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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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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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How to Live & Develop as Muslim

By: Abul A`La Al-Mawdudi

Our Behavior

Brothers! Imagine the extraordinary kindness shown you by your Master! He asks you for things which really belong to Him and yet promises that it is a purchase He will pay you for. What unbounded generosity this is!

God has bought from the believers their lives and their possessions in return for Paradise. (At-Tawbah 9:111)

Such is the kindness of your Master. Now look at your conduct. You re-sell things to others which were given to you by your Master and which He had bought back from you.

And what a paltry price you accept for your precious things!

The ‘buyers’ make you work against the wishes of the Master. You serve them as if they are your sustainers. You sell them your brains and your bodies – indeed, everything that these rebels of God want to buy.

Can anything be more immoral than this? To sell a thing already sold is a legal and moral crime, even in this world. Those guilty of such crimes are tried in courts for cheating and fraud. Do you think you will escape trial in the court of God?

Who Is the True Muslim?

Brothers in Islam! Let us consider further the meaning and essential implications of the Kalimah (word); for it is the very foundation of Islam. Believe it and you enter Islam on its strength; understand it fully and mould your lives in accordance with it and you become true Muslims. Without it you can neither enter nor remain in Islam.

Read More: Who Is the Muslim and How to Be One?

The Parable

Allah calls it Kalimah Tayyibah, a good, pure and wholesome “word”, and thus defines it:

Are you not aware how God sets forth the parable of kalimah tayyibah? It is like a good tree – firmly rooted, its branches reaching into heaven. It gives its fruits every moment by the permission of its Lord. So God sets forth parables unto men that they may bethink themselves.

And the parable of kalimah khabithah (evil word) is like a corrupt tree – uprooted from the earth, having no permanence. God grants firmness unto those who have believed in the firm word, in the present life and in the world to come, and the wrongdoers He lets go astray, for God does whatever He wills. (Ibrahim 14: 24-27)

Kalimah Tayyibah is here likened to a noble tree, whose roots are firmly fixed in the earth and whose branches reach to the sky; and all the while it continues to yield abundant fruit, as commanded by its Lord.

Set against it is the kalimah khabithah, that is, an evil or corrupt word, a false belief and a baseless saying, which may be likened to a self-seeded plant ,growing in poor, shallow earth and easily plucked out with a single pull because its foots have no firm base.

So striking and beautiful is the parable that the more you reflect on it the more you will come to absorb the lessons that can be learnt from it.

Two Kinds of Trees

Consider examples of the two kinds of trees. Look at an oak tree. How firmly it is rooted, to what great height it reaches, how extensively its branches spread, what fine foliage it bears! How did this tree acquire such strength and magnificence? From the nature of its fruit, the acorn. Its seed has an inherent right to become a great tree.

And this right was so self-evident that when it made its claim, the earth, the water, the air, the warm day and the cool night, in fact, all the elements concerned, acknowledged it, and whatever it demanded from them was given to it.

Thus by merit it developed into a great tree; by yielding beneficial fruit and by the nobility of its dimensions it continued to demonstrate that it deserved to become a tree of mighty stature and that the help given it by the combined forces of earth and heaven was totally justified.

More! It was the duty of the elements to give such help because the power that is possessed by the earth, water and air and other elements to nourish, develop and mature trees is precisely meant for the purpose of helping trees of noble species.

But what about wild, self-seeded plants? Where are their strengths and virtues? Their roots are so shallow they can be pulled up by a child. They are so weak they wither away in the wind. If you touch them you may well be pricked by thorns.

If you taste them they may well be bitter and harmful. God, only, knows how many of these sprout every day, and wither away. Why are they as they are? The reason is that they do not possess the intrinsic right to grow that the acorn does and which allows the growth of the mighty oak.

When there are no trees of noble species to grow, the earth, which by its nature cannot remain fallow, tolerates the growth of shrubs and weeds. Water does give nourishment, and some energy is supplied by the air, but none of the elements accepts the right of existence of these plants as they do of the oak.

That is why neither the earth allows their roots to spread themselves within itself, nor is water willing wholeheartedly to give nourishment, nor is the air inclined to help them flourish.

So when, with this poor subsistence, these plants grow unhealthy, tasting bad, often bearing thorns and poisonous fruits, it is conclusively demonstrated that earth and heaven are not created to help the growth of such plants.

Keep these two examples before you and then think over the difference between the Kalimah Tayyibah and the kalimah khabithah.

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The article is an excerpt from Abul A`la Al-Mawdudi’s book “Let Us Be Muslims”.

