August 15, 2022 | Muharram 17, 1444
Fatir (The Creator) Chapter 35: Verse 28 (partial)
The more a person is ignorant of God's attributes, the more fearless he will be of Him. By contrast, the more a person understands attributes such as those of God's power, knowledge, wisdom, and dominance over all, the more one will fear to disobey Him.
The expression "those who know" is not used to denote savants in conventional fields of knowledge such as science, philosophy, history and mathematics. A person may be literate or illiterate, but what really matters is whether or not he holds God in awe. It should also be borne in mind that the above expression "those who know" does not necessarily refer to those whom we call ulama al-din (religious scholars), because they have knowledge of the Quran, Hadith, Fiqh, and Kalam. This expression only applies to them if they are characterized by God-consciousness. Accordingly, Abdullah Ibn Masud observed: "Knowledge does not consist of an abundance of verbal expression, but of an abundance of God-fearing." The same observation was made by Hasan al-Basri in the following words: "A scholar is he who fears God, who is inclined to what pleases God, and who keeps away from whatever leads to God's wrath." (Ibn Kathir)
"Towards Understanding the Quran" - Sayyid Abul Ala Mawdudi, Vol. 9, p. 226
From Issue: 772 [Read original issue]
After the heart, there is one thing that is particularly important for a believer to guard over and make sure that it does not stray from what is right. This is the tongue. The statements of one's tongue can be very damaging and can lead a person away from the straight path. Many times, a person may not realize the damage that he has done to himself by his own statements. The Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) made this point clear when he said,
"A person makes a statement that is pleasing to Allah although he did not give it much concern. [Due to it] Allah raises his rank. And a person makes a statement that is displeasing to Allah although he did not give it much concern. [Due to it], he is flung into the Hell-fire." [Bukhari]
In another hadith, the Prophet (peace be upon him) said,
"Whoever guarantees for me what is between his jawbones and what is between his legs [that is, whoever can guarantee that his tongue and private parts will not be involved in forbidden acts], then I guarantee for him Paradise." [Bukhari]
The seriousness of the actions of the tongue may be why this hadith continues with the Prophet (peace be upon him) warning Sufyaan about the dangers of the tongue. Again, the portion of the narration not found in Sahih Muslim states,
[Sufyan then said,] "O Messenger of Allah, what is the thing that you fear most for me?" He [the Prophet (peace be upon him)] took hold of his own tongue and said, "This."
Indeed, in another hadith, from Musnad Ahmad, the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) is reported to have said,
"The faith of a person will not be straight and sound until his heart is made straight and sound. And his heart will not be straight and sound until his tongue is made straight and sound."
"Commentary on the Forty Hadith of al-Nawawi" - Jamaal al-Din M. Zarabozo, pp. 687, 688
From Issue: 872 [Read original issue]
We have to get used to the idea that values and laws do not protect us from anything unless we make the effort to educate ourselves, critically evaluate the information we are given, and learn to understand representations. The means of mass persuasion are so powerful that anything is possible: even the most educated people and the masses are increasingly vulnerable and are potential objects of the most hateful populist campaigns and media manipulations. Sixty years after the ratification of the Declaration of Human Rights, nothing can be taken for granted, and everything is possible. As former Prime Minister Tony Blair once said, 'The rules of the game have changed.' That was understatement. Surveillance, the loss of the right to privacy, summary extraditions, 'civilized' torture camps all over the world, places where the writ of law does not run. The normalization of violence appears to have desensitized us, and we are more and more indifferent to the inhuman treatment we see all around us. It is true that we have often lost the ability to marvel at the simple things in life, as a result of either pessimism or lassitude, but we can only conclude that we have also - and to a dangerous extent - lost our capacity for outrage and revolt. Our representations are becoming standardized just as our intellect and sensibilities are declining. Our fine laws may still delude us, but they will do nothing to protect us or to promote respect for human dignity unless our conscience imbues them with substance, meaning and humanity.
"The Quest for Meaning" - Tariq Ramadan, p. 172
From Issue: 780 [Read original issue]