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FEATURED New Muslims

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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Muslim Lifestyle New Muslims

Islam’s Economic Code of Conduct: Balance and Moderation

By Abdur Raheem Kidwai

As part of its economic code of conduct, Islam condemns the squandering and abuse of resources put at man’s disposal and calls for moderation. In Islam, man is assigned the role of trustee, enjoying control over what Allah has granted him.

Your Lord has decreed:

– Do not squander your wealth wastefully. Those who squander are Satan’s brothers, and Satan is ever ungrateful to his Lord.

– And if you turn away from them, awaiting mercy from your Lord which you expect to receive, then speak to them kindly.

– Do not let your hand be chained to your neck, nor outspread it to its extreme, for you will then be left sitting reproached, destitute. Certainly your Lord enlarges the provision for whom He will and measures it out. He is All-Aware and All-Observant of His servant.

– Do not kill your children for fear of want. We provide for them and for you. Surely their killing is a great crime. (Al-Israa’ 17:26-31)

It is important then that one uses one’s resources prudently. Spending one’s money on anything which is sinful amounts to using it wastefully and hence is forbidden.

Morality-based

Once again, this economic teaching is permeated with morality. Those guilty of squandering resources are likened to Satan’s brothers on the following two counts:

1- In squandering their resources, they behave like Satan who abuses the faculties granted to him only for disobeying Allah.

2- Squandering betrays ungratefulness to Allah, which is Satan’s main personality trait.

It is the height of ignominy for man to be branded as one of Satan’s party. The Qur’an employs this strong epithet in order to dissuade man from squandering his wealth. For this strikes a severe blow to the moral fabric of society.

Generally speaking, wealth spent wastefully is directed at gambling or at making a show of one’s wealth which vitiates social life. That squandering is something evil is effectively brought out by its association with Satan.

Another directive embracing man’s financial conduct is that he should treat the needy politely when he is unable to help them. One is not to be blamed, if one cannot help them owing to one’s own adverse circumstances. However, what is forbidden is to act harshly and uncharitably towards those in need.

Balance and Moderation

The golden rule governing man’s financial conduct is spelled out in the next verse, as is elaborated by Mawdudi:

“Human beings are required to act with moderation in financial matters. They should neither prevent the flow of wealth out of miserliness, nor should they waste financial resources by irresponsible extravagance. Instead, they should have such an instinctive sense of balance and moderation that they should not shrink from spending when that is genuinely needed, and should abstain from spending when it is not truly needed or is not justified – expenses incurred for show or out of vanity, or on sheer luxury, and for sinful purposes. In fact, every misdirected expense which is made at the expense of genuine needs and beneficial purposes amounts to ingratitude to God for His bounty.” ( Mawdudi, Towards Understanding the Qur’an)

The directive for balance and moderation in financial matters is followed by reiterating the truth that it is Allah Who grants resources to everyone as He wills. Man should not, therefore, have any grudge against someone with large provisions.

Allah has given provisions to man in a measure ordained by Him. He has done so in order to test man, both in prosperity and adversity. He is fully aware of everyone’s conduct and will call man to account on the Day of Judgment with reference to his deeds. It is important to clarify that one’s wealth or poverty, which is part of Allah’s grand plan, is not to be interpreted as a sign of one’s proximity or otherwise to Allah.

A person blessed with wealth is not necessarily the one with whom Allah is well-pleased. Nor does one’s poverty indicate His displeasure. Accordingly, it is stressed that Allah being All-Aware grants sustenance in varying measures to men in accordance with His plan.

Don’t Fear Poverty

Since Allah has promised sustenance for everyone, man should not resort to such ignominious practices as family planning or infanticide out of fear of poverty. For this amounts to interfering with His plan, which is a very serious sin.

The Qur’an forbids this in unambiguous terms, reminding us that Allah, the Provider, will feed everyone. According to Sayyid Mawdudi:

“This verse totally demolishes the economic basis on which birth control movements have arisen in different periods of human history … However, according to the provision of the Islamic manifesto, man is required not to waste his energies on the destructive task of reducing the number of mouths that have to be fed … Human history also bears witness to the fact that economic resources in different parts of the world have increased in proportion to the growth of human population … Hence, man’s amateurish interference in the providential arrangements of God amounts to nothing short of folly.” (Mawdudi, Towards Understanding the Qur’an)

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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.

 

Abdur Raheem Kidwai is a professor of English at the Aligarh Muslim University, India and a well-known author of many works on the Qur’an, Islam and Muslims. Of his books are “The Qur’an: Essential Teachings”, “Daily Wisdom: Selections from the Holy Qur’an”, “Daily Wisdom: Islamic Prayers and Supplications”, “Empowerment of Indian Muslims: Perspectives, Planning and Road Ahead”.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

How to Be Muslim and Modest? (Part 1)

By Naiyerah Kolkailah

Allah’s Love of Modesty

When we have modesty with Allah, our manners and behavior with His creation will naturally exude more modesty.