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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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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

How to Live the Qur’an

By Ahmad Kutty

the Qur'an

We cannot expect to benefit from the Qur’an unless we pay undivided attention to it.

The Qur’an is Allah’s choicest gift to humanity. It is the miracle of miracles testifying to the prophethood of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) and the eternal source of divine guidance, healing, light, mercy.

It is glad tidings for the Allah-conscious, and a warning for the heedless and the insolent. It contains inexhaustible wisdom; it is the quintessence of the knowledge of both ancients and the moderns, the decisive criterion; spirit from Allah, and revelation from on high on the heart of the Messenger.

Finally, it is our rope of salvation, pleader for us or against us on the Day of Final Reckoning. It is therefore imperative that we respond to the Divine Word most appropriately.

Here are a few tips to help us benefit from the Qur’an optimally:

1- Visualize the Grandeur of the Word and the August Majesty of Its Speaker

In order to properly benefit from the Qur’an, it is imperative that our mind and heart be filled with a deep sense of reverence and awe for the mighty Word and its Author, the Creator and Sovereign Lord of all beings, a Word, about which Allah says: “Had We sent down this Qur’an on a mountain you would see it humbling itself, breaking asunder for awe of Allah.” (Al-Hashr 59:21)

2- Keep Your Presence of Mind

We cannot expect to benefit from the Qur’an unless we pay undivided attention to it; so it is imperative that we dispel all distractions. One may do well to take the necessary steps to induce proper concentration, such as purifying oneself both physically and inwardly, sitting comfortably in a relaxed manner, etc.

3- Reflect

Since the main purpose of reading the Word is none other than reflecting on the message, we ought to reflect upon it. `Ali said, “There is no good in worship without knowledge; there is no good in reading without reflection.”

That is the reason why we read in the sources that the Prophet, Companions and As-Salaf As-Salih (righteous early Muslims) often would repeat the same verse continuously in order to better reflect upon the deeper meanings of the verse.

4- Remove Veils and Obstacles

Often one is prevented from attaining due reflection because of the many veils and obstacles that stand in the way of appreciating the Qur’an, veils such as the following:

(1) Obsession with external rules of recitation/articulation of sounds to such an extent that one is totally pre-occupied with them and is thus distracted from paying due attention to pondering the meanings;

(2) Blind imitation of a particular sect or school or ideology and being fanatically attached to it so that one’s own preconceived biases or prejudices prevent one from perceiving the deeper meanings of the Word;

(3) Persistence in sins or pride whereby the mirror of one’s heart becomes rusted so that it is incapable of gaining true spiritual insights;

(4) Clinging to a particular work of tafseer (exegesis of Qur’an) so dogmatically that one holds the false view that the author has exhausted the entire meanings of the Qur’an in his exposition, no matter how articulate and profound he may be, for the Qur’an is inexhaustible in its depth.

5- Identify with the Meanings of the Verses, Respond to Them Sensitively

When reading the verses about attributes of Allah, bring to mind Allah’s incomparable nature and absolute uniqueness. When reading the verses that speak of Allah’s creation, think of the manifestation of divine power as revealed in His work, thus being led to recognize Allah’s might and glory.

When reading the verses describing Paradise, cherish such ardent fervor for it that you spontaneously seek Allah’s mercy. When reading descriptions of Hell, you should tremble and pray that Allah keeps you safe from its torments.

6- Visualize that Allah is Speaking to You Directly through the Qur’an

As the late Dr. Iqbal said, “No advice from anyone benefited me as much as I benefited from the advice of my mother who told me, ‘My son, when reading the Qur’an, visualize in your mind that Allah is speaking to you through it!’”

This is why Muhammad ibn Ka`b Al-Qurazi, one of the scholars of the generation after the Companions of the Prophet said, “Whoever has received the Qur’an, Allah has certainly spoken to him!”

7- Be Sensitive

Imam Al-Ghazali says: In order to benefit from the Qur’an, three of our faculties must participate in the act of recitation, namely, the tongue, the mind and the heart. Thus the tongue articulates the sounds, the mind translates the meanings, and the heart becomes sensitive and receives admonition or counsel.

8- Develop in Yourself the Qualities of the Servants of the Merciful

The ultimate objective of the revelation is to transform our inner personalities in such a way that we personify the ideals and ethics of the Qur’an. This is why the Prophet was described by `A’ishah as a walking Qur’an.

So one must read, reflect on the message, and act accordingly as the Companions of the Prophet (peace be upon him) did, thus combining knowledge with practice.

9- Salute the Messenger, the Medium of the Word

We cannot detach the message from the Messenger, for he alone is the interpreter par excellence of the Word and its living exemplifier.

Therefore, we ought to consistently send salutations of peace and blessings on him. For without a deep love for the Messenger, we cannot truly appreciate the revelations sent down by Allah to him through the medium of Angel Jibreel.

May Allah forever shower His choicest blessings and peace on His Servant and Messenger Muhammad, his family and Companions. And may He grant us all the honor of joining their august company after we depart this transient world. Ameen.

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Source: islamqa.com.

Sheikh Ahmad Kutty is a senior lecturer and an Islamic scholar at the Islamic Institute of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

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Ethics & Values New Muslims

The Muslim: The True, The Best & The Ideal

`Abdullah ibn `Umar (may Allah be pleased with them) narrated that the Prophet (peace be upon him), said, “The Muslim is he from whose tongue and hands Muslims are safe. And the Muhajir (immigrant) is he who abandons all what Allah has forbidden.” (Al-Bukhari)

muslim

The best Muslim is defined as he who offers food to the needy and greet every one with peace.

The hadith implies that the perfect Muslim is he who refrains from abusing people physically, verbally, and mentally. In return, people will trust him and feel secure and comfortable when dealing with him.

The Basic Islam

The basic Muslim as mentioned in other traditions is he who fulfills the five pillars of Islam: testifying that there is no God but Allah and Mohammad is His messenger, offering prayers in time, gave obligatory charity (zakah), fasting the month of Ramadan, and performing pilgrimage to Mecca if one has the means to afford it.

The True Islam

The above hadith defines the Muslim as he from whose tongue and hands Muslims are safe. Scholar of Islam say that hadith refers to the perfect or true Muslim.

The true Muslim is he who, in addition to believing and performing all the pillars of Islam, refrains from harming anybody either by words or actions.

It stresses that the real Muslim avoids causing any kind of harm to people. In other words, one cannot be a true Muslim unless his religious practices of Islam are reflected in his dealings with people in real life.

The true Muslim does not only meet the basic requirements but also is always striving to be a peaceful person who respects the rights of people and refrains from causing any sort of harm, damage, or injury to them either by words or actions.

But he who practices the pillars of Islam and various acts of worship, but at the same time, he treats people with bad manners and pays no respect to their rights, is unable to understand the reality of Islam. Such a person has indeed failed to realize the significance of the acts of worship and the wisdom and spirit behind them.

The Best Islam

Moreover, according to other traditions, the best Muslim is defined as he who offers food to the needy and greet every one with peace.

`Abdullah ibn `Umar said that a person asked Allah’s Messenger, “Which Islam is the best?” He replied, “To offer food and greet with peace those whom you know and those whom you don’t know.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim.)

Offering food symbolizes benefiting people by actions; food is mentioned here because it is easy and available, everyone can donate some food. Greeting people with peace symbolizes benefiting them by nice, encouraging, and supporting words; peaceful greeting is mentioned because it is simple and no one has an excuse not to do it.

Accordingly, the best Muslim is he who does not only abstain from harming people but also is doing his best to be beneficent to people as much as he can by words and actions.

The Ideal Muslim

The ideal Muslim not only acts with people with kind, pleasant, peaceful, and respectful manners; and is beneficent to them but also keeps himself away from nonsense and useless words and actions. He does not waste his time and/or efforts in vain actions and purposeless speeches. The

Prophet (peace be upon him) said: “Part of someone’s being a good Muslim is his leaving alone that which does not concern him.” (At-Tirmidhi)

The True Muhajir

The Prophet gave orders to his Companions to migrate to Madinah to escape the persecution of Quraish. They migrated to Madinah gradually and secretly; they left behind their houses, wealth, and possessions for supporting Allah and his Messenger.

The immigrant was honored for his great sacrifices and given the title of “Muhajir”. And he was promised a great reward from Allah. The immigration had stopped after the conquest of Makkah.

The hadith defines the true Muhajer as the one who, in addition to migrating from his homeland to the land of Islam, keeps himself away from all sorts of evil practices; and abandons whatever Allah has forbidden.

But he who migrated from his homeland to the land of Islam, and but does not refrain from indulging in sins and misconduct, has indeed failed to achieve the purpose behind his migration.

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The article is excerpted from the author’s  “The True Muslim” , published by Islam Presentation Committee (IPC), Kuwait.

