that you shall not worship anyone but Him. This is the only right path. But most of the people do not know. (Yūsuf 12:37-40) 

This is a very powerful sermon that  passionately appeals to our ingrained sense of truth and falsehood to show the truth of the universal call of Islam. Prophet Yūsuf, like all prophets, is constantly on the lookout to call people to Allāh. He gets an opportunity when the inmates approach him for interpretation of their dreams. With great wisdom and passion he uses the occasion to deliver them the message. It is a penetrating question, which can  be  posed to all the polytheists of the world: “Which is more reasonable: (belief in the existence of numerous  divine) lords, each of them different from the other—or (in) Allāh, the One God, who holds absolute sway over all that exists?”

It  is telling that  this important  part  of the  story is completely missing from the narrative in the Torah, which otherwise has many historical details (names, places, numbers) not mentioned in the Qur’ān. Such details are a characteristic of human  story telling. On  the  other  hand  the  Qur’ān ignores such details and focuses totally on telling the stories to highlight the guidance for humanity inherent in them.

Tawakkul

وَقَالَ يَا بَنِيَّ لَا تَدْخُلُوا مِن بَابٍ وَاحِدٍ وَادْخُلُوا مِنْ أَبْوَابٍ مُّتَفَرِّقَةٍ ۖ وَمَا أُغْنِي عَنكُم مِّنَ اللَّهِ مِن شَيْءٍ ۖ إِنِ الْحُكْمُ إِلَّا لِلَّهِ ۖ عَلَيْهِ تَوَكَّلْتُ ۖ وَعَلَيْهِ فَلْيَتَوَكَّلِ الْمُتَوَكِّلُونَ
And he said, “O my sons, do not enter (the city) all of you from the same gate; rather, enter from different gates. And I cannot help you in any way against (the will of ) Allāh. Sovereignty belongs to none but Allāh. In Him I place my trust, and all those who trust should trust in Him alone.” (Yūsuf, 12:67)

For security reasons Prophet Yaʿqūb (Jacob) asked  his sons not to travel together. But after advising them of  the necessary precaution, he made it very clear that his trust was not in his prudence but in Allāh. This is a lesson in the very important concept of tawakkul: We should take the  best steps needed based on our knowledge and  understanding, then leave the results to Allāh. Tawakkul means making and executing the plans to the best of our ability and then putting our trust in Allāh to make our plans and actions bring out the desired outcomes. This is Islam’s middle way between the extremes of taking matters completely in our hands or leaving them altogether and  hoping for desired outcomes without any effort. Tawakkul  ends worries and  anxieties without compromising on our plans and actions.

Forgiveness

قَالَ لَا تَثْرِيبَ عَلَيْكُمُ الْيَوْمَ ۖ يَغْفِرُ اللَّهُ لَكُمْ ۖ وَهُوَ أَرْحَمُ الرَّاحِمِينَ
He  said,  “No  reproach  upon  you  today!  May  Allāh  forgive  you, and He is the Most- Merciful of all those who show mercy. (Yūsuf, 12:92)

قَدْ أَحْسَنَ بِي إِذْ أَخْرَجَنِي مِنَ السِّجْنِ وَجَاءَ بِكُم مِّنَ الْبَدْوِ مِن بَعْدِ أَن نَّزَغَ الشَّيْطَانُ بَيْنِي وَبَيْنَ إِخْوَتِي
(My Lord) favored me when he released me from the prison, and brought you from the countryside after Satan had caused a rift between me and my brothers. (Yūsuf, 12:100)

This is the greatness of the Prophetic character, an example in both forgiveness and thankfulness. After all the ordeals through which his brothers had put him as a young child, he forgave them. And the forgiveness referred to in the first āyah mentioned above was really meant as we can see in the second āyah quoted above. Prophet Yūsuf, instead of blaming his brothers, simply referred to whatever  happened to the inspirations of Satan.

When  Prophet  Muḥammad  ﷺ conquered  Makkah and he was in a position to take revenge from the Quraysh leaders who had left no stone unturned in hurting him and his followers for more than a decade, he used the same words to forgive them.

Prophet Yūsuf  had faced three great  tribulations. First, he was mistreated by his brothers. Second, he had to withstand long separation from his  parents. Third, he was unjustly put in prison. Here in summing up his story he is giving a profound lesson in thankfulness. First, he reversed the order making the last incident the most important and the first, which had started it all and for which his brothers were directly responsible, the least. Second, he focused not on the ordeal but on the ending of the ordeal. He thanked Allāh for helping him get out of the prison, and for bringing back his parents and family. No complaints about his long ordeal, no ill feeling about his brothers. Only thanks and rejoicing.

Knowledge, Wisdom, Blindness

أَفَمَن يَعْلَمُ أَنَّمَا أُنزِلَ إِلَيْكَ مِن رَّبِّكَ الْحَقُّ كَمَنْ هُوَ أَعْمَىٰ ۚ إِنَّمَا يَتَذَكَّرُ أُولُو الْأَلْبَابِ
Now, can the one who knows that whatever has been revealed to you from your Lord is the truth, be equal to one who is blind? But only men of understanding heed. (Ar-Raʿd, 13:19)

Allāh’s guidance has been mentioned in many places as the light. This light makes the believers see the truth as truth. Others are in utter darkness and therefore they cannot see it. That is, they are blind to it.

Worldly Provisions

اللَّهُ يَبْسُطُ الرِّزْقَ لِمَن يَشَاءُ وَيَقْدِرُ ۚ وَفَرِحُوا بِالْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا فِي الْآخِرَةِ إِلَّا مَتَاعٌ
Allāh expands the provision for whom He wills and narrows it (for whom He wills). And they (who are given abundance) rejoice in the life of this world—even though, as compared with the life to come, the  life  of  this  world  is  nothing  but  a  fleeting  pleasure.  (Ar-Raʿd, 13:26)

Too  many  people get deceived into  thinking  that  their economic achievements are a result of their own smarts. This āyah should help destroy this myth. A person who truly believes in this statement will always be thankful to Allāh for all his provisions and earnings, will not be tempted by ḥarām sources of income, and will be a contented person.

