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I Found Islam.. “I Found the Qur’an”

Shakeel Malik shares his story of how he converted to Islam. He found a copy of the Qur’an at a Buddhist temple, and then he found the truth, and thus  was guided to Islam. It was the beginning of change.

When he was  Christian, Shakeel acknowledges, he didn’t believe in Jesus, but now as a Muslim he knows he does believe in Jesus.

Learn more about his conversion story from his own words in the video below…

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Source: MercyforMankind.net

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

How Easy Is Islam?

By Shafiur Rahman

The deen is ease. Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered

Virtue is not due to the abundance of deeds that one performs; rather it is due to it being sincerely for Allah, correct in accordance to the Sunnah.

How many times have you heard someone say practising Islam or being a ‘religious’ Muslim is difficult? Reflect on the following.

Imam Al-Bukhari in his Sahih relates the following hadith (record of the words of the Prophet, peace be upon him) in the chapter On the Deen Being Ease.

It is related from Abu Hurairah that the Messenger of Allah said:

“The deen is ease. Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered, so direct yourselves to what is right, follow a middle course, accept the good news of the reward for right action, and seek help [(o reach your goal by being constant in worshipping) in the morning, evening and some of the night.” (Al-Bukhari)

The deen is ease”

The word deen means obedience; a state of abasement and submissiveness.

In the hadith, ad-deen is referring to Islam as the means or the vehicle by which one is obedient and in a state of humble submission to Allah (exalted is He). It is synonymous with Shari`ah (Islamic law) and includes both Islam (i.e. practice) and iman (faith).

The word yusr (ease / easy) means ease, facilitation without constriction.

Ibn Abi Jamrah in his commentary of the abridged Sahih of Al-Bukhari, Bahjat Al-Nufus, highlights a number of ways the statement ‘the deen is ease’ can be understood and demonstrated. Some of them are as follows.

1- Deen here can be understood as both iman and Islam together. Iman (faith) is ‘easy’ in the sense that it is straightforward without any complexities. This is demonstrated in the hadith where the Prophet tests the slave girl to see whether or not she is a Muslim. He was satisfied by her action of simply pointing to the sky to indicate that Allah is above his creation and by her attesting to the fact that he was the Messenger of Allah.

As for the ease in Islam, the practice, this is demonstrated by the famous hadith where a person asks the Prophet about the obligations of Islam and the Prophet tells him about the five obligatory prayers, the obligatory fast of Ramadan and the obligatory zakah (charity). Each time the person asked if there was anything more than the obligatory prayer, fasting and zakah the Prophet replied that there wasn’t unless he wanted to do something extra voluntarily. While the person was leaving he said to himself: by Allah I will not increase nor decrease from that. The Prophet said he has succeeded if he is truthful.

2- The ease here could be referring to what you have been given as a deen compared to the previous nations and the fact that you have only been obligated with that which you have the capacity to do. Allah has removed the burdens that were in the Shari`ah of the previous nations from this Ummah (Muslim community). For instance, the process of repentance for this Ummah is made by regret, giving up the sin and seeking forgiveness whereas for some previous nations repentance was through capital punishment (for some sins).

Another example is that unlawful things for us have been made lawful in times of necessity whereas this was not the case for previous nations. Also the fact that Allah has only burdened us with obligations that we have the physical and intellectual capacity to fulfill, for if he did burden us with something beyond our capacity, it still would have been acceptable as He is All Wise and the Omnipotent Whose decisions none can overturn. Therefore it is from His favour and bounty that He has forgiven us and only made us responsible according to our capacity. As He says in the Qur’an: “Allah does not burden the soul beyond its capacity”. (Al-Baqarah 2:286)

Therefore the one who is made responsible for that which one had the capacity to bear then that is from ease and not from hardship.

3- The ease here could be that religion is easy for the one who has knowledge of the religion and it is difficult for the one that is ignorant of the religion.

4- The ease referred to here could be the fact that the legal texts that imply an obligation without any room for other interpretations are few in number. The vast majority of legal texts are open to different interpretations (that lead to more than one valid legal option) and therefore this is ease and flexibility from the Master to His servants.

5- The ease referred to here could be to shorten one’s hopes, because shortening one’s hopes is amongst the causes that assist one in the religion so that the religion becomes easy. This is due to the fact that when one’s hopes are shortened covetousness is reduced, zuhd (detachment from unnecessary things) becomes easy and performing good deeds becomes light. This is similar to what the Prophet mentioned: “When one of you wakes up in the morning, do not expect (to live) till the evening and when one of you goes to sleep in the evening do not expect (to live) till the morning”.

6- The ease referred to here could be to perform good deeds in reverence to the rights due to Allah since the religion belongs completely to Allah. When one does this the religion becomes easy due to the sweetness of obedience, performing deeds become effortless, and in fact, one is nourished by the deeds performed for the sake of Allah.

“Whoever makes the deen too hard for himself will be overpowered (…)”

Ibn Hajar says that it means that whoever overburdens himself by excess in performing religious deeds without being gentle (on himself) will be incapacitated (to continue), cut off and therefore overpowered.

Ibn Hajar cites Ibn Munir as saying: ‘… this hadith contains knowledge from the emblems of prophethood. Indeed we have seen and people before us have seen that everyone who goes to extremes in the religion is cut off (from continuity). The intended meaning in the hadith is not to stop a person trying to perfect their acts of worship, for that is something praiseworthy, rather it is warning against the type of excess that leads to boredom, or against excess in supererogatory acts that leads to forsaking that which is more recommended, or that which leads to the performance of an obligation outside of its designated time.

The example of the aforementioned is if someone prayed the whole night fighting off sleep until sleep overtook him in the last part of the night whereby he slept past the Fajr (Dawn) Prayer in jama`ah (congregation) or past the best time for Fajr prayer or past sunrise after the designated time for Fajr prayer”.

Imam Ahmed narrates: “You will not attain this (deen) by excessiveness and the best of your deen is ease”.

“(…) so direct yourselves to what is right, follow a middle course, (…)”

Ibn Hajar says fasadidu (which is translated here as direct yourselves to what is right) means sticking to as-sadad (which is correct without excess or deficiency). The lexicographers say as-sadad means balance/moderation (tawasut) in actions.