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Articles of Faith New Muslims

Islam: The Religion of Nature

By Muhammad Al-Ghazali

Islam has called itself a ‘Natural Religion’ which is free from all these impurities :

Islam The Religion of Nature

Islam has called itself a ‘Natural Religion’ which is free from all impuritiesز

So (O Prophet) set your face steadily and truly to the faith. (Establish) Allah’s nature on which He has framed mankind. There is no change in what Allah has created; that is the standard religion; but most among mankind do not understand. (Ar-Rum 30:30)

The function of the eye is to see until there is some disturbance in it. The ear hears the sound till it becomes deaf.

The function of the nature is to follow the right path, and to rush towards it with such alacrity as the water rushes down from a height, unless it is overcome by corruption and wickedness, which may take its reins in hands and turn it away from the path of righteousness and blessings.

The disturbing things, which corrupt nature are sometimes the result of the past centuries or sometimes they are the creation of the lowly environment and ha bits and customs, or both these things together are responsible for the disturbances.

These things are a great danger for the nature of man. They cause a variety of diseases in it. The real jihad of a reformer is to fight these inhibitions and customs and to weaken their strength. He tries to relieve nature of these dangers in order that its original purity may be regained and it may be able to fulfill its real responsibility.

Islam has given a full clarification of this method.

After explaining the natural religion in the above quoted verses, the Qur’an says immediately thereafter :

Turn back in repentance to Him, and fear Him; Establish regular prayers, and be not you among those who join gods with Allah, those who split up and become sects, each party rejoicing in that which is with itself. (Ar-Rum 30:31-32)

Remaining on the Right Path

To encourage faith in place of disbelief, righteousness in place of wickedness, to adopt the policy of fearing God, in place of disturbed thoughts in respect of Allah the righteous people’s unity of thought and action-these are the manifestations that show that man has remained on the righteous nature. This has been clarified in the following verse of the Qur’an:

We indeed created man in the best of moulds, then we have abased him to be the lowest of the low, except such as believe and do righteous deeds. (At-Tin 95:4-6)

What is the best mould or form of man? The understanding of Truth and adopting it, fulfillment of its requirements and meeting of its demands.

This is called the attachment to virtuousness and decency, and consideration of these two good qualities in man’s individual and collective life is the real achievement. And attempts to make them operative in all the departments of life is the real mould and form.

But there is a very large number of people who do not reach this high level. They remain attached to the earth only.

They follow their own desires, and express disobedience of God’s commands. In this way they fall to the lowest level

The Qur’an has called this “Asfala safileen” (lowest of the low), to which Allah has thrown such people.

To throw the men of such nature to the lowest level is according to the divine law regarding guidance and transgression. And these laws are true and based on justice. The Qur’an mentions them as under:

And Allah will not mislead a people after He has guided them, in order that He may make clear to them what to fear (and avoid)-for Allah has knowledge of all things. (At-Tawbah 9:115)

In Surah Al-A`raf this law of guidance and transgression has been mentioned thus:

Those who behave arrogantly on the earth in defiance of right-them I will turn away from My signs; even if they see all the signs, they will not believe in them; And if they see the way of right conduct, they will not adopt it as the way of error is the way they will adopt; for they rejected Our signs, and failed to take warning from them. (Al-A`raf 7:146)

Who is it then that remains on the ‘best mould’ and keeps himself away from the indignities of the world? In the verses of the Surah At-Tin occurring immediately after those quoted above the answer is given:

Except such as believe and do the righteous deeds. (At-Tin 95:6)

Thus, the outcome of faith and the righteous deeds is the excellence of moral character.

There Is a Counter to the Wicked Nature

Islam’s stand ,in relation to man’s pure nature and its strength and firmness has been discussed. As regards its dealings with the devil-like natures, that has also been made clear. Islam warns mischievous-natured people. It entrusts its reins in the hands of the healthy intellect; it encourages it to bow down to the pure nature and to surrender itself to Allah.

The prophet has hinted at some of these kinds of natures :

“The son of Adam reaches the old age and two of his habits do not leave him. One is greed and the second is the unending succession of hopes.” (Muslim)

“The worst evil found in man is the frightening cowardice and the un-dignifying miserliness.”(Abu Dawud)

“If the son of Adam is given a valley of gold, he will desire to have another one. And if the other is also given, he will be greedy to have the third one. The hunger of Adam’s son will not be satisfied except when his remains are mixed with the dust. And the one who turns to Allah, Allah accepts his repentance.” (Al-Bukhari )

The Qur’an has mentioned some of the habits:

Fair in the eyes of men is the love of things they covet, women and sons; heaped up hoards of gold and silver; horses branded (for blood and excellence) ; and (wealth of) cattle and well-tilled land. Such are the possessions of this world’s life; but in the nearness to Allah is the best of the goals ( to return to ). (Aal `Imran 3:14)

The first thing Islam wants man to pay attention to is this that to run after the carnal desires of the self and to follow its unending demands will never satisfy self and make it contented. Truth and right path will not be acceptable to it.

