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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Life’s True Joy and Major Assets

In Allah’s Hands

 

beautiful nature

Man should realize that life is temporary and that it is solely at Allah’s command.

The life of this world is one of Allah’s major bounties. Life flourishes at Allah’s command. As rain revives the dead land, filling it with thick foliage and pleasant vegetation, in the same measure Allah makes life full of charms and joys.

Life must, therefore, be led only in the manner that its Master, Allah, asks us to do. Notwithstanding its great attraction, the greenery around us should not blind us to its short life. Allah Who causes life to appear in its innumerable forms does and can reduce it to nothing in no time. The dense vegetation withering and decaying into dry, ugly stubble is a common sight.

From this everyday occurrence man must learn the striking truth that all life is mortal, as brief as seasonal vegetative growth is.

Equally significant is the truth that Allah being All-Powerful causes life to appear in its countless splendid manifestations and again, it is Allah Who ends it suddenly. Man should not therefore be carried away by the outward beauty of life. Rather, he should realise that life is temporary and that it is solely at Allah’s command.

True Joy

To illustrate the point further, the Qur’an cites the concrete examples of wealth and sons who are extremely dear to man in this life. They are, no doubt, precious assets and a source of much joy. Yet they too, are as impermanent as seasonal vegetation is.

Wealth and sons are adorments of the life of this world: But the things that endure, good deeds, are best in the sight of your Lord, as rewards, and best as (the foundation for) hopes. (Al-Kahf 18:46)

Man cannot turn wholly indifferent to worldly objects. He is dependent upon them in leading his life. And precisely for the same reason has Allah blessed man with the basic necessities, especially wealth and children, sources of immense physical and emotional support and comfort. However, man should not be engrossed in these.

Wealth and sons often distract man from strictly and consistently following Allah’s way. Out of his love of wealth and children man is liable to do things which are not desirable in Allah’s sight. The Qur’an therefore, cautions man against this pitfall. Wealth and sons are not evil in themselves. For their outright rejection implies monasticism as the preferred way of life.

Islam does not banish economic pursuits from the sphere of man’s life. The Qur’anic note of caution, nonetheless, is that man should not be given wholly to this world which might misdirect him away from Allah’s path.

Good Deeds

In Islam these are rather the favours which Allah showers on man, and which render his life joyful and meaningful.

Man should, therefore, set his eyes firmly on the performance of good deeds which bring him Allah’s pleasure. Wealth and sons may be deployed for achieving the same end. Significantly enough, Allah promises eternal reward and hope for deliverance for every good deed.

Any particular deed is not specified on this count. It is evident from several hadiths that every good deed, permeated with the belief in the One True God, brings man nearer to Allah.

This is what man’s chief preoccupation in life should be. Although man and life itself are mortal, good deeds have a lasting effect, which may brighten man’s prospects and exalt his rank in the Afterlife.

Man should, therefore, realise this truth notwithstanding all the distractions and temptations in life.

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The article is an excerpt from the author’s The Qur’an: Essential Teachings, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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Family New Muslims

Marriage and Its Role in One’s Religious Life

By Al-Ghazzali

Marriage plays such a large part in human affairs that it must necessarily be taken into account in treating of the religious life and be regarded in both its aspects of advantage and disadvantage.

Marriage

Marriage plays such a large part in human affairs that it must necessarily be taken into account in treating of the religious life.

As God says in the Qur’an, “I only created jinn and men for the purpose of worshipping Me,” (Adh-Dhariyat 51:56) among the advantages of marriage is that the worshippers of God may increase in number.

Theologians have therefore laid it down as a maxim that it is better to be engaged in matrimonial duties than in supererogatory devotions.

Offspring

Another advantage of marriage is that, as the Prophet said, the prayers of children profit their parents when the latter are dead, and children who die before their parents intercede for them on the Day of Judgment.

“’When a child,” said the Prophet, “is told to enter Paradise, it weeps and says, ‘I will not enter in without my father and mother.’’’

It was narrated that Abu Hassan said: I said to Abu Hurayrah: Two of my sons have died. Can you narrate to me any hadith from the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) which will console us for our loss? He said: Yes: “Their little ones are the little ones of Paradise. When one of them meets his father – or his parents – he takes hold of his garment – or his hand – as I am taking told of the hem of your garment, and he does not let go until Allah admits him and his father to Paradise.” (Muslim)

It is related of a certain celibate saint that he once dreamt that the Judgment Day had come. The sun had approached close to the earth and people were perishing of thirst; a crowd of boys were moving about giving them water out of gold and silver vessels. But when the saint asked for water he was repulsed, and one of the boys said to him, “Not one of us here is your son.” As soon as the saint awoke he made preparations to marry.