Ibn Rajab says at-tawasut (balance) in religious deeds is to not fall short of whatever one has been commanded to do and to not burden oneself with that which is beyond one’s capacity.

Ibn Rajab also says about the word qaribu (translated here as follow a middle course) that it carries the same or similar meaning to as-sadad. Ibn Hajar says it means if you cannot achieve the ideal then do your best to attain that which is as close to the ideal.

“(…) accept the good news of the reward for right action (…)”

Ibn Hajar says it means to accept glad tidings of the reward for continuous action even if it is small. Meaning the glad tidings is for someone who cannot perform deeds to the ideal and that he will not lose any reward if it was not due to his intentional shortcomings. The object of the glad tidings is the reward, however the actual word itself (reward) is omitted in the hadith to induce a sense of veneration and magnificence towards the reward.

Ibn Rajab says it means to convey glad tidings to the one who traverses the path of obedience to Allah (exalted is He) through moderation, consistency and balance for he is the one who reaches the destination.

Indeed the path of moderation and balance is more virtuous than other paths, so the one who travels this path is given glad tidings. For, indeed moderation in adhering to the path of Sunnah (prophetic tradition) is better than exerting great effort in other paths. The best guidance is the guidance of Muhammad so whoever follows his path is closer to Allah than anyone else.

Ibn Rajab continues to explain that virtue is not due to the abundance of deeds that one performs; rather it is due to it being sincerely for Allah, it being correct in accordance to the Sunnah, and by the abundance of knowledge and actions of the heart. So the one who is more knowledgeable about Allah, His religion, His laws and His Shari`ah (religious law), and more fearful of Him, more loving of Him, and has more hope in Him is more virtuous than the one who is not in this state even if the latter performs more physical deeds than the former.

That is why some of the predecessors used to say that Abu Bakr (may God be please with him) did not excel others by much fasting or salah (prayer) but rather it was due to something deeply embedded in his heart. Some of them said the thing that was in his heart by which he excelled others was deep love for Allah and His Messenger and sincere counsel for Allah’s slaves.

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Source: suhaibwebb.com.

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The Straight Path & Life’s Inevitable Change

the greatest constant in my life has been my faith in Allah

If I stop moving in such a dynamic world, I will wake up suddenly one day to find that I have been left behind all alone.

 

In my prayers, I am constantly beseeching Allah with the words: “Guide us to the straight path.” Why, then, would I not see any changes in my personality?

Change, after all, is how we learn to respond correctly to new developments. It is how we move away from blind following and dependence on others towards independent thinking. It is the natural response to a world which is, by its very nature, in a perpetual state of change.

Religion, in its essence, is constant. However, our human interpretations and opinions are subject to reassessment. Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) used to beseech Allah with the words: “You Who turn our hearts, make my heart constant in Your faith.” However, he would also make the following supplication: “Guide me to the truth in those matters wherein people have differed.”

The circumstances the first Muslims faced when they were in Makkah were different from those they found when the emigrated to Madinah. The Prophet’s era was different from the era of the rightly guided Caliphs that followed. If we consider the Islamic legal opinions of the great jurist Ash-Shafi`i, we find that the rulings he formulated in Iraq were quite different than those he later codified in Egypt. Ibn Taymiyah, likewise, changed his views many times throughout his life.

In Islamic Law, commands take precedence over prohibitions, mercy takes precedence over strictness, and winning hearts takes precedence over deterrence. In my personal life, I prefer to judge and criticize myself before judging others. I like to discover my own faults instead of seeking out the faults of those around me.

The sky changes by the movement of its clouds. The rivers change through the flowing of their waters. The earth changes in its topography. Every day, the sun sets at a different point on the horizon. If I stop moving in such a dynamic world, I will wake up suddenly one day to find that I have been left behind all alone.

I spent five years secluded from the influence of society. This gave me freedom; the freedom to escape from the narrowness of circumstances to a broader outlook. It gave me renewed life and allowed me to better appreciate the good in others. When I came back into society, I found that a sector of society had moved towards an aggressive attitude. I had to make my stance against their behavior clear, even though it meant losing their favorable opinion of me.

In the Qur’an, we read where Moses (peace be upon him) asked Khidr: “Might I follow you so that you can teach me the wisdom which has been taught to you?” However, who has ever heard someone ask: “Might I follow you so that you can obey me?” This is inconceivable. My freedom is my most precious possession. Freedom does not like being curtailed, whether by a leader or by a follower. I must keep on moving, even if it means I will stumble over and over again. I just have to try and pick myself up every time as quickly as I can.

I am proud that the greatest constant in my life has been my faith in Allah, my deep love for Him and my positive expectations of His providence. I am able to forget my worries, pain and suffering when I bow myself before Him in prayer.

Let me take an example from my life. In my youth, I had unquestioningly followed some of the leading scholars in what was then a commonly-held opinion that Islam prohibited photography except in cases of necessity. I understood that the Prophet (peace be upon him) had cursed the maker of images, and consequently I could not fathom how pictures might be used as a means to call people to Allah.

Now, due to changing circumstances, you hardly find anyone who says Islam prohibits photography. This change did not take place on account of new research, but rather due to changing circumstances in the world. A courageous scholar is one who opens doors that can be opened, rather than waiting for others to break those doors down.

Indeed, I have changed a lot over the years, as well I should. If I was still saying in my forties what I used to say when I was twenty, that would mean I had spent twenty years of my life in vain.

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Source: islamtoday.com.

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In Islam, What Comes First?

balance in life

The beauty of Islam is that it is balanced, and attending to the rights of others on us is prescribed as is attending the rights of Allah.

 

It’s popular today for people to talk about balance; achieving balance between all their aspirations and obligations so they don’t fail in either.