The condition of the self is that when its one desire is satisfied, it immediately demands to have some other desire satisfied. It is always busy in eating, drinking, and having a good time, and greedy with desire to have more and more of everything. It has no hesitation in committing sin and acts of aggression and cruelty.

Therefore, Qur’an has forbidden men to follow the desires that have been considered haram (prohibited):

Nor follow you the lusts (of your heart), for they will mislead you from the path of Allah; for those who wander astray from the path of Allah, is a penalty grievous, for that they forget the Day of Account. (Saad 38:26)

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The article is excerpted from the book  “Muslim Character” , an American-English translation of Muhammad Al-Ghazali’s Khuluq Al-Muslim

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New Muslims Qur'an & Sunnah

Practical Steps to Memorize the Qur’an

Realize it’s a spiritual and physical project. It’s a miracle and blessing from Allah (Exalted be He) that you’re able to absorb the Qur’an. If you want to take advantage of this blessing, you should be in a position to receive it and therefore strive physically to achieve it and strive spiritually to get the maximum benefit.

Qur’an

Make sure that the intention you are making is only for the sake of Allah.

1-  Sincerity

The first matter you have to pay attention to is your intention (if you intend good you will get good). Make sure that the intention you are making is only for the sake of Allah (Glorified and Exalted be He),  to seek His pleasure so that insha’Allah, with His mercy, we will be rewarded in the Hereafter.

Remember that it is not to show off in front of others that you have memorized a lot. Sincerity is not a one-time factor rather it’s a continual battle that you always have to renew.

2-  Consistency

The more frequently you memorize, the easier it becomes. It is very essential to be consistent, and not to skip even one day. There is no weekend in worship. The bare minimum that one should memorize is at least 3 lines, 5 is more ideal. If you are consistent, insha’Allah, you will be able to be a Hafiz (one who memorizes the whole Qur’an) in 5-6 years

3- Timing

The first thing you should do in the day is memorize – even do so before your breakfast, because this is your spiritual breakfast. The best time to memorize is right after Fajr.

4- Atmosphere

Have a secluded place to go to and memorize in a place that is quiet. You just can’t memorize properly with distractions, so turn off all your devices (like cell phones).

5- Familiarity

Start at the same time, at the same place and use the same mushaf every day. You need to have your own copy of the Qur’an, it will later become so dear to you.

6-  No Magic trick: repeat, repeat, repeat, over and over again. It is just repetitive recitation and/or listening that will help to memorize.

7- Memorize with the meaning: read the translation before you start and try to match the Arabic words with their meanings.

8- Surround yourself with recitation: listen to the Qur’an. Before you start memorize, listen to what you are about to memorize. Sh. Husary is highly recommended.

9- Find a recitation buddy: get a friend, a family member or someone you know who will listen to your recitation every day. Ideally, get someone who is also memorizing to create a peer pressure system.

10- Recite daily in your salah what you have memorized. If you forget one portion, you will immediately rush towards the Qur’an and correct your mistake and you will never do this mistake again.

11- Triple daily dose:

a-  New memorization at your assigned time of the day

b- Revision of the previous 7 days, just before you start the new memorization: This is because the fastest thing you forget is the new memorization.

And doing so, will also build the connector between the old ones and the new portion you are going to memorize. Plus, it will be a good warm up for the brain when you recall from your memory and recite, before you go into the real exercise of doing the new memorization.

c- At a later/another time of the day, revise those before the recent 7 days. The bare minimum should be 4-5 pages.

12- Do not jump around

Be consistent. Don’t try to go to another surah if you find it difficult and stick to the order. That way, you will have the satisfaction of having completed a juz’ rather than leaving some portions here and there.

13- The three chunks

Start from the back. Shorter surahs will bring you a big boost. You should divide the memorization of the Qur’an in three parts:

  1. a) Juz’ 28, 29, 30 or just Juz’ 29, 30
  2. b) Surat Al-Kahf till Juz’ 28
  3. c) Surah Al-Baqarah to Surat Al-Kahf

Why?

But, why should we strive to memorize the Qur’an in the first place, and where then should we begin?  In this video Sheikh Yasir Qadhi reflects on these points…

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Source: Muslimmatters.org

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