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Honesty in Islam

Believers are honest and pure-hearted

“When honesty is lost, then wait for the Hour (the Day of Judgment).”

These are the noble words of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

They paint a picture of the time leading up to the Day of Judgement, when righteous people will be sorrowful due to the lack of honesty around them. In the 21st century, we live in a world where honesty is still valued and yet shunned at the same time. We expect people to be honest in their dealings and transactions with us; yet we watch and applaud television shows and movies that promote and encourage lying and deceitfulness in our society.

With our negligence, we teach our children that dishonesty is acceptable. When we expect our children to tell the caller on the telephone we are not home, whereas we are, this is a lesson in deceit for the leaders of tomorrow. When we refuse invitations and pretend we are busy, this is lying. We admonish our children for lying, yet the reality is we have been their teachers. Whether we tell lies, or we allow our children to live in a world surrounded by deceit, the lesson is learned and the honesty begins to disappear from the hearts of the next generation.

Furthermore, honesty incorporates the concepts of truthfulness and reliability and it resides in all human thoughts, words, actions, and relationships. It is more than just accuracy; it is more than just truthfulness. It denotes integrity and moral soundness. Islam commands truthfulness and forbids lying. Almighty Allah commands believers to be honest:

O you who believe! Fear God and be with those who are true. (At-Tawbah 9:119)

A true believer, one who is truly submitted to Allah, has many characteristics by which he or she can be identified. The most obvious of these are honesty of character and truthfulness of speech. Prophet Muhammad was a perfect example of honesty. Even before his prophethood, he had earned the titles of the trustworthy and the truthful.

The trustworthy Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) once gathered all the people of Makkah and asked them, “O people of Makkah! If I say that an army is advancing on you from behind the mountains, will you believe me?” All said in one voice, “Yes, as we have never heard you telling a lie.” All the people, without exception, swore to his truthfulness and honesty, because he had lived an unblemished and extremely pious life among them for forty years.

The Prophet’s honesty was described well by Abu Sufyan. When he sent a letter to Heraclius, the Emperor of Byzantium, inviting him to Islam, the Emperor sent for the Meccan trader, Abu Sufyan. Even though he was at that time a dire enemy of Islam, he spoke the truth about Prophet Mohammad. When asked about the Prophet, he said, “He neither tells lies nor betrays others; he bids people to worship Allah alone and orders us to observe Prayer, honesty, and abstinence.”

This honesty, an essential ingredient of the Muslim character, includes being truthful towards Almighty Allah, by worshipping Him sincerely; being truthful to oneself, by adhering to Allah’s laws; and being truthful with others, by speaking the truth and being honest in all dealings, such as buying, selling, and marriage. Cheating and deception should never exist among believers. A believer should be the same on the inside as he is on the outside.

Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) warned us of the dangers inherent in dishonesty, and informed us about the benefits of living in an honest way. He reportedly said, “Truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to Paradise. And a man keeps on telling the truth until he is written in the sight of Allah as a truthful person. Falsehood leads to wickedness and evil-doing, and wickedness leads to the (Hell) Fire, and a man keeps on telling lies till he is written before Allah as a liar.” (Al-Bukhari)

A true Islamic society is based upon honesty and justice, and is intolerant of dishonesty in all its various forms. Honesty in all business transactions is emphasised, and Prophet Muhammad exhorted Muslims to be scrupulously honest in all their dealings. `Abdullah ibn `Umar was once described as the “brother of the night”, for he would stand at night performing Prayer, weeping, seeking Allah’s forgiveness, and reading the Qur’an. One day, he was sitting among some close friends and he read the following verses:

Woe unto those who give short measure, those who, when they are to receive their due from people, demand that it be given in full; but when they have to measure or weigh whatever they owe to others, give less than what is due. Do they not know that they are bound to be raised from the dead [and called to account] on an awesome Day, the Day when mankind shall stand before the Sustainer of all the worlds? (Al-Mutaffifin 83:1-6)

Then, `Abdullah wept until he was faint and kept repeating the words (the day when mankind shall stand before the Sustainer of all the worlds). He was amongst the most honest and trustworthy men, but being reminded of the punishment for those who are deceitful filled him with fear.

Therefore, a Muslim seeking to please Almighty Allah and follow the path of righteousness should be aware of the dangers of deceit and dishonesty. However, he should equally know that Allah is All-Merciful and All-Loving, willing to forgive even the gravest sins for those who repent and strive for His sake. Honesty is very important in the life of a believer.

In a hadith on honesty, the Prophet is reported to have said, “Honesty descended from the Heavens and settled in the hearts of men, and then the Qur’an was revealed and they read the Qur’an and also learnt from the Sunnah. Both the Qur’an and the Sunnah strengthened their honesty.” (Al-Bukhari)

For those who wish to be among the truthful, Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) has left us with these words of guidance, “Let he who believes in Allah and the Last Day either speak good or keep silent.” (Muslim)

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This article was originally published on islamreligion.com. It has been taken with modifications from onislam.net


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What Is Unique about Islamic Ethics?

 

balance in life

Individuals who are honest, sincere, and from whom nothing but good can be expected, have always formed the basis of any healthy human society.

A moral sense is inborn in man and, through the ages, it has served as the common man’s standard of moral behaviour, approving certain qualities and condemning others. While this instinctive faculty may vary from person to person, human conscience has consistently declared certain moral qualities to be good and others to be bad.

Justice, courage and truthfulness have always found praise, and history does not record any period worth the name in which falsehood, injustice, dishonesty and breach of trust have been praised; sympathy, compassion, loyalty and generosity have always been valued, while selfishness, cruelty, meanness and bigotry have never been approved of by society; men have always appreciated perseverance, determination and courage, but never impatience, fickleness, cowardice and stupidity.

Universal Code

Dignity, restraint, politeness and friendliness have throughout the ages been counted virtues, whereas snobbery and rudeness have always been looked down upon. People with a sense of responsibility and devotion to duty have always won the highest regard, those who are incompetent, lazy and lacking in a sense of duty have never been looked upon with approval.

Similarly, in assessing the standards of good and bad in the collective behaviour of society as a whole, only those societies have been considered worthy of honor which have possessed the virtues of organization, discipline, mutual affection and compassion and which have established a social order based on justice, freedom and equality. Disorganization, indiscipline, anarchy, disunity, injustice and social privilege, on the other hand, have always been considered manifestations of decay and disintegration in a society.

Robbery, murder, larceny, adultery and corruption have always been condemned. Slander and blackmail have never been considered healthy social activities, while service and care of the aged, helping one’s relatives, regard for neighbours, loyalty to friends, aiding the weak, the destitute and the orphans, and nursing the sick are qualities which have been highly valued since the dawn of civilization.

Individuals who are honest, sincere and dependable, whose deeds match their words, who are content with their own rightful possessions, who are prompt in the discharge of their obligations to others, who live in peace and let others live in peace, and from whom nothing but good can be expected, have always formed the basis of any healthy human society.

These examples show that human moral standards are universal and have been well-known to mankind throughout the ages. Good and evil are not myths, but realities well understood by all. A sense of good and evil is inherent in the very nature of man.

Hence in the terminology of the Qur’an good is called ma`ruf (a well-known thing) and evil munkar (an unknown thing); that is to say, good is known to be desirable and evil is known not to commend itself in any way, as the Qur’an says:

God has revealed to human nature the consciousness and cognition of good and evil. (Ash-Shams 91:8)

Why Differences?

The question that now arises is: if what constitutes good and evil is so clear and universally agreed, why do varying patterns of moral behaviour exist in the world? Why are there so many conflicting moral philosophies? Why do certain moral standards contradict each other?

What lies at the root of their differences? What is the unique position of Islam in the context of other ethical systems? On what grounds can we claim that Islam has a perfect moral systems? And what exactly is the distinctive contribution of Islam in the realm of ethics?

Although these are important questions and must be squarely faced, justice cannot be done to them in the brief span of this talk. So I shall restrict myself to a summary of some of the points crucial to any critical examination of contemporary ethical systems and conflicting patterns of moral behaviour:

1- Through their failure to prescribe specific limits and roles for the various moral virtues and values, present-day moral structures cannot provide a balanced and coherent plan of social conduct.

2-The real cause of the differences in the moral systems seems to lie in their offering different standards for judging what constitutes good and bad actions and in their laying down different ways to distinguish good from evil.

Differences also exist in respect of the sanction behind the moral law and in regard to the motives which impel a person to follow it.

3- On deeper reflection we find that the grounds for these differences emerge from different peoples’ conflicting views and concepts of the universe, the place of man in it, and of man’s purpose on earth.

The various systems of ethics, philosophy and religion are in fact a record of the vast divergence of views on such vital questions as: Is there a God of the universe and, if there is, is He the only one or are there many Gods?

What are the Divine attributes? What is the nature of the relationship between God and human beings? Has He made any arrangements for guiding humanity through the vicissitudes of life or not? Is man answerable to Him or not?

And if so, in what spheres of his life? Is there an ultimate aim of man’s creation which he should keep in view throughout his life? Answers to these questions will determine the way of life, the ethical philosophy and the pattern of moral behaviour of the individual and society.