Abu Hurairah (may Allah be pleased with him) reported:

“The Prophet (peace be upon him) said, “The religion (of Islam) is easy, and whoever makes the religion a rigor, it will overpower him. So, follow a middle course (in worship); if you can’t do this, do something near to it and give glad tidings and seek help (of Allah) at morn and at dusk and some part of night”. (Al-Bukhari)

Following a middle course is what balance means. Islam does not mean that we observe only our spiritual obligations and totally neglect our worldly lives. We live in this world, while striving for the next world, so we need to be aware of the rights that others have over us; the rights of our Lord, the rights of our families, the rights of our bodies, and respect those rights.

In the seerah (biography of the prophet) class I took a couple months ago, we learned a little bit about Prophet Abraham (peace be upon him), and were able to draw a lesson about balance from it. In fact, we can learn priorities from his story in the Qur’an. First we can look at people today and see what their priorities tend to be; self first, then family, and then religion. Right?

Sometimes people even say “number one” when talking about themselves, indicating that even the society understands that a person prioritizes himself above all, and then he might place his family. Maybe if the person is married or children, these goals will be intertwined, but last of all comes the religion, and obligations before God.

In Islam, the priorities are that the deen (religion) comes first, that is, the worship of Allah. Then comes families, followed by our physical needs. You can look at the du`a’ made by Abraham in the Qur’an:

And (remember) when Ibrahim (Abraham) said: “O my Lord! Make this city (Makkah) one of peace and security, and keep me and my sons away from worshipping idols. (Ibrahim 14:35)

O my Lord! They have indeed led astray many among mankind. But whoso follows me, he verily is of me. And whoso disobeys me, still You are indeed Oft-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Ibrahim 14:36)

O our Lord! I have made some of my offspring to dwell in an uncultivable valley by Your Sacred House (the Ka`bah); in order, O our Lord, that they may establish regular Prayer, so fill some hearts among men with love towards them, and (O Allah) provide them with fruits so that they may give thanks. (Ibrahim 14:37)

There is another similar du`a’ in Surat al-Baqarah:

And remember Abraham said: “My Lord, make this a city of peace, and feed its people with fruits,-such of them as believe in Allah and the Last Day.” He said: “(Yea), and such as reject faith,-for a while will I grant them their pleasure, but will soon drive them to the torment of Fire,- an evil destination (indeed)!”

And remember Abraham and Isma`il raised the foundations of the House (with this prayer): “Our Lord! Accept (this service) from us: For You are the All-Hearing, the All-knowing.

“Our Lord! make of us Muslims, bowing to You, and of our progeny a people Muslim, bowing to Thy (will); and show us our place for the celebration of (due) rites; and turn unto us (in mercy); for You are the Oft-Returning, Most Merciful.” (Al-Baqarah 2:126-129)

This is the du`a’ made when Abraham was leaving his wife and child in the valley. It’s interesting because the request for provision is mentioned before belief, but Abraham is actually only requesting the provision for those who believe in the first place.

The du`a’ quoted above is after Ishmael has grown up and Abraham has visited him again in Makkah. (Chronology determined by the statement “make this a safe city” vs. “make this city safe,” a subtle difference implying that in the latter case the city has been established.) The city has been established and so Abraham requests that he and his progeny be protected from shirk.

So we can get an idea for priorities here, but also understand that everything needs to be in balance.

To close, I will quote a statement from the instructor of that seminar on the seerah, that loosely paraphrases a hadith recorded by Ibn Majah, At-Tabarani, and Al-Bayhaqi, which can be read here.

“Whoever’s concern is the dunya (worldly life), Allah will make his affairs disperse and will put poverty between his eyes. And nothing will come from the dunya except what Allah has written for him. But whoever’s concern is the hereafter, Allah will gather all his affairs, put barakah (blessing) in his time, he can be focused–and will enrich his heart, that he will feel rich, content and not poor, and the dunya will come whether looking for it or not.”

So the point of this post is that we need to have balance in our daily lives, which comes from prioritizing our efforts for the Hereafter. And the beauty of Islam is that it is balanced, and attending to the rights of others on us is prescribed as is attending the rights of Allah.

If there are any mistakes in this post, they are my own, and I pray that someone will correct them.

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Source: ibnatalhidayahblogspot.

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Believers Make Mistakes, But…

 

clouds_sky_nature

Muslims overthrow their discomfort and anxieties as a result of their mistakes by turning to Allah and acting according to the moral values of the Qur’an.

No one wants  to make a mistake and do himself or others  mischief. However, making mistakes is an important part of our trial in the life of this world. Allah created our trial in the life of this world in this way. Anyone can make a mistake but what is important is that he repents after his mistake and strive not to repeat this mistake.

Allah reveals in the verses of the Qur’an that human beings are weak creatures who can forget and be mistaken. A person can make a mistake when he does not think something through, ignores something, does not take the necessary precautions, is overwhelmed by his weak points, forgets or is mistaken. This is very natural.

However the important thing is how the person reacts after this, rather than the mistake itself. However big the mistake is, as soon as the person decides to resign himself and begins to show the attitude hoped to please Allah, that mistake disappears, by Allah’s leave. Almighty Allah reveals as such in Surat Aal `Imran:

Those who, when they act indecently or wrong themselves, remember Allah and ask forgiveness for their bad actions (and who can forgive bad actions except Allah?) and do not knowingly persist in what they were doing. (Aal ‘Imran 3:135)

Allah Creates Everything We Do

Everything a person lives throughout his or her life, everything they do, every situation they face, all of them are created by Allah with all of the pros and cons. In the verses it is revealed that not even a single leaf falls without the knowledge of Allah:

And with Him are the keys of the Invisible. None but He knows them. And He knows what is in the land and the sea. Not a leaf falls but He knows it, not a grain amid the darkness of the earth, naught of wet or dry but (it is noted) in a clear record. (Al-An`am 6:59)

It is also revealed “Everything they did is in the Books. Everything is recorded, big or small.” (Al-Qamar 54:52-53)

This means that the person makes that mistake because Allah wills him to do so; it is in his destiny to make that mistake. When he acts according to the Qur’an, something good will happen after that mistake.

For example, a person may break a vase when walking by it because he is not careful enough or does not look ahead. Or he can bump into a dinner plate prepared with great effort and knock it off a table. He may cause the people waiting for him to delay their jobs because he fell asleep.