Peace of Mind

الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَتَطْمَئِنُّ قُلُوبُهُم بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ ۗ أَلَا بِذِكْرِ اللَّهِ تَطْمَئِنُّ الْقُلُوبُ
The ones  who  believe  and  their  hearts  are  peaceful  with  the remembrance of Allāh. Listen, the hearts find peace only in the remembrance of Allāh. (Ar-Raʿd, 13:28)

This is the real recipe for achieving that elusive peace of mind. Remembrance of Allāh (dhikr) brings one closer to Allāh. And as one gets closer to Allāh his worries and anxieties are replaced by tranquility and contentment.

Dhikr is the food for the soul. Nothing else would satisfy a healthy soul. On the other hand a sick soul may not be able to digest it, but it will find nothing else either that can provide proper nourishment for it. That is why the āyah first says that the guidance of Allāh is for those whose hearts find peace in the remembrance of Allāh. In other words those who have healthy souls. Then it tells that real peace lies only in the remembrance of Allāh.

Conquering Nature?

اللَّهُ الَّذِي خَلَقَ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالْأَرْضَ وَأَنزَلَ مِنَ السَّمَاءِ مَاءً فَأَخْرَجَ بِهِ مِنَ الثَّمَرَاتِ رِزْقًا لَّكُمْ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الْفُلْكَ لِتَجْرِيَ فِي الْبَحْرِ بِأَمْرِهِ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الْأَنْهَارَ. وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ الشَّمْسَ وَالْقَمَرَ دَائِبَيْنِ ۖ وَسَخَّرَ لَكُمُ اللَّيْلَ وَالنَّهَارَ
It is Allāh Who has created the heavens and the earth and sends down rain from the skies, and with it brings out fruits wherewith to feed you; it is He Who has made the ships subject to you, that they may sail through the sea by His command; and the rivers (also) has He made subject to you. And He has made subject to you the sun and the moon, both diligently pursuing their courses; and the night and the day has He (also) made subject to you. (Ibrāhīm 14:32-33)

Here is the cure for the delusion of modern science that it is conquering nature. We constantly hear how man  has conquered the earth and is now out to conquer space. The apparent control over rivers and seas, mountains and deserts, and plants and animals that mankind seems to exert, the astounding ability with which the powers of the sun and the moon have been harnessed to serve human needs, the wonderful inventions that seem to put gigantic forces of nature at our disposal-all of these result from His Will. It is Allāh who created the universe and it is He who has granted us control over it. (And whenever He wills, He takes it back as well.) Instead of congratulating ourselves for “conquering” it, we should be thanking Allāh for granting us this domination.

The disasters that modern science has produced, especially the  environmental disaster, are a  result of  its  delusion. A scientist informed by this āyah will be freed from this debilitating sickness  that is threatening the humanity. He would act responsibly, knowing that he is accountable before Allāh for how he uses the domination given to him as a test. He would be a grateful and humble servant of Allāh instead of the mad scientist out to maximize his power and profits. He would know that Allāh created the universe to serve us and created us to serve Him.

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Quran Reflections – Juz Nine‏

Tuesday, July 8th, 2014

Juz Nine

Hardships and Ease

 وَمَا أَرْسَلْنَا فِي قَرْيَةٍ مِّن نَّبِيٍّ إِلَّا أَخَذْنَا أَهْلَهَا بِالْبَأْسَاءِ وَالضَّرَّاءِ لَعَلَّهُمْ يَضَّرَّعُونَ. ثُمَّ بَدَّلْنَا مَكَانَ السَّيِّئَةِ الْحَسَنَةَ حَتَّىٰ عَفَوا وَّقَالُوا قَدْ مَسَّ آبَاءَنَا الضَّرَّاءُ وَالسَّرَّاءُ فَأَخَذْنَاهُم بَغْتَةً وَهُمْ لَا يَشْعُرُونَ
We did not send any prophet to a town, but We seized its people with hardship and suffering, so that they might humble themselves; then We transformed the affliction into ease of life, so that they thrived and said (to themselves), “Misfortune and hardship befell our forefathers as well”—whereupon We took them to task, all of a sudden, without their being aware (of what was coming). (Al-Aʿrāf, 7:94-95)

This sūrah narrated stories of many Messengers whose nations refused to  listen to  them and were ultimately destroyed. Here is then a general statement about their behavior. The hardships and ease of life were created by Allāh as a way of shaking them out of their complacency with their ignorant ways. They are not accidents that just happen randomly, nor are they ultimately the result of just the local and apparent causes. There is a Divine plan behind everything that  is happening in the world. People of wisdom can see the Hand of Allāh in their afflictions as well as their prosperity and use both to come closer to Him and to submit to Him. Others fail—even refuse—to  see it that way and are destroyed. This is a very important reminder for developing the right outlook about the news of the day.

Blind Imitation

وَجَاوَزْنَا بِبَنِي إِسْرَائِيلَ الْبَحْرَ فَأَتَوْا عَلَىٰ قَوْمٍ يَعْكُفُونَ عَلَىٰ أَصْنَامٍ لَّهُمْ ۚ قَالُوا يَا مُوسَى اجْعَل لَّنَا إِلَٰهًا كَمَا لَهُمْ آلِهَةٌ ۚ قَالَ إِنَّكُمْ قَوْمٌ تَجْهَلُونَ. إِنَّ هَٰؤُلَاءِ مُتَبَّرٌ مَّا هُمْ فِيهِ وَبَاطِلٌ مَّا كَانُوا يَعْمَلُونَ
We made the children of Isrā’īl cross the sea, then they came across a  people sitting in devotion before their idols. They (the Israelites) said, “O Mūsā, make a god for us like they have gods.” He said, “You are really an ignorant people. What these people are engaged in is sure  to  be  destroyed;  and  false  is  what  they  are  doing.”  (Al-Aʿrāf, 7:138-139)

This is after the Israelites had been rescued from the Pharaoh’s oppression. Long years of slavery had taken their toll on their ways of thinking and this can be seen in the slavish mentality showcased here. Blind imitation of the other (as can be seen in the vast areas of the Muslim world today regarding the West) is a serious disease. We want the same objects of devotion, days of celebration, and pursuits and patterns of life as those who we think to be successful.