It is difficult for me, in this brief talk, to take stock of the various ethical systems in the world and indicate what solutions each one of them has proposed to these questions and what has been the impact of these answers on the moral evolution of the society believing in these concepts. Here I have to confine myself to the Islamic concept only.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s book “The Islamic Way of Life”.

 

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What Does Islam Teach about Justice?

(Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

the justice ordained by Him calls for equal understanding and peaceable treatment of everyone, with no discrimination.

The true justice described in the Qur’an commands man to behave justly, not discriminating between people, protecting others’ rights and not permitting violence, no matter what the circumstances, to side with the oppressed against the oppressor and to help the needy.

This justice calls for the rights of both parties to be protected when reaching a decision in a dispute, assessing all aspects of an incident, setting aside all prejudices, being objective, honest, merciful and compassionate. In the event one fails to display any of these characteristics or attaches greater importance to a particular one, then it becomes hard to exercise true justice.

For instance, someone who cannot assess events in a moderate way, and who is swayed by his emotions and feelings, will fail to arrive at sound decisions and will remain under the influence of those feelings. However, someone who rules with justice needs to set all his personal feelings and views aside. He needs to treat all parties with justice when they ask for help, to side with what is right under all circumstances, and not to diverge from the path of honesty and truthfulness.

Justice in the Qur’an

A person should incorporate the values of the Qur’an into his soul in such a way that he may be able to consider the interests of other parties before his own and maintain justice, even if this harms his own interests.

You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to piety. Be careful of (your duty to) Allah. Allah is aware of what you do. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

As it is suggested in the above verse, Allah knows everything a man does. A person who fears Allah and who is aware that he will have to account for his deeds on the Day of Judgment, issues his commands in a just way in order to earn the good pleasure of Allah. He knows that all his words and thoughts will be judged on the Day of Judgment and will be rewarded accordingly.

For this reason, what one has to do to earn the good pleasure of Allah, to be saved from the torment of Hell and to attain the infinite favors of Paradise is to fully live by the Qur’an. In order to attain this morality, everyone must make personal efforts and set aside all his selfish desires and personal interests and adopt the guidance of justice, compassion, love and peace.

Allah gives a detailed description of true justice in the Qur’an and informs us that all sorts of disagreements can be solved by the maintenance of justice. In a society made up of righteous administrators and just people, it is obvious that all problems can be readily overcome.

In the Qur’an, Allah gives a detailed description of justice and informs believers of the attitude they have to adopt in the face of incidents they encounter and of the ways to exercise justice.

Such guidance is a great comfort to believers and a mercy from Allah. For this reason, those who believe are responsible for exercising justice in an undivided manner both to earn Allah‘s approval and to lead their lives in peace and security.

Justice Should Be Exercised Equally Among All People, With No Consideration of Language, Race, or Ethnicity

A close examination of developments all over the world reveals that the performance of justice varies according to place, time and people. For instance, in some societies, the color of someone’s skin influences decisions. Even under the very same circumstances, the same decision may not apply to a white and a black man.

In some societies, race is of great importance to people. In the 20th century, Hitler’s annihilation of millions of people solely because he deemed the Aryan race superior to other races is a good example of this. In our day, too, there are people being subjected to cruel and unjust treatment because of the color of their skin or their race. In the United States and South Africa, black people were for many years treated as second-class citizens, and savage disputes raged in many Asian and African countries simply because of racial differences.

The fact is, however, that Allah reveals in the verses of the Qur’an that one of the pieces of wisdom behind the creation of different peoples and nations is to allow them “to come to know one another” (Al-Hujurat 49:13).

scale of Justice

Those who believe are responsible for exercising justice in an undivided manner both to earn Allah‘s approval, to lead their lives in peace and security.

Different nations or peoples, all of whom are the servants of Allah, should get to know one another, that is, learn about their different cultures, languages, traditions and abilities. In brief, the purpose of the creation of different races and nations is not conflict and war but cultural richness.

Such variation is a bounty of Allah‘s creation. The fact that someone is taller than someone else or that his skin is yellow or white neither makes him superior to others nor is something to feel ashamed of.

Every trait a person has is a result of Allah‘s purposeful creation, but in the sight of Allah, these variations have no ultimate importance. A believer knows that someone attains superiority only by fearing Allah and in the strength of his faith in Allah. This fact is related in the following verse:

Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in Allah’s sight is the one with the most piety. Allah is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Al-Hujurat 49:13)

As Allah informs us in that verse, the justice ordained by Him calls for equal understanding and peaceable treatment of everyone, with no discrimination.

Perfect Exemplar of Justice

In his time, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) treated people of different races and places with the utmost justice. He severely criticized subjecting people to different treatment because of their race, and attributed such acts to the “morality of the ignorant.”