Now in all these there is a variety of reasons created by Allah. Allah is the One Who breaks that object. Maybe that object would have caused a conflict between its owners or broken in a dangerous way that would harm someone. Maybe Allah will make a much more beautiful one to be purchased instead.

In the same way, Allah is the One Who makes the food spill on the floor. Maybe there is an bad ingredient inside that food and it would have made someone ill. Maybe that food would have prevented that person from eating something healthier.

Also Allah is the One Who does not wake a person who is late for a job because he fell asleep because maybe his friends waiting for him need to be late as well. Maybe this will protect them from some danger or maybe bring the means to carry out a more important job.

If one does not realize these facts, when he makes a mistake he would panic and feel anxiety and sorrow. He would feet unease and dismay. His sadness would increase even because of the effect of this situation on other people and his troubles increase day by day.

However, it is not in line with the moral values of the Qur’an to feel sad, dismay and troubled because of a mistake, which took place in his destiny by Allah’s will.

Muslims overthrow their discomfort and anxieties as a result of their mistakes again by turning to Allah and acting according to the moral values of the Qur’an. They do not fall into depression like people who do not live by the morality of religion. They do not feel sadness, sorrow or hopelessness by evaluating their mistakes with an emotional state of mind. They only experience a very deep and strong sense of regret.

However this is not an evil kind of regret; it is a Muslim kind of regret because this feeling of regret helps them hold onto the Qur’an even more strongly. They pray to Allah even more deeply. Their religious enthusiasm, determination to live by the moral values of the Qur’an, submission to Allah, faith in the hereafter and fear of Allah increase tremendously.

They take very sincere decisions to become better in every way and become more enthusiastic and energetic by striving more in this way. They know that even if they could take the time back, they would still make the same mistakes. When they criticize themselves and feel regret for their actions, they do not forget that all things have occurred according to destiny. Therefore they do not “live in a sense of guilt” as irreligious people do:

Everything they did is in the Books. Everything is recorded, big or small. (Al-Qamar 54:52-53)

It is impossible to claim that a person will never make any mistakes throughout his life and is complete and flawless because human beings are created as weak creatures who can make mistakes. Our Almighty Lord is the One Who is forgiving and accepts repentance.

Therefore, a believer needs to take lessons from the mistakes he made knowingly or  unknowingly or because he followed his inner self. What he needs to do is to regret it and follow the truth and submit to our Lord and strive not to repeat that mistake. Of course he needs to be very careful about not making any mistakes and commit any further sins and protecting the boundaries of our Lord.

But even if he makes a mistake it is a very good quality of faith to ask for forgiveness from Allah. The names of Allah as “The Acceptor of Repentance” (At-Tawwab), “The All-Forgiving” (Al-Ghaffar), “The All-Merciful” (Ar-Rahman) are manifested on the believers who regret their mistakes, ask for forgiveness and turn to Allah.

Believers Take Lessons from Their Mistakes

As a result of their faith and fear of Allah, mistakes help believers become more clean morally. Maybe they make a mistake on one thing, but they remember that mistake all their lives and avoid making a similar mistake by taking lessons from it.

However, Allah created human beings especially in a character so that they can use their conscience, feel regret and repent, turn to Him and ask for His forgiveness and take decisions not to repeat that mistake.

A person must do all he can not to make a mistake; and strive to act in a very moral way by using his mind, will and conscience to the end. But when there is a mistake, he needs to act in the way as described in the Qur’an.

If that mistake has helped the person to better understand his weakness in the face of Allah’s infinite power and his need for Allah, then this shows that person’s sincere faith and fear of Allah. If he regrets  his mistake and fears to be held responsible in the Day of Judgment, and if he submits to Allah’s mercy and forgiveness, then he is abiding by the moral values of the Qur’an by Allah’s leave.

Such a person prays sincerely so Allah accepts his repentance and forgives him. He promises to Allah with a true heart not to repeat that mistake. In one verse, our Lord heralds that He will accept the repentance of his sincere servants:

But if anyone makes repentance after his wrongdoing and puts things right, Allah will turn towards him. Allah is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Al-Ma’idah 5:39)

The Qur’an is the only measure for believers, so their approach to a person who makes a mistake is always in line with the moral values of the Qur’an.

A believer knows that every person is a human being who is weak and who can make a mistake easily. He does not forget that Allah is the One Who creates everything – by Allah’s leave – and he can distinguish a sincere mistake from a deliberate one. When a person is sincere, his love or respect would not change because of a single mistake – by Allah’s leave.

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Source: harunyahya.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

Islam: An Easygoing Outlook on Life

 

nature sunset

Clemency and an easygoing nature should be the spirit of our personal conduct and our social interactions.

Religion is a human nature. Allah created religious awareness as a component of the human being. Our very natures recognize essential moral values. This is what makes those values universal. When a person acquires religious knowledge, he or she discovers something about his or her inner self, something that was always there.

As for taking things in an easygoing manner, this leaves people with fertile ground for their innate upright natures to grow and develop naturally. It gives people leave to conduct their own affairs as long as they do not transgress against the dictates of the Islamic faith or the rights of other people.

There is an ethical basis which all human beings share, and which Islam came to perfect and bring into sharper relief. Islam did not come to strip people of their innate ethical awareness or overturn it. Rather, it came to confirm and strengthen it.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) once mentioned to his followers a covenant that the Arabs had concluded which had brought peace to their clans. He said that if he were ever invited to enter into such a treaty, he would do so. The treaty he spoke about had taken place before the advent of Islam.

It was a treaty which brought the people together at the same table to affirm their rights and their human dignity, and which put an end to the endemic warfare that they had been suffering from and that was consuming their lives and wealth. Though the treaty took place before Islam, it was nevertheless in accordance with the innate moral sentiments that all human beings acknowledge. We all know that it is better to learn from one another and prosper. We all agree that hatred, conflict, and rancor are hated by Allah and condemned by mankind.

Clemency and flexibility in religious matters restore to people a healthy outlook, allowing them to live their faith in a way that is genuine and that accords with the nature that Allah has placed within them. It makes religion easy on the people, the way Allah intended it to be.