Ibn ʿAṭiyyah says, the children of Israel perhaps were not proposing idol worship per se; they might have been rationalizing that the statue would help them visualize and thereby do their worship of God with more concentration. If true, it only shows that such rationalizations camouflaging a slavish mentality—so common today as a result of colonial experience—have a long history. Let us not forget that the children of Israel did end up doing calf worship after all.
In any case the reply of Prophet Mūsā is so fitting and it can help rid us of this debilitating sickness.

The Prophet and His True Followers

الَّذِينَ يَتَّبِعُونَ الرَّسُولَ النَّبِيَّ الْأُمِّيَّ الَّذِي يَجِدُونَهُ مَكْتُوبًا عِندَهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَالْإِنجِيلِ يَأْمُرُهُم بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَاهُمْ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَيُحِلُّ لَهُمُ الطَّيِّبَاتِ وَيُحَرِّمُ عَلَيْهِمُ الْخَبَائِثَ وَيَضَعُ عَنْهُمْ إِصْرَهُمْ وَالْأَغْلَالَ الَّتِي كَانَتْ عَلَيْهِمْ ۚ فَالَّذِينَ آمَنُوا بِهِ وَعَزَّرُوهُ وَنَصَرُوهُ وَاتَّبَعُوا النُّورَ الَّذِي أُنزِلَ مَعَهُ ۙ أُولَٰئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
Those who follow the Messenger, the Ummī (unlettered) prophet whom they find mentioned in their own (scriptures), in the Torah (law) and the Injīl (Gospel), and who bids them what is fair and forbids what is unfair, and makes lawful for them good things, and makes unlawful for them impure things, and relieves them of their burden, and of the shackles that were upon them. So, those who believe in him and support him, and help him and follow the light sent down with him, those are the ones who are successful. (Al- Aʿrāf, 7:157)

This is a concise introduction to Prophet Muḥammad  ﷺ and his message. He commands what is fair, just, and good. He  forbids what is unfair, unjust, and  evil. He  declares permissible what is clean and pure. He declares impermissible what is unclean and unhealthy. He liberates humanity from the shackles that it had put upon itself—those of customs, traditions, superstitions and man-made laws. His is the most empowering and  liberating  message that  leads to  eternal success. This success is  only  for those who reject all the competing heroes and  exemplars for the light of guidance brought by him.

The Sabbath-Breakers

وَاسْأَلْهُمْ عَنِ الْقَرْيَةِ الَّتِي كَانَتْ حَاضِرَةَ الْبَحْرِ إِذْ يَعْدُونَ فِي السَّبْتِ إِذْ تَأْتِيهِمْ حِيتَانُهُمْ يَوْمَ سَبْتِهِمْ شُرَّعًا وَيَوْمَ لَا يَسْبِتُونَ ۙ لَا تَأْتِيهِمْ ۚ كَذَٰلِكَ نَبْلُوهُم بِمَا كَانُوا يَفْسُقُونَ
Ask them about the town which stood by the sea, when they used to transgress in the matter of Sabbath, when their fish came to them openly on the Sabbath, and did not come when they did not have Sabbath. In this way, We put them to a test, because they used to act sinfully. (Al-Aʿrāf, 7:163)

Muhammad Asad writes: “The story of the Sabbath-breakers (alluded to  in  several places in  the Qur’ān) is a general illustration of the  tendency, so often manifested by the children of Israel, to offend against their religious laws in pursuit of their passions or for the sake of worldly gain.”

Unfortunately the description of the past of the children of Israel fits the present of much of the Muslim world with all sorts of economic justifications being offered for putting Allāh’s  commands on the side. Those who put forward or accept such fancy justifications, sometimes in highly academic language, should realize that  when economic gains result from breaking Allāh’s commands, then the situation is itself a punishment for our transgressions. And the proper thing to do is to throw away the balance sheets and turn to Allāh in repentance.

Innate Sense of the Creator

وَإِذْ أَخَذَ رَبُّكَ مِن بَنِي آدَمَ مِن ظُهُورِهِمْ ذُرِّيَّتَهُمْ وَأَشْهَدَهُمْ عَلَىٰ أَنفُسِهِمْ أَلَسْتُ بِرَبِّكُمْ ۖ قَالُوا بَلَىٰ ۛ شَهِدْنَا ۛ أَن تَقُولُوا يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ إِنَّا كُنَّا عَنْ هَٰذَا غَافِلِينَ
(Recall) when your Lord brought forth their progeny from the loins of the children of Ādam, and made them testify about themselves (by asking them,) “Am I not your Lord?” They said, “Of course, You are. We testify.” (We did so) lest you should say on the Day of Judgment, “ We were unaware of this.” (Al-Aʿrāf, 7:172)

According to the Qur’ān, as explained further by several ahadith, all human beings who will be born until the Last Day had a prior existence when the witnessing referred to above took place. Our innate sense of our Creator and our obligation to worship and obey Him is a result of that event. That is why belief in a deity and acts of worship have been a common phenomenon in all human societies. Another hadith informs us that all human beings are born in the state of fiṭrah, which is in perfect harmony with Islam, and only later parents and environmental influences make them deviate from that path.