The Prophet Muhammad reminded his people that people in ignorant societies may harbour enmity towards other people because of their color or race, and warned all Muslims against such an attitude, which is described as “ugly” in the Qur’an.

1,400 years ago, all these primitive ideas were abolished through the Qur’an, which was sent to mankind as a mercy, and it was proclaimed that all people, regardless of their color, race and language, are equal. The Prophet Muhammad criticized the unbecoming practice of people of ignorant societies who assessed others according to their race and color.

He cautioned the Arab people in these words in his last address (Farewell Sermon) to them:

“An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black, nor a black has any superiority over white except by piety and good action.”

With these words, the Prophet Muhammad once again reminded all mankind the fact related in Surat  Al-Hujurat verse 13; that superiority among people is attainable only through fear of Allah.

Islam, as the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) also stresses, completely abolishes all these primitive ideas. In an environment where the values of Islam are established, a man cannot be accused, subjected to discriminatory treatment or oppressed because he is a Jew, a Christian, a black or an Indian.

Allah decides what race a person should belong to. He shaped man in the most perfect manner. Man’s duty is always to be just, loving, respectful, compassionate to and at peace with everyone.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Justice and Compassion in the Qur’an”. 

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The Moral System of Islam: Motives and Practices

The Moral System of Islam: Motives & Incentives

sunset-nature

The love and fear of God become the real motives which impel man to obey the moral law without external pressures.

The fact that a man voluntarily and willingly accepts God as his Creator and obedience to God as the aim of his life and strives to seek His pleasure in his every action provides sufficient incentive to obey the commandments which he believes to be from God.

Belief that whoever obeys the divine commands is sure to be rewarded in the Hereafter, whatever difficulties he may have to face in his life on earth, is another strong incentive for leading a virtuous life.

And the belief that breaking the commandments of God will mean eternal punishment is an effective deterrent against violation of the moral law, however tempted a man may be by the superficial attractiveness of a certain course of action.

If this hope and fear are firmly ingrained in one’s heart, they will inspire virtuous deeds even on occasions when the immediate consequences may appear to be very damaging, and they will keep one away from evil when it looks extremely attractive and profitable.

This clearly indicates that Islam possesses a distinctive criterion of good and evil, its own source of moral laws, and its own sanctions and motivating force; through them it shapes the generally recognized more virtues in all spheres of life into a balanced and comprehensive scheme and ensures that they are followed.

It can therefore be justifiably claimed that Islam possesses a perfect moral system of its own. This system has many distinguishing features and I will refer to three of the most significant ones which, in my opinion, form its special contribution to ethics.

Distinctive Features

1- By setting divine pleasure as the objective of man’s life, Islam has set the highest possible standard of morality, providing boundless possibilities for the moral evolution of humanity.

By making divine revelation the primary source of knowledge, it gives permanence and stability to moral standards, while at the same time allowing scope for reasonable flexibility and adjustment, though not for perversions or moral laxity. The love and fear of God become the real motives, which impel man to obey the moral law without external pressures.

And through belief in God and the Day of Judgment, we are motivated to behave morally with earnestness and sincerity.

2- The Islamic moral order does not, through a mistaken love of originally and innovation, seek to lay down any new moral standards; nor does it seek to minimize the importance of the well-known moral standards, or give exaggerated importance to some and neglect others without cause.

Rather, it takes all the recognized morals and assigns a suitable role to each within the total scheme of life. It widens the scope of their application to cover every aspect of man’s private and social life – his domestic associations, his civic conduct, and his activities in the political, economic, legal and educational fields.

It covers his life at home and in society, literally from the cradle to the grave. No sphere of life is exempt from the universal and comprehensive application of the moral principles of Islam. These ensure that the affairs of life, instead of being dominated by selfish desires and petty interest, are regulated by the dictates of morality.

3- The Islamic moral order guarantees for man a system of life which is free from all evil. It calls on the people not only to practise virtue, but also to eradicate vice. Those who respond to this call are gathered together into an Ummah (a community) and given the name ‘Muslims’.

The main purpose underlying the formation of this community is that it should make an organized effort to establish and enforce goodness and suppress and eradicate evil. It would be a day of mourning for this community and a bad day for the entire world if its efforts were at any time directed towards establishing evil and suppressing good.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s The Islamic Way of Life. 

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The People of the Book in the Qur’an

Religion of Peace

the Qur'an

While they rely basically on Allah‘s revelation, the People of the Book- as the Qur’an reveals- have moral precepts and know what is lawful and what is not.