“Once, a desert-dweller came to the Prophet complaining that Mu`adh prolonged the prayer too much. The Prophet asked the desert-dweller: “What do you say in prayer?”

He answered: “When I offer my Tashahhud (when one sits down after the last prostration), I say: ‘O Allah! I ask You for Paradise and seek refuge with You from the Fire.’ As for me, I am not good at droning on the way you and Mu`adh do.”

The Prophet said to him: “It is basically these things that we drone on about.” (Abu Dawud and Ahmad)

We can see that the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not impose upon the man to memorize what was too difficult for him. He took into account the man’s abilities. Maybe he was an old man, or had a weak memory, or was poorly brought up.

It is significant that the Prophet did not interrogate the desert-dweller about his intentions. No doubt, the word the desert-dweller used to describe the prayer of Mu`adh – and of the Prophet himself – was quite unflattering and could easily have been construed as an insult. The Prophet did not take offence.

Instead, he accepted the desert-dweller’s coarse and simple statement: “I am not good at droning on the way you and Mu`adh do” and answered gently: “It is basically these things that we drone on about.” With this answer, he comforted the desert-dweller and reassured him that the simple words he was using in his prayers were essentially what Mu`adh was saying – though maybe Mu`adh was using words that the desert-dweller was unable to understand.

Indeed, the desert-dweller was essentially making the supplication of all the Prophets – a supplication for Paradise and to be spared from Hell.

Allah says:

Lo! They used to vie one with the other in good deeds, and they cried unto Us in longing and in fear, and were submissive unto Us. (Al-Anbiyaa’ 21:90)

Clemency and an easygoing nature should be the spirit of our personal conduct and our social interactions. This attests to the truth that our innate, easygoing religious awareness is better than imposing difficulties in religion. It is also farther away from the dangers of pretentiousness, conceitedness, and showing-off.

We find that most of the people who preoccupy themselves with hair-splitting debates based in complex logic and semantic differences, they contribute nothing of consequence. They are like people fighting over possession of a dry well or scrambling to reach a mirage. They have left behind the life of normal people and turned their attentions to superficial disputes. They are the last people to bring benefit to others, but the first to criticize and cause disputations. This is indeed, blameworthy ostentation.

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Source: islamtoday.com.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Believers: The Qur’anic Model

The Qur'an

According to the Qur’an, a believer is by definition someone who stands out for his good deeds.

Successful are the believers. Those who humble themselves in prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are keen on acts of charity; who guard their private parts except with their wives and those who their right hands own. In their case they are free from blame. But those who seek beyond that, they are transgressors. (The believers are) those who faithfully observe their trusts and covenants, those who guard their prayers. They are the inheritors of Paradise. They shall dwell in it (forever). (Al-Mu’minun 23:1-11)

It goes without saying that the Qur’an is the Book of guidance par excellence, instructing man how to live his life. As part of its grand plan of instruction, the Qur’an spells out concisely the definition and outstanding features of believers, which are embodied most clearly in verses 1-11 of Surat Al-Mu’minun.

Significantly enough, the surah itself is entitled Al-Mu’minun (Believers) and it opens with the passage under discussion here. As to the importance and excellence of these particular verses the following hadiths further clarify the point.

It is reported on `Umar’s authority in the “Musnad of Imam Ahmad” that once after receiving a fresh part of divine revelation, the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) made the following supplication in the presence of those Companions sitting around him:

“O Lord, grant us increase and do not afflict us with decrease. Exalt us and do not abase us. Bestow upon us and do not deprive us. Grant us superiority over others and do not deprive us. Grant us superiority over others and do not make others superior to us. Be pleased with us and bless us with Your pleasure.”

He then added:

“I have just now received such verses that whoever acts upon these will go straight to Paradise.”

He then recited this passage from Surat Al-Mu’minun which had then been revealed to him. More importantly, the following hadith throws ample light on the significance of the passage.

On being requested to describe the Prophet’s conduct, which would serve as a model for subsequent generations to emulate, ‘A’ishah, the Prophet’s wife, replied that his conduct exemplified what is stated theoretically in the Qur’an: “His character was that of the Qur’an.” (Ahmad, Muslim and Abu Dawud) . To illustrate her point further, she recited these verses of Surat Al-Mu’minun. (Kitab At-Tafsir, An-Nasa’i’s Sunan)

On studying these verses one can form a clear idea of the Qur’anic model of believers. This passage describes both their sound beliefs and right conduct. The first and foremost point is that the Qur’an accords equal importance to both creed and deed. Both of these should be sound and wedded to the goal of pleasing Allah.

Belief which is not supported by right conduct and by the same token, good deeds which are lacking firm belief in the articles of faith prescribed by the Qur’an, are not acceptable.

According to the Qur’an, a believer is by definition someone who stands out for his good deeds. This amalgam of sound beliefs and right conduct alone ensures success in this world, and more particularly, in the everlasting Afterlife. The Qur’an assures abiding success to those who display the seven characteristics as outlined in this passage.

Another amazing feature of this passage is that it covers the entire gamut of both individual and collective life. Furthermore, it takes into account major social, sexual, moral, economic and spiritual activities. This concise passage thus instructs man in all the important spheres of life, enabling him to profess and practice life as a believer. Implicit in it is also the truth that the profession of Qur’anic beliefs invests man with excellent conduct and perfect morals and manners.

The connection between belief and conduct is logical, rather inevitable. Any flaw in one’s conduct betrays some weakness in one’s faith. Otherwise, in the scheme of things ordained by Allah, sound beliefs must result in excellent conduct.

This explains why the passage opens with the assertion that believers are destined to achieve success. This Qur’anic proclamation does not hinge on any partisanship or jingoism. It rather states the law of nature that true believers, in view of their perfect conduct, which is expected of them, are bound to attain success.

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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.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Believers: The Qur’anic Model (2/2)

prayer

For believers, belief and prayer infuse into them such a sharp and keen sense of responsibility and accountability that nothing vain distracts them.