The awareness  may be obscured from our conscience and buried deeply under false ideas but it comes to the surface at extraordinary times. Thus at times of great calamities people of all persuasions suddenly remember God.

The Prophet and the Knowledge of the Unseen

قُل لَّا أَمْلِكُ لِنَفْسِي نَفْعًا وَلَا ضَرًّا إِلَّا مَا شَاءَ اللَّهُ ۚ وَلَوْ كُنتُ أَعْلَمُ الْغَيْبَ لَاسْتَكْثَرْتُ مِنَ الْخَيْرِ وَمَا مَسَّنِيَ السُّوءُ ۚ إِنْ أَنَا إِلَّا نَذِيرٌ وَبَشِيرٌ لِّقَوْمٍ يُؤْمِنُونَ
Say, “I have no power to bring a benefit or a harm to myself, except that which Allāh wills. If I had the knowledge of the Unseen, I would have accumulated a lot of good things, and no evil would have ever touched me. I am but a warner, and a herald of good news for a people who believe.” (Al-Aʿrāf, 7:188)

Prophets receive communications from God and speak to the people for Him, but they are not God. Many people have difficulty in comprehending this distinction. Non-believers, including the mushrikeen of the pre-Islamic Jāhiliyyah said that if the Prophet did not have divine powers then he could not be the Prophet. Ignorant followers  later claimed that he indeed had full knowledge of the unseen. This āyah sets the record straight. The Prophet is a human being, but he is appointed by Allāh to speak for Him to humanity. His knowledge of the unseen world exceeds that of other human beings, because it has been given to him by Allāh. But this is not the all encompassing knowledge of the unseen, which is held by no one except Allāh.

Listening to the Qur’ān

وَإِذَا قُرِئَ الْقُرْآنُ فَاسْتَمِعُوا لَهُ وَأَنصِتُوا لَعَلَّكُمْ تُرْحَمُونَ
When the Qur’ān is recited, hearken unto it, and listen in silence, so that you may be blessed. (Al-Aʿrāf 7:204)

This is the proper etiquette regarding Qur’ānic recitation. The Qur’ān should command our attention and devotion unlike any other word, as this is the Word of Allāh. Disrespect here will deprive us of the mercy contained in it. Consequently a person should not recite it audibly at a place where people are busy in other activities and will not be able to listen to it attentively. Unfortunately in the media age this situation has become more common. Electronic devices make recitation easy but many a time the required attention is lacking. We should remember that the Qur’ānic recitation should never form the background sound for our activities. We should either listen to it with full attention or turn it off. For the same reason using it as a ring toner in mobile phones is an act of disrespect.

When the Qur’ān is recited in tarāwīh, the spirit of this āyah requires that we listen to it and not leave in the middle without a good reason. Even worse would be to engage in socializing and ignore the recitation of the Qur’ān. Unfortunately these are becoming a common trend in our communities, and especially amongst the youth in the West.

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Knowledge and Adab

Friday, May 25th, 2012

Syed Muhammad al-Naquib al-Attas
Posted: 26 Jamad-ul-Awwal 1433, 18 April 2012

The aim of education in Islam is to produce a good man.’ What is meant by good in our concept of `good man’? The fundamental element inherent in the concept of education in Islam is the inculcation of adab (ta`dib), for it is adab in the all-inclusive sense I mean, as encompassing the spiritual and material life of a man that instills the quality of goodness that is sought after. Education is what the Prophet, Peace be upon him, meant by adab when he said:

“My Lord, educated (addaba) me and made my education (ta`dib) most excellent.”

There is a general tendency among Muslims who are aware of the dilemma that is now pressing upon the Community to see its causes as external, as coming from the outside, originating from influences exerted by Western culture and civilization. That its causes are attributed to external elements is of course based upon correct observation, but it is also only partly true. It is true that the Muslim mind is now undergoing profound infiltration of cultural and intellectual elements alien to Islam; but to say that the causes are derived from external sources is only partly true. How has it been possible in the first place for Muslims to succumb to such infiltration to the extent that their predicament has now assumed the proportions of a dilemma? We will at once realize that the external causes referred to are not the only ones responsible for throwing us into a state of general crisis, and we must see that the full truth of our answer to the question lies undeniably in the prevalence of a certain anomaly within our Community; an anomaly that has with increasing persistence plagued our world and our intellectual history, and that has been left uncorrected and unchecked, now to spread like a raging contagion in our midst. Only by our consciousness and recognition and acknowledgement that serious internal causes have in. fact contributed considerably to our general disarray will we be able to discern the full truth that lies at the core of the dilemma we suffer today.

We can never resolve this dilemma unless we know why we have allowed ourselves to be so weakened as to be susceptible of straying away from the right path. One of the definitions of knowledge is to know the cause of the existence of a thing, for knowledge of the cause or causes is itself a partial solution to the problem. And this brief discussion on external and internal causes is meant to create the awareness that the internal causes are prior to the external and as such the former have primacy over the latter, so that their clarification demands our urgent attention. This introduction will attempt to clarify the problem.

Basic Problem: Loss of Adab

As to the internal causes of the dilemma in which we find ourselves, the basic problems can – it seems to me – be reduced to a single evident crisis which I would simply call the loss of adab. I am here referring to the loss of discipline — the discipline of body, mind, and soul, the discipline that assures the recognition and acknowledgement of one’s proper place in relation to one’s self, society and Community; the recognition and acknowledgement of one’s proper place in relation to one’s physical, intellectual, and spiritual capacities and potentials; the recognition and acknowledgement of the fact that knowledge and being are ordered hierarchically. Since adab refers to recognition and acknowledgement of the right and proper place, station, and condition in life and to self-discipline in positive and willing participation in enacting one’s role in accordance with that recognition and acknowledgement, its occurrence in one and in society as a whole reflects the condition of justice. Loss of adab implies loss of justice, which in turn betrays confusion in knowledge.

In respect of the society and community, the confusion in knowledge of Islam and the Islamic world-view creates the condition which enables false leaders to emerge and to thrive, causing the condition of injustice. They perpetuate this condition since it ensures the continued emergence of leaders like them to replace them after they are gone, perpetuating their domination over the affairs of the Community.

Thus to put it briefly in their proper order, our present general dilemma is caused by:

1. Confusion and error in knowledge, creating the condition for:
2. The loss of adab within the Community. The condition arising out of (1) and (2) is:
3. The rise of leaders who are not qualified for valid leadership of the Muslim community, who do not possess the high moral, intellectual and spiritual standards required for Islamic leadership, who perpetuate the condition in (1) above and ensure the continued control of the affairs of the Community by leaders like them who dominate in all fields.

All the above roots of our general dilemma are interdependent and operate in a vicious circle. But the chief cause is confusion and error in knowledge, and in order to break this vicious circle and remedy this grave problem, we must first come to grips with the problem of loss of adab, since no true knowledge can be instilled without the precondition of adab in the one who seeks it and to whom it is imparted. Thus, for sublime example, God Himself commands that the Holy Quran, the Fountain of all true knowledge, cannot even be touched in approach save through the prescribed adab or ritual purity. Knowledge must be approached reverently and in humility, and it cannot be possessed simply as if it were there available to everyone irrespective of intention and purpose and capacity. Where knowledge of Islam and the Islamic world-view is concerned, it is based on authority. Since Islam is already established in perfection from the very beginning, requiring no further developmental change nor evolution towards perfection, we say again that adequate knowledge about Islam is always possible for all Muslims. There can be no relativism in the historical interpretation of Islam, so that knowledge about it is either right or wrong, or true or false, where wrong and false means contradiction with the already established and clear truth, and right and true means conformity with it. Confusion about such truth means simply ignorance of it, and this is due not to any inherent vagueness or ambiguity on the part of that truth. The interpretation and clarification of knowledge about Islam and the Islamic world-view is accomplished by authority, and legitimate authority recognizes and acknowledges a hierarchy of authorities culminating in the Holy Prophet, upon whom be Peace.

It is incumbent upon us to have proper attitude towards legitimate authority, and that is reverence, love, respect, humility and intelligent trust in the veracity of the knowledge interpreted and clarified by such authority. Reverence, love, respect, humility and intelligent trust can be realized in one only when one recognizes and acknowledges the fact that there is a hierarchy in the human order and in authority within that hierarchy in the matter of intelligence, spiritual knowledge and virtue.

In respect of the human order in society, we do not in the least mean by `hierarchy’ that semblance of it wherein oppression and exploitation and domination are legitimized as if they were an established principle ordained by God. The fact that hierarchical disorders have prevailed in human society does not mean that hierarchy in the human order is not valid, for there is, in point of fact, legitimate hierarchy in the order of creation, and this is the Divine Order pervading all Creation and manifesting the occurrence of justice.

God is the Just, and He fashions and deploys all Creation in justice. In order that mankind generally might recognize and acknowledge the just order, He has bestowed upon His Prophets, Messengers and men of piety and spiritual discernment, the wisdom and knowledge of it so that they in turn might convey it to mankind who ought to conform with it as individuals and as a society. And this conformity with that order is the occurrence of adab; the resulting condition of that conformity is justice.

Process of Leveling

The chief characteristic symptom of loss of adab within the Community is the process of leveling that is cultivated from time to time in the Muslim mind and practiced in his society. By `leveling’ I mean the leveling of everyone, in mind and attitude, to the same level as the leveler. This mental and attitudinal process, which impinges upon action, is perpetrated through the encouragement of false leaders who wish to demolish legitimate authority and valid hierarchy so that they and their like might thrive, and who demonstrate by example by leveling the great to the level of less great, and then to that of the still less great. This Jahili streak of individualism, of immanent arrogance and obstinacy and the tendency to challenge and belittle legitimate authority seems to have perpetrated itself— albeit only among `ulama of less authoritative worth — in all periods of Muslim history. When Muslims become confused in their knowledge of Islam and its world-view, these `ulama tend to spread among them and influence their thinking and infiltrate into positions of religious leadership; then their leadership in all spheres of life tends to exhibit this dangerous streak and to encourage its practice among Muslims as if it were in conformity with the teachings of Islam. They who encourage this attitude pretend that what is encouraged is no other than the egalitarian principle of Islam, whereas in fact it is far from it in that what they propagate leads to the destruction, or at least the undermining, of legitimate authority and hierarchy in the human order — it is the leveling of all to their level; it is injustice.
No doubt it is possible to concede that the critics of the great and learned were in the past at least themselves great and learned in their own way, but it is a mistake to put them together on the same level — the more so to place the lesser above the greater in rank, as happens in the estimation of our age of greater confusion. In our own times those who know cannot fail to notice that critics of the great and learned and virtuous among Muslims, critics who include groups of both modernist and traditionalist `reformers’, and a third group consisting of secular scholars and intellectuals, who all emulate the example of their teachers in the habit of censuring their own true leaders, are men invariably of much less authoritative worth than the lesser of the past; men whose intellectual and spiritual perception of Islam and its world-view cannot even be compared with any of those of their teachers — let alone with those of the great they disparage, from whom their teachers derived knowledge and guidance without due acknowledgement.

They and their followers thrive where there is confusion and ignorance, where they can escape the relentless scrutiny and censure of knowledge. It is because Muslims in our age have become confused, ignorant and desperate that they see in them men who have, as if for the first time, opened their minds to Islam; they do not see that these men are poor imitations of the great of the past. They do not bring anything new that the illustrious Muslims of the past have not already brought; nor do they clarify Islam better to the clouded vision than the immensely superior clarification accomplished by the masters of the past. Yet, it is such as they who have been most vociferous and vehement in disparaging and denouncing the past, its, great and learned scholars, thinkers and jurists and men of spiritual discernment.

All the three groups mentioned are prone to leveling everyone to the same level of equality, notwithstanding the fact that even in God’s Sight we are not all the same and equal. Indeed, we are all the same in that we are creatures of God, human beings, cast in flesh and blood. But our spirits, our souls, though derived from that One Spirit, and though essentially the same are, in point of power and magnitude, not the same, not equal. We are like so many candles of varying lengths and shapes and hues and sizes; the tallow they are made from is essentially the same and the light they burn is essentially the same, but the greatness of the flame, the light each sheds, is not the same in power and magnitude. And we judge the value of the candle by the light it sheds just as we judge a man by those qualities by which he is not the same, but excels another, such as by his intelligence, virtue, and spiritual discernment. So it is neither correct nor true to regard such a man as merely a man of flesh and blood like any other, for he is not like any other in that his intelligence, virtue, and spiritual discernment transcend the limitations of his flesh and blood, and his greatness of spirit manifests his excellence over others. Adab is the recognition and acknowledgement of such lights in man; and acknowledgement entails an attitude expressing true reverence, love, respect, humility — it entails knowing one’s proper place in relation to him who sheds such light.

The basic problem, therefore, is that of education — the lack of proper and adequate Islamic education — for such education, rightly systematized, would assuredly prevent the occurrence of general confusion leading to aberrations and excesses in belief and in practice.

How Education is Leading to De-Islamization of the Muslim Mind

The secular scholars and intellectuals among the Muslims derive their inspiration mainly from the West. Ideologically they belong to the same line of descent as the modernist `reformers’ and their followers; and some of them cleave to the views of the traditionalist `reformers’ and their followers. The majority of them do not possess the intellectual, spiritual, and linguistic prerequisites of Islamic knowledge and epistemology so that they are severed from the cognitive and methodological approaches to the original sources of Islam and Islamic learning. In this way their knowledge of Islam is at the barest minimal level. Because they occupy a strategic position in the midst of the community and unless they drastically change their ways of thinking and believing, they pose a grave danger to the Islamic welfare of the Community. They have no adab, for they do not recognize and acknowledge the legitimate authorities in the true hierarchical order, and they demonstrate by example and teach and advocate confusion and error.

This is in fact the main reason why, as demonstrated in the course of Western intellectual history throughout the ages and the rise of secular philosophy and science in Western civilization, the Western conception of knowledge based upon its experience and consciousness must invariably lead to secularization. There can be no doubt, therefore, that if the secular Muslim scholars and intellectuals allow themselves, or are allowed to confuse the Muslim youth in knowledge, the delslamization of the Muslim mind will continue to take effect with greater persistence and intensity, and will follow the same kind of secularizing course in future generations. Large numbers among them do not fully understand the nature of Western culture and civilization whence they draw their inspiration and before which they stand agape in reverential awe and servile humility portraying the attitude of the inferior. They do not even completely grasp the contents and implications of the teachings of their alien masters, being content only to repeat them in vulgarized versions and so cheat the Muslim audience of their true worth.

In deIslamizing the Muslims, and in situations where Western colonialism or domination have held sway, the Western administrators and colonial theorists have first severed the pedagogical connection between the Holy Quran and the local language by establishing a system of secular education where race and traditional culture are emphasized. At the higher levels, linguistics and anthropology are introduced as the methodological tools for the study of language and culture, and Western values and models and orientalist scholarship and philology for the study of literature and history. Then, still being brought to bear upon the study of language and literature (which are the identifying and consolidating cultural elements of Islamization) and of history and traditional culture, sociology and educational theory and psychology are significantly introduced. These, misplaced at the purely rational disposal of scholars and intellectuals inadequately equipped with knowledge of Islam and its world-view, tend to reduce Islam to the level of other religions as if it were the proper `subject’ of the philosophy and the sociology of religion, and as if it were an evolved and developed expression of primitive religion. And all these and other fields of knowledge in the human sciences, including those philosophical elements in the theoretical aspects of the natural physical and biological sciences, instilled into the marginal minds of secular Muslim scholars and intellectuals, are such that their knowledge so conceived is productive not only of potential and theoretical confusion, but also of actual and practical error as well. Through the unbalanced assimilation and imparting of such knowledge without any Islamizing science and judgment being brought to bear upon its every proposition, and the active participation in its formulation and dissemination by secular scholars and intellectuals, the rapid propagation of loss of adab is assured and indeed becomes a widespread reality.

These false leaders among Muslims are responsible for causing the Romanization of the originally Arabic script of the language and thus facilitating gradual severance from its formal, lexical and conceptual connections with the Sources of Islam, with their own Islamic sources and with the languages of the other Muslim peoples; for causing the deArabization, Westernization and confusion of the language and its semantic and general vocabulary so that many important concepts pertaining to Islam and the Islamic world-view have lost their transparency and have become opaque; for causing the emergence of the journal and the newspaper — so significantly un-Islamic in concept and purpose — and of mediocre journalists and writers of rustic quality who all contribute to the mutilation of the standards of literary values and expression established by Islam; for causing the widespread emergence of the marginal Muslim and the marginal society stranger to the Ummah, and hence for causing the disintegration of consciousness in the ummatic solidarity; for causing the severance of the Muslim past from the consciousness of the present; for causing the establishment in our midst of an educational system designed, from the lowest to the highest levels, to perpetuate secular ideology; for causing the rise of various forms of chauvinism and socialism; for reviving the Jahili spirit of advocating a return to pre-Islamic values — and cultural tradition — and many more which for obvious reasons it is not necessary to detail here. And the same is true, in varying degrees of the absence of adab in respect of their character traits, their lack of quality, their contagious contribution to error and confusion in knowledge of Islam and its world view, and their propagation of false knowledge, of other such scholars and intellectuals among the Muslims, wherever they may be in the Muslim world, whether in the Arabic speaking regions or not. They have all become conscious or unconscious agents of Western culture and civilization, and in this capacity they represent what we have earlier identified as the external sources and causes of our dilemma. But their existence amongst us as part of the Community creates for us the situation whereby what was once regarded as `external’ has now moved in methodically and systematically to become internal. In their present condition, they pose as the external menace which has become a grave internal problem, for intellectually, as it were, the dar al-harb has advanced into the dar al-islam; they have become the enemy within, and — unlike the kinds known to the Muslims of the past — they are not hidden nor any longer lurking underground, but have surfaced in multitudes into the full light of awareness, advertising themselves openly and conspicuously and exhibiting their learned confusion and arrogant individualism so publicly that it is no longer possible to ignore them. The epistemological weapons they use to bring about the de-Islamization of the Muslim mind are invariably the same, and these are —apart from the underlying principles of secular philosophy and science that produced and nurtured them — anthropology, sociology, linguistics, psychology and the principles and methods of education. If the underlying principles and methods of these sciences are not made subject to some kind of Islamizing formula whereby they are rendered harmless, then, as they are, they would continue to be harmful to the Islamic welfare of the Community.