There are many nations in the world with different colors, creeds, and languages. These differences have been a cause of enmity throughout history in societies that did not live by religious moral values.

The perceived wisdom is that people can never manage to co-exist and that disputes arise wherever such differences exist.

However, this is a great misconception and the facts are otherwise. In fact, it is Allah Who created human beings in different communities and in the Qur’an, He calls all people to peace and security:

O You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you. (Al-Baqarah 2:208)

Allah calls to the Abode of Peace and He guides whom He wills to a straight path. (Yunus 10:25)

All divine religions revealed through Allah‘s messengers summon people to have faith in Allah, recommend them to display moral perfection and warn them against bad morals.

Despite the fact that all divine religions, except for Islam, are distorted, it is evident today that some of their messages are fundamentally the same. That is why these conflicts, which are stirred up artificially, lack reasonable and logical grounds.

As stated in the verse above, the main reason for unrest among people is not complying with Allah‘s summoning but following in the ”footsteps of Satan.” (Al-Baqarah 2:208)

Believers’ harboring hostile feelings to other people who have faith in Allah is a moral weakness that displeases Allah, Who prohibits all believers from displaying such feelings. He calls on people to establish peace and friendship.

In the Qur’an revealed to the Prophet Muhammad, the last Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him), Allah gives believers explicit commands and recommendations on this subject.

Their Status in the Qur’an

In the Qur’an, Jews and Christians, the members of the religions who abide by the Divine Books revealed by Allah, are called the ”People of the Book”. What Muslims’ views of the People of the Book should be, their relations, and the status of the People of the Book in social life are described in verses and the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad in detail.

The People of the Book, while they rely basically on Allah‘s revelation, have moral precepts and know what is lawful and what is not. For this reason, if one of the People of the Book cooks some food, it is lawful for Muslims to eat it.

In the same way, permission has been given to a Muslim man to marry a woman from among the People of the Book. On this subject Allah commands:

Today all good things have been made lawful for you. And the food of those given the Book is also lawful for you and your food is lawful for them. So are chaste women from among the believers and chaste women of those given the Book before you, once you have given them their dowries in marriage, not in fornication or taking them as lovers. But as for anyone who disbelieves, his actions will come to nothing and in the Hereafter he will be among the losers. (Al-Ma’idah 5:5)

Throughout Islamic history, the People of the Book have been always treated with compassion in Muslim societies. This was particularly evident in the Ottoman Empire.

It is a well known fact that the Jews, whose rights were denied and were exiled by the Catholic Kingdom of Spain, took refuge in the lands of the Ottoman Empire.

When Sultan Mehmed the Conqueror captured Istanbul, he granted both Christians and Jews all their fundamental rights. Throughout Ottoman history, Jews were regarded as a People of the Book and enjoyed peaceful coexistence with Muslims.

How Should a Muslim Regard Judaism?

As exemplified above, throughout his life, the Prophet (peace be upon him) treated the People of the Book with the utmost understanding and justice.

As a result of this noble attitude, Abdullah ibn Salam, a prominent rabbi, and his friends converted to Islam and came to believe in his prophethood.

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Source: The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Justice and Compassion in the Qur’an”.

 

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How to Deal with Unjust People?

flower among thorns

A person of faith knows that he will attain the pleasure of Allah only when he acts justly.

Hatred Felt Towards a Community Does Not Prevent Believers From Exercising Justice

Hatred and anger are the major sources of evil, and are likely to prevent people from making just decisions, thinking soundly and conducting themselves rationally.

Some people can readily inflict all kinds of injustice on people for whom they feel enmity. They may accuse these people of acts they have never committed or bear false witness against them, although their innocence is known to them.

Only on account of such enmity, many people may be subjected to unbearable oppression. Some people avoid bearing witness in favor of people they disagree with, although they know they are innocent, and they keep evidence which would reveal their innocence hidden.

Furthermore, they take pleasure in the misery these people face, their encounters with injustice or great suffering. Their greatest worry, on the other hand, is that justice should be done and these peoples’ innocence proved.

For these reasons, it is very hard for people in corrupt societies to trust one another. People worry about being harmed by someone else all the time.

Having lost mutual trust, they also lose their human feelings, such as compassion, brotherhood and co-operation, and start hating one another.

According to God’s Commands

However, the feelings someone holds in his heart towards a person or community should never influence a believer’s decisions.