The Believers: The Qur’anic Model (Part 1)

Successful are the believers. Those who humble themselves in prayers; who avoid vain talk; who are keen on acts of charity; who guard their private parts except with their wives and those who their right hands own. In their case they are free from blame. But those who seek beyond that, they are transgressors. (The believers are) those who faithfully observe their trusts and covenants, those who guard their prayers. They are the inheritors of Paradise. They shall dwell in it (forever). (Al-Mu’minun 23:1-11)

It emerges that believers are those who are characterized by, at least, seven features. Belief should imbue them with these seven outstanding traits, observable in their individual and collective life. As already hinted at, these encompass a wide range of human activities. Significantly enough, this account commences and concludes with a pointed reference to salah (prayer).

Believers are distinct in terms of their total devotion to prayer. It forms the very pivot of their existence. At one level, prayer signifies their complete surrender to their Creator, their willingness to lead life in accordance with His directives and their concern for their moral and spiritual sustenance and growth.

On the singular importance of prayer, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) is on record as saying, as reported by Anas: “Prayer is the joy of my eye.” (Ahmad and An-Nasa’i)

Not only do believers offer prayer, they do so with the utmost humility. In other words, humbleness towards their Lord and towards fellow human beings is their mark of distinction. Prayer moulds them into better human beings who are considerate and conscientious. The Qur’anic expression khushu` literally means humbleness.

This should characterize the believers’ prayer, as is emphasized in several hadiths. Outwardly they should appear humble towards Allah while offering prayers.

Moreover, this quality should pervade their hearts. At one level, it underscores their full attention and devotion to various postures within prayer, avoiding any contact with or interest in anything outside prayer while so engaged.

In the broader context, however, it points to turning to Allah in all matters of life. Only His pleasure engages them and on a constant and consistent basis. It also ensures their utmost sincerity. It trains them to display total commitment to any task which they undertake.

Since only such acts catch their attention which seek to please God, their mindset and their entire way of life are God-oriented. And this is what makes their lives and of others in their company full of peace and cordiality.

As a result of their engagement with prayer, the second feature special to believers is their aversion to anything vain. Whatever does not contribute positively to their moral and spiritual development and to the betterment of the society which they erect, does not evoke their interest.

The Qur’anic expression employed, taqwa, is pregnant with meaning. Apart from ruling out evil in any form, it strikes a fatal blow to all such pursuits which have only entertainment value.

For believers, belief and prayer infuse into them such a sharp and keen sense of responsibility and accountability that nothing vain distracts them. The Qur’an does not negate the point that the world or human society is or can be altogether free from vanities. Believers, however, make a point of passing it by.

Almost the same truth is reiterated in Surat al-Furqan:

Those who witness no falsehood, and, if they pass by futility, they pass by it with honorable (avoidance). (Al-Furqan 25:72)

In sum, prayer turns them into such decent and God-conscious people that they disregard everything which may distract them from God’s way. Avoidance of vain talk and fruitless pursuits is thus their second prominent feature. The importance of this may be appreciated best in the larger social context. If such restraint is observed, it makes social life immensely meaningful and genuinely rewarding.

Another trait of believers is their constant and consistent engagement with acts of charity. This may obviously refer to their hearty payment of the obligatory zakah. Or it may be construed in a general, wider sense of contributing to all such projects which aim at ameliorating the condition of the poor and the underprivileged. Throughout, their main concern is to purify themselves and attain the heights of self-development. Included therein is the development of their morals and manners and the purification of their wealth.

Qur'an

Whenever they pledge a trust or are assigned with some responsibility they conduct themselves honorably.

In turn, it renders them as devout individuals who care for their fellow human beings and the wider community. Not only do they make a point of cheerfully paying the compulsory zakah, they also participate wholeheartedly in all such projects which bring peace and joy to members of their society.

Thus the quality of both individual and collective life is enhanced. A way of life with abundant charity promotes the virtues of hospitality and generosity, creates an atmosphere conducive to cordial social relations and a sense of fraternity and helps ease the tensions arising out of class and financial distinctions. Believers thus create a society which is largely free from inner conflicts and dissensions.

That believers guard their private parts is, once again, a virtue of immense value for both their individual life and for society as a whole.

Studied together with the next verse which clarifies that they should only have sexual relations with their wives and the women whom they legitimately possess brings to the fore the healthy Islamic stance on sexual conduct.

Islam recognizes sex like any other natural function of men and women. It does not prescribe abstinence from sex as a prerequisite for spirituality. Nor does it regard sex as something dirty or shameful.

The significance of this Qur’anic stance comes out more clearly when one compares it with the Christian attitude. In Christianity, sex even within wedlock is seen as an obstacle to achieving salvation. (For details see the Bible: Mt. 22:30 and I Cor. 7:32-34.)

Islam strikes a balance in terms of sanctioning sexual ties within marriage on the one hand and on the other, condemning all forms of extra-marital sex as a cardinal sin which incurs God’s wrath. In the passage under discussion believers are projected as men and women with this balanced, moderate approach towards sex.

Under the sobering influence of Islamic teachings in general and of prayer in particular, believers display exemplary restraint in satisfying their natural sexual urges. In so doing, they do not exceed limits. In essence, a note of moderation permeates the conduct of believers, be it with regard to sex or any other human activity.

The next two traits of believers relate to transactions and their sociocultural, moral and economic life. Whenever they pledge a trust or are assigned with some responsibility they conduct themselves honorably.

Being ever-conscious of their trust to God, it is not surprising to find them so particular about discharging their obligations. Their honesty and fair dealings in monetary and contractual matters contributes to producing and sustaining cordial, friendly social relations, characterized by mutual trust, welfare and sincerity. As a result, the life enjoyed by them is peaceful and fulfilling.

Anxiety or the constant threat of betrayal and the rat race in a cut-throat world does not haunt them. On the contrary, their community life is imbued with acts of charity, sexual restraint, good will and fellow-feeling.

Closely related to honoring trusts is the virtue of keeping promises, which also characterizes believers. They are ever true to their word to their Creator and to fellow human beings in terms of fulfilling the duties which they owe to God and to their social contacts, starting with familial ties and extending to wider community roles.

In so doing, they sacrifice their self-interest. Rather, they lead a life full of self-abnegation and altruism.

It goes without saying that such an attitude cements and reinforces strong family and community relations, which become marked by trust, love and understanding.