Iblis: Seeing the Clay Only

Loss of adab, then, not only implies loss of knowledge; it means also loss  of the capacity and ability to recognize and acknowledge true leaders. If all are brought down to the level of the masses, the awam, how can true leaders stand out above the rest? If true leaders are denied their rightful place above those they lead, how can they be recognized and acknowledged by the led? And true leaders must not be confused with the false, for how can nightingales, put in the same cage as crows, sing? To put true leaders in lofty stations in our estimation and to put ourselves below them and to revere, to love, to respect, to affirm their veracity and confirm in our actions their wise counsels and learned teachings in humility is not to worship them, as the narrow-minded among the modernist and traditionalist `reformers’ erroneously think. Were the Angels worshipping Adam, upon whom be Peace, when they prostrated themselves before him? Indeed, they were obeying God, Glorious and Exalted, and recognizing and acknowledging the superior knowledge bestowed upon the first men by his Creator — they not only ‘saw the clay he is made from, but they recognized and acknowledged even more so the spirit that God breathed into him. It was Iblis who saw only the clay and refused to recognize and acknowledge Adam’s superior nature, and disdained to prostrate before him in spite of the Divine Command. Recognition and acknowledgement of excellence in another does not mean regarding the other as a rabb and assuming an attitude of the `abd towards that other; it is none other than recognizing and acknowledging God’s knowledge and Will and Power and Just Purpose, His Bounty, Charity and Love in bestowing excellence in one over the other, so that that one may share it with others. But only those others who recognize and acknowledge derive benefit from it, not those who do not.

New Lamps for the Old?

We must see that the three main groups that perpetuate loss of adab in our times, and that not only perpetuate, but also consolidate its paralyzing influence and intensify its odious spread among the generations of contemporary Muslims, are not in reality our true leaders. Without knowing any of them, and without being in any way guided by them, we can still know about Islam and its world view from the great ‘ulama of the past who are the real interpreters of the sources of such knowledge. Conversely, without knowing the true teachers of the past and without being guided by them, it is almost impossible to arrive at the correct understanding and knowledge of Islam and its world view. It is as if the false leaders of our times have been fashioned in the mould of the crafty Master Magician in the guise of new lamps meant to be traded for the old. They indeed claim to be the new lamps; and we must not fall into the error of the ignorant wife of Aladdin, trading the old for the new, unaware of the priceless value and wonderful quality of the old far surpassing all of the new put together.

The thinking, methods and example adopted by these false leaders and their followers, (compounded of a mixture of truth and falsehood and right and wrong which are the ingredients of confusion, propagated and advocated at a time when Muslims are already confused and desperate and in no balanced state of mind and spirit to absorb more confusion), have effected among the generality who are influenced by them, a warped understanding of Islam and a clouded vision of its interpretation of the world and of reality and truth. The effect of their teachings among this generality of Muslims, particularly the younger generation who are experiencing the effects of Westernization, is the tendency towards a relentless and erroneous attitude of leveling by which they judge all things. Their words and actions betray their mental and attitudinal condition of leveling in which they imply and even understand the Holy Quran to be on the same level as other books; Islam to be on the same level as other religions; the Holy Prophet, upon whom be Peace, to be on the same level as other Prophets, Peace be upon them all, who are all regarded as being on the same level as ordinary men; the knowledge to be on the same level as other sciences; true leaders to be on the same level as false ones, and the greater to be on the same level as the lesser; the life of the world to be on the same level of importance as that of the hereafter. It is this leveling of everything instilled into the understanding of the masses, without due consideration being given to the quality of that understanding, and without due elaboration as to the distinctions that naturally exist in the hierarchical order of creation, especially in the human order, that is productive of the socialization’ of Islam.
The despiritualization of man, starting from the Holy Prophet himself—the despiritualization that must necessarily take place as a precondition to the leveling process — tends to involve Islam absurdly in a kind of secularization. These groups of false leaders, who are not even sure what they are supposed to do, and are equally groping for solutions to the general problems we encounter today — solutions hastily conceived in piecemeal fashion, of tentative validity and dubious soundness – have indeed misrepresented the achievements of the truly great `ulama of the past: the mujtahidun, the men of piety and virtue and of intellectual and spiritual excellence, in connection with their interpretation of Islam and its world view. Inclined as they are to see only small matters and not great ones in their estimation of superiors, they have not understood those men completely and have misrepresented them in caricature before us.