No matter how immoral or hostile the person he is considering may be, the believer sets all these feelings aside and acts and makes his decisions justly and recommends that which is just. His feelings towards that person cast no shadow over his wisdom and conscience. His conscience always inspires him to comply with Allah‘s commands and advice, and not to abandon good manners, because this is Allah‘s command in the Qur’an. In Surat Al-Ma’idah, it is related as follows:

You who believe! Show integrity for the sake of Allah, bearing witness with justice. Do not let hatred for a people incite you into not being just. Be just. That is closer to faith. Heed Allah (alone). Allah is aware of what you do. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

As is related in the verse, displaying a just attitude is what most reflects having fear of Allah. A person of faith knows that he will attain the pleasure of Allah only when he acts justly.

Every person who witnesses his or her good manners will trust this person, feel comfortable in their presence and trust them with any responsibility or task. Such people are treated with respect even by their enemies. Their attitude may even lead some people to have faith in Allah.

Our Exemplar

gentle flower

A Muslim is responsible for being understanding, forgiving, just and humane towards people, regardless of whom they may be.

The best example to follow for believers in our day is also the actions of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) as described in the Qur’an. Similar to the blessed period of the first community of Islam – an age of well-being when people in general adhered to the Qur’an – in our day, too, people of different  beliefs such as Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, idolaters and pagans live together.

A Muslim is responsible for being understanding, forgiving, just and humane towards people, regardless of whom they may be. It is probable that in time everyone will place his faith in Allah, become a Muslim and surrender himself to Allah.

A believer should always bear this fact in mind. The responsibility of a believer is to summon people to Allah‘s religion with a favorable, peaceful attitude.

The decision to follow divine guidance and have faith rests with another party. Compelling a person to have faith and forcing him to do things are against the Qur’an.

Allah states the following about this:

There is no compulsion in religion. True guidance has become clearly distinct from error. Anyone who rejects false deities and has belief in Allah has grasped the Firmest Handhold, which will never give way. Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing. (Al-Baqarah 2: 256)

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Source: The article is an excerpt from the author’s book “Justice and Compassion in the Qur’an”. 

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When Hardship Afflicts A Believer…

When in any difficulty or hardship, what should the believer do, and how should he/she deal with it?

Prophet Ayyub (Job, may Allah have mercy on him) had fourteen children, and he had great health and wealth. Everybody loved him.

And one day, after eighty years, Allah took away all of his 14 children, one by one, then he took away his wealth, then his health until his skin started to fall off his body that you could see his muscles and bones. And he is still alive, breathing.

Not only that, the people began to say if this man had been a good person, Allah wouldn’t have done this to him.

In the midst of his severe affliction, what did he say? What did he ask God for, and how did he address Him (Exalted be He)?

And Ayyub (Job), when he cried to his Lord, (saying): Harm has afflicted me, and You art the most Merciful of the merciful. Therefore, We responded to him and took off what harm he had, and We gave him his family and the like of them with them: a mercy from Us and a reminder to the worshippers. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:82-83)

In the video below Ustadh Bilal Assad reflects on Prophet Ayyub’s affliction as an example and lesson on what may a believer face in life and how to face it …

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Source:  LoveAllah328 Youtube Channel

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Worship, Humanity and Individual Liberties

The idea of servitude has become distasteful to the modern secular mindset which concerns itself with individual liberties. Some might say that humanity has no need to worship, and that doing so compromises freedom.

They forget, however, that absolute freedom is neither possible nor even desirable for all members of a society, and that is why every social order has its laws and restrictions.

Human Nature

Studies in human psychology confirm that man is a worshipper by instinct, that worship is instilled in him as part of his nature, and that he tends to direct it to whatever he considers worthy – other human beings, revered customs or superstitions, materialist ideologies, or his own personal inclinations.

An object of worship is that to which one devotes the greatest portion of his thought and effort. So one either worships God or he worships something other than Him – along with Him or instead of Him. The worship of God alone is liberating in that it frees one from servitude to all else.

Many people misunderstand the concept of worship, assuming that it is merely the practice of certain rituals. But in reality it includes everything done seeking the acceptance of the one worshipped.

Worship Means Obedience

According to Islam, the worship of God means willing obedience to His orders and prohibitions which, besides prayer and other religious obligations, include the fulfillment of promises and agreements, honesty and precision in work, teaching and counseling, encouraging righteousness, assisting others, opposing injustice and so on.

Worship is the right of the Creator upon His Creation. It is based on the perception that everything was brought into existence by God and is dependent upon Him in whose hand is life and death, benefit and harm, and the outcome of every matter.

Accountability

Further, it is based on the knowledge that man is an accountable being in need of God’s continuing guidance and acceptance. Islam confirms that although it is His divine right, God does not gain anything from the worship of His servants, nor is He harmed by their refusal.

He ordains worship for the benefit of the worshipper himself, and this benefit is obtained by him or her in both this life and the next.

When a believer understands that our Creator and Sustainer deserves to be worshipped, he wants to do so because of his gratitude and love for his Lord and because it is inherently right and correct.