Think about haya’ (modesty), what comes to mind? It could be wearing hijab and dressing modestly. Or maybe it is using decent and clean speech. Or it might be conducting ourselves with dignity and self-respect around the opposite gender.

If we know we’ve fallen short in our modesty, we feel the need to change in some way. So, we try to wear more loose-fitting clothes, for example, or wear less make-up. Or we might try to curse a little less, look at lewd images less often, or flirt a little less with a guy friend or girls at work. But sometimes we find it difficult to change these habits and behaviors. Why is that?

Part of the reason is that we overlook the inner spiritual dimensions of modesty; we try to cure the symptoms without dealing with the problem at its root. It is almost like trying to save a dried out plant by dipping its leaves in water or fertilizer.

Maybe what needs our attention is less apparent. Maybe it is our attitude towards Allah (Exalted is He), or the purity of our hearts, or the depth and strength of our faith in Allah. If we develop modesty and shamefulness in our hearts, it becomes easier for our thoughts, desires, conversations, and actions to reflect that modesty. When we have modesty with Allah, our manners and behavior with His creation will naturally exude more modesty. So, outer modesty is a byproduct and manifestation of the God-consciousness and modesty we nurture within.

I recently read a book almost entirely on the inner dimensions of modesty. It is called Fiqh Al-Haya’ (Understanding Modesty) by Muhammad Al-Muqaddim. I’ve translated some excerpts that I felt capture the essence of haya’ and how it relates to imān and our relationship with Allah. The last translated portion includes ways to adorn our character with more modesty, both internally and externally. May it be of benefit to all Insha’Allah (God-willing).

What is Haya’?

Linguistically, haya’ is derived from the root hayiy, which comes from the word hayah (life). Heavy rain is referred to as hayyan because with it comes the life of the earth, and plants and animals. Similarly, the worldly life and the afterlife are defined through haya’; whoever does not have haya’ would be (spiritually) dead in this life, and also miserable in the afterlife. Some linguists have said: ‘The life in one’s face comes from its haya’, just as the life of a planted seed comes from watering it’.

The level of one’s haya’ is based on how much life is in the heart…so the more alive the heart, the more complete the haya’.

Technically, haya’ is defined as a change or a state of humility that overtakes a person out of fear of being blameworthy. Ibn Al-Qayyim says: ‘haya’ is a state that emerges from combining exaltation with love, so when the two are coupled, haya’ is born’. Some scholars say that it stems from feeling shameful in the heart about something and feeling averse to it.

It can also emerge when the servants know that Allah (the Truth) is looking at them, making them more patient with a certain struggle, or making them feel uncomfortable with their own sin, or making them refrain from complaining.

Haya’ can also come from recognizing the bounty and graciousness one receives. This is because a generous person would not return favorable treatment with mistreatment.

Imam Al-Junayd (may Allah have mercy on him) said: ‘Haya’ is seeing the signs, and being aware of one’s shortcomings. Out of these two will arise a state of haya’. In reality, haya’ is a character trait that encourages a person to avoid shameful things and prevents one from neglecting the rights of the One Who deserves them most’.

Haya’ and Iman

It is narrated that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “Haya’ and iman are two companions, so when one increases, the other also increases”. (Al-Hakim)

He also said: “Haya’ is a part of iman (faith)”. (Muslim)

Imam An-Nawawi (may Allah have mercy on him) reported that Al-Qadi `Iyad said: ‘Haya’ was made to be a part of iman– even if it is innate- because it can either be acquired and adopted like all other acts of righteousness, or it can be one’s natural disposition.

However, practicing haya’ according to Islamic legislation requires that being acquired with the right intention and with sound knowledge. That is why haya’ is a part of iman. Another reason is that haya’ encourages one to do acts of righteousness and it prevents one from committing sins’. (An-Nawawi’s Commentary on Sahih Muslim)

Allah’s Love of Modesty

It is narrated that the Prophet said: “Verily, Allah the Exalted is Modest and Concealing (Sittīr); and He loves modesty and concealment. So, when any of you bathe, let him conceal himself”. (Abu Dawud, An-Nasa’i, Al-Baihaqi, and Ahmad)

Al-Mubarakfuri said: ‘(The Prophet’s statement’s ”Allah is Modest” means He is Modest in practice, or shows a lot of Modesty. Describing Allah with the Attribute of Modesty is to be understood in a way most befitting for Allah, just like all His other Attributes; we believe in them but do not delve into how (the traits are manifested)’.

Imam Ibn Al-Qayyim Al-Jawziyyah (may Allah have mercy on him) said:

‘…Whoever has a trait similar to one of Allah’s attributes, that trait will lead him to Allah, and will bring him closer to Allah’s Mercy, and will make him/her beloved to Allah; for Allah is Most-Merciful, and He loves the merciful; He is Most Generous, and He loves the generous; He is All-Knowing, and He loves the knowledgeable; He is strong, and He loves the strong believer, who is more beloved to Him than the weak believer; He is Modest, and he loves the people of modesty; He is Beautiful and He loves the people of beauty; He is One (witr) and he loves the people of the witr (Witr Prayer)’.

Who Deserves Our Modesty?

A person should be modest with Allah (the All-Mighty and Exalted) with the angels, and with oneself. Whoever is modest with people but not with oneself has belittled his self because he does not see it as worthy of his own modesty. Whoever is modest with oneself but not with Allah does not truly know Allah, the All-Mighty and Exalted.

As such, the Prophet told a man he was advising: “I advise you to have shame with Allah as you would have shame (in the presence) of a righteous man from your people”. (Ahmad)

In the words of Allah (the All-Mighty and Exalted): “Does he not know that Allah sees (everything)?” (Al-`Alaq 96:14) there is an implied warning to the servant; if he knows that Allah sees him, then he should be ashamed of committing sin.

Whoever knows that the One he worships is observing his worship will be more inclined to adorn it externally with humble reverence and internally with sincerity and presence. Surely, Allah knows the secret glance of the eyes and what the hearts conceal.

To be continued…

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Source: suhaibwebb.com.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

How to Be Muslim and Modest? (Part 2)

By Naiyerah Kolkailah

How could a Muslim develop a modest character?

Islamic legislation calls for adopting beautiful moral traits and eliminating bad character traits.

The Prophet (peace be upon him) has made modesty a standard and measure for a person’s actions. An-Nawwas ibn Sam`an (may Allah be pleased with him) reported that he asked the Messenger of Allah about righteousness and wrongdoing. So the Prophet responded: “Righteousness is good character and wrongdoing is what makes you feel discomfort, and that you would hate for people to see (what you are doing)”. (Muslim)

One of the areas where modesty, i.e. shamefulness, should be avoided is in seeking knowledge and in educating. `Ali (may Allah be pleased with him) said: “One who does not know should not be ashamed of asking until he has knowledge, and one who is asked about something he does not know should not be ashamed to say ‘I do not know’”. (Ibn Hajar, Fath Al-Bari; commentary on Sahih Al-Bukhari)

Al-Bukhari said that Mujahid said: “The one who is shy or arrogant does not gain knowledge”. `A’ishah (may Allah be pleased with her) said: “How great were the women of the Ansar; their modesty did not prevent them from seeking knowledge about their religion”. (Ahmad)

How Do We Become More Modest?

If a person’s character traits were completely innate, they would be difficult to change, or replace, or adjust.

Islamic legislation calls for adopting beautiful moral traits and eliminating bad character traits. If it was not possible to do so, Islamic legislation would not obligate it. Allah (the Most-High) says:

He has succeeded; the one who purifies it, and he has failed; the one who corrupts it. (Ash-Shams 91:9, 10)

Despite that, people vary in their ability, capability, or willingness to adopt or change certain character traits. So, if a person is naturally disposed to express a specific quality, it is easier to develop that character trait even further. This is because his fitrah (innate disposition) is assisting him. As related to modesty as a character trait, it can be innate, and it can also be acquired. These are some ways to help in acquiring and developing modesty:

1- Refrain from shameless words or actions, such as foul or evil speech. This will aggravate Satan, who beautifies these actions, and tempts people with them. So, not engaging in such actions would actually make him hopeless, and he would in turn retract in disgrace.

2- Continuously learn about the benefits of modesty, and expose one’s heart to them repeatedly. Also, make a commitment to gaining the highest levels of modesty, and actively adorning oneself with it.

3- Strengthen iman and belief in the heart, because modesty is a fruit of iman and knowing Allah (the All-Mighty and Exalted).

4- Worship Allah (Exalted is He) by reflecting on His beautiful names and attributes, which bring about Allah-consciousness and excellent (character and behavior). Examples of such names would be: the Witness, the Overseer, the All-Knowing, the All-Hearing, the All-Seeing, the All-Encompassing, and the Protector.

Hatim Al-Asam said: “Make a pact with yourself in three (areas): when you do something, remember that Allah sees you, and when you speak, remember that Allah hears you, and when you are silent, remember Allah’s knowledge of your inner (thoughts, feelings, and being)”.

5- Consistently observe the obligatory and recommended worship, like prayer. Allah said: “Verily, prayer prevents lewdness and evil deeds”. (Al-`Ankabut 29:45)

It was said to the Messenger of Allah: “So and so prays all night, but when he wakes up he steals!” So, he said: “What you mentioned (i.e. his prayers) will (eventually) prevent him from that”. Or he said: “His prayers will prevent him”. (Ahmad)

Zakah is another example. Allah says regarding zakah: “Take a portion of their wealth as charity [zakah] to purify them and increase them with it”. (At-Tawbah 9:103)

6- Always be truthful and avoid dishonesty. This is because truthfulness will guide a person to righteousness, and modesty is a part of righteousness. The Prophet said: “You should be truthful, for truthfulness leads to righteousness, and righteousness leads to paradise…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

7- Actively practice modesty on a regular basis so that it becomes a natural disposition. This will require beautifying oneself with patience.

8- See righteous people, intermingle with them, listen to them, and learn from their modesty. Some scholars have said: “Enliven your modesty by sitting with those whom you would feel shameful around”. Mujahid said: “If all that a Muslim benefits from his brother is that his feeling of shame with him prevents him from sinning, then that would suffice him”. (Makarim Al-Akhlaq)

9- Bring to mind the modesty of the greatest example for mankind, the Messenger of Allah, and learn about his Seerah (biography of the Prophet) and his noble traits.

Also, bring to mind the modesty of his Companions and their lives, especially the righteous caliphs, the ten given glad tidings of paradise, those who witnessed Badr, and the Bay`at Ar-Ridwan (a covenant of fealty), and the rest of the Muhajireen and the Ansar, and those who followed in their footsteps from the people of knowledge and faith.

10- Remove oneself from a corrupted environment that keeps one away from good character. Do not accompany those who show little modesty; befriend righteous people instead. In the Prophetic narration about the man who killed one hundred souls, the knowledgeable man said: “…And who can stand between you and a sincere repentance? Go to so and so land, for you will find people there who worship Allah. So, worship Allah with them, and do not return to your land because it is a land of evil…” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

We seek Allah’s forgiveness for every misstep, and for every mistake we made with the pen; and we seek His forgiveness for any words that do not match our actions; we seek His forgiveness for anything we showed or revealed of knowledge despite our shortcomings; we ask that He makes us act upon what we know, for His sake only, and that He places this knowledge on our scale of righteous deeds when our deeds are presented before us. Verily, He is Most-Benevolent and Generous.

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Source: suhaibwebb.com.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Muslim Character: Cleanliness

Cleanness and purity, both spiritually and physically, are of the key issues that Islam cared about and stressed:

For Allah loves those who turn to Him constantly and He loves those who keep themselves pure and clean. (Al-Baqarah 2:222)

Our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was the embodiment of cleanness and purity.

Abu Bakr said, “I heard the Prophet saying: “ask Allah Almighty for perfect faith and sound health, no one ever gets anything, after perfect faith, better than sound health”. (Ahmad)

Wudu’ (ablution) is a condition for Muslims’ five daily prayers. This is how Allah describes wudu’ in the Qur’an:

O you who believe, when you rise up for prayer, wash your faces and your hands up to the elbows, and (lightly) rub your heads and (wash) your feet up to the ankles. (Al-Ma’idah 5:6)

Prayer will not be valid unless the parts of the body more susceptible to dirt are washed; ablution.

The Sunnah greatly emphasizes cleanliness as the Prophet said:

“Islam is clean and pure, so clean and purify yourselves for a person will not enter Paradise unless they are clean and pure.”

Learn how Prophet Muhammad was concerned with personal cleanliness as brother AbdelRahman Murphy reflects on the above hadith

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Muslim and Truthfulness

Hypocrisy, in the form of untruthfulness, pretense, telling lies, dishonesty, etc. is no way a trait of a Muslim or Islam.

In a popular hadith the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) describes the attributes of a hypocrite saying:

“The signs of a hypocrite are three: Whenever he speaks, he lies; whenever he promises, he breaks it; and if he is entrusted with something, he betrays the trust (Al-Bukhari)

And this is how God defines them, the hypocrite, and their hated characteristics in the Qur’an:

The hypocrites, men and women, (have an understanding) with each other: They enjoin evil, and forbid what is just, and are close with their hands. They have forgotten Allah; so He has forgotten them. Verily the hypocrites are rebellious and perverse. (At-Tawbah 9:67)

Learn how Prophet Muhammad described, condemned and warned against such hated characteristic as brother AbdelRahman Murphy reflects on the aforementioned hadith

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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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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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Ethics & Values New Muslims

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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Ethics & Values New Muslims

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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