In his sermons addressed to the Companions during his Prophetic career the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) made a point of exhorting believers to keep their trusts and promises. He made it plain that one without this virtue cannot be taken as a believer.

This Qur’anic account, mainly of the conduct of believers in their individual and collective life, is rounded off with a pointed reference to their religious observance. They are particular about offering prayer on time and do not miss it. While at the beginning of the passage humility in prayer is mentioned, the concluding note speaks of punctuality and keenness in offering prayer.

They are so diligent in the performance of this duty that they do not miss out any of its components. More significantly, they try their level best to internalize the essence and spirit of prayer in their conduct, as a result of which they grow into perfect human beings. Not only do they observe their religious obligations, they also acquit themselves well of their social role, as a responsible, faithful members of their community.

Believers possessing these traits are promised the inheritance of Paradise, the highest reward imaginable for man. They deserve this in view of their achieving the standard expected of them by God. In essence, the Qur’anic passage holds out a mirror for us to soul-search and a model to emulate.

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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.

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Fulfillment of Promise: The Muslim’s Conduct

An essential Part of a Muslim’s Conduct

Fulfillment of Promise: The Muslim’s Conduct

No promise and covenant is proper and correct except in rightful matters.

When a Muslim undertakes a thing, he should respect the undertaking. When he enters into any contract he should honor it till the last.

This is the demand of the faith that when a man talks of any enterprise, he should have the intention of taking it to completion, like the water which does not rest till it flows down to the lower level. He should be known among the people as a man of reliable promises, and there should be no fear of any breach of promises or of any dubious dealings from him.

Fulfillment of the promise is necessary. Similarly when an oath is taken, it should be redeemed. But this fulfillment of promise or the redeeming of the oath and pledges is necessary when the dealing is legitimate and concerns truth, otherwise honoring the promise in connection with something sinful and disobedience to Allah has no value, and there is no importance of oath in sin.

Allah’s Messenger has said:

“If someone has taken an oath, but saw an aspect of goodness in another thing, he may break his oath and pay compensation (atonement), and should perform the act which is better and has goodness.” (Muslim)

It is not proper for a man to insist on redeeming the oath. On such occasions it is better to break the oath. In a hadith it is stated:

“It is sinful for a man among you to go to his wife with his oath (unredeemed) compared to his paying the compensation (atoning) which He has fixed for breaking the oath.” (Al-Bukhari)

Covenant with Allah

For this reasons no promise and covenant is proper and correct except in rightful matters. When a man has promised to do a certain good thing, then he should try his best to fulfill it, as long as it appears good to him. He should very well know that he should stick to manly talk, faith and belief. There is no room in this for breach of promises or doubts and hesitation.

Anas ibn Malik says that his uncle Anas ibn Nadar could not take part in the Battle of Badr, and he said to the Prophet: “O Messenger of Allah! In the first battle that you fought with the polytheists I could not take part. If Allah kept me with the Prophet then they will definitely see my achievements in the second battle against the polytheists.”

When in the Battle of Uhud, there was fierce fighting and the Muslims were retreating. He prayed to Allah: “O Allah! I ask your pardon for the mistake that they have committed, and I declare myself innocent of the transgression of the polytheists”.

Saying this he rushed into the battle. In the way he met Sa`d ibn Mu`adh whom he said: “O Sa`d ibn Mu`adh! By the God of Nadar, Proceed towards Paradise. I smell its fragrance , in the valley of Uhad.”

Sa`d said: “O Messenger of Allah! The love for martyrdom, which he showed, cannot be expressed. Then he advanced.”

Anas says that we found more than eighty wounds on his body, which were caused by swords, the points of lances and the shower of arrows. The polytheists had disfigured his body and it was difficult to identify him. With great difficulty his sister identified him with the help of a mole on his fingers.

Anas says that he thinks that the following verses were revealed about him or about persons like him:

Among the believers are men who have been true to their covenant with Allah; of them some have completed their vow to (the extreme), and some (still) wait; but they have never changed (their determination) in the least. (Al-Ahzab 33:23)

The Requirements

Fulfillment of promises depends on two essential factors: memory and determination. With these two things, fulfilling one’s promises would be easy. Allah had taken a promise from Adam that he would not go near the forbidden tree, but Adam forgot the promise within a few days. He became a prey to weakness and broke his promise:

We had already beforehand taken the covenant of Adam, but he forgot,. and We found on his part no firm resolve. (Ta-Ha 22:115)

It shows that deficiency in memory and weakness of determination are two obstructions, which come in the way of performance of duty. And this is a strange thing that man, being overwhelmed by the hardships of the times, various difficulties and different pressing problems forgets the open and clear realities. To him the clear figures appear blurred, and the realities which are as striking as the light of the sun disappear from his sight.

There the necessity of a reminder becomes very pressing, to overcome the negligence and 3

forgetfulness, and to keep this important thing before men’s eyes. There are a number of verses of the Qur’an which were revealed for safeguarding the memory:

Follow the revelation given to you from your Lord, and follow not, as friends or protectors, other than Him. Little it is you remember of admonition. (Al-A`araf 7:3)

This is the way of your Lord, leading straight; We have detailed the signs for those who receive admonition. (Al-An`am 6:126)

And the raiment of righteousness-that is the best. Such are among the signs of Allah, that they may receive admonition. (Al-A`raf 7:26)

Thus shall We raise up the dead; so that you may remember… ( Al-A`raf 7:57)

Alive and wakeful memory and remembrance is essential for fulfilling promises. A man who forgets his promises and covenants, how can he fulfill them? That is why the following verse has been ended on a note of admonition after giving command of fulfilling them:

And fulfill the Covenant of Allah; thus does He command you, that you may remember. (Al-An`am 6:152)

Determination

If a man has a strong memory in respect of fulfilling his promise, it is also necessary that he should have a determination to do so, a determination which should not have any laxity or slackness in this matter a determination which should be able to overcome all the rebellious desires, and which should lighten the coming burden of difficulties.

It should be a determination which should be able to cross all the difficult valleys and blocks and should be able to set an example of selfless sacrifice for others.