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Source: The article is excerpted from the book Clear Your Doubts about Islam, Compiled by Saheeh international.

 

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Shura: The Meaning of Democracy in Islam

By Lamya Hamad 

Is Shura something known to Islam? Is it compatible with Islamic principles? What style of leadership does Islam encourage?

The onset of 2011 witnessed an unexpected wave of protests that swept through the Middle East. Citizens struggled to topple authoritarian and tyrannical governments that had trampled on their rights for decades.

The domino effect that ensued after the first protests in Tunis caught the world by surprise. The desire for democracy and justice were undoubtedly the driving forces behind this movement. Some countries in the region have already begun shaping their legislation in a way that reflects democratic values.

Although the process will take time, the expected outcome is a system that allows all citizens to actively participate in the development of their country’s legislation and government.

Islam & Democracy

There is no universally accepted and defining model for democracy, which leaves room for nations to mold and customize their governments in a way that mirrors democratic concepts in each nation’s cultural and religious contexts.

Democratic values have been present for thousands of years, embedded in cultural and religious practices that might have been lost to history. In Islam, there are many documented instances of active participation of the people with the leaders of their time. This began with the Prophet Muhhammad (peace be upon him) as he was directed by God to seek consultation from his followers and companions while making important decisions.

Consultation is an integral concept in Islamic leadership and is known as shura.

Modern Middle Eastern countries have been blind to this key concept in Islam, which ultimately protects governments from regressing into corruptive and totalitarian regimes because of the continuous and direct involvement of the people.

As Michael Hamilton Morgan writes in Lost History, “Shura was the tradition Muhammad valued, according to which decisions that affect the community are to be made in consultation with members of the community.

In fact, one chapter of the Qur’an is named Ash-Shura, referring to a verse that states that those close to God should conduct their affairs by due consultation with others: “and those who conduct their affairs with consultation among themselves.” (Ash-Shura 42:38)

Now, the Middle East has a chance to form new governments and modify constitutions. It is the perfect time to re-establish shura, a cornerstone teaching of Islam that was once inherently implemented in governance from the time of the Prophet (pbuh), and his close companions.

Shura in the Political Sphere

Shura is a crucial part of the Islamic political system. It allows common people to participate in the decision-making process. It helps create a society that engages actively with leaders.

Consultation is important in building a solid relationship between the leader and the people ensuring that the leader does not go astray or regress into an authoritarian government. God encouraged the Prophet to use shura:

Those who hearken to their Lord, and establish regular prayer; who (conduct) their affairs by mutual Consultation; who spend out of what We bestow on them for sustenance. (Ash_Shura 42:38)

There are several examples of the Prophet taking counsel from his companions and following their opinions.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) held many councils of war before going into battle. At one point, he believed that they should fight only if the enemy entered Madinah. However, his companions opined that they should go out and meet the army. He accepted the latter opinion even though they lost. Despite this, God revealed shortly afterwards a verse which stressed the importance of shura:

It is part of the mercy of Allah that you deal gently with them. Were you severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you: so pass over (their faults), and ask for (Allah’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when you has taken a decision put your trust in Allah. For Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him). (Aal `Imran 3:159)

In the next battle, the Muslims decided to stay put in Madinah. The Prophet again consulted his people regarding the best way to protect themselves against the enemy. Many suggestions came, including one which required the building of an extensive trench. The Prophet agreed to this option and actively participated in its construction. This time, they won.

The Prophet used both consultation as well as consensus when making decisions. However, the opinion of the majority was not always taken if it conflicted with the tenets of the faith or went against the overall benefit of the people.

At the same time, when the Prophet acted according to the commands of God, he did not heed to opposing viewpoints. For instance, when a seemingly disadvantageous treaty was signed with the Makkans, his people vehemently opposed it. However, the Prophet stuck to the decision and eventually his companions realized that the treaty worked in their favor.

This indicates a key principle in shura: it must not contradict or override the Qur’an and the teachings of Prophet Muhammad, known as Sunnah.

The Qur’an and Sunnah combined represent a binding constitution for Muslims, much like the constitution of countries. Just as governments adhere to the constitution when passing new laws, the constitution being the superior document, a similar process is at work here.

The basic tenets of this divine constitution cannot be violated by anyone, not even leaders or popular movements. This means that the powerful cannot manipulate the system to their own advantage. Certain rules and principles must be upheld and cannot be overruled, such as, basic human rights like equality.

The Ethics of Leadership

The Prophet and his close companions all maintained strong moral ethics while in positions of authority. `Umar, the second Caliph, has particularly left a legacy of leadership which modern leaders can learn much from.

