Posts Tagged ‘life’

Quran Reflections – Juz Twenty Seven‏

Friday, July 25th, 2014

Juz Twenty Seven

Purpose of Our Life

وَمَا خَلَقْتُ الْجِنَّ وَالْإِنسَ إِلَّا لِيَعْبُدُونِ
I did not create the Jinns and the human beings except for the purpose that they should serve and worship Me. (Adh-Dhāriyāt, 51:56).

ʿIbādah, which has been translated as service and worship here, implies total obedience, willing surrender, and dedicated worship. The purpose of our creation and of the freedom of choice given to us is that we choose the path of submission and lead a life of loving service to our Creator. If we do so we’ll fulfill the purpose of our creation—which is the very definition of success. Its manifestation will be the everlasting bliss in Paradise. If we fail to do that, our life will have been a failure which will be manifested in the never ending punishment in the Fire.

If we choose other goals in life—goals that are contrary to this goal—then regardless of whether or not we succeed in achieving those goals, our life will have been a failure.

Individual Responsibility

أَلَّا تَزِرُ وَازِرَةٌ وِزْرَ أُخْرَىٰ
That no bearer of burdens shall be made to bear another’s burden. (An-Najm, 53:38)

As Muhammad  Asad writes, this  expresses  a  categorical rejection of the Christian doctrine of the “original sin” with which every human being is allegedly burdened from birth; secondly, it refutes the idea that a person’s  sins could be “atoned for” by a saint’s or a prophet’s redemptive sacrifice (as evidenced, for instance, in the Christian doctrine of Jesus’ vicarious atonement  for mankind’s sinfulness, or in the earlier, Persian doctrine of man’s vicarious redemption by Mithras).

This also has serious implications in law. No one can be punished for the crimes of another. It thus negates collective punishment as well as guilt by association, principles that are being violated in the new security states now emerging.

Qur’ān is Easy

وَلَقَدْ يَسَّرْنَا الْقُرْآنَ لِلذِّكْرِ فَهَلْ مِن مُّدَّكِرٍ
Indeed  We  have  made  the  Qur’ān  easy  for  seeking  advice.  Then  is there any that will receive admonition?? (Al-Qamar, 54:17)

The  Arabic word  is  dhikr,  which  means  remembering, mentioning, reminding, and invocating. This also implies seeking advice. The Qur’ān has been made very easy for all this. Its words are easy to memorize and easy to comprehend and  follow. Its  simple message solves the  riddle of  the purpose of creation and our role in this world. Anyone who approaches the Qur’ān with an open mind to seek guidance will be guided by it.

At the same time it is a profound work with an unending store of meanings and fiqhi points within its limited word list. The best of experts may spend a lifetime to unearth them and the store will still not be exhausted. The task of deriving legal rulings is therefore to be entrusted to those who have developed the requisite knowledge and expertise.

Sūrah Ar-Raḥmān

Called the bride of the Qur’ān, this beautiful sūrah has a unique rhythm to it punctuated by the constant refrain, “How many of the bounties of Your Sustainer shall you deny?”

Addressed to both human beings and jinns it describes their creation, reminds them that everything in this universe has a finite lifespan after which it will end and then will be resurrected to face the results of its endeavors—either Hell or Paradise. There is a moving description of both.

The Space for Women

حُورٌ مَّقْصُورَاتٌ فِي الْخِيَامِ
Most beautiful eyed ones (houris) houris, cloistered in cool pavilions. (Ar-Raḥmān, 55:72)

Regarding the maidens of Paradise, it is significant that we do not find them in the public space, where there are eternal young boys as servants. The maidens will be in private pavilions. And they will be happily cloistered in their vast pavilions. Maqṣūrāt has also been interpreted to mean restrained as to their glances. Either way they will be leading happy sheltered private lives.

If anyone harbors the suspicion that this arrangement may be uninteresting they may do well to ponder on what the Qur’ān says elsewhere about the Paradise, “Ones who will dwell in them forever. They will have no desire for relocation from there.” Paradise is the ideal state. And if our ideas of the ideal state are at variance from the Qur’ānic description, we need to seriously rethink our ideals.

This Life and That Life

اعْلَمُوا أَنَّمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا لَعِبٌ وَلَهْوٌ وَزِينَةٌ وَتَفَاخُرٌ بَيْنَكُمْ وَتَكَاثُرٌ فِي الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَوْلَادِ ۖ كَمَثَلِ غَيْثٍ أَعْجَبَ الْكُفَّارَ نَبَاتُهُ ثُمَّ يَهِيجُ فَتَرَاهُ مُصْفَرًّا ثُمَّ يَكُونُ حُطَامًا ۖ وَفِي الْآخِرَةِ عَذَابٌ شَدِيدٌ وَمَغْفِرَةٌ مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانٌ ۚ وَمَا الْحَيَاةُ الدُّنْيَا إِلَّا مَتَاعُ الْغُرُورِ
Know (O men) that the life of this world is but a play and a diversion, and pageantry, and (the cause of ) your boastful vying with one another, and (of your) greed for more and more riches and children. Its parable is that of (life-giving) rain: the herbage which it causes to grow delights the tillers of the soil; but then it withers, and you can see it turn yellow; and in the end it crumbles into dust. But (the abiding truth of man’s condition will become fully apparent) in the life to come: (either) suffering severe, or God’s forgiveness and His goodly acceptance: for the life of this world is nothing but an enjoyment of self-delusion. (Al-Ḥadīd, 57:20)