The measures for weighing and appraising people are different with different people. The price one has to pay for remaining faithful sometimes is very high.

At times one requires to sacrifice all the wealth, property and the most desired thing in this respect.

The Reward

But these difficulties, sacrifices and trials of determination prove in the end to be the steps for achieving greatness and honor, as the poet says: “Why he, who considers his life and heart dear, should go to (seek) the beloved in her street.”

The Qur’an has severely criticized those who seek to achieve heights of success and glory in the shadow of comfortable living:

Do you think that you will enter paradise without such trials as came to those who passed away before you? They experienced suffering and adversity and were so shaken in spirit that even the prophet and the faithful who were with him cried: ‘When will Allah’s help come ?’ Ah ! Verily, Allah’s help is near. (Al-Baqarah 2:214)

When a man develops in himself the combined forces of a conscious and wakeful mind and a heart full of determination, then he can be considered to have been qualified to enter the group of the faithful people.

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Muslim Character”, a translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s “Khuluq Al-Muslim”.

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Trustworthiness: The Characteristic of a True Believer

The Broader Sense of Trust

straight way-nature

Trust is the sense of responsibility, the sense of having to appear before Allah and to account for one’s actions

Islam expects of its followers that they will be masters of live hearts and wakeful conscience, which would ensure the protection of the rights of God and humanity and which would also protect their action: from the commitment of excesses. Therefore it is necessary that every Muslim should be “ameen” (trustworthy).

In the eyes of the Shari`ah, trust has a very broad sense. This word contains an ocean of meaning, but underneath it all is the sense of responsibility, the sense of having to appear before Allah and to account for one’s actions, the details of which are given in the hadith:

“Every one of you is a guardian and everyone will be asked about his subjects. Imam is a guardian. He will be asked about his subjects. A man is the guardian of the persons in his household. He is answerable about them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s house. She will be asked about her responsibility. The servant is the guardian of the articles of his master. He is answerable about this responsibility of his.“ (Al-Bukhari)

The narrator of the hadith, Ibn `Umar, says that he heard these things from the Prophet (peace be upon him) and he thinks that the Prophet also said: “A man is a guardian of the stock of his father and is answerable about that.”

Faith-based

The people take trust in a very limited, sense and consider it to mean the protection of others’ deposits, although in Allah’s religion this has a very broad and unlimited sense.

This is a duty for safeguarding which a Muslim advises another Muslim and in this connection seeks the help of Allah.

When a Muslim prepares to go on a journeys his brother prays for him in this way: “I pray to Allah for your religion, your trust and for the happy ending of your work.” (At-Tirmidhi)

Anas narrates that whenever Allah’s Messenger addressed a sermon to us, he invariably repeated this sentence:

“The man has no faith who cannot keep trust and the man who does not respect his promises has no religion.” (Ahmad)

Since the zenith of achievement and the highest limit of success is to be protected against the hardships of this world and the bad consequences in the Hereafter, the Prophet prays for safety from both the conditions. He has said:

“O Allah! I seek your shelter from the pangs of hunger, because it is a very bad companion, and I seek your shelter from dishonesty because it is the worst friend.” (Abu Dawud)

God’s Guardians

Hunger is the name of deprivation in the world and dishonesty is the name of destruction of religion, therefore the Prophet had prayed for being spared from both. Before attaining prophethood he was known among the people as AL-Ameen (The Trustworthy).

Similarly the trustworthiness of Musa (Moses) was observed when he fetched water for the flock of the two daughters of the good old man, had helped them, had respected their womanhood, and had treated them in a decent and gentlemanly way:

So he watered (their flocks) for them; then he turned back to the shade, and said: “O my Lord I truly am I in (desperate) need of any good that you do send me !

Afterwards one of the (damsels) came (back) to him, walking bashfully. She said: “My father invites you that he may reward you for having watered (our flocks) for us.” So when he came to him and narrated the story, he said: “Do not fear; (well) have you escaped from unjust people.

Said one of the (damsels) :“O my (dear) father I engage him on wages; truly the best of men for you to employ is the (man) who is strong and trusty. (Al-Qasas 28:24-26}

This event took place when Moses had not been made Prophet, and was not sent to Pharaohs.

And this is not at all surprising because Allah chose only those individuals for being appointed as His Messengers who were the most decent, most honest and righteous, among the people.

The self which continues to be attached to the high moral character even after undergoing the extremes of the hardship of poverty and helplessness must be belonging to a very powerful and trustworthy man; and the protection of the rights of God and His slaves demands such character only as does not change in good or bad conditions, and this is the spirit of trustworthiness.

Appointment to High Offices and Posts

There is also another sense of trust, and that is: everything should be placed at its proper and deserving place. An office or a post should be offered only to the deserving person; and responsibility should be given only to that person who is able to shoulder it and who has the capability to do justice to the trust placed in him.

Governorship, responsibilities of the party, nation or country, which are granted placing confidence in the persons concerned, are trusts, about which they are answerable. A number of proofs can be advanced in support of this statement.

Abu Dhar (May Allah be pleased with him) reports that he asked the Prophet whether he would not make him a governor somewhere. Hearing this the Prophet tapped his shoulder and said:

“O Abu Dhar ! you are weak, and this responsibility is a trust. On the Day of Judgment it will be a cause of loss of honor and ignominy. However, those people will be spared who will have accepted it with all its responsibilities and would have fulfilled whatever responsibilities they had in this connection.” (Muslim)

It is a fact that mere excellence of education or experience does not make a person most suitable for some office. It is also possible that a man may have good moral character and a righteous person, but he may not have the capabilities to fulfill the responsibilities of a certain office.

Yusuf (Joseph) was a Prophet. He was the living example of righteousness and virtuousness, but he had not offered his services to shoulder the responsibilities of the country on the basis of his righteousness and prophet-hood.

He had taken the reins of office in his hand on account of his learning and memory.

(Yusuf) Said.. ‘Entrust to me the treasures of the country. Verily, I am protector and learned’. (Yusuf :55)

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The article is an excerpt from the book “Muslim Character”, a translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s “Khuluq Al-Muslim”.

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