Peace and Pleasure

Another advantage of marriage is that to sit with and be friendly to one’s wife as a relaxation for the mind after being occupied in religious duties, and after such relaxation one may return to one’s devotions with renewed zest. Thus the Prophet himself, when he found the weight of his revelations press too heavily upon him touched his wife `A’ishah and said, “Speak to me, O `A’ishah, speak to me!”

This he did that, from that familiar human touch, he might receive strength to support fresh revelations. For a similar reason he used to bid the Muezzin Bilal give the call to prayer, and sometimes he used to smell sweet perfumes. It is a well-known saying of his,  “In this world, women and perfume have been made dear to me, and my comfort has been provided in prayer.” (Ahmad and An-Nasa’i)

On one occasion `Umar asked the Prophet what were the things specially to be sought in the world. He answered, “A tongue occupied in the remembrance of God, a grateful heart, and a believing wife.”

Reward

A further advantage of marriage is that there should be someone to take care of the house, cook the food, wash the dishes, and sweep the floor, etc. If a man is busy in such work he cannot acquire learning, or carry on his business, or engage in his devotions properly. For this reason Abu Suleiman has said, “A good wife is not a blessing of this world merely, but of the next, because she provides a man leisure in which to think of the next, world”; and one of the Caliph Omar’s sayings is, “After faith, no blessing is equal to a good wife.”

Marriage has, moreover, this good in it, that to be patient with feminine peculiarities, to provide the necessaries which wives require, and to keep them in the path of the law, is a very important part of religion. The Prophet said:

“Of the dinar you spend as a contribution in Allah’s path, or to set free a slave, or as a sadaqah given to a needy, or to support your family, the one yielding the greatest reward is that which you spent on your family.” (Muslim)

Once, when Ibn Mubarak was engaged in a campaign against the infidels, one of his companions asked him, “Is any work more meritorious than religious war?” “Yes,” he replied: “to feed and clothe one’s wife and children properly.” The celebrated saint Bishr Hafi said, “It is better that a man should work for wife and children than merely for himself.”

In the Traditions it has been recorded that some sins can only be atoned for by enduring trouble for the sake of one’s family.

Concerning a certain saint it is related that his wife died and he would not marry again, though people urged him, saying it was easier to concentrate his thoughts in solitude. One night he saw in a dream the door of heaven opened and numbers of angels descending. They came near and looked upon him, and one said, “Is this that selfish wretch?” and his fellow answered, “Yes, this is he.”

The saint was too alarmed to ask whom they meant, but presently a boy passed and he asked him, “It is you they are speaking about,” replied the boy; “only up to a week ago your good works were being recorded in heaven along with those of other saints, but now they have erased your name from the roll.” Greatly disturbed in mind as soon as he awoke, he hastened to be married.

From all the above considerations it will be seen that marriage is desirable.

Drawbacks

We come now to treat of the drawbacks to marriage. One of these is that there is a danger, especially in the present time, that a man should gain a livelihood by unlawful means in order to support his family, and no amount of good works can compensate for this. The Prophet said that at the resurrection a certain man with a whole mountain-load of good works will be brought forward and stationed.

He will then be asked, “’By what means did you support your family?’ He will not be able to give a satisfactory answer, and all his good works will be cancelled, and proclamation will be made concerning him, ‘This is the man whose family have devoured all his good deeds!’”

Another drawback to marriage is this, that to treat one’s family kindly and patiently and to bring their affairs to a satisfactory issue can only be done by those who have a good disposition. There is great danger lest a man should treat his family harshly, or neglect them, and so bring sin upon himself.

The Prophet said: “He who deserts his wife and children is like a runaway slave; till he returns to them none of his fasts or prayers will be accepted by God.”

In brief, man has a lower nature, and, till he can control his own lower nature, he had better not assume the responsibility of controlling another’s. Someone asked the saint Bishr Hafi why he did not marry. “I am afraid,” he replied, “of that verse in the Qur’an,  “And for women are rights over men similar to those of men over women.” (Al-Baqarah 2:228)

Also, the cares of a family shouldn’t prevent a man from concentrating his thoughts on God and on a future life, for God has said, O you who believe! Let not your wealth and your children divert you from the remembrance of Allah. Those who do so, they are the losers.” (Al-Munafiqun 63:9)

He who thinks he can concentrate himself better on his religious duties by not marrying had better remain single, and he who fears falling into sin if he does not marry, had better do so.

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The article is excerpted from The Alchemy of Happiness by Al-Ghazzali, translated from the Hindustani by Claud Field (1909). This edition was created and published by Global Grey

©GlobalGrey 2017.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Straight Path and How to Follow It

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The thrust is that man should be just and truthful in his social relations.

God says:

Say: “Come, I shall recite what your Lord has forbidden to you”:

Do not associate anyone with Him in His divinity.

Be good to your parents.

Do not kill your children for fear of want.

We shall provide for you and for them.

Do not approach shameful deeds, whether open or secret.

Do not take life which Allah has made sacred, except in a just cause.

This He has enjoined upon you so that you may reflect.

And do not approach the property of an orphan except in the best manner until he comes of age.

And give full measure and weight with justice. We do not burden anyone beyond his capacity.

When you speak, be just, even though it be against a near relative.

And fulfill the covenant of Allah. This He has enjoined so that you may remember.

This is My way – the Straight way. Follow it then and do not follow other paths; that will deviate you from His way. This He has enjoined so that you may fear Allah.

And do not approach the property of the orphan except in the best manner until he attains his maturity, and give full measure and weight with justice- We do not impose on any soul a duty except to the extent of its ability. (Al-An`am 6:151-152)

Exploitation of the weaker sections of society is a common sight. The Qur’anic guidance for following the ‘straight way’ covers this aspect of social life as well. For the Qur’an forbids all forms of usurpation or misappropriation of an orphan’s property.

The Qur’an aims at developing such righteousness among man that any wicked thought of taking away an orphan’s belongings should not even cross one’s mind. For the Qur’an instructs that the guardian’s sole concern should be the protection and betterment of the orphan’s interest. He should look after such orphans until they come of age and are in a position to manage their own affairs.

The Islamic stance on ensuring the welfare of orphans has elicited the following tribute from a leading Western social scientist:

“One of the most commendable things which one finds in reading the Qur’an is the solicitude which Muhammad (peace be upon him) shows for the young, and especially for such as have been deprived of their natural guardians. Again and again, he insists upon kind and just treatment being accorded to children.

And working upon his words, the Muhammadan doctors have framed a system of rules concerning the appointment and duties of guardians which is most complete, and extending to the most minute details.” (Robert Roberts, Social Laws of the Quran, London, 1911)

Consciousness-based

The same Qur’anic concern for extirpating injustice and for promoting peace and cordial relations in society lies at the core of its other directives for acting with honesty and fairness in business transactions.

It goes without saying that fraudulent trade practices make man’s life miserable and breed a host of vices which tarnish man’s spiritual and moral well-being. Let it be clarified that the directive for giving full measure and weight signifies uprightness on man’s part. Included in it, by implication, is the point that man should be conscientious in all that he does. For example, he should perform his duty well and not waste time.

Punctuality in duty is as important as precision in weight and measure. As a trader is forbidden from cheating customers, an employee should faithfully serve his employer. The employer too, stands obliged to act fairly towards his employees. The Qur’anic worldview is all-inclusive.

It is not restricted to the performance of obligatory prayers on time in the prescribed manner. Rather, it seeks that the same spirit of devotion to Allah, which permeates one’s prayer, should also be reflected in every walk of life, especially in a person’s dealings with his fellow human beings.

It is not therefore surprising to note that many components of the Straight Way, as embodied in this passage, relate to man’s social life, not to devotional theology. As part of the same stance, business practices find mention in clear terms in that these affect all members of society. The Qur’an insists that these be characterized by fairness, transparency and justice.

After having prescribed this particular code of conduct and exhorted man to abide by it, failing which he will incur Allah’s wrath, the Qur’an comforts man also with an eye on bolstering his morale.

Within Capacity

It is noteworthy that at the conclusion of these commandments the Qur’an records the observation that Allah does not burden man beyond his capacity. Gifted with the numerous faculties and potentials granted to him by Allah, man can easily follow all these commands.

The Qur’an has not set man some gigantic tasks, which are beyond his capacity to accomplish. The Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and his Companions stood this test and performed admirably what was expected of them.

It is not therefore beyond our capacity to emulate them. Implicit in the above assurance is the fact that Allah will condone any lapse on man’s part in pursuing the Straight Way, as long as his intention to observe these directives is pious and sincere.

The Qur’anic exhortation to profess and practise justice at all costs is to the fore, once again, in its directive that man should be fair in his testimony. Evidently this directive is not special to the legal sphere. The thrust is that man should be just and truthful in his social relations. This point emerges on studying the above directive in conjunction with the following verses:

O Believers! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be against the rich or the poor. For Allah can best protect both. (An-Nisaa’ 4:135)

O Believers! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witnesses to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just. That is next to piety and fearing Allah. For Allah is well-acquainted with all that you do. (Al-Ma’idah 5:8)

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The article is an excerpt from Abdur Raheem Kidwai’s book “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, published by the Islamic Foundation, 2005/1426 H.

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