This is a description of the life lived in this world without concern for the life to come. Like the vegetation that brings delightful greenery and then withers and crumbles, this life goes through its cycles and no stage in this cycle is permanent, no matter how badly we may wish it to be. Permanencebelongs to the life to come. And wisdom is in not letting the fleeting pleasures distract us from the permanent ones.

One result of developing the correct outlook here will be a graceful life that will not be unduly impacted by the highs and lows of life. As the following āyah says: “so that you may neither grieve on what has escaped you, nor over-exult on what He has given to you.”


Enjoy the skills

Friday, June 10th, 2011

These skills give us physical pleasure, and I do not mean by this the pleasure of the hereafter only. Rather, it is that pleasure one actually feels in this world. So enjoy these skills and practise them with the old, young, rich, poor, near or far. Use these skills with them in order to guard yourself from their harm, to earn their love, or to rectify them.

‘AIi bin al-jahm was a very eloquent poet, but he was a Bedouin.The only life he knew was the desert life.The Caliph, al-Mutawakkil, was very powerful. People would go to visit him and return with whatever they wished. One day, ‘Ali bin al-jahm entered Baghdad and it was said to him,”whoever praises the Caliph, is bestowed with honour and gifts.”

‘Ali became excited and went to the Caliph’s palace.There he saw the poets reciting their poems in praise of the Caliph and returning with gifts. Al-Mutawakkil was known for his authority, awe and power. ‘Ali began to praise the Caliph with a poem in which he likened him to a dog, a goat and a bucket, whilst other poets likened him to the sun,the moon and the mountains!

The Caliph became angry, and his guards unsheathed their swords and prepared to strike off his neck. But then, the Caliph realised that ‘Ali bin al-jahm was from the desert and that his
personality and poetic taste was shaped accordingly. He decided to change his personality, so he ordered his men to house him in a section of the palace, be treated with kindness and be given all the available pleasures.

Al-jahm tasted some of these bounties and sat on couches side by side with eloquent poets and authors for seven months. One day, as the Caliph was sitting in his nightly gathering, he
remembered ‘A|i bin al-jahm, so he sent for him.When al-jahm finally came to him, he said,”Sing some verses to me, O ‘Ali bin al—jahm!” Al-jahm began to move emotions using soft and kind words, and likened the king to the sun, the stars and the sword.

Notice how the Caliph was able to change Ibn al-]ahm’s personality. How often have we been upset by the bad behaviour of our children and friends? Did we ever try to change their nature successfully? Even more,you should be able to change your own personality by replacing a frowning face with a smiling one, replacing anger with forbearance, and miserliness with generosity. None of this is difficult, but it does require determination and persistence, so be brave!

Whoever reads the life of the Prophet peace be upon him  realises that he would deal with people with these skills and capture their hearts. The Prophet  peace be upon him would not simply pretend to have these skills in front of people and replace his forbearance with anger when being alone with his family. He was never one to be cheerful with some but sulky with his own family. He was never one to be generous with everyone except his own children and wives. Rather;  he always acted naturally. He would worship Allah by his fine manners just as he would worship Him by offering the Duha or night prayers. He would consider his smile to be a virtue, his gentleness an act of worship, and his forgiveness and leniency a good deed.The one who considers good manners to be acts of worship will always remain well-mannered, in war and peace, when he is hungry and when he is full, when healthy or ill, and even when happy or sad.

How many women only hear about the refined manners of their husbands, such as their patience, cheerfulness and generosity, but never witness any of these qualities at home? Such husbands, often when at home, are ill-mannered, impatient, sulky and constantly cursing.

As for the Prophet peace be upon him he said, “The best of you is the one who is best to his family, and I am the best of you to my fami|y.” (al-Tirmidhi and Ibn Maiah, Sahih)

Now read how he would deal with his family: Al-Aswad bin Yazid said, “l asked ‘A’ishah — may Allah be pleased with her  how Allah’s Messenger   would behave in his house. She said: ‘He would be serving his family, and when the time for prayer would come he would perform ablution and leave to pray.”

The same can be said about parents. How often is it that we hear of the good manners that some display, such as generosity, cheerfulness and kind behaviour towards others, and yet with the closest people to them who have the greatest rights over them, such as their parents, wives and children, they are distant and cold.