Upon assuming the role of Caliph, he said: “In the performance of my duties, I will seek guidance from the Book (the Qur’an), and will follow the examples set by the Prophet and Abu Bakr (the first Caliph). In this task, I seek your assistance. If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.”

Addressing the needs and concerns of the people was no doubt paramount in his reign and under the rule of other close companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him). In fact, `Umar was even keen on safeguarding the well-being of animals, he would say, “If a mule stumbled in Iraq, I would be afraid that Allah (God) would ask me, why did you not pave the road for it `Umar?”

As illustrated in “A History of Muslim Civilization” by Abiva and Durkee, `Umar “expected his leaders to live up to ethical standards.” The list below shows some of the criteria a leader should have according to `Umar:

1- No nepotism or hereditary succession.

2- The people should be able to reach the leader easily to voice any of their concerns or suggestions.

3- The ruler should seek counsel, accept criticism, and be willing to rectify his mistakes.

4- The army exists to protect the people of the nation, not protect the leader from the people.

The above examples of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and `Umar give us priceless models in governance. Not only was shura and consultation key in their rule, they also upheld high morals and ethics.

Every living entity was given importance, be it animal or human, which created an empowered society where the rights of its subjects were paramount and people were given the opportunity to thrive. These standards are especially relevant for our world today in our quest for democracy.

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Source: new-uslims.info

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The Muslim in the Face of Life’s Trials

What do you do when you come to the end of a period of great effort and find only an insurmountable wall? What do you do when you feel broken? How do you face the trials of life?

Resilience and pride in the face of oppression is an oft-noted response throughout history. The tyranny breeds a strength of purpose in the oppressed, which astounds, and seems almost superhuman. But for most of us, our battles are more mundane, but they can be overwhelming.

The daily grind, the exhaustion of small children, a job you hate, domestic chores, bills to pay, teenagers being difficult, moving house, burst water pipe,  loss of a loved one, angst at work, a spate of ill-health, a boss on the war path, a miscarriage, loss of a job, spouse being difficult, elderly parents trying your patience…Some—perhaps even most of these things—will happen to all of us at some point in our lives.

Perhaps a few of them will hit us at once. And there may come a point when the culmination of many little things may break you, or a small thing may end up being the proverbial straw that breaks the camel’s back. What do you do in such circumstance?

The sentiments needed are the same—resilience in the face of struggle.

Strive… Surrender

What do you do when you come to the end of a period of great effort and find only an insurmountable wall?

There may not be a tyrannical regime building the barricade, but it seems like an impossible barrier anyway.

What do you do when you have strived and struggled to do what is right on a daily basis, but at the end of it you simply feel “broken”?

There may not be an dictatorial government to crush your spirit, but you feel in pieces nevertheless. Such are the emotions for so many in the trying times and stresses of the modern age. For me, the only answer I can offer lies with God, and to surrender utterly to His Divine Will.

I know for many this concept of surrender and service to God is hard. Islam has sometimes been accused of being a religion that creates servile zombies, slaves to a nasty, vengeful god called Allah. Yet for me, this could not be further from my understanding of the role of surrender to the Divine.

The Creator of the Cosmos brought us into being out of love. He sustains and nurtures us out of Love, and in loving Him we find the very essence of Being. To surrender ourselves utterly out of love is not a lowly or slavish thing. To love the Divine, the Merciful, the Beautiful, with all our heart, and to desire to serve Him out of that love is not servitude, but beauty. To love; love is life itself. And in loving Love, and recognizing the limitless blessings He bestows on us, one finds huge strength, and the Grace to deal with life’s trials.

Trials & God’s Mercy

Surrender has become a negative word, as has servant. Who wants to be a servant?

It is one of those sad modern ironies that “community service”—far from being something that every child is taught, and every citizen aspires towards—is actually a form of punishment. Service to one’s family seems equally derided in the modern age.

But I know of no other answer to the trials and tribulations of life other than surrender, and a life of service. Surrender—like patience—is not passive, it is not servile, but it is—I believe—a transformative action.

Utter surrender is the complete emptying of the self in order to be filled by the One; it is the breaking in order to be built anew by the One, and ultimately it is the dying to be raised again through God’s Mercy. Surrender is accepting Grace into your life, and recognizing Him at work.

To Find God…

To find God’s abundant Grace through every trial is no easy task, but it is His Grace which will give us peace, in this world, and ultimately the next, as the Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “None amongst you can get into Paradise by virtue of his deeds alone. They said: Allah’s Messenger, not even you? He said “not even I, but that God should wrap me in his Grace and Mercy.”  (Muslim)

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Source: http://www.emel.com/

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