Torches and Candles

Our task ahead is to represent the true leaders of the past in truer light, to exercise justice in our estimation of them from whom our predecessors derived guidance and knowledge. We must reexamine the misrepresentations, referring every detail to the original sources they allegedly claim to represent; we must scrutinize their premises, their deductions and conclusions, and retrace the paths of their logic to see how far they have been correct or have been led astray by their own process of inadequate thinking; we must ourselves know the originals and understand them in their correct perspectives. It is our duty to study diligently the thoughts of the true leaders of the past, who were all recognized and acknowledged by a grateful Community; who all served Islam and the Muslims with signal merit, recognized and acknowledged by a knowing Community of contemporaries without their true characters and qualities having to be fabricated and `built up’ long after they were gone, as so often happens in our age of falsehood and confusion. We must learn from the great of the past their knowledge and wisdom. This does not mean that we ourselves cannot contribute any further knowledge that can be contributed, but it does mean that we must first draw our strength and inspiration from their wisdom and knowledge, and that when we do begin to contribute ours, we must recognize and acknowledge them as our teachers, and not disparage and denounce, for ijtihad can be exercised without having to undermine legitimate authority. They are like torches that light the way along difficult paths; when we have such torches to light our way, of what use are mere candles?

(Abridged from Introduction to Aims and Objectives of Islamic Education, King Abdul Aziz University, Jeddah, 1978).

Source: Albalagh

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Why do we search for skills?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

I once visited a deprived town to deliver a lecture, after which there came to me a teacher from outside the town. He said,”I hope you can help us finance some students.”

I said,”Strange! ’ arent the schools government funded, and therefore free?”

He said, “indeed they are, but we would like to fund their university education.”

I said, “Well, the universities are also government funded. They even offer student grants.”

He said,”Allow me to explain to you…”

“Go ahead”, I said.

He said,”Our students graduate from their secondary school with no less than 99%.They are so clever that if their intelligence was divided amongst the ummah, it would suffice! But when a student becomes determined to travel outside his town to study Medicine, Engineering, Islamic Law, Computer Science or any- thing else, his father prevents him from going, saying, what you know is sufficient! Now, remain with me and be a shepherd!”’

I screamed impulsively,”Be a shepherd?!”

He said,”Yes, a shepherd!”

And indeed, the poor boy stays with his father and becomes a shepherd, whilst all his abilities are wasted.Years go by and he remains a shepherd. He may even get married and have children whom  he may treat exactly as he was treated by his father Hence, all his children also become shepherds!

I asked,”So what’s the solution?”

He said, “The solution is to convince the father to employ someone as a shepherd for a few hundred riyals, which we will pay, and allow his son to take full advantage of his skills and
abilities. Of course, we will also continue to fund his son until he graduates.” The teacher then lowered his head and said,”it is inexcusable that such skills and talents in people are wasted when they long to utilise them.”

I contemplated upon what he had said and realised that we cannot reach the pinnacle except by taking advantage of the abilities we have and acquiring those that we do not.

Yes, I would challenge anyone to find a successful person, be they successful in academia, preaching, lecturing, business, medicine, engineering, or influencing others; or be they successful in family life, such as a successful father with his children, or a successful wife with her husband; or be they successful in their social life, such as a person who is successful with his neighbours and colleagues, and I mean a truly successful person, not one who simply climbs upon others’ shoulders! I would challenge anyone to find me any such highly successful person who does not practise certain interpersonal skills through which he has been able to achieve such success, whether they realise it or not.

Some people may exercise such interpersonal skills instinctively, while others may have to learn them in order to be successful, and these latter people are the types of successful personalities whose lives we would like to study and whose methods we would closely seek to follow in order to discover how they were successful, and to find out whether or not we can take their route to success.

A while ago, l listened to an interview with one of the most affluent people in the world,Shaykh Sulayman alRajihi, and found him to be a mountain in terms of his manners and thoughts.This man owns billions, possesses immense real estate, has built hundreds of mosques, and has sponsored thousands of orphans. He is hugely successful. He spoke of his humble beginnings around fifty years ago, when he was a regular person who would only have enough money to feed himself for the day, and sometimes not even that. He mentioned that he would sometimes clean peop|e’s houses to feed himself and continue working at night at a shop or money exchange. He discussed how he was once at the bottom of the mountain, and how he continued to climb until he reached the summit.

l thought about the abilities and skills he possesses and realised that many of us are well capable of being like him, if Allah grants us the ability. lf one learns these skills, exercises them, perseveres and remains steadfast, then yes, he can surely be like him.

Another reason for us to search for these skills is that some of us may have certain abilities, which we remain unaware of, or which nobody has assisted us in discovering, such as the skills of delivering a lecture, business acumen, or possessing general knowledge.

One may discover these skills on his own, through a teacher’s  or a work colleague’s help, or even through a sincere brother  however few they may be! However: these skills may remain buried inside the person until his personality becomes as stale as anyone else’s, and this is when we all lose out on another leader, lecturer or scholar; or perhaps a successful husband, or a caring father.

Here we will mention certain skills which we would like to remind you of if you already possess them, or which we would like to train you in if you don’t. So come along!

A thought…
When you climb a mountain, look to the top and not to the rocks that surround you. Make sure of where you step as you climb, and do not leap in case you loose your footing.

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Monthly sisters event at BCA

Monday, February 7th, 2011
Monthly sisters event at BCA‏

Monthly sisters event at BCA‏

Assalamualikum

This is a sisters only event at Keighley BCA starting on Sunday 13 Feb 2011 and thereafter every second Sunday of the month.
Speakers include – qualified female scholars. This event is one of its kind in Keighley and feedback from similar events in Bradford was excellent.
Its a great opportunity for sisters to get involved, participate, learn and increase your Islamic knowledge.
As this is a sisters event – you can also decide which topics you want the speaker to talk about.
Please forward this to all your female contacts. – Event starts this  SUNDAY 13th FEB 20111 at 5pm AT KEIGHLEY BCA

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www.darul-ishaat.co.uk