Yes, the best of you is the best to his family, to his parents, to his wife, and to his children. One night, as Abu Layla —- may Allah be pleased with him — sat next to the Prophet  peace be upon him there came to him, either al-Hasan or al-Husayn, so the Prophet peace be upon him  lifted him up and placed him on his stomach. The toddler then urinated on the Prophet’s stomach. Abu Layla said, “l saw the urine trickling down from the Prophet’s stomach.  So we leapt up to the Prophet peace be upon him but he said:‘Leave my son alone. Do not scare him.”’

When the toddler had finished urinating, he called for some water and poured it over his stomach.’ (Ahmad and al-Tabarani, with trustworthy narrators)

How amazing was the Messenger of Allah  peace be upon him to train and adorn himself with such manners! No wonder he was able to win the hearts of the young and old.

Instead of cursing the darkness, try to fix the lamp.


The Humblest Branch of Faith – Lesson in Social Living

Saturday, May 21st, 2011

First Words

Faith has more than seventy branches. The most excellent of these is to declare “There is no god but Allah”, and the humblest of the ranks is to remove a harmful thing from the road. The teaching of the Holy Prophet pbuh is to remove injurious and harmful things from people’s passage. These may be thoms, garbage, and so on. This is the lowest of the branches of faith and the last symbol of civility. This is the story of the man who earned Paradise on this simple task.

The Humblest Branch of FaithTranslation
[1. Bukhari and Muslim have transmitted in their respective Sahih that Sayyidina Abu Humyrah , has said that the Messenger of Allah said , “While a man was going
on a way, he saw a thomy branch and removed it from the way and Allah became pleased with his action and forgave him for that.”]

[2. The version in Muslim is that Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah said that the Messenger of Allah said, “A man while walking along the path saw the branches of a tree lying there. He thought, ‘By Allah, I shall remove these from this road, so that they may not harm the Muslims, and he was admitted to Paradise.”]

[3. Yet another version is that Sayyidina Abu Hurayrah quoted the Holy Prophet as saying, “I saw a man enjoying himself in Paradise because of the tree that he cut from the path which was a source of inconvenience to the people.”] (Bukhari Hadith # 652, 2476. Muslim # 6340, 6341)

To remove anything that causes inconvenience to the passersby is the lowest form of faith. This means that if anyone finds an obstacle on the road and does not remove it then he deprives himself of even the lowest kind of faith.

The Hadith teaches us that Allah forgives even those who practice the lovvest form of faith. The man mentioned in the Hadith was forgiven for that.

There is an important lesson in this narrative for the Muslims and religious-minded people of the current era for they regard such a practice as very ordinary and commonplace.

Today, the non-Muslim people hold it as against civil behaviour to leave obstacles on common thoroughfares and inconvenience the passersby. It is worth thinking over that this teaching was first imparted by Islam which made it instrumental in getting forgiveness. Alas, today, the people of Islam, instead of removing obstacles from
the road, have identified themselves with those who hurd hindrances on the roads. The position on our roads in areas where ninety percent of the residents are Muslims is that they are blocked and obstructed in different manners which cause inconvenience to the passersby. The many ways in which road-users are put to trouble include people spitting here and there. ejecting beetle—nut after chewing it. parking motor cars before door-steps of homes and mosques. throwing rubbish on roads, draining house-hold waste on streets. and so on. This is a very common observation in our Muslim societies although it is clearly against teachings of Islam. The overflowing sewers, stinking drains, broken roads and such scenes reflect our conduct and show how we default in abiding by the teachings of Islam. It is something all of us must ponder.
Must we not think that if Allah forgives a man for removing obstacles from the road and admitting him to Paradise then will He not punish those who act against that and throw rubbish and obstacles on the road and inconvenience passersby in other ways? Surely, He will call to account these people and will punish them. The Believers must correct their behaviour for Islam does not merely teach Salat and fasting but it also requires its adherents to adopt excellent maners and social conduct conducive to a better civil society.

Lessons and Messages
1. The first lesson we learn is that the teachings of Islam are not limited to worship alone. Islam is not the name of a few customary forms of worship but it is a method of spending one’s life in an instinctive way, being pure, having high moral character and clear thinking. It develops a proper civic sense and grows a highly civilised society.

2. It is the right of the road that pedestrians and road-users are not inconvenienced. It is not even proper to stop on the road and converse if that causes inconvenience to other people.

3. To try to protect a Muslim from inconvenience and wish well for him is a conduct that entitles one to enter into Paradise. Obviously, to remove an obstacle from the road is trying to protect a Muslim from inconvenience; it earned for that man enjoyment in Paradise. A Muslim is a well-wisher of another Muslim and he tries his best to save another Muslim from difficulty and hardship. This is what Islam teaches and this is the name of Islam.

This is an excrept from the book Stories from the hadith: